Art of the Week: Zenith

This week’s selection introduces our new art editor, Darlene Yeager-Torre of Central Ohio Branch. Titled “Zenith” (digital photograph, one exposure painted with light), the image was created using a technique known as light painting.

 

The flower and vase are the only real objects. All other lines, shapes, textures, and colors were “painted” by using handheld lights in a dark studio.

 

Many light painting techniques were developed by Darlene through experimentation and are unique to her work.

 

After retiring from teaching art, Darlene began to pursue her own artistic vision. In 2012, after attending a workshop about painting with light, she began using, experimenting with, and inventing light-painting techniques.

 

Her luminous works, from landscapes to still life, are made using extremely long exposures (30 seconds to and hour) and handheld lights. To see more images, visit yeagertorrephotography.com.

 

 


Attention Pen Women! We’d love to see your best work for possible publication as Art of the Week. Please review the general submission guidelines on our web site and send only one work per email as a low resolution file. Put Art of the Week Submission in the subject line and provide the information seen in the posts (title/medium/name/branch). Your submission may then be made to arteditor@nlapw.org. Thank you!

 

Creative Inspirational Wisdom: Six Steps for Dealing with Rejections

This week, Publications Chair Kathleen Powers-Vermaelen touches on a subject we’re all painfully familiar with — and one that inevitably comes with being a creative woman.


The worst rejection letter I ever received came from a small Colorado-based “literary” magazine that billed itself as prime literature for the doctor’s office waiting room.

 

I’m going to let the above line stand alone and sink in. Consider for a moment, if you will, the plight of the writer. Good writing doesn’t just happen; it takes time and effort. Querying literary magazines to get the writing published, thereby validating said expended time and effort, takes even more time and effort. The higher profile publications receive hundreds, perhaps thousands, of stories each month. Competition for placement is fierce, and refusals are many.

 

Rejection-free indie publishing has removed some of the sting, but even these authors will admit they’d rather have someone accept and publish their work “traditionally,” which is the only reason why we continue to subject ourselves to the often soul-crushing process of querying.

 

This, of course, brings me back to my opening sentence. The rejecting publication was not The Paris Review. It was something people read while waiting to get their tonsils swabbed for a strep test. Moreover, it was spreading streptococcal bacteria to the next unsuspecting reader/patient, and then to the one after that.

 

What I’m trying to say here, gently, is that I wasn’t aiming all that high.

 

Even so, I’d done my homework by reading the publication and developing a feel for what the editors liked. I selected a story that fit their style. After drafting a professional query letter, I mailed out the still-warm manuscript out first class. For a few days, I basked in the pleasant possibility that another one of my stories would be published.

 

Less than a week later, a S.A.S.E. arrived in my mailbox. At once, I knew that a single sheet of paper was inside—never a good sign.

 

Sighing, I tore it open, expecting the usual: Thank you for your submission. Unfortunately, we do not feel it is right for our publication. We wish you the best of luck placing it elsewhere. These form rejection letters are unsigned and grainy from years of having been photocopied off other yellowing photocopies of the first form rejection letter ever written, no doubt penned and printed by Gutenberg himself. Like most professional writers, I’ve received more than my fair share of them.

 

What I found inside, however, was something altogether different. In my hands was the same query letter I’d mailed out only days earlier. Right underneath my signature, the editor had written in two-inch-tall block letters with a red Sharpie marker: NO!

 

It’s difficult to describe what went through my mind and in what order. I remember an initial flash of mortification, looking around to see if someone was filming my reaction for an updated Candid Camera series, and finally, righteous indignation. Would it have killed the editor to have been polite? After all, he’d solicited submissions in Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. Why respond like I’d shown up selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door just as dinner was being put on the table?

 

Rejection sucks in general, but it especially blows when delivered by sucker-punch from a decidedly mediocre publication. My good friend, Erin, a talented poet, shared her own frustration when her work was rejected by another “literary” magazine that was—I kid you not—printed on typing paper and then crookedly stapled with such amateurish aplomb that it made me, a former print production manager for a Fortune 500 company, want to throw its editors into a cage and spray them with a fire hose until they screamed for mercy. At least they’d had the decency, however, to be polite to her.

