New Class: In Praise of Poetry

Join me for this invigorating class where you’ll explore and write several forms of poetry.  From Acrostic to Haiku—from Ode to Triolet—and a few other poetic forms—you’ll have fun while learning and creating.  We’ll look at work by experienced poets and discover how to put some of their techniques and craft elements into practice.  Gain exposure to new poets, forms, and styles, while unearthing your own voice.  This inspiring class is for anyone with an interest in poetry. Novices as well as seasoned poets will find the class enriching and fruitful.

In Praise of Poetry by Victoria M. Johnson

Poetry photo by Trust “Tru” Katsande on Unsplash

 

For more information or to register, click here.

Feb 28, 2018 to Mar 28, 2018

Held at Capitola Community Center from 5:30pm to 7:00pm.  5 Wednesdays.

Any writers in the Santa Cruz, CA area will be interested in this class.

Instructor Bio: Victoria M. Johnson is a published author and filmmaker. Her published works include The Doctors Dilemma (Avalon Books), the nonfiction work Grant Writing 101: Everything You Need To Start Raising Funds Today (McGraw-Hill), and four other books. Her poetry appears in online literary journals and print anthologies. Victoria is both writer and director of four short films and two micro documentaries.  She has presented workshops on writing in the Bay Area; Chicago; Washington, DC; Vancouver, Canada; and New York.

New Class For Writers!

Take a Workshop by Victoria M. Johnson

Kickstart Your Creative Writing Habit

Sep 11, 2017 to Oct 9, 2017

Is your creative writing lacking creativity? Are you too busy to make writing a habit? Or perhaps you’re on a roll and want to stay there. Wherever you are in your writing journey, this class will energize you and set you on a path for writing furiously and regularly. Every week students will receive inspiration for in-class writing exercises. You’ll learn techniques of craft and imagination to use immediately whether you write poetry, fiction, memoir, essays, songs, or blog posts. You’ll never again ask yourself, what do I write about? In this fun and motivating class you’ll end with plenty of new material, inspired and equipped to keep your creative fires burning.

Register online NOW!   click here

Held at Capitola Community Center from 5:30pm to 7:00pm.  5 Mondays.

For More Information or to Register by Phone: (831) 475-6115

Instructor Bio:  Victoria M. Johnson is a published author and filmmaker. Her published works include The Doctors Dilemma (Avalon Books), the nonfiction work Grant Writing 101: Everything You Need To Start Raising Funds Today (McGraw-Hill), and four other books. Her poetry appears in online literary journals and print anthologies. Victoria is both writer and director of four short films and two micro documentaries. She has presented workshops on writing in the Bay Area; Chicago; Washington, DC; Vancouver, Canada; and New York.

My Poem is Published by Silver Birch Press

My Poem is Published in When Women Waken, the Knowing Issue

I am thrilled to announce that my poem, Unwavering Blue Scarf is published in this literary journal, When Women Waken, the ‘Knowing’ issue. Issue 5, Spring 2014.

The Table of Contents shows the names of all the contributors for this amazing issue and the links to their evocative pieces. You’ll want to read them all! Just scroll down to my name, Victoria M. Johnson, to read mine.

Or here’s the direct link to my poem.

Unwavering Blue Scarf by Victoria M. Johnson

A journal of poetry, prose and images, When Women Waken is the journal of Women Writers, Women Books and has a particular interest in writing and art about writing; women’s relationships to their selves and others, and to society and nature.

The journal can be read for free online, or you can order print editions as they become available.

Creative Spaces — Post by Victoria M. Johnson

Creative Spaces

I love my writing space. I have a large Mac computer where I do most of my writing. It sits in a corner of my office surrounded by bookshelves, writerly magazines, and notepads. I wish I could say I keep the desk clean, but paper clutter is a constant struggle for me. I’m always working on something, taking notes for something else, and keeping track of things to do. I’m sure I’m not the only writer who fights the paper demon. I also have a weakness that often overtakes my office–I love books. I have too many but there is always another one I want. Fiction, nonfiction, poetry, short stories and anthologies all beckon me. If I lived in a larger home that wouldn’t be much of a problem, but we live in an 800 square foot mobile home!  I’m happy here; it’s the perfect size home for us, set in the perfect location. I know I just need to read faster so I can pass the books on.

My office inspires me. When I first enter the room I see a few writing awards I’ve received hanging on the wall. I have encouraging quotes and affirmations around my desk area that I can easily see as I’m writing. And some interesting images and fun pieces of art make me smile when I glance at them. All of these things spark my creativity. But what about sparking my productivity?

