My Five Favorite Blogs of 2012

February is a month dedicated to love. The month we seek out a valentine of our very own, a like-soul with whom we can share joy, hope, and happiness. This celebration of love makes February a perfect month to do a post about things I love. Or, more specifically, the top five blogs that I love. It’s with that concept in mind that I give you My Five Favorite Blogs of 2012 post.

I spend many hours each month reading blogs on a variety of topics from all over the web. Oftentimes it amounts to over a hundred different blogs in a month. Some I read occasionally, but others become a ritual for me (like the morning coffee and daily newspaper). The five blogs below are just a few of the great blogs out there, but they are a part of my “ritual reading” due to their quality and my enjoyment. I like these writers and the stories or information they share.

These blogs are specifically notable because of their high-quality writing and their interesting and refreshing approach to topics. My favorites selection was based on the following criteria:

  • Vibrancy and consistency of voice;
  • Adherence to expectations of theme;
  • Lovely, crafted writing; and
  • Stimulating and/or diverse content.

I hope you’ll take the time to visit these blogs and sample the writing. And, if you’d like, please feel free to share some favorite blogs of your own in the comments section below!

1. 101 Books http://101books.net Author, Robert BruceI’ve been reading Robert’s blog for over a year and am always happy to see his newest post arrive in my Inbox. Simply put, he’s on a mission to read the books off a Time Magazine list (see his description below) and the readers of his blog are involved in an interactive journey with him. 101 Books is a great blog that explores literature in the here-and-now, with direct audience feedback, rolling conversations, and extra fun “tidbit” posts along the way. Robert introduces himself and his journey on his About page:

My name is Robert Bruce, and I’m a 35-year-old full-time writer and former English major who loves to read. I currently live in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m going to read all 100 of Time Magazine‘s greatest English-speaking novels since 1923 (plus Ulysses). I don’t know how long it will take. After all, I’m married, I have a ten-month-old, and I like to train for marathons. But hopefully I’ll get through this list before my eyesight goes bad and the interwebs stop working.

Robert has a friendly, non-assuming guy-next-door quality to his writing that I love. It’s obvious that he’s a literate person, but he never hits his readers on the head with who he is; rather, the reader comes to know him through the warm conversational tone of his posts. He’s a guy you like and trust almost immediately. He’s just a normal guy writing about books he loves (or doesn’t) with a warm, friendly tone:

You might’ve guessed at some point that I’m a white guy. Maybe not. But, yeah, I’m a white guy.

I was born in 1976, when race relations in the U.S. were somewhat improving—at least in the sense that we were past the days of segregation and overt hostility. So when I read about some of the things African-Americans faced in the early part of the 20th century, it’s a real eye-opener for me.

That’s what I love about literature—it has a way of giving you a sense of time and place through the eyes of a character who is experiencing it all firsthand. Richard Wright’s Native Son does that brilliantly. I believe To Kill A Mockingbirdand Go Tell It On Mountain are other great examples of this type of novel.( from http://101books.net/2012/02/21/bigger-thomas-growing-up-in-a-white-world/).

His reviews are well-written – containing relevant, striking excerpts from the texts – and can be emotionally and culturally challenging. I was impressed by his posts about David Foster Wallace to the point of buying and reading Infinite Jest and The Pale King for myself.

Robert offers a little of everything to his readers at 101 Books, using the books and their authors as a backdrop for deeper cultural conversation. The blog serves as a platform for discussion of such topics as literature (as expected), cultural mores, racial relationships in the South, current political issues, et cetera. The blog, 101 Books, by Robert Bruce takes my #1 favorite blog slot for 2012.

 

2. NARRATIVE http://richardgilbert.me Author, Richard Gilbert. There was a sheep farmer from… and so starts the unique quality of NARRATIVE. Its author, Richard Gilbert, did own a sheep farm and is a talented and diverse individual as his Bio explains:

I’m a memoirist, essayist, and journalist whose writing has appeared in Orion, Fourth Genre, Chautauqua, Farming: People, Land, Community and other publications. Two of my memoir essays can be read on line, “Kathy” at Brevityand “My Father’s Tractor” at SNReview. Memoir (and) offers the opening of  “Remembering Paul,” about my helper on our sheep farm in Appalachian Ohio, the complete text of which is available on Scribd. Also on Scribd is my Pushcart-nominated Chautauqua essay “A Dry Year,” about rebuilding a pond during a summer of Biblical plagues—heat, drought, locusts, storm—with a legendary excavator who carried a tragic secret.

