January 10, 2010

My 2009 Writing Life





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     I warn members of my writing group not to submit their articles to magazines “over their head,” reminding them that they should start by submitting to small publications.

     Do I take my own advice?

     No, or course not!

     I submitted an article to a competition at a New England historical journal by the December 31, 2008, deadline. This magazine published articles by accomplished historians as well as beginning scholars. The title bestowed on me by one history professor, “independent historian,” didn’t qualify me to compete at that level. After all, I have no history background. I don’t even like history. But I knew my topic was good, and it included many slices of unpublished data. And I know how to write.

     Previously, this writing ability had allowed me to swim, not drown, in waters above my head. Because of this ability (and a good solid program), I received a Children’s Trust Fund grant in 1992. I also had a devotion published in Devozine, a youth devotional. And I entered the photo/journalism field.

     If I didn’t try, I’d never know if I could win the plum prize—a cash award and status in the historical writing field. Great stuff for my historical romance novel publicity!

      Thus, I began 2009 waiting for a response to my submission.

     After the intensity of preparing the article and mailing the article I decided to pause in writing my historic romance novel (on the same topic). I was still on pause when I received notification that someone else won the prize. I meekly sent the winner a congratulatory E-mail, and wondered how well my submission actually did. We don’t get feedback. Since not winning I’ve been “chicken” to contact the journal to see if they would consider publishing the article, which was a possibility.

     My novel writing went into a second stall as I “retreated into a corner to lick my wounds,” so to speak. I didn’t return to that writing until mid-autumn. I am at the point where my first protagonist, Madame Rosalie de Leval, is to meet her future husband.

     Throughout my writing career I’ve discovered if I enter a “stall,” there’s a reason. Just two weeks ago I received an E-mail from a genealogist researching Madame’s brother-in-law. Through this contact I am learning more about this man whom it has been difficult to find data on. Perhaps this is the kick-start necessary to continue the novel, full-speed ahead, in January.

     While I was in my stalls my writing took a different path. I wrote numerous pieces, many of which are posted on my blog, Carolyn’s , which you are reading now. The articles cover a variety of subjects. I’ve created index pages—located on the right side of my blog—to make it easier for my readers to find posts on different subjects. Just don’t expect them to be perfectly up-to-date.

     Several of my articles were published in the local newspaper, and I’ve initiated research for future journalism articles.

     I’ve continued facilitating the Beanery Writers Group and edit the Beanery Online Literary Magazine— . However, I’ve neglected the Laurel Mountain Borough newsletter and the Ellsworth American newspaper blog.

     In December I was asked to participate in an anthology of short stories on near-death experiences. My material will be gleaned from the 1673 Rebecca Cornell “murder” story, in which her son was hung for her so-called murder (to read a review of the book, Killed Strangely: The Story of Rebecca Cornell by Elaine Forman Crane, click on KILLED STRANGELY: A NEW ENGLAND MURDER STORY ). I have a friend who is advising me in near-death/paranormal experiences, based on her first hand experience. This information will be enhanced by interviews with several persons who have experienced near-death experiences. All in all, it should be an interesting endeavor.

     Thus, 2009 was both an accomplished and mediocre writing year. I trust that fellow writers experienced a more accomplished year, but the reality is that most of you probably had your ups and downs, as I have.

     Looking toward 2010, in which I have hopes of reaching my writing goals of 2009: completing my novel, improving four blogs, and creating an Internet site specifically for my historic romance novel. Added to these goals is the paranormal after-life short story.

     I invite you to share the highlights of your 2009 writing year in the comment box below.


Writers, take note: The Beanery Online Literary Magazine is seeking submissions. Click on for further details.

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Memoir Writing Can Elicit Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome

Blogging: Does it Have Value? Part 1

Deborah Nelson: Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist

THE WRITING LIFE: There’s a World Out There?


Journalism Rules and Professionalism: I had neither!

Eavesdropping—the good and the bad of it


Dr. Uwe Stender Presentation on Literary Agents

 Review of Literary Agent Dr. Uwe Stender’s Workshop

Mosquito Nets Fight Malaria in Africa


  1. OK, leave it to you to take the most convoluted route to something! I say that lovingly. You would never have the interesting life experiences that you do with your nose buried in a book, even if it’s you that’s the author. I’m leaving this comment so that you’ll know I am here cheering you on, wishing you an interesting road, if not smooth.

    And…if you need to talk to more NDE’rs maybe consider asking your own sister?

    Comment by Jane Driver — January 11, 2010 @ 12:25 am | Reply

  2. Hey, sis, I’m a story teller, which is different than journalistic writing. Have you ever listened to Prairie Home Companion? Great stories…told convolutingly, at times—er, most of the time.

    Comment by carolyncholland — January 11, 2010 @ 8:01 pm | Reply

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