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  • May Writer’s Horoscope

    Aries (fire): You’ll feel like wildfire this month, Aries. Use that smoldering in your loins to set your keyboard or composition book aflame with the flint sparks from your fiery writing. In other words, forego the great American novel for a short tryst with the erotica you’ve secretly planned since the unfathomable success of the recent “shady” New York Times bestselling trilogy—you know, the one that attracts readers with higher hormone levels than IQs . Hey–why should you be working so hard to produce gorgeous prose when there’s so much money in poorly written smut?

    Taurus (earth): You are truculent this month, Taurus. Everywhere you go, you’ll butt heads with someone, if not everyone. Something in your magnetism repels others, and most people will strike you as narcissistic and self-serving (especially Scorpios with their penchant for histrionics). Therefore, May is an excellent month to barricade yourself in your room to write angry missives or despondent poetry from your bed, naked. Purchase ice cream. Whatever you do (and you should concentrate on your basest needs), do it alone. Nobody wants you around, and your writing will be better for the solitude.

    Gemini (air): You will do some of your best writing this month, Gemini. Both twins are happy—one wildly productive, the other gregarious and social. Therefore, May is a fantastic month to write in public. Hightail it to the nearest coffee shop and get prolific. The work you start this month will be important to your writing career. Plus, someone gorgeous is going to notice you while you are up to your elbows in that novel. That someone will be impressed by your commitment and passion (and could be “the one”). Dress to attract attention.

    Cancer (water): You need to re-evaluate those writing projects, Cancer. They aren’t going anywhere, are they? You’ve either taken an unwise detour from your intended path or misled your higher self onto your current unfruitful one. Either way, old and current writing projects will prove to be a dead ends and should be abandoned now, rather than later. You’ll need to spend time in quiet meditation to find the best project or genre for you. Whatever you do, embrace the new idea that makes your heart flutter rather than revisit old ones that you never quite got off the ground. A new idea this month could mark the start of an incredible career.

    Leo (fire): You may have roared in like a prolific lion of short stories and departed like a gentle lamb of lyrical poems last month (with a crazy roller coaster of bipolar writing in between), but May is the month to develop some solid, predictable new writing habits. Leo, the standard of discipline and routine you will establish this month will determine how much writing you publish next year. Set a daily writing goal, a weekly goal for revision sessions, and a bimonthly goal for submissions. Your results will give you something to roar about!

    Virgo (earth): If you can’t find a way to stifle that harsh critic’s voice, Virgo, you will never be a writer. Stop bashing your writing (and that of others). Deep down, you’d rather inspire creativity than kill it. Instead, after your writing sessions, read your writing aloud—either to yourself, a trusted friend, or even the cat or dog. Note effective phrases by highlighting or underling them. Only after you’ve read your work for what’s working a couple of times are you allowed to release the vicious hounds of your inner critic in a typical ruthless Virgo revision/editing session. Being kinder to yourself (and others) will lead to better writing and to more fulfilling relationships.

    Libra (air): You’ve done a good job making a transition to a more creative life; however, you tend to use your creative title to get laid rather than to produce art. This month, only allow yourself to woo the objects of your affection for as many minutes (or fewer) as you actually write, and you’ll do well in increasing your productivity. You’re a nice person and possess talent as a writer, but you tend to be fickle in both love and art. Your flexible/changeable nature may actually be what makes you so popular—so find ways to capitalize on your natural chimerical charisma without breaking (too many) hearts or abandoning any good writing.

    Scorpio (water): Narcissism and your seemingly inconsistent need for constant approval are at an all-time high, Scorpio. This makes you more vulnerable artistically—which leads to one of two outcomes: either you produce profound writing that shatters expectations or you make everyone around you so miserable that your resultant shame makes it impossible for you to write anything but petty complaints and insincere apologies. Protect those who are still willing to come near you by hibernating through May. You are guaranteed a masterpiece if you can only seclude yourself this month and write. The best (perhaps only?) fruit of narcissism is self-expression. Do what you do best: exploit that!

    Sagittarius (fire): Your side of the story is a unique and compelling one. It’s time for you to consider telling it, Sagittarius. You may tend to be peaceful and reserved, but the lessons you can share with others will quietly, but powerfully transform lives. Start writing that memoir. And dig deep as you write—especially during the difficult stuff. This is where your most influential lessons are.

    Capricorn (earth): Time to break some rules, Capricorn. Even though such antics are against your nature, you need to misplace some commas and allow a run-on or two in your writing. Doing so as well as mixing some mayhem into your getting-to-be-humdrum life will take your writing to new places. In other words, don’t resist the opportunity to experiment. Your innate smugness has had you ramming your metaphorical horns into lots of walls, but to no avail. Allowing change and some imperfection will get you writing again.

    Aquarius (air): May is the month to get out of your head and into your heart, Aquarius. Your intellectual and unconventional approach to writing is great, but readers want emotions, too—and there’s just no way to fake them. So work on connecting emotionally in your life: fall in love, recommit to friendships, and take some emotional risks. Rekindling a life of the heart will enliven your writing. There’s more to life than ideas.

    Pisces (water): May is your month for poetry, Pisces. Neptune, your ruling planet, is plucking at your heartstrings, strumming chords of poetry throughout the month. Sit down and let him be your muse. Look for contests and send as much work out as possible. This month’s writing and submissions work will bear lots of publishing fruit.

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    Reasons to Write (and Love) Poetry

    Composing poetry strengthens your writing skills no matter what genre of writing you prefer. Hesitant? Skeptical? Never fear. Make poetry a part of your regular writing practice and you’ll improve your writing across all genres.

