Friday, January 31, 2014

Owl Hat!

I must say, I love the current trend of owl themes for children's stuff. I designed this owl hat for my daughter so she could be an owl for Halloween. (Sounded easier than making a full costume!) The knitting pattern is now for sale here on ravelry.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Winter Farmers' Markets

My radio story on winter farmers' markets aired on WXPR today. One of the pleasures of freelancing for radio (or print) is that you can choose stories that matter to you. I'm proud that my town offers an opportunity to buy locally produced foods (like this goat cheese, above) straight from farmers year round. May more people come!

Monday, January 27, 2014


Sorry I've been delinquent, folks. I've been holed up inside working on radio stories, which is the perfect thing to do in this weather--negative 12 here at noon, with wind chills down to negative 40. Ahh, winter in the Northwoods.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Emily Recommends: Writing Picture Books

I am doing a happy dance over Ann Whitford Paul's thoughtful, clearly written guide, Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation to Publication. The title is apt. Every chapter has an exercise at the end to help you conceive, write, and market and picture book. I'm learning so much. If you've ever dreamed of writing a picture book, read this first.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Writers Beware

Oh dear writers, guard yourselves carefully.

The other night, I was searching through calls for poetry anthologies. I was wandering around on google, checking Poets & Writers and for running across new ideas, though never on these sites have I found journals that pay.

Which is wrong.

But that's an old story, so we'll move on from the importance of writers and poets being paid for their art (and not accepting anything else) to something far worse. It was late, and I was wandering aimlessly, when I found a call from Savant Publications that stopped me still. I actually said aloud, "This is evil." I quote from their "call for submissions" page:

"There is no submission fee. No complementary copies will be issued. Instead, poets agree by submitting one or more poems to purchase ten (10) copies of the anthology at half-off the suggested retail price if any one or more of their poems are accepted for publication."

(Insert buzzer sound here.) Writers, beware. You should NEVER submit your work anywhere that requires you to pay for the privilege of being published. (I'm not talking about reading fees, which have become more common among literary journals.) Offering you a discount on books is normal. Requiring you to buy any given number of books is wrong. 

You know what this says? They have no marketing plan and no money for one. Their grand marketing plan, I would imagine, is to cram as many poets as they can onto those pages and expect them alone to generate sales by, I don't know, giving it to their grandmothers. 

Your grandmother is no doubt lovely, but she is not a marketing plan. Dear writers, please avoid.  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Navigating Stuckness

In continuing my trend of posting new ideas that have changed the way we think, here is a fabulous article from Transom by painter/programmer/producer/storyteller/etc. Jonathan Harris. He's had more careers in 15 years--in more areas--with more success than most rooms full of people.

He writes, during a time when he was recently feeling totally stuck, "I thought of my life as a series of chapters, and I realized that each time I’d been majorly stuck, it meant that a life chapter was ending, and that a new one needed to start — like the stuckness was always a signal indicating imminent change."

And now, to go write another 1000 words on my new novel...

Still on my mind

Just finished Remarkable Creatures, and I'll be thinking about it for a long time. It makes me want to learn and discover.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Emily Recommends: Remarkable Creatures

My parents are the best recommenders of books I know. This one comes through my dad, the geology major: Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Species, by Sean Carroll.

I can't put it down.

Well written, quickly paced, Carroll offers us a chapter each on intrepid explorers whose work in different fields of science led us to fill in the missing links in our understanding of how life on this planet evolved. Their journeys takes us to Darwin's Galapagos, to the Amazon, to Java, to the Mongolian plains, to the Rockies--and I'm only half way through. Want to know how someone figured out what killed the dinosaurs? It's in here. And it reads like a novel.

I highly recommend this book, especially if
  • you are fascinated with how new ideas are conceived and introduced to the doubting public
  • are curious and like to learn
  • like real-life adventure stories
  • have a child who wants to spend all of his time poking around outdoors, ignoring much of school (as this was the childhood of most of the explorers.)
Do let me know what you think.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Poem of the Week

An astounding poem by Natalie Diaz, which happens to reference another poem I love by Wislawa Szymborska. This one will stay with you.

Poem of the Week:   
Natalie Diaz  


Why I Don't Mention Flowers When Conversations with My Brother Reach Uncomfortable Silences
Forgive me, distant wars, for bringing
                                     flowers home.

--Wislawa Szymborska

In the Kashmir mountains,
my brother shot many men,
blew skulls from brown skins,
dyed white desert sand crimson.

What is there to say to a man
who has traversed such a world,
whose hands and eyes have
betrayed him?

Were there flowers there? I asked.

This is what he told me:

In a village, many men
wrapped a woman in a sheet.
She didn't struggle.
Her bare feet dragged in the dirt.

They laid her in the road
and stoned her.

The first man was her father.
He threw two stones in a row.
Her brother had filled his pockets
with stones on the way there.

The crowd was a hive
of disturbed bees. The volley
of stones against her body
drowned out her moans.

Blood burst through the sheet
like a patch of violets,
a hundred roses in bloom.

-Natalie Diaz
Used by permission.

From When My Brother Was an Aztec (Copper Canyon Press, 2012)  

Natalie Diaz grew up in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Community. After playing professional basketball in Europe and Asia for several years, she completed her MFA in poetry and fiction at Old Dominion University. She was awarded the Bread Loaf 2012 Louis Untermeyer Scholarship in Poetry, the 2012 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Literature Fellowship, a 2012 Lannan Residency, as well as being awarded a 2012 Lannan Literary Fellowship. She won a Pushcart Prize in 2013. Her first book, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published in 2012 by Copper Canyon Press. She lives in Mohave Valley, AZ, and directs a language revitalization program at Fort Mojave, her home reservation. There she works and teaches with the last Elder speakers of the Mojave language.

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If you are interested in reading past poems of the week, feel free to visit the blog archive.