Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dress Up Time

By Kenneth A O'Shaughnessy
My son Stephen, unintentionally
looking like Edward Scissorhands

Whether you celebrate Halloween or not, it seems like a good day to talk about how you dress up your poems. Do they always “say what you mean, mean what you say”? Or do you use them to get across a different message entirely?

Where you wind up with your poem doesn't have to be intentional. Sometimes heading for a clever twist is a sure way to come off stilted and contrived. I like to be as surprised by where my poems wind up as my readers (hopefully!) will be.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Finding Your Focus For Your Blog

By Laurie Epps
Edie Melson is my mentor and friend. She has developed a very easy and simple to read text about Social Media. In this blog, we'll talk about her points, chapter by chapter. So you too can create your own blog, and branding as a writer. To follow along, you'll want to purchase her book, Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers.

Edie teaches seminars on Social Media throughout the Southeast and the rest of the nation. She's not just an inspiration to me, but to writers throughout the country.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Acrostic Poetry

By Kenneth A O'Shaughnessy

If you are looking for a challenge, or for inspiration, a fun way to play with words is to try writing an acrostic poem. In an acrostic poem, the first letter of each line is part of a sequence, usually a word or a phrase. A well-known biblical acrostic poem is Psalm 119 (118), in which each stanza has all of it’s lines begin with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet in order.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Is Blogging Right for You?

By Laurie Epps

This blog is loosely based on a book authored by my mentor Edie Melson. To purchase the book, click here.  

For most, writing a blog seems to be a natural choice for writers, but do you have to start a blog? The answer is no, not really. 

But it's my opinion that you should have some sort of regular online presence. Whether that is on your own blog, or as a columnist for someone else, you should have a regular entry someplace at least twice a month.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

How to Write Poetry for Children (And Everyone Else, Too)

By Kenneth A O'Shaughnessy

A young friend read this poem to me earlier this week, and then she read it over and over. It caused me to consider what makes a poem connect with its readers, even when it is something so simple as this:

Kitten, my kitten
soft and dear
I’m so glad
that you are here
Sitting together
just us two
You loving me
and me loving you.”

What can we learn about connecting with readers from this simple children’s poem?

Use a Familiar Theme
Sitting with a kitten in your lap is a common pleasurable activity for nearly everyone, especially every child. Whether you are writing for children, women, theology buffs, or even men ;-) there is always something common to them that will develop that instant interest in what you have to say. I tend to be guilty of writing from obscure ideas that excite me but mean nothing to other people - they can be fun, but they don’t get feedback from the readers that makes writing a communal effort. Writing from the familiar goes to where the reader is and brings her to where you want to go.

Use Simple Phrases
Each phrase of My Kitten holds together alone as an idea to which every child can relate. This keeps the reader engaged and following the flow of the idea. While the phrases are simple, one has a depth of meaning that makes them both functional and essential to the concept of the poem.

Use Feeling Words
Feeling words connect with the reader on a visceral level, both physically and emotionally. Words like “soft and dear”, “glad”, and even “sitting together” help the reader feel your ideas, not just understand them intellectually. And good poems, as with most good writing, are about the feelings that are evoked.

Personalization doesn’t have to mean putting the poem into the mouth of the reader as we see in this poem. It does mean connecting with the reader’s experience, and using it to create a new experience in the reading of the poem. We as poets want our work to belong our readers in a way only each reader can experience. This poem accomplishes this in multiple layers, from the familiar activity of holding a kitten to the love we experience by being together with someone.

Here is a children’s poem suitable for this time of year - I hope it connects with you:

Mom called my brothers and me for dessert
We shot in like a cannon blast
I knew she was serving my favorite treat
And I did not want to be last

There, slopping out of our mammoth-skull bowls
Was that yummiest, oozy glop
Three towering dollops of cold eyes cream
With congealed scary on top

I gobbled it up like a monster should
Using all my fingers and toes
I ate it so fast that I choked real good
And gobs of it shot out my nose

I like to sling food at my brothers’ heads
But I love eyes cream so much more
So I used all my tongues and tails and teeth
And I licked it up off the floor

Now that my big furry belly was full
And I had swallowed every slurp
I flopped down in front of the monster box
And let out a monstrous burp

My brothers all burped out loud just like me
Then we started to scream and hop
"Bring us some more of our favorite stuff:
More eyes cream with scary on top!"

Kenneth A O'Shaughnessy is a freelance writer and poet living in the upstate of South Carolina with his wife and four children. To find his daily poetry entries, log onto: 

or find him on Amazon here:

Monday, October 14, 2013

Picking Your Blogging Platform

By Laurie Epps

Picking your platform can seem intimidating, and choosing the right one is vital for your blog's success. But you have to take a step back, and remember that you're going to start by taking baby steps. Just by getting a presence on the Internet, you're going to attract a whole new crop of readers.

Your readers will come week after week to hear your voice, and read your thoughts and ideas. This is powerful. That recognition can help you in a variety of ways from working as a living breathing resume, to finding your audience that you wouldn't be able to reach any other way.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Finding Poetry in Prose

By Kenneth A O'Shaughnessy

One of my favorite authors, Ray Bradbury, primarily known for his short stories, has been called a poet, and actually published several books of poetry. But it is actually his prose 
for which he has been called a poet.

Monday, October 7, 2013

On Blogging

By Laurie Epps

Writing for an Internet audience is very different than writing a literary paper. How is different? Where do you start if you haven't established an online presence? Do you you even need a blog? What are the essentials?

We'll talk about picking your platform, and writing for an Internet audience. To purchase the book, click on:

Thursday, October 3, 2013

How to Find “That Word”

By Kenneth A O'Shaughnessy

So you’ve written a few lines that really grabbed you, and you know exactly where your poem is going, but to get there you need a word that rhymes with “bottle” or that starts with the letter V. Suddenly your mind is blanker than the paper you’re staring at. What do you do?

The two best resources I've found so far for finding a word that starts with a specific letter are and Both divide the list by word length. Scrabblefinder lists the words in columns, and Word By Letter lists them in blocks - which you prefer will depend on personal viewing preference.

The Swan House in Atlanta

By Laurie Bower Epps Many don't know that I'm really from Atlanta. Somehow, as I've gotten older, it just seems to be natura...