New DIY MFA Post on Writing Exercises for the Theme of Family (Plus, a Quick Note About Iceland)

So far in our recap of the theme of family at DIY MFA, we’ve covered why this theme matters to readers and shared recommendations for books about family. Today, we conclude our recap with a “how-to” post – specifically, how to explore the theme of family in your writing. This post is filled to the brim with writing prompts and brainstorming activities to help you with different angles of approaching this theme, from demonstrating family relationships through dialogue and interaction to using major life events to heighten conflict. So, grab some paper and a pen – or open a new document on your computer – and let’s begin!

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What’s Making Me Happy: February and March 2019 (Plus, I’m on a Semi-Hiatus Until May)

OMG! By the time you read this post, I’ll be back at the Iceland Writers Retreat!! 😀

I have to admit, though: The past two months have been a whirlwind. A big part of that was launching my business Heart of the Story Editorial & Coaching Services in February. Since then, life has been a juggling act between that, the day job, preparing for the Iceland trip, preparing for the ACES Conference (more on that shortly), and some unexpected things in my offline life, including a relative’s health emergency. And I’m aware that while I’m keeping up with my blogging schedule, I’ve fallen behind in just about every other area of this part of my life. 😦

In a way, I knew this was coming… and once I’m back from Iceland, it might be time to slow things down here and finally get the Heart of the Story blog up and running. But for now, let’s focus on the good that’s happened since the previous edition of What’s Making Me Happy. And as always, feel free to share the things that have made you smile recently in your comments on this post!

Let’s begin with…

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New at Writers Helping Writers: This Month’s Guest for Critiques 4 U + Guest Post on Writing Flashbacks

Writers Helping Writers

Yes, I’m posting on Tuesday instead of Wednesday this week! Why? Because something AWESOME is happening at Writers Helping Writers today, and I don’t want you to miss out on it.

Today, Writers Helping Writers (run by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, authors of The Emotion Thesaurus and other best-selling resources for writers) is running its monthly Critiques 4 U contest. The rules are simple: Comment on this morning’s blog post within 24 hours of it going live, and you’ll be entered for the chance to be one of three (3) writers to receive feedback on the first page of your manuscript.

Usually Becca critiques the three winners’ first pages. However, she and Angela have invited a special guest editor for this month’s contest: yours truly! 😀  So if you’re working on a story or manuscript right now, keep reading after the jump for more details.

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My Favorite Fiction Reads of Winter 2019

Did anyone else have a weird season of reading? For my first few books of 2019, I’d love or enjoy one book, then be disappointed by the next one. I was even worried that I’d fall into a reading slump – and I think we can agree that those are never pleasant.

Luckily that back-and-forth didn’t last long. (Hooray!) So out of the 10 fiction books I read over the winter, I’m highlighting seven of them in today’s post. And I have to admit, I like this season’s round-up a LOT. It features a great mix of genres, a couple “hidden gems” that deserve more attention, and a couple early contenders for Favorite New Book of 2019. 😉

Ready for some new book recommendations? Let’s start with…

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Thank You, Mary Oliver (1935 – 2019)

These lines from Mary Oliver’s “When Death Comes” took on new meaning when I read them on the afternoon of January 17, 2019. I’d read the poem before, but time has a way of changing your perception of what you read. In this case, I was re-reading one of Oliver’s most well-known poems about mortality just hours after learning that she, my favorite poet, had died from lymphoma at the age of 83.

The timing was eerie, too. Around the same time last week, I started working on a similar tribute to my favorite author of all time, Ursula K. Le Guin, who had recently passed away. (Oliver died 5 days before the first anniversary of Le Guin’s passing.) So, naturally, I’ve been drawing comparisons between the relationships I have with their work. And I remembered one difference that might surprise some people: While Le Guin’s stories resonated with me right away, it took a few years for me – a fantasy fan and a poet in equal measure – to fall in love with Oliver’s poems.

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Let’s Talk Numbers: Poetry Acceptances and Rejections (Plus, Four Ways to Stay Motivated After Your Writing Is Rejected)

When I was preparing my final poetry submission of 2018 during the last week of December, a surprising question popped into my head: “How many submissions did I send out this year?”

You see, I don’t set goals for a certain number of submissions each month or year, especially since poetry is still a part-time endeavor for me. Instead, I continually write and revise my poems, read various journals, and submit to places that I think would be a good fit for my work. And while I track my submissions, it’s mainly to remind myself of the facts, like which publications I’m waiting to hear from and which poems are currently out on submission.

So, for those reasons, I really had NO idea how many submissions I’d sent out in 2018. (*lol*) And not knowing that number made me curious. So I reviewed my tracking sheet, did some math, and decided to blog about what I found, with some relevant tips to boot.

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The Fellowship of the Ring Book Tag

Ohhhhhhhh this Middle-Earth fangirl was THRILLED to be nominated for this book tag! Nandini at Unputdownable Books created it back in September as part of her Tolkien Reading Month. (Thank you, Nandini!) So it’s taken me a little while to get around to it… But better late than never, right? 🙂

Like with any book tag, let’s establish the “ground rules” – or, rather, points to keep in mind – before we get too far.

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New at DIY MFA: Additional Reading on the Theme of Family

In my previous DIY MFA post, we returned to the theme of family (which we first covered in this case study) and offered five reasons why this theme matters to readers. Today, we continue our deep dive with a wonderfully bookish post. Yes, it’s time for reading recommendations! I share five books that explore the theme of family and briefly explain how they do so (without giving away too many spoilers, of course!). As you read about each one, you might be surprised by not just the variety of genres and kinds of stories represented, but also the different paths each one takes to examine the same theme.

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And the Big Secret Project Is… Heart of the Story Editorial & Coaching Services!

Hi everyone!

This is the Big Secret Project I’ve been working on since September: my own freelance editing and writing coaching business! I know I’ve been teasing about it for a while, but I’ve been reluctant to say much publicly before things were truly ready. And now, it’s Launch Day for…

Heart of the Story Editorial & Coaching Services

So what kinds of services does Heart of the Story offer? Who is the business designed to help? And, what does the business mean for this website? This post will go over all of that. So, without further ado…

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