Summer Writing Mini-Workshop: Writing Truths


Many inventions and businesses have changed the world, but the awesome thing about being a writer is that you don’t have to be an engineer for your character to invent a life-changing device or service—just like you don’t have to be an entrepreneur for your character to open his/her own business. You make the magic happen with the tapping of keys—no mathematics or business acumen required.

A setting can be as much of a character as a person. Just as people often bounce off each other or react to one another, the way a character engages with their surroundings can reveal a great deal about them (as two people can be in the same setting, and have a completely distinct perspective of it; I’ve written about my current town through the prisms of positivity and negativity, to help set the mood, or tone). Think about it: What would Gone with the Wind be without the Deep South, The Wizard of Oz without Oz?

Writing for children isn’t any easier than writing for adults. It just requires a smaller word count.

Fairy tales are great because they have a beginning, middle, and end. Nothing is worse than reading a book that starts in the wrong place (e.g. too many flashbacks) or simply ends. Satisfy your readers; tell the whole tale, for stories, like life, aren’t just in the big picture but in the details.

Postmodernism is a style of writing that can challenge us to challenge an “absolute truth,” be it moral, spiritual, cultural, historical, medical, et cetera.

There is nothing like good that draws people together. You don’t have to be a food critic to write about food, but writing about it does help hone one’s descriptive writing skills in the areas of taste, touch, and smell.

Memories are made in cars, as well as homes.  They are made in parks, in museums, and on the beach.

Readers care about plots, but they care about characters more.

A “book within a book” should never be more interesting than the story in which the “book within a book” appears.

Writing is like a mathematical equation, except the answer doesn’t have to be exact (not everyone will get the same answer). You add and subtract scenes and characters, multiply the stakes, and can even divide the points-of-view, if you wish.

Summer Writing Mini-Workshop: Writing Truths


We are unique and wonderfully self-made.

For a writer, few things are what they are.  They are something more.

Part of the meaning of life is to find meaning in the meaningless.

Life isn’t a film, but a series of vignettes. Just as the earth goes through phases, so do we.

Even as the Bible is the Word in the Flesh, poetry is the flesh, in words. Poetry is life distilled.

There is beauty and symmetry in numbers. There would be no world without them:

Great lines don’t have to be attached to stories, or even poems. They can stand alone.

One thing can be many things.

Just as no one ever reads the same book, we can all know the same person, but in a different way.

Love stories don’t have to involve romance.


Summer Writing Mini-Workshop: Writing Tips


Write for yourself; edit for others. Write sleepy; edit rested.

Save everything. If a stanza doesn’t fit in one poem, don’t force it in. Not every piece has to be part of the same puzzle, and you already have a “springboard” for another piece.

Not all lessons are learned from life itself but rather, its imitations.

A resume tells potential employers what you can do; a portfolio shows them. 

You will not get paid for everything you write, but everything you write that gets published (other than on your personal blog) can help build up your portfolio.

Writing is a way of taking the outside in and then putting it back out in a way that resonates with readers.

If you love it, chances are someone else will, too.

Writing is telling your story; reporting is telling their story.

We teach what we know, and share what we know with the world.

Good old-fashioned storytelling with compelling characters will endure far longer than a story that is told with only a “twist ending” in mind. It’s not just about dessert but every course leading up to it.

Summer Writing Mini-Workshop: On Blogging


I started writing micropoetry when I opened a Twitter account.  A friend of mine at the time had made contact with a local philanthropist through Twitter, and so I thought it a great way to promote my writing.  However, I lost interest in what I think of as an online bathroom wall, though I saved all the micropoetry I’d written on Twitter (which is akin to a black hole) and repurposed it for my blog.  This led to #Micropoetry Mondays, just as the #novelines from my book led to #Fiction Fridays.

Scheduling posts ahead of time helps save time while keeping your blog current (so it practically runs itself). Because I knew I’d be busy this spring semester (two math classes will do that), I scheduled all my Monday and Friday posts for the year, so I would only have to create new content on Wednesdays.

