The Witching Hour on melodically challenged

Need to get in the mood for Halloween? For spooky poems & music listen to The Witching Hour on melodically challenged:

second mc post

The Witching Hour airs on melodically challenged this Sunday, October 27th from 8:00-9:00 PM Eastern Standard time on WRAS-ATL (88.5 FM). To listen online go to Album 88 and select listen. You may also listen via TuneIn. Select LOCAL RADIO and choose WRAS-Album 88.

Boo!

The Witching Hour on melodically challenged

Need to get in the mood for Halloween? For spooky poems & music listen to The Witching Hour on melodically challenged:Haunted house photo

The Witching Hour airs on melodically challenged this Sunday, October 27th from 8:00-9:00 PM Eastern Standard time on WRAS-ATL (88.5 FM). To listen online go to Album 88 and select listen. You may also listen via TuneIn. Select LOCAL RADIO and choose WRAS-Album 88.

Boo!

The Benefits of Reading Poetry

Do Fiction Writers Benefit from Poetry?

Absolutely. I would argue it works both ways and that all writers benefit from reading poetry. Let me explain how poetry specifically helped me, though. I got an opportunity to write a radio script for a poetry-themed show called melodically challenged. Those who know me know I am a fiction writer, so it may surprise you that I would take up this challenge. Yet, if you know me well, then you also know that I rarely decline an opportunity to get involved in the writing world even if it is outside of what I consider my scope. If you are a writer, you need to read and listen to poetry. Unfortunately, I hear a lot of writers say they don’t like poetry, and that always makes me cringe a little because, well, sometimes this was said in front of a fellow poet/friend and also because while I do not really write poetry (or at least no one would want to read my poetry), I believe poetry can and does enrich my work. When I read or listen to poetry, I realize what is lacking in my work and it usually has to do with not delving into all the senses. I tend to be a visual writer first. The next sense I go to is auditory. Then touch. Then smell. I rarely use our sense of taste. And, I don’t always go beyond the first two senses I listed. Read or listen to a great poem and see how the poet engages all five senses and more. Then, reread a story or paragraph you wrote and see if you are doing the same.

This brings me to radio script I wrote, The Witching Hour. I spent quite a bit of time putting together the script and recording the vocals, but the majority of the time I spent researching material. That is, researching that requires doing something I love anyway— discovering contemporary writers/poets and musicians. Tough job, huh? Right. I chose a spooky theme that incorporated poems about monsters, ghosts, cemeteries, and the undead along with creepy music to accompany the show, because I dig monsters, ghosts, cemeteries, and the undead, but hey, it’s almost Halloween.

After listening to hours of bone-chilling poems and music, I revisited some of my darker fiction. Could I go even darker, I wondered. I could and I can thank the poets and musicians that inspired my show. I hope you will also listen to my show. At the very least, it will get you in the mood for Halloween. 

The Witching Hour airs on melodically challenged this Sunday, October 27th from 8:00-9:00 PM Eastern Standard time on WRAS-ATL (88.5 FM). To listen online go to Album 88 and select listen. You may also listen via TuneIn. Select LOCAL RADIO and choose WRAS-Album 88.

The program, melodically challenged, is currently seeking writers to write radio scripts. Obviously, you do not need to be a poet to write a script…only an appreciation for the written word and the desire to share that with others. It’s great exposure, another item to add to your CV, and also just a ton of fun. If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity, please reach out to K.B. Kincer at kbk1@kincers.net or myself at dwnmjr@comcast.net.

Happy Writing!

The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly on Rejection Letters

Positive Rejection Letters: Is there such a thing?

The answer is Yes! Writers are masochists. Well, we’re sadists, too. Lord knows, we love to torture our characters and sometimes even murder them, but that is for another blog post.

Masochist? Why else would you submit to journals and magazines who inevitably and assuredly reject you? I can’t even fathom how many times I submitted to Glimmer Train before they called it quits and left the depot forever, quite possibly because I never relented. I had it my head that if you can make it there, then you’ll make it…You can fill in the rest, and yes, it should accompany Frank Sinatra. Never mind if Glimmer Train was right for me! For fifteen years I received one to two rejection letters annually from GT.  If you are expecting a happy ending to this story, there isn’t one, unless your definition of fun is moving rejection letters to your rejection folder. Ow.

