Posts made in October, 2014

Fine Lines is Dedicated to Improving Literacy

Fine Lines is Dedicated to Improving Literacy

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. What 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.  Fine Lines receives creative writing from authors of all occupations. Prose articles of medium length, reflective essays on widely diverse topics that reflect life experiences, what one learns through the writing process, and poetry in all forms. We printed writing from an 8-year-old, several pieces from a 94-year-old great-grandmother, from ministers, janitors, doctors, lawyers, scientists, and students of all educational levels. We have published writers from all 50 states in this country, 32 foreign countries: the Alsatian Islands, Azerbaijan, Australia, Barbados, Canada, China, Denmark, Dubai, England, Germany, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Hawaii, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Jordan, Poland, Russia, Scotland, Sicily, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and a US Navy aircraft carrier in the South Pacific. To paraphrase George Orwell, good writing is like a window pane The editors of Fine Lines hope to assist developing writers see through their windows more clearly. The bottom line of our efforts in this project is to help writers develop their full potential. We often see ourselves as “writing coaches,” and we value your participation in this endeavor very much. Our editors work with the following guidelines:   Fine Lines...

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Calling All Authors, Poets, Essayists, and Artists

Calling All Authors, Poets, Essayists, and Artists

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 We 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...

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The River Keeps Flowing

The River Keeps Flowing

The 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. Abruptly, I quit daydreaming, checked the time, stood up, smiled at a sleeping student, and hurried to class. When I opened the door to enter the building, I left the bright, outside daylight for the interior darkness of the old Arts and Sciences structure on the university campus. For a moment, I was blinded and could not see. My eyes adjusted to the dim lighting. Plato’s cave came to mind, and the shadows on the wall turned into live students, as two of them bumped into me. I walked down the darkened hallway toward my classroom and noticed a beam of white light coming through the door into the hall. Before I entered the room and faced a new audience of college undergraduates, I thought of previous classes that taught me more than I taught them. Life is a journey, and the paths we take imitate my Huckleberry friend and his companion, who floated above the muddy water and felt safe standing on a few trees tied together as they were pushed downstream by Nature’s current running under them, out of sight, out of mind,...

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Five Questions to Consider Before Writing a Horror Story

Five Questions to Consider Before Writing a Horror Story

 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? The consensus approach to the word horror is to allow there is more than one kind: natural horror, supernatural horror, and probably others stymied only by the imagination. A useful example of the difference between natural horror and supernatural horror can be found comparing the following stories by Stephen King: Cujo and Pet Cemetery. Cujo: a rabid dog plays havoc with people’s lives – a horrible event, to be sure, but not unheard of. We are terrified with the mother trapped in the car. We feel her panic and helplessness. But we are not suffering cognitive dissonance at the thought of a rabid dog. It’s a natural part of our world – bad though it may be. Pet Cemetery: Pets and people come back from the dead and play havoc with people’s lives. We not only suffer though the terror of their behavior, but the insanity driven horror comes from having no way to rationalize, never mind understand. Our reality is shaken, we become paralyzed with fear for we have no rational bases for what to do, how to protect ourselves. We are helpless #OMG #Don’tTouchMe.   What Is A Horror Story? I imagine a horror story as that which produces in the reader not one, but a...

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Searching for Significance

Searching for Significance

Today’s guest blog is by Fine Lines friend, Ashley Kresl Why Me? There 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: Write with your audience in mind. I try to write with a reasonably clear picture of who I expect my readers to be. When I make a decision about what and how to write, I consider who might be attracted and who might be repelled by that choice. I consider any assumptions I might be making about my readers-to-be, and the context within which they might be viewing my piece. Write with your purpose in mind. I’ve found that a surprising amount of clarity can come from making a simple statement of purpose about a piece of writing. Maybe I’m trying to make my readers laugh. Maybe I want to educate them, or incite them to ask questions in their own lives. Maybe I want them to feel anger, sorrow, or catharsis. Maybe I want them to feel what I was feeling when I wrote the piece, and maybe not. In any case, making a clear statement of what I’m trying to accomplish can give me the confidence to start stringing words together. Unpack for conciseness. When I travel, I always stick to the old wisdom of putting everything you think you’ll need in a suitcase, then taking half of it out. You never need as much as you think you will, and unnecessary stuff just weighs you down. As writers, we, too, can “unpack” our writing, shedding unnecessary words, redundant sentences, and wandering tangents. If your piece feels cluttered and unfocused, it probably is. Unpacking can save the day. Now I open the floor to all of you. Have you ever struggled with significance or with your reasons for writing? What’s your trick for snapping out of it?   Bio: Ashley Kresl is a cubicle-dwelling language enthusiast in Omaha, Nebraska. Read with...

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