Poetry and Nonfiction Reading Round-Up: October 2018

I had an idea while preparing the Favorite Fiction Reads of Summer 2018 post recently. Even though I read nonfiction (mainly on writing and creativity) and poetry as well as fiction, I only ever blog about fiction. But I’m not just a reader. I’m also a poet, a dabbler in speculative fiction, and a perpetual student of the craft of writing. So why not blog about the other kinds of books I read, since they’re just as important to my literary life?

Hence this week’s experiment. This round-up shares mini-reviews of five poetry books and four “writerly” nonfiction books I’ve read over the past few months. If any of them pique your interest, you can check out more information on Goodreads via the link in each title. Most importantly, if this kind of post is something you’d like to see again (maybe every 3 or 4 months), let me know in your comments. That’s the best way for me to know whether this is worth continuing as a blog series.

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My Favorite Fiction Reads of Summer 2018

It’s been a while since I’ve done a seasonal write-up on what I’ve read recently – and boy, it feels good to do one again. Maybe it’s because I read some FANTASTIC books over the past couple months, including a few that might end up near the top of my year-end favorites list. But I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I? We still have three months left in 2018. Who knows how the rest of the year will play out reading-wise, for all of us? 😉

Anyway. Over the summer, I read 13 books, bringing my year-to-date total to 41. Out of those 13, the eight I’m highlighting today are ones I rated 4 stars or higher on Goodreads. (You might be able to guess a few of them from the banner image above. *wink*) If you’d like to check out my complete review of any of these books on Goodreads, click the link in each book’s title.

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The Creativity Corner: Summer 2018 (Plus, A Question for Readers)

So… in terms of writing, this summer turned out much differently than I’d expected it to. If you read last week’s post on losing the passion for a writing project, then you know part of the story. (More on that shortly.) Yet it wasn’t an unproductive or disappointing season. In fact, some good things happened, like continued excitement about A Literary Tea Party, the cookbook I recently wrote an introduction for. And who knows, there may be more news to share in the future. 😉

I know, I’m being a tease. But one thing that’s clear? The second part of the blog post title. I might be making some changes to this series, and I’d appreciate any input that you, the reader, may have.

Let’s dive in so I can explain things in more detail.

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New Post at DIY MFA on Revising (or Avoiding) Preachy Themes in Your Story

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What does it mean when someone describes a story as “preachy”? It doesn’t mean the story is religious. Rather, it means the story’s themes are presented in a forceful or one-sided manner – an approach that often turns readers off. So, in today’s edition of Theme: A Story’s Soul at DIY MFA, I share three writing mistakes that can lead to preachy themes in a story, as well as solutions for each that can bring more subtlety, balance, and realism to how those themes are portrayed. Continue reading

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

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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 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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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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New DIY MFA Article, Plus a Note About My Recent Blogging Absence

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Every story, regardless of its length, pulses with literary themes at its heart. So for this week’s edition of “Theme: A Story’s Soul” at DIY MFA, I turn the column’s focus from novels to short stories. With the help of examples from authors Alethea Black and Ted Chiang, we’ll explore how short stories effectively examine their themes despite – or maybe because of – their word count restrictions and smaller “big picture.”

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Featured on DIY MFA Radio’s “Meet the DIY MFA Team” Podcast

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So, way back in August when I was at Writer’s Digest Conference, I joined several of my DIY MFA colleagues for a team podcast recording for DIY MFA Radio. 😀 It was SO much fun, and we talked about WDC, our tips on writing and attending literary conferences, and our DIY MFA “origin stories” (a.k.a. how we became involved with the site). The podcast is finally available for everyone to listen to on DIY MFA’s Patreon page for free. (In other words, you don’t have to be a paying patron to access it.) This episode is also a great resource for writers who are looking for tips on pitching their manuscript to agents.

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