It was a wonderful class … and of course a class is made great by having incredible students! Thanks to all the artists (painters, photographers, writers, and so many more), I too learned a lot about living a creative life. Click here to read Kara’s post and to get some tips about bringing more creativity into your own everyday life.
I look forward to seeing many of you at the AWP Conference & Bookfair — February 27 to March 1.
I’ll be hanging out at our booth for Ashland Creek Press, EcoLit Books, and Literary Provisions. Please join us (we’ll be in booth #1207 in the North Hall) to check out new books and fun stuff for writers.
And don’t miss these other events before, during, and after the conference …
Wednesday, February 26
I’ll be one of the readers at the fabulous AWP Festival of Language at the Rock Bottom Brewery (1333 5th Avenue, just a couple blocks from the conference center), along with dozens of other authors. I’ll be reading sometime between 5 and 6:30 p.m., and the literary festivities will go on until 10 p.m.
Thursday, February 27
Julian Hoffman, contributor to Among Animals and author of The Small Heart of Things: Being at Home in a Beckoning World, winner of the 2012 AWP Award Series for creative nonfiction, will be signing books from 11 a.m. to 12 noon. (ACP booth #1207)
Jean Ryan, author of the “captivating” (Publishers Weekly) short story collection Survival Skills and contributor to Among Animals, will be signing books at the booth from 1 to 2 p.m. (ACP booth #1207)
Friday, February 28
Mindy Mejia, author of the “beautiful” (Twin Cities Pioneer Press) novel The Dragon Keeper will be signing books from 9 to 11 a.m. (ACP booth #1207)
JoeAnn Hart, author of the eco-novel Float (“a stellar model of eco-literature”—Cape Ann Beacon) will be signing books from 4 to 5 p.m. (ACP booth #1207)
And at 4:30 p.m., I’ll be leading a panel on Book Marketing — From Finding Your Muse to Finding Your Readers: Book promotion in the twenty-first century, with Kelli Russell Agodon, Wendy Call, Janna Cawrse Esarey, and Susan Rich. Panelists from a variety of genres—poetry, fiction, narrative nonfiction, and memoir—will discuss the unique challenges and opportunities of transitioning from writer to published book author. Through specific experiences and using real-world examples, panelists will offer tips for finding one’s natural niche and audience, and how to reach out to readers authentically and generously. Topics include book promotion through conferences, book clubs, social media, awards, blogs, events, and salons. (Room 608, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6)
Saturday, March 1
On Saturday, the Bookfair will be free and open to the public!
At 12 noon, join John Yunker for a panel on The Greening of Literature: Eco-Fiction and Poetry to Enlighten and Inspire, with authors JoeAnn Hart, Mindy Mejia, Ann Pancake, and Gretchen Primack. From mountaintop removal to ocean plastic to endangered species, ecological issues are increasingly on writers’ minds. Authors on this panel discuss how their ecologically themed fiction and poetry engages readers in powerful ways that nonfiction can’t. Panelists discuss writing in these emerging sub-genres as well as their readers’ responses and offer tips for writing about the environment in ways that are galvanizing and instructive without sacrificing creativity to polemics. (Aspen Room, Sheraton Seattle, 2nd Floor)
Sunday, March 2
I’m thrilled to be doing a post-conference reading with the amazing Gretchen Primack on Sunday, March 2, at 2 p.m. at the Central Library in downtown Portland. We’ll be reading eco-fiction (me) and eco-poetry (Gretchen), and we look forward to a lively discussion afterward about the environment and animal protection in the context of fiction and poetry. This event is free, and all are welcome; click here for complete details.
When Forgetting English was published back in 2009, I was overwhelmed with all the book promotion I had ahead of me. And one thing I learned quickly was that I could promote my book around the clock, and it still wouldn’t be enough. Because there’s always more that can be done, how does an author decide where to start and — just as important — where and when to end?
The bad and good news is that there is no end to book promotion, but you can find a balance. This is one of the reasons I wrote Everyday Book Marketing. And I am absolutely thrilled to be part of Adventure by the Book‘s new Author Academy, which launches in September and offers incredible opportunities for authors to prioritize, strategize, and make the most of their budgets, even if time and/or dollars may be hard to find.
The inaugural workshops for the Author Academy will take place on Sunday, September 29, in San Diego. The day will be divided into two parts, starting with a general overview of Everyday Book Marketing that covers essential book promotion basics (from 10 to 11:30 a.m.), followed by an interactive workshop (from noon to 2:30) that builds upon the morning session and in which, using a checklist, you will create your own customized marketing plan. Click here for more details and for registration details.
I’m particularly excited about teaming up with Susan McBeth of Adventures by the Book, whose Author Academy series will continue with monthly interactive workshops covering everything from how to take the best author photo possible to how to shine at your book events.
Visit Adventures by the Book for more info — we hope to see you in September!
Thanks to all of you who entered the Forgetting English giveaway (and also to those Kindle readers who enjoyed Forgetting English at only 99 cents) in honor of Short Story Month.
To enter the giveaway, readers contacted me with their favorite travel destinations — and I absolutely loved reading about your favorite places (many of which, like Maui and Tokyo) appear in Forgetting English and are favorites of mine as well).
