Category: News


Happy Short Story Month!

By Midge Raymond,

As many of you know, May is Short Story Month!

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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.

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On the Nook, you can read Translation Memory, The Ecstatic Cry, and Beyond the Kopjes.

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And, finally, you can also find Translation MemoryThe Ecstatic Cry, and Beyond the Kopjes  in the Apple iBookstore.

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A few other celebrations are taking place for Short Story Month …

Visit Press 53 and check out the special Kindle discounts on short story collections — and join Press 53 on Facebook for more special offers and giveaways.

Dan Wickett, founder of the Emerging Writers Network and creator of Short Story Month, has a lot of story news on his EWN blog.

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!



5 Ways to Write When You’re Not Really Writing

By Midge Raymond,

I’m delighted to be a guest on Clifford Garstang’s blog today, posting about writing when you’re not actually writing.

As busy writers, we can’t always sit down in the chair for hours of writing time — and this post offers 5 ways to keep your projects moving forward during your everyday life, even when you don’t have a writing session in your schedule. Enjoy!

And while you’re visiting Cliff, check out the rest of his blog, Perpetual Folly, which includes a wealth of info for readers and writers alike, including his famous Pushcart Prize rankings. And don’t forget to check out his books as well!



An interview with author Brenda Miller

By Midge Raymond,

Brenda Miller is an award-winning author, a professor of English at Western Washington University, and the editor-in-chief of Bellingham Review. Her many books include Listening Against the Stone: Selected Essays; Blessing of the Animals; Season of the Body; and Tell It Slant: Writing and Shaping Creative Nonfiction. Most recently she co-authored, with Holly Hughes, The Pen and the Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World — and this is what I’m chatting about with Brenda today. This new book is a wonderful reminder to us writers that we need to create the time to write rather than wait for it — and its prompts show us how we can incorporate mindfulness into our writing practice in order to deepen and strengthen what we do.

Q: Brenda, I love that your book connects writing and mindfulnessand your own writing space is the same space you use for meditation. What are some of the ways in which being mindful in turn helps you with your writing?

A: I think it allows me to practice observation, even subliminally, so when it comes time to write, I have images/words/memories that can float more easily to the surface. It also teaches you patience and faith: I might be writing something that seems odd and random, but I’ve learned to just go with it and see where it leads. If I stay quiet, without too much judgment at the beginning, the writing can flourish without the intellectual/critical mind interfering too soon. If the writing ends up not leading anywhere, that’s okay, because I haven’t labored over it, beating it into submission. It’s all practice.

Q: Yes, practice—that is another key component in your book; in fact, Chapter Six is devoted to the idea of writing as practice, as with a musical instrument. You mention in this chapter that you sometimes do a writing practice with friends. How is this different from writing alone? And do you have any tips (such as using a timer, as your group does) for writers who get together with others for their writing practice?

A: Writing with others provides a certain kind of focus and momentum that I find is not possible when writing alone. Since we are writing in a timed fashion (with a timer) there’s also an intensity about it. When I’m writing alone, it’s a bit more leisurely, and I’m gathering my thoughts and written fragments together to form a bigger picture. It’s more of a “mulling,” a stroll, while the writing together is more like aerobics! If you write with the same group for any length of time, you may also find yourself subtly working off each other’s imagery and energy; oftentimes people will end up having the same imagery as if they were telepathic.

I think it’s important to have a certain level of commitment from the group; while it’s okay to be flexible of course, it’s best to have the same time/day that everyone agrees on for a certain length of time. Then you’re not always trying to figure out schedules and it becomes a habit.

Q: I agree that getting into the habit of writing is one of the best ways to get into and remain in that creative space. In your book, you write, “As a young writer, I don’t think I ever really understood that you need to prepare for writing…I’ve come to see that I need to be warmed up.” In one chapter you mention the importance of observation, and how a woman who prunes the roses in the park near your house always makes you eager to write — I love that! For me, too, paying close attention to the world around me always sparks my creativity. Have you ever experienced a loss of connection to your writer/creative self, and if so, how did you reconnect? Do you have any advice for writers seeking to find better access to creativity in their everyday lives?

