Writing the 3rd poetry manuscript

The past year or two I’ve been working on my third manuscript–a collection of persona poems from the perspective of women from church history (it really is more exciting than that sounds!). I’ve got some of them linked HERE if you’d like to read a few.

I’m to the point where I’ve got 50ish poems in the collection–that is probably going to be most of it, but, since my last two books were fairly short, I’m aiming to write another twenty or thirty poems for this book.

For a while I was pretty unmotivated to work on this project. I have a side chapbook poem collection that has been sucking out a lot of my writing energy (but is exciting in its own way–not something that I think will become a book anytime soon, however).

Most of all, I’m disillusioned with publishing (see most of my previous posts). My books hardly sell, so what is the point?

Then I started reading PR for Poets by Jeannine Hall Gailey. I’ll post a review soon….but for now, let me just tell you: it has restored my desire to publish. Hearing that even the editor of RATTLE only sells a hundred of his books…within FIVE YEARS!….actually made me feel a lot better. I just need to find my audience! And perhaps learn to self-promote a little. But not in a yucky greasy way but in a “hey look at this!” way.

In the book she quotes Kelli Russell Agodon and she says not to put a spotlight on your work but instead the glow of a candle, or take it out in the sunlight. I love that idea. I want my work out in the sunlight.

but I am also thinking about my limitations — waiting another couple years would perhaps be better timing for promoting a book and certainly wouldn’t hurt the editing and refining.

So all this to say, the third book is chugging along, but don’t look for it on shelves any time before baby D is potty trained.

10 years ago, in Boston

I was visiting my potential grad school–Boston U–listening in on a workshop. Terrified, feeling completely incompetent. As wonderful as the workshops at my undergrad were (and are, I trust), I felt suddenly country-bumpkin, as unsophisticated and Fayette-County as they come. What is “ekphrastic”? I wondered. I shrunk back, watching, as the poets delicately picked apart the poem (with the poet sitting there coolly), fishbones from a fish. As much as the workshop scared me, the Poet inspired me. A normal guy with a head full of poetry, spouting off his favorites from memory, guiding the class.

Moving to Boston for gradschool was one of the scariest most exciting things I’ve ever done. I don’t think I could’ve done it, had I not been married to Bryan and had him to go with me. Living as a transplant in a complete world away from Tennessee taught me as much about myself (and my husband) as the classes taught me about poetry.

And, as impractical as an MFA sounds (and can be), it allowed me to teach at a wonderful little christian university, and to eventually teach online part-time from home while I homeschool my daughters. God blessed me with a career that doesn’t make sense at all on paper–a poet?!–and enabled me to not only continue to do what I love career-wise but also live the life I love everyday, focusing on the people I love.

I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to the traditional classroom any time this decade–homeschooling and babies are too much fun to give up– but I’m grateful for that time I did have on one side of the syllabus and on the other.

Big Poetry Giveaway 2018


This year to celebrate national poetry month,  I’m once again participating in the Big Poetry Giveaway! To see a list of other participants + the original post, check out this blog: The Big Poetry Giveaway 2018

To participate in this giveaway, leave a comment with your NAME and EMAIL ADDRESS–also let me know which book you’d prefer! I’ll use a random number generator to choose two winners on April 30th.


Threshing Floor (Jacar Press 2016) by Renee Emerson
I’m giving away a copy of my second book, Threshing Floor, which is a poetic retelling of the book of Ruth from the perspectives of Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz, among others.

Threshing Floor is a serious book of poems in series.  These retellings of the Biblical Naomi are compelling and soulful.”

— Denise Duhamel
Threshing Floor tells the story of three women, their vulnerability and displacement; it will grip and hold women.  But, please God, may the book also be read by men—lots of men—because these poems are models of empathy in a world that sorely needs it.”

— Jeanne Murray Walker, author of Helping the Morning: New and Selected Poems



The second book I’m giving away is a chapbook by a friend and I would only EVER giveaway a copy of this because I have a second copy..


The Education of a Girl by Heather Cadenhead

You can read my full review of her book HERE, and  this is a short excerpt from the review: The Education of a Girl, Heather Cadenhead’s second chapbook of poetry, is a search for independence. Self-aware, full of yearning, the poems in this collection examine a woman’s place in society and her straining against that place. The tone of the chapbook is reminiscent of The Awakening by Kate Chopin or To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf.

I still give this chapbook 5 stars!



Good luck and happy poetry month!