Friday From the Journal – The Wordsmith

Posted on Friday, January 23, 2015

Today we have a double treat for you!

First, the poem the poem that placed second in the Fine Lines Poetry Contest:


With pen in hand I slide to the other side,

Where fireflies shatter twilight’s veil,

Pine needles crinkle on the path,

Moonbeams whisper a melody,

Chanting waves enthrall,

Rushing winds caress,

Stars glisten above,

Blood tingles as

I drink from the

Fountain of


  – Marion Young

Now – join us in this interview with the author Marion Young

“Hello, this is Zoe at KPSK Radio. Today we’re talking with Marion Young, a local poet who scooped up second prize.”

Creek. Creek. The faux-leather chair cracked as I sat next to my talk show host. “Howdy.”

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Friday From the Journal – Frozen Like a Statue

Posted on Friday, January 16, 2015

Today we bring you the Third Place Winner in the Fine Fines Poetry Contest


Frozen like a Statue


My teeth chatter against each other,

like a beaver gnaws on wood.

I’m frozen from my toes

to the tips of my auburn hair,

frostbitten to the very depths of my soul

battered by icy, bitter wind,

as Christ of the Deep withstands currents

and growth of marine life within its matter.

Icicles have formed on my eyelashes,

the only part of me not swaddled like a babe,

unshielded from the ruthless air,

as statues in open-air bear the brutal weather

that sears their foundations,

and cracks the stone.


My scarf whisks away from my neck,

yearning to break free,

to soar o’er the jagged, snowy mountain,

like Christ, held captive

by shifting sands and anchored by barnacles.

Tugging on my scarf, protecting my face,

I choke on the arctic bite of the air,

the bitterness cuts through my cracked lips

like saltwater on a wound,

then dig my poles into the freshly packed snow.


For a moment they are trapped;

and I am frozen like a statue,

Christ of the Deep trapped in the murky depths of silt,

yet instead of awaiting my doom,

I grasp the poles

like Christ reaching for the heavens,

I extinguish the cold soaked marble of my snow-sculptured figure.

Launching my gelid skis towards the distant lodge,

I carve ribbons into the icy snow,

like Michelangelo,

setting free the angel in the marble.

By Anne James

Author Bio:

Anne James works as a research lab technician in the department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology at Creighton University. She completed her B.S. in biology and French at Creighton. In her free time, Anne enjoys writing poetry, playing the trombone, knitting, and scuba diving.


What Do You Write?

Posted on Wednesday, January 14, 2015

As a writer, the subject of writing tends to find its way into introductory conversations. Even if not your full time profession, even if you consider writing a hobby, or an uneconomical passion, you are still a writer and when the subject comes up, as it often does, the inevitable question that follows is: “What do you write?”

Uh, oh. If you’re like me, suddenly every genre I’ve touched on dances around in my head waiting to be mentioned, my current projects and old projects clamor for status and then, worst of all, suddenly nothing feels worthy to mention. The impulses to justify and yet downplay my passion begin duking it out while the innocent inquisitor stares politely at me waiting for an answer.

mwt square

Market-Write Tip –

When asked, “What do you write?” Have your answer ready.

Perhaps you’ve heard the term elevator speech. This is the idea that a short 3 minute “pitch” is ready and prepared for any occasion, but especially for the opportunity to sell to a new prospect. In publishing there is also the logline. A logline is a one or two sentence summary of your written work primarily used to sell to an agent or publisher. Both of these examples are important for when you’re selling your work.


Today we’re not talking about selling, we’re talking about answering a question in a conversation. Why is this important if you’re not selling? Because, as writers, we should always be connecting: connecting to readers, connecting to writers and connecting to community. This question is the most commonly asked and the best starting point for making connections.


Also, it’s a hard question to answer. That is why the answer is important to think about ahead of time and even practice. To make it easier, put your answer into 3 short parts.

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Friday From the Journal – Concert

Posted on Friday, January 9, 2015

Dear Friends,

In the month of January we will bring you poets and poetry from the Fine Lines Journal.