I can’t say that I have ever received an ugly rejection letter, but I hear they were common back in the day. Redefine ugly. I think I’d be happy to receive a rejection letter from The New Yorker, but with the amount of submissions they receive you must assume no news means no thank you. So, what is a bad rejection letter? One that does not encourage you to resubmit.

I always assumed that the editor and/or staff were being kind by encouraging me to submit again, but recently I attended a lecture by the editor of Five Points Review, and she stated that if the you get those “kind” words then the journal actually means it. Now, I am revisiting all the journals I poo-pooed because they failed to publish me the first time around, and in doing so have received what I consider to be positive rejection letters. Below is a sampling of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Here is what I would classify as a “bad” rejection letter:

Dear Dawn Major,

Thank you for sending us “Saint Damien of Molokai.” We appreciate the chance to read it. Unfortunately, the piece is not for us.

Thanks again. Best of luck with this.
Sincerely,
Five Points

Notice there are NO comments encouraging me to submit again? Listen up. I’m not implying the editor was mean when I use the term “bad.” I will submit to Five Points again, but I will use this information to understand what appeals to them.  You should also read the journals to see what they are into.

Here is a standard rejection letter to compare:

Dear Dawn Major,

Thank you for allowing The Greensboro Review to consider your fiction submission. We have read your work carefully but must decline to publish. We regret that the volume of submissions we receive and the small size of our staff prevent us from giving a more personal response, but we hope that you will submit to us again.

We wish you the best in placing your work elsewhere, and we thank you for your support of The Greensboro Review.

Sincerely,

The Greensboro Review

This one was not good, but also not that bad. I would categorize it as a basic rejection letter. They did, after all, encourage me to submit again.

Here are two examples of positive rejection letters. The first one is from The Missouri Review. See if you can spot the differences between positive verses bad or just so-so: 

Dear D. Major,

Sincere thanks for sending us “White Trash” for consideration. Our staff especially admired the clear, direct narrative voice in this essay. Though we’ve decided not to publish this piece, we are quite interested in seeing more of your writing and hope you’ll send other work in the near future.

Sincerely,

The Editors

—————————-

Dear Dawn,

We really like reading Nov/Dec 2017 Family Matters contest submissions because of the many views they offer about the intimacy and challenges and importance of family. “Nativity” did not place this time, but it was a good story, and we’re glad to have read it—thank you!

Warm regards,

Susan & Linda
Glimmer Train Press

If it isn’t clear (and some of you will think I am reading between the lines), the difference is the editorial comment and the encouragement to submit again. I received another rejection from The Missouri Review that was equally encouraging, but with editorial advice which was that they thought the story was funny but lacked a theme or purpose. I agree with that statement. I thought the same thing, but the story was a classic Christmas tale and the theme was rather superficial. I’m okay with that. Those sorts of comments are helpful and also require someone actually typing in individual notes other than a simple form rejection.

The moral of the story? PERSEVERE WRITERS. PERSEVERE!

Still Working on your Author Platform?

Author Platforms and Content

Blog 2

So, you have found the WordPress theme you like, purchased it, along with a domain name and now you want to go full throttle, right? Wrong. Before you launch yourself into cyberworld, you need content. Your theme is going to have spaces that desperately want to be filled. Resist the temptation to launch. WordPress will ask a zillion times if you are ready, but you are not. I learned this the hard way and then got frustrated trying to work with a system I was completely unprepared to work with while writing content at the same time You need, need, need content first. Also, note that I wrote everything in Word initially and then copied and pasted it into the page. I ran into formatting issues. I think it had to do with the theme I chose, but there’s two fixes to that. Either write in the page in WordPress or reformat in Word.

Headshots: Yuck! I know, but you need a professional photo to put on either your about me page or your home page. I had photography student take mine and it cost $25 for ten decent shots. You can find someone both reasonable and qualified. For the actual photo, think about a picture that you would want the back page of your novel. To add images you simply need to use the add media tab and insert the image. You may want to reduce or compress the image as well. The first time I added my headshot, I didn’t know how to adjust the size so my giant head was on every page of my site. The edit tab has the option to reduce the size of the image. 

Images: I posted three blogs without images and guess what? I didn’t get many hits. A friend of mine showed me a great free site for images. I found a nice retro typewriter for my home page and I was good to go. You could spend hours finding the perfect image and do so. This is the creative part. Also, while these images are free it is nice to give a shout out to the photographer, so I just tweet the image and say thanks. I use Unsplash

Home: If you’ve ever written a bio to accompany a piece of work you have submitted to a journal or a magazine, you can start with that and expand some. I think of it as mini-CV. You can showcase your writing accomplishments and published work. In my case, I listed my education, publications, and events (theatre) and collaborations (musical program) that I participated in with other artists. Note, that while I link other websites in my blog and portfolio, I don’t do this on my home page. 

