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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Anne Greenawalt, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Get Ready for National Poetry Month in April

April is National Poetry Month, and although it’s not quite April yet, I wanted to post this now so you have enough time to dust off your poetry-writing skills and get started on time with this nation-wide celebration!

To get in the mood, check out the performance poetry by Sarah Kay below, as well as the rest of the performance poetry playlist.

I often get so busy that it is half way through the month (or sometimes half way through May or June) when I realize National Poetry Month has come and gone and I had done nothing to participate.

Although I am a poetry appreciator, and I have about a half-dozen journals full of poetry written in adolescence, I don’t know if I'd consider myself a poet. I fell out of touch with this art form when I steered towards prose and academic writing.

Last April, however, I discovered the Poem-a-Day (PAD) Challenge on the Writer’s Digest website and tried it. I did not quite write 30 poems in 30 days (I may have written 11...), but the experienced tapped into my inner poet and helped me to find ways to write more expressively in my creative fiction and academic writing.

All people – writers/non-writers, poetry enthusiasts/poetry neutralists – can benefit from taking a moment to read, write, and/or think about poetry, whether it is in April...or at a later date.

What Is National Poetry Month?
According to the Academy of American Poets,

“National Poetry Month is a month-long, national celebration of poetry established by the Academy of American Poets. The concept is to widen the attention of individuals and the media—to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our complex poetic heritage, and to poetry books and journals of wide aesthetic range and concern. We hope to increase the visibility and availability of poetry in popular culture while acknowledging and celebrating poetry’s ability to sustain itself in the many places where it is practiced and appreciated.”
Poets.org answers this question and many more on its National Poetry Month FAQ page.

How Can You Participate?
The American Academy of Poets has created a list of 30 ways to celebrate poetry, including:
  • Read a book of poetry
  • Put poetry in unexpected places
  • Put a poem on the pavement
  • Write a letter to a poet
In addition, Writer’s Digest is again hosting its PAD Challenge (which I will be attempting again this year).

And the Poetry Foundation is offering back copies of Poetry Magazine in April, which are free for individuals, classrooms, and reading groups.

A quick Google search may also announce other opportunities in your hometown.

How do you plan to celebrate?

Written by: Anne Greenawalt, writer and writing instructor

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2. The Demise of Writing as We Know it (!)(?)

In a textbook called The New Literacies, I read the following sentence:
“It is even possible to conceive of a future in which all paper-and-pencil literacies are replaced by digital literacies.”

We have seen the advent of this already…How many of you have a Kindle? (My hand is raised. I, in fact, LOVE my Kindle. And not only do I have a Kindle Paperwhite, I have the Kindle app on my Android phone and Android tablet. But I digress.)

What this sentence is saying goes beyond the shift from paperbacks to e-book readers. These authors suggest that in the future, humans will no longer write long-form essays and stories. They will create content digitally through photos, other graphics, music, and sound…maybe with the assistance of some words, but not necessarily in sentences. And not necessarily lines of verse, either. Possibly just a word here or there to accentuate the other media being used.

This prompted me to look up the definition of “to write”:

“to form (as characters or symbols) on a surface with an instrument (as a pen).” 

This could also be applied to typing letters on a computer, and I suppose it could also cover the process of putting other types of symbols together (other than letters) to communicate a message. In this case, using digital media to communicate a message or story could be like a form of writing.

Will digital media eventually replace writing as we know it?

"Borneo: Memory of the Caves"
My first reaction to this is "No! We cannot and we will not lose writing!" When I pause to reflect on it, this doesn't seem like an outrageous trajectory for the writing process. Human's written communication skills have evolved from cave drawings to what it is now because of new tools and technologies, so it makes sense that it will continue to evolve.

If that is the case, what do you suppose that means for the future of writers? Do you think in the future, instead of writing this blog post, I will communicate it to you in a series of photos and audio? Some blogs and websites already do this.

In the future, instead of writing a novel, will it be read aloud (like an audiobook) with a companion series of images or video (maybe like a really long movie)?

What might the future hold for writers given the changes in technology? I do not anticipate that in my lifetime I will see the demise of the novel as we currently know it…but what might it look like in a 100 years from now?

By Anne Greenawalt: writer, writing instructor, and Adult Education doctoral student

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3. Spring 2011 Flash Fiction Contest Runner-Up: Cheryl Fines

Cheryl’s Bio:
At forty-six, Cheryl Fines is finally indulging in a lifelong love of writing, experimenting with many different formats of poetry and prose. She has written a number of short stories and flash fiction pieces, is working on a novel, and has dabbled in a wide range of poetic forms. After years of being a stay-at-home-mom, she is embarking on a new career with her return to university to study Education, which will provide her the opportunity to share her enthusiasm for literature and writing with young people.

If you haven't done so already, check out Cheryl's award-winning story "Destiny Darjeeling," and then return here for a chat with the author!

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the 2011 Spring Flash Fiction contest!  Where did you get your inspiration for your story, “Destiny Darjeeling”?

Cheryl: I was thinking back on a psychic fair I attended a long time ago. There were many different kinds of psychics there, as there were in my story. I am not a believer in any of them, but there were a lot of people there who seemed to be taking it all very seriously. That comes back to me from time to time - I wonder how so many people can have faith in such things ... and then sometimes I wonder what would happen if there really was something to it. It was one of these moments that prompted the writing of the story.

WOW: Wondering “what if” is a great way to get a story started!  What prompted you to finally indulge in your lifelong love of writing?

Cheryl: I'd decided to return to school to become a teacher. My first degree didn't have the courses I needed for admission to the program, so I returned last year to take four English literature courses, and a history. Both subject areas were writing-heavy. I was enjoying writing so much (though of course a different style of writing altogether) that I wanted to write strictly for my own enjoyment. I found WOW - and flash fiction - and challenged myself to write a few pieces. I've since also joined a couple of online writing communities, and really appreciate the feedback and supportive environment in them.

WOW: We’re glad you found us!  What do you like best about fiction writing?

