Issue II of Cat on a Leash Review is finally here! We are so proud of this issue and hope you enjoy it! If you're a writer, please consider submitting something for our spring/summer issue.
I tend to be appreciative of most creative pursuits, not just writing, and over the past year, I've been experimenting with making my own journals. I try to primarily just use materials I find around my house or from thrift stores, so that these journals are not only useful, but are re-purposing materials that might otherwise end up in the dump. I try very hard to live my life with a minimal carbon footprint, so developing a hobby that is fun, creative, and eco-friendly has been fulfilling. While my earliest attempts were not so great, I decided they have been getting good enough to give as gifts this past holiday season. Below are some of my favorites I've made.
If you're interested in trying your own hand at making journals, the internet is, of course, full of amazing resources, but I got started with this one. Once I learned how to sew the pages together, I just started experimenting until I found some methods that work for me. The important thing is to have fun and let the creative juices flow!
I think we can all agree that 2016 took a lot of beloved people from our lives. As someone recently pointed out to me, David Bowie always was a trendsetter. And while I have viewed each passing with sorrow, it wasn't until I heard that Richard Adams has passed away on Christmas Even that the death hit me on more of a personal level. Richard Adams, the author of Watership Down, has been a favorite author of mine since I was eleven years old. I fell for those rabbits, and I fell hard. I will always be grateful to Richard Adams for not only writing one of my favorite stories of all time and giving me a wonderful memory of my grandmother, who first gave me the book, but also inspiring me as a writer. In 2011, I wrote a love letter to Watership Down, which I've been revisiting a lot the last few days. Thank you, Mr. Adams, for the impact you've had on my life. Rest in peace.
Earlier this year, I was ecstatic to have my short story A Half Dozen Reasons to Have the Dog Put Down accepted by The Maine Review. I anxiously waited throughout the fall for their next issue to go live. Then life got busy with teaching, COLR, and battling the cold bug that just won't go away. I'd almost forgotten that I had a story pending. But, in spectacular timing, on Christmas Eve, I received a letter and a check from The Maine Review. Merry Christmas to me! Issue 3.1 is now live and you can purchase it, or subscribe right on their website.
This particular story of mine is one I worked really hard on and one that pushed me out of my comfort zone as a writer when I first embarked on it. I really believed in it and so held out for a market that actually paid, which if you write, you know is getting harder and harder to find, and even harder to get accepted into if you haven't made a name for yourself yet. Please consider supporting The Maine Review because they pay their authors a decent rate for all the work we put into our stories. And, of course, consider submitting your own work to them. They have been lovely to work with and I can't wait for my print edition to arrive in the mail this week!
Today is a big day for Cat on a Leash Review, the little online lit mag that I co-founded with A.A. Malina. Today, our first issue was born. This beautiful collection of ten stories was carefully selected from the many submissions we received, and I simply couldn't be prouder of the end result. We picked stories that made us feel something as we read them, and I hope they do the same for you.
This summer has been a busy one! Lots of highlights as I searched for a job, tutored many amazing students, and got to go on my first real vacation in over four years. But one of the most exciting things that happened was partnering with a friend and fellow writer to start our own online literary magazine. We are just a wee little site right now, but I've been blown away by the truly well-crafted submissions we have received this summer. . . enough that we are ready to launch our first issue on September 17. Please check out Cat on a Leash Review to learn more about our magazine and to find out how you can submit for our second issue! And of course, don't forget to bookmark it to read our first issue!
A few years ago, Black Fox Literary Magazine was kind enough to publish one of my flash pieces. A few months ago, they reached out and asked me if I would be interested in writing a guest post for their blog. Of course I said yes! And since they gave me the freedom to write about anything I wanted. . . well, I decided to write about tiny houses and tiny writing. Check it out on their blog!
