A Long Time Coming

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Here I am with some of my classmates after the hooding ceremony at Creighton University.

How’s it going, friends? How’s your writing and reading life? Feel free to post in the comments section about your own journeys.

In the meantime, I’ll give you an update on where I am with my journey. It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted on my blog, so I feel as if there is a great deal to catch up on. That being said, I’ll give you the condensed version—we all have a lot of reading and writing to do, right?

Graduation

As of mid-May, I’m officially an alumna of the Creighton University MFA program. It was an honor and a privilege to study under Dr. Brent Spencer, Professor Mary Helen StefaniakProfessor David Mullins, and Professor Susan Aizenberg. Each of them taught me important things about the craft in their own ways.

I was exceedingly grateful to put together a collection of short fiction for my thesis with Mary Helen’s guidance. I’m hoping to have a few more of the individual short pieces published—but my thesis project overall may be a collection I eventually submit to publishers for consideration. More revision would be involved before any such decision could be made with certainty.

My longer works, however, continue to be problematic. Two of my novels died in the MFA program—or rather, I filed them away for now to work on my current novel. That being said, I learned a great deal about my particular weaknesses and hope to overcome them with my new project.

I’ve finished with my Blue River responsibilities. It was an interesting start to a journal that I hope will continue to be published by the Creighton MFA program. The latest issue recently came out, so don’t forget to snag a copy.

Post-graduation life is, simply put, calmer and more manageable.

The Day Job

After an intense summer internship last year, I started working as a contract employee for Tethered by Letters. It’s been a learning experience—I’ve never worked as anything other than a regular employee before—but the challenges have helped me grow as a writer, editor, and publisher. I’m currently the publishing assistant for TBL and I work as the editorial assistant for F(r)iction—TBL’s triannual literary and art journal. Broadly, my responsibilities concern everything from intermediate updates to the website, to social media marketing, to F(r)iction assginments and editing, to pretty much everything F(r)Online.

F(r)iction recently was picked up by Barnes & Noble and other select chain, independent, and college bookstores—so we’re in the brick and mortars nationwide (and Canada too)! Pick up a copy of the journal at a bookstore near you and check out the amazing art and literature that we publish.

Recent Published Work

My most recent publication, “One Woman’s Junk,” is a flash fiction story that was featured in Newfound‘s web issue: Vo. 8, Other Worlds. I’ve read and admired the flash fiction Newfound has published for some time now—so to have my work published by them is quite an honor. The editors are also incredibly kind. Be sure to check out and support this wonderful nonprofit publisher.

In January, my flash fiction story, “Force Play,” was published in issue #1 of Obra. This excellent digital magazine, produced by the MFA of the Americas, makes for a great read. I was thankful to work with the considerate editors on staff. Go check out what great literature and art they have to offer.

The online and print versions of Vestal Review #49/#47—in which my flash fiction story “Trace” was published—are also now available to read. Vestal Review has been publishing flash fiction since 2000 and are “the world’s oldest magazine dedicated exclusively to flash fiction.” They also recently published their fiftieth issue, which you can read here.

Up Next

This summer is shaping up to be a busy one. I’ve been submitting many of my short stories and flash fiction creations to journals and magazines. I’ll be participating in workshops in Omaha and online—because quality critiques often lead to better work. I’m working on that novel—consistently, desperately. And when things get overwhelming, I’ll be playing in my garden dirt.

Thanks for stopping in again, friends. And as always, thanks for reading.

A Talented Trio: Creighton University’s First Fair Use Reading

Fair Use Reading, writers, writing, reading, fiction, poetry, Nebraska

From left, our host and fellow writer Shelby Snedeker stands next to our featured writers Amanda DeNatale, Aubree Else, and Quentin Chirdon.

Happy Halloween everybody!

Have you been to an author reading lately? Thursday evening, I went to see three of my talented classmates read some of their work at Solid Jackson Books in Benson. I knew they were good, but I was mind blown by how amazing their writing was.

Amanda DeNatale read first. Her short story was about a young man who is haunted by past addictions. He struggles to find a “healthy replacement” for his lack of stimulants to avoid losing his family. But this poses its own set of problems, which eventually climaxes in an unexpected, strange, and fascinating way. I won’t give away what happens, but remember our fellow writer’s name, so you can be one of the first to read her amazing work in published form.