Coming up with categories for your blog will help generate ideas for posts. Mine include: Homemaking/Marriage/Motherhood, Mormon Culture, Writing Prompts, et cetera. One of my personal favorites was Micropoetry Mondays, with each set of micropoems having a “theme” (such as The Lighter Side, Thanatology, and Family Dynamics).

It’s better to use a high-quality (but relevant) stock photo for your blog than a low-quality image you took yourself.  That said, it is highly encouraged that you, as a blogger, learn how to take good photos.

If you’re going to “blog your book,” start a separate blog specifically for that book, using the title of the book as the website name. For example, if the name of your book is I Am Sam, your blog’s URL should be Posts should be between 250 and 500 words (according to Nina Amir, who wrote about this in How to Blog Your Book), and if you can split a 500-word post into two, 250-word posts, do so.

Sharing useful information generates more traffic, for you aren’t just strengthening your brand but sharing with others the tools they need to build theirs.

How-to articles are as popular as self-help books. People use the Internet for research as much as they do for entertainment.

When you’re writing a book review, you’re not just creating content for your blog, but you’re also gaining a deeper understanding of what you read as well as what you liked and didn’t liked about what you just read.

Providing examples of pitches or query letters can help your reader; if they find your information helpful, they’ll be coming back for more and maybe even sharing your ideas.

Writing is how the words sound; graphic design is how they look. Blogging bridges both worlds.

Summer Writing Mini-Workshop: Drawing from the well


Just as we all have histories (or herstories), we have geographies. Think of every place you have ever lived, and write a story, using the location as the main character (or omniscient narrator).

I grew up in a modern-day, Tennessee Williams play. Draw upon your background, for no one can tell it like you can.

We are all the product of our existences, experiences, and memories—we all have something to offer.

Just as some remember where they were during historical events, for me, every memorable book I’ve read (good and not so good) has a memory attached to it.

Great writers practice the art of self reflection.

Our life is a timeline. If you have a tough time filling in the gaps, write about the dots.

How did you meet those who became significant characters in the play that is your life?

The dust of time and even the subtle shifts of our perceptions can alter our memories.  Play around with different accounts from siblings, friends, et cetera.

Sift through old correspondence. You might find a “found poem” or a lost memory.

The best thing about writing what you know is that the research is already in your head.

Summer Writing Mini-Workshop: Writing Truths


Third-person pronouns are often a mask for the word “I,” as they allow us to invade our own privacy and air our dirty laundry without anyone knowing to whom it belongs.

Engage with other writers, but never at the expense of writing, editing, and submitting.

When we take the time to self-reflect, we pursue a path to self-actualization.

Nonfiction is hot; creative nonfiction, even more so.

Inspiration may not always come to you; sometimes, you must seek it out:

Be versatile in your writing, but remember, it’s the specialists that make the money.

We can live a century in a lifetime, a lifetime in a day.

You can learn as much from reading a bad book as you can from reading a good one.

Sometimes all it takes is one word:

Reading old periodicals is like opening a time capsule. It’s the difference between watching a movie made in the fifties versus a movie made today, set in the fifties.


Summer Writing Mini-Workshop: Writing Prompts


Remove one abstract from the world, be it long- or short-term memory, pain, or the ability to stay in one place. Imagine a different kind of society. The differences are interesting, but how people perceive or react to them, even more so.

Take a minor character from a novel you’ve written and create a new story. If someone likes it, they might be inspired to do a little family tree research and locate its roots.

There is more to every story you write. From one novel, I’ve written a prequel, a novella, a volume of poetry, and a preface to serve as a poetry prompt.

Alternate histories are popular. What if the South had won the Civil War, what if Jesus had never been born, what if 9/11 had been thwarted? Be provocative. Imagine a world other than the one we live in.

Popular idioms can be exceptional story starters, as the origins aren’t always known.

Objects can be interesting—a source of mystery—but they are even more interesting if there is a story behind them. It’s like seeing a stranger and wondering about their story. We are more than what people see or even think they see.

things she carried?

Pet lovers love stories that don’t necessarily personify animals, but rather showcase how they’ve had a positive impact on their life—just for being there.