1 Comments on Spring 2011 Flash Fiction Contest Runner-Up: Cheryl Fines, last added: 10/12/2011
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4. National Day on Writing: Why Do You Write?

photo by stuart miles
The National Writing Project (NWP) celebrated why writers write for the National Day on Writing on October 20, 2011 by collecting essays from all different types of writers: fiction writers, scientists, memoirists, journalists, teachers, students, business writers, and more.

I subscribed to NWP’s RSS feed, and for several weeks new essays about writing were delivered to my Google reader. Learning about other people’s love for writing, hearing why they love it and why they continue to do it has inspired me and my own writing. Although the official National Day of Writing has passed, these essays are still available, and I hope they can inspire you and your writing, too.

In addition to submitting essays on why they write, writers participated in this event in the following ways:

• submitting and/or reading student essays on writing at figment.com
• listening to interviews with reporters at the New York Times Learning Network

• tweeting with #whyiwrite

• posting reasons why they write on facebook

…and more.

As the NWP website says, “Writing has been fundamental to human civilization since the first hieroglyphs, and it becomes more important everyday in our world that streams with emails, text messages, tweets, and blog posts. We are all writers, yet the why of writing is a topic of continual exploration.”

So let’s continue this dialogue and exploration on writing!

I write because it’s the best way to organize my thoughts and feelings. I write to explore different characters and situations. I write as a form of mediation. I write with expectations of connecting with other human beings. I write because I love writing.

WHY do you write?

8 Comments on National Day on Writing: Why Do You Write?, last added: 10/26/2011
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5. Goal Setting for Writers

picture by jscreations @ freedigitalphotos.net
I know goal-setting blog posts and articles are published around the New Year, so I considered saving this post until then.  I decided, however, to post it now. 


Because setting goals only for the New Year is silly.  It’s never too early (or too late) to set goals and to start achieving them. 

How to Set a Goal

One of the many lessons I learned as a competitive swimmer is how to set a goal.  Goals need to be both measurable and achievable.  You also need to re-evaluate your goals after a certain interval, or after you’ve achieved them.

Measurable Goals

For example, if your goal is to “write more,” this is probably an achievable goal, but it’s not easily measured.  A stronger, more measurable goal would be “I will write for 20 minutes three times per week” or “I will complete one full short story by December 31, 2011.” 

These are clear goals. After a few weeks you can look back on your writing habits and determine whether you have indeed written for 20 minutes three times per week, or on December 31, 2011 you can see whether or not you have completed a full short story.

Achievable Goals

Goals should also be achievable.  It’s easy to get overeager or overconfident when you set goals.  Believe me, I know.  I think, if I set really challenging goals, I will achieve more.  This is a good idea in theory but it usually ends up backfiring – I set my goals too high, I don’t reach them, and I end up feeling guilty or lazy. 

Start with small goals.  “I will complete one full short story by December 31, 2011” might be a small, simple goal for some of you, however, if you have never written a full short story before, and you are anticipating a houseful of guests for several days over the holidays, that goal might be too challenging.  You might need to push back the deadline.  And that’s ok.  Work with your schedule.

Re-evaluate Goals

Remember to re-evaluate your goals periodically, especially after you’ve reached a goal.  And then set new goals.  If you are able to complete a full short story by December 31, perhaps your next goal can be “I will submit my completed short story to three different publications and/or contests.” 

Keep working towards a goal to stay motivated.  It’s easy to slack off and “forget” to write or “not have time” to write if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve.

3 Comments on Goal Setting for Writers, last added: 11/28/2011
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6. Interview with Michelle Martinez - Summer '11 Flash Fiction Contest Runner-Up

Michelle’s Bio:
Michelle Martinez is currently a librarian at Sam Houston State University. She lives with her cat but isn’t a crazy cat-lady, merely crazy. Her dachshund is currently being hostage by her parents. Writing is her passion and her future, and so is her mafia-looking boyfriend in New Jersey.

If you haven't done so already, check out Michelle's award-winning story "Unbuckling Orion's Belt" and return here for a chat with the author.

WOW!: Congratulations on placing in the WOW! Summer Flash Fiction Contest.  How did you begin writing this story, or what was your inspiration for it?

Michelle: The images from the story started out when I thought of writing something about mythology or the stars, and the phrase "unbuckling Orion's belt" just came to me and I started writing. I typically write poetry when not working on the next great bestseller, and my writing uses mythology at its foundation and, often, core. "Unbuckling Orion's Belt" started over a year or two ago as a free-verse poem for an online writing class. I found it on my flash drive and began tweaking it, and turned it into a prose poem. When I showed this piece to my mentor, he suggested "Unbuckling Orion's Belt" would actually work well as flash fiction. As I worked on this piece, I made some changes for the flash fiction contest, editing out some lengthier parts and learning more about the mythology behind Orion, which included that his mother was an Amazonian warrior. Whether what I read was an accurate version of the Greek myth or not didn't matter to me, I appropriated it anyway because of my own Hispanic heritage and the desire to make the flash fiction more personal in a sense.

WOW!: I love to hear about the evolution and revision processes of a writer’s work.  Thanks for sharing!  What do you enjoy most about writing?

Michelle: Writing forces me to drop all bagg

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7. Interview with Nicole Amsler: Summer 2010 Contest Runner-Up

Nicole’s Bio:
Nicole Amsler makes her living as a writer, by writing press releases, magazine articles and web content for business clients. She owns Keylocke Services, a copywriting and marketing consultant firm for small businesses. Her business allows her to write copy for clients from her home office—squeezing in short stories and full-length novels in her spare time.

Fiction is her first love—from her first handwritten novel in 2nd grade to her many “drawer novels”—not yet fit for human consumption. Nicole has published a handful of short stories and is an avid proponent of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). She has won NaNo four times, including last year’s novel “Dismantling Spider Webs” about forgiveness. This year’s novel is titled “Zone Trippers” which examines identity.

Nicole speaks regularly on editing, the writing process and marketing. She currently lives in Ohio with her family, where she runs a book club, stalks her favorite authors, teaches improv acting to elementary students and seldom sleeps.

