New calendar


Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and transitions, was depicted with two opposing faces because he both looked back over what had transpired and forward to what was to come.

Think back over the past year of writing. What can you count as successes? They may be as small as discovering a pen you really like to use or as huge as seeing your work in publication. Forming a consistent reading habit, finding a new writing group, starting a blog, clearing off your desk — all of these are successes.

Which successes do you want to build on in the year to come? What new things would you like to explore? Be sure to include both big things (such as taking a class) and little things (such as finding a notebook to go with that pen).

Celebrate the ways you have matured as a writer throughout the past year, and allow that momentum propel you into the next!

leaf 10oct17

(Not this one. This is an old leaf.)

With the year winding down and new calendars waiting in the wings, it’s a good time for dreaming about where we want to go with our writing next year. Regardless of whether that dreaming leads to concrete milestones or wish lists, it signals our intent, to our selves and anyone else who may be paying attention.

In a blog post at Smack Dab in the Middle, Claudia Mills describes the gift she most wants for the coming year: the gift of taking on new challenges. She then outlines six (yes, six!) new things she wants to tackle in 2019.

The gift of taking on new challenges is also one she wants to give to her fellow authors. I’ve decided my first new challenge is to determine what unfamiliar territory I would like to cover as a writer during the coming year.

So now I pass the gift along to you:

What new challenges do you want to face in your writing life this year?


We’ve reached the halfway point of November and NaNoWriMo. How is your writing going?

Maybe you’ve fallen off the pace or missed several days of writing or just never got it together. That’s okay. You could decide to start right now. And when people ask what you did in 2018, you could answer, “I started my novel/short story/memoir/poetry collection/non-fiction book.” It’s really that easy.

If the thought of writing 50K gives you the willies, set a goal that works for you: 50 words, 50 pages, 50 minutes, 50 hours. You can even sign up at NaNoWriMo with your custom goal. Because every writer deserves support and encouragement — and heaven knows we all need it.

To that end, check out this blog post by Geoff Le Pard with some lovely pictures and ideas that may inspire or comfort or just plain make you smile. Enjoy!

And then get to work. NaNoWriMo is not about winning; it’s about seizing the opportunity to write.

What is it about autumn that seems to energize the writing community? Maybe it’s the break in summer temperatures; maybe it’s the changing foliage or receding light; maybe it’s the general back-to-school vibe (here in the northern hemisphere). Whatever the reason, there are lots of opportunities to get your writing into gear.

fall 2018 catalog coverLocally, the Carnegie Center has an entire catalog of classes, workshops, readings, and other events to stimulate those creative juices. You can get more information and  register at their web site: http://carnegiecenterlex.org/.

If you’re looking for a change of scenery, The Writers’ Workshop of Asheville, NC, is offering several one-day intensive workshops this fall on poetry, voice, creative non-fiction, memoir, and publishing. Details and registration can be found at https://www.twwoa.org/workshops.html.


nanowrimo shieldLast but not least, November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and Lexington has a very active and engaged Wrimo community. Check out their calendar of events and other connections at https://nanowrimo.org/regions/usa-kentucky-lexington.

Thanks to technology, today’s writers are able to research almost any topic without leaving their chairs. The internet may be a terrific resource for knowledge-based information, but nothing beats a good old-fashioned field trip for experience-based information.

In a recent post at Smack Dab in the Middle, a blog by and for middle grades authors, Nancy Cavanaugh reflects how important (not to mention down-right enjoyable) field trips are to writing. Unlike school trips you may recall where someone else set the agenda and the schedule, you are in charge. You can invite (or join with) other writers, or go by yourself. You can arrange to meet with local experts, or see who you find when you get there. You can spend an hour, a day, or a week.

swampfireReading Nancy’s description of research she did at Okefenokee Swamp Park reminded me of a wonderful book I read when I was in the middle grades, Swampfire by Patricia Cecil Hass. It also reminded me of the ways in which places inspire us, both as readers and as writers. When we went up in the Gateway Arch on a family vacation to St. Louis, my children were beside themselves with excitement because that was where Percy Jackson had battled the Echidna in The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.

lightning thief


So do yourself a favor and plan a writer’s field trip. Whether it’s brief and local or grand and far away, your writing will be better for the experience.

nashostomoShort story is my favorite literary category, so imagine my delight when I discovered that May is Short Story Month. Learn more about the origins of this celebration at shortstorymonth.com and Fiction Writers Review.

I adore short stories because they are compact, intense, and really pack a wallop. As a kid I devoured them like peanuts, cracking them open and popping them one after another. As an adult with more to do than there are hours in the day, I love that I can (usually) finish them in one sitting. The reduced time commitment also makes me willing to take a chance on different genres, and I’ve discovered many beloved authors through their short fiction.

So grab a print magazine or journal (they do still make those) or look up a few of your favorite novelists — chances are pretty good they wrote some short fiction you’ve not read. You might also want to try your hand at short story yourself: the Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition is a great place to start. The prompts are fun and clever, and the deadline is June 4, 2018.

However you choose to celebrate, happy Short Story Month!


Okay, people, you know the drill: It’s National Poetry Month! That means it’s also NaPoWriMo!

Try your hand at a little poetry this month, especially if it’s not what you normally write. C’mon — haiku is 3 lines: 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables. Anyone who can count can do that!

If you’re simply not up to writing poetry, at least make a point of reading some. Don’t care for modern poetry? Read something classic, like Shakespeare or Wordsworth or Dickinson. Have bad memories of “literary” poetry from your school days? Read Dr. Suess or Shel Silverstein or Ogden Nash.

Still not feeling it? Poets Trish Hopkinson and Luanne Castle have each assembled a terrific selection of resources for reading and writing, including prompts designed for prose as well as verse: