Remember to send in your poem, your story, your essay!

ew-25-1David Martin sends out reminders about sending in stuff to Fine Lines.  Yes, this information is available on the website in other places, but it follows below, too.  If you are on the fence about sending something in, please consider this a push.  Send that poem or story or essay or photo in and see what happens.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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“Calling All Writers!”

In 2016, send a submission to Fine Lines.

Fine Lines is a national, literary online journal devoted to the publication of poetry, prose, and writing across the curriculum. Our non-profit quarterly seeks:

* to provide insight for people in all disciplines.
* to encourage discussion of communication in ways that cut across definitions.
* to increase written literacy by all members of the community.

What to Submit. We welcome articles on reflective writing about interesting life experiences, along with photos and drawings. Our editors encourage a broad variety of approaches, methodologies, and styles. We accept practical articles that describe innovative approaches to life’s challenges. We are especially glad to receive submissions, stimulating dialog that crosses traditional rhetorical and disciplinary boundaries, forms, and roles. We provide a forum for professional writers and first time authors.

Submission Requirements. Submissions must be sent via email file attachments, CDs, or laser quality hard copies. If replies are requested, include a self-addressed, stamped envelope, or mention this in the email submission. Please use the MLA format. If the author’s work is filled with too many punctuation, grammatical, and mechanical errors, the submission will not be reviewed. It would be helpful for authors new to Fine Lines to include a head and shoulders photo and a short auto-biographical statement.

Our mailing address: The Editors
Fine Lines
P. O. Box 241713
Omaha, NE 68124

Writing as Healing

I hope you agree, it’s better late than never to share my notes and lessons from last year’s “Writing as Healing” panel sponsored by Fine Lines.

We had a panel of authors who rocked my world.

First came Abigail, who requested to not have to go first, but did anyway. She bravely shared her truths, how the truth feels, and how she faces it. Then, Kathy shared her heartbreak, her honesty, and how writing helped her. How writing keeps her son’s name in the conversation. Suzanne gave us beautiful words among hard lessons. Her storytelling wove around the room and embraced us. She reminded us of the rewards after the pain. She asked us to be truthful, see the joyful bits, and inspired random acts of storytelling to share with the universe. Start that unknown conversation. Share and be shared.

words help kgAll of our panelists emphasized that everyone has the chance to show purpose with words and live through the tough bits. By sharing her journey, each person has come to help others, others who have grieved, and those who need to remember. Life is fragile and precious.

When and What to Share?

When it comes to trauma and grief or whatever you’re working through, time does not equal readiness to share your work. Write for yourself first. Then, when you’re ready, polish. Be sure there is a message. Perhaps a resolution. When you hit send or publish, you have a responsibility to the reader, what is your gift to them?

Not a me-moir, (As memoirs are often described by agents and publishers.) too centric and full of unmanaged bits. You have to tame your story. Give this portion of your life an arc, a relatable beginning, middle and end. Fill it with language that moves. These things will make it a gift to the reader.

It’s Your Story

Your grief, stress, trauma or any life difficulty is real and yours and it is not to be compared. Write to release. Drink water. Breathe. Take breaks. Empower yourself with empathy and fill your soul with the stories of humanity.

Submission and Rejection

Don’t be crushed by rejection. No one is rejecting your truth or your experience. What is most commonly being rejected is form, style, and fit. Your story must fit into where you send it, and there are reasons you should know (by reading writer guidelines and copies of published materials) and reasons you can’t know, like there is already a similar piece set-up in publication or similar editorial factors that aren’t public, yet.

Letting Go

The most important lesson is to let go. For many of us, we let go by letting the words go. Giving them the freedom to surge from pen to paper or from fingers to keys, the words’ life is new but the pain’s energy dissipates, maybe never to disappear, but to release the power it once held. Writing is healing.

– Mardra Sikora

Content in My Bliss

Someone once said they read books to discover the souls of others. I write to discover my own.

I want to discover who I am. Few things in life teach me who I am more than writing in my journal does. This desire for self-knowledge inspires me to write almost every day.

papers andI seldom lack inspiration to write, but I often lose my focus. I spend too much time doing many things other than writing. Earning money, pursuing life’s pleasures, and trying to please others causes me to get lost in the fog of daily existence. I get tired making a living in a stressful environment. I feel waves of people, emotions, and work wash over me and knock me off my feet.

I search for my footing in my journal. I look for meaningful reflections in my sentences and metaphors, and my journal becomes a symbol revealing my true self.

I want to be good at a few things in life. Conveying accurate images through my choice of words is one of them. I want to use my gifts well.

