“Aging in a Cup”
When I was five,
there were no second thoughts
with that first cool sip
of sweet and tart–
the morning juice, the sugar rush
and tasty treat I was permitted
for the sake of a daily dose of vitamin C,
to be taken each morning
with a bowl of dry Frosted Flakes.
Now decades have passed,
and that cold glass of sunshine
is an act of bravery,
only possible when
taken with powder-yellow tablets;
stubborn determination tastes
like chalk on my tongue
and sours my stomach.
It’s worth it.
*Thank you for visiting. If you would like to meet me and some other local writers, please come to the Local Author Fair at Massillon Public Library on Saturday, November 11th, from 11am–2pm. I hope to see you there!
Each November begins the literary mayhem known internationally as National Novel Writing Month–affectionately referred to as NaNoWriMo. Aspiring novelists throughout the world take the challenge to write a 50,000 word rough draft novel. The rules are simple: you can’t start the actual prose before midnight on the first of the month; you must finish by midnight on the thirtieth; and the plot should have a beginning, middle, and end. Of course, you could always participate as a NaNoWriMo Rebel, which lots of people do, in order to ride the creative energy of all the writers working through November.
All you need to do is sign up to be a participant at the NaNoWriMo site and enter your wordcount each day. In return, you get access to chatrooms, fun writing tools to keep track of your word count and how close you are to your goal, and (if you “win”) some prizes donated by site sponsors! One of the prizes this year is three months of free Evernote!
So, you could be a plotter (someone who likes to plan out their novel) or a pantser (someone who writes without an outline–seat of the pants) or someone firmly in the middle. I tend to like a loose outline so I don’t lose track of where I’m going, but there’s no firm rule. Just do whatever works for you.
And remember, the goal is to write a ROUGH DRAFT NOVEL. So the main goal is QUANTITY over QUALITY. After all, the idea is to stop procrastinating whatever story you want to write and just get it down, because you can’t edit a blank page. Editing is for AFTER November. So give yourself permission to write badly, let loose those creative spider monkeys, and see what they turn up!
Every year I have participated, I have completed my goal, so I thought I would share my strategy. It might work for you. If it doesn’t, feel free to do your own thing!
Have fun this month, and happy noveling! If you want to follow my progress and be writing buddies on the NaNoWriMo site, my alias is ganymeder. Good luck!
Literary Cleveland’s INKubator conference takes place tomorrow, Saturday the 29th, from 8:30 am – 5 pm, at the Main Branch of the Cleveland Public Library. If you are interested in going to this completely free writers’ conference, there’s still time to register for craft talks and workshops. Instruction is given by experienced writers in different genres, in everything ranging from poetry and comics to researching nonfiction books. Since this is an all day conference, you may want to pack a lunch to eat in the library’s lovely Eastman Reading Garden. Between events you may also want to stop at the library’s Superman exhibit, basically the closest thing there is to a Superman museum, since Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman while living in this great city.
There’s always plenty of smaller writing events taking place in Northeast Ohio as well, such as the bi-monthly Poetry Workshop, another free event at the Cleveland Main Library. The next meeting will be on Saturday, August 12th, from 10:30 am to 12:30pm. If you’d like to get the most out of the experience, be sure to bring about a dozen copies of a poem you would like to get feedback on–although if you’d like to just sit in, that’s perfectly welcome as well. Either way, you’ll be sure to learn more about the craft!
And it’s still early, so you have plenty of time to get ready for the annual Western Reserve Writers’ Conference on Saturday, September the 23rd. It’s another completely free writers’ conference, this time hosted by the South Euclid-Lyndhurst Branch of Cuyahoga Library!
Also, I’d like to leave you with a friendly reminder to check your local libraries as well as the Literary Cleveland website for more free (and sometimes not) writing events in the Northeast Ohio area. Even if you are not blessed to live near two of the top ten library systems in the entire country, chances are your local library will do everything they can to support their writers–so take advantage of every opportunity.
I know it’s a bit late, but the publication of Raging Aardvark‘s flash anthology is finally here! Please visit FaceBook for the Launch Party if you’d like to congratulate the authors, and I’m including some helpful links below for purchasing the book. I’m very happy to say my flash story, Mirror, appears in this anthology!
If you’d like a paperback copy of the book, it’s selling for only $6.25. Twisted Tales is being sold without a profit, in order to promote the art of flash fiction. If you feel generous, please write a review when you are done. Flash Fiction, for those of you not exposed to it before, is simply very short fiction–usually a complete story under a thousand words. Every year there are events for (Inter)national Flash Fiction Day, and this anthology is a celebration of both the event and the writing itself.
If you can not afford to buy the paperback, you can also read the stories online at the publisher’s personal website, linked below. Simply scroll back though the stories, and enjoy!
I’m very happy to have been included in this anthology, and I hope you enjoy reading the stories as much as I have. Now, go read some flash fiction!
First of all, thank you for visiting! Normally, I post either poetry or short fiction, but every so often I like to share events going on in my area of Ohio. I try to update this blog once every two weeks.
