A Bond of Trust

Posted on Monday, November 10, 2014

Students “At Risk”

finelineshandIn 1990, David Martin was the English teacher of an “at-risk” high school class of teens: gang members, kids scarred from brawls, pregnant girls, ex-dropouts, and misfits that no other instructor was willing to teach. Knowing that he could not draw them in with the standard curriculum, he threw out the textbooks and focused the class entirely on their own writing. He had them compose and share ideas from their own personal lives.

Slowly but surely, a bond of trust was forged in this ragtag class. The story reached its climax when he put together selected writings in a four page pamphlet to praise those who were really trying to improve their grades. The students were wowed to find their words in print, and even the most unsocial kid was moved to tears to find his efforts appreciated. Martin continued publishing that four-page pamphlet, and today it now stands as Fine Lines, a quarterly journal for new writers who submit their work from all 50 states and around the world.

This is the Power of Writing.

While you may not be the teacher at the head of a class that seems like an asylum, writing is important, especially to those students who need it the most. Today, I’d like to share with you the opportunity to do for your students what Martin did for his class. Foster their talents by encouraging them to write their best poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Then, submit it to Fine Lines. We take works from writers of all levels, from college professor to third-grade poets, from all walks of life, and from all over the world. Let students take a major step to find joy and appreciation in becoming published authors; let them feel recognition for their talents, and let them glimpse who they can become.

We also accept photography and illustrations, our editors are waiting to read and see your work, submission details here.

Check out Mr. Martin’s class and the beginnings here.

 - David Waller, student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha

 

Fine Lines is Dedicated to Improving Literacy

Posted on Monday, October 27, 2014

First, The Importance of Literacy

Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories. Literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right . . . . Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.”

-Kofi Annan – a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 1997 to December 2006. Annan and the United Nations were the co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize “for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world.”

Fine Lines is dedicated to the development of writers and artists of all ages.

Mondays with martinWhat started out as a classroom newsletter in 1991 has now turned into a 50 state writing network and a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit, educational organization. The first issue was 4 pages long and allowed students many opportunities to show others clear thinking and proper written expression. Each quarterly issue is about 300 pages filled with fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art by “authors and artists in process” who wish to improve their composition craft.

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Calling All Authors, Poets, Essayists, and Artists

Posted on Monday, October 20, 2014

We Want to Hear From You

Fine Lines wants to hear from everyone you know who likes to read and write and has a good story to tell. Contact the schools in your community (all levels), tell students (of all abilities), and writers on your email lists (the good ones and the “wannabees”) that we are looking for traditional and non-traditional creative writers wherever we can find them.

Twenty Three Years and Growing

Mondays with martinWe are now in our twenty-third year of publication, have traversed many publication hurdles, and transformed ourselves frequently to keep our 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization going, because we are involved with a labor of love. We have some rowdy editors who enthusiastically fill four books per year with writing from the heart. Human interest stories, essays, poems, and artwork make us want to fly, and well-crafted declarative sentences make the world a better place in which to live, no matter the academic status of the writer.

Last year, we published a third grader who wrote a wonderful three line observation about winter and several poems from a ninety-four year old great-grandmother. Our motto is “Write on,” and we do.

We will be pleased to have you involved with our mission to change the world one page at a time and one writer at a time. Check out our Summer 2014 edition FREE here.

Thank you for helping us celebrate the beauty of language.

David Martin

The River Keeps Flowing

Posted on Monday, October 13, 2014

Mondays with martinThe day was warm and the breeze gentle.

 

This combination made many students want to lie down on the green, campus grass after lunch and take naps. I made myself comfortable on a shaded bench under the largest oak tree and relaxed. With twenty minutes to spare before starting my next English class, I felt the warm, August sun trying to find me. I looked up at the white, floating clouds, and my mind began to wander.

Imagining what Huck Finn and Jim felt on their crude raft while floating down the mighty Mississippi River, leaving their troubles behind, ignoring their families, forgetting the problems of growing up, averting their minds from mature challenges, overlooking racial prejudice, and communicating the way two males, a young white boy and a black man, would have in that place – in that century, I smiled. As each day began for those runaways, the warm sun twinkled between the fluttering leaves of cottonwood trees along the river banks, gently rousing this friendly duo to new adventures.

Huck and Jim were thankful for the many opportunities that came their way. With child-like understanding, they did their best to comprehend that little corner of the world and their places in it. If life is a stochastic process, they enjoyed and accepted their days as they found them. They did not hate life away, and they would not waste time ignoring it or being ungrateful. In their simplicity, consciously or not, they found excitement in learning, even though their vision was short and blocked by the bends in the river.

