Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Final National Poetry Month Poem & Giveaway Winners

I have been running a blog contest for books to celebrate the upcoming publication of my second novel, Every Broken Trust, on May 7. Every week, all those who leave comments on any blog post of the week are entered for signed ARCs and hardcovers of my novels and of anthologies in which I have work--and sometimes original artwork, as well. Winners of last week's blog giveaway are Storytellermary and Susan D. Please email me your postal addresses at lindalynetterodriguez (at) gmail (dot) com. Mary won a signed ARC of Every Broken Trust, and Susan won a signed copy of Feeding Kate, a crime anthology to benefit the Lupus Foundation.So be sure to leave a comment and check back frequently to see if you've won.

Today's the final day of April, National Poetry Month. As I usually do, I've been putting up poems all month to celebrate, and here's the final one. Last week, I did a guest blog on bad boys at Jungle Red Writers, and there was a lot of interest expressed in my Coyote poems, so I thought I'd close out National Poetry Month with Coyote.


Coyote slides on black leather
over the T-shirt
that reins in biceps, shoulders, chest.
Dark jeans and biker boots cover the rest
of his long, lithe body as he invades
your everyday, suburban life
like a growl.
You avert your eyes, pretend
you don’t watch
his tight, hard body, his mocking face.
You know he’s bad, doesn’t belong.
Besides, seeing him makes your face too
red, your breath too
short, your bones too
soft, your clothes too
tight. You pretend
not to peek, don’t want him to catch you looking
at the hungry way he stares at you.
Coyote has no class.

Coyote is your secret.
You tell him it’s more exciting that way.
He lifts the eyebrow bisected by a scar and stares
you into silence. He knows
you’re ashamed. He thinks
you’re ashamed of him.
Coyote takes you
to dangerous places.
In dark, dirty bars, he threatens drunks
and fights to protect you.
Coyote takes you
where no one else can.
Coyote takes you
where you can’t admit you want to go.

Published in Heart’s Migration (Tia Chucha Press, 2009)

Happy National Poetry Month to all of you!  Leave a comment for a chance at the giveaway. And don't forget to pre-order your copy of Every Broken Trust! If you're in the Kansas City area, join me in celebrating at my book launch, Friday, May 10, at 6:30 p.m. at Mysteryscape, 7309 W 80th St., Overland Park, KS.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Learning the Art and Craft of Poetry (Part Two)

This is the second part of a series on learning the art and craft of poetry when you can't always get to workshops or conferences.

Don't forget that all this month I have giveaways for books and other goodies taking place to celebrate the upcoming publication of my second Skeet Bannion novel, Every Broken Trust, on May 7. And if you're near the Kansas City area, join me and an interesting crowd of friends for the official launch at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, May 10, at Mysteryscape, 7309 W 80th St., Overland Park, KS.

Learning the Art and Craft of Poetry (Part Two)

You have been doing your due diligence with careful reading as a writer of the work of others. You have gained a number of techniques and craft elements that work with your individual voice and vision. You have learned a number of mistakes to watch for as you reread and revise your work. And you’re going to keep doing this. Now it’s time to add another step.

This is the moment when conferences and workshops can be useful, now that you’ve laid a solid foundation. A good workshop can offer you the feedback and support of a group of aspiring writers. You may even make friends for life with one or more of them. In fact, that’s one of the things workshops and conferences are most useful for—the contacts and connections to the larger literary world you can make at them.

Big Secret: it’s possible to make similar contacts and connections without leaving home—unless you live in a rural area or very small town. (In that case, you definitely want to start saving money to go to one of the many writing conferences around the country.)

Most cities and many medium-sized towns have poetry readings and book signings, if only at local bookstores or libraries or colleges. Often it’s simply a matter of finding out what, where, and when. These are usually not well-publicized to the general public. If you do some detective work, though, you can learn about where they take place and when and who is coming. Usually you will find a mix of locals and poets from elsewhere in the country, some with national reputations. These readings may be free or ask just a nominal admission fee.

Attend these readings and book signings. Buy the book (remember Part One?). Have it signed. Talk to the poet before and after the reading, at the signing. If very few attend—a common phenomenon—stay with the poet chatting. (You will be remembered and loved for this act of charity!) Ask questions of the poet if you’re not holding up a long line, and if there is a long line, talk to the other local poetry lovers and writers in it. For the price of a book of poetry, you will get information and make contacts that will be useful in your life as a poet.