I’ve had to resort to using an egg timer. That’s right. I have an egg timer on my desk. I use it to limit my time doing things that I find irresistible that aren’t writing. The major temptation that takes me away from writing is Twitter. Followed by Pinterest. Both of these distractions are so enjoyable that if I don’t watch myself, I can spend hours every day there. The egg timer is my only defense to ensure I stay productive and create new material everyday. I also use the egg timer to trick myself into doing tasks that I don’t feel like doing. I’ll say to myself, “You only have to spend 25 minutes editing this piece” or “Just take 15 minutes to read email.”  If I don’t do a little bit at a time, then the task piles up into a really unpleasant chore. So the egg timer serves a dual purpose, and I found a cool looking one.

Creative Spaces post by Victoria M. Johnson

Victoria finds inspiration in her small corner desk space.

My husband and I have lived in this home for nearly three years. I created a short story collection titled, The Substitute Bride, while living here. I’ve also written my first poem and several more poems since moving here. I’ve worked on film projects in this home. I’m editing two major pieces that were partially written in our previous house: one is a mainstream thriller and the other is a nonfiction book. And I’m working on a new short story collection. I’m eager to return to a romance novel that I entirely mapped out last year, but I got distracted by my publishing house (Avalon Books) selling to a new publisher (Montlake Romance) and I decided to wait until all that dust settled before writing it.

I don’t listen to music while I write, but I do like music when I’m on social media, tidying up my office, or handling the business aspects of writing. I don’t look out the window of my office because that distracts me. But I sometimes sit by the window of our dining room when I write poetry.

My office is my creative sanctuary. My writing style is reflected in this space.  One glimpse at my office and you’ll know this about my writing: 1. I have an optimistic outlook. 2. I believe in clearing away clutter and leaving only what’s absolutely needed 3. Timing is everything, and 4. I adore intriguing images.

No matter the size of your space, make it an inviting atmosphere. Then, once there, write. Fight off the distractions. Protect your writing time. Only you can control your productivity. You also need to fight off insecurities about yourself as a writer. Many writers experience doubts at one time or another. Write down affirmations and post them near your computer. One of mine says, “I have interesting stories to tell.” Another says, “I have a unique voice.” I see them everyday and these help boost my confidence. Write four or five and post them where you’ll see them.

Bio: Victoria M. Johnson is published in fiction and nonfiction. She also writes and directs short films. Read her full bio here. You’d make her happy if you followed her on Twitter and Facebook, or even Pinterest.

Creative Spaces — Guest Post by Christy Birmingham

Creative Spaces

Ah yes, creativity.

I have come a long way since I played with my dolls as a young girl as I taught them what I had learned that day at school.

Today, I am proud to call myself a freelance writer and an entrepreneur. While many of my days I sit on my black leather chair and fill word documents with sentences, I know I am a part of something so much greater. I am a part of a creative process.

At the end of an hour, I can see complete paragraphs on my screen. Add another half hour or two later in the day and I have a new poem to publish on my website. I write down information and ideas that have potential to teach and inspire readers. What a powerful, fantastic role I have as a writer! Best of all, I love what I do.

I start with a blank page most days. I fill the page with words that I string and tie up with a ribbon of punctuation. I proofread, edit, and publish. I do all of this, often, from the desk in my home office.

My writing space is a place where I work on technical articles as well as crafting poems. My desk is the hub of activity in my home (it is a home, not a house). I read emails there, write posts for Poetic Parfait, and conduct research for articles.

My writing area has many unique items. It is likely unique from other writers because of the thank-you cards and notes from clients that I display on my desk. The notes remind me of work I have done that people enjoyed. I read the notes to motivate me when I need a push to start my next assignment or reminder of how far I have come.

Creative Spaces -- Guest Post by Christy Birmingham

Christy Birmingham meeting deadlines and creating poetry in her space

You see, this space was not always a work area. I had office jobs and did well, but a dark period brought turbulence to my life. My work soon became about healing myself, rather than working in an office. After soul searching (that soul was hiding for some time), I made the decision to write as my career. I do not look back, but instead look to my desk and gaze out the side window in my home office.

When I turn my head to the right, I see out a large window into the backyard. I see trees, birds, and a neighborhood cat saunters by at least once a day. I often look outside as I write a poem, gaining inspiration from blue sky or the sound of the rain against the windowpane.

