Hi. I'm Jenna McGuiggan.
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« The "Beautiful Giveaway" Winner (plus a special offer for all) | Main | Thoughts on Creativity & Quiet »

Verbal Snapshots: Capturing Beauty, Adventure, & Life (plus a giveaway)

{Update 8/15/14: The giveaway winner announcement -- plus a special "have a beautiful weekend" sale for everyone -- is posted over here.}

I'm delighted to have an essay in the premier issue of Bella Grace, a new magazine from Stampington & Co., and to be giving away a copy of it to one of you.

The tagline of this gorgeous publication reads, "Life's a Beautiful Adventure."

And isn't that what so many of us writers, artists, and dreamers are after: The beauty and adventure of our days?

Of course, not every moment is infused with joy and wonder. There are chores to be done, bills to be paid, troubles to be navigated. But in the midst of it all, we're looking for the sparks, the slivers, the shimmery moments of magic and connectedness. 

Many of us capture these glimpses of life's beauty and adventure in images that we share on social media or tuck away for our own eyes.

She sat on the ferry and ate cherries from the market. That seemed like a good life to her.But sometimes there's no time to snap a picture. Sometimes the scope of what you want to capture is too big, too small, or too fleeting for any camera lens.

This is the time for Verbal Snapshots.

Verbal Snapshots are those tiny moments of time when the day takes you by the hand and whispers in your ear, "Pay attention to this. To this world. To this life. To this moment."

And so you do.

As a writer, language is how I make sense of the world, and so much of what I write blooms from simple moments of beauty, joy, wonder, or oddity. The scribe in my head is always taking notes, jotting down bits and bobs that catch my eye. Through words I strive to capture and convey the glints of beauty and adventure tucked in-between the folds of everyday moments.

I wrote my first Verbal Snapshot on Twitter a few years ago when I spied an elderly man in a suit riding a red and silver bicycle. I didn't get a photo of him, but I wanted to capture the image, so I described it in the verbal equivalent of an Instagram:

"Grey-haired gent in tan sport coat and slacks, riding a shiny red & silver bicycle past the post office on Good Friday."

Since then, I've made an ongoing practice of describing the moments in time that catch my eye, my heart, or my fancy. These little "language-grams" are my reminders to pay attention to the world around me and to look for the stories waiting to be told.

The Beautiful Giveaway:

At the bottom of this post, I share a few of my favorite Verbal Snapshots. But first, I want to invite you to share a snapshot of your own. To celebrate the publication of Bella Grace and the beautiful adventure that is this life, I'm giving away a copy of the magazine. And to sweeten this already sweet pot, I'll also include a copy of Lanterns: A Gathering of Stories, a 50-page chapbook of words and images by me and six other amazing women writers and photographers.

To enter for a chance to win a copy of Bella Grace and Lanterns, please leave a comment below with your own Verbal Snapshot -- or simply one word describing how you feel in this moment. (It doesn't have to be poetic or clever or perfect. Any description of a moment or image will do!) I'll leave comments open until 11:59pm (ET) on Thursday, Aug. 14, and I'll announce the winner on Friday the 15th. >>I'll choose a winner using a random number generator, so don't worry about making your snapshot the "best," just have fun with it!<<

A few of my favorite verbal snapshots:

Vintage cherry-red Volkswagen Beetle trundling along with a dark green Christmas tree strapped to the roof.

Two trains on parallel tracks pass each other in opposite directions. For a split second, the engines look ready to kiss.

Tiny parade route: Dozens of flags festoon neighborhood lawns, marking utility lines in red, blue, green, orange, yellow, white.

Candlelight glow through white paper wrapper. Empty mason jar. Broken grey seashell. Small black stone with white stripe.

White petal confetti on wet spring green grass.

For more of my Verbal Snapshots click here, or follow me on Twitter and Facebook to see these snippets as I publish them. You can also play along with the hastag #VerbalSnapshot.

Don't forget to leave your Verbal Snapshot or single word of the moment in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Bella Grace and Lanterns.

(Other Bella Grace contributors will be hosting giveaways over the next month, so be sure to check out the full Bella Grace Blog Hop schedule here.)

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{Stay in touch: Join The Word Cellar email list for stories, specials, & inspirations.}

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Update January 2015: If you like to capture daily moments with Verbal Snapshots, please check out One-Moment Memoirs, a writing workshop to help you tell the stories of your life, moment by moment. There's also a #onemomentmemoirs "write-along" happening on social media this month. You're invited to join the fun!)

Reader Comments (35)

Little girl, seven years old and pink streaks in her hair, delighted with chocolate frosting mustache, surrounded by friends.
August 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle Kroll
Bright red cardinal sitting in a snow covered tree against a bright blue cloud-free sky
August 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDora
Plump sparrows perched in perfect formation on fence pickets, tiny feathered soldiers.
August 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDonna
Grateful woman sits on her couch with an iPad writing this note.
August 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKatherine
Cluttered room. Mom retreating online right smack dab in the middle!
August 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBev B
Striped pink,green, yellow and white towel warm out of the dryer hugged to woman's face. Woman delighting in the warmth and smell, contented smile on her face.
August 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKari
Hi Jenna! I'm also part of the blog hop and just wanted to come say hello. My verbal snapshot: Crystals surrounding a candle, rose quartz, pyrite, tiger's eye.
August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCassandra
in a home familiar, yet not really home. the light of a tuesday sliding in slowly. not a sound in the house. yet.
August 12, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermichelle gd
Curly haired boy, bathing in the morning light, playing with Thomas the train.
August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
bluebird sitting on a weathered tombstone from 1897 in the city cemetary
August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMary
On behalf of Stampington & Company I want to offer Jennifer a heartfelt thanks for putting together this wonderful post. Images are beautiful and absolutely necessary, but words are equally special - especially when you don't have a camera or sketchbook on hand. Thank you for participating in the Bella Grace Blog Hop, as well as sharing your work in this magnificent new magazine, and also thank you so much for sharing your own book as a prize. What a treat!
August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGabriela
Owl-eyed pussycat peering around the kitchen door frame --- soup for breakfast, Mom, really?
August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJen E
Grateful, so grateful, for the beauty around me: my home my garden my family my friends.
August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne S.
White Dog Black Cat, Zooming About the Home
I like this idea, so glad to find your blog!
August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLoriSW
Content is my single word of the moment. Love the verbal snapshots, great idea!
August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJessica Loughrey
Coyote crossing my path. Then looking back as it proceeds along the dirt road. It looks as though it's thinking "Do I trust you not to follow me."
August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Wasmer
Accomplished is how I have been feeling lately.
We are finally painting our 1872 queen anne giving her the elegance she deserves!
She looks so beautiful.

August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDolly
Golden rays warming me through my window, smells of coffee and honey suckle , fresh linens blowing, birds serenade my morning.
August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKim Collister
Every story, every line, every person has a verbal snapshot to tell. . . So make sure you listen, listen well, it will change your life.
August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNancy Lorenz
Grateful for all the little things.
August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSaundra A.
Fluffily white clouds in a bright cerulean sky.
August 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanD
The thunderstorm brought dreams on the wind and my trembling dog to my lap. I sang to console her.
August 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJ.B.
Life's a journey Not a destination.
August 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersherry butcher
Ripples on the water made by the return valve on my swimming pool.
August 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKim M.
Momma hummingbird feeds at dawn, a barely there sun glinting off the jewels of her tireless wings. An iridescent morning.

(So happy to see you in Bella Grace!)
August 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterkelly
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