I operated a sheep farm for ten years, and for those really interested in animal husbandry, Sheep Canada published my essay on the history of selective livestock breeding, “From Bakewell to BLUP”; the Google reader version of part one is here.

I worked in newspapers and university press book publishing, each for more than a decade, was a Kiplinger fellow in journalism at Ohio State, and earned an MFA in creative nonfiction at Goucher College. I have taught writing at Ohio State, Indiana University, and Ohio University and now teach English and journalism at Otterbein University, on the banks of Alum Creek in Westerville, Ohio. I’m writing a memoir about farming and Appalachia.

NARRATIVE is a gorgeous site that looks like a glossy magazine, feels like a high-brow literary e-zine, and reads like a lyric poem. It’s one of the best websites I’ve had the pleasure of visiting, in both style and content, anywhere on the web. Richard has done a wonderful job of creating a site filled with literary riches.

Richard brings his talent and experience to the pages of NARRATIVE in a way that offers insight, technique, guidance, and inspiration to emerging writer’s and general readers. If you love the art and craft of writing – you’ll love NARRATIVE. If you need inspiration or motivation – look no further than the pages of NARRATIVE. Richard writes in a clear, yet lyrical style. His book reviews and style/technique articles are some of the best I’ve found. The site is a treasure-trove for writers and a sheer pleasure to read for any and all who visit.

3. Mother2rah http://mother2rah.wordpress.com by Siobhan Ironically, though I am a Poet, this is the only poetry blog to make the list. I personally believe it’s very difficult to do a poetry blog well. It takes a strong voice to carry poetry in a way that reaches many people while staying true to itself.

Siobhan is an exceptional poet. Her work is often erotic and tinged with sadness – we feel the depth and intimacy of the human heart beating behind the words. She has a strong voice and her poems remain true to her and themselves while avoiding any sense of triteness or repetition.

Siobhan describes herself and life on her About page in a concrete but mysterious fashion. This same duality marks much of her poetry and gives it a hypnotically transcendent feel:

My verse thrives on the tensions inherent in loneliness, longing, and fulfillment – either through the life of the mind or those moments of life in which our senses are filled with the external to the point where loneliness is forgotten.  I have written poetry for over twenty years. I tend to use verse to deliver my observations on being a woman in the world today.  My work is very personal yet holds a universal quality to which most can relate.  (As an aside – I graduated from the University of IL at Chicago in 1985 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, with an emphasis in Business & Inter-personal communications.)
In the last few months of 2008 I watched my life unravel and felt helpless to stop it.  I did my best to remain calm and tell myself everything would be ok; it wasn’t.  So, as 2008 came to a close  I wasn’t entirely sure I’d see very far into 2009, however I made it to the end of 2009 and I am still breathing (albeit painfully at times.)

These are raw poems with a lyrical beauty. The writing is deeply moving in an emotional sensory-filled way. The poems breath the poet – we feel the wisp of her presence, but nothing heavy-handed or overly structured. The beauty of her voice shines brightly and the work on the blog revolves around intense intimacy and considerations of love. If you don’t like poetry, you should read Mother2rah – you may fall in love with poetry after all!

4. Charles J. Shields at http://www.charlesjshields.com I became acquainted with the work of Charles J. Shields through his book, Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee. I reviewed the book on this site (go here for that review), and was surprised and pleased when Mr. Shields dropped by and left a comment thanking me for the review.

I started following Mr. Shield’s blog at that time – about the process he was going through writing his new book, And So It Goes – Kurt Vonnegut: A Life. The blog is beautifully written, like his books, and gives wonderful asides and stories not found elsewhere.

I highly recommend the two books listed above, and I’m sure you would enjoy a visit to his site. The site contains news stories, reviews, and stories about Kurt that didn’t make it into the book – stop by for a fun and enlightening visit!

5. Barking Up The Wrong Tree http://www.bakadesuyo.com/ Author, Eric Barker I debated about including Eric’s blog because he doesn’t write as much as he adapts news stories, research, current studies, etc. adding commentary. However, as this is a blog I read constantly and I do love his site…he made the cut!

