Two Wins

For a while now, I’ve been following Erika Dreifus’ Practicing Writing blog. Her useful blog contains “updates on writing and publishing opportunities (especially handy between issues of our popular monthly newsletter). You’ll discover ONLY opportunities that charge no fees, and ONLY publications/contests that will pay for your writing. The blog also shares writing-related Web news and resources, book reviews, and occasional news about this practicing writer’s own work.”

This blog is where I learned of Amy Paturel’s essay contest, which I entered last month, and won free entry to the e-course: Essay Writing: How to Find the Story in You– and Sell It, that I am currently taking.

Several weeks ago, I noticed that Erika was offering a chance to win one of two short story collections, in  Short Story Month 2010: The Collection Giveaway Project , simply by leaving a comment on our favorite short story collections.  I was delighted to see that I am one of two (randomly drawn) winners of the collection The Pale of Settlement, by Margot Singer.

I also had my first haiku accepted to a print journal, Riverwind 30. That will appear next month!

Lamenting the Limerick

I love limericks, I love contests, so what could be more fun than the April Write On! Online April Challenge, which was a limerick contest! I was the third place winner with this limerick:

Lamenting the Limerick

A limerick it is to be
What to pen, now let me see
I could write of love
Or the moon up above
But I’ve run out of lines, woe is me!

But why stop at one? Here’s some of the other limericks I wrote, before I decided to submit the one above:

Limerick Lament

I just wish I could think of something
With a lot of pizazz and some zing
But I must be quite frank
My mind it is blank
So I’ll settle for any old thing.

A Poem A Day Lament

To pen a poem a day
Requires a lot to say
Should I write of love
and the moon up above
or the darling buds of May?

Gardener’s Lament

I wish I could figure out why
My plants always up and die
Try as I might
I can’t prevent blight
Yet my weeds always grow to the sky.

Writer’s Lament

I wish I could write a good book
With suspense, a great plot and a hook
When I sit down to write
My words sound so trite
But I’ll publish by hook or by crook

The Promise of Spring

Last week I saw a call for submissions for an essay writing contest on the topic of “spring”. On a whim, I penned something and sent it in, and… WON!!! The prize was  free entry into an e-course by Amy Paturel, of The Renegade Writer, entitled Essay Writing: How to Find the Story in You — and Sell It

You can read my winning essay here.

The class starts on May 3, which is perfect, because I will just have wrapped up both the Poetic Asides PAD challenge and the Read Write Poem PAD challenge. After 30 days of poetry, I think I will be ready to shift gears for awhile!

A Self Review

The prompt  for the January  Write On! Online Challenge  was to write a review of something we’ve written. It was challenging indeed, to strike just the right balance between modesty and blowing my own horn.  In the end, I decided to approach it by pretending I was writing a review of someone else’s work. 🙂 I was thrilled to learn today that I won 2nd place (, for this review:

The Ten Best Things, in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings (

Category: Creative nonfiction

I stumbled across Cara Holman’s story The Ten Best Things in a volume of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings. As a cancer survivor myself, I appreciated the forthrightness and honesty with which she presented the story of how a writing group she joined shortly after her cancer diagnosis helped her to deal with her treatment and aided in her emotional recovery.

A cancer diagnosis can be a frightening and isolating experience. Many studies have shown the value of support groups for cancer patients, and in The Ten Best Things, Cara recounts how joining a writing group for women cancer survivors functioned both as a support group for the “eight or so” women in it, and as a way to channel their creative energies into the process of healing. While Cara is quick to conclude that obviously no one would have chosen to have been diagnosed with cancer in the first place, she firmly believes that she and the women of her writing group are in a better place as a result of having to confront their own mortality, and reassess their priorities in life.

As I reflect upon the lesson of this story, I find myself in agreement with the sentiments expressed by this author, namely, that many of us cancer survivors have learned “to be kinder, more compassionate, more life-affirming people and never to forget how much we still have to be grateful for.” I found this story to be life-affirming, without ever becoming maudlin.

I would encourage readers who are interested in honest writings about surviving cancer, losing one’s parents, and just everyday stories about raising children, becoming a writer, and hitting midlife to check out some of Cara’s other equally engaging, and often humorous writings. A full list of her publications, both online and in print, can be found on her blog Prose Posies.

The Power of Music

This is the time of year that I miss my mother the most. It has been almost two years since that heartbreaking day that she was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with terminal cancer. My story about how I find solace in music was just selected as the winning entry for the first Chicken Soup for the Soul Giveaway Wednesday on Facebook. I hope the story brings comfort to others who are facing loss at the holidays.

Triple Good News

Last week’s Komen Lunch for the Cure that I attended raised $132,000!

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings, containing my cancer writing group story The Ten Best Things, is now available on Amazon( , at and presumably also at your favorite bookstore. I was excited to receive my contributor copies last week!

My streak of good luck seems to be holding. My story, The Eyes Have It, took first place in the Write On! Online October Challenge. ( What made this an extra special win for me, was that I was writing outside my comfort zone, trying my hand at fiction instead of non-fiction.

A Parent’s Intuition

When my youngest son was 15-months old, he became very ill with a rare condition,that baffled the doctors. Six nerve-wracking days passed, with many calls to the pediatrician’s office and one emergency room visit, before he was properly diagnosed and underwent emergency surgery. The story of this experience was one of five winners in the 31 Hours parents’ intuition contest:

Although it has been over 13 years since this event took place, and my son made a complete recovery following surgery, I wanted to tell the story, not in an attempt to bash the medical professionals who failed to recognize the seriousness of the situation, but to encourage parents to continue to advocate for their children when their intuition tells them that something is seriously wrong, even if it means seeking out a different medical provider. I will always be grateful for the pediatric ENT on call, who took the time to listen to my concerns, took stock of the situation, promptly and accurately diagnosed this infrequently occurring condition, and put our son on the path to recovery. Without this doctor’s expertise, I don’t even like to think about what might have happened that day. Luckily, all’s well that ends well!