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Poetry Reading Contest, Canadian Authors Association

The Canadian Authors Association held their Fourth Annual Let it Snow, Let it Grow Member Social at the beginning of March. The theme was a challenge to writers to pen a narrative poem or short story about what it means to grow. I entered the contest which entailed a public reading of my work at the event, held at The Carrot Community Arts Coffeehouse.

Reading my poetry at The Carrot Community Arts Coffeehouse for the Canadian Authors Association.

Reading my poetry at The Carrot Community Arts Coffeehouse for the Canadian Authors Association.

I was proud to be selected as a winner, along with fellow CAA board member Hendrik Slegtenhorst. The event was hosted by author Gail Sidonie Sobat.

Receiving  the contest award from Gail Sidonie Sobat, with fellow winner Hendrik Slegtenhorst (and my daughter who ran up to be in the picture).

Receiving the contest award from Gail Sidonie Sobat, with fellow winner Hendrik Slegtenhorst (and my daughter who ran up to be in the picture).

I am proud to be a board member of the Alberta Branch of the Canadian Authors Association. CAA is a wonderful organization with the mandate of “Writers Helping Writers.” It has been immensely encouraging for me to connect with other writers in an open environment of learning and support. If you are interested, please join us!

Accepted! I’m a MFA in Creative Writing student!

I will be walking in the footsteps of many great writers as I begin my Masters of Fine Art program in Cambridge Massachusetts. Just today I received the acceptance call from Lesley University to study creative non-fiction.

Being a multi-faceted artist is just who I am. I cannot be only a painter, or only a photographer, or only a writer. Every part of my creative expression serves to benefit and enrich the other parts. It has been my dream for so long to be a published writer. In the last year I have made huge headway with this dream by writing a memoir and two novels plus countless poems.

My acceptance into Lesley is a major milestone on my creative journey. This is a good day! A very, very good day!

Lesley’s campus is just footsteps from Harvard Square and minutes from Boston. It is my dream location of study! As a person who finds inspiration through travel and new locals, I am thrilled to continue my creative pursuits in this wonderful location! Lesley University has painted a beautiful picture of the culture in the city:

Boston is filled with fascinating nooks and crannies, some obvious and others that you will find for yourself. Think bookstores, used record stores, thrift shop nirvana. Newbury Street is lined with art galleries, European-style cafes, and boutiques. Additionally, there are many interesting and vibrant areas such as Chinatown, artsy Jamaica Plain and Brickbottom, and Portuguese and Brazilian neighborhoods found in Cambridge. Boston attracts some of the best, brightest, and most creative people in the world.

As a student of Creative Writing at Lesley University, I will:

–          Receive guidance from prize winning writers

–          Join the university’s accomplished alumni of published writers

–          Participate in residencies on campus in Cambridge

–          Be inspired in a major literary city and become a part-time citizen of that literary Mecca

My first memoir is about my pregnancy following the loss of my son Zachary. Now, in my MFA, I will embark on a new memoir which has been percolating in my mind and heart for the last year. I can’t wait!

Over the course of my MFA I will post about my experiences and keep you all up to date! This is an exciting chapter for me (yes, book pun intended).

I’d like to thank my amazing cheerleaders Daphne Read, Brenda Mann & Jody Stark. Thanks also to my family and friends for believing in me and my writing.

PRISM Non-Fiction Update

Unfortunately I was not chosen as a winner or runner up for the PRISM International Non-Fiction contest. I was feeling down when I received the news and medicated my state with brownies, fresh gooey brownies – which did help.

I shared this news with my friends on Facebook and was met with many congratulations for even making the short-list. One of my writing pals, Patty Ntihemuka, commented, “These could also be celebratory brownies.”

That’s right, Patty. We all need to celebrate how far we come, because often it is quite some distance. It is too easy to focus on how shy we are of the prize, whatever it may be.

I am thankful I entered, thankful for the opportunity and thankful for where I will go from here.

Short-listed!

My creative non-fiction piece has been short-listed for PRISM international 2013 Non-Fiction Contest!

This is such a super honor! When I posted yesterday about the schedule of when the winners would be announced, I was actually off by a day.

Today is the day!

At some point today I will get an email with either ‘Congratulations’ or otherwise – but no matter what, I am thankful and elated to have gotten this far.

My piece of writing is about my experience of attending my son Zachary’s memorial service.