If you have any interest in Science or cultural insights, then Barking Up The Wrong Tree is the blog for you. Eric gives us up-to-the-minute news and research results in concise, bite-size nuggets. It’s a fun, amazing, and sometimes, very surprising read. Stop by for a visit, and let me know what you think!

Well, that does it, my five favorite blogs for 2012. Please let me know what your thoughts are if you stop by to give them a try. And, by the way, what are some of your favorite blogs and why?

~~~~

Artwork: Notes Forgotten by Bob Orsillo. Please visit Bob at Http://www.orsillo.com to find out more about him and his artwork. Or, purchase his prints, notecards, and more at a his Fine Art America page  http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/bob-orsillo.html

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magnitude to microcosm

~for J

We are talking
miles apart
on the phone, as if
change never
happened, as
old friends do
from time to time.

A conversation
about truth —
(elusive fiend)
and I can hear
you wrapped
in sadness
for all you never
found, felt
you should
become, believe
you should have been

You say
you have
let the world down.
I say
it’s too big to notice.

Break down
the feeling – from
magnitude to
microcosm.

At that
cellular level
we are born, re-Born
every day.
Truth hides
in the quiet
shadows – It knows
that everyday
you are busy
re-Becoming
who you are.

~November 2011

 

 

 

 

 

Borrowing Without Asking

Looking out
the kitchen window
at the yard
next door
abandoned.

Grass
grows taller
old laughter smiles
a lost echo.
The birds
are unaware.

Singing
they fly down
to steal lunch
hidden in the grass.

Unaware of
property, ownership,
human rules —


They take liberties —
perch on the front
porch swing, borrowing
without asking —

Singing the day
away, perched
on the last
sad item
previous owners
left behind.

 

~November 2011

nom de Plume

I’ve been thinking about my “name issue” for a few months,wondering how to deal with it, and if I should write a post about it. I’m home from work today, sick, and feeling terrible. So, of course, it seems like the perfect time to address the issue. Who am I – why do I have so many names – and which name should be on my Facebook Profile?

I’ve been a published writer in some form or fashion for the past 18 years. I started writing during my young “hate the world and everyone in it” period that I think most writer’s go through. My writing was good, but often filled with a violent aspect or harsh edge that sometimes involved living family members (the dead ones didn’t worry me so much). I decided to write under a nom de Plume (pseudonym, or Pen Name) during this time to avoid accidentally hurting or embarrassing family, friends, etc. that might read the work and recognize it’s source.

I wrote under the pseudonym, Orianna Tierney, for the first year or two. It was a good experience that allowed me to write in a free, unrestricted manner without self-censorship. I believe a pseudonym was necessary for me to actually step outside self-censorship and write honestly during this time. And, I remain an advocate of using a pseudonym as a means of reaching into your deepest, darkest self to find the honesty for the page. I still believe my writing and growth as a writer are better because I initially chose to write under an un-recognizable name.  My first intense, multilayered works were written and published during my “Orianna” period.

I was writing daily after the Orianna years and my writing quickly grew along with me as a person. The works, primarily poetry and essays at this time, started to grow and change. I understood the development of technique and the expanding substance of my work. The work became more serious and important to me as did the name under which I wrote. I adopted Marissa as my pseudonym in 1995. It was a creative re-visioning of my true first name, Margaret, and my true last name of Owen. So, Marissa Owen evolved as a nom de Plume that felt more real than my real name sometimes. (As an aside, I often contemplated legally changing my first name to Marissa, as I much prefer it, but decided to keep it due to family connections and memories.)

Writing as Marissa felt totally natural, and I came to see the writer side of me as Marissa. Most of my first, truly important publications were under this name. It was the name my writer and poet friends knew, and the one I went by with my editors. And, it was the name used for all my literary efforts. So, in an age before technology, living as a divorced mother and a writer, life was going pretty good and I was content as Marissa.

Then, three years later, in 1998, I met and decided to marry my current husband. It was my first real  “problem” with the name, but this time is was about my last name rather than my first. It took a lot of soul-searching to take my new husbands last name. I went through several months of arguing with myself on whether, and if so, how, to integrate last names. I debated on the, then popular, dash-hyphenating the two last names. After all, my children both had the last name Owen, and all my writing was published under the name Owen. In short, it was a pain-in-the-ass decision.

