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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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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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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Reflections on 2018 and My Keyword for 2019

The end of December and beginning of January is a thoughtful time of year for me. I think back on the previous year, the highlights and achievements, the setbacks and lessons learned. Then I turn to the year that’s beginning to unfold. I ask myself, “What can I accomplish by the end of the year? What do I want to do? How can I continue to embrace the projects and ideals that matter most to me?”

This year, I’m taking that goal-setting to a new level by trying a New Year’s ritual that my friend Leanne Sowul practices. Every January, she chooses a word to guide her decisions, intentions, and actions for the next 12 months. In that way, it becomes a sort of theme for her year. And knowing what I’ll be up to in the near future, I’ve chosen my own word to be my touchstone for 2019.

Before I share that word, let’s put 2018 into perspective.

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The Seven-Day Book Challenge

Recently, a Facebook friend tagged me on the Seven-Day Book Challenge. I finally got around to it a few weeks ago and “double-teamed” it through FB and Instagram. And then I thought, “Why not share it on the blog, too?”

The rules of the Seven-Day Book Challenge are simple: For seven days, you share a photo or image on Facebook of a different favorite book and nominate another friend to carry on the challenge. There’s no set theme to follow, and you don’t need to write a caption or explanation for why you choose each book. You simply share the photo, tag a friend, and reply to any comments. But for this blog post, I think I’ll “break” one of those rules. 😉

Here are the books I chose for the Seven-Day Book Challenge, and why I picked each one.

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Two New Posts at DIY MFA

DiyMFA

Yes. I’ve been busy on the DIY MFA front lately. 😉

First, in my latest regular article at DIY MFA, I take a break from literary themes to talk about something that many (if not all) writers deal with: perfectionism. By that, I don’t mean the warped belief that everything you write will be perfect. This post goes much deeper, pointing out other beliefs and habits associated with perfectionism and how they harm your writing more than help it. Most importantly, I share how my most recent struggle with perfectionism prompted me to re-read parts of Gabriela Pereira’s DIY MFA book – and what I discovered that inspired me to write this article.

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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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When the Fire Goes Out (and What to Do When This Happens)

I haven’t touched my novel-in-progress since the second week of July.

Yeah. There’s no way of sugarcoating the truth. The good news is, I haven’t stopped writing altogether. But the first draft of the manuscript I’ve been working on for the past year? The desire to open the Word file isn’t there right now. In fact, I think it had been gone for a while, but it took me several weeks to realize it.

Maybe this has happened to you. At some point during a writing project, despite the passion you felt early on, the fire goes out. You might not know the reason why right away. You might not even recognize what the feeling is at first, so you keep pushing on. But once you do… well, depending on your personality, you might have a hard time accepting it.

Today, I’m here to tell you something important: It’s OK. You’re not alone in this, and maybe something in this post might help you get through it and figure out what to do next.

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

DiyMFA

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