Monday, April 28, 2008

Randy Pausch Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

This inspirational -- and entertaining -- lecture by Carnegie Mellon University professor Randy Pausch, who has pancreatic cancer, was presented in September 2007. "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," which has since been viewed by millions of people on YouTube, is part of a lecture series titled "Journeys," in which professors share thoughts on their lives. The lecture is about 76.5 minutes long, and well worth watching.

Friday, April 25, 2008

About Writing, by Dolores Kivi

Thunder Bay freelance writer Dolores Kivi publishes a weekly column in the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal for COPA (Council on Positive Aging). In her latest, she shares her thoughts on writing.


About Writing

by Dolores Kivi

When it comes to writing, I've done some things right and a lot wrong. I learned to read early and was reading everything accessible including adult magazine stories by the time I was nine years old. I understood some of them. About the same time, I started writing poetry. Today I defend my verses, pointing out that they all rhyme.

I have written little verse as an adult, but I kept those from my youth. Some years back I discovered a few old prose pieces. At age 15 I had entered a national essay contest on Winston Churchill and placed among the 10 honourable mentions. That achievement was balanced by a flippant treatment on Gasoline Rationing which earned me my only failing English mark.

I get questions about writing, mostly commonly how long it takes to write this column. Answer: It varies. My shortest time for writing and editing one is rarely) two hours, but even a extensively researched piece usually requires fewer than 10 hours. Median is five to six. I try to arrange matters so that a later draft rests overnight or at least a couple of hours. Finally, I read the column aloud. Many talented journalists produce publishable copy with their first draft, but mine are wordy and I need to rewrite several times.

Also, I'm asked how to become a writer -- even a modest writer. I'm tempted to inquire if my questioner likes to read. That doesn't mean that all book lovers can be writers, but the converse is true -- most writers read extensively. One must want to write even if it does not provide a livelihood. Volunteering to contribute to community newsletters may result in being published earlier -- or oftener. True, some writers are born more gifted, but writing is also a craft. Learned techniques must be practised. Writers must write, whether for pay or just for the joy of putting pen to paper -- or fingers to keyboard.

Crafts require tools. Yesterday's typewriter is now a computer and laser printer. A large dictionary is a must. Aim to wear it out. Also, on my essential list are Strunk and White's The Elements of Style and a basic grammar book. When your budget permits, keep investing in other books and magazines. For advice, ask a librarian or a writer.

Public libraries are invaluable. Utilizing them has been one of the smart things I've done. When I found myself repeatedly borrowing a book, I'd buy it. Both The Canadian Writer's Guide and The Writer's Handbook are filled with short, focused articles on the art, craft and business of writing. The Writer and Writer's Digest are found on the magazine racks of even many small libraries.

Courses are available online and in classrooms. Check them out before investing big money. You can't go wrong with Thunder Bay's Sleeping Giant Writer's Festival sponsored by Northwestern Ontario Writer's Workshop. Adjusted fees make it possible for members or non-members to take in only one session or the entire festival.

Wise advice I didn't follow, until recently, was to write a minimum of 15 to 30 minutes daily -- at least five times weekly. A year's output can surprise you. Perfectionism and procrastination can be enemies of the aspiring writer, while perseverance and productivity bring their own rewards. Even a well-crafted letter can be a joy both to write and to receive. I should know. I married a man who repeatedly told me how much he loved my letters.


Dolores Kivi is currently writing an epistolary memoir based on letters she and her husband exchanged throughout their years together. She has participated in several Days Road Writers' online workshops.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Jane Boruszewski's Writing News / Oasis Journal Submission Guidelines

Past workshop participant Jane Boruszewski, who lives in New York State, passes on the news that she has finished writing and is seeking a publisher for her memoir-based children's novel Escape from Russia, based on her family's harrowing but inspirational experiences when they were exiled from Poland to Russia during the Second World War. Jane's writing has also appeared in Oasis Journal, an annual anthology published by Imago Press of Tucson, Arizona.

Oasis Journal accepts submissions from writers 50 years of age and older, including Canadian citizens. Following are their guidelines (references are to U.S. dollars). If you have further questions or would like to receive an Oasis Journal submission form, please contact Leila Joiner at or phone 520-327-0540.

Submission Guidelines

1) The OASIS Journal is an annual anthology dedicated to older writers. Anyone 50 years of age or older is eligible. New writers are especially encouraged to submit their best material.

2) All submissions selected for publication in OASIS Journal 2008 are automatically entered in our contest for Best Poetry, Best Fiction, and Best Non-Fiction. The winner in each category will receive a prize of $100 and special mention in OASIS Journal 2008. Please read the judges’ bios, which you will find on the next page, along with answers to some of your Frequently Asked Questions. This is a blind contest; all author indentification is removed from the judges’ copies.

3) We accept submissions in poetry, personal essay or memoir, creative nonfiction, and short story. Prose submissions may be 5000 words or less. Three pages of poetry (or 3 single-page poems) counts as one submission.

4) Manuscript Preparation: Prose: Your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address (if applicable) should appear at the top left-hand corner of your title page. Please include approximate word count and indicate if it is a fiction or non-fiction submission. Your name, title of submission, and page number should appear on the upper right-hand corner of every page following the title page. All submissions must be typed. Prose should be double-spaced. Poetry: Poetry may be single-spaced. You may list your name, address, etc. on a separate cover page, but please include your name on each page of poetry.

5) You may submit as many manuscripts as you wish. A $10.00 reader’s fee must accompany each submission. Make check payable to Imago Press.

6) If you have an original photograph or original artwork that has not been published elsewhere and you think it would enhance your text submission, please enclose a photocopy. The original must be available if chosen for publication. If it is someone else’s original photography or artwork, you must have written permission from the artist to use it.

7) Do not submit manuscripts that have been published elsewhere in magazines or books with a circulation over 500.

8) No manuscripts will be returned. All will be recycled, so don’t send us your only copy. Please do not use staples. Paper clips are okay.

9) Everyone who sends in a submission will receive one complimentary copy of OASIS Journal 2008.

10) Make sure to include a #10 self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) if you want to receive written notification of whether or not your manuscript has been selected for publication. If you send multiple submissions, please send only one (1) SASE. Final selection will not be made until after close of submissions, so don’t expect to be notified before late August 2008. Contest winners will be notified mid-September.

11) Submissions will be accepted May 1, 2008 through July 31, 2008 (postmark). Publication date is November 2008.

12) To purchase a copy of last year’s OASIS Journal 2007, send $13.00 plus $3.00 S&H to Imago Press, 3710 East Edison, Tucson AZ 85716. Make check payable to Imago Press. (Arizona residents add $1.05 sales tax.)

Thanks, Jane, for sharing this information.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Gail Rudyk Shortlisted for Australian Anthology

Returning workshop participant Gail Rudyk shares the exciting news that her story "Unforgettable" has been shortlisted for the Australian anthology Stolen Moments II (working title, and a follow-up to Stolen Moments), published by Life's Inspirational Moments. Congratulations, Gail, and best of luck in the next round!