Giving Back: My Sister’s Closet

My Sister's Closet
My Sister’s Closet

For many women in need, it is difficult to get the life skills and the wardrobe necessary to snag the desired job. Enter: My Sister’s Closet. This nonprofit, volunteer-run organization has been helping low-income and at-risk women with Success Institute training and workforce attire since 1998. In fact, the Success Institute trainings, which are free, help both men and women hone their interview skills, learn how to network, and master résumé writing.

My Sister’s Closet also has a storefront at 414 S. College Avenue in Bloomington, Indiana, that sells donated, gently used clothes. It is open to the public, and the proceeds from these sales go to support the wider organization.

When we started Inkblot, one goal was to give back to our amazing community. Each quarter, we donate to a local organization, and this quarter, we have chosen to give back to My Sister’s Closet. They do such important work in our community, and we’re honored to be able to donate to their cause.

If you find yourself in the position to give, consider My Sister’s Closet or the many other worthy organizations in your community.

Two Minutes: A Challenge

chipotle2I went to Chipotle for lunch the other day, and as I was munching on my burrito, I noticed the cup had a story! What a great place for flash fiction: limited space, captive audience, holds your sweet tea, etc.

It turns out this writing series, titled Cultivating Thought, is the brainchild of Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Everything Is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. He sees these pieces of writing as gifts that might have beautiful payoffs, which is a lovely sentiment in this world of consumerism. He says, “The question isn’t ‘Is this going to change the world?’ The question is ‘Is this better than having a blank bag?'”

The featured essays and stories are exclusive to this series—you can’t find them anywhere else. The goal of this project is to “allow people to connect with the musings of these writers with whom they may or may not be familiar and create a moment of analog pause in a digital world, provoking introspection or inspiration, and maybe a little laughter.” Anything that promotes reading, writing, and thinking is a win in my book. Continue reading “Two Minutes: A Challenge”

Friday Fun Facts: Best of McSweeney’s

“There are two things more difficult than writing. The first is editing, the second is expert level Sudoku where there’s literally two goddamned squares filled in.” –Colin Nissan

Photo by Rachel
Photo by Rachel

It’s Friday,  y’all! Today, I thought I’d share a source of writing that always makes me laugh: McSweeney’sIt’s a publishing company based out of San Fran founded by Dave Eggers (author of such works as A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering GeniusZeitoun, and What Is the What).

The humorous articles in McSweeney’s lift you out of the din of your daily life while also making you extremely jealous that you didn’t think to write it first. The tone is that of a sarcastic roommate who might also be a little drunk. Here are a few of the most popular.

Have a great Easter weekend!

 

Haiku

kimonoMy husband has a t-shirt that says:

Haikus are easy
But sometimes they don’t make sense
Refrigerator

There is a reason I avoided poetry writing classes in grad school, instead choosing to focus on nonfiction and fiction: I enjoy reading poetry but have never been very good at writing it. It’s such a precise art while still being fluid. One form of poetry I find fun, however, is the haiku. Continue reading “Haiku”

Friday Fun Facts: Prompts from the Interwebs

Photo by Rachel Rosolina
Photo by Rachel Rosolina

Spring begins this weekend, can you believe it? Here are some fun things culled from the Interwebs just for you. Perhaps they’ll inspire your next piece of writing!

Have a sunny weekend, everyone!

Living the Dream (of Bookshelves)

Today is the day I finally get my dream bookshelves! Hooray!

Last year, my husband and I bought a house that had a nice little front room with no discernible purpose. Of course, as soon as I saw it, I knew the end wall would look amazing with built-in bookshelves over cabinets. Then we could put comfy chairs there, a lamp there, and voilà, a home library! Well, after a year of homeownership, we are finally getting those bookshelves, and I am beside myself. All of my books, which up to this point have still been in boxes that are difficult to sift through, will be easy to grab whenever I like!

In honor of my love for bookshelves, I’ve rounded up photos from the Interwebs of the ten fanciest and most fanciful shelving I could find.

1. Floor to Ceiling

Continue reading “Living the Dream (of Bookshelves)”

Friday Fun Facts: Publishing Essays, Stories, and Poems

Saturday Evening PostI realized earlier this month that it has been four years (!) since I last submitted an essay anywhere. To break the spell, I’ve already sent out one new essay and plan to send out more in the coming weeks. Before I could send my piece out, though, I had to give myself a refresher on how to properly submit to a journal or magazine. I thought I’d share these tips with you as well!