She can be found on Facebook, Twitter, her personal blog and in the local coffee shop.

If you haven't done so already, check out Nicole's award-winning story "Looking for Death" and then return here for a conversation with the author.

WOW!: Congratulations on placing in the WOW! Fall 2010 Flash Fiction Contest! How did you begin writing this story, or what was your inspiration for it?

: I’ve had a reoccurring dream for about 30 years. I am standing in my Dad’s backyard and I see a plane crash. Of course, I have never actually seen it happen but it remains very vivid to me.

The story started out with a child’s difficulty understanding death and the planting of the body. But as I wrote the first draft, I realized it was the father who was grappling with a pointless death. I kept the son in a longer version but found the story was stronger if it was just Mason’s story. Trying to bring the story down to 750 words ended up crystallizing it.

WOW!: We’re glad you’ve had a positive flash fiction writing experience. It’s certainly different than novel writing. What, if anything, did you learn about yourself each time you’ve completed a novel for NaNoWriMo?

: I have completed several and I find it very similar to birthing stories. There are no two experiences alike and the birthing process has no bearing on how your child turns out. My first novel (Holiday Cards) was pure magic—the story flowed, my characters were vivid and well rounded, and I found surprises around every corner. Sadly, though, it was entirely plot free. I still have hope for it though. I just think I need to be a better, wiser writer before I can do it justice.

Another year—Dismantling Spider Webs—was a complex, detailed character study. It is completed and is being work-shopped but I know it is still missing something.

This year’s NaNo novel was pure inspiration. I imagined the catalyst act in about two minutes and suddenly I had a whole book. It has been a rollercoaster, trying to write outside of my genre about topics I don’t understand but I embraced the NaNo challenge of just getting words on paper. I consider this year’s book—Zone Trippers—to be more about discovery writing than even a

4 Comments on Interview with Nicole Amsler: Summer 2010 Contest Runner-Up, last added: 1/12/2011
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8. Interview with Linda Lisa McGrew: Third Place Winner in the Fall Flash Fiction Contest

Linda’s Bio:

After several years as an entrepreneur, at the age of 25, Linda Lisa McGrew sold her business, her house, her car and almost all her earthly possessions. She took her bicycle to New Zealand with plans of touring this unknown and beautiful country for two months, then returning home. This was the beginning of her lessons on how planning is useless. The other lessons? A previously unknown passion for travel and knack for adapting to new environments. Two months later she found herself living in Maui, doing yoga and surfing fulltime. It was here she began to explore the life of a writer. But she was not completely fulfilled, and dreamed bigger dreams; that of becoming an international business consultant. With this in mind, she returned to Canada to complete an MBA. For her thesis project, she thought it exciting to study some aspect of business in China. In August of 2007, she went to Shanghai, with a plan to spend two months there, completing her thesis and learning about the next super power, in order to help her with her consulting firm. She had apparently forgotten lesson number one. Again, the universe laughed at her plans. She fell in love. This love was not a typical love, though. It was not human. It was the love for a people, a country, a language, a culture and a life. It was inevitable karmic-past-life-energy that she could not pull away from. Linda lived, worked, studied and played in China for another three years. Libraries of books could not describe or express all that she learned in that time. She had become a lif-er. She was going to live there forever. Happily ever after. Currently, Linda McGrew travels for a living by writing for several adventure and travel magazines. She is also working on two novels, both based in China.

Find out more about Linda by visiting her blog: http://www.lilimcg.com./

Read Linda's third place story "A Chinese Haircut" and return here for a chat with the author!

WOW: You have quite an exciting biography! Is your story based on a real experience, or what is your inspiration for your story?

Linda: The story is a mix of several experiences I had personally in China as well as horror stories I heard from friends. There is certainly an element of fear alongside the excitement of living abroad, and I took that with a pinch of humor to tell the tale.

WOW: You brought out both that fear and excitement very well in your story. What do you like best and least about travel writing?

Linda: I love experiencing unexpected adventure, meeting incredible people and overcoming challenges. The pleasure comes mainly from getting to tell others all about it. My major focus in doing so is to dispel ignorance and fear of other people and places. We're all 99.99% the same and all want the same fundamental things.

The major difficulty is getting paid to do something you would do for free - because what happens is you end up doing it for free more often than not.

WOW: What is your traveling/writing schedule like?

Linda: Schedule?!? I am genera

1 Comments on Interview with Linda Lisa McGrew: Third Place Winner in the Fall Flash Fiction Contest, last added: 3/15/2011
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9. Interview with Dawn Curtis - Runner-Up in the Fall 2010 Flash Fiction Contest

Dawn’s Bio:

An on-again, off-again writer for most of her life, Dawn started to focus more on her writing seven years ago, about the same time she got serious about yoga. Curious about the amazing effect yoga was having on her creative process, Dawn discovered other yogi-writers through study with Jeffrey Davis, author of Journey From the Center to the Page. Already a yoga teacher, she completed Yoga as Muse facilitator training with Davis in 2010.

Dawn credits Yoga as Muse with helping her establish a regular writing practice, and with overcoming fears of sitting down to write and finding she has nothing to say. Instead, she’s discovered that the body is a storehouse of emotions and memories that, through gentle movement and breathing, can yield rich, creative imagery.

The long, dark winters in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada where Dawn lives with her daughter are perfect for delving into the creative realm. She is currently at work on her first novel and her play, Fish Out of Water, will be produced in 2011. Dawn is also very excited to offer Yoga as Muse workshops for yogis, writers, and anyone interested in exploring how yoga's skillful means can enhance a creative life.

Find out more about what Dawn’s up to on Facebook, Twitter (@dawngcurtis), her website at http://www.dawncurtis.com/, and on Jeffrey Davis’ Yoga as Muse page at http://www.trackingwonder.com/.

If you haven't done so already, check out Dawn's award-winning story "Low-Hanging Fruit" and return here for a chat with the author!

