Three tips: Writing classes, ‘Quiet’ book, body parts

Click this:

I try not to promote myself too much here, but I have to let you know that I have four online classes for writers starting new sessions on Aug. 1. In each class, students receive weekly email lessons and assignments which are due the following week. I offer extensive critiques of student work and responses to questions any time throughout the course. My students, both online and in person, have gone on to publish extensively, and I welcome the chance to help you do the same.

I have two new classes, Create and Maintain a Successful Blog and Writing and Selling Freelance Articles. Returning are two of my favorites, How to Write and Sell a Column and Reviews and Opinion Pieces. For an overview of all four classes and to sign up, visit

On the Classes page, you will also find information about my editing and critique services. I would love to help you with your writing.

Read this:

I just finished reading Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Cain has done extensive research on personality types and the differences between outgoing folks who like to be surrounded by people and quiet folks who prefer to spend their time alone. Although this is not specifically a book for writers, it does offer fascinating insights into how people are wired, and it might give you something to think about as you write about real or imaginary characters.

Try this:

(borrowed from poet Barbara Drake’s workshop)

Pick a body part and come up with as many different metaphors for it as you can in 15 minutes. For example, I used my elbow in our workshop the other night and called it a hinge, a right angle, a bend in the road, etc. If one or more of these inspire a poem or something else, shut off the timer and keep writing.

Now go write

>Do as I say, not as I do

>Friday I drove almost 300 miles, got stuck in horrible traffic, wound up at the wrong Starbucks and when I finally got to the right Starbucks, embarrassingly late, I really didn’t get what I needed out of the interview. I learned (or relearned) three important lessons: 1) Prescreen your interviewees before you offer to meet them in person, 2) Don’t let them choose a meeting place away from what you’re writing about unless there’s a very good reason, and 3) Ask if there might be more than one Starbucks in the same shopping center. I still can’t believe there are two in this Portland-area center. She did mention that it was next to Barnes & Noble, and I didn’t see Barnes & Noble, but it was Starbucks. Who knew?
At both Starbuck’s, I wound up asking strangers, “Are you Jennifer? Are you Jennifer?” I’m afraid I looked like a desperate lesbian on a blind date. So, here’s one more tip: describe yourself and ask what they’ll be wearing or carrying.
It wasn’t all bad. I came home down the coast, avoiding the traffic, and the scenery was gorgeous. I also found something on the way that would make a great story. Still, a phone interview would have been a better idea.