I will post again later on the final verdict. Until then, I’ll be holding my breath…

PRISM international’s 2013 Non-Fiction Contest long-list

 

When I write, I create, edit, submit and forget. It’s a process that works since I am a super busy artist/photographer/writer/mom/wife/renaissance woman extraordinaire. The forgetting part is handy since I don’t waste time biting my nails wondering if I have a rejection letter city hopping its way to my mailbox.

PRISM International Magazine

So you can imagine I was wonderfully surprised to discover that my creative non-fiction piece, “Goodbye and Goodbyes” made it onto the long list of the PRISM international 2013 Non-Fiction Contest long-list. Wawsa! This news made me smile!

The long-list of 15 pieces of writing has been officially announced today. The short-list will be announced tomorrow, Tuesday January 15 and the grand prize winners and runners up the following day, Wednesday, January 16. It will be a whirlwind three days and I have already begun my nail biting now that the race is on. I may have no nails left by Wednesday but I can’t wait!

 

A little bit about PRISM International:

PRISM international is a quarterly magazine out of Vancouver, British Columbia, whose mandate is to publish the best in contemporary writing and translation from Canada and around the world.

 

The submissions for this competition go through two rounds of blind judging before the final verdict is decided by the final judge, Andreas Schroeder.

Here is the long-list finalists! Congratulations to all writers! What a feat! It is truly an accomplishment to get this far and I am thrilled to be listed amongst these fellow creatives.

– ‘Sans Everything’ by Cullene Bryant

– ‘An Excerpt from Horse Camp’ by Jonarno Lawson

– ‘Queasy’ by Madeline Sonik

– ‘Salt Spring Sprouts n Seeds’ by Stephanie McKechnie

– ‘When you finally know me’ by Trisha Cull

– ‘Nine Bouquets from Nine Sailors’ by Eve Joseph

– ‘People and Cow of Good Fortune’ by Leonard Neufeldt

– ‘I Thought I Knew You Emily’ by Madeline Nattrass

– ‘Click: Immortality’ by David Alexander

– ‘The Skeleton Coast’ by Zara Callmann

– ‘The Breaking Wave’ by Laura Trethewey

– ‘Habibi’ by Maisie Jacobson

– ‘Goodbye and Goodbyes’ by Alexis Marie Chute

– ‘Narrative Supplement’ by Carolyn White

– ‘Vanishing Point’ by Heather Tucker

 

I will put out another Writing Update on Tuesday and Wednesday to announce how the competition plays out!

Get Out of the Creative Desert

How do we replenish ourselves as artists? As writers? As creative human beings?

When our reserve of energy and inventiveness are depleted, when our desire for innovation and experimentation runs low and our passion for creative expression is a barren desert and we have nothing left to give: what then?

How do we revive these qualities in our lives so that ideas flow, inspiration rains and our creative selves flourish?

For myself, I have discovered that creativity breeds creativity. Art breeds art. Just as in life, kindness begets kindness and love multiplies itself in an environment of love.

I know all too well the desert of the artistic soul. It is the last place I want to be. Fortunately, by understanding that creativity begets creativity, I have enjoyed staying in the place of creative flow.

I find myself presently in a ramped up artistic season of my life. I am Artist in Residence at Harcourt House, have many exhibitions of my artwork (photography, sculpture, mixed media) upcoming and have recently completed a memoir, novella and am currently in the midst of writing a full length novel.

Arizona Desert Flowers
Photograph copyright Alexis Marie Chute

It is a good time. My mind is ripe with ideas. My writing inspires my artwork, my art incites poetry, my poetry evolves into my photographic practice. The love I feel from my clients (and their joy at receiving their portraits) creates a warm fuzzy feeling that keeps me chipper as I work in the isolation of my art studio or pound the keyboard writing during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

Creativity begetting even more creativity seems to be a magical state that I find myself within and it brings an artful mindset into every area of my life. It is as if I am not only an artist, period. Or a mother, period. Or a wife, period. I am an artist of all these things and they all play an important role.

I have come to believe that if you want to increase your creativity in an area where you are stuck (a.k.a. writer’s block or the equivalent for other artist types), try shifting gears and let the artist in you come out in some other fashion. I bet you will experience a breakthrough in not only the first area but both.

CREATIVITY BREEDS CREATIVITY

This is my goal and I am finding it wonderfully exciting. In every area of my life I am choosing to include my passions and challenging myself to be creative as an artist / writer / photographer / designer / mother / human being without boundaries.

The result: My life is now richer and riper with meaning.

Arizona Desert Flower
Photograph copyright Alexis Marie Chute

I’ve Been Busy! Let me catch you up!

