Monday, April 29, 2013

Inspiring article - read it and WRITE.

Had to share this inspiring article by Shawn Vestal, sent over by our newest advisory board member, NYC-based literary agent Renee Zuckerbrot.  Shawn's debut collection, Godforsaken Idaho, was published earlier this month--check out his wonderful essay on The Quivering Pen (link below).

Did this ever happen to you? I will admit, I was frantic about my writing while I was pregnant the first time - thought for sure that I had to make it all happen in those speedy nine months.

Follow this link for some wonderful inspiration: "My First Publication as a Father" by Shawn Vestal.

And write something wonderful today - even if it's only a paragraph. Make something happen.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How to balance a creative career and an active family life

I was asked to guest-blog on Kidville's blog on the topic of balancing a creative career and parenting responsibilites, and I share with you the post. One day, perhaps we will also be fancy here with images and so forth. But for now: stay creative. Balance your life. Please comment on their blog in response to the tips - let them know this is a topic of interest in the virtual world!

And - we at Pen Parentis extend heartfelt strength to the families suffering in Boston. As New Yorkers with offices a block from Ground Zero, we get it. Gather strength from your loved ones, and remember that writing can also be therapeutic.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Crossword Poetry - guest blog by Brooklyn poet, Peter Valentine

Not every writer who is a Pen Parentis Author has four novels and an NEA grant. A lot of us are writers with day-jobs to support a family, who simply can't live without our creative outlet. Here's a guest-blog from a terrific poet, Peter Valentine, whose daily crossword-poetry is a wonderful example of threading a hobby into your creative writing - to ensure that you keep at it! He writes in the six hours that his children are in school, and here he describes his process for us, in hopes of inspiring others to discover their own forms. It's important to stay in the game, no matter your tools. 

Peter lives in Brooklyn with his wife and three children. Visit his website here.

Take it away, Peter!


About 11 years ago B.C. (before children) I was sitting in my apartment, drinking a cup of coffee and smoking a cigarette over the crossword. I had just gotten up, so it was probably 10:30am.
On this particular morning rather than speeding through the answers, I was staring at the words and letting my eyes play over them. Soon I found myself putting lines together -- first in my head, then on paper.
My first crossword poem consisted of two distinct parts – each created from the words in the clues and answers respectively. Later I evolved the form to 3 parts: across, down, and answers. For the title, words are drawn from any part of the puzzle.
The rules: 
1. Words in any section may be repeated
2. Punctuation may be altered in any way
3. No word may be used in a part of the poem that is not found in the corresponding part of the puzzle (if there is no “the” in the across clues, then “the” cannot be in the “across” part of the poem)
I wrote these poem daily for three years until I became a father. After three kids, I stopped reading the paper entirely.
Now, six years have passed and things have gotten easier. Today, with the kids in school six hours a day, I have been able to pick up the project again.  And it continues to be an extremely fun and satisfying occupation. Each day I look at a fresh batch of words from a different crossword puzzle constructor and never know where it’s going to take me. I’ve also added a new element – images. My wife, who is involved in social media (check out her blog here), urged me to include images -- a must if you want your stuff to get passed around the Internet. My initial snooty thought was that images diminish the words. Now I love them. It’s fun to see what pictures come up when you google things like, “soldier shakes hands with squirrel.”
Also, social media was not around six years ago, and I’m finding that there is nothing more motivating than the “like.”
It’s amazing how much has changed in only six years – both in the world-wide world and in me. Many of my older poems leaned on absurdist humor and at times cynical invective. Today, I can barely take cynicism. I still love funny, but I also feel more compelled and less embarrassed to write about real feelings and real things – surely the influence of kids. So while I may not get to sleep until 10:30am anymore, I may be a better writer.