READING AND WRITING


 

READING AND WRITING

Rory C. Keel

Recently I had the privilege of participating as a Judge in the Panhandle Professional Writers Youth writing Contest. This contest is an outreach to encourage and promote writing among school age children. I am truly amazed at the interest in writing from the students that enter their pieces to be critiqued.

On several other occasions I’ve had the opportunity to speak at public schools on the topic of writing. The first point I usually emphases is –

“If you can read and write – YOU CAN DO ANYTHING!”

If a person can read with understanding and can write ideas, there is no limit to what they can accomplish.

Roryckeel.com

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WRITING CONTESTS BENEFITS


Writing Contests Benefits

By Rory C. Keel

It cost money; why should I enter? What benefit will a contest be for my writing and me? I’m not good enough so I’ll never win.

Those who are looking at entering writing contests frequently express these statements and questions. I know, I’ve asked most of them myself.

Having entered my share of writing contests, let me offer some positive benefits from my personal experience.

  1. Training for working with deadlines – Writing contests give a writer the opportunity to work under a deadline. Most contests will have strict dates for submitting an entry. This is good conditioning for working with agents, editors, and publishers who will place deadlines on your writing.
  2. Provides automatic platform – A platform is your audience, those who will read your writing. While your mother and “BFF” will gladly volunteer readership, contest judges can provide you with an unbiased and anonymous audience for your writing. And who knows, the judge may be an agent, editor or publisher.
  3. Gain feedback – One of the most valuable benefits of a writing contest is the critique. To have the judge’s comments noting any mistakes, suggestions for improvement and yes, even praise can help improve your writing.
  4. Build your portfolio – Writing contests are a perfect why to build your portfolio. When seeking an agent or publisher, a few writing clips, accomplishments and certificates may be the edge you need to sell the deal.
  5. Increase your confidence – Entering a contest gives a writer the opportunity to gain confidence in their writing. Have you ever written something only to tear it up or hide it in a drawer? Have you ever said, “I could never write good enough to be published!” A writing contest provides an inexpensive way to test the waters of being an author.
  6. Avoid scam contests – As with most everything, there are people who take advantage of others. Before entering a contest, research the person or organization holding the contest and make sure they are legitimate. There are a few contests that are no more than book selling scams. When your entry wins, it is accepted for publication in an anthology, with all of the other first place winners, then you must pay an outrageous price to obtain a copy. Winningwriters.com lists a few of these writing contests to avoid.To help find your next contest check out www.placesforwriters.com or www.fundsforwriters.com

GEMS


GEMS

 by Sharon Stevens

If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought

into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.

George MacDonald

 

William, our son-in-law who is a classically trained executive chef at Blaze Sports Grill in Arlington Texas loaned what was to me a priceless gem… “MOTHER’S RECEIPT BOOK”. He had received this book from one of his colleagues, and immediately thought of me. Imagine, holding in your hand a book from 1906 filled with hundreds of “receipts”, and chapter upon chapters of household hints. Each page helpful advice for the busy wife. Even though this book wasn’t from around this area I could still relate. The year was 1906, after the city of Canyon was founded in 1888, and already a thriving city. The college, which would later become WTAMU was a dream in the minds of the city fathers, and in four short years would become a reality. At this time many of the residents of the city were still living in dugouts.

I wonder how many newlyweds carried these kinds of books over the plains in a covered wagon or on a train, packed in trunks in the baggage car along with the household goods. Can you believe how frightened a young bride was of making a happy home hundreds of miles away from the nearest neighbor. Who could she ask? Who would be there for her? Who would hear her cry? How in the world could she know what foods her husband liked, or what favorites HIS mother made especially for HIM. And what would become a family gem through the years for the family and the children.

I remember reading in Loula Grace Erdman’s book, “The Wind Blows Free” of a young woman coming out to start a life with her husband. As their team pulled up to the dugout she told her husband that the first item she wanted to put inside was the cloth calendar her mother sent with her where everything had been marked as to when to plant or to set the hens. She wrote that this was the one thing that she knew would make the earthen walls pretty in her new home reminding her of the treasures left behind.