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Five Questions to Consider Before Writing a Horror Story

Posted on Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Halloween writer It’s October, the month of Scary.

Let’s talk horror.

Today’s Guest Post is by Friend of Fine Lines Larry Leeds
and comes with the caution:
The following may contain gruesome examples of horror
that has been known to offend
the faint of heart, small children, and/or spiritually persuaded.

 

Why Horror Stories?

In his book The Philosophy of Horror or Paradoxes of the Heart, Noël Carroll offers two Paradoxes of the Heart: “…this is the question of how we can be frightened by that which we know does not exist.” and his second. “It is the question of why. . . anyone would subject themselves to it.” I would like to add my own question: Why would anyone want to tell such stories?

Some say we read horror stories for the adrenaline rush; to satisfy the “fight or flight” situations we rarely have in these modern times. Perhaps it’s for the visceral reaction that others get jumping out of a plane, usually with a parachute. Familiarity, maybe, like the way dad used to turn you upside down and toss you in the air, scaring the wits out of you the whole time you were laughing. I approach a horror story as a controlled nightmare from which I can awaken anytime I want. Others read horror for the reasons some like watching road accidents – so they can say, “There but for the grace of God, go I.”

 

What Is Horror?

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Searching for Significance

Posted on Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Today’s guest blog is by Fine Lines friend, Ashley Kresl

Why Me?

keyboard workThere are endless struggles associated with being a writer. We face them at different times and for different reasons. The battle tearing through my writing life lately seems simple enough: significance. Even in writing this blog post, I had so many questions. Why my thoughts? Why these thoughts? Why today? The request to write a guest post was straightforward enough. But… you want me to write something just to write it? Just to hear the sound of my own voice? And then there was the most frightening question of all: what if I don’t have anything to say?

 Key principles to consider:

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Lightning and Mental Floss

Posted on Monday, September 29, 2014

Good writing is a collection of ideas and symbols that make a difference in our world. Authors and poets must find what they are good at communicating and share it in words, so readers know what they believe.

They must speak their message like they mean it.

They must mean it when they say it.

They must commit to finding the truth.

There is no mystery here.

Do the work.

Share the results.

Where shall wisdom be found?

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Quantifying What Matters to Fine Lines

Posted on Monday, September 22, 2014

Recently, I was asked to “quantify” Fine Lines,

In the hopes I could prove statistically that our non-profit organization is worth his donation to our mission. To put a value on increasing literacy, one writer at a time. I wonder, is it possible to quantify something as unique as Fine Lines?

Fine Lines Is Powered by Volunteers

Last month 22 trained, volunteer editors devoted 3 hours each of their time, while reading submissions (essays, historical writings, poetry, short stories, fiction, non-fiction, and human interest articles). They collaborated during these 66 hours of reading to find the best writing for our readers. In our 23 years of publication, the number of submissions has increased substantially in recent years. In 2014, Fine Lines has reached all 50 states in the USA and 33 foreign countries

Our editorial group is an eclectic group that includes various ages, jobs, and backgrounds: high school and college students, math teachers, Spanish teachers, English and journalism teachers, novelists, memoirists, journal writers, an insurance executive, a grant writer, a nurse, university English professors, computer IT managers, medical biologists, one retired CIA agent, and lawyers. This diversity of editors gives a widespread perspective when reading the submissions and adds flavor and value to our team.

Write On Summer Camp

Fine Lines provides a summer writing camp each year in June. Last summer was our 15th year of combining all the arts with composition. The 150 campers turned in so much good writing that it will take a year to publish it all. The positive comments from the campers have grown every year, and we are already planning our next one in 2015. Stay tuned.

What Matters

To “quantify” means to count “how much” and is often used with statistical analysis. This term originated in Medieval Latin, and some people, today, dismiss educational creative concepts if they cannot show numerical growth to the end results of applied theories. Yet, the following statement from an Omaha metropolitan educator tells what really matters:

“Fine Lines offers an outlet for young students who suffer academically. A fourth grade student of special education from a recent summer school creative writing class, struggled with written expression. However, he was so excited to tell the story about his wood-carving experience that made writing his short poem a little more bearable. I submitted his poem, and it was published. When he came to my home to pick up his copy of Fine Lines, I saw the look of pride on his face that was wider than a steamboat. In elation, he cried, ‘I’ve never had anything published before!’”

How’s that for quantifying? :)

Mondays with martinAt Fine Lines – Where Writers Grow!

 

 - David Martin