Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My Mustang is Sold

Since we're going from a three-person to
a four-person household in a matter of weeks, my husband convinced me that my Mustang had to go. [We're expecting a baby girl Christmas Eve] I didn't like the idea at first, but there was no way I could safely put two kids in the back of that car. Besides, the car is twelve years old and had 149,200 miles on it when I sold it on Sunday, November 4th (Thank you, Craigs List). Lots of memories from this car, but I don't miss it, but I do think fondly on those good old days from the last years of the twentieth century, just me and my Mustang...

Fall Workshops

This fall I taught poetry, creative nonfiction and journaling all across the Triangle: Wake Forest, Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Durham! The picture on the top is from my journaling class at A Place for Women to Gather in North Raleigh Sat. Sept. 8th, the second picture is from free poetry workshop held Sept. 9th at Market Street Books in Southern Village in Chapel Hill. The last picture is from my "Telling Your Story" workshop series at the Morning Glory Center for Creative Healing in Wake Forest, which took place every Sunday afternoon in August. Notice Houston the cat on the far right -- he's the best therapy cat ever!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Your Creativity Questions Answered

Matt Mullins, talented poet and prolific blogger, is currently running a series of "Ask a Poet 5 Questions" on his blog, Unstable Euphony. Here are the answers I supplied Matt to his 5 questions. Also check out the responses from Tom Lisk, Mark Smith-Soto, Sarah Bartlett, Chris Salerno and more!

1. Can creativity be taught?

Yes – an emerging writer can learn many how to’s from reading literature, poetry, and well-written articles in established magazines and journals. The student can also learn under a good writing teacher who gives the student writing prompts, deadlines and appropriate feedback. Once the new writer has acquired this creative tool kit, then she will have an easier time generating new work instead of feeling like all of her good ideas flow through her like a sieve.

2. Do you write the majority of your poems in one sitting?

Yes, I draft my poems all of the way through in one shot, but my revision process has been known to take me days, weeks, and years. Additionally, I use my poetry critique group to help me revise my poems.

3. Do you read more than you write?

Right now, it’s about 60/40, with 60 being the reading which includes books, writing magazines, writing books, newspapers and other magazines. In the weeks when I can’t find time to squeeze in my own writing, I find that I can draft poems and fiction as my students do their timed writing exercises in my workshops.

4. Is it possible to live off of being a poet anymore?

After my book, Right Lane Ends was released last year and after getting several poems published, I was given more opportunities to conduct writing workshops within the Triangle community and I was also invited to judge several poetry contests, most notably The Independent Weekly’s contest. I was also invited to help Cary Academy with their poetry slam event. During all of this poetry productivity, I received a grant from the United Arts Council and I gained several new writing/editing clients. I also believed I’m now teaching English at Raleigh Charter High School because of my poetry and writing workshops. My writing business is now making money and I’ve only been in business a year. So to answer your question – yes, you can make money as a poet if you market yourself vertically, which is what I’ve done -- and be willing to teach.

5. Is today’s poetry lackluster compared with “classic” poetry?

No. I’d say today’s poetry is more accessible to the general public. There’s also so much choice out there. For instance you can choose to read language poetry, narrative poetry, experimental poetry, etc. For me, I prefer the narrative poets such as Ai, Yosef Komunyakaa, and Frank O’Hara Robert Lowell. I also enjoy the so-called confessional poets such as Dorianne Laux, Robert Lowell, and Sharon Olds. I also enjoy and try to emulate the rich density and details in the poems of Federico Garcia Lorca and Lisa Jarnot.

Linda Greenlaw of Perfect Storm fame is a novelist, too!

Linda Greenlaw, former swordboat fisherwoman and the last person in contact with the doomed Andrea Gail, is on tour for her first novel, Slipnot. In this murder mystery set in fictional Green Haven, Maine, the protagonist, Jane Bunker, is a marine insurance investigator and former Miami detective who tries to solve the murder mystery. Here I am with Linda, Friday, August 3rd at Quail Ridge Books.
I met Linda three years ago also at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh when All Fisherman Are Liars was published. She has also written the NY Times bestseller, The Hungry Ocean, The Lobster Chronicles and a cookbook with her mom, Martha Greenlaw, entitled, Recipes from a Very Small Island.
Of course I'm fascinated by Linda's story because of her maritime knowledge (I'm currently working on a novel about a female solo racing sailor) and because she's a creative nonfiction author and I mainly teach creative nonfiction!
I wish Linda the best of luck with her tour and we'll get to know Linda Greenlaw the novelist better since she's been contracted for two more books!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