My grandmother was a cook at the old Neblett Hospital and every time I saw Dr. Nester he would give his stomach a pat and tell me that his expanding belly was due to my grandmother’s creamed eggs on toast. He loved her cooking and she was the only one who could make them.

As writers we come across these “gems” day in and day out. We can use them as prompts, or as writing exercises or character analysis. With each sentence we can imagine the setting, the rooms, the colors, the mood. We can either celebrate the life contained in the book, or delve deeper into the sentiment expressed within. Imagine the loneliness with only a book to keep you company, or the joy of remembering family as you turn each page. And how in the world did so many woman find time to write when faced with all that they had to do? Phebe Warner and Laura Hamner, founders of Panhandle Professional Writers, were indeed miraculous women!

The “receipt” I found in this book was for “Gems” or otherwise known as muffins and I just had to include it in my blog as well as the instructions below for washing. And I am sharing it simply so that all of us can count our blessings! Thanks Chef Williams for sharing such a “gem”!

Enjoy!

I cannot leave this weeks blog without honoring the memory of George Koumalots and James L. ”Bunk” Brashears. Both veterans, both served in World War II. Koumalots was a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne that jumped on D-Day into Normandy. Brashears served in Japan and the Philippines and was on a ship parallel to where the Japanese commander was signing the end of the war. He got to watch it through binoculars. I took creative writing classes from George’s daughter-in-law Jodi Thomas and I was able to write this blog with the gifts she shared with me and her inspiration. May all of the families celebrating the life of these brave men have such sweet peace as they share memories together.

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”Few know how necessary care is in the making and baking of gems, and that often the recipes which they find unreliable would prove very different, if they were rightly used….Make a hotter fire for baking gems than for anything. If the oven is right, the gems will rise until about three times as large as when put into the oven, and but a few minutes will be required for baking them.”

 

BANANA GEMS

1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup water, 3 eggs, 1 teaspoon baking powder

Make batter and stir in 2 bananas sliced thin. Fill cups half full and steam an hour.

 Eat with thin cream.

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“To Wash With Kerosene-Soak white clothes over night, or an hour or two in the morning, in hard water. Fill a No.9 boiler two-thirds full of soft water. Slice one and one-half bars of soap into a basin of warm water; let it dissolve and come to a boil. Wring the soaked clothes dry. If the water is boiling in the boiler, and the soap ready, pour a little more than half of the liquid into the boiler, and immediately add three tablespoonfuls of kerosene; one tablespoonful of kerosene to one-quarter of a pound of soap is a fair proportion. Shake out the clothes, and put them into the boiler, leaving the coarse articles for the next boiling. Let the clothes boil ten minutes, stirring them almost all the time. If the water looks milky, greasy, or a little scum rises, pour in enough soap water to remove any such appearances. Take the clothes out from the boiler into the tub. and cover them with plenty of fresh water. Dip out part of the water from the boiler, add more hot water, soap and kerosene, and boil the rest of the clothes. Wring the clothes from the suds into plenty of clear water, rinse well, put them through the bluing water, and hang them smoothly upon the lines. Calicoes may be washed in the suds water, as enough of the soap and kerosene remain there to cleanse them well. Rinse, blue, starch, and hang them to dry. Plenty of soap and water with the kerosene, if these directions are followed, will give clear, white clothes with very little of the hard work necessary in rubbing clothes according to the usual manner of washing.”

“If time and strength are to be saved, be careful to shake out the clothes well, and see that sheets, pillowcases, towels, etc., hang smoothly from the line. When perfectly dry take down the sheets, fold and roll them into a smooth, tight roll, and pin down the hems. They will be without a wrinkle on the beds, though they may lack the gloss the iron gives. If there is time to iron pillowcases, treat them in the same way. Take the towels, snap them, fold them in the usual manner, and crease them with an iron. They will take less room on the shelf or in the drawer. Roll the nightgowns like the sheets. It is better to iron tablecloths, napkins and handkerchiefs, but they look fairly well if rolled like the sheets. Turn, shake, stretch, in shape stockings and flannels, and fold them ready for use. The starched clothes alone remain to be ironed. Let busy women try this plan of ironing.”