 Simple things in life inspire me to write. My heart lifts when I see a male cardinal in a bare tree above the mounds of white snow. My soul warms when I see a strong, male hand hold a tiny child’s little fingers. Fathers teaching sons and daughters the sacrifices needed to reach maturity turn my pages. Lovers look into each other’s eyes and inspire me to paint the scene with words. Close friends sitting together, silently drinking coffee, as they watch moisture form on a window while the cold, Nebraska wind howls outside makes me warm to the possibilities.

I am urged to write when I feel friendly eyes locate me in a crowded room; when loved ones bare their souls to me; when a student comes to class with the attitude, “I am ready to learn today, and you can teach me.”

write worldI write eating gumbo, listening to Cajun music. I look for pen and paper when I hear the carol, “Silent Night,” pierce the air on Christmas Eve. I sit down under a tree to record my emotions when my daughter chooses on her own to take the training wheels off and ride her bicycle solo for the first time. Ray Charles’ “Georgia,” Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” and the children’s story, “The Little Engine That Could” all speak to me in the same way. I can not pass up these opportunities.

When my work captivates me, when I hear, “Daddy, I love you!” when I see outstretched hands reaching for a baby’s face, when I feel soft fingers on my shoulder, when I hear the words, “Everything will be all right, now. I am here with you!” I feel fortunate if I can put half of what I feel onto paper.

 When I remember my writing passions, I stay on the path meant for me. These times inspire me to write. I am content in my bliss.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]David Martin is the founder of Fine Lines community. Also he is a writing professor, the Fine Lines Camp director, and head editor of the journal.[/author_info] [/author]

10 Non-Writing Suggestions for Writers

# 10 ALWAYS carry and use recording devices

Fine Lines LogoPaper and pen are the most obvious and low-tech tools to collect random thoughts. Many cellphones have a built in voice recorder; some have “note” capturing capability. (See your owner’s manual. Find it online if you don’t have the hardcopy booklet, or go to your cell carrier’s store and give the poor trainee check-in person the thing they crave the most; a chance to show how techy superior they are to us mere mortal users). You can also text or email yourself. There are many “apps” that can be found to record and organize your thoughts and your time, which is also important for you to schedule writing sessions.

I’m jealous of writers who carry a beautiful journal and nice pen. My thoughts are often recorded on receipts, coupons and napkins. The jottings are thrown into a container that is sifted through, occasionally. Eventually some of the legible concepts are transferred to my computer and cellphone, where they buzz around like mosquitos at a screen door. This blog originated as scribbles of words that stuck fast, before they could be slapped away by the flyswatter that clears my mind quickly for the next unattached swarm of thoughts that riddle my over active brain. # 3, 4 & 5 were written on an empty junk mail envelope. # 1, 6, & 9 were fitted on to a small corner left on a yellow legal pad. Some of it was lost on a fast food napkin. If it’s found and the original ideas were better than the culmination here, I’ll do an update to this blog entry.

My perpetual disorganization is so frustrating. I hope that you are not plagued with this horrible affliction and that you have a beautiful journal and fancy pen that never leaks and always marks on any surface!

 # 9 Read, Read, Read

Reading is to a writer the daily jog of a marathon runner. You must be in shape, inspired, and practice a lot to have the endurance required to complete the race, a book, a poem, etc.

Reading makes me want to write. Reading anything stimulates the brain and provides information that can make your writing more complete. Reading best sellers can help with “market research.” Plus if you love to write, you probably already love to read, the trick is finding the balance between the two.

 # 8 Invest in a formal education

Take writing classes, find a writing group, or come to Fine Lines Summer Camp. Invest time, if not money, because you need to never stop learning to develop your craft.         Informally planning time to write is good but a degree or certificate from a learning institution can add credibility as well. It tends to build grammar skills and enhances your vocabulary, thus making your work more interesting and pleasant to read.

 # 7 Create

Writers are artists. Our form of expression is in the written word but we should not limit ourselves to one medium. Paint, sculpt, do photography, dance, sing… You may find that releasing your creativity in a variety of ways clears your mind. Then the next time you sit to write you will be ready to fill your empty canvas with fresh words.


# 6 Absorb the works of other types of artistscellist

Dancers say it with movement and music. Sculptors use their hands and tools to express themselves. Painters and photographers convey messages with colors and textures. Each of them speaks as clearly as a writer, but more importantly can speak directly to a writer and inspire continuation of the original conversation.