A: That’s a timely question, Midge, as I’m experiencing that right now! It usually happens when I’ve finished one project (in this case, a book of linked short-short essays) and don’t really have another one in the works. I get very, very nervous during these fallow times, and the intellectual mind feeds that anxiety, giving me messages of despair: “Okay, that’s it, you’ve written everything you’re ever going to write.” So, at some point, with the help of my therapist (a saint!) and my writing friends, I remember that this voice is not the true voice. I continue with the weekly writing practice, even if nothing I write feels “good.” I read poetry. I take a lot of walks. I type up words from the writing practice just to see if anything might spark something new. I find a writing contest deadline to motivate me. But the main thing is having a sense of humor about the whole thing, not being so heavy about it. I slap that critical voice on the shoulder and say, “Cheer up, old chap!”

Q: This is all such great advice … I often finish a project and lose my connection to writing, and then it only becomes harder to reconnect. I like the idea of continuing to write, but I especially like the idea of taking walks, which is not “writing” but an activity that opens up the mind, which in turn leads to writing. Your book includes chapters on travel and encounters with the wild — how does connecting with other places and with nature affect your own work?

A: I recently returned from a trip to northern California, a landscape that is quite special to me. I lived there in my early twenties, at a hot springs resort, and as I walked down the road from that resort, I found myself talking to the trees. Really talking to the trees! I know this sounds crazy, but there’s a point on that road that shifts from mellow oaks and dry grass to old redwoods. You feel like you’re crossing a threshold into a deeper place. It’s very, very quiet–and timeless. And I truly felt like those trees remembered that younger self I’d so firmly packed away. They were asking me to remember her, to accept her, to welcome all her good qualities into my life now.

That’s a long (and maybe pointless) story, but in regards to your question: that experience in nature allowed me a moment to feel something unexpected, and to have the space to really feel it: to let it settle and expand. This would not have happened in my quotidian life, where I live more on the surface, where the familiarity of the day-to-day landscape can dull my perception. I haven’t yet translated this experience into writing, but it’s certainly a seed that is germinating.

Q: It’s so true that stepping outside one’s everyday life can be so enriching; we notice things so much more. Your chapter “Emptiness” reminds me of how I need to get away from the clutter of my desk in order to think more clearly. Do you have any advice for writers who tend to avoid the emptiness and the quiet that is both necessary as well as a little intimidating?

A: I’d say it’s important to know that you don’t necessarily need A LOT of it; just a small respite can do. Even 30 minutes off of email/Internet at a particular time every day. Or a ten-minute intentional breather outside where you practice, simply observing without doing anything. And also to enlist allies: make a contract with a friend and hold each other to it!

Q: Last but not least, one of the many things I love about your book is hearing both your voice and that of your co-author, Holly Hughes. Can you tell us a little bit about what it was like to collaborate?

A: It was wonderful; we each brought different perspectives to the topics and so our voices complemented one another. We wrote the book as letters to one another, so it was always easy to simply sit down and write “Dear Holly,” which would be like a mindfulness bell, putting me immediately in a writing frame of mind. We enjoyed the letters so much that we kept the first draft of the full book in letter form, but got the feedback that it wouldn’t work in the long term for the reader. The hard part was shaping the book out of the letters, but keeping that same sense of intimate communication. Letters are a wonderful practice, and I recommend it wholeheartedly as a way to infuse your writing with joy.

For more inspiration, visit The Pen and the Bell website — and also Brenda’s blog.





Ten 5-minute writing prompts for summer

By Midge Raymond,

Thanks to the Author Exposure blog for featuring my 5-minute writing prompts for summer this week!

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!



Finding room to write this summer

By Midge Raymond,

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!



Notes from the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference

By Midge Raymond,

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.



Beyond the Margins: 5 tips and prompts for busy writers

By Midge Raymond,

A million thanks to Randy Susan Meyers for hosting me on the wonderful Beyond the Margins blog today, where I offer 5 tips and prompts for how to be an Everyday Writer.

Most authors have busy schedules — these days, who doesn’t? — and yet it is possible to keep writing, even if you aren’t able to sit down in the chair. These 5 tips will help you see the ways in which you can think like a writer, which is the next best thing to putting words on the page.

Happy writing!



In conversation with Sheila Bender of Writing It Real

By Midge Raymond,

I always love chatting with Sheila Bender of Writing It Real — she asks the most thought-provoking questions about all aspects of the writing life. So I was delighted to chat with her about Everyday Writing, which meandered into the realm of publishing, submitting work, and writing in different genres — all followed by writing prompts of varying lengths to fit any busy writer’s schedule.

