Sunday, July 13, 2014

PREPARING FOR A BOOK SIGNING

Next Sunday, July 20, 2014, I will be reading some poems from "I am My Mother's Only Poem" and perhaps one or two sneak previews of poems from my forthcoming collection "Ripe Peaches." I will also be signing and selling copies of "I am My Mother's Only Poem" and my short story collection "Looking through Windows." There will be two baskets raffled off and blank note cards with my art work on them will be for sale as well.

All this is being graciously hosted by Chris and Mark Tobin at Mattebella Vineyards in Southold on the Nort Fork of Long Island. I hope you will all come along and share a fun and inspiring afternoon surrounded by the vineyards, fig trees and Chris' magnificent flowers.The roses are lush, red and gorgeous.

In preparation I have designed business cards, book related postcards and out together packets of note cards tied with ribbon. I am also in process of choosing poems to read and creating some snippets of background about some of the poems.

This is an amazing journey--every step along every path. There is the writing, rewriting, designing, creating art and working with book designers to get it all together. Now the non-writing aspects of being a poet come along, marketing, setting up events and networking with other amazing poets I had the opportunity to meet yesterday at the Walt Whitman Birthplace in Huntington where I hope to one day offer a reading and perhaps some poetry workshops of my own.

Looking forward to seeing everyone out at Mattebella next Sunday!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

POETIC JOURNEY

This has been an interesting week. I met the other night with a friend who clued me into a newsletter that announces poetry events on Long Island and in NYC. I never knew there was so much poetic energy right here where I live. I'll definitely have to seek these out and meet some more poets.

Today I am going to a poetry workshop and reading at Walt Whitman Birthplace in Huntington where I can network and get to know other local poets. So looking forward to it and to next weekend's book signing at Mattebella Vineyards in Southold.


Yesterday I was happy to have taken the day off. I typed up all the poems I have so far for my new collection, "Ripe Peaches." I know it will take some time to put this one together and I want to send it to small presses rather than self publishing so I have to keep up a steady flow of new poems. Today's workshop should generate a few. I have a class with Lorraine Mejia online and that is producing some new work too.

Melanie Faith is teaching a class at www.wow-womenonwriting.com that focuses on writing about nature. Not sure if I want to take it because I need to focus on poetry and this class incorporates other genres as well. I'll see. It's always hard for me to resist taking a new class.

At the end of the month I am starting a class through the Center for Journal Therapy on the poetry of Mary Oliver and I know that will stimulate the poetic juices.

What a great summer of writing--poetry--and discovery!!

Friday, July 11, 2014

BIRTH OF A POETESS

I have loved poetry since I was two years old and heard my first nursery rhyme while sitting on my mother's lap as she read from the pale green first volume of "My Book House Books" series.



I imagine I was even younger but memory slims as the years speed by. I know I was entranced by the musicality of rhythm and rhyme and the flow of descriptive and emotional words as my mother spoke them, and later as I recited them again and again from memory. It wasn't long after that when I picked up a lemon yellow number 2 pencil and began to scribble swirls, curves and straight lines across blank papers.

I came to love the sound of language and the look of words on the page as my scribbles slowly transmuted into letters, words, sentences and eventually poetic verses.

Once I was able to read by myself I discovered the treasures that sleep in the pages of books lined up back to back, exposing their titled spines to my hungry eyes. I read these rhymes over and over and then progressed to other volumes as they increased in reading/age levels and the stories became more intricate and interesting.

The thought that I could write my own poems was a gift of magic and I created little booklets of rhymes. When I went to the bank with my mother I would collect stacks of deposit and withdrawal slips to pen my poems on and clip them together in what I later learned were called chapbooks. I added little illustrations made with Crayola crayons or Venus Paradise colored pencils.

When I discovered Robert Louis Stevenson's "A Child's Garden of Verses" I think my heart stopped for an instant of complete rapture.



Over the years the activity of writing poems came and went. Sometimes edged aside by summers spent at the pool or digging in my father's gardens in the backyard. Then in the cold of snowy Long Island winters I reverted to the indoor splendor of crafting poetry.

