Wednesday, January 4, 2012

First story of the new year

On Tuesday, I was lucky enough to get to attend a Bethlehem Writers Group meeting in person. What was once a commonplace 2-3 times a month activity is now a rare treat since I've moved away from my dear writers group.

For the last few meetings I've been virtually attending the meetings via Skype because the 7 hour round trip from Maryland is impractical in the middle of the week, but this week I wanted to be sure to attend in person.

You see, the experience of going to a BWG meeting is something that cannot truly be replicated via a computer. Skype is better than nothing's not the same. This week I didn't want to miss any aspect of the meeting because I was workshopping a short story that is particularly dear to me.

I've been working on this story since June. It's written in a voice that is new to me, from a perspective that I can only imagine, but I like it. I am lucky enough to have friends who were willing to look at my story and fill in the gaps where my imagination was in error, but I had not yet shown it to my group. Because this story is so different for me, I didn't want to show it to the BWG until I was sure it was as good as I could make it. I wanted to hear their impressions on the story, and not their objections to any silly errors or inconsistency of voice on my part.

So, after seven months and a 3.5 hour drive, I finally showed my dear story to the writers group.

And they liked it.

It's amazing how much that means to me even after years with this group.

Of course, they had comments and questions and points for revision, but I feel good about my story right now.

I'm sorry to live so far from the BWG, but feel very grateful that I can still be an active member.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wanna be my coauthor?

While my husband and I were busy moving from Pennsylvania to Maryland, other members of the Bethlehem Writers Group were busy as well. Bernadette DeCourcey and Jerome W. McFadden spearheaded efforts of the Bethlehem Writers Group LLC to start a new literary magazine, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable. On another front, the BWG also decided to put out a second anthology, tentatively entitled Seasonal Pursuits: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Tales.

Most recently, these two exciting ventures came together to form a third, possibly even more exciting venture, the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable Short Story Award. Fellow writers, were you aware of this opportunity? Fellow readers, do the writers in your life know about it?

First prize of the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable Short Story Award is $200 and the possibility of being published in Seasonal Pursuits. The only other way to get into the anthology is to join the Bethlehem Writers Group, work endless hours peer-editing members' submissions, work more endless hours putting the anthology together, and write a submission that meets the exacting approval of the BWG editors. Oh how I wish I could just enter the contest.

But you can. Well, so long as you don't live with a member of the Bethlehem Writers Group, so most of you can. I'm hoping to get into the anthology, and I can't wait to find out who wins the contest. Perhaps you and I could be coauthors!

You can find the nitty gritty details at but here's a quick summary:

First place = $200 + print publication

Second place = $100 + publication in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable

Third place = $50 + publication in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable

Deadline = January 31, 2012

Celebrity Judge = Jonathan Maberry

Genres = Fiction and/or Memoir

Wordcount = 2,000 words or fewer

So, that's it, get writing everyone, I wish you all the very best of luck.

Happy writing, future coauthor!

Monday, November 7, 2011

NaNoWriMo and Nails

Well, it's Monday and the 7th day of NaNoWriMo, which means everyone should have 11,669 words under their belts by midnight. How many do you have? I have roughly 6,000. I'm not sure I've ever been this far behind this early in NaNoWriMo before. But then, I've never been quite this far behind in life at this point in November before.

I didn't get any words in over the weekend, in spite of the added hour to write. Instead, my husband and I spent the weekend unpacking from our most recent move. Did I mention that we moved? We're in Maryland now. This was our fifth move in 4 years, and I've had about enough. We actually moved at the end of September, but October was insane with travel including a trip to the JASNA AGM in Fort Worth, Texas, and a trip up to Massachusetts to attend my cousin's wedding. So, this was the first weekend my husband and I actually had time to stay home and open some of the boxes piled around us.

As I peeled tape off of cardboard and removed labels from empty plastic bins, I noticed something. My nails still look pretty good. Now, fellow writers will appreciate how difficult it is to keep a manicure looking nice when your life revolves around your computer keyboard, and anyone who has moved will attest to the unlikelihood that nail polish will withstand the double assaults of tape and cardboard, and yet I repeat, they still look good.

I'm not one to get regular manicures by any means. In fact, this is probably the fourth or fifth I've ever gotten. The first was the day before my wedding and required a touch up by the time I was through the rehearsal dinner. Even when I'm not moving, I'm hard enough on my nails to make a manicure an unwise investment. I'll get a pedicure once or twice during the year, but that's more for the pampering than for the polish. Plus, I don't type with my toes… although that would be a good way to increase my word count. Maybe next year.

I decided to spring for a manicure for two reasons. First, the aforementioned cousin's wedding, second, my fingernails have been through the ringer after spending months packing, and now, unpacking boxes. I opted for a French manicure because it's not something I can do for myself, so in my mind that makes it more worthy of the expense.

When I told the nail technician what I wanted, she suggested I try nail shellac instead of polish. The cost was only minimally more, but she claimed the manicure would last two weeks longer. I figured two weeks was a significant increase over an hour, so I went for it. That was October 29th, and, 8 days, 6,000 words, and untold boxes later, my nails still look good. Significantly better than they would be an hour after a manicure with polish.

Still, I won't become a regular at the nail salon. While nail shellac certainly has a lot of value for longevity, I'm concerned that the shellac needs to set using a UV lamp similar to a mini tanning bed (a fact I did not know until I was halfway through the process). A quick internet search confirmed that getting regular manicures with this process probably isn't healthy for your cuticles and fingertips. I'm not sure how bad the process is for a person as a whole, but since I rely on my fingertips for my job, I'd rather not take the chance of doing it regularly.

Still, for my highly irregular manicure (every couple of years or so) it might be a good solution.

(By the way, if you like my little writing raisin, be sure to check out Writertopia to get your own!)