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How to Tread Water, or My Writing Process (The Blog Tour!)

Categories: How I Write

Does everyone have their tickets, water bottles, and unnecessary safari hats and pants-that-zip-off-at-the-knees? Great! Because this is the next stop on the MY WRITING PROCESS Blog Tour that is making its way around the vast and wild tundras of the great world wide web. Thank you to the rap star (not rock star, rap star) and sweet friend author Courtney Maum (“I’m Having So Much Fun Here Without You“) who asked me to participate in this wonderful tour. Next up/next week, we’ll have Allison Devers (Writers Houses), Heidi Sistare, and Kassi Underwood. Also known as three of my favorites.

1) What are you working on?
As of three days ago, I officially started a new nonfiction book project about Spiritualism in Maine and the women of Camp Etna. These two are subjects that blow my mind, with historical ties to the Women’s Suffrage and the Abolitionist movements. Clairvoyants among pine trees? It doesn’t get much better than that. And talk about women’s intuition. Spiritualism is the epitome of it.

2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?
It differs because it has my perspective, which is heavily influenced by the accumulation of all my experiences.

3) Why do you write what you do?
Because it helps me figure out my place in the world, or make connections to reveal some kind of truth. And maybe this will help others figure out theirs.

4) How does your writing process work?
Since becoming a new mom I have to tread water–hold onto my ideas and inspirations until I have a second to myself to craft something that’s worthy of being shared. But I think good writing comes from clarity and a deep understanding, from sitting and letting things reveal themselves to you. I think good writing, or my best writing, comes from just patience with the story. Let the dots connect and let the rest fall off. That will make the story good and timeless. So I do a lot of research and meditating on the “ingredients”, and then I start sculpting. My words become a big hunk of clay on the screen and I slowly (or sometimes quickly) carve things out. I also listen to my body language. If something doesn’t work, I can tell because it just doesn’t feel right. I think the act of writing is more than just putting things on the page. Writing can be found everything I do, in sleeping and in brushing my teeth and in reading other people’s books, even in watching The Bachelorette. I think clues to the story I’m writing are everywhere.

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Writer With Kids: My Come-to-Jesus with Cari Luna

Categories: How I Write

Being a mom is effing hard. It’s like holding an ice cream cone under the hot sun and having to lick it every three seconds before it drips onto your hand. For the rest of your life. But it’s also sweet and mindblowing and something I never can find the words to describe, nor will I ever figure it out. But I tried to put some of my feelings into words when asked by the wonderful Cari Luna, author of THE REVOLUTION EVERY DAY (Tin House Books) how I manage to be a mother and a writer. (Confession: I don’t manage. I Hail Mary.)

You can read the interview here: WRITERS WITH KIDS.

Mira-and-Theo-zzzzzing

 

 

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2014 Maine Literary Awards

Categories: Maine!

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This is what your stroller looks like after you’ve just won a Maine Literary Award, then did a supermarket sweep, then found a parking spot and made it to the ferry with a minute to spare. (Note: my son was not under the groceries in this photo, but snoring and drooling on my shoulder while I took this picture.) If there’s one thing living in New York gave me, it was the earned skill of  carrying and doing and lugging everything all at once. What I wasn’t prepared for when I left Brooklyn and moved to Maine was the overwhelming kindness and welcome and support of the Maine Literary Community, and I didn’t even have to fight for their love! Maine, you’re the best. Now everyone go check out the Maine Publishers and Writers Alliance and/or send them chocolate chip cookies.

2014-MLA-Logo-300x3002014 MAINE LITERARY AWARDS WINNERS

FICTION
Roxana Robinson Sparta

CRIME FICTION
Al Lamanda Sunrise

SPECULATIVE FICTION
Mark D. Diehl Seventeen: Book One

NONFICTION
Lincoln Paine The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World

MEMOIR
Peter Korn Why We Make Things and Why It Matters

POETRY
Christian Barter In Someone Else’s House

CHILDREN’S
Lynn Plourde You’re Wearing THAT to School?!
(with illustrations by Sue Cornelison)

YOUNG ADULTS
Maria Padian Out of Nowhere

ANTHOLOGY
Martha White E.B. White on Dogs

JOHN N. COLE AWARD FOR MAINE-THEMED NONFICTION
Reeser Manley & Marjorie Peronto New England Gardener’s Year

EXCELLENCE IN PUBLISHING
Elizabeth W. Garber & Michael Weymouth Maine (Island Time)

SHORT WORKS FICTION
Deborah H. Gould

SHORT WORKS NONFICTION
Mira Ptacin

SHORT WORKS POETRY
Christopher Robley

YOUTH FICTION
Grace Whited

YOUTH NONFICTION
Toby Choyt

YOUTH POETRY
Tessa Holbrook

2014 MWPA DISTINGUISHED ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
For exceptional and steadfast contributions to Maine’s Literary community
Bob Keyes

SPECIAL “TRIFECTA” CITATION
For placing as a finalist in Youth Fiction for 2012, 2013, 2014
Elysia Roorbach

2014 BOOK DONATION RECIPIENTS
Cherryfield Free Public Library

 

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A Slice of Life

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Categories: New Works

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Happy January, everyone! No, I didn’t disappear. I had a baby, so everything else sort of fell by the wayside. But I’m back. Yes, this is my new and improved website. And yes, I’m still living in Maine. And yes, these are real. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

So. What happened a few months ago when Slice Magazine asked me to write about “the unknown” as I was approaching the third trimester of my pregnancy? (Hint: the answer is not “hide under a rock.”) I’m super proud of what happened, both with my pregnancy (Theo Julian Ptacin-Jackson. Ten Pounds. Twenty-two inches. Pure joy.) as well as the essay I produced from Slice’s prompt. It’s entitled “Just a Moment” and you can read it HERE. Or better yet, you can listen to me read it to you by clicking on the very majestic tiger below!

InTheTelling_Tiger

THIS JUST IN: I’ll be moderating a memoir-writing panel at Slice’s 2014 Literary Writers’ Conference in September. The lineup will blow the roof off (and then apologize and quickly build an even better roof.) See conference website for details! TWO WORDS: Dani Shapiro!