Category Archives: Inspiration and Prompts

My poem, ‘Gastronomica,’ published in latest issue of The Write Life Magazine!

My poem, ‘Gastronomica,’ appears in the latest issue of The Write Life, An Ode to Words

One of the poems from my book, Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer, has recently been republished in the latest issue of The Write Life.

The poem, titled ‘Gastronomica,’  puts a new twist on a couple of common phrases that we use today — take a look at the issue, An Ode To Words, to read! The issues are free if you register your email address on the site; a link to view the pdf will be sent to your inbox with each issue. Or, you can download the free app on your iPhone/iPad and purchase copies for a small fee.



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Writing jobs you might not know about

A blog I follow on Tumblr (phantasmagoricwicca) posted an infograph from The Write Life Magazine that I truly love, because it illustrates something that a lot of people don’t know: you can make a living off of writing by working jobs that you might not know exist. From ghost-writing to copy-writing to technical writing, there are many ways that you can follow the dream of writing even if you haven’t been able to get your novel out onto paper. Writing is an important skill used by virtually every industry out there — all you need is to know where to look! So, to help out any aspiring writers out there who also need to make some cash, take a look below (or click this link here to view the original).

“You know that you love to write, and doing that and getting paid sounds pretty dreamy. But writing isn’t limited to novel writing or journalism – there’s a whole host of writing jobs that are creative, pay well, and you might not know about yet. Here are 9 careers in writing to find out more about. (Forward it to all of the English majors you know, they’ll thank you for it!)”

9 Writing Jobs You Might Not Know Exist, from The Write Life Magazine

9 Writing Jobs You Might Not Know Exist, from The Write Life Magazine

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How do you force yourself to write when writing is the last thing you want to do?

Image credit Drew Coffman/Flickr.

Every writer knows that there is a love-hate relationship between the author and the act of writing. When everything is well with the world, the words flow freely: the author not only wants to write,  but also has the time, energy, and ability to make it happen. In case you aren’t aware, though, let me let you in on a little secret: things are rarely well with the world, especially the world of the writer.

All too often, different aspects of life converge in such a way as to conspire against the writer who is trying to write. After all, for most of us anyway, writing does not pay the bills. That may be what we are working towards, but it is usually not the case. And when writing doesn’t pay the bills, it can be difficult to justify spending your time working on a new story or poem or essay when you could actually be paying the bills. And when you finally are done paying the bills, family and friends demand their fair share of your time and energy. At the end of the day, do you really want to get started on that new project, or do you want to go to bed?

More often than not, I want to go to bed.

The simple truth is that writing is work — it is a job like any other job (whether a first, second, third, or fourth job it doesn’t matter). If you ever want to get anything done, you need to get things done. But how do you actually force yourself to get things done? My methods have varied over the years, but I recently found some strategies that Gina Barreca, author of the best-selling They used to Call Me Snow White, But I Drifted (and preface writer to my book Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer), uses to force herself into the groove: emotional blackmail and guilt.

“Some writing is its own reward: I have permission to write this post only because I finished the three letters of recommendations which have been staring up at me with their big, sad eyes every morning as I approach my desk. The letters and their neatly addressed envelopes been eying me like stray kittens: ‘Please! We’re orphans! Help!’ I sent them all to good homes and that means I can now play with my own work.

‘How does the guilt and emotional blackmail part work?’ asked one aspiring writer during the book-signing part of Saturday’s events. She liked the bribes idea, but was worried that I  might have sent myself to bed without dinner. Or a beverage. Assuring her that deprivation of food was never permitted in my household, I explained that the emotional blackmail I wielded was a dangerous weapon. It was something best done by professionals in a closed setting and probably should be used by amateurs only in a controlled situation.

Emotional blackmail as a tool for writing should be saved for those moments when nothing else works.

If guilt is an emotional response and blackmail is an exchange, I suppose I’m proposing a combination of both. ‘If you don’t finish this article/essay/book,’ I tell myself, ‘You know you’re going to be miserable.’

