Monday Morning Muse

March 15, 2010

 *   *   *

When I become

quiet and listen

when I wake

too early to think

when I wander

without a direction

I discover

words hiding

under rocks

inside blossoms

on the voices

of trees who talk

about what the

river is thinking.

 *   *   *

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Pre-Spring Updates from the Desk of Jade Blackwater

March 10, 2010

Contrary to what logic might suggest, my low-attendance at the Brainripples blog is in fact a sign of how busy I’ve been.

Here’s a little update from my desk:

Copywriting and Poetry

Concise language is important for both copywriting and poetry.  Since December I’ve enjoyed the dual tasks of copywriting for Kathi “george” Wheeler of Noise w/o Sound Graphic Design, and revising poetry from my 2009 journals to prepare for a round of submissions this spring.  Of all the writing I do, poetry revision is probably the most difficult.  It’s delicate work to revise small handfuls of words without losing the voice.

Festival of the Trees

Last November Dave Bonta and Pablo invited me to join their team in support of the Festival of the Trees blog carnival.  You all know how much I love this project, so you can imagine how stoked I am to lend a hand.  We’re looking for volunteers to host! Read an interview by The Nature Blog Network with the Festival of the Trees crew.  The Festival of the Trees is @treebloggers on Twitter and Identica.

Pennwriters 2010

All lovers of literature can find me this spring May 14-16, 2010 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania for the Pennwriters Annual Conference: The Writer’s Craft.  To learn more, read this Feature Artist Interview with Conference Coordinator Ayleen Stellhorn.  You can count on seeing me in PA next year too – I’m running for VP this term to support Carol Silvis; she and I are working hard in preparation for 2010-2012.

@JadeBlackwater on Twitter

You can now follow me @JadeBlackwater on Twitter where I tweet about writing and art, ecology and conservation, sustainability and gardening, and everything else that makes me think.  I never thought I’d be a tweep, but I’m already a nerd, so I shouldn’t be that surprised.  To help preserve my time, I typically schedule tweets in advance via HootSuite, and to help preserve my readership I shorten links via bit.ly.  (I also like to poke around #poettues hosted by @robertleebrewer.)

JLB Blogs on the Move

I’ve been tweeting away since January while my blogs Brainripples, AppleJade, and Arboreality appear to languish in neglect.  In fact, I’m preparing to relocate my blogging adventures under one roof at Brainripples.com (including a much-needed new web design).  Since I’ve been blogging for five years, it seems like the right time to try on the big girl pants.  Prepare yourself for the next incarnation of my blogs as I shake off the old and don the new.  (Sheesh, how many more metaphors do you think I could have packed into this paragraph?)

Coming Up Next

Show and Tell Friday is beyond over due, and I’ve found so much cool stuff on my Twitter adventures.  I’ll put one together for you soon!  I was also invited for a fun phone interview with Perry Norton of PanRight Productions.  I’d like to share that with you all soon.  Finally, I’ll be selecting at least one poem from my drafts to share here, probably something I love but know I won’t submit.


Discussions on the Craft of Storytelling

February 9, 2010

During Pennwriters Presents today, Guest Speaker Jamie Ford articulated the difference between writing and storytelling.  This is a subject upon which Anita Marie Moscoso and I typically deliberate at some point during most of our chats.  (Anita is a superb storyteller.)

In addition to being a Pennwriters member, I’m also a member of Willamette Writers, and the Pacific Northwest Writers Association.  Willamette Writers Office Manager Bill Johnson is one of the names I see the most, so today I decided it was time to learn a bit more about him.  Johnson is an author, teacher, story analyst, and produced playwright from Portland, Oregon.

If you visit Johnson’s website A Story is A Promise you’ll find numerous essays and videos wherein he shares his knowledge of the storytelling process.  He especially likes to analyze the introductory pages from selected works of fiction and discuss the breakdown of what’s written and why.