Oh. You couldn’t do that. You’re shy. Well, how will you do it at your expensive conference or workshop then? Look at this as important practice. A life in poetry is not that of an ascetic writing in an attic isolated from the world. No one will seek you out and beg to publish your work, not even if you sew them into little packets—that only worked once for an extraordinary person with a sister dedicated to her posthumous success. You want to have readings of your own, don’t you? And if you do, you want people to come to them, don’t you? Pay your dues now to support a literary community so there will be one when your time comes.

Start with online groups and listservs, if you’re shy. You can even find internet classes and workshops. You can make good friends with similar interests in online communities. You will hear about calls for submissions on many of them. These are chances to publish in special issues of journals or in anthologies that you may well otherwise never know about. Then branch out into the live world. Go to a reading. Force yourself to introduce yourself to one person there. Meet the poet. Buy the book and get it signed. Go home. See! You survived, and now you know two more people in the world of poetry.

And there you have it. Buy poetry, both books and literary journals. Read like a writer with pencil in hand, learning from the poet’s techniques and mistakes. Practice. Practice. Practice. Take part in all kinds of online, local, and national literary communities. Support other writers as you hope one day to be supported. And then start the wheel all over—read, practice, reach out and support; read, practice, reach out and support. It’s a way of life, sometimes frustrating, sometimes exhilarating, but a continuous cycle.

It’s not your business to worry about where you fall on the Majah, Minah, Mediocah hierarchy. Not that any of us can really help caring about things like reputations, of course. We can’t allow it to become important to us, though. Worrying what influential others will think of your work will cramp your writing and your own individual voice, which is really all any of us have to offer the world in the end. Your business is to read, write, find others who can teach or help you and whom you can teach or help—and keep on doing it to the best of your ability. Focus on the work. In the end, it’s always the best of us.

Just leave a comment with your email to be entered for the giveaway. This week, I'm giving away a signed hardcover Every Last Secret (finalist for the International Latino Book Award) and a signed ARC of Every Broken Trust, which publishes May 7. I'll announce the winners Monday.

Have a superb weekend!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Giveaway Winners and Big News & Reviews for My Novels

And the winners of last week's giveaway to lead up to Every Broken Trust's publication date (May 7) are  Michelle Fidler, Reine Harrington Carter, and David Cranmer. I'll be sending you all emails for your postal addresses.

Michelle has won a signed copy of Every Last Secret. Reine has won a signed ARC of Every Broken Trust. David has won an original piece of art (a noir horse sculpture).

Congratulations, guys! And thanks for joining me on the blog.

Don't forget that the giveaways continue until Every Broken Trust publishes on May 7, so anyone who comments on any post on this blog this week will be entered for a signed ARC of Every Broken Trust or signed copies of  Every Last Secret or anthologies in which I've been published.

And if you're anywhere within reach of Kansas City, plan on joining me for the official launch of Every Broken Trust at Mysteryscape, 7309 W 80th St., Overland Park, KS, at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, May 10. There will be cake and wild, crazy dances of joy, and I will say a few words and sign books and send you home with kisses and hugs for coming.

I had planned to post the second part of the Art and Craft of Poetry series today, but since I've had some really nice reviews for Every Broken Trust and some great news come in recently, I thought I'd tell you all about that. I'll post the second part of the Art and Craft of Poetry series later this week.

First of all, I'm honored to announce that my debut novel, Every Last Secret, is a finalist for the International Latino Book Award. I'm also a finalist in another category for a book I conceived and edited, Woven Voices: 3 Generations of Puertorriqueñas Look at Their American Lives, with poetry by Anita Velez-Mitchell, Gloria Vando, and Anika Paris. Lots of excitement around here last night when I got this news! The winners will be announced during the Book Expo America in New York City in May. So keep good thoughts for me, please!

And then, there are the book reviews that have started coming in for Every Broken Trust recently.

Kirkus Reviews was the first, and they said, Skeet’s second outing showcases a strong, intelligent woman with a difficult past that keeps returning to haunt her.” 

“Satisfying… Credible characters enhance the absorbing plot.”—Publishers Weekly said about Every Broken Trust.

“The first Skeet Bannion showed great promise for a series featuring a strong and complicated heroine. This sophomore effort cements Linda Rodriguez as a writer whose promise has been made good. Damn good book.”—Crimespree Magazine said just yesterday.

So I'm doing a little shameless self-promotion today, I guess, but I wanted to share my good news with my friends.

Remember, there's a new giveaway going on, so if you comment and leave your email on any post this week, you'll be in the running. Be sure to tell your friends. After all, free is good, right?

And later this week, I will post Part Two of Learning the Art and Craft of Poetry for National Poetry Month. I hope you're all having as nice a week as I am!