I was given the delightful gift of being able to teach some bonus writing lessons in the week before spring break. Four lessons is not enough to tackle a full writing unit, but I thought it would be a great opportunity to talk about some different poetry forms with my 3rd graders. I'm a fiction writer through and through and don't consider myself a poet, but as it is a form I admire, I thought I'd give my students a chance to be poets. We ended up trying out three different types of poems: cinquains, triolets, and list poems. Not surprisingly, my talented young writing students blew me away with the work they produced. We ended our mini-unit with a poetry reading and their enthusiasm and pride in their work made it the best poetry reading I've ever attended. But the best result of this was that my most stubbornly reluctant writer produced more poems than any other student in the class and declared that this was the best writing unit he'd ever experienced. I realized how poetry is the perfect writing vehicle for writers of any age to enter in at their comfort level and still produce a piece they are proud to share. My students who tend to struggle didn't get overwhelmed because our final products were meant to be short. My students who crave extra challenge got to show off their flair for metaphors and their ability to think outside the box; most of them wrote more than the required number of poems. My teacher-self has been mentally planning out ways to incorporate far more poetry writing into my lesson plans for next year.
My writer-self gently reminded me that my inner poet should be allowed to come out and play again. If writing poetry helps open up my 3rd graders to new writing adventures, then it could surely do the same for me. I remind myself that when I let go of the need to make my work fit within a traditional narrative, I end up with pieces like Spearmint Tea that live somewhere between poetry and fiction, and that is a pretty cool place to hang out every once in a while for any writer.
So in honor of National Poetry Month, let me leave you with a link to my all-time favorite poem by a very talented poet and fiction writer. What It Feels Like by Alice Walker
Happy (Poetry) Writing!
My flash fiction The Grannies can be read in Dual Coast's third issue. If you're are interested in reading it, you can get your very own copy of this awesome issue here or if you prefer your reading to be paperless, you can subscribe to their online content here. Happy Reading!
Happy New Year! 2015 was a year of change and growth for me. While much of it was spent in a not so happy mental state, I definitely arrived in a much happier place by the time the year drew to an end. I am working at a school with a strong sense of community where I feel I can learn and grow as a teacher, and my love of writing is a strong as ever. I am excited about what 2016 has in store for me!
A habit I have kept over the years is to keep a log of the books I have read, and as I was looking over my 2015 reading log, I thought I would share some of my favorites. Just to clarify, these are books I read last, but did not necessarily hit the shelves for the first time in 2015.
Best New (to me!) Author
The His Fair Assassin trilogy by Robin LaFevers was by far one of my favorite discoveries this year. What's not to love about teenage assassin nuns? I devoured this trilogy and can't way to see what Ms. LaFevers writes next!
Best Book for Young Readers
I am a fan of Alice Hoffman in general, but was excited to see she'd written a book for children/tweens. This beautiful story did not disappoint me! It is a story of love and acceptance, and I fell hard for all the quirky characters in this book!
I discovered Sarah Addison Allen when I found Garden Spells in the library a few years ago. I was immediately enchanted by her characters and the town she created. Naturally I was excited to learn a sequel to was coming out that continued the Waverly family story in early 2015. First Frost did not disappoint! Ms. Allen continues to enchant me with everything she writes!
Best Series Fix
Patricia Briggs is one of those authors that leaves me jonesing for a fix between every one of her novels. I've been hooked on both her Mercy Thompson series and the spinoff Alpha and Omega series for a few years now and was ecstatic to get my fix via Dead Heat this year. I have a confession to make. . . I actually like her spinoff series a teensy weensy bit more than the original series, so this fix was especially good for me. Now when's the next one coming out?
Best Standalone Novel
Seeing as I was just gushing over Ms. Allen's work above, it should come as no surprise that in 2015, I made it a point to read every other novel she's written, which was a satisfying reading quest, no doubt, but also has left me with nothing new of hers to read. Of those other novels, I found Lost Lake to be my favorite of her standalone novels. Here's hoping she's hard at work on something new for me to read in 2016!
So those were the best of the books I read in 2015! What's on your list? What are you looking forward to reading in 2016?
Happy Writing (and reading!)
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