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Don’t Miss The News
Welcome! I am pleased to send this newsletter/blog to you. I intend to send out monthly letters with news and updates. Watch the emails for contests and freebies. Everyone loves something free. I do!
I was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. I wrote a novel called Emmie of Indianapolis, about a very sensitive, emotional, smart, opinionated, friendly, strong fighting young girl in a small Midwestern city. Who does that sound like? My husband and I have been married forty-two years and we recently retired to Mexico. We live with our son Richard and our two dogs, Buddy and Whitey. https://www.amazon.com/Emmie-Indianapolis-Kay-Castaneda-ebook/dp/B07G2S9MTP/
Emmie O’Brien is the main character in my first novel. One reviewer says “Emmie, the main character, is a brave, caring and hard working young lady destined to rise about her circumstances due to her simple faith and hope in her heart.” Another reviewer says “Emmie is speaking directly to us, simply, succinctly, sometimes without understanding, and other times with deep understanding; but more often than not a sense of wonder.” Read more about Emmie. https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13851635.Kay_Castaneda
Emmie watches her sisters at night while Mom’s at work. Windows shut, hot, dark, no air, door locked, evil all around.
“I just kept sweeping and sweeping the bad things out the back door. Took a hot steaming mop and pushed it back and forth till there were no more black shiny pills on our kitchen floor.”
I hope you’ll find Emmie’s story interesting because she is going to be featured in my next project-a series of novels starring Emmie as a teenage amateur sleuth. Emmie’s dream of being a detective AND a newspaper reporter becomes true when she…..Oh, I can’t tell you just now.
The next book which I plan to complete by September 2023 will be named Go Find Iris Rose: An Emmie O’Brien Mystery Novel. I know you’ll like the story. The outline, plot, characters and chapter mapping is finished, ready to fill in the blanks. It’s not easy, as you know.
My Blog BOOKPLACES
I also invite you to take a peek at my blog, BOOKPLACES, where I post my creative writing such as essays, memoir pieces, poetry and writing-related articles.
My FACEBOOK AUTHOR PAGE
I’d say I love Facebook, especially for the various groups I’m in. Some are pages of my favorite authors.https://www.facebook.com/kaycastaneda90
I used to read 1-2 books a week, but since I started devoting more time to my author marketing, that number is way smaller! I’m on a thriller/mystery addiction now, but I love memoirs, historical fiction, literary fiction and some Young Adult fiction. If you’d like to check out some of the reviews, please go there. You might find a new book to read. And if you are an author who wants a review of your book, let me know. You can find my review guidelines on my blog.
I love the stories of authors. If you know of any memoirs of authors, let me know. Can you also do me a favor and ask your friends or fellow authors if they’d be interested in getting my letters? Have them read this, forward it or lead them to my blog. You can contact me at email@example.com at my email address.
I collect pictures, paintings, posters, memes etc. of women of all ages reading a book. I have hundreds on my Pinterest site. You can send them to me at any of the links. The person who sends me the best, the most fantastic image will win an ecopy of my novel, Emmie of Indianapolis. It has to be a photo I don’t already have, so try very hard.
Not those kind of last thoughts! Just some things I want to say before I close. I will never sell your email information or name and if you don’t want to receive any more newsletters from me, just click the unsubscribe button below.
Thanks for reading to the end of this newsletter. As a reward, here is a freebie. It’s a small memoir piece that I hope you’ll enjoy.
I hope you will sign up for this newsletter if you haven’t done so already!
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Winning and Losing Writing Competitions
My favorite poet Emily Dickinson sent her poems to The Atlantic Monthly Magazine in 1862. Editor Thomas Wentworth Higginson promptly rejected them. That rejection inspired more poems. The communication turned into a relationship based on poetry that went on for many years.