My cutesy little rhymes gave way in adolescence to more angst ridden free verse poems and the poems I wrote in college made me sound far more depressed than I ever was in real life. Now in my sixties my poems are almost all free verse, with some little detours into haiku and tanka, and they focus outward onto nature and how each tiny seed or magenta colored blossom or furry brown chipmunk is a symbol for some universal truth or belief.

Poetry --both reading and writing it-- is a steadfast companion. I get lost in the lines whether those I write or when reading the lines of other poets. I will share all of this with you on this blog and hope you'll come along for this fantastical voyage.

For now here's a new poem for you.

inside this blade of grass
one drop of last night's rain
emerges on my tongue
when I split the green skin

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A change is gonna' come

I've been taking an online class on how to improve my author presence. For the past week I've played around a lot with my two blogs, weaving in and out and changing templates, design and layout elements, and adding new gadgets. This is all new and confusing to me and I am still trying to decide if it's better to let these blogs go, get a website that has a blog linked to it, and thereby feel more like a professional writer. I have two published books, several published stories, poems and essays, have done book signings and I'm working on two new books even as I write this.

So, a few decisions to make. In the meantime I played around with the blogs and now I'd love my readers' opinions on the changes I made to Renee is Writing. I need to add some pages to this blog but still working on that.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

INSPIRING BOOKS FOR WRITERS

There are so many books out there for writers it can become quite confusing. There are craft books for every genre, guidebooks that literally tell you what to write in each chapter of a novel or each line of a poem, and then there are motivational and inspirational books that just keep you going when you lose momentum. Here is a list of some of my favorites.

Bird by Bird by Anne LaMott
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
On Writing by Stephen King
Escaping into the Open by Elizabeth Berg

Then there are three by Kelly Stone that help you create time to write, a schedule for writing, and goals to get you where you want to be. Highly recommend these three as well as any of her online classes.

Time to Write
Thinking Write
Living Write

And two by Heather Sellers
Page after Page
Chapter after Chapter

Go ahead, read them all and enjoy--then for heaven's sake go get writing!!!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

BOOK SIGNING



On Sunday July 20th I will be selling and signing both my books at Mattebella Vineyards in Southold on the North Fork of Long Island.
This is a special event and I am pleased to be having it at the Vineyard as my husband Frank and I go there often and have come to know the owners, Chris and Mark Tobin, well.

These two people are gracious hosts and the vineyard is a relaxing and wonderful place to go on a summer afternoon. The grounds are beautifully decorated with roses and other flowering plants. They have a quaint little tasting room and a glorious patio as well as picnic tables and two gazebos under which you can hide from the shade. They also grow their own fig trees.

The red wines are rich and bold with the perfect lilt of tannins and the whites are smooth and buttery. Tastings come with several snacks that enhance the flavors of the wines they are paired with. Chris makes her own fig jam which is sweet and tasty and her brownies are delish.

At the book signing I will raffle off two gift baskets and also be selling blank note cards with art work from the book on the front.

I hope you will all come out and enjoy a relaxing afternoon and share some "poetry on the vine" with us.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

MY NEW BOOK

http://www.amazon.com/Looking-Through-Windows-Howard-Cassese/dp/1500129623/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1404233661&sr=8-1&keywords=LOOKING+THROUGH+WINDOWS

Proud to say my new book is out. "Looking through Windows" is a collection of short stories about women and children in dire situations who come out better and stronger in the end. These women have to make some tough decisions and in some cases are still in the process of deciding at the end of these brief stories.

I've posted before about attempting to write novels and memoirs, but as a poet I love the intensity of writing short and the feeling of accomplishment at finishing something in a few days as opposed to a few years. I also like the idea that I can "get away with" poetic prose, masses of metaphors, scintillating similies and visual imagery when writing flash fiction. One of the enduring comments I hear when my novels are being critiqued is that I use too many of these poetic devices, so now, in short stories and prose poems, I can employ my poetic voice and not worry about overdoing.

Sure I still have to revise and edit, cut words and scenes to the barest of bones in order to have impact stories that come in under the word limits, but at least I can be myself in my writing.

Hoping to share more about my writing journey on this blog. Have to get back to my focus on writing. 

In the meantime go to amazon.com and order the book so you can see for yourself what I'm talking about. And more to come very soon about a book signing for the new book on July 20!!!!!