Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Daily Exercises 7/24 through 7/28

These Daily Exercises classes are so much fun. Only one fifteen-minute assignment per day, but it's an intense week, and your story will grow.

This class is for anyone who's working on a story or novel, or wants to be. You can be at any stage, from the idea phase (it does help if you have some ideas about a character) to revision. 

It will get you moving again, help you see your story from different angles, and leave you inspired and energized to continue. 

Daily Exercises Online class
All levels welcome!
Monday 7/24 - Friday 7/28

Use the CONTACT ME form on the right to email me and sign up.

Want a sample of what we do in class? Click here. In class you'd share the result, and your current project/idea, with me and others and hear our (friendly, encouraging) responses. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Tarot Card Exercise

The Tarot Card Exercise 
The Hand Fate Deals You

I'm posting this today for my new Daily Exercises class, but anyone can do it.

This exercise is a perennial favorite in my classes. It might look complicated, but the very specific parameters can be unexpectedly freeing.

Here's the exercise:

Write down three numbers between one and fifty.  (If you like, use this random number generator.)

Now click here. Write down the three words or phrases associated with your numbers.

This is the hand fate has dealt you. (In class, they'd be on cards sitting in front of you.)

Set your timer for fifteen minutes. Keep writing until the timer goes off.

The first word or phrase should be included in your first sentence
The second goes anywhere in the middle
The last one must be included in the last sentence

Remember: Keep writing until the timer goes off. It does not have to be "good." It does not have to be "right." It does not even have to make sense. Just keep putting words on the page.

That's it!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Daily Exercises, Week Two, starts 7/17

Wow, the Daily Exercises class last week was intense. Only one fifteen-minute assignment per day, but I almost felt like I was seeing people's stories evolve at time-lapse speed. There was so much great energy in all the work.

I'm offering another this week, and the price, which I set earlier, is still $50. But this turned out to be a LOT of (really fun) work, so the next one is going to cost substantially more so that it's an accurate reflection of the time I put in. Get the cheap one while you can!

Daily Exercises Online class
All levels welcome!
Monday 7/17 - Friday 7/21

Use the CONTACT ME form on the right to email me and sign up.

Want a sample of what we do in class? Click here. In class you'd share the result, and your current project/idea, with me and others and hear our (friendly, encouraging) responses. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

New exercise: your character from three points of view

I'm posting this exercise for my new online class, but anyone can do it.

This exercise is about exploring your main character. Write down her/his name, and the names of two other important characters in your novel or story. You now have three names on your page.

All of these people will tell us about your main character. We'll see her first through her own eyes, then through the eyes of the other two.

Go to this random number generator. Set max to 60. Get a number. Find that word on the list and write it next to the name of your main character.

Do this for each of the other two characters.

Now set the timer for five minutes and let your main character describe herself. The word next to her name must go in the first sentence.

Do the same for the other two characters. Remember each character is giving their own take on your main character.

Don't think too much about this; just write until the timer goes off. Have fun!

At the end, what have you discovered about your main character and her relationships? How might this inform the next scene you're going to write or rewrite?

1 ice

2 rain

3 light

4 sparks

5 flame

6 crack

7 flare

8 earth

9 alight

10 untouching

11 mechanical

12 sorrow

13 pressure

14 name

15 sweet

16 thief

17 storm

18 early

19 echo

20 bone

21 desire

22 blood

23 salt

24 orbit

25 drive

26 glimmer

27 touch

28 voices

29 flood

30 beast

31 tiny

32 alive

33 human

34 accident

35 eyes

36 liar

37 teeth

38 birds

39 slide

40 snow

41 murder

42 nerve

43 path

44 tunnel

45 branch

46 break

47 begin

48 call

49 lift

50 blaze

51 flare

52 shadow

53 leaves

54 pity

55 doorway

56 moon

57 dust

58 insomnia

59 dark

60 stars

Monday, June 26, 2017

New Classes, Online and In-Person

Two online courses and one in-person course coming up in July:

Online: Daily fiction exercises 

For writers with a specific project in mind. These exercises will help you dig deeper into it. They'll be low-pressure, short, and fun. This is a place to experiment and be messy.

I'll read and comment on each, and you will be partnered with a different participant each day to offer brief commentary too. 

July 10 to 14, and July 17 to 21. $55/week. 
Take one week or both. 


Online: Writing for non-writers

This is for those of you who THINK you aren't writers. By the end of the week, you'll know you are! :) 

Daily short, low-pressure exercises. I'll comment on each with encouraging feedback. I'll also send optional readings and inspirational quotes to remind you you're not alone on this journey. 

July 10 through 14. $55. 

Registration is now open for Session IV of Year of Your Book at The Hudson Valley Writers' Center in Sleepy Hollow.

A novel-writing course in six-week sessions. Our focus for this session will be the scene: how it's constructed, how it's put together with other scenes to make a narrative. Newcomers welcome!  
     July 12 through August 16, Wednesdays 10:15 to 12:15. $320.

About me: I'm an award-winning novelist, educated at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and I've taught creative writing for 25 years. I currently teach at Hudson Valley Writers' Center and at the Yale Writers' Conference, where I've been resident faculty for the past six years.

Consultation for one-on-one work: $50

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Remembering Denis Johnson

I was honored to be asked to join this tribute to the late Denis Johnson at Lit Hub today.

Remembering Denis Johnson

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Book Launch for My Write the Story Class

There will be a launch party for the book featuring work by my Write the Story class participants at the Ferguson Library in Stamford on Wednesday, May 24, at 6:30 p.m. Join us! Details here.

Look at the gorgeous book the library had printed. It's on their shelves now!

Thanks to Sonja Hennessy for the photo! 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

New Essay in The Atlantic

Nice new essay in The Atlantic on the pub day of the 20th anniversary edition of Lives of the Monster Dogs

When Talking Canines Took Over New York

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Thanks to Literary Hub and Volume 1 Brooklyn for the kind words on the upcoming 20th anniversary edition of Monster Dogs

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Jeff VanderMeer's new novel, Borne, is out today!! (I'm honored that Jeff wrote the intro to the 20th anniversary edition of Monster Dogs, which comes out next month.) Can't wait to read this.

Check out the wonderful review from the New Yorker: Jeff VanderMeer Amends the Apocalypse.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

"When you don't feel your feet are quite touching the bottom, you're just about in the right place . . . " —David Bowie, on wading into the depths creatively

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


Make this the year you finish your book! Sign up for Year of Your Book at the Hudson Valley Writers' Center.

Starts January 11. Wednesdays 10:30 to 12:30.  Runs all year in six-week sessions. 

(If this time doesn't work for you, contact me for info about weekly one-on-ones.)