Aubree Else was the next to read. She read a small collection of poems. Her writing discussed her loves for fall and her childhood home. She even had a poem, cheeky and thoroughly enjoyable, about the end of the world. I found her poems to be thought-provoking and riddled with interesting images and sounds. I’d definitely suggest her work to anyone.

Quentin Chirdon read the openings to two short stories and an opening to a nonfiction essay. I found myself enthralled by the disturbing images in his work and taken aback by the surprise of humor that surfaced in the midst of the strange. His first story I was somewhat familiar with, so it was wonderful to hear a longer excerpt. I definitely want to read the rest of it. His second story was so funny and convincing, even though he made up an art form that actually doesn’t exist, we believed it anyway. His nonfiction essay, another I had a chance to peek at, discussed the space age in an intimate way that was emotionally moving. Definitely give his work a read if you see his name surface in any publication.

Shelby, our host and a fantastic writer herself, treated us to wine, cheese, and festive Halloween candy (side note, I don’t drink, so I just had the yummy snacks) before the event. Solid Jackson Books was a wonderful venue, with great vintage records and reads to peruse, and an open but intimate space for us to gather. Overall, it was an event that I’m glad I didn’t miss, featuring some of Creighton University’s great writers.

The Fair Use Readings are a series of events. Watch for the next one, which will most likely be held in December. We hope to see you there!

thank you, followers, blog, A Vase of Wildflowers, writing, reading, books, literary magazine, literary journal, L. N. Holmes

Thank you to everyone who has decided to follow my Twitter, Facebook, blog, or other social pages!

I’m one follower away from 200 on my blog and I wanted to do something special as a thank you. So I’m reaching out to you! If you have any suggestions I’d love to read them. Please remember I’m a Christian, so I might refuse to do some things—like streak naked downtown—based on my own moral values.

I look forward to your suggestions!

If you’re unfamiliar with A Vase of Wildflowers, and love reading and writing, I’d encourage you to check out my other blog posts and consider following.

As always, thanks for reading!

jellyfish, reading, writing, Tethered by Letters, F(r)iction, short story, L. N. Holmes, fiction, read, write, "When Continents Collide"

Hello bloggers, readers, friends, and colleagues! I wanted to let you know that a short story of mine, “When Continents Collide,” will soon be available to readers. You can preorder the issue it will be featured in right now.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you read it! I’d love to hear your opinions. I’m writing to connect with people, after all.

If you guys don’t know about Tethered by Letters, the parent company of the F(r)iction Series, I’d encourage you to visit their site. They offer support to writers and give readers lots of great work to peruse.

As always, thanks for reading.

Why I Don’t Review Everything I Read

reviews, writing, books, short stories, fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry

Let start with the obvious. There are some books that I am obligated to review because I received the book for free from a company. There are also some books I am assigned to review as an opportunity with a company that mostly displays content online.

That being said, there are many books, short stories, poems, creative nonfiction essays and memoirs, articles, news stories, etc. outside of my obligations that I read. I often read the content of certain literary magazines and journals to familiarize myself with the writing contained within—although there are a few I continue to read afterward, because I enjoy the content so much. Articles and news stories I generally read for information. Books, however, I almost always read for fun.

And yet, I will not review everything. There is a reason for this, obviously. Several, in fact—but I’ll just name a few for books.

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earth, Earth Day, planet, writing, Pulitzer Prize, winners

In honor of Earth Day, I wanted to draw attention to Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Kolbert, for her book The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. She writes about the devastating impact mankind has had on many other species occupying the planet. It is important for us to consider her words and to act to preserve the vital and delicate ecosystems both near and far from our homes. This is not only responsible, it is also necessary for our survival.

You can check out the list of Pulitzer Prize winners here. Were you excited about the winners? Do you plan to read any of the writing by the winners?

Garbanzo Literary Journal, publication, success, writing, nonfiction, creative nonfiction, quirky, fun, writing, writer, L. N. Holmes

I am so excited to announce that my short memoir “Old Betsy’s Obituary” will be featured in the quirky and fantastic Garbanzo Literary Journal! Some of you may remember this piece won first place in 2013 for a competition at the North Carolina Media Association Statewide Media Awards. My work will appear in Garbanzo #5 to be published at the end of March. I am thrilled that my work will be featured at this wonderful literary journal. If you’re interested, please buy a copy when it’s published and check it out!