This piece was created by a student who enjoys reading and writing in her spare time. We hope you enjoy her art:


i am the pulsing at a concert when everyone screams and the noise rises into the ceiling and the vibrations thrum in the clouds
i am the crowd clapping and jumping in unison to the song that plays every night on the radio three or four times that everyone says they hate
i am the soft moment of silence in between songs when the crowd is holding their breath and no one cares about: work, school, parents, pain, blood
i am the moment of fear before the encore when each soul worries that maybe there won’t be an encore this time and
i am the sigh of relief and excited shriek a moment later when the bassline to one of their oldies thrums through the stadium
i am the rush in the car when you roll the windows down and your mom snaps at you for not hearing her remind you of the “real world”
i am the slow downslide of remembering all the things you forgot when they were right there and
i am the push of adrenaline when you hear one of their songs and you feel it all over again and your throat feels newly raw from screaming

 - Selena Dobles-Kunkel


Five Tips to Jump Start Your Writing

Posted on Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Today’s tips come from UNO student and Fine Lines special editor and intern, David Waller


Sometimes life throws you incredible opportunities as a writer: calls for submissions to literary journals, writing contests, or the discovery of new magazines featuring material you love. You see these golden chances and think, “Yeah, I could write something for that.” You get out your pencil and notebook, word processor, or whatever medium you use to capture the visions the muses have granted you, only to discover one small problem.

keyboard workThere are no visions. You stare at a blank page and realize that you have nothing. There are few things worse to authors than writer’s block. No matter how desperate you are to get something out, ideas will not come. You cannot force yourself to be creative; you have to coax your brain and stoke some mental fires if you want to get anywhere. But how? Well, first of all, counterintuitive as it may seem, you are going to want to step away from your writing for just a little bit. If you keep thinking about it, you are just going to wind up grinding your gears. Once you have put some space between yourself and your work, here are some strategies to help the creative process along:

                #1 Pay Attention to Your Conversations.

Be an active listener in what you say when you talk to your friends, family, co-workers, etc. What stories are you telling them? What topics do you bring up? What words do you use? Chances are, if you are willingly offering the topic for discussion, it is something that comes to you naturally, something you enjoy telling people about. Your brain has already shifted out of park, so take the wheel, drive, and see where it takes you.

                #2 Look into Other Cultures.

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Making the Most of Journal Writing

Posted on Monday, December 22, 2014

Writers, Join Me!

Let’s Explore Journal Writing.

Our guide for this expedition will be our journal. We will write a journey of self-discovery. We will go down different roads and to new, exciting places. We will find insights that we did not know existed, allow write to build stronger minds, so we can heal, and the pages will help us find answers to questions that we avoided.

Here are a few guidelines we will follow:

  • Poetry may count, but good prose is what we emphasize.
  • Art work counts if we explain it.
  • Quotes by others will count, if we react to their messages.
  • Practicing good grammar and standard English weigh heavily.
  • Words matter.
  • Originality, quantity, and pride in the writing will become routine.
  • Ten weekly pages of concerned, honest, writing is our goal.

Let Go

Writers who feel good about themselves enjoy the experience and the power of self-expression. Let’s try to sit down in front of the computer or when we pick up a pad and pen in a positive frame of mind. Let’s not be afraid to express ourselves. We are not writing for a grade. We are writing to learn and become enlightened. We do not fear the writing process. We embrace it. Let’s make writing fun and rewarding.

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A Letter to My Journal

Posted on Monday, December 15, 2014

papersDear Bubba,

This name I give to you, like a father gives to his son, is one of raw and sincere simplicity. It has a country connotation, one that I respect. The truth is best stated simply, the way farmers and cowboys talk to each other. Complexity muddies the water. This daily journal will be unadorned and unaffected. These blank pages invite the accuracy of vision, as the topics appear in front of me.

I write for only you and me.

This New Year’s resolution for 2015 promises to be creative.

