I finished up my work as a reader for The Firecracker Award and it helped me gain new perspective on the quality, range of style, coherence, and organization of contemporary prize winning poetry books.
I'm working as a reader at River Teeth Magazine which is teaching me some good lessons about essay writing. What I have like is well-polished essays--if sentence clarity lacks, or the focus is weak, or the essay incomplete, I find them less appealing. The writing styles have varied as has topics. It makes essay writing an interesting aspect of writing.
I continue on with work with the Pacific Northwest Writer's Association for the tenth or twelfth or something like that year in a row. One of the benefits of PNWA membership is the Author Magazine, which recently offered up an interview with Science Fiction writer, Nancy Kress, which I found very interesting and finally encouraged me to buy one of her books, although I have read some of her short stories.
This is one of the two main craters at Volcan Masaya, see project work description below:
I continue my participation with Zooniverse, which is a site that allows volunteers to help process scientific data. Typically, volunteers view photos and click on objects inside the photo and identify them. So far this quarter, I've helped identify animals in the Serengeti, wind flow patterns on Mars, egg-laying behavior of worms, and potential supernova's. I'm up to almost 2000 identifications of various types.
My husband and I took my niece to Nicaragua this spring to help out on an Earthwatch Project Exploring a Volcano in the town of Masaya. My niece is a pre-medical undergraduate with a BS in Biology who hopes to become a doctor. We took her as a graduation present to help encourage her into exploration of the world, the needs of people, and the various ways science impacts our understanding. The project took us inside various craters at Volcan Masaya taking microgravity readings, collecting GPS data and witnessing a project to collect comparative level data (from data 20 years previous).
In line with my usual practice of learning about a country before I go, I collected and started reading some of the literary works from Nicaragua.
I still continue on as a 5th Grade Catholic Religious PREP school teacher, the classes meet every other week and teach children about the seven sacraments of the Catholic faith--Baptism, Eucharist, Penance, Confirmation, Marriage, Priesthood, Healing, while explaining the Catholic calendar (special seasons) and about what it means to be a Catholic.
Poetry Reading and Writing
So far I've completed three packets of material that I have sent in to my mentor, Ruth L. Schwartz, along with an emulation poem for each of the books of poetry we've read so far (see the poetry page, I've started putting out some of my essays about the books) and written an essay about what we can learn in terms of poetry book construction, types of poetry and styles and basic techniques. I've also read several essay books where the author also writes poetry and contrasted the work in the two books.
One of the things I mentioned in my application to Ashland University's MFA program is that I hoped to move my writing of book reviews to a higher level by writing essays about reading material I'm using to help build my list of memoir read during the program (50 memoirs suggested) and for my own purposes (50 poetry books). So I've been reading a lot, and doing the same with my nonfiction resources, taking quotes, or poems and sorting them against a proposed essay book outline. I'm hoping to produce a mixed format, poetry and prose book on completion. I find it is very tedious work to collect source material.
For my memoir, I've focused on taking the "situational" material (from Vivian Gornick's The "Situation and the Story" where I portray how a family event over the course of thirty years helps explain our family's experience with drug and alcohol addiction and its impact, and sorted these out into chapters. Within the chapters, I'm sorting my research data; basically taking quotes that I can use from source material I'm reading and placing them in context. I'm also brainstorming about how my overall concept of what was going on has changed as well as how historical events in those years affected us. This raw data helps me build the "frame" or context for the memoir. I'm hoping that I can connect some of the improvements in science, knowledge, medicine, and social organizations are affecting those who are impacted by addiction as a resource for others who may share these problems.
After I use the basic texts about different problem areas where our family came into contact with various organizations, I plan to look for recent publications, and entered into ResearchGate as a tool for finding source material.
Social Media and Participation and Submissions
I'm trying to maintain my presence on Facebook, Empire Avenue, Quora, PoetrySoup, and other social media but have slowed down. I tend to socialize online when I am very tired and not able to think about my writing projects. I've started participation on some quorums in LinkedIn, and on a new site called The Prose where a community offers challenges to writers. I've also have been working on Ancestry.com, Newspapers.com, and Archives.com to find out about my family history.