How to Publish Panel at the Regulator

(Left to right: Alice, Henry Hutton and Alex Sokoloff)

(Left to right: Alex Sokoloff, Stacey Cochran and Alice)

7/7/07 How to Publish Panel at the Regulator Bookshop

Last night, Stacey Cochran (Colorado Sequence) moderated a panel discussion titled "How to Get Published: Traditional Publishing and Self-Publishing" with Alex Sokoloff (The Harrowing), Alice Osborn (Right Lane Ends), and Henry Hutton from at the Regulator Book Shop on Ninth Street. We had a full crowd of fiction, nonfiction and poetry writers. Alex, who is from L.A., and was a screenwriter for 10 years, was asked many questions about how to acquire an agent and the benefits of traditional publishing, I was asked questions about why I did self-publishing and its advantages/disadvantages and Henry was asked many good questions about the's self publishing business model. It was great how Stacey made the crowd remember Alex's and my books, "OK, everyone," Stacey asked the crowd, "What' s the name of Alex's book again?" and he got a laugh when he announced that anyone who bought two of his books would get a character named after him/her in his next book.

The reason I self published Right Lane Ends was because as a poet, I know who my audience is and how I can get my words and my book before them through my various poetry and creative nonfiction workshops, as well as through my readings. I also am a good marketer and know what I need to do to get noticed by my audience -- (it's my Right Lane Ends T-shirts! -- thank you man at Kinkos who purchased my book on Friday when he saw me wearing my T-shirt -- I didn't even get your name) If you want to go the self publishing route, you need to know your target audience, how to reach them and be comfortable carving out a space for yourself as a lit star!
Till next time,

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Poetry with Juliet

Here are the women (Rob, Patricia and Susan not pictured) of Juliet Patterson's class "Density, Details and Lists: Exercises in Poetry."

Back Row: (left to right)
Tonja, Alice, Sally, Selene

Front Row: (left to right)
Pat, Niki, Juliet, Jane, Angela and Amy

I felt honored to be in a room with so many talented poets ready and willing to share their words with stangers (well, not strangers by the end of the week).

I wrote about 12 new poems and now just have to revise them and rework them -- it feels great!

Thank you classmates, Juliet Patterson, the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and my generous grant from United Arts of Wake County Regional Project Grant for making this week possible for me!


Prairie Lights Bookstore -- an Iowa City Destination!

During my week in Iowa I attended two readings at Prairie Lights, Iowa City's premier bookstore. All of the reading sair on Saturdays from 8-10 pm and on Sundays 7-8 pm on WOI 640AM or on Sundays from 5-6pm on KSUI 91.7 FM.
We were the live studio audience!

On Monday, Susan and I listened to Judith Strasser and Anne-Marie Cusac (Silkie), two journalists who have recently published poetry books. We missed Anne-Marie's readings, but Judith's reading of The Reason/Unreason Project was extremely personal, ironic and witty. Here's a taste from "Cancer Dream":
They're running IV's on women in turbans.
Jaundiced patients are having blood drawn.
In a barbaric contraption topped by a vial
of Nembutal, someone's hanging upside down.
I survived cancer.
I take long bike rides.
I am anemic.
I am the dreamer.
I am terrified.
On Thursday night, a crowd of us dodged the rain storm to listen to Jim Autry (in above picture) give his reading on Looking Around for God: The Oddly Reverent Observations of an Unconventional Christian. The book is a collection of essays with titles such as, "Sex and Sunday School" and "God at the Track Meet." He also has several poems included as well. Jim was a fighter pilot, a Fortune 500 executive and is motivational speaker and consultant, among other talents.
Jim and his wife Sally Pederson (former Lt. Gov of Iowa) have a 22-year-old son, Ronald, who has autism, and I found the essays around the couple's experiences with their son very moving. I spoke a long time to both Jim and Sally about autism research and told them a little bit about my experiences with Daniel, who at 2-years-old was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We got Daniel in school-sponsored intervention programs and I told them how far he's progressed so he'll be ready for kindergarten.
Sally and Jim live in Des Moines.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Iowa Week: June 17-22

Iowa City, Iowa.