Eventually I made the decision -love and my desire to always be moving forward won the day. I became Colleen Mullins in real life and Marissa Mullins in my writing circles and and on paper. I had reached the place of perfection, no need to change pseudonyms ever again … and then, ten years later, along came Facebook.

I was introduced to Facebook in 2008. Suddenly, I was pulling my maiden name of Steadman out of the closet and dusting it off. How else would childhood schoolmates be able to find me? It was amazingly strange when I set up an account with my maiden name in the middle – I gave that name up at the age of 14 and never expected to use it again. Again, a very surreal experience.

Many people from school, family members, and old friends have found me on Facebook. It’s been a wonderful experience and I’m very happy to be “reunited” with so many people. BUT, in the last 4 years there have been some changes that lead me to question my use of Name on Facebook. My writings (those submitted for publication in hard-copy and those on the web) are under Marissa. I’ve become addicted to Twitter and am part of a large literary group there under the name Marissa. So, what name is it to be?

Since I would answer to the call of Marissa as quickly as I would answer to the call of Colleen, and since the greater part of me at present identifies with Marissa over Margaret and would never use my maiden name anywhere other than Facebook…

I’ve decided to combine the two, while combining my world of old friends and my current world of writing and life in the automotive realm, it just seems logical for me to go by Marissa Colleen Mullins on Facebook and link all my accounts! There, it’s done! My Facebook is name updated and now you know why! Blessings to everyone – regardless of by which name you know me!~


~What about you? Do you write under a pseudonym? Have you ever thought about it?

~Are your Facebook and Twitter linked? What do you think of Social Media?

~Any amazing stories of Facebook or Twitter out there? Something amazing or uncommon?

~Keep Writing! 

 

Remember You Sleeping

In this velvet
silence of night
almost turning into day –
I can hear your voice,
see us talking, laughing,
remember you sleeping —
me tenderly watching
you breathe
in soft rhythm —
as I waited
for those first rays of light –
the rooster crowing,
the birds singing —
I roll to hold you
warm with sleeping,
one last time,
before the morning comes
brightly shinning
burning the memory away.

~South Carolina, 2011


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ARTWORK: Love’s Dream Fulfilled by Jindra Noewi. You can find this piece and others here. More information on the artist here. Or, visit her website at: http://noewisart.com/wordpress/

Writing an Author Bio: How to Win the Race Part 2

Running Down the Track: Creating an Image of You as Writer

You’ve selected your Type from the list in Part 1 (go here to read part 1) – this alone should help you narrow your focus and describe the intent of the work. Now, once you’ve reached a place of honesty and distance toward yourself and your work, it’s time to start the actual work of writing your Author Bio.

The writing process takes time. This is why most writing advice suggests that you write something and then put it away for awhile before coming back to re-read and edit. Good writing is even better writing when you return to it later. Bad writing will scream for edits and fixes when you go back to it (a crippled animal needing help before it goes off on its own)! Allow yourself the time you need to focus, write, and revise your Bio. The goal is to write an excellent Author Bio, not to write one faster than everyone else.

Here are some examples of how a not-so-great Bio becomes a better one:

Example One: Type A

Type A Indistinct: Jane Doe received her BA degree from Blank University, her Master’s degree from Blank University, and her MFA at Blank University. She graduated last month and took a course at Blank Blank Writer Retreat. She has always loved to read and is an aspiring writer of fiction. She has had work published in ABC Journal and One Journal.

Type A Specific & Individual: Jane Doe is a graduate of the MFA program at Blank University. She attended the Blank Area Writer’s Retreat last June with specialized study in the art of fiction. Her short story, “From Here to There,” recently appeared in Blank Journal. Other writing has appeared in Blank 3 Magazine and We Are Journal. Her fiction seeks to explore the connections between childhood myth and adult neurosis.

We get a much stronger sense of who the writer is and what she cares about in the second example. Remember to be concise but thorough. If you’ve earned degrees and attended retreats please let the editor know (you probably spent a fair amount of money to do so) as it allows them to understand your training and quality of writing they can expect.

However, be careful not rattle-off a litany of schools and accomplishments without tying them to your work, or explaining their relevance to your writing. I love butterflies, but would not include that in an Author Bio unless it was pertinent to the article I’d written.

Example Two: Type B