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Fall 2010 Flash Fiction Contest! What is your inspiration for your story?

Dawn: I adapted Low-Hanging Fruit from a passage in a novel I'm working on that is inspired in part by my grandmother's life, growing up in an Italian immigrant family in northern Ontario during WWI. Though the situation the character finds herself in is, as far as I know, purely fiction!

WOW: Sounds like the novel will be a great story! What do you like best about writing?

Dawn: I really enjoy the process of writing, when I'm in the "flow" and the writing seems to just be coming without any conscious effort on my part. I'm endlessly fascinated by where the subconscious mind takes us when we stand aside, quiet our "inner heckler" and just get lost in the drafting process. On the other end, I also love the work involved in refining and honing my rough material into a finished piece - kind of like fitting the pieces of a puzzle together.

WOW: In your bio, you’ve credited Yoga as Muse for helping you establish a regular writing practice. How has it helped, and what is your writing schedule like?

Dawn: In Yoga as Muse, there are four basic preparations for a successful writing practise:
1) Writing with intention
2) Showing up

2 Comments on Interview with Dawn Curtis - Runner-Up in the Fall 2010 Flash Fiction Contest, last added: 4/12/2011
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10. Tips from a Burgeoning Travel Writer

photo by renjith krishnan
by: Anne Greenawalt

For the past three weeks, from Mother’s Day on May 8th until Friday, May 27th, I traveled cross country with my mom byAmtrak to interview other mother-daughter duos for a storytelling endeavor that will become the final project of my master’s degree in communications. 

I packed a portable “office” so I could blog about my travels along the way and document information about the people we met and the places we visited.  I included these items in my portable office:

-          Laptop

-          Digital camera

-          Digital and very compact video camera about the size of a cell phone

-          Digital audio recorder

-          Android cell phone

My cell phone came in handy because I used an app called PdaNet which allowed me to use the Internet on my phone to access the Internet from my compu

3 Comments on Tips from a Burgeoning Travel Writer, last added: 5/31/2011
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11. Social Networking for Authors and Avid Readers

photo by: Paul
I don't have time for another social networking site! 

That’s what I thought when I heard about Goodreads, a book social networking site that allows users to add books to their virtual bookshelves, share what they read, see their friends’ bookshelves, read and write book reviews, and connect with readers around the world with similar literary interests.

For authors and avid readers like yourself, this isn’t just “another social networking site” – it’s a site designed with your needs in mind.

The Goodreads mission?  “To get people excited about reading. Along the way, we plan to improve the process of reading and learning throughout the world.”

The initial goal of the site was to allow friends to share and recommend books with each other, but shortly after its launch in 2006, Goodreads creators added the Author Program, which, according to the web site: “is a completely free feature designed to help authors reach their target audience — passionate readers. This is the perfect place for new and established authors to promote their books.”

In an interview with Patrick Brown, the Community Manager at Goodreads, he says, “the best way for an author to build a presence on Goodreads is to be an active Goodreads member. That is, they should write reviews of the books they read, participate in groups, and generally use the site as a reader might. In addition to this, they can do some very simple things to get the word out that are not intrusive. If the author is already writing a blog, they can sync that to their author profile. If they aren’t writing a blog, they can start one. They can post videos, ebook excerpts, polls, etc. All of that will end up in their friends’ and fans’ update feeds.”

In an interview with Jeff Bennington, Jeff lists Goodreads as one of the top ways authors can promote themselves.  He says, “Goodreads "giveaways" are an incredible tool to publicize your book. I also like what my ad on Goodreads is doing. The thing with Goodreads is not how many clicks or sales you get, but how many folks "add" your book. When they do that, they are more or less planning on buying your book when they get to it, and they will, because most readers on Goodreads are avid readers and love talking about what they read, so they will also rate and review your book, which is another benefit of that site.”

The NoSpinPR blog lists “Ten tips for authors taking the Goodreads plunge” and blogger Phoebe Nort

2 Comments on Social Networking for Authors and Avid Readers, last added: 7/4/2011
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12. Interview with Michael Throne: Winner of the Spring 2011 Flash Fiction Contest

Mike Throne lives in North Virginia with his wife and three daughters. A graduate of Goshen College, Mike spent twenty-five years building a wind chime company from a one man show to a factory that sells wind chimes to thousands of stores across the country. In 2006, Mike sold the business to begin working on his new passion, fiction writing. He has been learning his new craft through a course at Northern Virginia Community College, a supportive writers’ group, and Faithwriters.com, a Christian-based online writers’ resource. Mike feels that writing is his calling. Other stories written by Mike can be seen on Mike's profile at Faithwriters.com. Mike is currently working on a book of interrelated short stories, and when he’s not writing, he enjoys camping with his family.

If you haven't done so already, read Mike's award-winning story "Stress Fracture" and then return here for a conversation with the author.

WOW: Congratulations on placing first in the WOW! Spring 2011 Flash Fiction Contest! Where did you get your inspiration for your story, “Stress Fracture”?

Mike: The inspiration for "Stress Fracture" came from the Faithwriters.com prompt, "Outlandish." I had an easy enough time coming up with a woman who was dressing outlandishly, but then I had to figure out why. Once I decided that she was covering bruises from abuse, I took it the next step by giving her a British persona, which she used to deflect attention from the more obvious reasons for her excessive makeup and concealing clothes.

I do have to say that Faithwriters has been quite helpful in my attempt to develop my writing skills. The "Weekly Challenge" has been a good resource in that it helps me discipline myself to write regularly, almost every week, and the feedback is always encouraging. Having my stories ranked among the hundred or so others gives me a good sense of what seems to be working and where I fall short. Also, because there are several exceptional writers who contribute, I learn simply by reading their work. It is, at times, quite humbling.

WOW: That’s great that you’ve found a writing community that’s been so helpful and nourishing for you and your writing! When did you realize you wanted to be a fiction writer?

Mike: I have always enjoyed writing, and when I was young I thought that I might write for a living. During and after college, I worked hard at prose and poetry, but didn't feel my work was strong enough to continue.