This week I studied poetry with Juliet Patterson (The Truant Lover). The name of the class was "Density, Details and Lists: Exercises in Poetry." And boy, did we do some exercises! We had readings and poetry writing homework every night and I tried to write more poems that the required amount, since I know my schedule when I get back to Raleigh. I had dinner with friends in Jane Mead's "Advanced Poetry" class most nights, went to two fabulous Prairie Lights readings (Iowa's premier independent bookstore famous around the nation where all of the readings are podcasted before us, the studio audience), and then worked on my writing till about 12:30 or 1am every night.

Juliet instructed us on the NY School of Poetry, Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca, the ecstatic school and much more. We would study a poem, say, William Stafford's "Things I Learned Last Week" and then use that title to jumpstart our poems. I worked on trying to use my imagination more and take leaps.

Everyone in the class has so much talent and it was a pleasure to hear and share their work.

The classes at the Iowa Festival are from 2-5 pm, leaving a lot of room to work, eat, sleep, visit museums, chat, drink coffee, shop and run. I loved the flexibility. I ran in the mornings, visited the art and history museums, listened to the 11 am "Elevenses" Lectures on writing, craft and literary mag submissions. On Friday, for the Elevenses the faculty shared their work. We had an opening reception on Monday night with wine and cheese in the Old Capital Museum, an Open Mic on Wednesday night and several "unsanctioned" Open Mics behind the Iowa House/Student Union where I and the majority of Festival participants stayed. As we read our poetry, we had a perfect view of the Iowa River at sunset. I made some good friends after these Open Mics and I even sold quite a few of my books!

I don't know if I can get back here next year, but I highly recommend this experience to you out there -- you'll write, network, learn and will be inspired!
Thanks again to United Arts of Wake County, Regional Artist Project Grant Award Program, which made this week possible for me!


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Getting to Iowa, Sunday 6/17, Happy Father’s Day

Saturday night and I knew it wasn’t a good sign when I couldn’t find my flight out of Raleigh to connect to Chicago, which would then take me to Cedar Rapids for the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. It was to depart from RDU at 9:45 on Sunday morning. I first checked with US Air, and found the second flight on United. I went downstairs to share my confusion with Keith, who remained extremely calm. I wasn’t calm. We called the US Air Help Desk and they said that my flight did exist, but we still couldn’t print out my boarding pass.

The next day Keith and Daniel dropped me off at RDU, neither early nor late at Terminal A, where US Air is located. There were four people in front of me and the agents took at least ten minutes to process them. When it was my turn, the agent said I was in the wrong terminal, since my flight was a United one and it would leave out of Terminal C.
“What! Will I make it?” my temperature rose.

He said, “You can hope that the plane will be late.”

My suitcase and I rolled down the stairs and through the parking garage. Upon arriving, I recognized a couple that been in Terminal A and they had had the Terminal A agent on the phone for at least ten minutes. I slid in next to them, while a quick, bald agent asked us if we were headed to Chicago. I piped up and my bag was checked after another agent had to verify and verify that I was indeed on this flight. My original flight was wiped clean by United and I was given another flight in its place. I hate United (and I’m on two United flights bound for home).

Turns out that Chicago flight was oversold and maybe it wouldn’t have mattered if I had made it through the security line in thirty seconds or less (I had to take off my belt and bracelet), as well as unpack my laptop. As I ran to the furthest gate possible, clutching my fanny pack like a football and only dropping my cell phone once, I squealed to a halt at the gate agent desk, with a few other folks waiting to see if they could fly standby. No luck for any of us. I didn’t have priority since I was behind the other ticketed passengers who had assigned seats and printed out boarding passes. I had neither. Our plane rolled away. Have you ever seen the plane you were supposed be on fly away? Lucky for me, I got another flight with American at 2:40, which meant that I would be late for the Iowa Registration/Welcome dinner, but I would still make the first class and orientation if I arrived in Iowa City at 7:30 pm.

At least I got a free lunch from United at any of the food places in Terminal C. After picking up my dry sandwich, chips and chocolate milk for Daniel, Keith picked me up. “Hi, again!” and we had lunch together and later I lathered Daniel up with sunscreen and got him ready for their pool date later that afternoon. I printed out my new boarding passes and made certain I had assigned seats.