About: This is where you can get creative as a writer and you should. Are you looking for collaborations (again, this is something I am doing as well)? Are you seeking publication? What type of writer are you: speculative, literary, young adult, horror, or a combination of all of there genres? What is the name of the novel you are working on and where is it set? You can also expand upon some of the items from your home page here.

Portfolio: I made sure that the WordPress theme I selected had a page for a portfolio. For now, my portfolio page contains the following: one previously published short story; the cover art from the publication; and a link to the publication in case your followers want to buy it. One of the reasons I posted the entire short story was because I wanted to edit it since it was last published. I just can’t resist! It’s not vastly different from the original publication, but I guarantee that whenever you read your printed work you will discover things that just eat at you. This was my middle ground. You can also add pages in the menu and give it your own title such as poetry or short story.

 Blog: You don’t have to blog, but how are people going to find you and discover what a compelling writer you are? I can only speak from experience, but if I had to do it over again, I would have written about two months’ worth of posts. One thing you do not want to do is post and then disappear. Once a month, once a week, daily. What works for you from a time perspective doesn’t work for others. Consistency is key here. Just stick to it. What to blog about? As you can see from my first post and this post, I decided to try to help other authors who found author platforms as mind-boggling as I did and maybe offer some insight. It really took off from there.

Happy Writing!

 

Still Working on your Author Platform?

Author Platforms and Content

Blog 2

So, you have found the WordPress theme you like, purchased it, along with a domain name and now you want to go full throttle, right? Wrong. Before you launch yourself into cyberworld, you need content. Your theme is going to have spaces that desperately want to be filled. Resist the temptation to launch. WordPress will ask a zillion times if you are ready, but you not. I learned this the hard way and then got frustrated trying to work with a system I was completely unprepared to work with while writing content at the same time You need, need, need content first. Also, note that I wrote everything in Word initially and then copied and pasted into the page. I ran into formatting issues that way. I think it had to do with the theme I chose, but there’s two fixes to that. Either write in the page in WordPress or reformat in Word.

Headshots: Yuck! I know, but you need a professional photo to put on either your about me page or your home page. I had photography student take mine and it cost $25 for ten decent shots. You can find someone both reasonable and qualified. For the actual photo, think about a picture that you would want the back page of your novel. To add images you simply need to use the add media tab and insert the image. You may want to reduce or compress the image as well. The first time I added my headshot, I didn’t know how to adjust the size so my giant head was on every page of my site. The edit tab has the option to reduce the size of the image. 

Images: I posted three blogs without images and guess what? I didn’t get many hits. A friend of mine showed me a great free site for images. I found a nice retro typewriter for my home page and I was good to go. You could spend hours finding the perfect image and do so. This is the creative part. Also, while these images are free it is nice to give a shout out to the photographer, so I just tweet the image and says thanks. I use Unsplash

Home: If you’ve ever written a bio to accompany a piece of work you have submitted to a journal or a magazine, you can start with that and expand some. I think of it a mini-CV. You can showcase your writing accomplishments and published work. In my case, I listed my education, publications, and events (theatre) and collaborations (musical program) that I participated in with other artists. Note, that while I link other websites in my blog and portfolio, I don’t do this on my home page. 

About: This is where you can get creative as a writer and you should. Are you looking for collaborations (again, this is something I am doing as well)? Are you seeking publication? What type of writer are you: speculative, literary, young adult, horror or a combination of all of there genres? What is the name of the novel you are working on and where is it set? You can also expand upon some of the items from your home page here.

Portfolio: I made sure that the WordPress theme I selected had a page for a portfolio. For now, my portfolio page contains the following: one previously published short story; the cover art from the publication; and a link to the publication in case your followers want to buy it. One of the reasons I posted the entire short story was because I wanted to edit it since it was last published. I just can’t resist! It’s not vastly different from the original publication, but I guarantee that whenever you read your printed work you will discover things that just eat at you. This was my middle ground. You can also add pages in the menu and give it your own title such as poetry or short story.

