Kim Piddington today

Hello everyone,Today I present to you a special guest. Kim Piddington was high bidder on the Plum Creek Literacy Festival chance to be featured on my blog. Way to go, Kim, and thanks again for supporting the festival.

I had no way of knowing until the auction was over that Kim is a teacher and teaches here in Springfield. Not only that, she is a writer with a good story to tell. So it’s easy and a lot of fun to feature Kim today. I know that you will agree that she is a special treat.

Hi Kim, and welcome to my blog. When did you know that you wanted to become a writer?

I wrote my first novel, a Nancy Drew knockoff, in fourth grade.

How did you prepare to become a writer?

I majored in English at California Lutheran University. I became aware of the National Writing Project while getting my teaching credential at UC Irvine, and after completing a six week summer institute, I made remaining in a writing group a priority. Getting feedback and encouragement is such a crucial part of the writing process! Eventually, I built up enough confidence to begin submitting poetry to contests I found in Poet’s Market.

After moving to Missouri, I joined two large local writers groups, The Springfield Writer’s Guild and the Ozarks Writers League. This gave me an opportunity to pitch to agents, learn marketing strategies, and network with well established authors. A friend recommended a writing contest and conference in Colorado, which required submitting only the first forty pages of a manuscript. A colleague and I committed to submitting in November, and then to finishing our manuscripts before the conference in April.

I’m still trying to follow the advice that I gleaned at that conference! In addition, I subscribe to Writer’s Digest, attend local writing workshops, and get as many people as possible to critique my work.

How do you find time to write?

It is difficult! Like every teacher, I spend a lot of time planning engaging lessons and dragging home papers to grade. Add in family, a menagerie of pets, six acres of gardening, and outside commitments like LAD and OWP, and it can be easy to sidestep writing time!

However, like anything else, the more you do it, the easier it gets. I find if I write consistently every evening, it doesn’t take long to get productive and begin churning out pages. Slack off for a few days or a week (gasp!) and it’s like going back to the gym after taking the holidays off, painful!

Tell us about your new novel.

Momma Don’t Own a Machine Gun? I’m so excited about this novel! Traveling to places like Rockaway Beach, St. Louis, and Hot Springs to complete the research was a blast! I had the opportunity to share chapters with students in Springfield, Hollister and Lake Forest, California as the manuscript progressed. Then, it won first place in the 2010 Pike’s Peak Fiction Writing Contest, children’s category.

The VIP judge from Scholastic asked for the manuscript, and is currently considering it. To see a blurb about the book, read reviews from people who have read it, or sign up to receive an announcement on the release date go to

What advice to you have for aspiring writers?

Find a writing group that you feel comfortable with and meet regularly! It’s like having a gym buddy; they’ll push you to work through the tough spots. Read and study the genre you are interested in writing. Attend as many conferences and workshops as you can afford, (either in person or online!) take notes, and follow the expert’s advice.

And there you have it. Kim, you already think and speak like a seasoned pro and I wish you all the best with this novel and the others that will follow. Thank you again for being my featured guest today. It has been my pleasure.

For readers who wish to leave comments for Kim, please use the boxes below.

Guest Reader with Silindile Ntuli

BULLETIN: With 7 hours of voting time left, Euleta Usrey remains in the lead among adult poets and Maria Ciminillo is still fending off a hard charge by Courtney Clawson among young poets.

REMINDER: Today is your last chance to help select our September Hall of Fame poets! As of this morning, Euleta Usrey is leading previous winners Steven Withrow and V.L. Gregory. In the young poets group, Maria Ciminillo has taken the lead over Courtney Clawson in a hot race. Tonight at 10:00 EST the polls close. This is the final month of our first full year so let your opinion count.

Greetings everyone,

Before turning the stage over to Silindile Ntuli, my Guest Reader for today, I want to tell you about an opportuntiy.

As a fund raiser for Plum Creek Childrens Literacy Festival, held each year in Seward, Nebraska on the campus of Concordia University, I’m auctioning off a chance to be featured on my blog. The link gives you all the information. I hope you’ll read it and consider making a bid. I set the floor at $50 and at this point the high bid is $56. There are four days remaining so I certainly hope to see the bidding go much higher! Each year the festival attracts about 9,000 boys and girls. It takes a lot of money and energy to put together something like that. My hat is off to the fine people who make it all happen.

Now, without further ado, here is my guest for today. Last week Silindile was nice enough to share with me a poem she wrote when her beloved nephew was born. I was taken by the poem and asked Silindile to allow me to share it with you. She agreed and also wrote about the circumstances that prompted the poem. Here’s Silindile.

With a shaking voice, trembling hands, fear and tears in her eyes my sister told me she was pregnant, as an unmarried woman of a strict father she was terrified, also terrified of my aunt who was like the dragon of the family.

Immediately I felt happy, told her I’m here and will take the heat with her.. Those months were hard, family was furious until December 22, 2002 when Sibahle was born, the most beautiful boy ever and he melted every heart.. I sat in my usual corner and wrote a poem, I knew he was an angel with no halo.

That year with him was like the first family year, we wondered what kind of life we had before him and boy did he live up to my angel predictions. All through the next year I couldn’t wait to get home, to play this silly game where I’d hold him while he tried to blow out the lightbulb, I’d pull the string and make him think he did it, every night.

He’s very smart, he asks lots and lots of questions daily sometimes its too much, he’s sweet and fear every little thing that crawls, including an ant, everything my friends. He inspires me to keep fighting, sometimes I think he’s my main source of strength closely followed by mom, he says grown up things that make the world clear, I remember how he sits with me on hard days, not playing outside with the other kids. He goes to a christian school and when I say maybe I have a headache he amazes, while people bring me water and headache powders my little boy says “I’ll pray for you”, with his head bowed he does.

To thank God for such a wonderful blessing and to thank my dear boy I wrote the following poem, hope by end of this year he’ll be fluent enough to read it and understand.

Full Circle
by Silindile Ntuli

The woman proudly displayed it,
As if she could tell the future
Little did she know her nine months of pride,
Were going to be years of pure beauty.
The woman carried him with pride,
I know this because of the results.
You ask me to bet on it,
I say just take a look at him.
Because he was carried proudly
By a woman on a mission.

For nine long months,
Days and nights combined,
The hero grew strongly.
For each breath she took,
I know he kicked with joy,
Anticipating the day he blessed
This world with his presence.
Counting hours till he kicked
Right into this lost world.
No worries,
For he will be one of its few great things.

Today it’s the big day,
A hero is born in our among us.
Call them all,
Those close and those unknown.
Come see beauty the way
Only God intended.
But he is just a child, you say.
True, but he will grow into a man,
Real to the core.

Call the singers,
Pull out the drums
And let the dancers move.
Form a circle,
Join your hands
And don’t forget your best clothes.
Light a fire,
Bring the gifts,
Sing the night away.
Give him a hero’s welcome,
Make sure it’ll be remembered
Long after the stones wash away.

Years have come and gone,
The world has changed with each day.

Thank you David for featuring it, you are a selfless soul and you've made me a more serious writer, I hope to keep learning from you and from your other blog friends. Thank you.