    A poem finds its genesis in the itchy tingling of an intense emotion or complex idea that clamors for expression. Poetry offers rebellion to those oppressed by the mundane, the trivial; writing a good poem opens a portal to deeper understanding of one’s internal life and catharsis for difficult-to-express ideas and complex feelings.

     How can writing poetry improve your prose?

    First and foremost, poetry requires laser-precision diction. Often an intensive exploration of nuanced and complex ideas, good poetry demands an exhaustive search for le mot juste and discourages the use of empty and redundant words. Good poets compulsively avoid vague language, including weak and padded verbs, intensifiers and qualifiers, catch-all terms, generic adjectives, excessive pronouns, and cliche. Creating a poem is an obsessive hunt for language focused and rich enough to spark fresh, vibrant images in a reader’s mind. A natural logophile, the working poet’s already impressive vocabulary expands exponentially over time. If you find yourself dashing out a draft without agonizing over your wording, you may not be writing poetry well. Poets typically labor over words, killing unnecessary verbiage with the tenacity and objectivity of a literary Dexter Morgan. Obviously, a disciplined practice of scrutinizing word choices benefits the writer of any genre. In other words, the diction skills developed while writing poetry transfer to other forms of writing.

    Writing poetry also offers a crash course in literary devices that will benefit your work in all genres. Do you remember what consonance and assonance are? How about synechdoche? Metonymy? Or even plain old personification, metaphor, and simile? What about everyday alliteration? Strong poets rub elbows frequently with all classes of literary devices. Such intimacy naturally inspires sharper, richer images and stronger fluency in writing. In other words, poets tend to pay conscious attention to the way language sounds (its music, its flow) and to the surprising comparisons possible when language is pushed beyond expected associations. Such attention to literary devices can and will improve all forms of writing.

    Despite my harping about hard work, writing poetry is enjoyable. The sense of accomplishment from writing a poem brings great satisfaction. Then again, perhaps it helps to be a bit OCD. The perfectionist who, like me, must alphabetize all her books, DVDs, and vinyl will find obvious enjoyment in ferreting out the right words, the phrases that flow, fresh comparisons, and heady expressions of strong emotions or complex ideas. Like Dexter Morgan, I channel my perhaps unnatural urges for order into the art form that is a poem, and my OCD perfectionism is satisfied…for awhile. Until the next itching for expression starts.

    If you don’t typically write poems, start now. Begin by reading excellent poetry. A great way to initiate yourself into the world of verse is to check out the Best American Poetry series. Or reread the classics. Either way, you’ll find examples of poetry that inspire. Ideas and language in the poems you read will resonate with you, and you’ll discover the incipient itching of a nascent poem demanding to be written. Poetry is, afterall, contagious. The only possible cure for the terrible itching tingle is writing a poem.

    In closing and for inspiration, I’ll leave you with an excellent poem that celebrates the animalistic pleasure renowned poet Mark Strand finds in reading poetry:

     Eating Poetry

    Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.

    There is no happiness like mine.

    I have been eating poetry.


    The librarian does not believe what she sees.

    Her eyes are sad

    and she walks with her hands in her dress.


    The poems are gone.

    The light is dim.

    The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.


    Their eyeballs roll,

    their blond legs burn like brush.

    The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.


    She does not understand.

    When I get on my knees and lick her hand,

    she screams.


    I am a new man,

    I snarl at her and bark,

    I romp with joy in the bookish dark.

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    Insider Advice for Submitting to 3Elements Review

    At 3Elements Review, people often ask us questions about submitting work: what to write, how to submit, due dates, and how to capture the attention of our editors. Today, I’ll offer a primer on submitting to 3ER as well as insider advice that might increase the odds that we’ll accept your work.

    First, always look up the elements for the submission period. Quarterly, we offer a specific challenge to writers that they use all three of the elements in each of their fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction submissions. The magazine’s current elements always can be found under the “Submit” menu on our website; elements for the March 1st deadline are: terminal, 6324, and bare. We hope our eclectic mix of terms will inspire interesting writing, but will not accept your written submission–no matter how interesting– if each does not include all three elements (words) in an organic, interesting way. There’s no need to bold or highlight the elements in your submission; however, we do ask that the terms be used with fidelity and as an integral part of the body of the work. Insider tip: slapping the terms into a the title of a piece is not acceptable. We want our elements to inspire new work or significantly revitalize the work of our writers and artists, not be haphazardly forced into a work previously written or created.

    We ask that both fiction and creative nonfiction pieces be between 500 and 3500 words. A writer is allowed to submit up to three fiction or creative nonfiction pieces per submission period, but we require that the submissions be separate. We list no word minimum or maximum for poetry and invite poets to submit up to five poems. Unless you feel your poems are a “set” that must be published together (a decision that might decrease the likelihood of publication), we prefer that you submit poems separately as well. Simultaneous submissions are fine as long as you do us the courtesy of withdrawing your piece as soon as it is accepted elsewhere.

    Art and photography need only reflect one of the elements, though we prefer creative work that incorporates all three. Insider tip: we would love to receive more art and photography for 3ER!

    We are currently reading many interesting submissions for the March 1st publication. We’d love to read your work. When you send us something, please send your thoughtfully revised and edited work. We are always sad to decline an interesting piece because of sloppy editing!

    Please refer to the “Submission Guidelines” menu for more information about what we like to read and how to submit your work. We look forward to publishing you!

    Have a question about submitting I haven’t answered? Post it below! 

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