 Blog: You don’t have to blog, but how are people going to find you and discover what a compelling writer you are? I can only speak from experience, but if I had to do it over again, I would have written about two months’ worth of posts. One thing you do not want to do is post and then disappear. Once a month, once a week, daily. What works for you from a time perspective doesn’t work for others. Consistency is key here. Just stick to it. What to blog about? As you can see from my first post and this post, I decided to try to help other authors who found author platforms as mind-boggling as I did and try to offer some assistance. It really took off from there.

Happy Writing!

 

MFA Not for You: Local Creative Writing Workshops

Local Wkshp BlogIf you don’t want to pursue a MFA in creative writing, but still want the advantages of a creative writing workshop environment, there are some more affordable options out there.

Many of the universities offer continuing education courses and generally they meet up once per week in the evening for a couple of hours. For instance, I attended Emory Continuing Education and received a Creative Writing Certification prior to going full throttle and breaking the bank on my MFA. You are not required to take all of the courses, so if you are not interested in pursuing the certification you can take a single course. Do note that some courses are required to be taken in sequence. Check prices and times on website.

Sometimes local bookshops offer creative writing workshops. The Fox Tale Book Shoppe in Woodstock, GA is currently offering an eight week creative writing workshop for $145. If you are unfamiliar with the dynamics of workshopping your pieces and/or have limited time, maybe the creative writing boot camp on September 14th from 1-4 is more up your alley. Three hours for $60. Email for details and to RSVP. 

Decatur Writers Studio offers very specific courses from character development, writing academically, how to publish, perfecting your details/sensory writing; personal essay; non-fiction; and how to think like an editor. Most of the classes are typically around $85, but some of the more intense workshops are $350.

Last by not least, part of the membership benefits of joining Atlanta Writers Club are the writing critique workshops. Membership costs $50 annually and the workshops are free. You just need to find one that fits your genre and location.

Please do check the details of each workshop option above. If you are completely new to the workshopping, it can be a little intimidating exposing yourself to a new group, but my experience both academically and in small private groups is that you need feedback from a body of your peers. It’s worth the initial terror!

I will leave you with these wise words from Maya Angelou: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Happy Writing!

Halloween & Supernatural Themed Submission Requests

 

PumpkinBoo Fellow Writers!

It’s getting eerily close to my very favorite holiday, Halloween. It’s not just because the stores are stocking (or should I say stalking) candy corn and pumpkins that I mention Halloween before August is dead and buried, but because there are some serious deadlines coming up. Don’t be caught dead missing a deadline! Okay, I’m not sure the evil sounding voice that I hear while typing this post is actually coming through to you all, so I’ll stop the bad jokes. Seriously, if you have a creepy piece, you need to send it like NOW. Below are some journals/magazines requesting Halloween and/or spooky pieces for one of the following genres: flash fiction, short fiction, poetry, and non-fiction pieces. Pull your monster out from under the bed or out of the closet and get submitting!!

Written Backwards:

Theme: Miscreations; Gods; Monstrosities & Other Horrors;  Deadline: 8/31

Tigershark:

Theme: Night Terrors; Deadline: 9/30

Stormy Island Publishing:

Theme: Stories must have a supernatural theme (ghosts, spirits, demons, hauntings, anything that goes bump in the night); Deadline: 9/13

Deadman’s Tome:

Theme: Monster Party: Horror, satire, & dark fiction involving and about the less popular monsters. Set Dracula & Frankenstein aside, and let’s bring Yeti, The Mud Man, Swamp Thing, The Lizard Man, and Radioactive Ant, and so forth. Think B-Movie horror monster. You can even go international & pull from other cultural influences; Deadline: 9/15

Cleaning Up Glitter:

Theme: Honoring October holidays like Dia de los Muertos, Samhain, and All Hallows Eve by focusing on Mystery, Death and the Dead, Harvest, Season of Darkness, etc.; Deadline: 9/31

Trembling With Fear:

Theme: Halloween; Deadline: 10/13

Please do read the guidelines for submission closely. Make sure you check that you are submitting for the correct genre and word count. Also, when I was new to submitting, I didn’t always read the fine details a/k/a blah, blah, blah. Well, blah, blah, blah is super important. As an example, I will give you one of those fine details from the list above. Miscreations states that they do not accept the following: graphic, gratuitous depictions of child abuse, sexual abuse and animal abuse. Now, I wouldn’t have known this had I not read it on their submission page. They want a haunting based on a college campus? Do I have a short story for you?! My trigger happy finger hits SUBMIT before noticing they like just about anything but ghosts. See what I mean? You may love your gruesome little ghoul, but not everyone does. It wastes time for both you and whomever you are submitting to. 

