My Personal Poem a Day Challenge is only in its sixth day, but I’m pleased to say, I’ve written a poem every day since May 1, after having written – along with a bunch of other writers – 30 poems in April. The May 6 poem was inspired by the aroma of cut grass and dandelions that wafted through the window as I drove home from town.
SPRING HAIKU The smell of cut grass
shot color into my world
and my whole self smiled.
Being inspired in this way reminds me of the recent Dreams and Creativity seminar featuring Jan Beurskens sponsored by the Las Vegas Literary Salon. Writing inspiration comes from many experiences. Dream symbolism is something I’ve been trying to explore since the seminar, but I have yet to remember a dream after the fact.
Sight, smell and emotional response to something seen or experienced is more likely to get my brain firing with ideas.
Mary Rose Henssler, one of the Lit Salon team members, wrote a great “kick-in-the-pants” article on the Salon website. Sometimes, that’s what we need, a little jog to get our writing out of a self-created rut.
Prompts are great ways to stimulate one’s thinking. You might not even use the prompt, but it’s food for your fertile brain so you can come up with something more, something different. If you are stuck, Google ‘writing prompts’ or ‘poetry prompts’ and be ready for the deluge of websites that have tons of them.
I know, daunting, isn’t it? But when you run through these, you see they represent a myriad of life experiences or ideas you’ve probably already had. It becomes doable to give the basic idea legs by adding your own experiences or creative thinking to the mix.
Writing is most often spurred by simply sitting down, and going at it. Writing is work. The more time you put into it, the better you get. You can spend a lot of time getting down the basics of grammar, plot development, character profiles, who’s the good guy and who’s the bad girl (or vice versa), but until you sit down and pound away at the keyboard, all that know-how will be for naught.
The greatest deterrent to writing is – I hate to say it – being afraid your work will never see the light of day, or laziness, only you can decide.
So, write, but after that – or in the process, look for outlets for your work. I have a writing friend who doesn’t believe writers should give their work away, that payment represents validation. “If you don’t value your work,” she says, “how will anyone else?” She has a point. And her next point is as important: getting published is hard work and you have to work hard at it.
Why am I writing a poem a day for 365 days? It’s writing practice, but my plan is to indie publish the best of the poems in a collection. Entrepreneurial publishing is gaining ground and I already have experience in the field. See my author page on this site. Click on the Books tab in the menu for links to the books I’ve written.
It matters not what you’re writing – fiction, nonfiction, poetry – the satisfaction you derive from creating a work from start to finish, is a reward all its own. Avoid apologizing for what you’ve written after the fact. You did it, maybe you made some errors or your work didn’t get the recognition (sales) you hoped for, let it be. Move on. Learn from your fumbles so your next project is an improvement over the last. Every new book, or article, or poem, or short story is its own creation.
If we’re honest we will all admit to having heard something go bump in the night. Chills race down our backs! Or a shadow races around the room and makes our our mouths go dry. It’s human nature to be wary of the unknown. Hollywood has tapped into our fear factor and made billions off horror movies. The big screen gives us just the right amount of shiver. We’re ever so grateful we’re not the idiots going into the darkened spooky house. We’re not the shivering girl standing alone in the hall listening to footsteps on the stairs. And haven’t most of us – at least once, if briefly – seen inexplicable lights dart across the night sky?
In Eerie New Mexico, author Ray John de Aragon delves into events that have happened over the years that make us think twice.
“Did that really happen?”
“Did I really see that?”
“Are my troubles the result of getting the Evil Eye?”
Well, okay you probably don’t think about that last one, but maybe you should. In Eerie New Mexico, the author explores superstition, the unusual, the supernatural, and old wives’ tales that seem to have a grain of truth, or as the very least, send a cautionary message.
Inter-mixed with history, he recounts folklore passed down from generation to generation, altered and embellished over time. Some tales have the charm of a scary story told around the camp fire. Others cause an in-drawn breath of horror. De Aragon weaves historical fact into the narrative while calling attention to rituals and celebrations based on a deep belief in the spiritual, the unexplained and the unknowable.
So, dig into the Wonders of the Invisible World with tales of Mal Ojo, Bolas de Lumbre, Raising the Dead (it may not be what you’re thinking), the Dark Side of the Moon and Children of the Stars. Check out the Mystical Missions with stories of Spirit Master, A Holy Ghost, Mystical Hermit (think Hermit’s Peak), Ascending Spirits, the Passage to Strangeness (corridos el muerto had me closing the book and regrouping), New Mexico’s Inner Superstitions, and the morality tale of Patas Chuecas.
This is a lively book, despite there being a lot about death, but as the author wrote in the section entitled, Homeland Overview, “Everything in existence is interconnected and interrelated between life and death.”
At 150 pages, it’s a quick read chock full of interesting tales and lots of New Mexico’s forgotten or ignored history.
