Happy Halloween

Jack-O-Lanterns 2015

Jack-O-Lanterns 2015

Last year, I wrote a set of haiku about our pumpkin carving here. As you can see, my oldest continued her skill and patience with Attack on Titan theme this year. While we carved the pumpkins Thursday night, Gretchen wasn’t sure how she wanted to proceed. When I carried hers outside to light up, I noticed it had two faces. I laughed and said, You went with Batman. Gretchen replied eerily, I am the night.

The other dilemma Gretchen had was a costume. She wanted to go as a character in the story she is writing, but she said there is nothing in her closet close to what her character dresses in. I told her, Go as a Betazoid wedding guest. It seemed logical to me. If you have nothing to wear there’s no excuse not to attend a wedding on Betazed. Well Mom’s suggestion didn’t fly and Friday after school, Gretchen raided my closet. I’m not sure how I feel about my 14 year old fitting in my clothes.

Gretchen and Rachael dressed for a party.

Gretchen and Rachael dressed for a party.

Gretchen came out of my closet victorious and proclaimed she would have worn the costume to school for the costume contest if she knew her mother had such a cool dress. May I introduce exhibit 1, Mom has worn this dress before. Really, I am NOT sure how I feel about my girls being able to raid my closet.

Anyhew on to today’s #haikuchallenge word fright:

Attack on Titan
Carved into Jack-O-Lantern
Gives amateurs fright

Fourteen year old raids
Mom’s closet in desp’rate search
of frightful costume

Happy Halloween!


Guest Blogger – Jeanne Gassman

It’s October 30th! Can you believe the platform challenge is almost done. Then PAD (poem a day) in November will begin. Today’s task is to go off and write, but first I’d like to introduce a first to this blog – a guest blogger. Jeanne Gassman shared a video about plagiarism in poetry I found interesting. I asked her if she would be interested in writing about plagiarism for my blog. She agreed. Thank you, Jeanne, for expounding on this topic. I’ve played with erasure poems. It’s good to know how to properly credit poetic inspiration.


When Veronica asked me to write a guest post about plagiarism, she tapped into a topic that stirs my ire. As a published writer, I’ve been a victim of plagiarism, and it’s both frustrating and agonizing. Your words, your story, your carefully crafted poem, your creation, is stolen and claimed by a stranger (or a very duplicitous friend). Alas, the problem has become rampant with the Internet, as it’s so easy to cut and paste. In fact, many plagiarizers often claim since the work was posted on the Internet, it was available for free.

As an English and Creative Writing instructor at a local community college, I encountered at least one instance of plagiarism every semester. I had students who plagiarized entire papers, never changing a single word from the original document. I had a student who wanted to become an English teacher plagiarize from Wikipedia. I had an honors student plagiarize her project from multiple documents, saying she suffered from carpel tunnel syndrome so she had to cut and paste because she was in too much pain to type! Plagiarism was such a huge problem that I created a lecture and PowerPoint to define plagiarism and outline the consequences. When students were caught (and I always caught them), they seldom expressed remorse.

So, what is plagiarism anyway, and why should we care?

I’ll start by sharing a couple of the examples I gave to my students. These are taken from the article, “Plagiarism Lines Blur for Students in Digital Age,” The New York Times, by Trip Gabriel, Aug. 1, 2010 (Note the attribution!):

At Rhode Island College, a freshman copied and pasted from a Web site’s frequently asked questions page about homelessness—and did not think he needed to credit a source in his assignment because the page did not include author information.

And at the University of Maryland, a student reprimanded for copying from Wikipedia in a paper on the Great Depression said he thought its entries—unsigned and collectively written—did not need to be credited since they counted, essentially, as common knowledge.

Simply defined, plagiarism is using the work of another without providing proper attribution. When you use another person’s words, text, or images without acknowledging the source, you are committing plagiarism.

Why should we care about plagiarism? At the very least, plagiarism is unethical; at its worst, it is the theft of intellectual property and a violation of copyright. Egregious acts of plagiarism of popular or famous works have resulted in lawsuits. Plagiarism is also lazy. It is a way of saying you feel your own creative work is less valuable or worthy than someone else’s.