Success


Success

By Rory C. Keel

I revisited an article on success written when I served as President of the Panhandle Professional Writers organization. It helps to keep me moving forward and successful in my writing.

President’s report by Rory Craig Keel 

“The word successful is an adjective that is defined as “accomplishing an aim or purpose.”

Some of us have been successful in our writing by simply starting the writing process, or by learning how to write better. Others have been successful in completing and having a piece of work published. Yet others were successful in marketing their completed and published works.

Being successful is not a static or finite level a person reaches, never to be pushed off as if they were playing King of the Hill, but it is a description of someone that continues to move forward in their goals.

January 2010 PPW Window, 

Here is my simple plan for success.

1. Today – Set an achievable goal and meet it.

2. Tomorrow – Set an achievable goal and meet it.

3. The day after tomorrow – Set an achievable goal and meet it.

When I set small goals and meet them, that’s success.

Don’t wait to be successful, do it today.

roryckeel.com 

BOSTON


BOSTON

“Every step tells a story”

 Freedom Trail

By Sharon Stevens

 

So many years ago I took a creative writing class at Amarillo College from Jodi Thomas and DeWanna Pace.  In the first class Jodi asked us to write a story about finding a shoe. The friend that had encouraged me to take the class had told me about this so I was prepared…somewhat.  I debated and contemplated day after day about what I would write. The whole six weeks of class I worried about my shoe. I have taken three creative writing classes since that time, as well as also attended writing conferences, and joined the Panhandle Professional Writers, one of the oldest continuous writing groups in the country. And I still hadn’t prepared my thoughts on shoes.

Jodi explained that the best advice she ever received was, “Put feet to your dreams.”

And I couldn’t quit worrying about my shoe.

Some time ago I watched a Native American storyteller, Eldrina Douma, share a story at the Branding Iron Theatre at WTAMU about finding a moccasin, and that this was the spirit of her grandfather reminding her of home. After her performance I asked her what gave her the insight to share such a story and she said she had taken Jodi’s class and this was what she had written about the shoe.

A few weeks ago I was watching a news program about Boston and across the screen I glimpsed one of the road signs for their Freedom Trail exclaim, “Every step tells a story.” I was so moved by this simple statement I wrote this down and referred to it over and over and over again, never knowing what an impact these five words would hold for me. And I could NEVER fathom that they would connect to a tragedy in this dedicated and patriotic city.

There are no words to explain or describe a story such as this. You can write every thought using all phrases and dictionary definitions and still you can’t come up with anything close to the memories the whole world will suffer from now on.

At the bookstore we had a family attending New Student Orientation at WTAMU and the mom asked about crime in our community and whether it was safe. You could see as the weight lifted off their shoulders as I explained how closely our campus police, sheriff and police department work together. The dad explained that they lived close to Virginia Tech and they didn’t want to ask, but since we shared about our community so freely they were greatly relieved. Another visitor came into our store and when I asked her where she was from she was very evasive. She said they were from Colorado and after much prodding she explained she was from Aurora Colorado. She just didn’t want to say as whenever she shared she got funny looks and had to tell everyone what she knew.

Someday a family connected to each of these tragedies may step into our community looking for a safe place to rest. As all those who witnessed the Boston bombing and the kids grow, and leave their homes, we may be the ones they turn to as they journey through life. They may come to the musical drama TEXAS or our Panhandle Plains Historical Museum or any of our countless museum or attractions. With the new marketing campaign of “Make Memories in Canyon” they may travel to our area to find a sense of fun or a moment of peace. Who knows?

The Freedom Trail will forever be marred with the blood of those killed and injured. And of course the trail itself is a reminder of the bloodiest battles of the Revolutionary War. And even though the trail may be miles away from the actual bombing, as far as our hearts are concerned the whole city will be connected with pain and ugliness.

I just hope and pray that families will once again walk in the trail of freedom, but that no one ever again has to write a story such as this, and that NO ONE has to follow in the footsteps of the bomber, or the victims, or their families.

I just don’t think I could walk a mile in their shoes.

