What’s Making Me Happy: June and July 2018

Ah, summertime in Massachusetts. Some days it’s hot, humid, and a bit thunderstormy. Other days it’s milder and absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately it’s also been dry, and the lawns are starting to turn that worrisome “drought” shade of light brown. Hopefully we’ll get some soaking rains soon.

Other than that, I really can’t complain about June and July. That’s not to say that life was perfect (I’m recovering from another bout of writer’s doubt… but that’s a story for another day). But there was a lot to be happy, excited, or grateful over the past two months – enough that I had some trouble narrowing it down to three highlights per month! So let’s kick things off with…

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Five Reasons to Read a Poem Every Day (or Every Night)

About a year-and-a-half ago, I began reading one poem a day before going to bed. If time allowed, I might read two poems, especially if I was alternating between a regular poetry book and a longer “best-of” collection. Since then, this habit has become as essential to my routine as writing, breathing, and sleeping. More importantly, I’ve already noticed the impact it’s had on my writing as well as my life in general. (That last bit might be a story for another day. *wink*)

Maybe you love poetry, too, yet you struggle to find time to read it because of work, family, and other responsibilities. Or perhaps you haven’t read much poetry before and would like that to change. Reading a poem a day could be the perfect solution – because, like other habits that eventually stick, you might find yourself enjoying this short, simple act so much that your routine will feel incomplete without it.

So, how can you benefit from reading a poem a day? Why should you even try in the first place? Let me give you five reasons, starting with…

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New Post at DIY MFA: Recognizing Themes at Each Stage of the Writing Process

DiyMFA

Here’s a question for any writers who are reading this: At what point in the writing process do you start paying attention to your story’s themes? Does theme even cross your mind as you’re brainstorming, drafting, or revising a story? If you answered “no” – don’t worry, your story probably still contains themes . However, it always helps to have a strong awareness of themes. So in my latest DIY MFA article, we explore ways in which you can develop that awareness at each stage of the process, and how that awareness can improve more than just the story.

Also, a fun fact for you: The conversation I mention during the article’s introduction eventually inspired me to pitch the Theme: A Story’s Soul column to DIY MFA. 😉

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The 2018 Blogoversary: Nine Favorite Writing Tips of All Time

First things first: I miscalculated how old the blog is. We’re celebrating its ninth birthday today, not its tenth. (*face turns red*) Sorry about that!

Regardless, a ninth blogoversary is impressive. I launched this site in 2009 mostly because blogging seemed like fun. (Not to mention I was always happy to find a new outlet for writing.) Since then, I’ve grown so much as a writer and as a person, and the blog has evolved as well. So, from a perspective of reflection, it’s appropriate that this year’s blogoversary post centers on all-time favorite writing advice. (Thank you for the suggestion, Zezee!)

It was challenging, but I narrowed it down to nine favorites to coincide with nine years of blogging. I hope you find these tips as motivating and inspiring as I did when I first came upon them.

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Honoring Your Reality When You’re a Blogger

If you’ve been blogging for a period of time, you’ve probably kept at it because you enjoy it. You’re passionate about your subject, have a strong desire to write about it, and find joy in communicating with like-minded people. Maybe you’ve blocked out time in your schedule for writing your posts, responding to comments, and catching up on friends’ blogs. In short, blogging has become part of your routine, and it’s impossible to imagine your life without it.

That is, until something happens in your offline life, and you have to put your blogging on hold.

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The Creativity Corner: Spring 2018

I’m having a hard time finding the right word to describe this past spring. “Rollercoaster” would be… appropriate, but exaggerated? April was turbulent in terms of stress and emotions, and the beginning of May was busy mostly because of vacation. But for the most part, May and June were much calmer. And regardless of what was going on, I continued making progress on different creative projects… except for one.

Yeah. Unfortunately I lost some momentum (and confidence) with Draft #1 of my new manuscript. But I shouldn’t focus so much on the one hiccup, because the highlights (including a certain cookbook that is now out in the world!!) were fantastic. In fact, let’s kick off this post with…

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Some of My Favorite Things: A Blog Hop

Guess what, everyone? I created a blog hop! 🙂

The truth is, I’ve had a hard time thinking of topics to blog about now that I’m back from my (unexpected) hiatus. It’s as if my brain is a car engine that’s having trouble starting… and it’s a strange feeling, to not know what to write about. So I figured, maybe the best way to get those creative juices flowing again is to do something easy and fun. And that’s how the Some of My Favorite Things was born.

I also had a goal for this post: to choose “favorites” I haven’t blogged about before. In other words, you won’t find anything bookish, writerly, or tea-related (well, at least not tea recommendations *lol*) here. So I think you’ll discover a few new things about me today – and maybe we’ll find we had more in common than we did before. 🙂

So, what did I choose as some of my favorite things? You’ll have to read on to find out. 😉
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New DIY MFA Post on Revenge as a Literary Theme (Plus, Looking for Your Help with This Year’s Blogoversary)

OK, confession time: I’ve been looking forward to covering this theme for a while. 😉 And while revenge is typically considered a literary masterplot, such stories can highlight intriguing insights into what happens when someone seeks vengeance for a perceived wrong. So, with the help of a classic revenge novel (Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights) and a recent spin on superheroes (V.E. Schwab’s Vicious), I explored the theme in my latest post at DIY MFA. Which storytelling elements do these stories use to shed light on this dark, complex theme? You’ll have to read on to find out!

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How to Plan a Tea Party (A Guest Post by Alison Walsh, Author of A Literary Tea Party)

This week, a very special cookbook has come into the world: A LITERARY TEA PARTY, by Alison Walsh, founder and cook at Alison’s Wonderland Recipes. Yes, it’s exactly what you think – a collection of recipes inspired by classic novels and perfect for afternoon teas. Alison and I have been following each other’s blogs for some time; and after she invited me to write the introduction for the cookbook, I knew I wanted to have her stop in for a guest post. So here is Alison, with her tips on planning a fun and delectable tea party.

Tea has been my drink of choice since before I was old enough to work the tea kettle, so it’s no surprise that tea parties are my favorite way to socialize. Four years ago, my bachelorette party was a quiet Irish-themed tea party held with a few friends at my mom’s house, and it’s still one of my fondest memories. I’ve hosted a few teas of my own (and a hot chocolate party!) and even wrote a literary-themed cookbook on the subject.

What is it about tea parties that charms me so? For one thing, I love that they’re designed to facilitate rather than impede meaningful socialization. It’s so much easier to talk in someone’s living room over a cup of tea than in a noisy, crowded bar or restaurant. I also love how, despite having a reputation for formality, tea parties can be as fancy or informal as you want (think high tea in an English manor versus a child’s imaginary tea party with plastic cups and teddy bear guests).

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