Prompts

Hygge . . . Prompt #569

Hygge: “A quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being, regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture.” I bought some pasture-raised eggs the other day and was intrigued by the little information sheet tucked inside the egg carton: Naturally Hygge Hens “Without ever stockpiling cuddly blankets or chunky candles our hens instinctively practice the Danish art of hygee all winter long. Their pasture-raised lifestyle means crisp days spent together enjoying the simple things – tasty grasses, crunchy critters and warm sunshine. As evening falls, they rest in the safety and comfort of the barn. Days with friends and cozy nights with not a screen in sight!” (Vital Farms) Since then, I learned there is a Hygge Facebook page. The following is excerpted from the February 2017 issue of Charlotte at Home. How to achieve hygge at home Because simply defining the term with words like “coziness” and…

Sparks

Letting Cancer Change Me

By Carol Harvey Eight years ago, I lay in an icy cold medical room, convinced that my presence there was a case of mistaken identity. I’d had a routine mammogram a week before and thought nothing of it. I was annoyed when I was called back for a second mammogram on the first day of my daughter’s spring break. We had plans to do something fun that day. This was not it. Immediately after the inconvenient mammogram I was steered into a biopsy room. I chatted with the doctor and radiology tech during the procedure and they answered my naive questions. I then explained that I couldn’t possibly have cancer because I was a self-employed single mom. In just a few months I was going to be an empty nester. Cancer or any life-threatening illness was just not part of that plan. Besides I felt fine. Right after I said…

Sparks

The Inner Critic Tar Pit of Doom and Despair

By Su Shafer Beware the trap that writers often fall into: The Inner Critic Tar Pit of Doom and Despair—the black hole of fear in your head that says you have nothing new or exciting to say or that even if you are personally excited by what you’ve written, it’s not good enough for someone else to read or hear.  The Tar Pit of Doom and Despair is a creative quicksand that will sink the soul right out of your writing, further feeding the fear of mediocrity. The only way to escape this pit is to get out of your head.  I’ve found doing timed free writes is a great way to do this. When your time is restricted, you don’t have time to obsess over a word or a phrase and there simply isn’t enough time to polish. There is something freeing and reassuring about that.  And having a time…

Book Reviews

Charmian Kittredge London: Trailblazer, Author, Adventurer

Carl Rollyson’s review of Charmian Kittredge London: Trailblazer, Author, Adventurer by Iris Jamahl Dunkle. Not often does a biography begin with a villain—a biographer no less. In a rousing opening, Iris Jamahl Dunkle has Irving Stone explode on the scene, romancing Jack London’s widow, Charmian Kittredge London, and dancing her into cooperating with his desire to write a biography, Sailor on Horseback (1938), which casts the woman as the femme fatale that, in effect, drives her husband Jack to suicide. Dunkle’s book might well be titled “Justice to Charmian.”  . . . . . .  Dunkle, who gets on with her story in a lively fashion, feeding our appetite for the fascinating account that supplants Stone’s melodrama. Although Jack London, the writer as adventurer, might overwhelm anyone else’s own story, Dunkle manages to depict her subject in the round, as Charmian saw herself and as others responded to her. Here is…

Places to submit

Tiny Love Stories

Modern Love is a weekly New York Times column, a book, a podcast — and now, in its 16th year, a television show — about relationships, feelings, betrayals and revelations. What kind of love story can you share in two tweets, an Instagram caption or a Facebook post? Tell us a love story from your own life — happy or sad, capturing a moment or a lifetime — in no more than 100 words. Include a picture taken by you that complements your narrative, whether a selfie, screenshot or snapshot. We seek to publish the most funny and heart-wrenching entries we receive. We call them Tiny Love Stories. They are about as long as this paragraph. They must be true and unpublished. Love may be universal, but individual experiences can differ immensely, informed by factors such as race, socio-economic status, gender, disability status, nationality, sexuality, age, religion and culture. As…

Just Write

Writing Personal Essays

We aren’t born knowing how to write personal essays. So, how does one learn to write personal essays? The following is inspired from “A Few Tips for Writing Personal Essays,” by Robert Lee Brewer, March/April 2021 Writer’s Digest. Read personal essays! Then write. You will discover your style as you write. ~ Start with action. Save backstory for later in the essay. The beginning should have a compelling scene that hooks readers and makes them want to continue reading. The following is an example of “start with action.” The hook compelled me to read the entire essay. “When he walked into a San Francisco barbershop after the war, he was told by the owner, ‘We don’t serve Japs here.’ The owner of the barbershop obviously didn’t know who the one-armed Japanese-American was – his name was Daniel Inouye. And, according to one website that honors heroes, he was one tough…

Just Write

Real Names in Memoir?

When writing memoir, the question often comes up, should you use real names? There are no cookie-cutter answers. No one-size-fits-all. In “Between Two Kingdoms” Suleika Jaouad handled the situation by stating in the front of the book, “To preserve the anonymity of certain individuals, I modified identifying details and changed the following names, listed in alphabetical order: Dennis, Estelle, Jake, Joanie, Karen, Sean, and Will.” Tara Westover, author of “Educated,” changed the first name of her parents and siblings. Phuc Tran, author of “Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In” decided to keep “the real names of all adults and changed the names of minors not related to him and adult names he forgot. He said his ‘tenuous’ relationship with his parents meant he didn’t care about their opinions and made his book easier to write, noting, ‘I wrote without worrying…

Prompts

But Why . . . Prompt #568

I’m working on a short piece of writing about a childhood tradition to submit to an anthology. It’s done, except I feel I’m not conveying the heart of it. This afternoon, I asked myself “Why was this so special?” After this blog post, I’m going to look at my story again, and try to dig up the “but why” that made this tradition so meaningful. Writing Prompt: Using something you have written, pull out an excerpt, and answer the question, “But why?” Just write and see where this takes you. But, why?

Just Write

Scene Checklist

Every scene should be told through a character’s point of view. You can have more than one pov character in a book, (but no more than you need). One reason for this type of focusing is so that we feel the character struggle with a scene goal. The struggle takes place through action and dialogue with little internalization/exposition. A scene is a dramatic unit that includes scene goal, conflict (through action and dialogue) and resolution. What does your protagonist want in the story? This is the external plot. The external plot could be as simple as: Will Jane find the killer?? It is not something like: Will Jane find true happiness? This is internal conflict and may even be a subplot. What does your pov character want in this scene (scene goal)? Without a clear scene goal, you will not have a scene; you will have an event. What’s at…

Sparks

Clichés

By Camille Sherman What is the scientific process Of transforming a thing Out of reverence and relevance And into cliché     Is it a simple question of quantity The stomach ache that follows Empty candy wrappers Fanned out before tiny costumed bodies   Is it great expectation A push for originality An inner motor disdained By what’s been done before   Perhaps boredom or impatience A haughty bristle at the suggestion That there is something new to gain   We’ve seen it all before Said it all before Thought it all before   But when no one is looking And we sneak a furtive glance at the stars Or steal the scent of a passing flower Or well at the first notes of a love song Our sweet clichés will rise again Unoffended that we were too cool To remember why they were worthy Of perpetual repetition To begin…