And then I make sure it happens: Either I finish it, or I’m miserable.” — From Barreca’s blog, Snow White Doesn’t Live Here Anymore on Psychology Today

I know these strategies work because I’ve used them before — as someone raised in a Roman Catholic household, guilt is especially useful in getting me to do things. And emotional blackmail? My mother had that bit down pat by the time I was four. I was raised by these methods, molded by them…if anything can get me to sit down and write, its this. It may be just what the doctor ordered to get your writing back on track!

You can view Barreca’s full post here.

How do you deal with writer’s block? How do you force yourself to write when it’s really the last thing you want to do?

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Midwest Quarterly announces full year of poetry

The Midwest Quarterlywhich just passed its 50th anniversary in 2009, has announced a year of issues that will contain nothing but poetry, which is extraordinarily good news for any poets out there. These are themed issues revolving, in order of appearance, around “The Living and the Dead,” “Rural and Urban,” “Trash and Treasure,” and “Work and Play.”

Though the deadlines for the fist three issues have already passed, poets can still submit to the “Work and Play” issue until September 1st — up to five previously unpublished poems per submission.

I’m also thrilled to say that I just found out that two of my newer poems have been accepted for the issue focused on “The Living and the Dead,” tentatively scheduled for October 2013! The first — “She sometimes dreams” — I wrote while a student at UConn, under the tutelage of Darcie Dennigan (with some fine tuning by Penelope Pelizzon), and the second — “Poltergeist” — I wrote during a particularly boring shift stocking produce at my local Adams Hometown Market (which just goes to show you that  zucchini can serve as both a tasty side dish and poetic inspiration all at the same time).

Sorry I didn’t get this call out to you all earlier, but if you’ve got any poetry that meshes with “Work and Play” (however loosely) get out there and submit today!

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Poetica Magazine call for submissions

Poetica Magazine's Holocaust Edition

The beautifully haunting, tentative cover of Poetica Magazine’s 2014 Holocaust Edition

Poetica Magazine is a great literary journal I recently found that publishes poetry and fiction, in addition to occasional themed editions and chapbooks. Though the journal refers to itself as one of “Comtemporary Jewish Writing,” it is open to submissions from people from all walks of life:

“We publish original-unpublished works by Jewish and non-Jewish writers alike. We are interested in works that have the courage to acknowledge, challenge, and celebrate modern Jewish life, beyond distinctions of secular and sacred. We like accessible works that find fresh meaning in old traditions that recognize the challenges of our generation. We evaluate works on several levels, including its skillful use of craft; its ability to hold interest; and layers of meaning.”

With three print editions a year, there are a lot of opportunities to find some great writing that falls into the broad theme of “Jewish life”. And, with so many editions, it becomes easier to submit — you don’t need to wait for a one-month period that comes just once a year. You can find Poetica‘s guidelines here.

Additionally, if you’ve got any poetry, or fiction that is centered on the Holocaust, you can submit to the 2014 Holocaust Edition. But there’s a catch — the work must have been publicshed elsewhere first. This is a great opportunity to those writers out there who have had a book published and would like to get a sample of their work to a wider audience, which is a huge deal. The official call is below:

Only previously published works will be considered.

Works previously published in Poetica will not be considered.

Please submit 1-10 pages with acknowledgment page:

list the name of publication, edition, year published.

Writers must hold all the rights to their work:

please include a statement with the submission.

And submitting to the Holocaust Edition does, unfortunately, have a price — $10 per submission. I’m usually a big hater of publications that require a reading fee for submissions, but for this one I think I’ll break my own policy and send something along — there are a few pieces from my book, Chronicles of a Bee Whisperer, that might place nicely in the edition.

I hope you’ll take a look at the journal, consider submitting, and pick up a copy today!

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Good Men Project call for submissions!

Good Men ProjectThe Good Men Project has a call for submissions from now until June 29, 2013 on topics dealing with men and fashion! All submissions are welcome — even if it only obliquely fits the topic, the editors will be glad to at least take a look. I’ve worked with them before, and they’re really great people with a really great mission.