Poets often write poems inspired by the work of another. Is it plagiarism to write a poem using lines or quotes from another work? Again, it is about acknowledging your source. If you write a poem based on another’s person’s work, be sure to acknowledge the original author. This can be done with the title of the poem itself or in a footnote or author’s note. Give credit where credit is due.

What about erasure poetry, poems created by erasing the original text of another document? Your best choice is to show the original document alongside the poem you have created. This also provides a nice showcase for your imagination and creativity, as the reader can see the process of creating the poem. When in doubt, provide attribution.

What should I do if I discover my work has been plagiarized? Contact the publisher and/or editor and let them know the work was stolen. They should provide proper credit or remove the plagiarized piece. If they do nothing, your best recourse is to make the writing world aware of the theft. The writing and publishing community is very small, and reputation means everything.

How can I find out if my work is plagiarized? Google is your friend. Periodically, Google key phrases from your writing, story or poem titles, your name, snippets of text, etc. Talkwalker is another great resource for searching for plagiarized phrases or text. You can create “alerts” to notify you whenever your selected examples appear on the Internet. Unfortunately, it is more difficult to locate plagiarized works in print.

I want to do the right thing, but… Remember, most plagiarizers do so with intent. They are fully aware they are stealing, but if you feel you are crossing into a gray area of use or “borrowing,” err on the ethical side and properly acknowledge your source. As artists and writers, we all have an obligation to practice good literary citizenship.

JEANNE LYET GASSMAN lives in Arizona where the desert landscape inspires much of her fiction. She holds an MFA in Writ­ing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has received fellow­ships from Ragdale and the Arizona Commission on the Arts. In addition to writing, Jeanne teaches creative writing workshops in the Phoenix, Arizona, metropolitan area. Her work has appeared in Hippocampus,Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, Red Savina Review, The Museum of Americana, Assisi: An Online Journal of Arts & Letters, Switchback, Literary Mama, and Barrelhouse, among many others. Her debut novel, Blood of a Stone, received a 2015 Independent Publisher Book Award in the national category of religious fiction and was a finalist for the 2015 Independent Author Network Book of the Year Awards. Find Jeanne online at: http://www.jeannelyetgassman.com

Interview – Jessica Piazza

As I’m sure readers are aware, I’ve been following the platform challenge at Writer’s Digest. One of the tasks was to interview an expert. Many of the platform building tasks are already part of my routine. I’m on Facebook and twitter. I even participate in live twitter chats. And because of this, I knew of a few published poets I could email about interviewing, but it meant I actually had to come up with questions. Ugh…

Enter Jessica Piazza, I’ve been following her Poetry has Value project all year. Ms. Piazza has decided she wants her poetry to pay off. She’s tired of the starving poet syndrome. At the start of the year, she began submitting poems to paying markets only. She has kept a blog on her poetry has value experience here. Ms. Piazza has also interviewed several poetry editors from different journals, sharing their expertise with her readers. I thought since the year was winding down, I could see how she felt about her poetry has value journey. She was kind enough to answer my questions. Thanks, Jess!

1. When did you start writing?
I won a poetry contest in fourth grade with a poem about the Holocaust.  That probably doesn’t count.  Like so many high school kids, I wrote bad poetry in my teen years, too. I think I actually started getting serious about it through creative writing classes in college. I went to Boston University and had some amazing poetry professors that were passionate about poetry, and it made me realize it could be a real pursuit and not just an angsty source of expression.  I ended up working in the intern office of the U.S. Poet Laureate at the time, Robert Pinsky, who taught at BU.  It was amazing.

2. Why did you begin the poetry has value campaign?
I was actually inspired by a friend, another poet named Dena Rash Guzman. She had been talking to me and some other friends about trying to send poetry to more paying journals in 2015 because she, like so many writers, had to be serious about budgeting and was tired of seeing her hard work published without getting compensated for it.  It really started a fire for me. I’d not really thought about how much work I’d given away to magazines, and in fact how much money I’d spent on submission fees, submitting in general, all that. It didn’t feel fair, really. And it felt radical to propose an experiment in which I’d only send to paying markets for a whole year. I was curious and I was a little exhausted and I wanted to see what would happen if I insisted that others value my work monetarily.