  • Make sure your piece fits the literary magazine. Lit mags often have themes even if they take all three genres, so don’t send your story about animals to a journal focusing on women’s rights.
  • Double check the reading period. Most lit mags have a window of a few months each year during which they accept submissions. Don’t send things outside this window.
  • Know whether the lit mag allows simultaneous submissions. Submitting simultaneously means you are submitting the same piece to several lit mags. Some allow this, and others don’t.
  • Keep your cover letter concise. The cover letter is not a place for you to tell the lit mag all about your piece. Your piece is for that. In the cover letter, note the name of the piece, the genre, and the word count if they request it. Also note whether you’re submitting multiple places simultaneously and that you will alert them if the piece is picked up elsewhere. Include a short publication history if you’ve got one. I often list my MFA in creative nonfiction, when and where I graduated, and the other places I’ve had essays published. That’s it. You don’t need to give them any more info.
  • Pay attention to their submission guidelines. For instance, be sure to include your contact info and word count on the first page if they require it.
  • Put your name in the running head of your document. Whether electronic or hard copy, it’s nice to have the author’s name on each page (unless the lit mag tells you otherwise).
  • Stay organized, and don’t expect to hear back for months. I suggest keeping a spreadsheet of where you’ve sent each essay, when you hear back, and what their answer is. That way you don’t duplicate and you get a feel for what each journal is looking for. Also, it takes a long time to get through the slush piles of manuscripts. You may not hear back from them for three to six months. Patience is a virtue!
  • Don’t let a no get you down. The first time I had an essay rejected, it was heartbreaking. After that, though, it stopped bothering me. Sometimes it takes sending the same piece out hundreds of times before you find the right match. Just keep going (and don’t take a four-year break like I did!).

Bonus advice!

Extra bonus advice!

  • Don’t forget that the time changes on Sunday!

Friday Fun Facts #13

559143_602284835083_291886449_nRachel has visited twenty-eight U.S. states, ten countries (U.S., Mexico, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Lichtenstein, Czech Republic, Australia, and New Zealand), and three continents (North America, Europe, and Australia). Next up on the list is South America!

Lesley travels extensively in her imagination, sometimes having much difficulty returning home.

Chicago Manual of Style Q&A | March 2016

Every month, the Chicago Manual of Style folks answer questions they’ve received. Following are a couple excerpts from the Q&A of March 2016. To read the full month’s Q&A, visit www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/qanda/latest.html.


Q. I can’t find any reference in CMOS 16 to how odds should be punctuated.

A. Odds are ratios. Ratios may be expressed in numerals with a colon and no spaces (CMOS 6.60) or with numbers spelled out or not according to the guidelines at 9.2:

The odds are 451:1.
The odds are 3:2.
The odds are 451 to 1.
The odds are three to two.

Q. In a dialogue tag after a question or an exclamation (e.g., “What did you say?” she asked), should the initial letter of the tag be capitalized (“What did you say?” She asked) or should it remain lowercase?

A. Because the tag comes in the middle of the sentence, it should be lowercased. It should be capped if it begins a new sentence. For example,

“What did you say?” She asked the question in a tone that made my blood freeze.

Spring Break for Writers

Via Giorgio Montersino on Flickr
By Giorgio Montersino

Living in a college town, it’s hard not to know when spring break is coming up. Students are frantic about classes but excited about heading to the beach for a week. (The rest of town is just excited to have available parking and fewer pedestrians with hoods up and earbuds in.) It’s true, though, that even the best of us need a break to relax and refocus.

Did you know that writers can still have this break, even if they’re not in college? Writers workshops or conferences are built to get your creativity flowing. They surround you with teachers and other writers and allow you to immerse yourself in your craft. These workshops also help writers build their community of contacts and even meet publishers and agents.

Here are a few suggestions to get you excited. Writing Break! Wooo!

  • Hindman Settlement School: This week-long Kentucky workshop is for Appalachian writers of all genres. It is well known in the Appalachian literary community for cranking out geniuses.
  • Redrock Writers: While this one is coming up on the 5th, you can still plan ahead for next year. It is set in Utah and is a seminar for all genres.
  • Algonkian Writer Retreat: This Virginia retreat also takes place month, from the 16th to the 20th. It is built for aspiring novelists, short fiction writers, and memoirists. While expensive, it does cover tuition, lodging, and some food.
  • Boston Summer Writers Conference: The name says it all! This conference features workshops in fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry.
  • Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference: Set in Vermont in the summer, this conference includes craft classes, lectures, meet and greets, and readings. It is another expensive one, but it has a very strong reputation for alumni success.

Check out a much longer list here!