Eerie New Mexico is published by History Press and sells for $21.99. It will be available for purchase after its release date of Sept. 22.
Zoom in to an interview with the author on Sunday, Sept. 27, 4-5 p.m. Registration is required. Please register below. You will be sent a link to the Zoom event, A visit with the author, Ray John de Aragon.
Thank you for being a reader/subscriber. It is my goal to present informative, interesting and creative content on this site. Your likes, shares and comments are welcomed and hugely appreciated. I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I frequently write about my town, Las Vegas, N.M.Occasionally I use interesting and helpful content from other sources. I also invite guest posts. If you have a topic you would like to share, send to fsharon@msn. com.
Las Vegas Literary Salon hosted its first event Sunday, July 12, thanks to the Las Vegas Arts Council and the Las Vegas NM Community Foundation. A special thanks to Susie Tsyitee who walked us through the Zoom technology and acted as host for the event. Below is a video about the event we hope you will watch. It features Patti Romero and me talking about Las Vegas Literary Salon in a broad sense and giving our thoughts on this premier event. Please note that this is a first “video interview” either of us has done and I was at the tech wheel, which in and of itself speaks of disaster! But, all things considered it gets our message across.
And what is our message? Writing is an art. We want to encourage emerging, young, established, genre, literary, nontraditional, fiction, nonfiction, poetry – basically writers and writing across the spectrum. We will do this through workshops, events like the Zoom Writers Roundtable, book fairs, tapping into the skills of experts in areas related to getting the book, essay, memoir, novel, whatever it is, from your brain to the page.
This is not for everyone. Some writers want solitude and choose not to network with other writers. I get that. But for those who do want to be part of a learning and networking community, come on board! And we want readers as well. You are important to the process. You consume our words and make them a part of your story from the time you start reading until you reach the end, and sometimes beyond. Along the way, we hope we’ve made you laugh or cry, pissed you off or lifted you up, perhaps even broadened your horizons.
The Sunday event was a success largely because of our five readers: Joy Alesdatter, Kathleen Lujan, Ray John de Aragon, Tim Hagaman, and Beth Urech. We thank them for the time and effort they put into preparing for their readings.
What’s next? We will be scheduling an event with former Las Vegan, Vera Jo Bustos in the near future. Look for details to be released soon.
We have a lot of ideas, and now we need bodies to help implement them, and come up with more. Join us! Fill in the form below the video and let us know if you’re ready to join, or whether you need more information. Also consider donating to one or both of the organizations working through the pandemic to figure out ways to keep the arts alive and thriving!
This is something everyone knows, but I would like to use it to stimulate a conversation. Do you prefer fiction over nonfiction or nonfiction over fiction? Why? What are you reading now and what is it about the content that keeps you turning pages? Are you a writer or a reader?
“How can the Friends (of the City of Las Vegas Museum) help to get this important resource more accessible to the public?” That was the question board members considered when they discovered the museum had many archived historical photos in its possession, mostly in storage. The journey to create a photo book to achieve that goal began in 2009. Board chair Bob Mishler said the expectation is that Las Vegas, New Mexico – 1835-1935, sponsored by the Friends of the City of Las Vegas Museum, will be printed by April 2018. A discussion on exact price of the book – expected to be between $39.95 and $44.95 – is underway, and will be announced soon.
Mishler credits author/editor Edwina P. Romero (Patti), and dynamic interaction with selected members of the subcommittee, with the book’s evolution into a more interpretative offering of Las Vegas’ first century. “The various descriptive bits and pieces were woven into a tapestry of people and lifestyles,” he said. “It became more of a social and cultural ethnographic record of the people of early Las Vegas as documented through time.”
Romero’s education includes a BA at California State University Dominguez Hills, an MA at New Mexico Highlands University, and her Ph.D. at the University of New Mexico. She describes herself as a mother, author, former Assistant Professor, former academic administrator, and former horse trainer.
In the following Q&A, she talks about her experiences working on the Las Vegas photo book.
ORP: How did you become involved in the Las Vegas photo book project? Patti: The early concept for this book came about while I was working at the City of Las Vegas Museum (CLVM). The book sub-committee of the Friends of the City of Las Vegas Museum and Rough Rider Memorial Collection (Friends) met at the CLVM. As an employee, I was aware of the project as one of several museum activities. Then, because I was familiar with the Museum’s photograph collection, I was given the task of searching that collection for images to add to the book.
Several years later, Bob Mishler (Friends chair), contacted me about writing extended historical captions. When I delved into the possibilities of taking on this project, I saw that the task required large-scale organization and editing to determine the best, most accurate way to approach the captions. So I submitted a proposal to do the work.