 

This is where I (hopefully) impart some creative inspirational wisdom as a takeaway from this mock-horror story. Another good friend and connoisseur of ironic meditations, Tim, posted a meme on Facebook a few months ago containing a variation of the Latin phrase “Illegitimi non carborundum.” Loosely translated, it advises not letting those not-so-nice folks succeed in discouraging one’s efforts—good advice, even if stated in a somewhat mysterious and indelicate way. (Google it for the actual translation, but not in the company of those with fragile sensibilities.)

 

Here are some practical steps to take with your own rejection letters, based on my ample experience:

  1. Read them.
  2. If they say something useful, consider the advice. Such feedback is rare!
  3. If they don’t say something useful, shred them.
  4. Better yet, line a cage with them and allow a bird to “critique” them.
  5. Or ceremoniously burn them, if you’re into that kind of thing.
  6. Then, for the love of all that’s creative, move on! That’s what I did.

 

Illegitimi non carborundum, folks. Keep on creating!


Kathleen Powers-Vermaelen, M.F.A., has had work published in several literary magazines and anthologies. Her book, Publicize This! Promoting Your Group or Nonprofit on a Limited or Nonexistent Budget, was published in 2014. An NLAPW member at large, she teaches literature and writing at Suffolk County Community College on Long Island. This post is an adaptation of another published on October 1, 2014, at her author blog.

 

WANTED: GUEST BLOGGERS! Pen Women are invited to submit guest posts for two new series: Creative Inspirational Wisdom and It’s A Creative BusinessPlease visit this link for more details. We look forward to reading your material!

Art of the Week: Brillig

“Brillig”

(Oil on canvas, 20″ x 30″)

Catherine Moreno

Golden Gate-Marin County Branch NLAPW

 

 


Attention Pen Women! We’d love to see your best work for possible publication as Art of the Week. Please review the general submission guidelines on our web site and send only one work per email as a low resolution file. Put Art of the Week Submission in the subject line and provide the information seen in the posts (title/medium/name/branch). Your submission may then be made to arteditor@nlapw.org. Thank you!

Call for Coloring Book Art Submissions: “Celebrating 120 Years of Pen Women”

 

Dear Pen Women,

 

NLAPW is going to publish a coloring book titled “Celebrating 120 Years of Pen Women.” This will be a coloring book for adults familiar with or interested in the Pen Women. We will need up to 32 illustrations, and all should be relevant to Pen Women in some way. Please submit your ideas and drawings!

 

Here are a few sample ideas:

  • Artist in her studio
  • Theater stage with costumed actors
  • Composer at her piano
  • Famous Pen Women shown in period dress from past to present
  • Collection of instruments
  • Collection of writing implements used from the inception of NLAPW to present
  • Collection of artists’ materials
  • Pen Arts building
  • Vinnie Ream with her sculpture of Lincoln
  • Outline of state regions with branches labeled. Decorate with iconic images of the areas.

 … or any other illustration that fits our theme.

 

Guidelines for submission:

  • Include a cover letter with a short description of how your illustration fits the theme. You may also choose a title for your piece. Be sure to include your contact information and Pen Women branch
  • Black and white line drawings with very little shading are best
  • Page size is 8.5” wide x 11” high (vertical)
  • Please send .PDF files (.JPG files are not as good, but will be accepted). You may also send your original art or a good copy, but it will not be returned
  • You may submit more than one entry
  • Email entries to lucy@lucyarnold.com or mail to Lucy Arnold, 15 Fairway Drive, Novato, CA 94949

 

Deadline for submissions is October 12, 2017.

 

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I’ll be working closely with Kathleen Vermaelen, NLAPW Publications Chair.

 

With best wishes,

Lucy Arnold

President, Golden Gate/Marin Branch NLAPW

 

[Editor’s Note: We will do our best to answer any questions posted in the comments section below (which closes in two weeks), but for a guaranteed answer to your question please email Lucy!]

Poem of the Week: Rain Dance

Shelly Reed Thieman
Letters Member, Treasurer – Des Moines Branch

 

In mud nest threatened

by black conclave of clouds,

a tiny robin opens its throat

for the reception of earth

worm and Juneberry.

 

I rain dance in shallow pond

of lush reeds, massage earth

with bare feet. Sweet thunder

is a kettledrum setting

the cadence of evening.