It has been a busy summer and fall is continuing this trend with lots of artistic goodies! Let me catch you up on the action!

 

My printer winning bicycle image of Bride Christina.

Photography Update: Photolife Magazine

 

Photolife printed one of my photographs in their August/September issue as a part of their Showtime theme: trees. In the same issue I was chosen as an “Emerging Photographer” for 2012. This is a huge honor! I was one in 15 Canadians selected for this distinction (and the only photographer selected from Alberta).

Then, in the October/November issue of Photolife Magazine I was the winner of the Showtime theme: Bicycles. The award: an Epson Artisan 837 printer.

 

This is one of the winning tree images selected by Photolife Magazine. This photograph was taken on a mountain in New Zealand.

Writing Update: Walk to Remember

 

On September 29, 2012 I was the keynote speaker at the Walk to Remember to a crowd of nearly 2,000 people who gathered to celebrate their dearly loved children lost due to miscarriage, stillbirth, early infant loss or SIDS. It was an emotional day as I was remembering my own sweet Zachary who died shortly after birth two years ago. The event organizers asked me to speak after reading my blog Wanted Chosen Planned. You can read my speech in my post: “Walk to Remember Speech by Alexis Marie Chute.”

 

With this fine art photograph I was named an Emerging Canadian Photographer by Photolife Magazine.

Writing Update: 3 Day Novel Contest and NaNoWriMo

 

I spent the September long weekend locked in my office (with my newborn) writing a novel during the 3 Day Novel Contest. While others were outdoors enjoying the end of summer I worked three long days typing a full first draft of my debut novel. It’s a romance in essence but, as all good stories, is full of twists on the standard love story.

I loved the 3 Day Novel Contest so much that I have signed up for NaNoWriMo which stands for the National Novel Writing Month which begins today! November 1st! This time I am trying my hand at fantasy and am raring to go. My characters are coming to life in my mind and I am thrilled to tell their story. Stay up to date with my progress on twitter (@_Alexis_Marie). Stay up to date with my NaNoWriMo progress here on my Alexis Marie blog and on my Artist Reborn blog (where you can find my posts about my 3 Day Novel Experience).

 

This is an example of my wood sculpture that I will be developing while Artist in Residence at Harcourt House.

Art Update: Harcourt house & Kiwanis Gallery

 

As of today, November 1st, I am the 2012/2013 Artist in Residence at Harcourt House artist run center here in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. This is a wonderful position for an artist as the gallery will support my artistic endeavors for a whole year. What does that mean in practical terms? I will have a private studio at Harcourt House while I develop my body of artwork, give me opportunity to teach and at the end of the year the gallery will host a solo exhibition of my work. My show will be installed next October and I will give an artist talk at the opening reception. Please contact me if you want an invite to the opening.

I recently got word from the Kiwanis Art Gallery in Red Deer, Alberta that they will be mounting a solo exhibition of my fine art photographs in their 2014-2015 line-up. The exhibition will feature images I took leading up to and following the death of my son Zachary. The images document the life of my family as we spend almost two months at the hospital trying to save my son and the devastation that follows his death. It is an emotional collection of photographs but one that speaks to the heart and the resilience of the heart. You can read about my experience at Wanted Chosen Planned and how I found art to be a tool for healing at Artist Reborn.

Writing Update

 

3 Day Novel Contest and NaNoWriMo

 

I spent the September long weekend locked in my office (with my newborn) writing a novel during the 3 Day Novel Contest. While others were outdoors enjoying the end of summer I worked three long days typing a full first draft of my debut novel. It’s a romance in essence but, as all good stories, is full of twists on the standard love story.

I loved the 3 Day Novel Contest so much that I have signed up for NaNoWriMo which stands for the National Novel Writing Month which begins today! November 1st! This time I am trying my hand at fantasy and am raring to go. My characters are coming to life in my mind and I am thrilled to tell their story. Stay up to date with my progress on twitter (@_Alexis_Marie). Stay up to date with my NaNoWriMo progress here on my Alexis Marie blog and on my Artist Reborn blog (where you can find my posts about my 3 Day Novel Experience).

 

 

My 3 Day Novel Contest Experience

 

It is now one week from the time I began tying my 3 Day Novel Contest story. I do have to say, I really miss my characters. I want to give them a call, ask how they are doing, see if they want to hang out and catch up. It’s as though their lives have continued on and I am missing out on the action.