Type B Indistinct: John Doe is a writer and has a BA degree in architecture from Blank University. His wife and children are his greatest inspiration. He loves music, opera, and Frank Sinatra. He writes for his local paper, the daily news. He also won a poetry contest when he was younger.

Type B Specific & Individual: John Doe has been writing since childhood. He is the author of “Today’s Best Music,” a weekly column for the Any Town Newspaper. John enjoys all music, but Frank Sinatra is his favorite vocalist. He is working on a short-story collection about the changes in the music scene over the past decade. This essay is an adapted version from that project.

There is a temptation to include any professional or educational accomplishments in your Author Bio. This usually comes from a fear of not mentioning educational levels when sending work to literary magazines. However, information just for the sake of information, without relevance to the topic, is a wasteful use of your limited word-count. Try to avoid this!

In John’s case, the BA degree in architecture is irrelevant information for this piece. His mention of his wife and kids is sweet, but it is also unimportant to the piece and more about sentimentality than relevance. John’s love of music and prior writing about music is more relevant and provides a deeper, stronger vision of who he is and why he’s writing the essay we’re going to read.

Example Three: Type C

Type C Indistinct: My name is Jane Doe and I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I have written in journals all my life. I read a lot and have over 100 books on my shelves. I live in the west and hate the hail storms, but I love the snow. I should have started writing before. I’m glad my husband talked me into it.(And, yes, I have received Bio’s like this!)

Type C Specific & Individual: Jane Doe is an avid reader and lives in Oklahoma. She has always been fascinated with journal-keeping and is researching the history of journal-keeping in the prairie states during the 1800’s. The essay, “Life of Prairie Storms,” is her first published work and evolved from her journal-keeping research.

OR

Type C Specific & Individual: Jane Doe moved to Oklahoma from New York in 1974. She soon discovered that the hail storms in that area were more violent and damaging than the Northeasters she had faced back home. Jane told her husband that people in New York would never believe the ferocity of the storms. He encouraged her to write about them. The resulting essay, “Ice Battering at Tulsa,” included in this issue of Blank magazine is her first published work.

It’s always difficult being new at something. As a new writer, there is much to absorb and many new skills to polish when seeking publication. A new writer often has a Bio filled with sentimental, personal things that are irrelevant to their new career effort, or they have a “one liner” Bio with no content or warmth. It’s is essential to find a middle ground.

The examples for Jane above show two opposite tactics based on the content of the submitted work. Either option takes for granted that she is writing about something in which she has personal experience or direct knowledge. I advise all new writers to start in that way. Hobbies and passions are wonderful places to find and build stories, family and regional history are also filled with possible story ideas.

There is a key difference between being a new writer and an unprofessional one. Take yourself and your writing seriously and approach submissions in a professional way. Write an Author Bio that exemplifies your desire, talent, and humility. Submit material appropriate for the specific market you’ve targeted with a professional Bio and a good Cover Letter. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed due to a lack of publishing credits. Instead, be proud of the new voice and career path opening before you. Remember that being new to the writing profession doesn’t mean that your stories aren’t valid. Believe in who you are and what you have to say!

Into the Home Stretch: A Word of Caution

Every writer has a distinct voice that shows in their work, helps shape and define it, but that is not necessarily the voice or personhood of the writer as an individual. Writing, much like the arts of music or painting, should speak for itself. Be careful not to provide a voice stronger than your writing-voice in your Author Bio.

The voice within your writing may be the voice the reader will enjoy most or want to hear. After all, haven’t we all watched that in-depth interview with a lead singer we once loved turn into an episode of TMI (Too Much Information) or a whine-fest that makes us decide we’ll never buy another one of their CD’s? Or, there’s the movie star interview (think about Mel Gibson or Charlie Sheen here) that starts out okay and quickly disintegrates into a hellishly bad episode that makes us wonder why we ever liked them.

We may love the voice and tone in a writer’s work and still, as with Gibson or Sheen, be insulted and turned off by the true, unrestrained, everything-exposed personality. Much like the wizard from The Wizard of Oz – there’s a reason and a purpose for the curtain covering a writer’s magic.

Crossing the Finish Line: Flexibility & Revision

