As the days grow shorter in the Eastern hemisphere and temperatures drop below freezing, I enjoy withdrawing inside and reflecting on all there is to be grateful for in life.
Six years ago, I started writing poetry after decades of sporadic spurts. Life as a lawyer since 1985 consumed my time, and I needed a creative outlet on a more consistent basis. In hopes of honing my craft and stop writing mediocre poems, I began taking classes online with Billy Collins (Master Class), University of Pennsylvania’s ModPo which introduces you to contemporary poets (free), Westport Writers’ Workshop, Gotham Writers Workshop, and Hudson Valley Writers Center.
In addition to the workshops, I joined several poetry groups and began signing up for open mic performances, both online and live. Recently, I’ve been enjoying free workshops and interviews of poets online with Tim Green, Editor of Rattle Magazine.
Over the years, these courses and workshops inspired me as well as improved my poems to the point of them becoming published and two being nominated for a Pushcart prize. In addition, through the connections I made, I put together a poetry collection that became the first book in verse to win When Words Count Book Contest. Recalibrating Gravity will be published next Fall by Woodhall Press.
This month I am honored to join Scribes*MICRO*Fiction as their Poetry Editor.
Also, this month Wingless Dreamer (located in India) published my poem “Treat for a Treat” in their international anthology, All Hallow's Eve. The book is available on Amazon. I was delighted to discover one of my mentors, Ed Ahern, of the Poets' Salon (co-leader of an online poetry group with Alison McBain) and Managing Editor of Scribes*MICRO*Fiction, also had a piece published—illustrating how small the world can be.
When your passion calls you, follow your dreams. You’ll be surprised where they will lead you, and the wonderful people who will fill your life to guide, inspire, and love you.
Happy to report that my poetry book, Recalibrating Gravity, a memoir in verse, won When Words Count Pitch Week 28th. Today I received my gold medal from When Words Count and a lovely note from Steve Eisner, the founder of the WWC Pitch Week Competition. I was the first poet to win gold! To read more about it click here: Announcing Pitch Week XXVIII Winner: Mary Keating! | When Words Count Retreat
We had a great group of competitors and according to Steve were “the finest group of competitors” of Pitch Week ever. I was honoured to be a part of this group and hope to see all the manuscripts in print next year. Woodhall Press plans to publish my book next Summer.
You may be wondering, what is this competition and how do I join in?
Here’s the link to apply: Pitch Week | When Words Count Retreat.
The competition is a novel way to secure a traditional publishing contract while learning how to best package your book and market it. The seminar is divided into two weeks. Once you are chosen to be a contestant, you will send your manuscript off to their editor. I worked with Peggy Moran, who helped me polish my poetry. Next, Steve schedules an introductory meeting, where you get to meet the other contestants and learn how the competition works. You also learn what to expect from the two full weeks you will spend workshopping (Meet the Judges Week [MTJ]) and presenting (Pitch Week [PW]). This introductory meeting usually happens about two weeks before MTJ.
MTJ is an exciting time where you not only collaborate with the other contestants and two coaches to choose the best passages to read from your book but work one-on-one with the three Judges chosen from the publishing arena along with your coaches. Usually one judge is a publicist, one an agent, and one a publisher.
I was lucky to work with publicist, Steve Rohr, agent Marilyn Atlas, and publishing house, Woodhall Press. During that time, they will guide you in developing your book cover, obtaining blurbs from writers and famous people, how to best present why you are the right person to have written your book, how to best package your book, and how to market it.
Once MTJ week is over, you will send in your final manuscript. Over the next six weeks or so, you will finalize your cover, marketing plan, packaging, and presentations. Once PW arrives, you will have a few more times to workshop with your coaches and contestants.
The rest of the week you spend presenting to the judges en banc. The last day, you read to a wider audience who will vote on which two books they would most likely choose to buy. The winner of that voting gets the People’s Choice Award. (My book won that award as well.)
That same evening, Steve will torture you with a blow-by-blow accounting of how each contestant did in each category. If your race is as close as mine, you will need to be close to a phone just in case 911 is needed as your heart beats with ever increasing intensity.
A few days after the contest, you will all meet with the publisher, and if you are lucky, they will publish your book. The winner is guaranteed a publishing contract and gets the best publishing terms. But win or lose, the experience is invaluable.
There is a cost to the program. You can find out about the going rates when you apply. You can also work with their book cover artist. I believe they give contestants special rates. Asha Hossain created two amazing covers for me, and I still wish I could use both.
My next steps now are to review my publishing contract, finalize my manuscript, and begin working with the fabulous Woodhall Press in preparation of publishing my book the Summer of 2024. I’m so very excited to bring my poetry to the world. The cover of the lovely card Steve Eisner sent me says it all.
Welcome! I hope you find my website a place where we can explore life and poetry together.
I write poetry because I love its versatility. I love how it uses sight and sound together to convey multiple meanings. Poetry imbues words with the power to speak to our souls.
Poetry sometimes gets a bad reputation. Perhaps that's from all those teachers who didn't make it come alive. But as Billy Collins so aptly put, poetry is the history of the human heart. How amazing is that!
This year marks my fiftieth anniversary of using a wheelchair. I was in a car accident when I was young, and my life turned upside down. But with the help of my family, friends, and the philosophy of one day at a time, I became a lawyer, a poet, scuba diver, world traveler, wife, and happy. As we get to know each other, you'll find out how I got my life back on track. Not that I'm not thrown off every once in a while. We all are. But basically, I've an amazing life.
My brother, David, and I were talking today about how people love to put others in categories. She's disabled, he's gay, they're transgender, he's black, etc. Groups are great when we need to advocate for ourselves. They give us power. On the flip side, we all want to be known for just us, the person we are and not the label we've been given. If we never see past those labels, we miss out on so much. And if we box ourselves and our expectations up inside those labels, we miss out on our potential.
So, here, let's rip off those labels, take a close look at them, and then tear up what holds us back.
To acknowledge people and things that help us through life, I've created a page where we can post gratitude haikus. For those of you who don't know, a haiku is a three-line poem where the first and third lines are 5 syllables, and the middle line is seven. The first two lines usually state something and the last line is a turn. I've posted two on the wall for examples.
In closing, I'd like to thank my good friend, Alison McBain who is a writer and poet among many of her other hats. She helped me get started with this site. In fact, she's been a great mentor in helping me get poems published and finish my first full length poetry book, Recalibrating Gravity. I'm one of five finalists in When Words Count Pitch Week because of her encouragement. We all need an Alison in our lives. So dear Alison, thank you!
That's it for now. Drop me a line or a haiku. And off we go...