Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring Fever and Tip Jar

Spring Fever and Workout Tip Jar
The long winter is making spring so much sweeter.The porch feels wonderful today. The birds are chirping, the Lady Cats (Java, Moshi, and Sakura) are watching nature “Cat TV” from the porch as I sit on the wicker couch and continue to surf the net and type.   My Lady Cats motivate me to relax, not to exercise. I need to motivate myself.

So, although I need to be writing for work and class, I catch myself on Facebook. Again.  I do get inspired from social networking, though.  One of my girlfriends posted something on her page: a photograph of an enclosed glass jar. Painted on the jar is “Workout Tips”.  (Yes, there’s money inside the jar.)  The idea is that for every workout that you finish, a 10 minute walk, a 30 minute trek into the backyard to garden, or a 60 minute run, you tip yourself one dollar. Then, after a certain amount of money ($50.00 or $100), you take the money out of the tip jar and treat yourself. Get a massage. Go to the salon and get hairapy. Buy a new outfit for yourself.
 I believe I am going to create my own workout tip jar and try out this experiment. Not only does exercise help the body, it also soothes the spirit, and calm the mind, so I can stay focused enough to write. (Thank you, H., for the inspiration!)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Poetry Slam

As you may know, I write poetry. I have presented at poetry gatherings and readings.
However, I do have a confession: I have never been to a poetry slam, I have never
participated in a poetry slam, and to be honest, I wasn’t really sure what a poetry slam was. 

 Whew. I have come clean. I feel better now.

 Fortunately, my dear friend, sculpturer, and poet Jake Webster introduced me to Coleen Hoover, who works in the creative writing program at Notre Dame; she is the dynamic person who hosted the event.  Last Friday, Hoover brought in Marty McConnell, who is a slam poet and an academic poet from Chicago. McConnell enlightened us with the quick and dirty basics of slam poetry.

Slam poetry was invented in Chicago by a guy named Marc Smith.  In 1984, in a Chicago club called Get Me High is where slam poetry started. Eventually, slam poetry took off and moved to Chicago’s famous Green Mill Jazz Club. Now there are poetry slams all over the country.

Basically, McConnell shared with us that slam poetry was a gimmick to get people to come in and share poems.  This is how a typical poetry slam works:

A designated MC will ask random people in the audience to be judges. There are five judges to serve on a panel. The judges have cards ranging from one to ten.  After a poet recites a work (usually at three minutes), the highest and lowest marks are thrown out.  The magic number is thirty.  Sometimes there are multiple rounds to eliminate poets with lower scores, sometimes there are not.  Many times there are prizes for competitions.

What also differentiates slam poetry from performance poetry is that poetry slams traditionally ban costumes, music, and props.

McConnell, author of the poetry book Wine for a Shotgun, told us about slam poetry at the Green Mill: people can boo or stamp their feet if they do not like a poem. (I personally don’t know if I could handle the rejection.)  McConnell workshopped with two talented slam poets, and then she gave a great demonstration herself.

McConnell also used a clever acronym for the workshop: PAVES.

P=pacing and speed
A=action and stillness
V=volume and enunciation
E=emotion and authenticity
S=shifts and variety

There will be a slam poetry contest at the Snite Museum on Thursday, April 18 at 5:00 p.m. 
Perhaps I will prepare a three-minute slam. Perhaps I will be chosen to be a judge, or to hang out indiscreetly in the back. I’m not sure yet. At least I now know what a poetry slam is.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Prove Yourself. Write.

Never give up.
I had to channel my inner Winston Churchill and repeat his mantra to myself several times today. Never give up. Never give up.  I perused the informal rejection email from the university literary journal this morning.  “We are sorry to inform you…blah blah blah.”  Apparently, according to the editor, my writing isn’t literary enough to take up space on a page, and twenty-first century rejection is no longer worth a letter and a stamp.

However, the slight sting of having my work rejected still resonates. It’s humbling and irritating. Momentarily, I want to press the “off” button on my laptop and hang up the life as a scribe.

 No way.
The indignity of rejection just sparked a fire under my seat. I remind myself of what I tell my college students:  prove them wrong and prove yourself right. The students (captive audience) listen to my tales of woe about my high school guidance counselor who once told me once that I wasn’t college material. I am grateful to said counselor, because she irritated me so much that I set out to prove her wrong. (That reminds me: I still need to send her my undergraduate and graduate school transcripts.) Hopefully, those words will inspire students to prove themselves right and quiet all the internal and external nay-saying.