After I sold my small business several years ago, I wanted to try writing fiction. I found it to be a calling, something that I felt led to do, though I'm not sure why. I have found fiction writing to be difficult, and frustrating to the point of actually wanting to give up on numerous occasions, but then something good happens (like this WOW contest) and I am encouraged to continue.

WOW: It can be a daunting process, but winning contests is definitely a motivator! Glad we could help. What do you like best about fiction writing?

Mike: What I enjoy most about writing is when, after many hours and multiple rewrites, a story finally comes together. There is always room for improvement, always, but sometimes the stories just work.

"Stress Fracture" was one that worked, but after I had submitted it to Faithwriters and shown it to some friends, I began to have doubts.

1 Comments on Interview with Michael Throne: Winner of the Spring 2011 Flash Fiction Contest, last added: 9/6/2011
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13. Reading: an Apprenticeship

photo by nuttakit @ freedigitalphotos.net
Reading, for writers, is like an apprenticeship. You, the writer, study the craft of the great masters, and then you try to mimic the master’s style until you get the hang of it and evolve into your own style. You can also learn what not to do from not-so-masterful writing, but in any case, you are learning about writing every time you read.

Reading, for avid readers such as me, can become an expensive hobby. It can also become a back-breaking hobby, which I learned after moving about 20 boxes of boxes out of a third-floor walk-up apartment into a different third-floor walk-up apartment this winter. That detail is kind of beside the point, except that that incident is what prompted me to finally invest in an e-book reader.

Do you have an e-book reader?

If so, you need to check out this column from eBookNewser that directs you to free e-books across multiple platforms (Kindle, Nook, etc) every day! That’s 365 free e-books per year! Sometimes 366!

The free e-books are either public domain classics like Frankenstein or Pride & Prejudice, books that are available for a limited time from places like Barnes & Noble or Amazon, or they’re books by self-published authors through Smashwords or Lulu. The site includes books from multiple genres so they’re something for everyone in the free e-book archive.

If you are impatient and/or greedy and want more than one free e-book per day, then check out these sites that offer databases full of free e-books:
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14. The Top 10 Things I've Learned By Teaching English 101

I’ve learned as much about writing in the past six weeks as an English Composition 101 instructor than I had in the 20 (or so) years I’ve spent as a student.

That might be an extreme statement, but reading my students' writing with a critical eye has taken me back to the fundamentals of the craft, and re-learning these makes me feel like a brand-new, fresh and eager writer again. I thought these English 101 basics were engrained in my soul, or at least my brain, but I realized how much I needed a refresher.

Here are the top 10 essential points of writing that I’ve learned by teaching English 101:

10. Going through a step-by-step writing process creates much better, more effective writing

9. Always consider the purpose and audience before, during, and after you write

8. Sometimes it’s ok to use sentence fragments, but not often

7. More words does not equal stronger meaning

6. Correctly-placed commas and apostrophes do make a difference

5. Titles, although they don’t make or break a story or essay, are often more important and more effective than the opening paragraph

4. On that note, the first paragraph or two of each rough draft can probably get cut – start with action, not a boring introduction

3. Straight-forward chronological narratives are not nearly as exciting as narratives that make shifts in time

2. “Show, don’t tell” might be a cliché, but it’s *almost* the best piece of writing advice I can give

1. In her journal, one of my students wrote that it’s a privilege for someone to read her writing. This is an important thing to remember: take pride in your writing! It is a privilege for someone to read the heart and soul you poured onto the page.

Thank you to my English 101 class for the motivation and inspiration for this blog post!

By: Anne Greenawalt
Anne on Google+

2 Comments on The Top 10 Things I've Learned By Teaching English 101, last added: 10/5/2011
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15. The Espresso Book Machine 2.0

by: Anne Greenawalt

Imagine walking into your favorite bookstore or library. Imagine there are no books on the shelves, or there may be no shelves at all. Imagine that the only object in the store is a computer hooked up to a printer and book-binding machine. Imagine clicking a few buttons on the computer, waiting two to three minutes and having a freshly printed and bound book slide down a chute right into your hands.

This scenario no longer exists in the distant future.

The Espresso Book Machine (EBM), named for its speed and not its relationship to coffee, is like a vending machine for books. This machine, produced by On Demand Books, has the potential to revolutionize the future of book publishing as we know it.

“What Gutenberg did for Europe in the 15th century, digitization and the Espresso Book Machine can do for the world…today!” claims On Demand Books.

So what exactly is the EBM?
According to the EBM brochure, “The EBM 2.0 is a fully integrated patented book-making machine that can automatically print, bind, and trim on demand at point of sale perfect-bound library-quality paperback books with full-color covers in minutes for a production cost of a penny a page.”

Sounds pretty fancy, but what does this machine mean for today’s readers and writers?

Perhaps, if you’re like me, you’re terrified to think that digitization and the Espresso Book Machine will soon lead to the demolition of bookstores. But on the upside, this machine, according to its brochure, “makes it possible to distribute virtually every book ever published, in any language, anywhere on earth, as easily, quickly, and cheaply as e-mail.”

For readers, this means you can have any book of your choice at your fingertips in only a few minutes for only a few cents per page.

Writers, this means your work can be sent anywhere in the world in seconds and printed and bound a few moments later, potentially expanding your audience exponentially.

Future of book publishing
The EBM already exists in multiple locations within 13 US states as well as in six other countries. On Demand Books hopes to have 80 machines in operation worldwide by the end of 2011.

Are you excited that book buying will be this much easier and cheaper and that your books can be easily and quickly distributed worldwide without risk of ever going out of print? Or are you terrified that our creative havens of bookstores and libraries might no longer exist in the future?
I am caught somewhere in between.
Check out the EBM in action.

Anne Greenawalt (http://anne-greenawalt.blogspot.com/) is a fiction writer dabbling in the art of literary journalism.

