Instagram: Poetry Unfiltered
Every Saturday and Sunday, I publish a “Post-It-sized” poem on Instagram. I used to feel that I had to make each poem “pop” with the use of filters until I realized that such was unnecessary. I could feel the seconds being wasted, trying to come up with just the right filter, so I started screenshotting my poem with my phone via Google Docs and publishing it as is with the hashtag #nofilter. I realized there is a certain beauty in stark white and bold black. Coming up with appropriate hashtags take enough of my time.
Images are (Almost) Everything
Because I blog a minimum of twice weekly, it helps to recycle images, especially with my recurring features: Micropoetry Mondays and Fiction Fridays. For Monday, if my theme is “The Lighter Side” or “Opposites,” I use the same graphic; eventually, I will design my own logo for Micropoetry Monday, so I can ditch the stock photography all together (I’ve already scrubbed my blog of most of it). Because Fiction Fridays are all excerpts from my book or poetry based on it, I use the same graphic. Even when it comes to LinkedIn, rather than using a stock photo, I use my business card in basic black and plain white (without my personal address or telephone number) and an eye-grabbing headline. However, since I’ve discovered the Medium Daily Digest’s publishing platform (https://medium.com/), which is lot more attractive than LinkedIn’s (and not about boring corporate culture), I use an abstract photo—usually a close-up of something loosely related to the quotation I paste over it. (And my quotes are always original. There is enough recycled content out there.)
Strunk and White + Stephen King = Needful words
Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style is one grammar book that changed my writing (and maybe my life). It is what I call a hornbook for all writers. I applied its principles to my writing when I worked for my community college newspaper for several semesters, which helped me with conciseness (though I would still try to sneak in the Oxford comma). In On Writing by Stephen King, King says to “Kill your darlings”; I say you have to kill your characters (meaning the alphabet kind). Writing also helped me chuck 99% of my adverbs; nothing beats “he said” or “she said.” You want those dialogue tags to be invisible. I credit these two books and my experience as a student reporter in helping me get the job as a clarity editor for Grammarly.
Social media < Writing, Editing, Submitting
When I started my blog in October 2013, I thought I had to be as omnipresent as possible when it came to social media, but, after an incredible amount of spam I received on Twitter and people following just to get a follow, I ditched it and Pinterest, too. Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads, and LinkedIn is enough for me. (Often, what I post in one place gets posted in another). What time I used to spend trying to brand myself on all those social media accounts I could be spending building my vocabulary, submitting to actual publications, etc. I don’t have time to engage with all my followers — I need readers who aren’t writers. After more than three years of posting my Wednesday and Poem-a-Day prompts (in April and November) for Writer’s Digest on their blog and mine, I realized it was time for me to move on, which simplified my writing life even more. I needed content I could write ahead of time, so I could schedule it to publish on my blog at a later date.
Submissions: Kitchen-Sink Theory Does Not Apply
I used to think I had to flood the market with submissions rather than focus on a handful of publishers. Targeting your publications gives you time to read and study them; submission guidelines alone will not provide intuition into what the editors are looking for. I have since discovered that my work would not be considered literary, so most small presses would not be a good fit; I have a better shot at larger publishers because of their more mainstream content. If I pick up a journal and don’t “get” any of the poems, then it’s the wrong publication for me; if I pick up a magazine and don’t enjoy any of the stories, then it’s not a good fit for my writing. This keeps me from being overwhelmed with reading material.
via What We Are
Brian Schlaes and Sarah Lawson want a child. Sarah believes had they met ten years earlier, even though both were different people, they would have grown together and become what they were supposed to become. They get an opportunity to start over—to gain nine years of extra memories at the expense of one. With the help of an angel who calls herself Aphrodite, they will be placed in the same place at the same time, nine years before when they met. They risk everything for the chance to fall in love a second time, but will others get in the way?
“Poplar Bluff” is a memoir of the fondest kinds of memories—those from childhood. It is a juicy slice of small-town American life, which includes a history of P.B., peppered with anecdotes and salted with sweet remembrances.
For several years, I spent all my summers with my grandparents in P.B., with my aunt, uncle, and cousins next door. I didn’t have that kind of luxury or history in Pensacola, Florida—the luxury of having family close by and a shared history in the place where I lived.
“Poplar Bluff” is also a coming-of-age essay, where the memories are as golden as the tones in a vintage photograph, and the present is as stark as Technicolor. It is also a love story of loss and moving on from loss.
Poplar Bluff, as I remember it, is representative of a simpler time—before Facebook and cell phones and other devices monopolized our hours, when kids played outside and entertained themselves.
It is a story of the wonders of summer through the eyes of a child.
My parents were into genealogy during those seasons of my life, and so I have them to thank for some of the more factual content, but the parts I believe will resonate most is the story only I can tell.
I believe anyone who has ever called Missouri home—and those who have chosen it as their home—will find something worth remembering in “Poplar Bluff: A Memoir.”
About me: I am married and the mother of a five-month-old baby girl. In addition to being a full-time, stay-at-home mom, I am the unofficial family storyteller. I regularly blog on issues of freelance writing, marriage, and motherhood. My current project is a collection of children’s nursery rhymes, unofficially titled, The Treasury of the Sara Madre. I am also a member of the local writer’s group, WriteOn! Pensacola.
Thank you for your generous time. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Sarah Lea Richards