I’m not sure how you made your way here, but I’ve recently attempted to consolidate my brand by updating my blog addresses and emails. This blog can be found via both https://catrussellwriter.wordpress.com/ and http://ganymeder.com/ . My other blog, which is more formal and serves as a resume, can be found at https://authorcatrussell.wordpress.com/ . My updated email, should you wish to contact me about my writing, is email@example.com .
Second, on to the fun stuff! There are several literary and creative holidays coming up, both internationally and locally, that I would love to share with you. Behold!
Saturday, April 29th
TABLETOP DAY: A wonderful geeky holiday for those who love tabletop gaming–from Dungeons & Dragons to card games like FLUXX! This may not seem very literary at first, but just think of all the storytelling and creativity involved in role-playing games. Plus, it’s just FUN. If you like, you can watch some TableTop via YouTube to help get into the mood; think Celebrity Poker meets Nerds.
Sunday, April 30th
CUYAHOGA LIBRARY POETRY OPEN MIC: The South Euclid-Lyndhurst branch of the Cuyahoga Library is finishing off National Poetry Month by providing a platform for anyone who writes poetry to share with an audience.
Come between 1:30 and 3:30, especially if you have written to one of the prompts they’ve provided during the month of April!
Thursday, May 4th
STAR WARS DAY: Watch out for deals and events at your local bookstores and comic book shops, because *ahem*
May the Fourth be with you…Always.
Saturday, May 6th
FREE COMIC BOOK DAY: This day is exactly what the name implies; it’s a day when comic book shops give away specially-printed FCBD editions of comics for free. You can visit the FCBD site to see what comics will become available, though each comic shop (that chooses to participate) decides which comics they will be giving away. Participating shops may also have special events such as cosplay costume contests, comic artist signings, and other giveaways. To find out which stores are participating in your area, simply visit the site and do a location search.
Wednesday, May 10th
HOOKS AND BOOKS: The Barberton Library hosts its monthly meetup up for crafters and bibliophiles at the local Kave Coffee Bar (584 W. Tuscarawas Ave.). Knitters, crocheters, and other needlepoint crafters are welcome to bring their latest project to work on and share whatever book they are reading. They also have a Pinterest group to share projects and book recommendations!
Thursday, May 25th
TOWEL DAY: This fan-created holiday honors and promotes the work of the late great Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, the Dirk Gently books, and Last Chance to See. There are tons of events around the globe, but the main way to bring attention to this holiday is by conspicuously wearing or carrying a towel with you wherever you go. For as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy points out:
A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you — daft as a brush, but very very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost.” What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.
Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.” (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.
And, of course, if you haven’t already read his books, the best way to honor an author is to read his work. If you can not afford to buy a book, simply visit your friendly neighborhood library either in person or via its online digital library. Trust me. His books are amazing.
I hope you are able to participate in at least some of these activities, and I wish you all the best! Have a lovely week!
April was set aside as National Poetry Month by the Academy of American Poets to highlight poets, as well as encourage the reading and writing of poetry. Their extensive website has resources for anyone looking to celebrate poetry during the thirty days of April.
However, Ohio is triply blessed to be home to the Literary Cleveland writers’ group as well as two of the greatest library systems in the United States: Cleveland Library and Cuyahoga County Library. If you have not already signed up for Cuyahoga Library’s 30 Days of Poetry, please do so now; you will receive daily emails with a poem to read, a poetry prompt, and a poetry book recommendation.* You won’t regret it.
And if you don’t have plans yet for Saturday the eighth, Literary Cleveland is having another free poetry workshop. This one will be hosted by Damien Ware, a local activist with multiple degrees–as well as many public performances, open mics, and creative writing workshops under his belt. If you’d like to attend, the workshop takes place at the Cleveland Main Library from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Don’t forget to bring several copies of a poem you would like to work on.
Lastly, in the spirit of National Poetry Month, I would like to share a poem I wrote last April to one of the Cuyahoga Library’s daily prompts. I hope you enjoy it.
This month’s showers
usher in Fools and flowers–
hightop Converse sneakers
crushing petals beneath scampering feet,
whoopee cushions and pranks
to day one
can give themselves permission
And for those who, like me, are Shakespeare-obsessed,
though Touchstone or Bottom the Weaver might jest,
this twenty-third day celebrates best
the birth of the Bard who was foolishly blessed.
And another one is designated
to gaming, for those who appreciate it, not across a TV screen–
but with dice and boards, cards and caffeine,
strategy, role-playing too.
No matter what your revenue,
Tabletop Day is celebrated–
among family and friends, it’s highly rated.
Set aside seven days
of book fairs, classes and classic
novels to check out
each community center;
Can’t get there? It’s fine. Online
there’s still more.
Yet thirty days of dedication
are given to poetry–versification,
meter and internal rhyme,
writing programs, slams,
and readings from every sunrise til sunset
ordinary people find the time
to access their inner poet.
A month of inspiration,
for a world of weary souls.
perhaps inspired by those first Fools,
is the best cure for sickness,
what a month of words and wisdom,
merriment and mirth,
can do to soothe
a world that aches for play
Thank you for your time. Go forth to read and write to your heart’s content, and remember that polite feedback is always welcome and appreciated!
*Since this is an email digest, I don’t believe you need to be an Ohioan to sign up for this free service. However, posts will naturally feature Ohio poets.