From the Freedom Trail website…. Though the Hub was filled with marvelously well-preserved historic sites — ranging from Paul Revere’s house and the Old North Church to the Old State House and the Old South Meetinghouse — there was no organized route linking these gems together. So in March 1951, Bill Schofield, columnist and editor for the Herald Traveler, wrote to suggest that citizens get together to create the link that would tie the story of the American Revolution together making it easy and enjoyable for residents and visitors. Businessmen and women, elected officials, and non-profits worked together to designate a walking trail on Boston’s sidewalks in front of 16 historically significant buildings and locations. What to call the new path? Rejecting Puritan Path, Liberty Loop, and Freedom’s Way the group settled on the Freedom Trail. Now a national brand, trademarked by the Freedom Trail Foundation, it sets the standard for historic trails.

SWORDDRILL


SWORDDRILL

Sharon Stevens

I was so sorry to have missed the last Panhandle Professional Writers meeting due to a family emergency. Jan Epton Seale spoke several years ago at a conference at WTAMU, and it was such a joy to hear her stories. I purchased one of her books and stuck it in my bag. The next day my husband, mom and aunt would be making our yearly trek to the family homestead in East Texas for a reunion, and then for the Sunday service at the little country church. This book would be something to take along for the trip.

After we got on the road I pulled out the book, explaining the story. Jan’s father was a Baptist preacher and her book contained poetry and snippets of family and community life in a small town. I was encouraged to read out loud. Could be it was to keep me from talking. Either way the miles began to pass as I started turned the pages. One of the chapters had to do with Sword Drills. We were Methodists except for my husband, and he instantly remembered this Baptist tradition. The kids in Sunday school would line up holding their closed Bibles in front of their chest waiting for the signal. The teacher called out a Bible verse, and the child who was first in finding chapter and verse won the drill.

This led each of us to reminisce about memories growing up. We shared about Church picnics, (fun whatever the faith), Baptism (sprinkling versus dunking), fire and brimstone (the Methodist church doesn’t have too many pulpit pounding services.)

When we arrived at the church my great aunt was sitting in her pew with several friends clustered around her. I took Jan’s book and began circulating among those gathered at the church. Each one signed the inside after I told them I would be giving it to my aunt after the service as a gift and record of the memories of our time together.

My aunt was over ninety years old and she sent me a letter telling me how much she enjoyed reading and rereading the stories and remembering each person at the church that day. I was assured by her family that she cherished this until her death years later.

As writers we may not know the journey our stories will take when they are published. Who can fathom how far they may travel? Just think, Jan Seale wrote her book from a Baptist standpoint of her childhood memories, but it was shared several years later to those with a common faith. I so wanted to tell her at the Panhandle Professional Writers meeting how much this book meant to me, and how I shared it with others. I know that to a writer there is no greater accolade.

Recently I saw a facebook post encouraging people to write fan letters to five favorite authors. There are so many in my life that I need to write to. Loula Grace Erdman, Jodi Thomas, Natalie Bright, DeWanna Pace, and now Jan Epton Seale, are just a few out of thousands on my “bucket list” that deserve to be honored. I know that it will take a lifetime to list them all, and then another to put words to paper. How can I ever find the write words? So little time and so many thoughts.

But, when I do finally sit down to focus on the task at hand, in the back of my mind, with each note written, I will always remember Jan, and the sword drill.

SWORDDRILL


SWORDDRILL

Sharon Stevens

I was so sorry to have missed the last Panhandle Professional Writers meeting due to a family emergency. Jan Epton Seale spoke several years ago at a conference at WTAMU, and it was such a joy to hear her stories. I purchased one of her books and stuck it in my bag. The next day my husband, mom and aunt would be making our yearly trek to the family homestead in East Texas for a reunion, and then for the Sunday service at the little country church. This book would be something to take along for the trip.

After we got on the road I pulled out the book, explaining the story. Jan’s father was a Baptist preacher and her book contained poetry and snippets of family and community life in a small town. I was encouraged to read out loud. Could be it was to keep me from talking. Either way the miles began to pass as I started turned the pages. One of the chapters had to do with Sword Drills. We were Methodists except for my husband, and he instantly remembered this Baptist tradition. The kids in Sunday school would line up holding their closed Bibles in front of their chest waiting for the signal. The teacher called out a Bible verse, and the child who was first in finding chapter and verse won the drill.

