Just Write

Writing That First Thing

“Remember that when you’re writing that first thing, you’re in an incredibly precious time. When you’re writing that book or that early story, write for yourself first and foremost. There’s going to come a time when that won’t be the case anymore, when there are going to be all these people who are involved. So, don’t be in any great hurry to publish or to get it out there into the world. Take your time to hone and draft that first book. Appreciate those early years where you’re writing for yourself because it never is quite the same once you start publishing.” Excerpt from a Writer’s Digest interview with Brandon Taylor. The bestselling (and Booker Prize-shortlisted) author discusses the interconnectedness of his work, the importance of short stories, and his latest release, The Late Americans. Interviewed  Michael Woodson The May/June 2023 issue of Writer’s Digest is all about “Keeping It Short” —short forms of…

Book Reviews

Tangled by Blood

Reviewed by Marlene Cullen “Tangled by Blood, a Memoir in Verse” by Rebecca Evans opens with the powerful “I wanted to be your womb,” letting us know this is a manifesto of bold writing. Unveiling her truth in poetic form offers a lyrical quality to her candid and extremely personal stories, revealing a heart that will not be shattered, a voice that will not be shuttered, and a resilience to be admired. Strong writing, impressive abilities, and remarkable insights, Evans shares her journey with integrity, honesty, and unflinching intelligence. “Tangled by Blood” is a treatise to be read and re-read, picking up different nuances with each reading. Available on Amazon. Rebecca Evans’ work reflects, among many things, fractured relationships. This fracturing influences every subsequent relationship—carrying scars and wounds throughout one’s life. Evans weaves disability, domestic violence, and a fight for survival throughout her narratives, hoping to start conversations, create awareness,…


Rain Dog, a Pantoum

Memorable writing that sparks imagination. Lean in. Hear the writer’s voice on the page. Rain Dog, a Pantoum By Suse Pareto Dog is bored and restless. Rain is pouring down. I’m loath to leave this comfy bed, but walk we must, says she.   Rain is pouring down, the road is sodden and feckless. But walk we must, says she, up to the woods we go.   The road is sodden and feckless. The hills are wet and slick. Up to the woods we go, Dog barks in great delight.   The hills are wet and slick, rain drips from leaf and stick. Dog barks in great delight, “Water slithering, sliding everywhere!”   Rain drips from leaf and stick. The gullies run fast and wild, water slithering, sliding everywhere, it’s like the earth has burst.   The gullies run fast and wild, Dog nips at water’s tumble. It’s like the…

Guest Bloggers

Presence and Connection

Guest Blogger Dr. Doreen Downing talks about public speaking, especially for writers. As a writer, you may be able to put words on a page, but … do you have the confident voice to access your words when you must speak in public? If you don’t feel confident, and if you feel anxiety, doubt yourself, hold yourself back, then what you write won’t reach as many ears or as many hearts as you’d like. When I ask my clients what holds them back from feeling at ease speaking about their work, the answer is always fear. And, bottom line, it’s the fear of being judged. It’s true that a judge could be sitting in the audience, listening for your mistakes, and counting your um’s, but more likely than not, the judge that criticizes you the most is perched right inside your own head. In fact, you could be your own…


Steady Going

Memorable writing that sparks imagination. Lean in. Hear the writer’s voice on the page. Steady Going By Christine Renaudin Two months into summer,three in retirement,one more kiss of the sun. I am starting to feel the change in ways that do not rub me wrong, like a shirt grown too tight,or a pair of new shoes     I am settling into a certain ease I didn’t know before, or I had forgotten.There is hardly any rushing through things unless absolutely necessary in case of an emergency. I walk the dog daily. Three months into summer,four in retirement,signs abound, changes beckon. I have trouble remembering what I did on a given day, and I resort to lists to keep track of the books I’ve read and places I’ve gone, so I can tell people when they are kind enough to ask.Morning and afternoon melt in one another.I glide along sweaty, in blissful…


Delicate as a Hummingbird’s Heart

Memorable writing that sparks imagination. Lean in. Hear the writer’s voice on the page. Delicate as a Hummingbird’s Heart By Noah Davis This past Saturday, the fire burning on the north side of the river jumped a ridge and lit another hillside of drought-stricken timber, sending a plume so high that the air turned red with the seared skin of Douglas fir and larch. At 5:30 that evening, in the diner booth across from my father and me, a young man and woman, both with shiny, smooth cheeks, sat drinking their waters in small swallows. He wore a collared, white button down with jeans and scrubbed cowboy boots. Her skirt was blue, like glacial streams, and her straight hair was the color of stacked wheat shafts when the sunlight isn’t choked with smoke. His bangs were still wet from the shower, comb marks straight as irrigation ditches. She ran her…


The Smell of Old, Ancient Time

Memorable writing that sparks imagination. Lean in. Hear the writer’s voice on the page. The Smell of Old, Ancient Time By Mary E. O’Brien Old smells like perfume That’s past its life cycle The scent you get when you are Hoping for exquisite but discover stale.   Old is stale sheets that have absorbed The fevers and worries And peaceful slumbers of The maximum number of humans.  Old time has absorbed into its pores A thousand smiles, given in vain To cheer or to greet, Unreturned.  Old time is a black satin circle, Etched with circular lines that contain, Miraculously, violins piercing the sorry soul Or wandering heart.  Old, ancient time is beige sand Cradling the bones of saints and gladiators Clinging to crevices to keep their shame and secrets in the grave Which we all have a right to.  Old, ancient time smells like a baby’s hair. The very…



Memorable writing that sparks imagination. Lean in. Hear the writer’s voice on the page. Traditions Rebecca Olivia Jones Grandma used flashing colorful lights and handfuls of tinsel like a grotesque costume on her Christmas tree. I loved its tacky design. I watched it before I fell asleep on the couch the night before our Boxing Day. My brother chose to sleep on the floor to be nearer the presents waiting under and all around the tree. Grandma was very democratic in her gift giving to all her younger grandchildren. Five of us were one year apart; Pam 10, Becky 9, Patrick 8, Byron 7, and Danny 6. We each received a large box filled with a bunch of recycled smaller boxes. Grandma would even re-use Tampax boxes for the smallest gifts. Pam and I were thrilled to receive, for example, a doll, a rhinestone necklace, fuzzy slippers and a box…

Just Write

Get past ego to connect

“I think American society alienates us from ourselves, and we have a great need to reconnect. Human beings yearn to connect and to tell our stories before we die. Sometimes we want to write, but when we get down to it, there’s resistance, because the ego gets scared.” — Natalie Goldberg in an interview with Genie Zeiger, “Keep The Hand Moving,” The Sun November 2003. Ideas on how to get past ego and Just Write The Inner Critic Tar Pit of Doom and Despair Is “Go Big or Go Home” Right for You? Rachel Macy Stafford: Live Love Now #amwriting #creativewriting #justwrite #freewrites