 Happy Writing!

 

 

 

AJC Decatur Book Festival 2019: Presenters and Exhibitors

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Hello Fellow Writers and Readers,

The AJC Decatur Book Festival, one of the largest independent book festivals in the country, is fast approaching and I wanted to post the presenters and exhibitors that I am particularly interested in, and of course, there are all those reasonably priced books to mull over as well. Don’t feel guilty about buying another book. Authors need the support and you need to read, right? Plus, you can always hide whatever you buy in the trunk of your car and sneak those books in later when your partner is asleep. It’s so easy.

Always wanted to meet your favorite author? Writers are rock stars disguised as writers. One of my all time favorite short story writers, George Singleton, will be there. Don’t be frightened to get your book signed or worry about what comes out of your mouth. I consistently say something embarrassing to authors I admire. At least they will remember you, right? They’re generally harmless unless its their writing time. Then, I suggest keeping you hands in your pocket and remaining mute.

Here’s my list: 

Stacey Abrams: Lead from the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change

  • First Baptist Decatur Sanctuary presented by AJC
  • Sat 10:00-10:45a Baptist

Richard Blanco and Natalie Scenters-Zapico, PEN American Immigration Track:

  • Decatur Presbyterian Sanctuary presented by Emory University
  • Sat 12:30-1:15p Presbyterian

Megan Volpert and Lisa Ferrell: Bending Genre, Unexpected Stories:

  • Marriott Conference Center Auditorium
  • Sat 12:30-1:15p Marriott Auditorium

Casey Cep: Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee:

  • Marriott Conference Center B presented by Atlanta Pro AV
  • Sat 12:30-1:15p Marriott B

George Singleton and Anna Schacher: Narrative Voices of the South:

  • Decatur City Hall presented by City of Decatur
  • Sat 5:30-6:15p City Hall

Janisse Ray: Coastal Nature, Coastal Culture, Sponsored by The Ossabaw Island Foundation and Education Alliance

  • First Baptist Decatur Carreker Hall presented by Mailchimp
  • Sat 5:30-6:15p Carreker

Poetry Reading: Jericho Brown, Lauren K. Alleyne:

  • Decatur Presbyterian Sanctuary presented by Emory University
  • Sun 2:30-3:15p Presbyterian

If you are interested in pursuing higher education, there are several universities with exhibiters that provide information on their MFA creative writing programs. Reinhardt University, MFA-Creative Writing, where I received my MFA, will be there at Booth #205. Ask for Bill Walsh. He’s the program director and an amazing poet. If you click the link, I’m the graduate in the middle.

I’ll be at the Atlanta Writers Club (AWC) booths 101-103 on Sunday at 2:00. Come visit me and join up! The club is beneficial to writers of all stages in their career, even if writing is only a hobby. They have workshops, lectures, and an annual writing conference, and so much more.

Here’s a list of exhibitors I plan to visit, but this is just a drop in the bucket of who is going to be there:

Atlanta Shakespeare Company: Booth 113; Atlanta History Center: Booths 521-522; Horror Writers Association: Atlanta Chapter: Booths 505-507; Georgia Humanities Booths: 509-512; Georgia Writers Association: Booth E; The Georgia Review: Booth 503; Jambo Book Club: Booth 609; Pat Conroy Literary Center: Booth 508; Serenbe Playhouse: Booth 110; Shut Up & Write!: Booth 624; The Wrens Nest: Booth 624

Several publishers will be present from traditional publishing houses to self-publishing. Since this is the next step in my writing career that I am focusing, I’ll be checking the options out and plan to blog on this topic at a later date.

There’s stuff for the kiddies, too. The Children’s Parade starts at 9:30 on Saturday and 11:30 on Sunday beginning at the Community Band Stand and ending at the Children’s Stage. There are tons of books for children and teens.

Some of the special events require tickets and have sold out, so please make sure you check the special event page on the site first. I totally missed out on Sonia Sotomayor. That said, the rest is free and open to the public. Just make sure you get there early to get your seat in the front row where I like to be, except for I’ll be at the end of the row (anti-social behavior sometimes associated with writer types). The heavy hitters fill up quick.

There’s food trucks, beer and wine and Decatur’s Square offers a ton of awesome restaurants and bars.

See you there.

Happy Writing and Happy Reading!

Dawn