THERE’S MORE TO IT THAN I’D ORIGINALLY THOUGHT

For the past week, I’ve had the urge to opine at length in a blog post, but, I’ve let my blogging wane to almost nothing, so I’ve hesitated.

When I began blogging, I was excited to write. The concept of dropping my ideas in a well and seeing what kind of echo came back was terribly appealing. I didn’t do it because I thought what I had to say was fascinating. I didn’t do it because I believed my opinions to be more accurate than others. I was just telling stories about myself, and I realize it was an exercise in developing my writing style and maybe, in getting to know myself.

I had also wanted to build a platform in hopes of gaining potential readers for my books. In that regard, I do believe blogging has been useful, but not to the same degree as the time it took me to study blogging, learn how to create websites, and figuring out what to say and how to say it.

In the dawn of my blog, my vision of writing was far different from it is now. If anything, I’d say it was cringe-worthy. I essentially clung to the theory of let-it-rip-writing. Spelling, punctuation, and grammar be damned.

I willingly admit, I’m not naturally good at spelling, punctuation, or grammar. It completely eludes me. I have to work very, very hard to write well. My husband tells me he can just see how things are supposed to be spelled. I cannot. Others have told me they just know, almost instinctively, how to punctuate. I do not. Writing has become something I desperately want to do, but almost fear. I’m sure I’ll get over this malaise, but for now, I’ve got writing fever and ague. Give me time. I’m bound to recuperate.

And so, I go about my craft in this new way: I write a sentence. Dissect the sentence. Rearrange the sentence. Then delete the sentence. I’ve turned into my own worst enemy and critique.

Although I may cringe at mistakes in memes, emails, or Facebook posts, I don’t judge—yet, they do irritate me. So, I guess I’m becoming a very different writer than I used to be. Different… and yet, I can almost promise the second after I hit publish on this post, I’ll see a mistake in my writing. Maybe you’ll point it out to me. It’s part of being a writer—humbly accepting criticism because we know it helps us grow.

This is why I attend writing conferences. This weekend is the Spring Conference for the Nebraska Writers Guild. If you’re a writer in this region, or want to be one, you should consider attending. I go to learn about the craft of writing, as well as business, marketing and promotion. I also go to visit with others who are wiser and smarter than I, to make friends, and to network with like minds. It’s always great to see the people I’ve come to think of as family, and I usually go home with pages-worth of ideas, some of which I actually implement.

If you’re interested in attending the NWG Spring Conference, go to the website to sign up today. http://www.nebraskawriters.org/. I’ll see you there!

This Sunday in Seward, Nebraska!

What to do on a Sunday afternoon? If you’re from around my area, near Lincoln, and you’re a fan of supporting Nebraska artists, or one who loves to read and enjoys poetry, I’d suggest you venture out on February 19th to Seward, Nebraska.

Like so many small Nebraska towns, Seward has so much to offer. There’s a Mexican Restaurant on South Highway 15 as well as a Chinese place downtown, and a little cafe downtown, too. Great little shops, a heck of a library, and two places in particular I encourage you to visit: Chapter Books & Gifts and Red Path Gallery & Tasting Room. These are both on Seward Street North of the court-house on the city square. Charming shops, both of them, and they’re both run by great ladies who care about their communities and about Nebraska. Seward is very fortunate to have both of these shops, and their owners, Carla Ketner of Chapter Books and Jeanne Wiemer of Red Path Gallery.

Last summer I had the pleasure of stopping by Red Path Gallery just to check it out. I visited with the owner and we got to talking about Nebraska writers and the Nebraska Writers Guild. Jeanne told me she’d been thinking about having Nebraska authors do readings there at Red Path. I told her I knew a number of Nebraska authors, specifically Guild members, who would make great speakers for her venue. An idea was born.

Good ideas have a way of rolling down hill and collecting speed. Carla of Chapter Books down the block visited with Jeanne and volunteered to help sponsor these events. So what we have now is a book store, an art gallery, and a member of the Nebraska Writers Guild, providing a monthly event to bring people out to the small town of Seward for a Sunday afternoon.

This Sunday, Red Path will feature Charlene Neely and Laura Madeline Wiseman, wonderful poets. Every third Sunday of the month will feature a different Nebraska Writers Guild author from screen writers, to biblical enactments, to young adult novelists, writing professors talking about the art of writing, romance novelists… truly, the Nebraska Writers Guild has a wealth of talent to share!

The poster at the top of this post tells you what you need to know. Come on out! Support small towns. Support small business. Support Nebraska artists and authors. Support Nebraska! But most of all, enjoy yourselves. Both events are free to attend. I’ll be there and I hope to see you this coming Sunday in Seward! It’ll be a great day in small town Nebraska!

Sundays at Red Path — Tamsen Butler

Seward, Nebraska, January 15, 2017: Red Path owner, Jeanne Wiemer and Nebraska Writers Guild member, Gina Barlean, have partnered to bring three great things together to make a year’s worth of events: The Red Path Gallery & Tasting Room, The Nebraska Writers Guild, and Nebraska Authors!

This will be a monthly event throughout 2017, on the third Sunday of each month (except for Easter and Father’s Day, in which the event will be on the following Sunday.) Each of these Sunday NWG Author events will begin at 1:30pm with a half hour reception where you can buy something to drink from the Red Path Gallery while you mingle with friends and meet the author who will be speaking. The author (and on some Sundays, two authors) will speak from 2pm to 3pm. There is no charge to attend these events.