3. What are your writing goals?
My writing goal is writing! Ass in chair. Write like a motherfucker (thanks, Cheryl Strayed!) Just do it. Get it out. Create. Make art. I’ll do that forever and my first and foremost goal is living that life.  My publishing and career goals, of course, are a bit more complex. I have a new collection coming out with Red Hen Press (Obliterations, co-written with Heather Aimee O’Neill) in April, and I’d love to start serious work on my next solo collection. I teach at the university level and would love to continue doing so, particularly in creative writing. I want to write, publish in a lot of magazines, advocate for other writers and teach. A full writing life: that’s the goal.

4. What kind of feedback have you gotten throughout the campaign?
It’s mostly been positive, which makes me very grateful. A lot of people have said they feel empowered by the idea that someone should value their art both monetarily AND spiritually.  The negative feedback I’ve had hasn’t been too bad, and all of it has been understandable. The truth is, journals struggle as much as writers, and are mostly run by volunteers. So many of them barely stay afloat that some people think it’s unreasonable for them to pay writers. The question, then, of whether they should stay in business is a real one. If they are businesses and not non-profits, what does that mean? What should the best practices be? Those are questions I get from some people who question the campaign, and they’re good ones. The very worst feedback comes from those who imply that I care less about my writing or art in general (or that I’m taking away some spiritual worth) by hoping for payment. The classic sellout insult. I don’t worry too much about it, though.  When Eric Fischl starts giving away his paintings for free because he doesn’t want to be called a sellout, then I’ll worry.  The very best feedback I get is from other poets who write to tell me they’ve submitted to a paying journal who accepted their piece and they’re getting paid for their poetry, sometimes for the first time. To hear that they’d never have submitted to a paying market without the Poetry Has Value project is amazing.

5. Do you believe the poetry has value campaign has helped with your author platform?
I honestly don’t know.  I hope so, of course, but that isn’t the reason I did it. Advocacy for poetry and poets is important to me because I already am a part of this field, not because I want to be a greater part of it.  If people seek out my work because I’m an advocate, I’m very grateful to them.  But I haven’t seen that happen too much yet. Of course, it’s possible I’m not privy to how many people find my work through the PHV project. If advocating for ALL poets helps bring people to my specific poetry, I certainly won’t complain.

6. Would you consider the campaign a success?
That’s an interesting question. Maybe I’m not sure what I would consider success yet, in terms of the campaign. I wanted this pledge and project to spark conversations about poetry, money and worth…and I think it has. I’d definitely like to see more of that: more transparency and more debate.  To that end, I’ll keep going.  But, again, people have written me saying they were inspired to value their work, or they got paid for poetry, or they feel like they’re empowered. And that’s a pretty good definition of success in my book.

Star Wars Poetry

This past weekend Rachael and I were at Kohl’s. She didn’t like the fact I kept staring at the family in line behind us. But I couldn’t help it. The young boy had a light saber that had extensions on the sides. Rachael told me it was the new design; don’t you remember seeing it in the trailer. No, not until she mentioned it anyway. I soooo want to be a kid again. Star Wars toys are way cooler now.

My girls fighting to be on the dark side.

My girls fighting to be on the dark side.

Cool new light sabers
My childhood left without
to be young at heart

The Wednesday poetry prompt @WritersDigest is to write a movie poem. Robert Lee Brewer wrote about Star Wars and I remembered this weekend’s shopping trip. Also Gretchen made her own light saber when we were in Disneyland this summer. They get to have all the fun. And all I have are fond memories of a Han Solo and Luke Skywalker without gray hair.
When I was Five

Platform Challenge

I’ve been participating in the platform challenge at Writer’s Digest. Today’s task research live events. I’m lucky Avondale hosts a writer’s conference every fall. I went to the first one; it was free of charge because of a grant given to the city. After that, they began charging participants. I did not go – the fee is reasonable but there isn’t a poetry focus.

