Turning Interests into Books

I enjoy exchanging information with those I meet, especially about books and writing. A summer day at the beach with my youngest grandson Rafe led to discovering an interesting writer and later to learning her writing and publishing story. My five-year-old grandson Rafe wanted to connect with two little girls he’d met at camp who … Continue reading

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Raspberry Picking

I’ve been teaching several classes this month that concentrate on moving writing forward by using details–specific images that come in through the senses–and by receiving first reader response to drafts. That made me think of posting Chapter Eight from Writing In a New Convertible with the Top Down, a book I co-authored years ago with … Continue reading

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Self-Editing Tips

Several years ago, I wrote Perfect Phrases for College Application Essays, a book for high school students. No two application essays should be alike, so the “perfect phrases” refers to phrases useful for researching oneself for subjects to write about and phrases useful for making transitions. I learned quite a lot in deconstructing the essay … Continue reading

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An Interview with Danica Davidson

I often hear from people eager to share their experience as writers with Writing It Real subscribers. I write back to them all with interest in how their experience can clarify aspects of the writing life as well as inspire others to add to their lives as writers. When Danica told me her story, I … Continue reading

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The Importance of Choosing Your Scenes and Turning Points

Because we experience life chronologically, without a clear beginning, middle or end, memoirists tend to write in an episodic way — “this happened, then that happened, and after that… ” — and are often overwhelmed by a huge array of memories and details. When deluged by details and feelings, it’s difficult to sort out what … Continue reading

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Keep Your Perspective

[We continue this week with more sage advice from a talented memoir author and psychotherapist who has guided many in writing their life stories. We think you will make good use of her idea for moving ahead even when your material seems too difficult. –Ed.]  When we write memoir, we try to capture real life … Continue reading

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Interview with Jan Vallone

I am pleased to post this interview with author Jan Vallone, whose memoir excerpt  “Perspective” appeared as our article last week. It is always a pleasure to correspond with authors about their experience, process, hopes, desires, disappointments and successes and Jan’s descriptions of herself as a goal oriented new writer will resonate for many. SheilaJan, … Continue reading

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Searching for the Writing Life

[This essay appeared in The Summerset Review in 2005. The honesty of the author as she investigates her post-MFA-in-Creative-Writing life will resonate with many of us who dream of a life in which our writing is our main focus, a life in which the time we spend working is on behalf of our writing, which … Continue reading

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Who Keeps Journals?

I recently came across notes I’d taken while working on The Writer’s Journal: 40 Writers and Their Journals. I’d long relished the journals of Emerson and Thoreau and liked reading about how the transcendentalists, including Louisa May Alcott, shared their journals with one another. But when I solicited the poet Henri Cole as a contributor … Continue reading

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Write an Ending Your Readers Will Savor

A saying goes: Readers pick your current novel if you impress them on the first page, and they’ll buy your next novel if you wow them on the last page. Though all readers enjoy an impressive beginning, the impact of a strong ending can’t be overlooked. Think back to the experience of finishing the last … Continue reading

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The Greatest Block of All

This week’s article by British author Jo Parfitt recounts the story of her early writing success and extracts the elements of that success for others to emulate. Getting a book published does not have to depend on who you know (although publishing contacts are always helpful, of course!) and if you graduated from a writing … Continue reading

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Exactly How to Write the Narrative Essay

[This essay was adapted by the author from her book Naked, Drunk and Writing: Writing Essays and Memoirs for Love and for Money] For all its charm and sometimes apparent aimlessness, an essay has a skeleton, an underlying structure that makes it work. Often it’s the age-old structure of a story. By “story” I don’t … Continue reading

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Creating Voice in Poetry and Prose

Voice is one the most essential features of successful writing; if we fail to create an authentic, credible voice in our work, that work will fail — in spite of other virtues it may have. However, voice is often referred to as something elusive and indefinable. In their book, A Poet’s Companion, Kim Addonizio and … Continue reading

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Build Your Writing Life

When I think about how I began cultivating my writer’s life, I realize had been doing so even before I knew what I was doing. But once it began a more conscious process, about a year later, I became overwhelmed. I didn’t know writers’ jargon or the prerequisites for developing into an accomplished writer. I … Continue reading

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A New Way to Publish

This article appeared on May 26 2008 among the article archive on the valuable NAWW.org website. Having met Penny several years ago at the Whidbey Island Writer’s Conference, I already admired her energy and support for writers. Her information in this article is just as encouraging for those considering self-publishing as a way of finding … Continue reading

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Glimmer Train Comes Through

Earlier this year, I submitted a story to Glimmer Train, a fine literary magazine that boasts, “Each quarterly issue presents about 260 pages of literary fiction—eight to twelve brand new stories by luminaries and fresh new voices making their way into print. A feast of fiction!” My story wasn’t accepted, but receiving the editor’s copyrighted … Continue reading

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The Story of a Century in the Pacific Northwest

If you’ve been identified as the one in your family, neighborhood or group of colleagues who writes, you may find yourself called upon to create writing for projects you hadn’t imagined setting out to do. One such request could be to put together an oral history. This week, novelist and writer Kit Bakke shares her … Continue reading

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Learning the Art of Public Speaking Can Help Writers

People have told me that fear of public speaking ranks high among the biggest fears we have. I know from my experience as a poet and writer who has given and attended readers for almost 30 years, that reading our writing before others, whether as open mic participants, workshop members or featured readers, gives us … Continue reading

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21 Free Gifts from the Virtual World

After all the gift giving, charitable donations and holiday trips away this time of year, you’ll find the free resources listed below particularly attractive. Each link has inspiration and information to help you fill the well of your creativity. Stock up and let the generosity of writers, editors and publishers help you make and keep … Continue reading

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2007 Bedell Nonfiction Now

On November 1-4, I attended the Bedell Nonfiction Now Conference at the University of Iowa. The conference’s mission is to explore the history, present, and future of nonfiction in its myriad forms, and, as you might expect, the conference was packed with excellent panels, speakers, and readings focused on personal experience writing. Thursday November 1, … Continue reading

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