This led each of us to reminisce about memories growing up. We shared about Church picnics, (fun whatever the faith), Baptism (sprinkling versus dunking), fire and brimstone (the Methodist church doesn’t have too many pulpit pounding services.)

When we arrived at the church my great aunt was sitting in her pew with several friends clustered around her. I took Jan’s book and began circulating among those gathered at the church. Each one signed the inside after I told them I would be giving it to my aunt after the service as a gift and record of the memories of our time together.

My aunt was over ninety years old and she sent me a letter telling me how much she enjoyed reading and rereading the stories and remembering each person at the church that day. I was assured by her family that she cherished this until her death years later.

As writers we may not know the journey our stories will take when they are published. Who can fathom how far they may travel? Just think, Jan Seale wrote her book from a Baptist standpoint of her childhood memories, but it was shared several years later to those with a common faith. I so wanted to tell her at the Panhandle Professional Writers meeting how much this book meant to me, and how I shared it with others. I know that to a writer there is no greater accolade.

Recently I saw a facebook post encouraging people to write fan letters to five favorite authors. There are so many in my life that I need to write to. Loula Grace Erdman, Jodi Thomas, Natalie Bright, DeWanna Pace, and now Jan Epton Seale, are just a few out of thousands on my “bucket list” that deserve to be honored. I know that it will take a lifetime to list them all, and then another to put words to paper. How can I ever find the write words? So little time and so many thoughts.

But, when I do finally sit down to focus on the task at hand, in the back of my mind, with each note written, I will always remember Jan, and the sword drill.

Announcement


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Announcement 

By Nandy Ekle

This year’s spring season seems to be here. Spring is that time of year when young things are born and older things take deep breaths of relief. The harsh ice storms are getting further apart and the sun becomes stronger. The new world can’t wait to open up.

We’ve been locked indoors all winter watching the weather beat us with wind and snow. And what have we done while avoiding opening the front door? Hopefully we’ve been putting our perceptions of the world on paper. We’ve created places and people in impossible situations. We’ve spent time away from our own cold dark days having adventures that are meant to warm everyone who reads them.

With the spring sun the leaves bud on the trees, the flowers bloom and your work needs a place to go. And I have the perfect place!

The Panhandle Professional Writers right here in Amarillo, Texas, is sponsoring a writing contest called Frontiers in Writing. Get your winter stories, dress them up and send them off to be read and judged. Money prizes wait for you. Professional eyes wait for you. Prestige waits for you. Your fans wait for you.

I just have one question: What are YOU waiting for?

www.Panhandleprowriters.org.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Jan Epton Seale


Jan Epton Seale

www.janseale.com

Jan Epton Seale, the 2012-13 Texas Poet Laureate, is a native Texan who lives in McAllen, in the southern tip of Texas. She is the author of seven volumes of poetry, two books of short fiction, three books of nonfiction, and nine children’s books.

Her writing has appeared in many magazines and newspapers including The Yale Review, Texas Monthly, The Chicago Tribune, and Writer’s Digest. Some anthologies including her work are Writing on the Wind, Let’s Hear It!, Red Boots and Attitude, If I Had My Life to Live Over, Cries of the Spirit, Mixed Voices, This Place in Memory, and Birds in the Hand.

In l982, Seale received a National Endowment for the Arts creative writing fellowship in poetry. Seven of her short stories were chosen in the P.E.N. Syndicated Fiction Awards series. Her poetry has received the Kathryn Morris Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of Texas, and the Bill Burke Award and Dolly Sprunk Memorial Award from the New York Poetry Forum. Her stories and poems have been broadcast over National Public Radio.

Workshops and readings by Seale have taken place in Washington, Oregon, Oklahoma, Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico, and in Texas in Dallas, Denton, Waco, Houston, Abilene, El Paso, Austin, and San Antonio, as well as many in the Rio Grande Valley.

For 16 years she was the South Texas editor of Texas Books in Review. Other editorial work includes serving as a founding editor of RiverSedge literary journal and as an editor of The Valley Land Fund pictorial volumes.