1 Comments on The Espresso Book Machine 2.0, last added: 4/26/2010
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16. Creating Dynamic Characters in 5 Easy Steps

by: Anne Greenawalt

Everyone has a favorite character or characters from the books they read or the movies they watch. Who is yours? One of my favorite characters of all-time is Scout Finch because she is a courageous tomboy who tries to keep up with her older brother. The first time I read To Kill a Mocking Bird in seventh grade, I matched that description – I liked Scout because she was kind of like me and I could relate to her.

On the other hand, one of my other all-time favorite characters is Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, and although I admire her character, I hope I don’t resemble her too much! Her darkness, power, ruthlessness and even her green skin has always intrigued me.

Have you ever wished to create a character that others will either love, or love to hate, for generations to come? Ever wondered how writers create these delectable characters? You can create dynamic, memorable characters by following these five easy steps.

Characterization Step #1: Appearance
What does your character look like?

Does she have blue hair and pink eyes? Is he short with wispy hair and a mole the size of a baseball on his left cheek? Is it twelve feet tall with orange spikes and purple spots? Anything unusual you can add will make your character more memorable. Think of your favorite characters or other popular characters. For example: Pippi Longstocking’s bright red pigtails that stick straight out to the side.

Characterization Step #2: Actions
How does your character act?

Is she a ghost haunting her hometown? Is he a boxing star competing on national television? Maybe he is always shy and quiet unless someone is picking on his little sister. Or perhaps she’s loud and bubbly and never sits still unless she’s sleeping – and even then she often talks in her sleep. In Jerry Spinelli’s Maniac Magee, my favorite book as a kid, Maniac is known for many of his actions such as untying the un-tyable knot.

Characterization Step #3: Thoughts
What does your character think about?

Does she brood all day about not being allowed to fly to the moon? Does he wish he was a superhero so he could save his city from evil? Tom the Builder in Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth often thinks about how to feed his family at the beginning of the novel. In The Glass Castle Jeannette worries about her parents.

Characterization Step #4: Speech
How does your character speak?

Does he have a lisp? Does she have a gravely, smoker’s voice? What types of things does your character say? Maybe he speaks with a British accent and calls everyone “mate.” Or perhaps she says, “You know?” at the end of every sentence. Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye, for example, has a very distinctive, casual way of speaking.

Characterization Step #5: Interactions
How does your character interact with other characters?

Does he always steal the younger kids’ lunch money? Are she and her twin sister finishing each other’s sentences one minute and stealing each other’s boyfriend the next? You should consider your character’s best friend and your character’s worst enemy. For example, knowing that Harry Potter’s best friend is Ron Weasley – a normal, harmless wizard-to-be, and his worst enemy is Voldemort – the most evil and feared wizard of all, tells a lot about Harry Potter’s character.


4 Comments on Creating Dynamic Characters in 5 Easy Steps, last added: 5/9/2010
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17. Creating Dynamic Characters: A Writing Exercise

By: Anne Greenawalt

Writers know that creating strong, memorable characters is one of the most (if not the most) important part of writing a story. In a blog post earlier this month, I wrote about how to create dynamic characters in five easy steps. And now, as promised, I am following-up with a character-creation writing exercise.

This is one of my favorite writing exercises and benefits writers of every age and writing level. I learned this exercise as an undergraduate. I have lead several creative writing workshops for students ranging in age from nine to 18 who also benefited from it. Adult writers have also told me they find this exercise useful, so I hope you will, too.

The Character List

First, consider the character you’d like to develop. Next, grab a piece of paper, or open a blank word document, and jot down an answer or description that matches each of the categories below. Feel free to add your own categories to this list.

· Character’s name and age
· Hair color and style
· Nose shape and size
· Most noticeable feature
· Type of clothing
· Body type
· Education
· Occupation
· Describe a scar or tattoo
· Describe character’s voice
· List a phrase your character often says
· Favorite food
· Least favorite food
· Favorite past time
· Worst nightmare
· Best childhood memory
· Most embarrassing moment
· Life goal
· Describe best friendDescribe worst enemy

The Character Scenario

Now, using this new information, you can write a short one-page story about your character. Here is the scenario – your character boards a plane going to _________ (insert location of your choice). As your character settles into her/his/it’s seat, her/his/it’s worst enemy sits in the seat beside her/him/it. What happens? If you get on a roll and want to write more than a page, that’s fine.

The exercise will help you see and hear your character, learn your character’s thoughts, see your character’s actions and how your character interacts with others. These are all key elements to creating a great character. It’s important for a writer to know her/his characters inside and out. You should know your characters’ birthdays, what their parents were like, how many times they have seen the Shrek movies. It’s useful for you, as the writer, to know this information even if it is not a part of your story or novel.

Other Character-Creation Exercises

Still need more help getting to know your characters? The character interview is another great method for developing your character. First, imagine you are your character. Next, have friends, family or writing group members interview you. You have to answer each of their questions from the perspective of your character.

Do you have any other character-creation exercises you find helpful? Please share! We’d love to hear them.

When Anne Greenawalt (http://anne-greenawalt.blogspot.com/) was in second grade, she used to write letters to herself pretending to be her story characters.
18. Organize Your Social-Networking Life

Anyone who’s overwhelmed by social networking, raise your hand.

I know my hand’s in the air!

I'm on facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, I have a blog, and I recently signed up for Digg and Stumble Upon. I joined a site called LiveMocha to learn Chinese and realized afterwards that even that came with its own international social network.

It’s important for writers to learn social networking tools and skills because it helps us connect to a writing community and market ourselves as writers. But it can be very time consuming, a little confusing and sometimes overwhelming. Not only do you have to maintain your own sites and profiles, but you have to read other people’s posts and status updates, comment on them and find other ways to interact online.

Who has time to do all of that?? Although I enjoy social networking, I often become so engrossed in it that I don’t realize two or three hours have gone by.