Then everything went like clockwork. I insisted on getting to the airport early. My number came up in the security line and I had to be patted down, but at least I left plenty of time for this, right? We left Raleigh on time, made it to Chicago and then to Cedar Rapids. I had to wait for the shuttle for a half hour, but then we were soon on our way. Boarding the mini van was a lady in her forties with a cane and a shoulder sling who sat next to me. She immediately spoke to me and I found myself relaxing. Turns out Susan, my new friend, was headed not only to the Festival, but she was in the same poetry class as me! Unfortunately, her mother-in-law had recently passed away, so she had to leave for Dallas on Tuesday, missing most of her writing week. She also was missing her bags since a woman in California (where she’s from) had picked them up by mistake. Susan’s travel days were much much worse than mine. I told her things can only get better and then they did.

Next: a summary of Iowa Week with pictures!


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Homer Hickam at Quail Ridge Books

Homer Hickam, author of noted works such as Rocket Boys and Torpedo Junction (and fellow Hokie) , spoke to our writing group at Quail Ridge Books yesterday, 6/15/07. He was in town promoting his new WW II, Josh Thurlow novel, The Far Reaches. Amidst wine and cheese in the back of the store, Homer discussed his writing process, how he got his big break with Rocket Boys, and a couple of memorable anecnotes about blurbing and editors that weren't so funny at the time. I loved the fact that he lives with several cats and he and his wife rise early to take care of Batman, the diabetic, and that when he runs every afternoon he gets all of these grand ideas that sometimes work.

Before we knew it, it was 7pm and Homer had to start speaking. There was a big crowd for a Friday evening and all I can say is that I'm glad I got a good space in the signing line, or I would have been there till close. Homer's warm, personable and is so generous with aspiring writers.

You rock, Homer!

My next posting will be a dispatch from the Iowa Summer Writing Festival!


Monday, June 11, 2007

Three Talented Poets Read in N Raleigh

On Sunday, June 10th, three notable local poets read from their works at the new North Regional Library. From left to right: Bruce Lader, Dave Manning and Maureen Sherbondy.

Maureen introduced Dave, Bruce and herself to the good-sized audience for a hot Sunday afternoon. She read from her latest collection published by Main Street Rag, After the Fairy Tale. Many of her poems dealt with loss, family and what happens when the "fairy" tale gives way to reality. "Honeysuckle" and "Existential Golidlocks" ("The everyday sameness / of life nudges her into a state of yawn and nap") resonated the most with me, but they were all excellent. Maureen does an outstanding job with rhythm and internal rhyme and gives you a little punch at the end. Speaking of punchy ends, Dave Manning's "Modus Scriptori," which likened his creative process to blue fungi received thunderous applause ("My lines spread like blue fungus / up a shower-stall, not fast, but unstoppable"). He read many poems from his latest chapbook, Detained by the Authorities from Pudding House. Dave's poems address love, the past, and poets who need to be taken down a notch. After Dave, Bruce read from his collection, Discovering Mortality, which dealt with sons and fathers. I enjoyed his poem about his father who served in a German internment camp in the Southwestern US and the poem imagines what the relationship was like between the two men.

Be sure not to miss Maureen, Dave and Bruce the next time they read!


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

More Photos from National Poetry Month

Karen Michelle Raines (Poetically Correct) and I read at North Regional Library on Sat. April 21st.
Here I am at Quail Ridge Books on April 1st reading with Michael McFee and Ellen Bush. (photo by Michael Graziano) This was my first reading for National Poetry Month.

More Press 53

This past Sunday Kevin Watson of Press 53, along with Joseph Mills and Doug Frelke, read from their work at the Cameron Village Library in Raleigh. There was a good crowd and Kevin's book bag was definitely lighter than when he and Joe left for Raleigh from Winston-Salem.

First, Kevin gave a brief overview of Press 53, which is his favorite number. He also read a short story from his collection, "You Can't Meet Jesus Wearing Sneakers." Then Joe read from "Somewhere During the Spin Cycle," his poetry collection and the audience laughed after each of his punchy poems which all end with a flourish. Doug closed out the show with excerpts from two stories from "Croatan," his most recent book. It thundered several times during his talk and always when he paused, so we never missed a word!

I support Press 53 whenever I'm able since their mission is to publish quality literature that might be passed over by the big publishing houses in New York. So check them out next time they're in town!