Seale was born in Pilot Point, Texas, graduated from Waxahachie High School, attended Baylor University, and received a B.A. from The University of Louisville and a M.A. from North Texas State University.

She taught English and creative writing at The University of Texas-Pan American and at North Texas State University. For a number of years, she has taught workshops in creative and memoir writing, both locally and nationally at conference centers such as Ghost Ranch in New Mexico, Gemini Ink in San Antonio, and Mo Ranch in the Hill Country of Texas.

Seale is available for readings of her work and for workshops in writing poetry and nonfiction. Besides these genre interests, she specializes in the subject areas of memoir, nature, aging, spirituality, and women’s lives. She is on the Speaker’s Bureau for Humanities Texas, speaking about the influence of personal stories on family life. She is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters.

Jan Seale and her husband Carl, a retired symphony conductor and composer, have three grown sons and four grandsons. www.janseale.com

Panhandle Professional Writers

Saturday, March 16 we look forward to having Jan Seale, with “Writing the Story of Your Life.”  Want to learn the basic story structure to use, what to include, and pitfalls?  Come hear Jan’s talk on writing one’s memoirs.  Greeting time begins at 9:30 a.m. at Amarillo Senior Citizens, 1219 S. Tyler, Amarillo, TX. – entrance on the southwest corner.  Join us for lunch at Noon:  Pasta La Mexican – Penne pasta topped with diced chicken, mixed vegetables, and pablano cream sauce.  Top this off with fresh tomatoes, corn relish and cilantro.  Dessert and drinks are included, all for $10.00, with morning and afternoon snacks also provided.  Come join us to learn more on “Writing the Story of Your Life.”

You may make lunch reservations by contacting Donna Otto at ppwlunch@gmail.com

WRITING CONTESTS BENEFITS


Announcing

2013 Frontiers in Writing Contest

Now open for entries

 For one low entry fee you can now enter multiple categories

Cash prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in EVERY category.

Go to:

www.Panhandleprowriters.org

Entry rules, procedures and format regulations are listed on the FiW Writing Contest page

Download FiW entry Application and mail along with your entry.

Entry fees can be check or Money order, or pay online using “Payments” on the PPW website.

Sponsored by the Panhandle Professional Writers

Writing Contests Benefits

By Rory C. Keel

It cost money; why should I enter? What benefit will a contest be for my writing and me? I’m not good enough so I’ll never win.

Those who are looking at entering writing contests frequently express these statements and questions. I know, I’ve asked most of them myself.

Having entered my share of writing contests, let me offer some positive benefits from my personal experience.

  1. Training for working with deadlines – Writing contests give a writer the opportunity to work under a deadline. Most contests will have strict dates for submitting an entry. This is good conditioning for working with agents, editors, and publishers who will place deadlines on your writing.
  2. Provides automatic platform – A platform is your audience, those who will read your writing. While your mother and “BFF” will gladly volunteer readership, contest judges can provide you with an unbiased and anonymous audience for your writing. And who knows, the judge may be an agent, editor or publisher.
  3. Gain feedback – One of the most valuable benefits of a writing contest is the critique. To have the judge’s comments noting any mistakes, suggestions for improvement and yes, even praise can help improve your writing.
  4. Build your portfolio – Writing contests are a perfect why to build your portfolio. When seeking an agent or publisher, a few writing clips, accomplishments and certificates may be the edge you need to sell the deal.
  5. Increase your confidence – Entering a contest gives a writer the opportunity to gain confidence in their writing. Have you ever written something only to tear it up or hide it in a drawer? Have you ever said, “I could never write good enough to be published!” A writing contest provides an inexpensive way to test the waters of being an author.
  6. Avoid scam contests – As with most everything, there are people who take advantage of others. Before entering a contest, research the person or organization holding the contest and make sure they are legitimate. There are a few contests that are no more than book selling scams. When your entry wins, it is accepted for publication in an anthology, with all of the other first place winners, then you must pay an outrageous price to obtain a copy. Winningwriters.com lists a few of these writing contests to avoid. To help find your next contest check out www.placesforwriters.com or www.fundsforwriters.com