Wow! Congratulations! You did it! You wrote an articulate, professional Author’s Bio! That’s it, you’ve won the race and we’re finished, right? Well, almost. There are a few final things you should know…

An Author’s Bio is constantly evolving and changing. I recommend a basic Bio like the examples above as a starting point. If you’re putting your Author Bio on a blog or book it will be more permanent. However, for general submissions over time, and as you establish new credentials and published credits, you’ll need to tweak it and edit often. Consider your submission content and adjust your Bio accordingly.

Remember, your Author Bio is like your business card or resume – it is the biographical information on you as a writer. It will continue to change and grow with you on this wonderful journey.

Writing an Author Bio: How to Win the Race! Part 1

“All runners (writers) in place!”

“Ready! Set! Go!”

The starting gun fires and the race begins!

Half the contestants stumble and turn, blindly running in the wrong direction. The other half run toward an imaginary finish line in the distance . . . somewhere?

Welcome to the world-cup championship race for the best Author Bio!* You, the writer (or hope-to-be writer), must tell the world who you are, and why they should listen to you, in a succinct 25 to 150 words. No solid guidelines exist to help you and there is no definitive formula for winning. Ready! Set! Go!

Does this scene sound familiar to you? Do you sit at the keyboard, palms sweating – trying to figure out who you are, what you have to say, why your work matters – trying to create the perfect Author Bio? If so, this article will help you understand and formulate a great Author Bio that works for you!

Warming Up: Defining Yourself as an Author!

I’ve been thinking about Author Bio’s for several weeks due to my blog getting more clicks on that page. It’s time to revise and update, and that decision, to re-work my own personal Bio, led to this article. Honestly, I never enjoy writing my Author Bio. It always seems a bit egotistical and pretentious – listing all my previous publication credits,talking about myself formally, introducing myself with all that pomp and grandeur – it’s not really a comfortable process even if you’re an old hand at it.

It’s even worse if you’re new to the writing profession. How do unpublished writers create credibility for their work and a professional sense of who they are in the Bio? After all, it’s not like you can say, “I’ve never written anything before, but I know my work is worth publishing. Trust me.” Right? Well, you can do that, but it never works out to your benefit!

The Author Bio is the starting point for any serious writer.**  Most editors read your Author Bio and your cover letter before even glancing at your submission. (I’ll talk about cover letters in another post.) The effort to write a good Author Bio is both necessary and worthwhile. A “good Author Bio” will help to define who you are as a writer and what your work says to the world. It is a source of clarity and purpose if done correctly. It is also, based on my years of experience as an editor, one of the most neglected parts of a submission package.

Starting Line: Understanding the Three Types of Author Bio’s

The Author Bio is the first impression an editor will have of you. It should contain the same level of writing expertise as your work. It should provide a glimpse into your philosophy on writing and the motivation behind your work. The first key to writing a good Author Bio is to understand that it is intricately linked to your work as a writer.

There are three main types of Author Bio’s:

1. Author Bio A: Educational credentials and previous publications in the small-press arena and/or winning or high placement in literary contests;

2. Author Bio B: Non-educational credentials, but combinations of publications in local or online arenas, mixed with small-press and literary publication credits;

3. Author Bio C: Non-educational and Non-published credentials, may have a blog or informal online publications or no publication history of any type.

These Bio Types are intentionally broad to allow for varying degrees of writing expertise and publication history.*** The Type label is an organized way for us to discuss “writers” as professionals, using their background, particular focus and interests, and their degree of publication experience in order to write an effective Author Bio.

It is important to remember that your Author Bio is actually your writer biography – not your mom biography, your I keep a perfectly clean house biography, or I love ice skating biography – your Bio should represent you as writer and your specific area of interest regarding a piece of work and it’s inclusion in a specific magazine or market. (The exception to this rule: Stephen King can say anything he wants in his bio!)

The Type A Bio will typically be a more experienced professional writer or an academic with numerous publication credits in their field of study. They often have a PhD or an MFA,  attend well-known workshops, are involved with writer colonies, and may be a full-time writer, professor, or editor. They often blog professionally for various media,win numerous prizes and grants via writing competitions, and may have published books one or more books.