Coffee became a staple for this non-coffee drinker. My husband made sure I had a warm cup at all times. 

Besides actually writing my story, which was a fabulous rush, an exciting push; I loved every minute of chatting on Twitter with my new writing buddies. I had not anticipated this wonderful dialogue of encouragement, page and word counts, and silly late night writing frustration. It was beyond a highlight for me and I hope to continue the conversation with these awesome people.

 

I had pages and pages of my story outline, written by hand, to focus me through the process. It was the best decision I made to prepare before the clock started ticking.

 

A few reflections on writing the 3-Day Novel Challenge:

 

  • My outline was my best friend. I could not have pressed through in the tough moments, the times when my brain was so tired that I nearly lost my plot’s direction, if it was not for the guiding hand of my outline. It said to me, late at night, “Now where do you think you are going?” in its gentle but caring manner, “Get back over here and refocus. You’ve got a job to do. Get your characters moving.”
  •  Time pressure = less writers block. I had written about writers block the week leading up to the 3-Day Novel Contest and I do believe this mental preparation made a world of difference, especially the positive affirmations and tips for combating the block, but really, the rush of the weekend meant I had no time to even get caught in a jam…
  • But when I did get caught, some wise tweeters encouraged: keep the plot moving, introduce action. I found this advice a life saver. Introduce action. Action moves the story forward, gives your characters something to do, something to talk about.  It was revolutionary for my story where my protagonist tended to get a little lost in her head.
  • My twitter buddies, many who have done this contest many, many times before constantly posted page and number counts. This was both a distraction and an encouragement for me. When others surged ahead I cursed my poky finger’s pace and got worried that my word count wouldn’t count for much. At the same time, I felt camaraderie with other writers who were on the same page, so to speak. It also helped me realize that I was not alone (a lot of us were on par). These updates were a double edged sword, but apart from their distracting and motivating properties, they were simply a lot of fun.

 

I found a new treat! The flavour didn’t last long but it was a sweet reminder of my childhood self.

 

This last week has been spent recovering with sleep and family time but I have very wonderful memories of my first 3-Day Novel Contest. I am excited to develop my story.

The shortlist and winners will be announced in January 2013. The grand prize is book publishing – the dream of every serious writer. If my novel is not the winner, I will still be sending it out into the world and I will keep you posted.

 

These are the happily kicking feet of my two month old co-writer who insisted I have regular breaks throughout the weekend.

 

My co-writer made sure I took the crap out of my story.

 

Each day I stuck a post it note on my computer with a page number goal. This was helpful motivation despite the fact that I didn’t reach my ultimate goal of 100 pages (but I was not far off).

 

I encourage anyone to try the #3DNC for the experience alone. It was an amazing journey and I am very thankful to my family for helping with my kids, not bugging me too much but also providing food (THANKS MOM!) so I could be a part of something so special.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Office Ready for the 3 – Day Novel Contest

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This is not excessive preparation. I kid you not. Participating in the 3-Day Novel Contest with two kids is a challenge. I have stocked the office with whatever I may need to hole myself in to prevent my beautiful two and a half year old daughter from seeing me. If she locates me or even hears a noise from the office she will remember I am not with her and will hone in on my whereabouts until she is nestled in my arms. This is a wonderful trait – but counterproductive on a weekend such as this.

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Thus, I am stocked with snacks: water, cup, almonds, wheat crackers, apples, oranges, chocolate pudding cups and spoons, peanut m&ms, and the always delightful Orville Redenbacher’s sweet & salty kettle corn.

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Plus care and distraction objects for my newborn, who will invariably be hanging out with me while I write: baby swing, swaddling blankets, play yard and mobile, floor play gym, breast feeding pillow and change station with pad, diapers, wipes, bum cream and the all important change of clothes for life’s little accidents.

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I also have a pillow and blanket for myself because you just never know, right?

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The most important detail, I have cleaned off my desk of distractions – thank goodness – as I am easily distracted.

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My wonderful supportive husband has moved our home phone out of the office because, lord knows, I will be brought to profanity if another telemarketer calls me mid-thought and asks if my parents are home.

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My theme music for the weekend: Patti Smith and Alanis Morissette

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I still must text all my wonderful family, especially my BFF mom, to inform them that I am off limits for the weekend. I know they will understand. I am a woman on a mission.

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That is all from me for now. I am off to feed my newborn and head to bed to catch my last few precious Zzzz’s before the marathon or sprint or whatever it is officially begins.

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I wish all other participants a writer’s-block-free weekend!