23 Nov, 2016

A Writing Exercise to Spark Real Thanksgiving Conversations

November 23rd, 2016|Tags: , |

One of my longtime memoir workshop students, David Thoele, MD, is a pediatric cardiologist, but he also serves as the Director of Narrative Medicine at Advocate Children's Hospital because he [...]

5 May, 2016

Writing Exericse: A Startling Sound

May 5th, 2016|Tags: , , , , |

Have you ever been startled by a sound you had never heard before? Stopped in your tracks, wondering what the hell was going on? Felice Benuzzi's unique adventure memoir No [...]

2 Mar, 2016

A Navy Blue Sigh – Reading The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber

March 2nd, 2016|Tags: , , , |

"Eventually, I hear footsteps crunching along the side of the house through the glazed snow and my mother's navy blue sigh through the frozen air." from The Language of Baklava [...]

25 Nov, 2015

The Smells of Fall

November 25th, 2015|Tags: , , |

There's no denying that we are at the tail end of fall here in the Midwest--the temperature dips below the freezing at night, the trees are almost bare, and the [...]

10 Jan, 2014

The Sounds of Winter

January 10th, 2014|Tags: , , |

Chicago winter - late afternoon yesterday outside my building We've emerged from subzero temperatures here in Chicago, but as winter has gripped the outside with ample snow, treacherous streets and salty [...]

17 May, 2012

Writing Exercise: Color List – Beige

May 17th, 2012|Tags: , |

I haven't done the color list exercise in a while, mainly because I thought I had covered all the main colors already. For the uninitiated, the idea of the color [...]

12 Mar, 2012

Writing Exercise: Color List – Black

March 12th, 2012|Tags: , |

The month of March has crept up without me presenting a color list exercise yet, but here we go. I have one more color left, I think, and that's an [...]

7 Feb, 2012

Writing Exercise: Color List – Purple

February 7th, 2012|Tags: , |

Since we already did red, which would also have been appropriate for February, the month of Valentine's Day, the color for this month is purple. At least there is some red [...]

18 Jan, 2012

Green Eggs & Ham: A Story with 50 Words

January 18th, 2012|Tags: , , , |

These days, in the age of soundbites, we challenge ourselves to tell stories in no more than 140 characters (on Twitter), or no more than six words (see the Six [...]

9 Jan, 2012

Writing Exercise: Color List – White

January 9th, 2012|Tags: , |

Dusty Miller at the Lincoln Park Conservatory Even though there still is no snow outside here in Chicago, the color for this month is going to be white, perhaps because [...]

5 Dec, 2011

Writing Exercise: Color List – Gray

December 5th, 2011|Tags: , |

 Driving towards downtown Chicago recently It seems like all the color is gone now outside, and days like the one in my photo here are more prevalent. Thus, the [...]

4 Nov, 2011

Writing Exercise: Color List – Brown

November 4th, 2011|Tags: , |

Another month has begun, so it's time for another color list. The color for November will be brown as it seems a month rich with so many earthly things. For [...]

3 Oct, 2011

Writing Exercise: Color List – Orange

October 3rd, 2011|Tags: , , |

What would fall be without pumpkins? So October's color is orange. For the uninitiated, the idea here is to come up with ways to evoke orange without mentioning the color itself [...]

6 Sep, 2011

Writing Exercise: Color List – Red

September 6th, 2011|Tags: , |

September is the month of lushness - all the fruits and vegetables are ripe and deep in color. So this month's color is the most forceful of colors: red. For [...]

3 Aug, 2011

Writing Exercise: Color List – Yellow

August 3rd, 2011|Tags: , |

The sun is still high up in the sky so the color for this month of August is the color of the sun - yellow. For the uninitiated, the idea [...]

5 Jul, 2011

Writing Exercise: Color List – Blue

July 5th, 2011|Tags: , |

Red, white and  ____. You guessed it: In honor of Independence Day, the color of this month’s color list is blue. For the uninitiated, the idea here is to come [...]

21 Jun, 2011

Writing Exercise: Smells of Summer

June 21st, 2011|Tags: , , |

Today is the first day of summer, so I was thinking of all the smells that mean summer to me. Smell is purportedly the sense that brings back memories the fastest, [...]

15 Jun, 2011

Writing Exercise: Hot Verbs

June 15th, 2011|Tags: , |

It is raining and thundering again in Chicago this morning, and more wetness and cool temperatures are forecasted for the rest of the day, so I'm feeling rather un-summery and [...]

14 Jun, 2011

Six Words on Dad

June 14th, 2011|Tags: , |

Dad's love: "Checked your oil lately?" (As posted by DrumHeart23 on SMITH Magazine) The quote above is my favorite six word memoir contribution so far on SMITH Magazine's dad project. [...]

6 Jun, 2011

Writing Exercise: Practice Dialogue – The Singing Cab Driver

June 6th, 2011|Tags: |

One advantage we nonfiction writers have over fiction writers is that we have a plethora of voices at our disposal if we manage to capture those voices of the people [...]

1 Jun, 2011

Writing Exercise: Color List – Pink

June 1st, 2011|Tags: , |

Since my color list for green was a success, I've decided to create, with your help, one color list each month, and eventually I'll publish a page with all of them [...]

25 May, 2011

Writing Exercise: Sounds of Rain

May 25th, 2011|Tags: , |

View from the window behind my writing couch this morning - see how the water is pouring from the spout? What words to use describe the sound of rain? We had [...]

9 May, 2011

Writing Exercise: Color List – Shades of Green

May 9th, 2011|Tags: , |

One of the challenges in writing evocative descriptions is getting the color just right. Making your reader see what you see will draw him or her into the scene, and [...]

6 May, 2011

In Honor of Mothers Day: “Momoirs”

May 6th, 2011|Tags: , , |

"Pregnancy is poetry. Parenting is prose." (As heard on Twitter May 4 via SMITH Magazine) What a priceless assessment of motherhood! In honor of Mother's Day, check out SMITH Magazine's Six-Word [...]

1 May, 2011

Writing Exercise: Smells of Spring

May 1st, 2011|Tags: , |

Today I cut open a butternut squash for a beef tagine dish I was trying out, and as I scooped the seeds out of its bottom and breathed in its [...]

29 Apr, 2011

Writing Exercise: Practice Writing a Scene

April 29th, 2011|Tags: |

Which writer has not been advised to turn this or that passage into a scene? The problem is: how exactly do you do that? First, of course, you need the parts [...]

13 Apr, 2011

Writing About Things

April 13th, 2011|Tags: , |

I received this poem today as part of the poem-a-day initiative by poets.org. The Things By Donald Hall When I walk in my house I see pictures, bought long ago, [...]

1 Feb, 2011

The Descriptive Mood

February 1st, 2011|Tags: , |

Going for a walk invariably puts me in a descriptive mood, especially a walk in nature. I wind up thinking about how I would describe, for instance, the waters of [...]

10 Jan, 2011

Strong Verbs and the Art Institute

January 10th, 2011|Tags: , |

“As a creative person, it’s good to visit places like the Art Institute; they always inspire you in unexpected ways,” I said to my daughter as we left the Art [...]

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