About The Red Path Gallery, and Nebraska Writers Guild: Red Path Gallery & Tasting Room is located on the Historic Downtown Square in Seward, Nebraska.  Built as a bank in 1886, the space was converted in 1951 into a law firm – the oldest in Nebraska. Through a labor of love, original architectural features were uncovered, and the historic building was renovated and transformed into an art gallery and wine tasting room. The Nebraska Writers Guild was founded in 1925; its charter members included Bess Streeter Aldrich, Mari Sandoz, and Willa Cather. Today’s NWG members represent a lively cross-section of Nebraska life. Guild activities center on two annual conferences. Novelists and historians, poets and journalists, agents and publishers, screenwriter, editors and columnists ­ all have shared their insights on the art (and business) of writing at these conferences.

If you enjoy art, a nice glass of wine or non-alcoholic beverage, are looking for something to do on a Sunday afternoon, love to read and learn about new authors, wish to support the arts in Nebraska, or just want to learn more about the Nebraska Writers Guild… please come!

This is the poster for the first event. Our NWG author will be Tamsen Butler of Omaha. She’s funny, smart, and a great speaker. She teaches about public speaking, using humor in public speaking, and is proof that one can recover from a stroke and continue a very full life! Tamsen’s writing career focuses on financial help books, which will be available for sale. Please visit Tamsen’s website at tamsenbutler.com

LET THE JUDGING BEGIN!

short-story

ALL ENTRIES ARE IN!

The “About a Nebraska Town” short story contest to promote Nebraska Writers Guild authors has received eleven entries: six women and five men. I could not be more excited about the quality of the stories and applicants.

To those who entered stories… judges have until March 1st to read, make comments, and select the winner by a point system. Best of luck to all. I can’t wait to read them, and I know the other judges are just as excited!

 

Below are reminders of the rules of this competition. Judges should keep these factors in mind when judging the stories:

  • This competition is NOT sponsored or run by The Nebraska Writers Guild.
  • Stories entered are no longer than 5,000 words.
  • Stories are fictional, original, and submitted by the author.
  • Stories must be set in a Nebraska town and reflect the feel of a Nebraska town.
  • There is no fee for this competition. It is FREE, privately run, and specifically for Nebraska Writers Guild Members.
  • Your story may be dark, light, humorous, sci-fi, mystery, romance, horror, fantasy… whatever, as long as it’s set in a Nebraska town (small town, big town, real or fictional town, etc.) Not mentioning Nebraska would decrease the story’s odds of winning.
  • Enter stories written for an adult audience. No children’s stories for this competition. (Maybe in the future.)
  • Only twenty-five entries accepted, first come, first serve. (We had 11 and I’m thrilled with that number.)

DEADLINES:

  • The deadline for submission to this competition is January 1st. No more entries accepted at this time.
  • The award for the winner of this competition will be March 1st.

JUDGING:

  • There will be four judges, myself, Victorine E. Lieske, and Kim Stokely and Delores Schmidt.
  • I will announce the winner here on this website and on other social media outlets.

PRIZE:

  • I will publish the winning entry here on my blog, as well as on my Facebook Author Site.
  • The winner will receive a Winner Badge to put on their website or social media pages.
  • All entrants will receive feedback about their story from the judges.
  • The winner will own all gloating rights for winning this competition and can brag as loudly as tolerated by their friends and neighbors.

Judging Notes:

  • Stories which include explicit sex (erotica) or any descriptive scenes of abuse of women, children, or animals, will possibly be excluded. If a story is turned away, the author will privately be given the reasons, but let it be known this is a private business website and I am careful of what content I associate my writing career with.
  • IF your story does include romantic scenes or excessive or harsh swearing and wins, a notice for readers at the time of publication on this site will accompany the story.
  • I and the other judges agree not to use any part of any of the entrants’ stories for personal or business use. By entering your story, we do not own the rights to it, and cannot publish any portion or full extent of it, except for the winner’s here on this blog one time.

 

Still Learning

coverLast week I took a dive into unknown waters. I asked two friends who are far smarter than I to help me figure out how to improve my website and blog, Moments of Clarity.

At the time, my site was hosted by WordPress. I had really confused things and somehow figured out how to link my domain name, GMBarlean, to the WordPress owned site. Then I proceeded to completely forget who owned my domain name. Many thanks to author, and social media guru for the Nebraska Writers Guild, Nanette Day, for helping me wade through all the techy places to figure out how to transfer my domain name to my new host, Bluehost.

Victorine Lieske, who just happens to be the president of the Nebraska Writers Guild… yeah, I go right to the top… in her totally zen and calm way, talked me down off the ledge of “I’m not smart enough to have a real website!!”

Turns out, I almost am smart enough… or at least I’m smart enough to ask the right people to help me.

So, here it is. My new website. Yes. I’m sure it will change. Yup. There are more than likely some problems I’ll need to fix. Let me know what they are. I need to figure out how to get all of my wonderful super-special followers over here to this new site. It may involve me making a phone call, so I’ll have to attempt to force myself out of introvert mode so I can do that.

Let me know what you think. Make comments at will. Tell me what isn’t working. And use the example of these great folks I know, like Victorine and Nanette… help a writer out. Pay it forward. We’re all in this boat together.