Thursday, May 31, 2007

Press 53 and Me

Here I am with the Press 53 poets and co-publisher/co-editor, Kevin Watson, while we read at the Borders in Winston-Salem, Thurs. April 19th.

from left to right
Joseph Mills, Valerie Nieman, Alice, Kevin Watson and Beebe Barksdale-Bruner


Book reviews and no time for reading

This year I've had several book reviews published in the Independent Weekly -- here's my latest review:
The Marines of Montford Point Book Review

The funny thing is that I don't have time to read anymore except if it's "work." Most of my free time is taken up by my editing projects, meeting new editing clients, preparing for my workshops and reading/critiquing my students' stories. I also spend a lot of time e-mailing folks and marketing my work. I do remember a time when I would read for Book Club or I would check books out at the library and actually read them! Now what's on my nightstand has been sitting there for over a year!

My magazines are also piling up. The Writer and Allure are the two I always read and I do read the newspaper and Newsweek to keep up with the world. But sometimes it takes me the entire week to read Sunday's paper.

I hope to have more time to read and to even write when I go to Iowa for a weeklong poetry class at the Iowa Summer Writing Workshop in 3 weeks. After I return to Raleigh, I will attend Meredith College's Focusing on Form for the fourth straight year. This year I'm taking the weeklong fiction class with Louise Hawes. I also have a new laptop which will ensure my mobility and hopefully not make me less productive (I need to shut off my e-mail from time to time).

Till next time,

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Dorianne Laux at NC State

I had the priviledge of meeting Dorianne Laux when she came to NC State to judge the 2007 NCSU Poetry Contest. I'm happy to say my poem, "Ghostcards," made it to the top 5 out of 793 entries! And I got to meet Dorianne to boot. She's an excellent reader, she's warm and genuine and you're automatically pulled in. Plus, she lives in Oregon, where my husband once said to me, "This is a town full of Alice's!"meaning eccentric, REI-wearing types like myself. All of Dorianne's books sold out - lucky I snagged "A Poet's Companion" (she's the co-author) before everything was gone.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Alice Osborn and Friends Read at Cameron Village

Here we are, Poets Extraordinaire! Me[RIGHT LANE ENDS], Bob Rogers [STAIGHT, NO CHASER] (he's the one looking at me), Tom Lisk [THESE BEAUTIFUL LIMITS], and Chris Salerno [WHIRLIGIG] (with the snazzy glasses) all read our poems Tuesday, April 3rd at Cameron Village Regional Library in Raleigh, NC. We all read both poems from our books and new poems.
We had a great turnout and I made new friends. We had a very responsive audience. Special thanks need to go to Erik Sugg, Library Assistant/Reader Services, who pulled this whole event together.
Please check out Matt Mullins's review here:
Tom even had a heckler! Who knew, a heckler at a poetry reading? Also, Chris is leading a discussion at Cameron Village next Wed. on Walt Whitman at 6:30pm -- check it out! It's National Poetry Month!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Marketing, the Necessary Mistress

Here I am at my computer checking e-mail and sending e-mail. If my writing life was a pie chart, I think e-mailing would be 70% of my work. Sounds high, doesn't it? But, it's my best and cheapest way to get the word out about my classes, workshops and readings. It does take a lot of time though, but if I didn't do it, then no one would know what I was up to and no one would come to my workshops/classes/readings, etc. I've been sending out a gazillion e-mails because April's National Poetry Month and I'm reading or have read in 6 venues around Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and even Winston Salem. Check out my link "Appearances" on my website.
It's a balancing act, though. I don't want to waste all of my creative energy sending out e-mails, so I try to limit myself to one group send around 3-5 every day and then I leave it alone. Or it controls me. Sometimes I feel that me sending out these posts doesn't matter since no one on my list responds. However, folks do respond to me in person and that's always nice. It's good to know that all of my shouting down the well and waiting for the echo is worth it (Thank you, Jane, for this image).
Till next time and please don't delete my e-mail until you've scrolled to the bottom!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The First Writing Workshop of the Year!

On Wed. Jan 17th 10 writers gathered to share stories, coffee, laughs, fellowship and encouragement. The Free Prompt Writing Workshop was held at Write More Educational Resources in N Raleigh off of Old Lead Mine and Lead Mine roads. It's a good sign when you see folks hugging each other at the end of the night (and they didn't know each other before the workshop!)
Thanks to everyone who came out! The next free prompt writing workshop is Wed. March 14th from 7-9:30 pm at the same location.
till next time,