Hi. Barb here and—
But first, a word from our sponsors: Taking a quick moment to announce that the tenth annual Level Best Books anthology has a name—Best New England Crime Stories 2013: Blood Moon. Submission guidelines are here and cover photo contest guidelines are here.
The full moon after the Harvest Moon is called the Hunter’s Moon or Blood Moon. It gets its name from hunters who tracked and killed their prey by autumn moonlight, stockpiling food for the winter ahead.
Level Best Books anthologies include writers from each of the six New England states and Maine writers and stories have traditionally been well represented. Stories don’t need to be “mysteries” per se, they just need a crime as a story element. Every year, the collection features stories from well-known writers, as well as new voices.
The editors are excited about this tenth anniversary edition and hope you’ll be a part of it. Please pass the submission guidelines along. If you’re a New England librarian and have a writers group at your library, or if you’re a student or instructor at a post-secondary institution that offers creative writing classes, we’d love it if you’d let people about the anthology. Thanks!
And now back to our regularly scheduled program:
Wait. What? Oh, right.
So I spent the week after New Year’s at the Kripalu Center in Stockbridge, Mass. Kripalu is a “center for yoga and health,” according to the website and I was there for a program called “The Writing Warrior: Deepening Your Writing,” with instructor Laraine Herring.
Why did I do this, you may ask? Or guffaw, if you know me, since I have a fairly well-known low tolerance for navel gazing (or gazing at any body part, for that matter). I do try to do something related to the writing almost every year. Not the craft, or the business, but the writing. I’ve taken courses at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown (heaven, both FAWC and Provincetown) and on Star Island. (Isn’t that the tragedy of living in New England? There are far too many beautiful places to go.)
I knew I’d be exhausted after the holidays. And my birthday creates this weird hammock-like first week in January when everyone else is off to the races with their resolutions and I’m marking the time to one more milestone.
So I went for it. Not without some trepidation, both because I find the idea of “writing deep,” to be a little scary, and because I wasn’t sure how much “yoga and health” I could take all at one time.
It turned out to be great. I needn’t have worried about whether a mystery writer would fit in. The first person I saw coming down a long hallway on my way to class was fellow Sisters in Crime New England member Rhonda Lane. It’s impossible to say which of us was more astonished.
The people in the class were terrific and the quality of the writing was remarkable across the board. (The class included two writers from Brunswick, Maine who had never met before, despite that fact that they belong to the same gym.) Laraine Herring is a wonderful instructor, the kind who gently coaxes your best work from you.
Once I got over thinking I had to do everything Kripalu offers (there are yoga classes literally morning, noon and night), I was amazingly productive, not just in terms of the class work, but on my own work, too. And after the holiday madness, the delicious, healthy meals, no television and limited wifi were physically and mentally cleansing. Not to mention the “silent breakfast,” (which in my opinion should be observed in all public accommodations).
I came away, not transformed, but renewed, which is exactly what I went looking for.
Barb, the retreat sounds wonderful. And good for you for doing something writing-related every year. That sounds like an excellent way to renew and recharge.
It was Ramona. I highly recommend.
Wonderful to meet you, Barbara. “Renewed,” that’s a great word for it. I feel renewed, too.
It was great to meet you, too, Joe. Keep writing!
Always nice to see a familiar face in an unfamiliar setting. 🙂 Seeing Barb at Kripalu felt like validation. We usually see each other at writing conferences or workshops targeted toward the writing business – not that there’s anything wrong with that. 🙂 We need that information and that structure because we’re on a career track. However, as with farming, the “soil” our stories grow in, aka the subconscious mind, needs refreshing sometimes with a little tilling, a little fertilizer and a chance to “breathe.” Even without Kripalu’s kitchen taking the meal planning and preparation out of my hands, I’ve been productive ever since we returned.
Rhonda, I couldn’t have put it better myself.
You say “fertilizer.” What would Hilla call it? LOL
LOL! Good catch, Joe. My subtle shout-out to Hilla. 🙂
LOL! Good catch, Joe. 🙂
Thanks for writing this! I’m so glad you came and participated so fully with all of us. Your presence was a gift to us all. Stay in touch!
Everyone, Laraine’s book is The Writing Warrior: Discovering the Courage to Free Your True Voice
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