If there’s a chance the winner might only receive a virtual pat on the back, why do people enter writing competitions? They might lose. Sending your writing to a competition involves risk. What if nobody ever acknowledges them and they have to contact the magazine to see who won? I did that. Sometimes, only Grandma and your husband will know you won that gift certificate or a Famous Writers tote bag. Do it, even if all you win is a note saying your work is promising.
A writing competition is where a person submits a piece of writing by the deadline following the submission guidelines and paying a fee. Different publications and contest sponsors have varying standards. The judges likely have favorite things to look for or that one thing that catches their eye. Judges may have diverse lifestyles, experiences, or education. Submissions are often read first by assistants before sending their choices to the judge. Prizes may include money, from ten dollars to thousands. Your writing could win publication. The prize could be a subscription to the magazine or a free course. Don’t forget that part where your name appears in print. If you’re lucky, your photo could be featured. The word “winner” looks good on a resume.
One of the best things I said to myself after I lost a prestigious contest is “I’ll show them! Just wait until next year. “
One of the best things I said to myself after I lost a prestigious contest is “I’ll show them! Just wait until next year. ” Even losing a competition for creative writing at the county fair caused me grief. ” They’ll be sorry. The State Fair has a better prize anyway!” I have lots of dialogue and pep talks with myself. After all, I’m a writer. Who else is going to listen to me analyze why my writing wasn’t chosen? Was it that word I changed at the last minute? Can they tell how old I am by my writer’s voice? I guess they wanted a younger person. Was my poem too conservative or too artistic, or too political, religious, personal, or contained too many foreign-language words? A woman ridiculed me once because I lost a poetry contest. I composed a great comeback on the spot. Being a winner means continuing to do what matters. It shows you’re alive and you didn’t let life defeat you!
Then there are the questions about what my writing was “not.’ Not creative enough, not contemporary enough, not relevant, not rigid enough, not original enough, or not bold. I didn’t make the judges cut since I was afraid to go outside the boundaries, whatever those unspoken boundaries are, those boundaries that are really what the judges say they are but never stated in the guidelines. Maybe my story was offensive since my poem talked about a sensitive topic. My novel had things that might trigger a reader’s anxiety or cause bad memories. I forgot to include trigger warnings at the front of the manuscript. How am I to know what will trigger another person’s anxiety? What about the thousands of years since writing was invented and the author just wrote whatever was in their mind?
“They’ll be sorry. The State Fair has a better prize anyway!”
I’d be crazy not to use my education. I love writing so much that I majored in creative writing. My dream was always to be a writing teacher. I used examples of writing competitions in the classroom; the winners, the losers, the good and not so good, even though they were officially the winning submission. We discussed many of the things I’m writing about today. My students worked in groups to critique winning entries. They judged each other’s writing for fun. They learned where winning poems and stories are published. Students researched literary journals, magazines, online publications, and competitions sponsored by libraries and schools. Entering all those competitions gives the writer practice in editing, proofreading, and other valuable skills.
Why do I continue entering competitions after suffering so much doubt about myself? I might give up writing forever and take it easy. What good does it do to hit the submit button again after feeling so hurt when my manuscript wasn’t chosen? What makes me sure of my creative talent that I write cover letters and check to see if I used the correct font or spacing? I remember my Dad’s favorite answer when my sisters and I would fail at something. Try, try again, he’d remind us.
What have I won? I’ve won honorable mentions, third place, and a critique. Two of my stories were published in an anthology. Three of my poems are now included in the Indiana State Library’s Hoosier Author Section. I won a scholarship to a writing course in Lithuania. There’s more as they say on those late night info-commercials. My writing resume keeps getting better and better.
Here are the links to read my poems on the Indiana State Library website.
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The Lady With Too Many Books
Writing Challenge: Write a Poem or Story About Your TBR Pile
The Lady With Too Many Books
There once was a lady who read and read
anything with words to her family’s dread,
memoirs love stories spies cops and killers
kings queens and handsome prince thrillers.
Books on the floor the bed the tables
up to the attic the rafters the gables
Libraries yard sales airports vacations
all you can carry store liquidations.