February Writing Challenges

writing, computer, paper, pen, challenge

The month of February is a month to boost productivity. After the sparkly glitter of new year’s resolutions rubs off, the grueling month of February cold (and somehow romantic love?) is all that is left. Whether you’ve been true to your commitments or slacking off, February is the month of redemption. It’s not too late to start. Thus, I present to thee, a month of writing challenges.

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So it is official! I am an editor and writer at Germ Magazine! I work in the Germ U department. I have two jobs: format editing and writing articles. My forthcoming works are scholarship spotlights and a feature series on women’s colleges.

Germ Magazine was first fictionalized in All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven and then later created as a real publication. All the Bright Places will be adapted into a movie as well. You can read about it here.

writing, exhausted, keep going, back to school © Michael Jastremski at Creative Commons
back to school © Michael Jastremski

So the past couple of days I’ve felt really exhausted and have pushed myself to keep writing. I’ve written a bunch of terrible stuff as a result. All the experts in the field tell you to write even if it is nothing pretty to look at — and I see their point. The time when it is the hardest to write is the time you should still be writing.

The literary world is a no excuses industry, rarely forgiving, and incredibly competitive. We have to push ourselves to become the best we can be. Over this week, when I was too strained to continue writing, I researched literary magazines. When the words began to blur on the computer screen, I listened to a podcast about publication advice. I didn’t let myself give up and neither should you.

It’s because of this that I’ve written one good thing: a flash story titled “Haunting the Ruins.” So keep tapping (or scratching) out those words, writer friends. I believe in your potential if you believe in your potential.

Weekend Writing: The First Time

tourist, horseback, first time, mountains, mist, green grass, horse By Peter from Bern, Switzerland ("Dummy tourist on Jago's Horse.JPG") [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Peter from Bern, Switzerland

[By Peter from Bern, Switzerland]

Unless your characters make a goal to experience everything they can throughout their lifetime, chances are they may encounter something new within your creative work. This actually is an interesting challenge — for you as a writer and for the reader who is wondering what the characters will do. This challenge explores that idea of “there is a first time for everything.” How do you avoid cheesy descriptions and actions? That is the challenge this week. Are you up to it?

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Chicken Sandwich, low quality food, fast food, By Evan-Amos (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Copyright Evan Amos

So I’ve written a new short story. It’s called “Nourishment” and it is about a traveling preacher-in-training that goes into a diner. It is written in second person. In less than 1000 words, a saucy, colorful waitress in the diner tests the faith of the main character.

The first half of this piece was a breeze. It was the second half that dragged me down. I need to do some editing and revising before I submit it.

This story is for week one. I have to write one more story for week two by Saturday. Okay fellow readers, any ideas on a direction I should take?

Weekend Writing: An Unpleasant Gathering

"A painting representing a Qajar family gathering for Nowruz, and sitting around the Haft-Sin and probably reading Hafez." Source: http://www.crystalinks.com/noruz.html, Persia, Wayiran
"A painting representing a Qajar family gathering for Nowruz, and sitting around the Haft-Sin and probably reading Hafez." Source: http://www.crystalinks.com/noruz.html

[A painting representing a Qajar family gathering for Nowruz, and sitting around the Haft-Sin and probably reading Hafez. Source: http://www.crystalinks.com/noruz.html]

Ah, the holidays. Whether we celebrate them or not, their presence can be felt in the commercials and the lighting and the store fronts and the religious buildings. I personally enjoy the holidays but many of my friends do not. With holidays comes family and not everyone gets along with their family as well as I get along with mine. That is this week’s writing prompt. Are you up to the challenge?

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Book Review and Exclusive Offer: Winter Woven

Written by Garrett Curry and illustrated by Kyle Ragsdale. Copyright Garrett Curry and Kyle Ragsdale, fine artist, children, adults, multigenerational, Winter Woven
Written by Garrett Curry and illustrated by Kyle Ragsdale. Copyright Garrett Curry and Kyle Ragsdale.

[Copyright Garrett Curry and Kyle Ragsdale and associates.]

The day after Christmas, a package arrives for Piper. She is not excited about it. Great Aunt Fran sends her something every year that contains an item that’s itchy and handmade, which she is then forced to wear. This year she gets a scarf. This year will be different from all the others.

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100 Blog Followers and Counting: Thank You Video and Reading

In the beginning of the week, I realized that I had 100 followers for my blog, A Vase of Wildflowers. I started the blog in mid-September and it had really taken off. I wouldn’t be here without you.