The Type B Bio often holds a college degree and is a writer for local publications or literary magazines. They may own or edit a small-press magazine, have numerous literary publications, have won or placed in literary competitions, and may be a professional blogger with a medium to large following. They are usually less involved with national events/publications and more involved in local arts programs and cultural events or organizations in their area.

The Type C Bio is typically the beginning writer or a more mature person who has retired and is now pursuing a life-long dream. They may or may not have a college degree, may have written for local regional publications, may have some published credits or none at all. They often start writing as an emotional release, an escape from troubled lives, or because they are an avid reader and have always wanted to be a writer. They often have a blog with a small following and may or may not participate in community writing activities or reading groups.

The first step in writing a great Author Bio is to decide your Bio Type and then make an  honest assessment of self.  Nathaniel Hawthorne was right when he said:

“No man, for any considerable period can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which one is true.”

Many people in the world wear masks on a daily basis, but the writer must to step from behind his mask and view himself with distance and perspective.

It is the element of distance that allows the writer to find truth in himself and the piece of work he’s creating. Again, Hawthorne makes a succinct point when he says, “Accuracy is the twin brother of honesty; inaccuracy, of dishonesty.” Good writing always flows from a place of emotional honesty and perspective cultivated and polished by the writer. instinctively, the reader understands this and backs away from the work of an overwrought, dishonest writer.

(E.g. Writing a story of Aunt Martha being fat because you hate her guts, and with no other intention or depth, will seem hostile, petty, and pointless to the reader. You’ll lose them before the end of the first paragraph. On the other hand, writing a story about Aunt Martha, from a place of honesty and compassion, detailing your journey to forgive her and move away from hatred, will gain a reader’s interest and involvement. They’ll want to know how the story – your journey – works out and will likely continue reading.)

Take a long, serious look in the mirror and then take a long, serious look at your writing from the position of observer. It’s time to start writing.

(Read Part 2 Here)

Photo courtesy of:training racing pigeonswebsite.

*The term Author Bio is used in its general, wider meaning throughout this article to include any writer, poet, author, etc. that would be formally submitting work for acceptance and publication.

**I realize that writing and publication has changed a great deal these past years. However, whether submitting work in a traditional snail-mail manner or via online submission tools or emails, I still believe a certain level of professionalism is required. Thus, the Author Bio and cover letters are treated as necessary to any submission process regardless of the format.

***I firmly believe that you can be a successful writer regardless of your particular Bio Type or level of experience. I also believe that no one type is better or worse than the other. These Types are used as a simple guideline to understanding the various levels of professional achievement, along with the slant or focus of particular writers. It is not intended to be in any way discriminatory, argumentative, or seen as support or rejection of any particular group or individual writer.

you for Muse

Love poems never suited
me. Too un-sentimental,
a realist, an artist. I
wrote of concrete moments,
never tried sonnets or
romantic poesy. One
must have unrequited
love for that — a permanently
present, happy love says
little. Lives content not to
speak — but, lost un-held
things demand words. Need
expression of absence. Loss
or broken dreams demand
a voice.

Love poems never called
to me. Too realistic, too jaded
for fairy tales. I need
to crave the unavailable,
must have gut-wrenching
deep-set pain to push
the words forward, out of heated
muscle, flesh, heart – the poet
in me found you for Muse –
this reminds me of Greek
mythology, love-hate
relationships with the Oracles.

You will be
like other myths, will
grow distant,
un-useable. With time
an old god no longer
believed to exist. Your
shimmering marble
covered in moss,
decay crossing cream,
old water stains and
some new graffiti
will color you unimportant.

April 2011

Husband

I live you
breathe you
love you, but
seldom write
poems about you.

The sun shines
without being
written.

The air moves,
invisible life,
never seen.

You
are the flow
of these
necessities
through me.

You are soil
holding my roots
in place,
nourishment
written
in your name.

Your face –
my memory.
Your arms –
my home.

Otherwise, my
spirit filled with
gypsy blood –
too crazy, too unorthodox
for the masses –
burns.

You are
all the deep-true
things that carry
me. I thought
it was time to
write a poem
for you – So
this is yours,
husband.