In May I Rush to Use Sensory Details

As adults, we are so used to summarizing and editorializing. We have learned that abstractions are considered “smart” in writing and having opinions makes us sound even smarter. That’s what our teachers wanted from us on papers and on essay tests. But creative writing, whether that is in poetry, fiction, personal essay or in longer … Continue reading

Continue reading

Writing the Situations Life Throws Your Way – An Interview with Thelma Zirkelbach

Former romance writer Thelma Zirkelback has two books out now (and a blog) on the subject of widowhood, one an anthology she co-edited of writings by women who have coped with their new life situation (On Our Own: Widowhood for Smarties) and the other a memoir about her interfaith marriage and and the loss of … Continue reading

Continue reading

Change It Up: Trying New Forms Encourages the Writing Mind

“Grandma, do you know what limericks are? I wrote one today. Do you want to hear it?” my 11-year-old grandson Toby asked after telling me about a guest poet’s visit to his fifth grade classroom. Of course, I wanted to hear it. Toby recited: In the Sounds of the Night In the sounds of the … Continue reading

Continue reading

On Writing and Publishing Poetic Memoir, An Interview

Nancy Smiler Levinson set herself the goal of writing about what she was living through during her husband’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. The result was a powerful, filled with love, and ultimately affirming memoir, all in free verse, Moments of Dawn: a poetic memoir of love & family, affliction & admiration.  A professional writer for decades, Nancy … Continue reading

Continue reading

Facilitate Poetry’s Ulterior Purpose

April is National Poetry Month. That means nationwide, the month of April is filled with even larger numbers of poetry related events than other months of the year. Hopefully, reading about them in your local newspapers and on websites will encourage you to attend, and listening to poets will spark your interest in participating in … Continue reading

Continue reading

He’s Over Sixty and He’s a Rapper! Interview with Robert Komishane

Robert Komishane is a Port Townsend, WA poet who turned in middle age to rap and hiphop for inspiration when he wanted to switch from writing free verse to writing in form. Four and a half year’s later, he’s still having fun and gaining attention for his efforts. I interviewed Robert via email to learn … Continue reading

Continue reading

Five Tips for Inspiring Quality Writing from Life Experience

Tip #1 — Find An Occasion Poet Stanley Plumly says that poems must weigh more at the end than they do at the beginning. As with poetry, the personal essay and memoir supply a vehicle for writers to find out what matters and to feel the weight of what matters. As writers, we take ourselves, and … Continue reading

Continue reading

Taking Chances

After years of writing, editing, publishing authors and teaching, Jack Heffron knows why we get stuck and how to work around that and back into our material. He’ll be teaching with Meg Files and Sheila Bender at our Writing It Real in Nashville April 25-28 conference. Join us for a chance to work with Jack as … Continue reading

Continue reading

A Children’s Book From the Heart: Interview with Penny Holland

Creating stories to delight children and help them understand sophisticated social concepts is a primary objective of children’s book authors. But it is often hard to cut to the essence of situations in language children understand. Penny Claire Holland had the story for a children’s picture book many years ago, but let her manuscript sit … Continue reading

Continue reading

Authornomics Interview with Sheila Bender

Authornomics is an author interview series created by Andrea Hurst and Associates agency. The August 16, 2012 interview I did for the series was chosen as one of their year’s best. The many good questions the agents there asked gave me the opportunity to discuss writing and the writing life in ways meaningful to me. … Continue reading

Continue reading

Lasting Impressions – Excerpt from The Art and Craft of Storytelling

Author Nancy Lamb has published two books on writing fiction with Writer’s Digest Books, The Art and Craft of Storytelling: A Comprehenisve Guide to Classic Writing Techniques, from which we present an excerpt this week, as well as The Writer’s Guide to Crafting Stories for Children. She is a master at explaining the elements of … Continue reading

Continue reading

Navigating the Online Publishing and Promotion World

Over the last years, it has become respectable and even desirable to publish online and in ebook format. Traditional publishers, now often called legacy publishers, are scrambling to figure out how to survive in the digital age. With the mushrooming of digital opportunities, websites, publicists and book industry people are dedicated to helping authors find quality … Continue reading

Continue reading

Judging the Personal Essay

In 2007, I wrote about the way I judge essays in a contest. As Writing It Real members enter their work for our 2013 Fall contest, I am reposting my thoughts on the judging process. When I judge, I separate judging into three steps and view the roles I take on, first of friend, then of … Continue reading

Continue reading

What Is Fantasy Fiction?

Fantasy author Brian Rush’s article on writing for the fantasy fiction audience is filled with the history of the genre. He helps us see that even if we don’t think we like reading fantasy fiction or don’t ever write it, we actually have some experience with this, in truth, very old genre. Brian’s article is … Continue reading

Continue reading

For Those Who Want to Experience a Writing Retreat

Susan Rich is a veteran of many writing retreats and served on the selection committee for Hedgebrook Writers’ Retreat. If you are interested in finding a writer’s retreat to spend some time away from home in an environment conducive to writing and sharing your work with other artists in residence, you’ll be interested in poet … Continue reading

Continue reading

Writing Memoir and Poetry, Studying with Mentors and Peers: Interview with Anne McDuffie, Recent MFA Low Residency Program Graduate

Have you wondered about the value of MFA programs or wanted to learn what the MFA candidates learn? Here’s an opportunity to receive enrichment from a recent MFA candidate’s experience–Anne has offered loads of links to journals and writers you will want to know about. Sheila I am pleased by the opportunity to talk with … Continue reading

Continue reading

The Non-Writing Writer

When Writing It Real member Jean Erler sent me the following essay as part of work she wanted to further develop, I knew that Writing It Real members would relate to what she was describing, a stance we writers take all too often toward our role as authors. I helped Jean polish the essay, and I … Continue reading

Continue reading

Remedies for Writer’s Envy

In her blog on her writer’s life,  the author of When the de la Cruz Family Danced shares her personal approach to dealing with what she calls “writer’s envy.”  Whether you have published or are seeking to publish, it is not hard to identify with what Donna reveals. Writing takes a lot of energy and … Continue reading

Continue reading

There are Limits

There is a place for essays of every length in the world of creative nonfiction. Susan Bono, publisher and editor of  Tiny Lights: A Journal of Personal Narrative, offers us some thoughts on writing short personal essays as well as examples of her own.  Noticing what subjects appeal to you and how you place yourself … Continue reading

Continue reading

Experience at a Writers’ Conference on the State of Publishing

At every writer’s workshop and class I teach, participants ask about self-publishing and publishing with established presses. Here’s novelist and short fiction writer Donna Miscolta’s blog piece on being in the midst of learning what presses and agents are saying and how writers seem to be feeling in the midst of it all. When I … Continue reading

Continue reading