Thursday, March 31, 2011

April Is National Poetry Month

Hello to all poets and poets in waiting. April is National Poetry Month and tomorrow (April 1) begins the annual Poem A Day Challenge at Writer's Digest. If you have ever felt the call to write poetry or if you have heard the whispers of the poetic muse perched on your shoulder, now is the time to put pen to paper or digits to keys.

The Poem A Day Challenge is exactly that---write a poem each day for 30 days based on the daily prompts provided by Robert Lee Brewer on the Writer's Digest poem-a-day page. Here is a link to the guidelines for the challenge: ( You'll get the hang of it in no time.

So, why bother? Well, apart from uncovering your poetic genius, you will end up with a pile of 30 poems at the end of the month, which is no small accomplishment. With any luck, a few will be really good and a few others will at least be a good start on the way toward something really good. Besides, it's not everyone who can honestly say they have written 30 poems in 30 days.

Forget about those who say, "Who would want to?" Hey, it's a challenge and some people just simply aren't up to it. So, dust off the poetic cobwebs and let's get cracking. Robert Lee Brewer's first prompt will be available tomorrow morning and you have until midnight to wax poetic in response... and so on and so forth.

Show us what you got unless, that is, you're averse to it....

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Writer's Postal Excitement Scale (Slightly Revised)

(Or the meaning of the top ten responses from editors and publishers)

By Bill Kirk

Dedicated to all writers everywhere--especially the new kids on the block--who are awaiting responses from the many submissions you have mailed out. Sometimes the anticipation is as good as it gets. But every once in a while, you might get lucky.... It could happen.

(NOTE: The order may vary depending on the size of the envelope, weight of the manuscript and the diameter of the coffee stain on the outside.)

#1: No response from the publisher….

The editor must be still thinking about it. So it's been a year---some people are thorough.

# 2: Your original outgoing envelope, returned unopened-manuscript still inside, with no notes, no form letter or any other indication that anyone or anything besides a Pitney-Bowes mail sorter has touched it....

I wonder what that little pointy finger next to the "Return To Sender" stamp means?

#3: A returned SASE with nothing inside….
Must have liked it so much they made copies and are still passing them around the office!

#4: An SASE with a pre-printed, unsigned and unmarked form letter....

Ya gotta love the extra effort and attention! Besides, someone had to write the form letter, didn't they? So, I coulda been the first one they sent it to, right?

#5: A returned SASE with a SIGNED letter with one box checked.... Wait. All SIX rejection boxes are checked! Woo! Hoo!

Now we're talking! I can feel the love---every box is individually hand checked! Someone actually read me!

#6: A returned SASE with a SIGNED letter and an encouraging rejection note-like, "I read this twice before throwing it away." or "Next time, don't waste your postage on a SASE"….

OMG, a perk! They're going to pay the return postage on my SASE next time. Quick! Send them something else---preferably before the postman drives away!

#7: A returned SASE with a marked up manuscript---in color crayon---and three Cheerios inside....

OK. So, the editor could have her 3-year old child on the payroll. Besides, some kids are prodigies.

#8: A returned SASE with the manuscript inside, marked up with legible comments like, "This is truly beyond belief! In my 25 years as an editor, I've never seen anything quite like it...."

Be still, my heart! Finally, someone who really understands how unique and creative I am.

#9: A returned SASE with a form letter and a signed hand-written note asking to see more….

YES!!! Hey, honey, where did you put the car ads? We gotta Jaguar in our future....

And the #10 response: A returned SASE with a SIGNED letter and an anticipated date of publication... sometime within the next ten years....

Finally! I'm adding this puppy under my name at the bottom of my email messages!


Friday, March 4, 2011

Numbers Rap

In honor of Saint Patrick's Day, here's a jaunty little rhyme for March. I was once told in a very nice rejection letter that a serious math journal wouldn't publish such doggerel. But that's all right. It was fun to write. Enjoy.

"Numbers Rap"
by Bill Kirk

Numbers, Numbers, all around us.
Numbers, numbers, they astound us!

Integers can be quite mental;
Fractions, never transcendental.

Counting numbers may well taunt you.
But ignore them and they'll haunt you!

Adding them to do your sums,
May take fingers, toes and thumbs.

If subtraction is your game,
Minus signs, you'll need to tame.

Try division if you're able.
Multiply? You'll need a table.

Odd times odd is odd, not even.
Odd times even's "even Steven."

Do your tens to reach a million;
Times a thousand is a billion!

When you're counting, don't be frugal.
Who knows? You might reach a googol!

Learning numbers is a quest.
To succeed, just do your best.