# 5 Listen

Children have the best ideas. They tend to lack the filter that disregards silly thoughts. Silly thoughts can turn into brilliant works. Old people are full of it! Seriously, they are filled with knowledge, experience, real perspective that can only be gained over time.

Eavesdrop on strangers; even ask them for clarification if you hear something that needs some backstory. People tend to enjoy talking about themselves, especially if you tell them you area writer.

That’s what friends are for; they encourage us when we feel the words aren’t flowing. They will often remind us of our wins in the past and usually have a good stuff to share too. Interact and take note while you are with family. Many comedies have been developed by this practice. Interact with animals. My bunnies have the cutest tails, their so soft and fluffy – they make me laugh, sometimes they make me cry. Most parent parents will light up when given a chance to tell stories of their critters. Listen, be inspired, then share.

# 4 Talk to yourself

Really. It’s okay. And you should even answer. We must process our thoughts to have a beginning, middle and an end to a story. Some people process best by talking it out. If no one else is there to converse with, you must not let that hinder your creating. Remember we are artists, we are allowed to be eccentric.

 Balloon # 3 Watch for inspiration – It’s everywhere

Do not dismiss mundane events. Other people identify with the observations of everyday. They will relate to your works better if they can relate to your experiences.

Comedians always encounter people who tell them to “say something funny.” As a writer, I am often told, “You should write about that.” “That” being some little thing that inspired me to share it as a verbal topic of conversation. A few recent topic suggestions: a children’s series about my bunnies, stories about my job as a master poop scooper, and the funny things the dogs do while I try to figure out who left the pile, because we have to keep track of the number 1s and 2s, sometimes 3 (the hardest to detect), experience of mothering while trying to let our college freshman be a grown up (So scary, I had to call my parents), shopping – the adventure of the hunt, squirrels…

# 2 Share your work – celebrate your wins

Insecurity holds us back. Sharing will build your confidence. It also toughens the skin. A carpenter’s hands will hurt until they develop calluses, likewise a writer’s ego can easily bruise until a few tough but fair critics have shown you how to make your work better.

Celebrate your wins with the critics that were encouraging while correcting. They deserve kudos.

# 1 Go to camp!

What do you want to be when you grow up? The only definitive answer to that question is, “I never want to grow up.” Kids can dream, they can join gangs, they can go to summer camp and they don’t have to worry about the consequences. They can just be…It still makes me feel giddy to call myself a “writer.” It’s what I want to be but I only really feel like a writer when I’m hanging with my gang of pencil wielding writers. Attending regular meetings with a positive/encouraging writer’s/editing group is the best non-writing habit every writer should practice.

Fine Lines Summer Writing Camp is the bonus. It’s a great place to find and form your gang.

Camp - focus

[author] [author_info]Guest Post by Rhonda Buckhold. Rhonda is currently working on a novel, Booted, about workplace bullying in the military. Instead of sleeping she writes about life experiences, of being a military family, marriage, motherhood, dealing with adult ADHD, growing up poor in Western Nebraska, and even her pet rabbits. She has a degree in Interpersonal Communication from Creighton University. As the future unfolds, she plans to continue staying up at night working on a website and blog, “survivorspouse” for teaching and sharing better communication and relationship skills for the challenges of life; failure is not an option![/author_info] [/author]


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”

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”

Our Motto is “Write On,” Do You?

Dear Writers,

Mondays with martinPlease tell all people you know who like to read and write and have good stories to tell that Fine Lines wants to hear from them. Contact the elementary schools in Oregon. Invite the community college students in Florida. Notify the writers on your email list that we are looking for traditional and non-traditional writers and creative ideas wherever we can find them.

We are now in our twenty-third year of publication, have traversed many publishing hurdles, and transformed ourselves often to keep this 501 (c) 3 non-profit, educational, literary organization available for all, because we are involved with a wonderful labor of love. Our enthusiastic and rowdy editors enjoy opening the mail to find submissions that ask readers to share the authors’ messages.

We fill four issues per year with writing from the heart, human interest stories, essays, and poems that make us want to fly. Well-crafted declarative sentences make the world a better place in which to live, no matter the academic status of the writers. A third grader who wrote a wonderful three line observation about winter and several poems from a ninety-four year old great-grandmother both earned our equal respect.

Our motto is “Write on,” and we do.

We are pleased to have you involved with our mission to change the world one page at a time. If you want to become more involved in our efforts to increase world literacy, let us know, and we will be happy to send you some “stuff” that you can share with writers in your community. Give us your mailing address, and Fine Lines will get it to you.

Answer our “Call for Submissions” before the end of this year.

Let the beauty of our language live on in your words.

– David Martin