 

Ponderosa pine prostrate.

A pair of barred owls startle

when their perch snaps

from its trunk like a phantom

femur from its pelvis.

 

Mottled with rust, ancient

wind chimes surrender

their clapper and three silver

rods to horizontal rain.

Lightning swings her sword.

 

Creative Inspirational Wisdom: The Written Words of Women

This week, Connie Spittler encourages women to crack open their worlds—on paper.


 

The poet Muriel Rukeyser asked, “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?” Her answer: “The world would split open.”

 

We hold a universal knowledge within us. Telling it, sharing it, writing it down sets the commotion in motion. Like a breakfast egg, we crack open the sphere that is our world and find our truth, the simple wisdom that comes from our life stories.

 

We belong to an ancient tribe of storytellers, a long line of ancestors who washed clothes down by the river and remembered, who sewed at quilting bees and talked of the past, who cooked for harvesters and shared stories, who held children on warm laps and whispered true tales. Today in shopping malls and beauty shops, on cell phones and during coffee breaks, women talk of life’s unfolding events. No matter where it happens, this is storytelling, one of our oldest traditions. Our stories become a lasting tribute to the fact that we were here.

 

Since time eternal, women have told and retold family stories while we stir soup, wipe little noses, and comfort oldsters. We’ve accomplished great things, led countries, discovered radium, protected the environment, founded colleges, crusaded against birth defects. Think Indira Gandhi, Marie Curie, Rachel Carson, Mary McLeod Bethune and Virginia Apgar, M.D.

 

Closer at hand, we soothe teething babies and clean mineral deposits off faucets, make paste from flour and water in the morning and gravy thickener from water and flour in the afternoon. We know facts and events unknown by scholars and historians, possessing a tantalizing mix of information to offer others; family stories and heartbreaking secrets, like the reason cousin Maria doesn’t talk to cousin Edith, the medical history of miscarriage in our family, the reasons I was beaten as a child by my daddy.

 

Whether we’re thirty or 100, passing on the story of our lives—the wisdom we’ve discovered—is important. Remember Muriel Rukeyser’s question, “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?” I visualize the earth reacting gently to one woman’s story, unfolding her reality. Then the world reverberates to the buzzing of hundreds—why not millions of women?—telling the truth of their lives. The globe moves to the magnificent hubbub of happiness, sadness, love, laughter, grieving and anger as women’s words sing out, each story separate, yet connected. I imagine their words on paper, the sphere trembling in anticipation as pages go flying faster and faster, spinning and turning, cream into butter, straw into gold, life into stories, until Mother Earth splits open from the pure joy of it all.

 

Take up your pencil and paper. Turn on your computer. Crack open your world. When the writing is finished, say, “Yes, I was here.” Your stories can last as long as the paper that holds them and as long as the people read them. Long live this endless paper trail of women’s wisdom.

 


Connie Spittler’s literary mystery The Erotica Book Club for Nice Ladies won 2nd Place in The Eudora Welty Memorial Award in NLAPW’s Biennial Letters Competition 2016. She also has received recognition from The Chanticleer International Mystery and Mayhem Contest and Wishing Shelf Book Clubs in Great Britain and Sweden. Her essays appear in twenty anthologies alongside The Dalai Lama, Deepak Chopra, Desmond Tutu, Barbara Kingsolver, and Terry Tempest Williams. The video series that she wrote/produced is archived in Harvard University’s Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America. She is a member of Omaha Branch NLAPW.

 

“Abstract Colour Pencil” image by tigger11th/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

WANTED: GUEST BLOGGERS! Pen Women are invited to submit guest posts for two new series: Creative Inspirational Wisdom and It’s A Creative Business. Please visit this link for more details. We look forward to reading your material!

 

Art of the Week: Eye of the Beholder

“Eye of the Beholder”

Photograph

Diana Sanzone

All Cities Branch NLAPW

 

 

 

 


Attention Pen Women! We’d love to see your best work for possible publication as Art of the Week. Please review the general submission guidelines on our web site and send only one work per email as a low resolution file. Put Art of the Week Submission in the subject line and provide the information seen in the posts (title/medium/name/branch). Your submission may then be made to Jamie Tate at arteditor@nlapw.org. Thank you!