Then a couple years ago I signed up to attend a 40th birthday present to myself.
Writing Conference Wrap up

Notebook given to conference attendees.

Notebook given to conference attendees.

I enjoyed it again – still no poetry focus. And in 2013 Arizona finally had its own poet laureate. Here is the website for the conference. I learned some members of @speakezpoetry will have a reading during the lunch break. Yes, there still isn’t a poetry focussed workshop.

Besides the very local writer’s conference, I know four chambers press has hosted several poetry related events in Phoenix. Someday I hope to attend one. Other people’s commitments and the fact I don’t drive keep getting in my way.

Beyond Nineteen Years

Frontier Central Senior Prom

Frontier Central Senior Prom

High school sweethearts trust
they will be together long
after senior prom

Yes that is my husband and me in my senior prom photo. Today may be our 19th wedding anniversary, but we have dated and known each other for over 24 years. I posted my anniversary limerick yesterday. When I logged onto Facebook this morning, the prom picture popped up in the share your memories with Shawn Hosking because of our anniversary. And everyone knows by now I like to do the #haikuchallenge on twitter. Today’s word is trust.

Also I’m participating in the platform challenge #platchal at Writer’s Digest. We are suppose to comment on and share another blog today. I went over to Steph’s Writing and enjoyed reading the interview she posted with another blogger. Despite it being Columbus Day, both my girls are in school. Gretchen was off all last week for fall break. Rachael’s school follows the college schedule no fall break or Monday holiday for her. Although last week she had an oral presentation in her American Religions class and her professor said her group set the standard and the handout for the presentation was on graduate level. She is doing very well her senior year of high school.

Well Shawn did take the day off. Maybe I should spend some time with him. 😉

New York School Poetry

Wedding toast

Wedding toast

Wedding Dance

Wedding Dance











Nineteen years ago
Delaware Park Casino
Buffalo, New York

I’ve been perusing the ModPo MOOC and they will cover New York School. And yes folks, Buffalo is in New York not Canada. Although I do have to go to the post office to mail the RSVP to my friend’s wedding to Canada – no postage. Shawn said we could go Monday, but I’m feeling generous and I’m going to let everyone have a day off to celebrate my anniversary. In April of 2014, one of the napowrimo prompts was New York School. I wrote about all the lovely places we took photos on our wedding day. Then in October of the same year, Delaware Park was named one of the Great Places. Shawn and I were trend setters. 😉

Three more days and I’ll be posting a limerick.

Random Acts of Poetry

October seven
Random acts of poetry
Hope to pass stress test

Today is Random Acts of Poetry Day @tspoetry and the #haikuchallenge word is seven. Also as I’m composing this post, my husband is taking his stress test. I don’t think he knew what he was getting into – no caffeine for 24 hours before hand, fasting for six hours before the test, and running on a treadmill. Yes, I would fail before the test even started. The poetry challenge @Writersdigest today is write a spooky poem –

Cut off from caffeine
for twenty-four hours! Stress
test spooky ordeal

I’m also working on the October #platchal which really is proving to be a challenge because my Internet has been temperamental the past week. Not good for children’s homework needs either. The modem and wifi are all green. We have no idea why the computers pick it up sometimes and say, No Internet connection, a lot lately. Shawn thinks it’s a problem with Apple since it is the computers and idevices not connecting. The PS4 has no problem connecting.

Gretchen is on fall break. I’ve had a leisurely week thus far. Yesterday was cold, wet and rainy. I put on sweatpants and Gretchen and I cuddled up and watched Doctor Who on Netflix. When Rachael came home, she said, I wish I could wear sweatpants and stay home all day. Well she only has a half day today so… actually we’ll be running errands this afternoon. 😉 Here is another haiku challenge I wrote this morning.

Seven minus two
Basic math shows five days ’til

Wedding thank you card

Wedding thank you card