On June 1, I randomly chose a winner: Julia Cousineau, who has graciously given me permission to share with all of you what she shared with me. Julia’s favorite travel memory was a ten-day stay in Tokyo during the early 1907s, when she was a flight attendant for Flying Tiger Airline; on this particular trip, she injured her knee and had a long stay in Japan, which inspired this poem:
The pickles were purple
the puppies were plump
the frog legs were stir fried
the peanut sauce spicy
the produce perfectly strange
murky air, gray pallor
sharp smells I know
a market place in Tokyo
Am I ready for this
Thanks to Julia for letting me share her memory and poem … and thanks again to all who entered the giveaway.
Here’s to every month being Short Story Month!
It’s not only Short Story Month, but it’s also the anniversary of The Pen and the Bell, the marvelous book about mindful writing by Brenda Miller and Holly Hughes.
Brenda and Holly are hosting a giveaway to celebrate the one-year anniversary of their book — click here for details and to win your own copy.
In case you don’t yet know why you need this book, check out my Q&A with Brenda about the book, writing, and more.
As many of you know, May is Short Story Month!
To celebrate, the Kindle edition of Forgetting English will be only 99 cents for the entire month of May.
I’m also offering a giveaway of the print edition of Forgetting English, a beautiful, expanded edition from Press 53. To be entered to win a copy, simply contact me with your favorite travel destination (whether it’s someplace you’ve been or someplace you’ve always wanted to go), and I’ll enter you in the giveaway. A winner will be chosen in early June. (Please note that I can’t ship overseas, so the giveaway is limited to U.S. readers.)
For all of you who enjoy reading individual short stories, a few stories from Forgetting English are always available on e-readers. On the Kindle, you’ll find Never Turn Your Back on the Ocean, The Ecstatic Cry, Translation Memory, and Beyond the Kopjes.
A few other celebrations are taking place for Short Story Month …
Visit the Short Story Month website for stories, news, and resources.
Jean Ryan’s new collection, Survival Skills (which Publishers Weekly calls “captivating”), is hot off the presses from Ashland Creek Press — click here to get yourself a copy. And if you have an e-reader, enter to win a free Survival Skills e-book on the Booklover Book Reviews blog.
Happy Short Story Month — and happy reading!
Happy new year to all!
So, here we are. It’s 2013, and most of us writers have grand writing plans and goals — right? I know I do…and I also know that I don’t want any of them to be forgotten by February. So I have a few things that I hope will inspire you and get your new writing year off to a good start.
First, if you’re in San Diego, come to one of my jump-start-your-new-year-of-writing workshops! I’ll be in the lively studio of author Judy Reeves on Saturday, January 12, from 1 to 3 p.m., for Everyday Writing, where you’ll learn how to fit various aspects of your writing into every day (from how to hone your powers of observation to how to keep your projects moving forward even when you’re short on time). We’ll work on overcoming your biggest obstacles and do writing prompts that will teach you how to become an everyday writer, even if you’re not able to sit down to write every day. Click here to register. (You’ll also be able to pick up copies of Everyday Writing and Judy’s new Daily Appointment Calendar for Writers.) And check out all of Judy’s upcoming workshops and events here.
And if this is your year for sending out new work, join me on on Monday, January 28, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., for a workshop on writing contests at San Diego Writers Ink. This workshop is for all writers who have wondered what goes on behind the scenes of writing contests, from literary magazines to small presses. We’ll talk about how to tell whether a contest is reputable, when it’s worthwhile to enter a contest, and how to make the most of the opportunities contests offer. We’ll go over submission guidelines as well as tips and resources for finding the best contests. Click here to register — and check out the rest of San Diego Writers’ great lineup of winter workshops.
When it comes to writing, I’m usually in need of a daily dose of inspiration, whether it’s about the craft of writing or the business of writing. Here are a few resources that I enjoy…
For both the business of writing as well as inspiration, check out Erika Dreifus’s blog, Practicing Writing, which offers wonderful opportunities and resources, as well as notes on her own progress as a writer.
And, of course, the Paris Review Interviews, which go back to the 1950s, are fantastic.
Now that you’re inspired, back to your own work. If you haven’t already, follow Priscilla Long’s invaluable example and create a List of Works. If you already have one, now’s the time to update it. This may be the most important thing you do to get you on your way to a fruitful new year of writing.
I’m giving away a copy of Everyday Writing on Goodreads — sign up to win anytime from now until October 10!
It’s autumn — and in New England, that means celebrating the foliage. If you’re out leaf peeping, don’t forget to pop into the local bookstores in all those fabulous New England towns. Woodstock, Vermont, has one of the sweetest: the lovely Shiretown Books, right on the main street as you stroll through town.
The store is small but has plenty to offer, including books by local authors and staff picks, and it’s a terrific place to browse. And it’s a bookstore with a big heart: Last year, in response to Hurricane Irene, which devastated parts of Vermont, including areas of Woodstock, Shiretown gave back by donating a portion of book sales to relief efforts.
Bookstores like Shiretown are among the many reasons it’s wonderful to shop locally — to support not only the indies but the communities that support them best as well.
Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vermont, is a place for which you’ll want to set aside an entire day.
The bookstore is in a beautiful old Victorian, with several levels, including a full-service cafe on the top level and a large reading area for its many visiting authors.
It’s an fabulous place to wander through — even better, to get lost in — and among its treasures are not only books but clothing, jewelry, accessories, and a huge children’s section that includes toys and games.
Another interesting aspect of Northshire is that it’s one of the growing number of bookstores with an Espresso Book Machine, which means that you can order up any book available through the print-on-demand service (such as self-published books, small press titles, or large publishers’ backlist titles) and have it printed while you wait. And for all you indie authors out there, Northshire also has its own imprint, Shires Press, which offers a variety of packages for authors who want to self-publish their books — a very smart idea and likely one of the many reasons this bookstore is celebrating its 35th birthday and going strong.
These 10 prompts, all designed with summer in mind, can be done in five minutes or fewer (though they can also see you through an entire weekend of writing if you let the prompts take you wherever they want to go…) And, for all you fiction writers out there, keep in mind that you can do these exercises from the point of view of your characters (these offer a great way to find your way out of a scene or to combat summer-induced writer’s block).
Wishing you a happy weekend of writing!
Thanks so much to Susan Rich for hosting me this week at The Alchemist’s Kitchen blog, where I offer 3 tips and prompts for how to find room to write during the summer months with all its temptations.
It’s very easy to be lazy in the summertime, especially when it comes to getting any serious writing done — but actually, the fact that we’re outdoors more than usual actually opens up opportunities: Even if we’re not sitting inside typing, being out in the world can feed our writing, simply by offering up so many different sensory experiences. If we look, listen, and think like writers, we can do more than we imagined possible in the relaxing days of summer.
Hope you enjoy the tips and prompts — and have a great week of writing!
It would be impossible to sum up the amazing first week of this year’s Port Townsend Writers’ Conference, which was, as always, an inspiration. Not only is Port Townsend a gorgeous setting in which to immerse oneself in All Things Writing, the writers it brings together creates such an incredible energy.
In addition to teaching five afternoon workshops on topics from scene to character to dialogue — and the writers who join me in these classes always have something to teach me — I had the opportunity to learn from the craft lectures of such writers as poet Ashley Capps (on empathy in writing) and fiction writer Jennine Capó Crucet (on humor), as well as to enjoy their evening readings and many others, among them Judith Kitchen, Dinah Linney, Sam Ligon, Diane Roberts, Erin Belieu, and Chris Crutcher. It truly feels impossible to sum up the wealth of good writing and conversation of the week, but author Donna Miscolta does a great job over on her blog.
I also fit in a little writing time, which is so much easier to do here than in my regularly scheduled life. For one, the setting is so peaceful; looking out over the water or watching deer walk past relaxes the brain in a way that just doesn’t happen when I’m trying to fit writing in amid all my other work.
The other brilliant thing about being at Fort Worden is that Internet access is available in only a couple of spots — which means that unless you go to these specific places, you’re disconnected. I had many conversations with writers about how well our writing went when we didn’t have web access; we all experienced big breakthroughs in our projects thanks to having time and space uninterrupted by email, news, and social media.
Now that I’m back, I’ve created a few new rules for myself in order to keep my writing momentum going. I have set myself new, limited social media hours, even for work-related posts and tweets (one thing I learned from being mostly offline for a week is that taking some time off isn’t going to make you disappear as a person, an author, or a business), and I’ve created specific writing goals for myself as well. I’ve also realized that being accountable is part of the deal: If you have to answer to someone about why you haven’t met your deadline, or why you got online during your offline writing time, it makes you think twice about procrastinating. So I’ve got weekly check-ins all lined up.
All these little rules may sound over-the-top — but as most of us know, it’s all too easy to get distracted and to let the writing slip. So here’s my tip for you: As the summer continues, start defining some guidelines and goals, and find yourself a writing buddy to keep each other on track. And, if you can, find a conference or retreat that will help remind you that your writing is vital and important.
On this summer Monday, I’m delighted to be featured on Kristin Bair O’Keeffe’s amazing Writerhead blog as part of her Mojo Monday series. (Visit Kristin’s blog every Monday, where she offers “a little something-something to lift your creative spirits, buoy you up, help you get your mojo on, and nudge (or better yet, catapult) you into writerhead.”
Today on Mojo Monday, I write about how to be an everyday writer (i.e., how to find time to be a writer every day even if you’re not able to sit down to write every day) and offer three tips with matching prompts — so there’s no excuse not start this week off in a writerly mode.
Thanks to Kristin for hosting me today — and happy writing!
Today I’m delighted to be one of the featured Writers on Writing over at the fabulous Passages North blog. This literary magazine, sponsored by Northern Michigan University, has published fiction (including one of my own stories a few years back), creative nonfiction, and poetry since 1979, and its blog is a treasure for readers and writers alike. Check it out for news on the magazine, submission advice, deadlines, and especially the wealth of information from Writers on Writing.
Thanks to Passages North for the opportunity to share my thoughts on being an everyday writer in a busy world!