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Weekend Writing: Researching the Unknown

Sfoskett , "Hot air balloon glow". Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hot_air_balloon_glow.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Hot_air_balloon_glow.jpg
"Hot air balloon glow". Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hot_air_balloon_glow.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Hot_air_balloon_glow.jpg Photo by Sfoskett

[Photo by Sfoskett]

A writer is wise to do research, even if they are making up their story.

While I was rereading the second edition of Janet Burroway’s Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft, I came upon a writing prompt that was really interesting. The writer is supposed to make a list of some sort and then use something off the list as a trigger for a writing prompt. One of the suggestions is “Things on which I am an expert” (page xxvi). For this writing prompt, we are going to do the opposite of that and do a bit of research. Are you up for the challenge?

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The Genre Debate and Why it (Does)n’t Matter

Legend, The Maze Runner, The Hunger Games, California, Black Moon, Station Eleven, novel, book, novels, books, dystopian
Copyright L. N. Holmes (LeeAnn Adams)

Many have heard of the genre versus literary fiction debate. It’s old news — not even news. So why should we still be interested in it?

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How to Help an Artist: 6 Ways to Support Artistic Innovators

This House is Haunted, John Boyne, Other Press, Twitter, book, novel, fiction, author
I try to practice what I preach. I posted this photo on Twitter to draw attention to Other Press and John Boyne when they so generously gave me a free copy of This House is Haunted to read and enjoy.

[Photo caption: I try to practice what I preach. I posted this photo on Twitter to draw attention to Other Press and John Boyne when they so generously gave me a free copy of This House is Haunted to read and enjoy.]

Let’s say you find a book, painting, photograph, set of earrings, etc. that you really like. Let’s say you have the privilege to meet the artist behind the work and you think they’re a pretty swell person. You’d like to support said swell person, if possible, but you are unsure how to do that outside of saying on social media “hey guys, this person is swell.”

This post is dedicated to you.

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Weekend Writing: The Apartment Home

By WTF Formwork (Wall-Ties and Forms, Inc.) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Concrete housing construction in Dominican Republic using aluminum concrete forms.
Source: Wall-Ties and Forms, Inc.
Author: WTF Formwork

Apartment complexes are rarely completely full. Landlords try to fill the empty apartments as quickly as possible to avoid losing money, but other tenants move out and that creates another vacancy. But what if you owned an apartment complex and couldn’t fill a single room? This week’s prompt focuses on that idea. Think you’re up for the challenge?

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What’s Your Favorite Music to Write To?

So I have quite a wide range of taste in music. I love the mellow chords of instrumental praise and the exciting guitar rifts of metal music. Sometimes, however, I love some peace and quiet.

What’s your favorite music to listen to? I’ve listed some of my favorite songs below and how they inspire me.

*Note: some of these videos include flashing lights/images.

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flash drive, chewed, anger, back up work, manuscript
When dogs strike...

Yesterday, my dog decided to chew up my life’s work in a matter of minutes. Cattleya (my dog) stealthily picked up my flash drive while I was watching a movie and began to munch on the crunchy stick. Thankfully, I caught her in mid-consumption and was able to save her from swallowing anything harmful.

But I was mad.

Really mad.

I could hear my heartbeat in my ears mad.

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Literary Magazines Seeking Submissions

So there are many literary magazines out there that need your submissions and I am going to highlight two that have caught my attention on Twitter. Please do your own research before submitting to any literary magazine, including the ones below. Most magazines do not charge for submissions unless it is for a contest or they may have a small fee for technical maintenance costs. Be cautious and submit your writing to places that are legitimate.

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Weekend Writing: The Toothless Dentist

Deutsche Fotothek‎ [CC-BY-SA-3.0-de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

Zahnärztliche Maßnahmen bei einem Kind (1950)
Copyright Deutsche Fotothek

Have you ever experienced something so unexpected that you went along with what was happening because you were so shocked? These “life shocks” are what inspired this writing prompt (the idea came from my genius husband). Are you ready for the challenge?

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Book Review: Black Moon

Copyright L. N. Holmes (LeeAnn Adams)
Copyright L. N. Holmes (LeeAnn Adams)

No one can sleep. This is no ordinary case of insomnia in a few people across the globe. Millions — maybe billions — are dying of a disorder that has no name and no origin. It slowly became an epidemic, spreading to others without warning or cause. In this world where only a few can sleep, violence and madness are what is left for those still able to dream.

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