Monthly Archives: January 2012

Highlights Contest

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Today is the last day to enter a short story in Highlights annual fiction contest. I sent my entry in four days ago. I’ve entered every year for many years now because it’s such a great opportunity.

For one thing, it’s free. For another, every year they give a different writing prompt which introduces writers to new ways of thinking about writing. The year they asked for a mystery, I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it because I’m not much of one for mysteries….But they ended up buying that piece of mine, “Who Stole Gorgonzola?”.

The prizes are also great. Three prizes of either $1,000 or tuition for one of their wonderful workshops. I’ve never won, but I have sold two of my short stories to Highlights through the contest. The latest one was bought last month from the 2011 contest.

Thank you, people of Highlights, for continuing to encourage, motivate and teach children’s writers.

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Sonnet beginnings

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I began writing sonnets because of a high school creative writing class assignment. We could choose between the English sonnet or the Italian sonnet. I didn’t like the way the English sonnet ended in a rhyming couplet. It sounded too rhymey. So I took on the task of creating an Italian sonnet.

It seemed very difficult. A certain number of syllables (10, which is pentameter) with a certain kind of inflection (iambic, which I have to admit I usually don’t pay attention to). A rhyme scheme of  ABBAABBACDECDE. But there’s something very satisfying about being able to use all those rules and come up with a poem.

If you haven’t already, I urge you to try it. But here’s a tip. Start thinking of the end when you start the first CDE section, because before you know it, you will have run out of the number of syllables you’re allowed to use. Happy writing!

Sonnet

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The first poem I ever sold to a magazine was a sonnet. I was in college when Pet Parade put out a call for poems about pets, and I answered. Below is the poem the editor chose of mine.

Sonnet III

The musty sweet smell of hay is in your

fur, kitty. A hint of where you’ve hidden

your babes. I know strangers are forbidden

to linger near the sun-dappled nest, or

stroke the tiny tender noses before

you allow it, but I’ve watched your children

tussle in the night. Am I forgiven

if I explain that your son has a roar

like a dragonfly, and your daughters grow

more like you every day? Their faces draw

me; I can’t help but climb up to the loft

while you’re away and watch them swaying low

in their walk, or curling up on the straw

to sleep. They are my joy; so clean and soft.

                                                        -Judith L. Roth

“Sonnet III” was scheduled to be in the Sept.-Oct. 1981 issue, but I never received a copy. Instead I received a note that Nancy Jeanne Larson, editor and publisher, died tragically in an automobile accident. The note was sent by her surviving husband. The lost opportunity of being published was of course slight in comparison.