I like that Johnson emphasizes the importance of invoking questions and engagement from the audience (I always feel that I’ve crafted a good story or poem when my readers ask a lot of curious questions).  Johnson’s website is one, big friendly reminder to all authors to always consider audience, intent, and the promise of each story.


Feature Artist Interview: Ayleen Stellhorn

February 1, 2010

This interview also appears at the Pennwriters Area 6 HQ blog.

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Ayleen Stellhorn, freelance writer and editor, Pennwriters Member, and 2010 Pennwriters Conference Coordinator.  Ayleen works hard, balances multiple projects, and still greets everyone with a smile (you can even “see” her smile in her friendly emails).

You can contact Ayleen via email with questions about this year’s Pennwriters Conference at this address: conference2010[at]pennwriters[dot]com.

[Additional details are available at the end of this interview.]

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JB: Greetings Ayleen!  Thanks for joining us for an interview at the Pennwriters Area 6 HQ blog.

AS: Nice to be invited, Jade. Thank you.

JB: First, tell us a little about yourself.  What do you write?  When did you first join Pennwriters?

AS: I write newspaper and magazine articles mostly. My articles have appeared in the Hanover Evening Sun, the Chambersburg Public Opinion, and the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal. Right now I’m writing regularly for Lancaster Farming Journal and Adams Electric’s corporate magazine PennLines, and I just signed a contract to author a book featuring contemporary hooked rugs. I also do a lot of freelance editing for publishers of craft and hobby books. I’ve been a member of Pennwriters for about 10 years.

JB: I understand that this isn’t your first time volunteering as the Pennwriters Conference Coordinator.  Could you tell us a little about your experiences, and what brings you back to organize the 2010 Conference in Lancaster, Pennsylvania?

AS: I coordinated the 2008 conference in Lancaster. We had an amazing turnout, and overall, everything went really well. Award-winning literary writer and Princeton University professor Joyce Carol Oates was our keynote speaker; Susan Meier, Mary Jo Rulnick, Brian Butko, and Valerie Malmont were a few of our workshop presenters; and a record 236 people attended. We had a lot of firsts that year, including the preconference intensive classes, an author as a Friday keynote, and the networking lunch. I decided to volunteer one more year because I wanted to do a couple things differently: the first was a new hotel and the second was a commercial fiction writer as a keynote. So in 2010, we’re at the Eden Resort in Lancaster and we have adventure-thriller writer James Rollins as our Friday night keynote.

JB: This year I’ll be joining everyone in Lancaster for my first writers’ conference ever.  Can you tell a newbie like me what to expect?  What would be the *top three* things a writer could do to make the most of the Pennwriters Conference experience?

AS: Top three things for a newbie… Let’s see…

Be prepared to be overwhelmed is one. A lot goes on in a very short time, and your brain will reach overload quickly. I’ve been to five conferences, and I always walk out of each workshop with my head spinning with ideas. Even if you think you’ll remember something, write it down anyways. Odds are you’ll get another great idea — or piece of advice or link to follow — at the next workshop, and that first idea will be long gone.

Be ready to talk is two. If you’re generally the person who sits back and listens to conversations flowing around you, make a conscious decision to not be that type of person at the conference. Introduce yourself to the folks sitting at your breakfast table; find out what the person sitting next to you in a workshop likes to write; join a group of people hanging out in the hospitality room or at the bar; volunteer for one of the little jobs like moderator or Penn Pal. And along those same lines, be prepared to answer the question, “What do you write?/What are you writing?” in one or two sentences. You’ll get asked that more times than you can count.

Latch on to the positive is three. Getting published in any form takes a lot of skill, but it also takes a lot of persistence: you need to be in the right place at the right time with the right manuscript. You’ll hear lots of gloom-and-doom statistics at a writers conference dealing with how many queries an agent receives and how few they accept, or how many rejection letters an author received before he or she got published, or how many writers write but quit before their manuscript is even completed. Don’t get discouraged. Focus on the encouraging personal stories and listen to the advice of the agents and editors we’ve invited.