Her family, her kids, her friends got worried,
that look in her eyes and off she hurried
to the best ever sale-three books for a dollar!
Her cheeks got red and she tugged at her collar.
So they sat her down said no books for a year.
She cried, she pleaded, she panicked with fear.
Then she calmly recalled the box in her drawer-
electronic books, nine thousand eighty four.
Now she’s happy again, at home she’ll stay
night after night till dawn the next day.
But why oh why, all those books to be read?
She’ll never be done till they find her dead!
Gwyneth Lewis, Poet
This month, I’m taking part in Blogging from A 2 Z April Challenge where each day, writers use the letters of the alphabet as a prompt. The main theme of my blogs for the challenge are to write about female poets as this is National Poetry Month. This is also a great way to learn more about poetry.
I wasn’t familiar with any female poets whose name began with the letter “L” so I searched through a list. I also wanted to stay within the not too distant past so research would be easier. The list of female poets begins in antiquity! Gwyneth Lewis caught my eye. When I read one of her poems, Gleision, I knew I had to write about her! The poem gave me chills with its imagery of frightened families waiting and hoping near the entrance of the mine for word of their loved one’s safety, or worse, death. “The cave’s an open mouth whose words are men who work their mountain.” The open mouth of the cave has black breath. Those waiting there must not ring the bell anymore or the mouth will swallow the miners trapped deep within the mountain. Lewis uses the literary device of personification to write about the accident. By writing about the mountain with its open black mouth with evil, monster-like characteristics, the poet creates emotion for the reader to maybe experience the deaths in sympathy with the families. Instead of reading a dry news account with facts, poetry is art through which a reader can be part of the story. I live in a mining town where many of my family members work, and this poem especially resonated with me. The mine employs thousands of workers, so it wouldn’t be far-fetched to say the whole town works there. We all have such images of disasters in our minds but push those images far back. http://www.gwynethlewis.com/news.shtml
The website Literary Devices https://literarydevices.net/personification/ explains the term as “Personification is a figure of speech in which an idea or thing is given human attributes and/or feelings or is spoken of as if it were human. Personification is a common form of metaphor in that human characteristics are attributed to nonhuman things. This allows writers to create life and motion within inanimate objects, animals, and even abstract ideas by assigning them recognizable human behaviors and emotions.”
Tops of trees, their roots in seams
Of dark. King under mountain.
The cave’s an open mouth whose words
Are men who work their mountain.
Pine, larch and oak. Don’t touch the bell
That tolls from out the mountain
Or he will stir, and miners die
Like light inside a mountain.
His breath is black and marks each face
That seeks beneath the mountain.
Leaves drift down, but they won’t heal
The sentence of the mountain.
It’s time to lose all hope and seal
The grave. King lies in his mountain.
“The cave’s an open mouth whose words are men who work their mountain.”
Poet Gwyneth Lewis was born in 1959 in Cardiff, Wales. She studied English at Cambridge University. Lewis also studied at Harvard and Columbia, was a Harkness Fellow, and worked as a freelance journalist in New York. Gwyneth Lewis was Wales’s National Poet from 2005-06, the first writer to be given the Welsh laureateship. She published eight books of poetry in Welsh and English, with a ninth forthcoming in October. Gwyneth’s first non-fiction book, Sunbathing in the Rain: A Cheerful Book about Depression (2002), was short-listed for the Mind Book of the Year. Her second, Two in a Boat: A Marital Voyage (2005), recounts a voyage made with her husband on a small boat from Cardiff to North Africa. In 2014 she was Bain-Swiggett Visiting Lecturer of Poetry and English at Princeton University. For the last three years, she has been Faculty at Bread Loaf School of English, Vermont, USA, and was the 2016 Robert Frost Chair of Literature.
“Please don’t let all that suffering go to waste […] People who ignore depression are the ones who go mad, not those who go through it and treat it with the respect it deserves.”