Archive | March, 2017

On “Hamilton”… and writing

31 Mar

My youngest daughter and I are obsessed with “Hamilton.”


(Note the capital letters?)

We have watched hijacked DVD versions of the Broadway production, have memorized every line from every song, and pretty much listen to it nonstop in the car.

(If you pull up next to us, you get a nice ear- and eye-ful, for sure.)

I love history and especially the Revolutionary War period, so that’s part of the appeal.

And I love Broadway musicals. Rent, Phantom, Annie, Once, Godspell…too many to count.

But with “Hamilton,” the story, the lyrics, the raps, the music are just so incredibly inspired that I feel like it’s on a totally different level.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is a genius, it’s pretty clear.

So, when my daughter wanted some birthday cupcakes and cookies for her big 13th birthday this last week, there wasn’t much option as to what she had to have.

“Hamilton” or nothing at all.

So, we had cookies and cupcakes..and I made her a shirt with just one of the many awesome quotes from the show.

It says, ‘I’m not throwing away my shot,” and it fits the theme of the entire play.

Hamilton was all about taking advantage of his opportunities.

And I feel like that’s a pretty awesome message for my new teenager to hear.

And for me to hear.

And for you–as a writer (and, heck, as a human) to hear.

Let’s not throw away our shots.

(Let’s also be “young, scrappy, and hungry” and “looking for a mind at work” and–the best for us–“writing like we’re running out of time.)

In case you need to learn more about “Hamilton”…

The official site

5 lessons on creativity from Lin-Manuel Miranda

Meet Lin-Manuel Miranda, the genius behind Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton, via




Writing is easier when you have this…

24 Mar

What inspires you to write?

What gets your juices flowing?

What helps the ideas and the words and the magic form?

For me, a little bit of loveliness helps.

Here’s a peek at what I saw from my lodge this past weekend at the writing conference.

It was quite a backdrop.

Quite a masterpiece.


“Virtual Handouts,” Part Deux

22 Mar

Here’s the second portion of my session at the Mountain Valley Writers Conference, in which I talked about how to find markets for my article ideas.

(P.S.: It’s not brain surgery. Or rocket science.

Getting published just takes some research, and time, and energy, and more energy.

Learn as much as you can about the process, then go for it.)


Marketing 101:

Finding places to publish, and writing query letters


How do I find markets for my articles?


Read regularly


Stay informed on industry news


Use the Writer’s Market


Use writing guidelines


Follow marketing websites


Use the actual publications


Use social media


Establish relationships with editors and other writers


Do multiple marketing





Marketing Checklist for each of your possible ideas


My idea:

Type of article into which this idea might develop:

Audiences who might be interested in my idea:

Categories of magazines that members of these audiences read:

Possible target magazines for this article:



How do I write a query letter?

A query letter is a one-page letter that attempts to sell your article idea to a magazine editor. Query letters are better than complete manuscripts because they save time for both you and the editor.


  1. An attention-getting introduction



  1. Information about your proposed article



  1. Information about yourself



  1. Closing



*Submit your query by email unless otherwise specified.

Workshop notes from the Mountain Valley Writers Conference

20 Mar

I just spent a lovely two days at the Mountain Valley Writers Conference in Lake Guntersville, Alabama. It was a much-needed (albeit brief) getaway with nature, new friends, and lots of inspiration.

I did a session on writing query letters, which evolved into talking a lot about how we come up with ideas to write about and then how we do something with those ideas in a practical, marketable way.

Since you didn’t get to attend the conference with me, how about some “virtual handouts”? (I may trademark that term. Virtual handouts. They could become a thing.)

Here’s what I talked about in the first portion:


First, let’s consider the reader’s needs. What does a reader need from a feature article?

  1. Readers want to be entertained.


  1. Readers want to know how to make their lives better (physically, relationally, emotionally, spiritually, financially, etc.).



  1. Readers want to be informed.


  1. Readers want to be inspired.



Sources of article ideas:


What You Know

Personal Experiences

Personal Interests and Passions

Areas of Expertise


What You Don’t Know…Yet

Personal Interests/Dreams

Publications’ Needs



Other People

Well-known people

Ordinary people with extraordinary stories

People in the news

Family and friends


Things you Read


Newspapers and Magazines



Seasons, Holidays and Anniversaries


Evergreen topics


Trending Issues


Creative Exercises