Guest Bloggers

Become The Writer You Want To Be

“Writing is an act of courage.” — Ta-Nehisi Coates “I always consider the entire [writing] process about failure, and I think that’s the reason why more people don’t write.” — Ta-Nehisi Coates Ta-Nehisi Coates’s latest book, Between the World and Me, is a “searing meditation on what it means to be black in America today.”  The New York Times Review Upon receiving the 2015 MacArthur ‘Genius’ Award Winners, Coates said, “When I first got the call from the MacArthur foundation I was ecstatic. . . if anybody even reads what I’m doing, that’s a great day.” Between the World and Me is a finalist for the Kirkus Prize for nonfiction. Between the World and Me is in the form of a letter to Ta-Nehisi’s 14-year-old son. He speaks of the dangers of living in a country where unarmed black men and boys are dying at the hands of police officers….


Essential Wound Prompt #194

Write From The Heart by Hal Zina Bennett is one of my all-time favorite books on writing. The following is an excerpt from Write From The Heart. “I am convinced that every essential wound, by its very nature, has the potential for opening each of us up to the full potential of our very soul. I do not mean to be Pollyannaish about it, either. It’s not a matter of the universe providing us with the challenges we supposedly need for our spiritual growth. I tend to believe in the universe’s ‘benign indifference,’ as Camus once put it, and that God is something like a courageous and loving parent who gives us all we can take in, then lets us go on to live our lives the best we know how. I think that must have been what Joseph Campbell was talking about, too . . . ‘the world is…


Everybody Is Talented, Original and Has Something Important to say.

So says Brenda Ueland and I agree with her. Her book, If You Want to Write, is one of my all-time favorite writing books. She is practical, straightforward and delightful. From the preface: For many years I had a large class of people at the Minneapolis YWCA. I think I was a splendid teacher and so did they. My teaching differs from that of others in this way: I am blessed with a fascinated, inexhaustible interest in all my pupils — their thoughts , adventures, failures, rages, villainies and nobilities, “Tell me more. Tell me exactly what you feel when you tried to kill the man.” . . . “You say his muscles rippled through his shoulders.” Did they really ripple? Did you really see that?” Then the young novelist’s excited defense: “Yes, they did! His muscles were so big they seemed to burst the seams of his coat!” Myself:…

Just Write

How to flesh out villains.

Do you have a villain in your story? Is this scoundrel executing gruesome acts? Is it hard for you to get into the head and heart of the “bad guy?” Does he or she have a heart? Here’s an idea about how to flesh out your baddie. . . so that he/she is someone you can live with for the duration of your writing. Do a freewrite. The antagonist was once a child. What were his/her passions as a teenager? What games did they play as children? What delighted this child? Write about his/her first car. Choose a prompt and write as if you were answering from the villain’s point of view. Imagine you are a neighbor or a relative of the undesirable person. Write about the mean person from someone else’s point of view. What is the turning point, or the chain of events that changed this innocent toddler…

Places to submit

Big Brick Review – ready for your submission

The Big Brick Review Annual Essay Contest open for submissions from now until February 17, 2016. The Big Brick Review seeks personal essays that build on the narrative of our lives, finding new insight to old struggles . . . old insight to new struggles . . . and all shades-of-gray in between. For 2016, the contest theme captures the color of brick and is loosely based on the concept of ‘red/read’—which authors can interpret as creatively as they choose (it’s an adjective! it’s a verb! It means different things in different contexts!). Essays must be narrative non-fiction (that is, they must explore a truth of a human experience as interpreted/experienced by the author) and will be judged on overall strength of writing, compelling content/theme, and interesting style/voice. For more info, visit Contest.


The Zipper . . . Prompt #193

“When we seek closure, we reach out to the zipper. it keeps us warm, prevents things from falling out of purses and lets us cram way too much into our suitcases. When it gets stuck, so do we. Without it, life would be filled with the endless ennui of buttoning and snapping.” — Helen Anders Today’s writing prompt:  Zipper

Guest Bloggers

Guest Blogger Rayne Wolfe: Trust your first readers.

Guest Blogger Rayne Wolfe, Author of Toxic Mom Toolkit, talks about the pain and acceptance of comments and criticism when others critique your writing. “Listening to criticism with an open heart is hard, but it always pays off.” Learning to Love Our First Readers I was in a classroom at the Catamaran Literary Conference in Pebble Beach, my first writing conference ever, and a fellow writer was ripping my work apart. I could feel the shame rise up in my chest, coloring my neck and face with a dark blush. Sitting there among very accomplished writers, including literary prizewinners, even college professors who were all certainly better writers than me, my ears began to ring. Nerves. This fellow writer, who ran her own popular writing conference each summer, was picking apart a chapter from my new book. After publishing my memoir, Toxic Mom Toolkit in 2013, I was tackling a…