When this concept first shook me awake, I loathed the idea. Writing something every day sounded a lot like work, unpleasant work. You were a thorn in my side and a pain in my neck. When I decided you wanted to grow to be 365 pages or more in one year, I cringed. At first, you scared the heck out of me. How was I ever going to feed you enough ideas so you would gain that much weight in twelve months? At the beginning, just completing a four page essay exhausted me. I didn’t like you one single bit. For a while, I ignored you, hoping you would go away, but the more I neglected you, the more demanding you became. You began to roar for food like a starving lion. Still, I refused to feed you.

After a while, I realized that if you weren’t fed, you wouldn’t grow. I looked at you, as you lay there on the shelf, a skinny spectacle. You were so thin that your three binding rings showed through like skinny ribs with a few paltry scraps of flesh attached. Four weeks later, you were a little better, and some color returned to your face, but you were anemic. In four more weeks, you were a little bigger, and I knew I could neglect you no longer. You didn’t go away as I hoped. In front of me, you loomed like a sickly, pale apparition too tough to die. We had a pact, and I must carry out my end of the bargain.

I started feeding you a couple of pages a day and soon realized that this wasn’t going to be enough to guarantee your health, so I increased your rations to five pages a day. I started to feel more like a concerned parent. You weren’t getting a prime rib dinner at each meal, but at least you were not starving anymore.

Secretly, there is something I must tell you.

I’m growing fond of you. I’ve taken a liking to you, I guess. Perhaps, this change in my attitude toward writing has come a little late in my life, but I don’t mind. You allowed me to discover things about myself that I never knew, and you opened a door to let in needed fresh air.

Mondays with martinWhen this acquaintance began, you always taught me more about myself. You are a window through which I look when I want to glimpse what is inside me. You are a place where I can be alone. When I am hurting, I can cry with you. When I have a problem, you are the friend I confide in and share how I feel. I only wish that I met you when I was younger. Oh, the memories, the emotions, the pains, and the dreams – there are so many things to say. There is no sense in worrying about the past. All I can do is start with today and make each one better than the last. You certainly made a lousy first impression, but I don’t know what I would do without you now.

 - David Martin

What do you want to tell Your writing pages?

The Rabbit Hole of Naming Characters

Posted on Wednesday, December 3, 2014

*Today’s guest post is by author Chris Mandeville

How Do You Name Your Characters?

Some writers don’t worry much about naming.  They slap a label on a character and run with it.  Other writers dive down the rabbit hole and put excessive amounts of research, thought, planning and creativity into naming.  I’m in the latter camp, so thought I’d share with you some of the things I consider before attaching a moniker to a new character.  I don’t recommend you join me down in the rabbit warren—especially not during NaNo—because it’s far too easy to lose all sense of time and purpose while exploring the wonderland of names.  Instead I offer you a few categories, resources, and suggestions to help you quickly choose the names you need and get on with the business of the story.

WARNING:  once you go down the Rabbit Hole of Naming, it can be hard to climb back out.  For safe exploring, always attach a lifeline — a kitchen timer or a trusted friend to rescue you at an appointed time should do the trick.


As far as I’m concerned, the primary consideration when selecting a name is the connotations that come with it.  Unfortunately connotations are for the most part an individual thing.  Take the name Charlie, for example.  If that’s the name of your favorite grandpa, your best friend, or the family dog, you will have a much different feeling about that name than if Charlie was the bully who beat you up in the third grade.

So how do you get a handle on connotations if it’s such a personal thing?

Donald Trump

Try to weed out the truly personal associations and look at the more general, cultural connotations.  Take “Trump” for instance.  Because of “The Donald,” most American adults immediately think things like tycoon, businessman, wealthy, powerful, mogul.  The cultural connotations of Donald Trump are bolstered by the definition of the word trump:  a card of a suit that outranks the other suits; to excel, surpass, outdo.  Note that I didn’t put a “good” or “bad” value on it because not everyone likes Donald Trump.  The good/bad connotation will differ from person to person (along with various other associations, like crazy hair), but the impressions relating to Trump being a business tycoon are fairly consistent.

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