I have found a very useful tool that has helped me by allowing me to organize all of my social networking venues on one screen…which saves so much time. With all of them on one screen, I don’t have to keep switching from site to site to post and/or search for new information. It’s all there in one glance of my computer.

iGoogle is Google’s customizable homepage on which you can add all of your favorite social networking tools and RSS feeds as well as other applications like news and games. I have Twitter, facebook and Blogger lined up beside each other at the top of the page, followed by the RSS feeds of major blogs I follow. It’s great! It saves so much time and I'm staying better informed of the happenings of other writers, agents and editors.

Here’s a short video by Google explaining how easy it is to use iGoogle:

If you check out iGoogle and like what you see, you can start organizing your social-networking life today!

What are some other methods you’ve used to organize your social networks?

Written by: Anne Greenawalt is blogging, facebooking and tweeting.

2 Comments on Organize Your Social-Networking Life, last added: 5/27/2010
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19. Back to the Essentials of Writing at Writing Conferences

After attending the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference (PWC) from June 11-13, I am now filled with new ideas and motivation to write, market my writing, and write some more!

The conference offered many different workshops and lectures on fiction, nonfiction and poetry writing, guest speakers like Jeffrey Zaslow and Larry Kane, and a Q&A session with a panel of agents and editors.


One of the most helpful sessions for me was a panel led by PWC board member Don Lafferty, entitled “Sell Yourself and Your Writing.” I found it most helpful probably because selling myself is the area of the writing business I struggle with most. Although I have confidence in both myself and my writing, I still find it difficult to toot my own horn. I also don’t always know at whom I should be tooting.

The panelists gave great advice on how to begin marketing yourself, both before and after your book is published. One panelist said that for three months prior to her book release, she spends eight hours a day doing nothing but marketing. During that time, she does things like create postcards to hand out and leave at various locations, hone in on the social networking community with particular interest in the topic of her book, send press releases and build an e-mail list of potential buyers of your books.

The one bit of information that all of the speakers, lecturers and panelists throughout the conference kept emphasizing over and over is that writers need to be more proactive than ever with their self-marketing efforts and they need to start marketing and building a platform long before that first book is released.

Reinforcement of the Essentials of Writing

Many of the PWC workshops were geared towards writers with little experience, therefore much of the information was a review for writers who went to school specifically for creative writing or have been actively writing and publishing for a few years. It is helpful, however, to re-hear some of those fundamental parts of writing, like the power of quirky characters, how to show – don’t tell, and the importance of being part of a writing community. Other hidden gems of information crept into the conference, too, so you had to be alert at all times not to miss anything.

Have you attended a writing conference lately? Did you find they were geared towards beginning or intermediate level writers? What did you learn from the conference that you never knew before? We’d love to hear about your writing conference experiences!

Visit Anne Greenawalt’s blog for an additional review of the PWC.

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20. Hints on Giving Helpful Writing Critiques

All helpful critiques are alike; each unhelpful critique is unhelpful in its own way.

I’ve been a part of many different writing workshops and critique groups – some of which were fun, positive experiences that left me feeling refreshed and energized. Others left me feeling like I should never write again.

Whether you are enrolled in a creative writing workshop, discussing a story in your writing group, or giving a friend some feedback on her story, here are some general guidelines for giving a good critique.

Positive Feedback

First, start by giving the writer some positive feedback. What did you like best about the story? Even if it is poorly written or on a subject in which you have no interest, there is something good about the piece. Maybe it is only a particular sentence or a phrase that you liked, but at least that’s something. Writers get nervous when they have their work critiqued, and it’s best to make them feel more comfortable by starting on a positive note.

Make Suggestions

Next, discuss elements of the story that could be improved. Unless a story has been critiqued once or several times, there is probably at least one element that could be improved. Maybe there are inconsistencies with the character’s personality. Perhaps the pacing is off and more time needs to be spent on one scene rather than another. In rough drafts there are often typos and misspellings. Unless the writer has specifically asked for help with this or the errors are so bad that they impede your ability to focus on the story, do not dwell on small mistakes like typos. They can be corrected in later drafts.

You can also ask the writer questions on her/his intentions with the story. Asking questions is especially useful when you critique parts of a novel. You may not be sure where the story is going yet, but by asking the writer questions like, “Does Doug end up falling for Mary?” will help the writer focus her/his intentions. You could also suggest where you would like to see the story go, such as saying, “I hope Mary moves back to Seattle instead of marrying Doug.”

Give Encouragement

At the end of a critique, give some encouraging words, like, “I'm looking forward to reading more!” or “Keep going with this!” Reiterate the positive aspects of the writing. It can be daunting for writers, especially new writers, to have others read, analyze, and criticize the writing that they have put your heart and soul into. Keep this in mind before becoming overly critical of a piece of writing. On the other hand, giving all positive feedback without any suggestions for improvement is just as unhelpful.

The key to a great critique is finding the balance between positive and critical feedback. You want to be helpful but you also don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. It may take some time to find that balance, but just like with writing, it will get easier with practice.

by Anne Greenawalt at http://www.annegreenawalt.com/

1 Comments on Hints on Giving Helpful Writing Critiques, last added: 6/28/2010
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21. Where Do Ideas Come From?

In high school and most of college, I was convinced that the only way I could put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard was if a brilliant idea popped into my head. I had to wait for some kind of (magical? divine?) inspiration.

But after a really long dry spell with no ideas, I had to change my thinking on this. And, after speaking with many aspiring and established writers over the years, I realize I am not the only one to believe in the myth that a writer waits for ideas to come to her.

So, if creative ideas aren’t magically placed into our heads at regular intervals, where do they come from?

 Well, I don’t know where they come from or how they form, but I do have some ideas on how to find them, other than the normal writing prompt/timed writing exercises. Here are some of my favorite idea-generating methods:
Photography: Taking photos forces me to look at common objects or everyday people from a unique perspective. My photography teacher and my creative nonfiction teacher both said the same exact sentence about their respective crafts: “It’s about finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.” This has become my personal definition for art and helps me find new twists on common ideas.

Bookstores/libraries: I like to think I can absorb the creative ideas from the books on the shelves through osmosis. Plus, people-watching in public places like these can generate some wonderful ideas. Or better yet, ask any bookseller (or anyone who works in retail) to tell you stories about their “favorite” customers. I guarantee you they all have at least one story to inspire you.