It’s A Creative Business: Expressive Writing—A Foundation for Business Success

This week, Ronni Miller discusses the merits of expressive writing as a business tool.


 

You don’t have to be a writer to express yourself through the medium of expressive writing.

 

I began writing in childhood. It was a way for me, a shy child, to express my views, insights, upsets and imagined thoughts. It was a way to vent.  As a child, I had no idea about these grownup words like vent or even express thoughts. It was just a way for me to get my voice out of my head and down on paper. It made me feel happy to release it.

 

In 1999, I discovered that what I had been doing all my life had a name.  It is called expressive writing.  I first read about the term and its value in medicine when reading the research work of James W. Pennebaker, PhD.  His research proved that writing about trauma reduced the effects of illnesses.  Pennebaker and other scientific researchers in the field have documented the success of writing about trauma as it relates to wellness and reduces anxiety.  I began to incorporate that concept into Write It Out ®, a program I created and taught to children and adults that began seven years earlier as a motivational program. For the last eighteen years it has segued into the health care field, where I facilitate expressive writing workshops at cancer centers and hospitals as well as in universities and education centers. It has become an important arm of my business, Write It Out.

 

How then can expressive writing, which I define as any writing in any genre that includes journal writing, poetry, prose and theater pieces, be a tool for creative artists in business?

 

It:

 

  • clears the cobwebs
  • restarts the engine
  • reduces anxiety
  • taps into feelings, memories and experiences
  • boosts health and well being
  • recharges self-confidence and self-esteem
  • fosters courage in the face of naysayers
  • provides a venting outlet
  • supports the vision

 

Most artists work alone, and the business side of creativity is often daunting.  Many prefer to just create and have someone else, a magic genie, take over the business of selling, marketing and finances.  All too often the artist, marketer, seller and financial person need to be all-in-one. This can cause stress and conflict.

 

Recently I spoke to an artist and illustrator who told me that, due to a letter she wrote to a client expressing enjoyment of painting a picture of the woman’s grandchildren and inviting her to the studio to see more of her work, she was commissioned to do six paintings of characters from The Wizard of Oz. “This client is now a major collector of my work,” said Karizu-Becher.

 

Another fine artist described how recording a dream in her journal led to an oil painting that won first prize in a juried show.

 

Take a few minutes to express your feelings and thoughts in writing or to record your dreams. You may find yourself just documenting or you may discover the pleasure of creating a poem or prose piece based on angst and thoughts. In either case, you will have used a simple method to release anxiety and help your business succeed.

 


Ronni Miller, award winning fiction writer, author of seven books of fiction and nonfiction, produced playwright, published essayist is the Founder and Director of Write It Out® a motivational and expressive writing program for individuals of all ages since 1992. She facilitates workshops in the US, Italy and Bermuda and has a private practice as Book Midwife. A NLAPW member since 2008, she serves as board member of her Sarasota, FL Branch and 4th Vice President of NLAPW. 

 

“Spiral Notebook with Pen” image by adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

WANTED: GUEST BLOGGERS! Pen Women are invited to submit guest posts for two new series: Creative Inspirational Wisdom and It’s A Creative Business. Please visit this link for more details. We look forward to reading your material!

 

Poem of the Week: Nourishing You

Patricia A. Oplinger
Member-at-Large from Cherokee Village, AR

 

I wish I could take language

and pour it into a bowl

of warm, encouraging thoughts

 

I would splash soothing sentences

around its edges

for you to set astir

 

I would adjust the fragrant spice

of self-esteem

for you to inhale

 

I would have you listen

to the plop of paragraphs

saying, “Hush, hush, it’s all right.

 

Then I would spoon you sweet phrases

to heal damages past words

may have caused

 

Art of the Week: Bridge Structures at the Forth

“Bridge Structures at the Forth”

(Original digital image, 15″ x 12″;  framed, 18″ x 15″)

maria keane

Diamond State Branch NLAPW

 

 


Attention Pen Women! We’d love to see your best work for possible publication as Art of the Week. Please review the general submission guidelines on our web site and then submit your work in an email to Jamie Tate at arteditor@nlapw.org. Please put Art of the Week Submission in the subject line. Thank you!