I have published many times in my life.  I am paid writer, presenter, and author, but rejection letters still sting. I will take that sting and propel that energy into motivation to finish revising the novel, so hopefully soon, I can send an invitation to the editors for an author signing.

Prove Them Wrong. Prove Yourself Right. I don’t care in what order. Just don’t stop writing.

Prove Yourself. Write.



Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday Morning Cardinal

It was one of those short nights where I went to bed late and woke up early. I woke up super early. Before 5:00 a.m. early.
I quietly descended down the stairs. Java was resting on one side of the couch, Moshi was resting on the other side of the couch, and Sakura was sleeping on a dining room chair next to the window. Sakura warbled when I kissed her, along with the other Lady Cats, on top of their heads and whispered, “Good morning.”

I peered outside the side window, into the darkness, and noticed something round. I first thought it was the beginnings of a nest.  However, I plugged in a lamp near the window. After a closer look, I realized it was a red cardinal, our red cardinal, perched on a narrow branch, sleeping right outside our window.
I have written about this cardinal before, and I believe it is the same red cardinal that stands on our windowsill and taps on the glass often, almost every single day, in every season, when I am home, whether or not the bird feeder is empty or full. The red cardinal will visit when Steve is home, but always visits when I am in the living room, and will sometimes peck incessantly on the glass, especially when I am feeling lethargic or sad. Interestingly, the cardinal does not appear often when we have company.

There is lot of symbolism with red cardinals, among other birds, and I won’t impose on your beliefs or observations. I do think, however, that in both the daylight and in the darkness before dawn, this sweet bird continues to watch over us.  I don’t believe in coincidences so much anymore, and our red cardinal is no exception. -xo




Thursday, March 14, 2013

The List

On Sunday, Steve and I presented at the New Carlisle-Olive Township Public Library. We had a great time. My dear friend and former colleague talked about making lists. When we worked together many years ago, she taught me how to organize my thoughts--and my day-- by making lists. I am now a big proponent of list-making, and I believe my friend is the person who taught me years ago. Thank you.

Here's my list for today:

1.) Visit friends at cafe'. (Done.)
2.) Cash checks at the bank. (Done.)
3.) Write blog post. (Doing.)
4.) Pet the cats.
5.) Write articles.
6.) Work on stuff for teaching.
7.) Revise chapter three in  book.
8.) Hang out with Steve.
9.) Walk.
10.) Housework. (Notice I put this last? ;))

Do you make lists? Do you enjoy crossing them off or do you add more?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

New Carlisle-Olive Township Public Library

I am so excited! This is the first book signing and presentation of In the Family of Trees of 2013! The destination for this venue is at the New Carlisle-Olive Township Public Library. Not only will we get to meet new people and visit another library, but we will get to visit a friend and former collegaue.


Writerly Tip of the Day: Visit your favorite library, pick up, or download the 2013 version
of Writer's Market. It's a great resource for writers.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Wednesday Musings

I continue to be inspired by the resilience of my students. Despite the fact that campus should have been closed last night due to the snowstorm, five brave souls managed to make it to class last night. We covered a few concepts and engaged in thoughtful discussion about college. Despite the inclement weather, we made the best of it.

Here are a couple of websites that we use in class:

Freerice (
Sponsored by the World Food Programme (WFP), this is a great way to increase
knowledge in subjects (we use it for vocabulary), and pay it forward. For each correct answer,
10 grains of rice is donated. It's neat to see that students use it, and that they have shared the website with their kids.

Visuwords (
This is a graphic online dictionary that I found in one of my textbooks. It's a great way to find definitions, and locate similar words. I have used it as inspiration for one of my essays, and I have used it in my college classes.

I am digressing to another topic here...

Although I am intending on maintaining a personal and muse-like tone to this blog, since I started freelancing with a company called THE SEO_PROZ (through, I have been blogging, researching and and writing about online content and SEO (Search Engine Optimization).  As a result of researching blogs, in most or all of my postings, I am intending on adding more of an informative component such as a book review,  a how-to, a place to visit, a recipe, a website, or a writer's prompt.  I want something eclectic and interesting for you to take away every time you visit. 

Also, please feel free to post comments, questions, and ideas. This blog is not meant to be static, but interactive.

Thank you! -xo

Saturday Chez Sigety

It's a quiet Saturday afternoon chez Sigety. I'm curled up on a wicker couch on the front porch, surrounded by books and comfy p...