Yard sales: I casually walk through community yard sales (or drive slowly past them) so see if any interesting objects stick out. I wonder about the history of the objects, how they were used, how that crack got there and why is there a speck of paint there?
These are a few samples to get you started if you’re having a blockage of ideas. If you’ve developed some unique idea-generating methods, we’d love to hear them! Post a comment and let us know.

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22. Interview with Spring 2010 Flash Fiction Runner-Up: Doris Wright

Doris’s Bio:
Doris first saw the light of day in Panama, was reared in Germany, France and various US locations, served (briefly) as a hand on a Chinese junk, gave birth on St. Croix, and, more recently, rode the back roads of West Africa in cobbled-together buses and vans. In between some of that activity, she received a bachelor’s degree from Spring Hill College, worked as a teacher, newspaper reporter, and in insurance, and reared three sons. She lives in Upstate New York with her husband and best pal, Don, traveling, writing, and pulling weeds.

In addition to writing poetry and short stories, Doris continues to refine her ecologically concerned yet humorous novel, Cabbagehead, about the fruitful relationship between an introverted man and his extroverted, bedding plant. A chapter of the novel can be seen at the Buffalo Street Books “Works in Progress” website. Her latest endeavors include writing a mystery story and dabbling at a memoir. In the last few years, Doris has taken graduate English courses, participated in the New York State Summer Writers Institute at Skidmore College, Colgate University’s novel and poetry workshops, and the Algonkian novel and pitch workshops.

If you haven't already done so, check out Doris's award-winning story "Natural Selection," and return here for a chat with the author.

WOW!: Congratulations on placing in the WOW! Spring Flash Fiction Contest! Can you tell us how you created and developed your story, “Natural Selection”?

Doris: This is a version of a longer piece I had written, based on an experience related to me years ago by a friend. He lived next door to a woman who, he said, paid more attention to her pet monkey than to her child. From that memory I imagined the circumstance of a neighbor becoming pathologically involved.

WOW!: I always find it so interesting how little bits of memory can evolve into a whole story. I read in your bio that you’re a world traveler. How have all of your world travels inspired your creativity?

Doris: I find travel stimulating. New sights—and even new sounds and smells—provoke new thoughts. The mind, I think, makes new connections conducive to the creative process.

WOW!: If you could have dinner with one published writer, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

Doris: Only one? Then, Tolstoy. He was not only a wonderful writer, but also a visionary who incorporated his views of selflessness, love and responsibility into his writing without seeming didactic. (I guess it would help to have a Russian translator present).

WOW!: Great choice. It’s hard to choose just one when there are so many great writers out there. What is your strategy for finding or making time to write with a busy schedule?

Doris: I’m fortunate in that I’m not otherwise working. So while I have the time, I don’t use that time for writing as often as I’d wish. I’m easily distracted and battle a fear of writing. When I actually sit down to it, I find the process enjoyable.

WOW!: Ah, the fear of writing. I know that feeling well, but it does, as you said, seem to dissolve when I just sit down and do it. What is the best piece of writing advice you have ever received?

Doris: To sit down to write at a set time every day for one hour, most days a week. (The idea of one hour is

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23. Interview with Patricia Sands-Anis: Runner-up

Patricia’s Bio:

Patricia Sands lives in Toronto, Canada when she and her husband are not off on one of their jaunts to other parts of the world. She has degrees from the University of Waterloo and York University. With a happily blended family of seven adult children and, at last count, six grandchildren, life is full and time is short. Beginning with her first Kodak Brownie camera at the age of six, she has told stories all of her life through photography. Much to her surprise a few years ago, she began to write and her debut novel The Bridge Club will soon be published through iUniverse. Patricia joyfully admits the writing muse has possessed her and looks forward to a long and satisfying career as an author. She is particularly drawn to the rewarding friendships of women and the challenges many embrace once their families are grown. It’s never too late to begin something new she enthuses. As Nike says, just do it! Her website is under construction but you will soon be able to visit www.patriciasandsauthor.com. Everyone has a story. What’s yours?

If you haven't done so already, check out Patricia's award-winning story, and then return here for a chat with the author.

WOW!: Congratulations on placing in the Spring 2010 Flash Fiction Contest! Can you tell us how you created and developed your story, “Notes from a Rooftop in Andalucia”?

Patricia: My sister moved to Andalucia, just south of Granada, twenty years ago and I have visited with her on many occasions. The piece is a combination of the two of us and the strong feelings we share for that beautiful part of the world. She will never leave as her heart and soul truly have been captured by the culture as well as the magnificent surroundings. I go back as often as I can and my camera is always with me. I am someone who has told stories through photography all of my life and the rooftops of her village called to me from day one.

WOW!: In your bio, you say that you are a frequent traveler. How have all of your world travels inspired your creativity?

Patricia: I feel very fortunate to have had opportunities to travel the world beginning as a twenty-year-old with a backpack and Europe On $5 A Day as my bible! Whether my trips have been across oceans, within Canada and the States, or simply an hour's drive into the countryside, there is always something to take your breath away - if you are looking. My eyes are like the lens in my camera and in my mind I often hear a click like a shutter as I take in a view. Thank goodness for digital photography! In one week in Venice I snapped almost 800 shots!

WOW!: Sounds like you have many more possible stories within all of your travels and photos! If you could have dinner with one published writer, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

Patricia: Now that's a difficult choice to make. There are so many writers who have influenced me and whose work I enjoy for a host of different reasons. I'm going to say Jane Austen. I really enjoy the period she covers in her work as well as the realism she so accurately portrays. Along with a biting social commentary she manages to inject a gentle sense of humour. I admire her style immensely. But, as I mentioned, if she can't make it to dinner, I have a long list of alternatives!

WOW!: I know that’s always a difficult question for writers and avid readers, but you can’t go wron

1 Comments on Interview with Patricia Sands-Anis: Runner-up, last added: 11/2/2010
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