ORP: What appealed to you about working on this project, which was in development when you took it on? Patti: First, the photographs themselves grabbed me. My first books, Footlights in the Foothills, Amateur Theatre of Las Vegas and Fort Union, New Mexico, 1871-1899, and Cowboy Reunions of Las Vegas, New Mexico, examine two aspects of Las Vegas history, but these period photographs show the larger context—the bigger picture in which amateur theatre and ranch life had taken place.
The second thing—I have to admit—was the challenge. The project had been in the works for several years, but work on it had been suspended for awhile. I saw great potential in publishing a book using period photos to reveal as much of the fascinating history of Las Vegas as could be contained within the limits of a book.
ORP: What was the driving force behind the project in its early stages? How has that changed, or has it? Patti:I was not directly involved in the early stages of the project, which involved several people and a Friends book sub-committee. When I got involved, it seemed that the original concept was oriented toward the film industry while telling the history of Las Vegas. During the early stages, fourteen historical essays from several historians as well as narratives and photographs from community members—all solicited by the Friends—had been approved, adding a heavier focus on history.
My driving force, keeping the book sub-committee’s objectives and previous work in mind, was to put the materials into a book that people would want to read, enjoy, and learn from. I proposed to narrow the approach to a specific historical time frame—1835-1935—and a specific location—the communities of Las Vegas. Also, I made showcasing the CLVM’s historical photograph collection a priority, and I suggested adding images and topics for side bars—biographical profiles and short write-ups of events.
ORP: Talk about the photo selection process. I understand that in addition to selecting the photos, research to determine source and attribution was required. What was that like? Patti:Criteria for selection included aesthetics, time period, relevance to the major topics within the book’s time period, authenticity, and availability. Once images met these criteria, they needed to “pass inspection” by the book designer, in other words: Would the photos reproduce well?
For me, the toughest parts of selection—and de-selection—were determining dates, authenticity, and origins, and securing permission to publish copyrighted images/narratives. Next came matching photos with the ongoing narrative of the people and events in the history of Las Vegas from 1835 to1935. This involved long hours examining notes written on the photos, the data from the repositories about the photos, historical books and narratives, and what the image itself indicated through clothing, vehicles, background buildings, etc. The copyrights for several images were held by individuals, it was often hard to find these people to get their permission. Fortunately, throughout the project, I had the help of staff members and volunteers.
ORP: As the author-editor, what were your priorities when you first became involved? Patti: I wanted to make this book pop.
When I began work, materials for the book included several hundred photo-copied images (many duplicates) from a variety of repositories and covering many historical periods and geographical locations—in addition to fourteen essays, assorted narratives and notes (authors unidentified), and historical materials from community members.
My priorities began by getting familiar with all this stuff, finding the best way to present it to readers, while at the same time, honoring the known and unknown histories of Las Vegas and making it a “good read.”
ORP: There are historical essays, and of course photo captions. What were the sources of information to flesh out the book’s content? Patti: The historian-authors’ essays include sources cited or consulted.
For the extended historical captions, sidebars, and introductory materials, I consulted the following: published books and articles, newspaper accounts, the Internet, the notes and essays that were part of the boxes of materials the sub-committee gave me, unpublished works and old histories in the CLVM archives, Donnelly Library, Carnegie Library, and various New Mexico state records data bases. In addition, I talked to people.
ORP: In what ways has the graphic designer (Kenesson Design, Inc.) been helpful in organizing the book’s visual appeal and presentation? Patti: First, Kristin Kenesson approved for publication the selected images. Sometimes, she added images from her stock that would further enhance the appearance. She designed the layout, color scheme, and various fonts for the type—all beautiful. She often asked good questions about Las Vegas, which sometimes pointed to a need for more detail. And, because of her visual arts background, she provided options for ways to express history, which were both challenging and affirming.
ORP: Although the book was in process when you contracted with the Friends, there was still a vast amount of information in need of organizing or prioritizing. What was most important to you at the outset of your involvement? Patti: The human side of history. I kept it in mind as I organized, re-organized, selected material and photos—and discarded others. During this part of the process, I constantly reminded myself that the story is about the people of Las Vegas—to whom the book is dedicated.
ORP: What is the most compelling reason for people to buy this book? Patti:It’s big, beautiful, and readable, and it tells stories of Las Vegas and its people.
ORP: What is the one thing you got out of this experience that will stay with you in your life and writing career? Patti:This is my “last hurrah!” What will stay with me as I return to fiction-writing are the rewards of personal perseverance and accepting the help of others. I learned to co-ordinate and co-operate with staff, volunteers, a book designer, committee members, sponsors—and interviewers. A writer does not always write alone.
Photo Credit Romero: David P. Pascale
Please Follow, Like, Comment and Share this post. Your feedback is important to me. Thanks for reading One Roof Publishing Magazine. The publisher may be reached by e-mail at email@example.com. Image of book cover used by permission Friends of the Las Vegas City Museum