Check out the article here — and if you’re not already a member, I highly recommend becoming one! Membership offers a wealth of articles, inspiration, classes — and community.

Thanks to Sheila for the opportunity to talk about a few of my favorite things!



Summer writing prompts at The Lively Muse

By Midge Raymond,

As the weather gets warmer, the writing gets tougher (at least, this is the case with me). I think most of us need a little extra inspiration when the sun is beckoning — and today I offer some tips and prompts over on Judy Reeves‘s fabulous blog, The Lively Muse.

Join me over on Judy’s blog today for a sampling of writing prompts designed just for summer — you can try one of the 5-minute prompts to get warmed up, move on to a 15-minute prompt, and then maybe you’ll be inspired to schedule a weekend of writing to give you time to try the in-depth prompt I’ve created. The prompts can be written from your own POV or that of your character(s) — so you’ll be able to either generate new material or keep your current work-in-progress going.

Happy writing — and happy summer!



Weekly Writing – Mojo Monday

By Midge Raymond,

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!



5 Ways to Make Time for Creativity

By Midge Raymond,

I’m happy and grateful to be featured on the StyleSubstanceSoul blog today with “5 Ways to Make Time for Creativity.”

If you’re not familiar with StyleSubstanceSoul, visit today and sign up to receive their e-news, which delivers inspiration, book and film reviews, interviews, and amazing giveaways to your in-box every week. This wonderful site was founded by three best friends (and mothers of daughters) who believe that “female energy has the power to change the world.” They are all about living a life of positive action and compassion — what’s not to love about that?

A million thanks to StyleSubstanceSoul for featuring 5 Ways to Make Time for Creativity (and be sure to click through to a couple of the links, where you’ll find books by a couple of my favorite poets). Hope this all leads you to a weekend of inspiration, good reading, and good writing!



On being an everyday writer

By Midge Raymond,

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!



Books (and inspiration) for writers

By Midge Raymond,

I’m very happy today to be featured on the blog of the amazing Jane Friedman, who has posted an excerpt from Everyday Writing, including 10 writing prompts that can be done in 5 minutes or fewer (a.k.a. “Quickies”). A million thanks to Jane for posting this — I hope writers find it helpful and inspiring. The idea behind Everyday Writing is to be a writer every day, even if you don’t have much writing time every day — and these short prompts are meant to offer a way to stay connected to your creativity and your writing.

And, speaking of creativity and writing, Brenda Miller‘s wonderful new book, The Pen and the Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World (co-authored with Holly Hughes) is for all writers who wish to create physical and mental space for writing. Its abundance of advice for writers includes tips for how to heighten awareness and take risks in your writing, as well as how to write in a community. Best of all, for today only, Brenda’s publisher is offering 20 percent off the book! And be sure to check out Brenda’s blog, The Spa of the Mind, for tips and thoughts on finding respite in a busy world.

 

 



On Memorial Day: Books for Soldiers

By Midge Raymond,

One of the many things I love about Forgetting English‘s publisher, Press 53, is its yearly Memorial Day tradition: For every book you purchase from the Press 53 website from Memorial Day until Flag Day (June 14), Press 53 will send, at no additional cost to you, a book to an active-duty overseas soldier or to a recovering soldier in a military hospital. What better way to celebrate mark Memorial Day?

Buy a book for yourself or a fellow reader, and Press 53 will take care of the rest. And, in celebration of National Short Story Month, why not try a new collection?

Forgetting English isn’t the only Spokane Prize winner among Press 53 titles — Becky Hagenston’s Strange Weather is also a recipient of the Spokane Prize for Short Fiction (and it’s an amazing collection…I highly recommend it).

I also loved reading Tara Masih’s Where the Dog Star Never Glows and Andrew Scott’s Naked Summer.

And here are a few recent Press 53 award-winning story collections:

Anne Leigh Parrish’s short story collection All the Roads That Lead From Home won an Independent Publishers Book Award Silver Medal for Best Short Story Collection.

Marjorie Hudson’s short story collection Accidental Birds of the Carolinas won a PEN/Hemingway Award Honorable Mention.

Michael Kardos’s short story collection One Last Good Time won the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Fiction.

Click here for details on Books for Soldiers and to start shopping. Happy Memorial Day.