Today a Poem and a little Celebration

champagne and bookToday for Monday’s with Martin, we bring you a poem by David Martin, in honor of April being National Poetry Month, plus a little champagne in honor of our new Fine Lines Website!



 Your absence

pulls my skin from its flesh

and reveals empty places

packed with feeling.

Traces of your presence

linger over wine glasses,

opened books, and a rumpled pillow.

The echoes of your voice

make music to my jangled nerves.

The soft breeze I felt

was a ripple of your breath

gently caressing my face.



David Martin © 1996

Making the Most of Journal Writing

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.

Continue reading “Making the Most of Journal Writing”

A Letter to My Journal

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?

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.

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.

Continue reading “Fine Lines is Dedicated to Improving Literacy”

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

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

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.

Continue reading “The River Keeps Flowing”

Lightning and Mental Floss

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?

Continue reading “Lightning and Mental Floss”

Quantifying What Matters to Fine Lines

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