JB: Event planning is a huge undertaking – especially for something like this.  Can you tell us about some of the joys and trials of volunteering as the Conference Coordinator?  What advice would you give to other volunteers who organize events for nonprofits?

AS: The joys far outweigh the trials. If they didn’t, I wouldn’t be back for my second shot at this! I love seeing a writer make a connection with an editor or agent. I love to sit at dinner and hear people talk about how their characters are running their lives. I love providing an opportunity for writers to learn and grow and just be writers in whatever genre, whether that’s nonfiction, thrillers, comics, magazines, poetry, corporate communications…. The trials (and they are sometimes devils) are in the details. Putting together a quality three-day program that will appeal to a broad range of writers is a real challenge. Lining up everything the editors, agents, and presenters need — from travel arrangements to special room set-ups — can fall through the cracks with one missed e-mail. And making sure all the little things are covered, like codes to book rooms online and full coffee pots 24/7, is sometimes overwhelming. My advice to other volunteers who organize events like ours would be to believe in what you’re doing, and be a list-maker!

JB: I know that readers can get the scoop if they follow Pennwriters on Twitter, join the Pennwriters Group on Facebook, or visit the Official Pennwriters website, but please tell us again: What are the highlights for the 2010 Pennwriters Conference?

AS: Highlights:

Keynote James Rollins, author of adventure thrillers, the movie novelization for the most recent Indiana Jones movie, and a new series of young adult thrillers. Watch his videos at www.jamesrollins.com to see why we think he’s going to be an excellent keynote.

Eight agents and editors: Jennifer Jackson, Donald Maass Agency; Jenny Bent, The Bent Agency; Miriam Kriss, Irene Goodman Agency; Alex Glass, Trident Media; Janet Reid, Fine Print Literary; Barbara Lalicki, senior vice president and editorial director at HarperCollins Children; David Pomerico, assistant editor at Del Rey Spectra; and Leis Pederson, associate editor at Berkley. They’ll be hearing pitches, teaching classes, and critiquing first pages.

Preconference classes. Attend in-depth and interactive full-day and half-day seminars with Tim Esaias (fiction), Jonathan Maberry (nonfiction), Loree Lough (plotting), and CJ Lyons (fiction queries).

Three days of workshops. The conference fee includes more than 40 to choose from, and all the instructors are published authors or industry professionals.

JB: We’ve held the Pennwriters Conference in Lancaster before.  For visitors who’ve never been to Lancaster (or perhaps even Pennsylvania), what are some of the other local perks you might suggest they check out?

AS: Take an extra day to wander through Amish country. (The city is filled with tourist attractions, which give you a good overview of the culture, but there’s nothing like checking out the roadside stands and sharing the byways with buggies.) Go shopping at the outlets. Play golf at the Host. Eat at a smorgasbord. See a play at the Dutch apple. Check out Central Market. Visit Landis Valley Farm Museum.

JB: How can writers, editors, agents, publishers, book sellers, readers, etc. help to get the word out about the Pennwriters conference?

AS: I’d like to ask folks to simply drop our name and website into whatever social media they’re using. Mention us in your Facebook status, twitter about a favorite author who will be teaching, write about us in your blog, list the event info on your own website. I’ve also got fliers that you can hang up at local coffee shops, bookstores, libraries, etc. Every little bit will help. We’ve got an amazing program, and I want to share that with as many writers as possible.

JB: Where and how can writers register for the 2010 Pennwriters Conference?

AS: Online, go to www.pennwriters.com, click on Conference and then Register. If you prefer to send a check by mail, download and print a registration form at the Pennwriters website, or call or email me so I can send you one. Registration forms will also be printed in January-February 2010 issue of The Penn Writer newsletter. (Remember to book your room early. The Eden [1-866-801-6430] is a gorgeous facility but much smaller than the Host.)

JB: Finally, as a writer and journalist (and all-around awesome person), what words of wisdom or inspiration would like to share for writers and artists?

AS: Always end an interview with a question that strokes your source’s ego and makes her feel appreciated. 🙂 Nicely done, Jade.