The official call for submissions:

If the clothes don’t make the man, do they at least signal what kind of man wears them?

If clothing were nothing more than protection from the elements, it wouldn’t matter what we looked like, attired to appear in public. We would wear trash bags, Speedos, togas, bike shorts, no shoes, nothing but shoes, no shirts, or nothing at all, depending on our destination and the weather. It wouldn’t matter if our socks matched one another. There would be no notions of “appropriate attire,” “casual Friday,” or “black tie.” Clearly, this is not entirely the case.

What are the truly important rules for wearing clothes, for guys who don’t care about fashion? What will you wear—and what would you never wear—on a date, a job interview, to go fly fishing, on a long drive, to meet your partner’s family for the first time, around the house with your kids, or to a funeral?

How have you educated yourself on what to wear? What do you notice about the way other men dress? How do your clothes reflect your values?

Do you shop for your clothes online? In second hand stores? Write some pro tips for the rest of us.

Where do you come down on boxers vs. briefs vs. boxer briefs (vs. commando)?

Is looking good part of good citizenship, being a good man, etiquette, or well representing your employer, church, fraternity, or team?

Do you take no responsibility for buying or selecting the clothing you own? How well do your clothes express your personality? How do you see yourself, and how do you think others see you? How much does it matter?

Do you wear a difficult to find clothes in your size, have a disability that makes it difficult to shop off the rack, or for some other reason find it difficult to find clothing that fits your body? What is your particular challenge, and how do you manage?

How do you find clothes that are comfortable, attractive, durable, stylish, and a good fit for your personality and lifestyle as well as body and budget?

How does your self image affect your ability to shop for clothes?

Do you ever engage in “shop therapy”?

Do you advise anyone else on style, or buy clothing for anyone in your family?

Do you have a clothes shopping buddy?

How do you respond to the stereotype that caring about clothing is feminine?

The Good Life wants your articles and stories about men’s clothing. Send your ideas and drafts to Justin Cascio by email at Final submissions must be received by Saturday, June 29 to be considered for inclusion in the upcoming series. For questions and further guidelines, email Justin.

If you’ve got something related, or can come up with something on the fly, shoot Justin an email!

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Creativity: the personality trait with the highest link to failure

Image courtesy of Shane Burroughs

I just read an article on the Good Men Project that states creativity is the personality trait linked to the highest rate of failure.

Now, that may come as a shock, but it makes perfect sense. The most creative people are those who venture into new and daring ideas — they try new things, before anyone else. Sometimes they succeed, and wildly so. But more often than not, creativity is met with failure. The important thing, though, is that if you wish to succeed wildly, you must be willing to fail wildly — only then are you sure that you are taking the risks required for the highest pay-out.

From the article:

You might think that answer is bone idle laziness, brutish ignorance, a complete lack of ambition or some equally negative trait.  Surprisingly, the answer is none of these! They don’t even come close, because the trait most likely to cause failure is creativity. Even in its mildest form, creativity delivers failure in abundance.

This isn’t just an unsupported opinion; there is plenty of evidence. The person who is held by many to be one of the most creative inventors of the industrial era developed more than 10,000 failed prototypes for just one of his ideas. The most creative painter of the modern era produced more 13,500 paintings, 99.9% of which you will never have seen or even heard of. The world’s most creative and most important animator filed for bankruptcy 7 times while trying to establish his animation studio.

It seems that Thomas Edison, Pablo Picasso and Walt Disney bounced happily from failure to failure all of their lives, and yet they were tremendously successful people.

That’s right. Some of the most important names in history are the names of people who failed repeatedly throughout their lives. But after each failure they came back stronger and smarter — they learned from their mistakes and used those lessons to ultimately get ahead.

You can read the full article here.

What has your experience with creativity and failure been? Has the failure ever been great enough to make you consider giving up creativity altogether?

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