I always have a few articles on the go. I consistently have deadlines to meet and searches to conduct for the next client. I write posts for my site Poetic Parfait, where I share poetry and music. I write articles for several sites and private clients, as well. 

I often have a cup of tea nearby. My readers know I love chocolate! I often have a chocolate bar or bag of M&Ms nearby. As I reach for the M&Ms, I often get a surge of inspiration – so having chocolate on hand is crucial! 

The chocolates and tea are comfort for me as I constantly strive to strengthen my writing techniques and me. I am beginning work on a poetry book. I hope to share that soon. Publishing a book has been a dream for so long and I would love to make it come true. We can accomplish a lot when we are positive and have focus.

What is my advice for writers? Write, even when you do not feel like it. Set time aside every day to write at least a few hundred words. If only ten of those words are worth publishing for your article, poem, or short story, at least you can end the day with a sense of accomplishment. In addition, the more you write, the more refined your writing style becomes. I truly believe that and follow that strategy. 

Bio: Christy Birmingham is an avid freelance writer and blogger who lives in British Columbia, Canada. She writes extensively about social media and technologyChristy is also the proud owner of Poetic Parfait. The site is the playground for poetry, music, and smiles. New faces are always welcome! http://poeticparfait.com/

Letter to Myself at Sixteen by special guest Erica Goss

“Here is the question: If you could talk to your 16-year-old self, what would you say?  What advice, warnings, or encouragement would you give your younger self?”

 

Letter to Myself at Sixteen

I saw you on the street today

eyeliner planting little black seeds

in your tear ducts.

I picture you reading this

in one of your dreams, a jumble

of banned books, torn paper, frayed

blankets and advertising logos

where you work on your future

every rough or delicate detail

like the pieces in a child’s wooden puzzle:

shaped for incremental comprehension.

In this dream I have

your brief attention:

the past cannot be censored

and my archaeology is your future.

I want to protect you, bony girl

warn you away from what dazzles you

snatch the broken glass from your plate

but I’m just another

grown-up woman, creased brow

and a purse stuffed with middle-age

heading home to a quiet house

where paper sacks

filled with outgrown toys

wait by the door.

Letter to Myself at Sixteen by Erica Goss

Erica Goss

____________________________________________________© 2012 Erica Goss

Letter to Myself at Sixteen by Erica GossErica Goss bio:  Erica Goss is the winner of the 2011 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Contest. Her chapbook, Wild Place, was published in 2012 by Finishing Line Press.  Her poems, articles and reviews have appeared in many journals, most recently Connotation Press, Hotel Amerika, Pearl, Main Street Rag, Rattle, Eclectica, Blood Lotus, Café Review, Zoland Poetry, Comstock Review, Lake Effect, and Perigee.  She won the first Edwin Markham Poetry Prize in 2007, judged by California’s Poet Laureate Al Young, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2010.  Erica is a contributing editor for Cerise Press, and writes a column on video poems for Connotation Press.  She holds an MFA from San Jose State University. Visit her website.

The Gift of an Extra Day

We all claim we need more time.  If I just had an extra hour or two I would…  Or, if only I had half a day I would have been able to…  Well guess what people?  Today is that day!  Today is Leap Day, giving you an extra 24 hours—a whole day—to do whatever you want.  Leap Year adds an extra day to the calendar on February 29 once every four years.

 

The Gift of an Extra Day by Victoria M. JohnsonI’m using my time wisely.  I’m writing this blog post, sharing my thoughts, and I’ve added a beautiful earthquake poem on one of my other web sites, Fierce Planet.  Lately I haven’t had the time to blog as often as I’d like.  What with the grand opening celebrations of the new Los Gatos Library (I’m on the Friends of the library board) and becoming president of Scriptscene (the screenwriting chapter of the Romance Writers of America), Poetry Group meetings (I’m on the April Poetry Month committee), speaking engagements, and February being a busy month anyway, I just needed a day to get caught up.  I’m taking down my Christmas tree, too.  Don’t be alarmed.  I usually leave my tree up until Valentine’s Day, so I’m only a couple weeks behind.  I’ll have time not only to write, but also to read.  Yay!  Reading is a luxury these days.  A friend is writing a memoir and I look forward to seeing her progress.  I also have plans for tonight.  I’m making a special dinner for my special husband.  Candlelight?  Yes.  Wine?  Yes.

 

So if only for one day I’m slowing down, decompressing, getting caught up on a few things, and enjoying the good things in my life.  What about you?  What will you do with your extra 24 hours?