Ayleen, we thank you again for joining us and sharing some behind-the-scenes insight.  See you at the Pennwriters Conference in May 2010!


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2010 Pennwriters Conference – The Writer’s Craft

When: May 14 – 16, 2010

(May 13, Preconference Seminars)

Where: Eden Resort, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA

POC: Ayleen Stellhorn, Pennwriters 2010 Conference Coordinator

Web: www.pennwriters.com

Email: conference2010[at]pennwriters[dot]com

Facebook: Be a Fan of the Pennwriters Annual Writers Conference

Twitter: Follow Pennwriters on Twitter

LinkedIn: Join Pennwriters on LinkedIn

Listserve: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PennwritersConference/


Draw a Dinosaur Day: Stegosaurus in Melody Lake

January 30, 2010

Stegosaurus in Melody Lake by Jade Blackwater

I just learned about the fourth annual “Draw a Dinosaur Day”, thanks to the timely blog mention on behalf of the fine creators Heather and Jeremy at The Voltage Gate. According to Todd of the Draw a Dinosaur Day website:

Draw A Dinosaur Day is a holiday celebrated on January 30th. The goal is as simple as it’s title: Draw A Dinosaur! You don’t have to be a brilliant illustrator, just take a couple of minutes with a blank piece of paper, a post-it note or your computer and enjoy yourself.

I’m grateful for discovering this most excellent of holidays – I needed to have a little fun this weekend! As you can see, I did have fun. This is an illustration of Stegosaurus from The Perfect Present, a short story I wrote in August 2009 and never found time to illustrate. Shown here is Stegosaurus splashing and playing in her musical Melody Lake.

The truth is, I’m having such a blast that as soon as I publish this post, I’m heading back to my sketchbook to draw up my other idea.  If I finish it, I’ll be sure to share.

Now go: grab your crayons and paper, and sketch up some ‘saurus!


Writers: Run Wild for February 2010

January 26, 2010

Running Wild Writers, LLC offers its first fiction writers’ workshop for 2010 beginning Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 7 PM. Workshops will run for ten weeks, and will be held in the heart of an artists’ community at 1241 Carpenter St. Philadelphia, PA 19147.

What You Get:
Participants will have the chance to workshop two pieces of a maximum 5,000 words each. The pieces will be given thorough written feedback by the instructor as well as feedback from fellow attendees.

Cost:
The ten week course will cost $410 for non-Pennwriters and $375 for Pennwriters members.

Interested?
Registration is available at www.runningwildwriters.org

Need More Info?
For more information, contact Lisa Diane Kastner at lisa [at] runningwildwriters [dot] org

Lisa’s Bio
A former correspondent for the Philadelphia Theatre Review and Features Editor for the Picolata Review, Lisa Kastner currently writes freelance and by invitation in literature and the arts. Her literary interviews include Charles Baxter (Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature 1997) and Lee Martin (Pulitzer Prize Nominee 2006).

She is the Founder of Running Wild Writers Community, LLC and the President of Pennwriters (www.pennwriters.com), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to assisting the novice to the award winning and multipublished writers to learn and succeed in the craft. She is the founder of the Pennwriters King of Prussia Critique Group, Philadelphia Critique Group and has led workshops on business communications. Her short stories have been published in 63 Channels Journal and The StraightJackets Magazine.

Lisa promises that her facetious redheaded tendencies will not get in the way of the workshop but instead provide a bit of flavor, like cinnamon. Learn more about Lisa at her blog The Wonderful World of a Facetious Redhead.

Running Wild Writers Community
Running Wild Writers, LLC is a not-for-profit created to assist up and coming writers to learn and excel in the craft of writing. Running Wild welcomes writers from all forms and all genres. Located at 1241 Carpenter St, Philadelphia, PA, Running Wild Writers is in the heart of an artists’ community.

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Happy Robert Burns Night

January 25, 2010

Enjoy a bit from The Bard for Burns Night!