New at DIY MFA: Identifying Literary Themes in the Poetry We Read

How have I not written a poetry-focused article for my DIY MFA column before?? Because like novels, short stories, and other longer forms of literature, poetry is chock-full of literary themes. So that’s what my latest Theme: A Story’s Soul post – or, rather, the first of two posts – is about. We’ll go over four questions that can help us identify themes in the poetry we read, then practice them with an in-text exercise using one of my favorite Mary Oliver poems. We’ll also touch on how we can recognize themes (either on our own or with the help of the four questions) across a book of poetry by a single poet.

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New Interviews at Coach Daddy and SheBreathes

Hi, everyone! I’m here to share not just one recent interview I’ve done, but TWO. 🙂

First up is a #GirlsRock interview with Eli at Coach Daddy. The #GirlsRock series is dedicated to highlighting women who are doing amazing things and making the world a better place. Some of the women Eli has interviewed in the past include journalists, podcasters, TV reporters, and musicians / artists. So I’m honored – and psyched! – to be featured on Eli’s blog again. (I wrote this guest post for Coach Daddy back in 2015.) We talk about my editing / writing coaching business Heart of the Story, poetry, and my one piece of advice for women who enjoy writing.

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Heart of the Story’s Question of the Week (Plus, Looking for Feedback on Facebook Groups)

If you follow me and my editing / literary coaching business Heart of the Story on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you may have noticed an experiment I’ve been running on Mondays. It’s called Question of the Week, a conversation starter where I post a question about writing and any writers who are interested can respond.

So far, some of the questions have focused on your current writing project. Others have been about reading (since reading is an instrumental part of being a writer, right?) or the highlights and challenges of the writing process. So the topic varies from week to week; and since it’s not a chat with a set timetable, it’s something you can drop in on at your convenience.

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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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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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My Ten Reading Goals for 2019

Are you one of those readers who challenges yourself to read a certain number of books every year? I’m… well, not one of those people. (*lol*) But I do have a consistent reading habit, and the reading goals I set for myself are more or less to guide my book choices throughout the year. For example, I try to prioritize brand new releases I’m interested in so I can stay on top of my favorite genre’s current market. And, as I shared in this post last year, I read at least one poem per day to help me comb through my extensive collection of poetry books.

But what about other goals, like finishing series I’ve already started? Or borrowing books from the library periodically? Yeeeeaaahhhh…. I haven’t been nearly as good with those. So I decided to organize my next year of reading with LOTS of goals. Ten, to be exact. I was a little afraid that creating so much structure could sap the fun out of reading. But now that I see what’s in my queue, these goals might help put a dent in my TBR pile and keep things interesting. Yay!

Without further ado, here are my reading goals for 2019:

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My Favorite Fiction Reads of 2018

Another year has passed, which means another year’s worth of reading to celebrate! Yes, it’s time to share my favorite fiction reads of 2018. And let me tell you: Even though I had a pretty good idea which of the 53 fiction books I finished last year would end up on this list, I’m glad I didn’t share my list right away – because there was a last-minute shake-up!

Like with past best-of reading lists I’ve posted, this year’s showcases my 10 favorite brand new books of 2018 and 10 favorite previously published books. Unlike past years, though, I’ve made two notable changes. First, goodness, there were too many close calls when I tried ranking the books from #1 to #10! So I opted for alphabetical listing by title instead. Second, and sadly, no giveaway this year. As fun as giveaways can be, I can’t give one the attention it needs right now. So I hope you understand my need for keeping things simple, and you still enjoy reading this post regardless.

Ready to dive into the first list? 😉

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My Favorite Fiction Reads of Fall 2018

Is it really the last week of 2018?? How crazy is that? I could swear that not too long ago, I started reading my first book of the year. And now, 51 weeks and 53 fiction reads later, Christmas has come and gone and 2019 is around the corner. I hope you’ve enjoyed your December holidays so far, and any New Year’s plans you have are fun, warm, and safe. ❤

Out of the 11 books I finished reading over the fall, I’m highlighting my nine favorites in today’s post. The funny thing is, I’m also working on my Favorite Fiction Reads of 2018 post, which will go live in mid-January… and you’ll hear about some of these books again then. No spoilers, though – you’ll have to wait a few more weeks to find out which books made that list. Until then, enjoy these reviews! And feel free to visit each book’s Goodreads page by clicking on its title.  Continue reading

New DIY MFA Post and a Quick Holiday Message

In my DIY MFA posts, we spend a lot of time discussing how to explore literary themes. But we’ve yet to cover why any one theme should matter to readers. So this week, I return to the theme of family (which we first examined in this case study) and share five reasons why it’s so important. From the different types of families to historical and cultural perspectives on family, these whys show how complex and powerful this theme is and how a story can act as a window into the dynamics of a family that’s different than yours or as a mirror of your own.

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