Wednesday, January 27, 2016

FACES of NCCOnline

I have been teaching writing classes online through Northampton Community College since 2009. I was excited to recently be featured as one of their "faces" of the college. Click through to see the page here

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Upcoming Classes at Politics and Prose Bookstore

*There are still a few seats available. Register today! 

Please note: The Memoir Writing Workshop is sold out. I look forward to announcing spring dates soon.

I'm excited to be teaching memoir workshops again this winter at the independent bookstore Politics and Prose, in Washington, D.C. Classes fill up quickly, so register through the bookstore today!

Downstairs at Connecticut Avenue: Tuesday, February 16, 1 – 3 p.m.

Writing about oneself inevitably includes others. How do we legally, morally, and ethically portray living or deceased people in our memoirs? If you are thinking about writing memoir or have one in progress, this class will provide guidance on these issue.

Memoirist, attorney, and Professor Martha Ertman and memoir writing workshop instructor Chloe Yelena Miller will discuss these issues, followed by a Q&A session in the second half.

Register through the bookstore here

Monday, January 18, 2016

Stay Involved: Readings, Lectures, Workshops


Writing and reading can be solitary, but it doesn't have to be. I encourage you to attend local readings, workshops, lectures, workshops and festivals in your area. Pay careful attention to each author. Listen to how the reader presents her work. Can you hear the music?

In Washington, D.C., check out the regular Poetry News (put out by the Beltway Poetry Quarterly.) My favorite series are the readings at the Folger Shakespeare Theater, Politics and Prose, and Georgetown University.

For more local connections, check out the links on the right side of this blog. Is something missing? Let me know (chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com.)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Build On Previous Work

Do your best to build your writing project through your personal, professional or academic pursuits. If you are engaged by your writing project, then you will probably find that it relates directly to many other things that you are doing.

Here are some examples: Are you teaching a course on something related to your writing project? Write lectures that can be molded into chapters or shorter articles. Are you writing emails to friends about various aspects of your project? Save the key parts to edit and fit into your query letter as you start to submit to agents and publishers. Are you reading widely on the subject? Write reviews of those books as you work towards becoming an expert on the subject.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Sharing Your Work with Friends and Family: Shout or Whisper?

Reading published and unpublished poems at the Tenley-Friendship Library 
in Washington, D.C. The audience's reactions, preparing 
and then reading the poems all help the editing process.

You've been working on a piece and need feedback. When should you share your work with loved ones? Consider the content and your needs.

What did you write about? Is the reader mentioned or involved in the material on any level?  If so, you might wait until you feel comfortable and confident with the draft. Or, you might decide that you need this reader's input early in the drafting process to further your writing and memory. Either way, decide how much you are willing to change based on the reader's reaction.

For more on this potentially complicated subject, Washington, D.C., area writers might consider the  class I co-teach at Politics and Prose bookstore with Martha Ertman: Memoir Writing: Legal, Ethical, and Moral Concerns (next offered Tuesday, Feb. 16, 1-3 pm). We recommend reading Family Troubles: Memoirists on the Hazards and Rewards of Revealing Family

Editing is about both confidence and craft; readers can help you with both. Try to foster and maintain readers who offer you different kinds of feedback and support. For example, when I'm feeling less confident and need a boost, I will show my work to my mom. She's always ready to encourage me. (If you're reading, "Hi, Mom!") When I'm not sure if I've strayed from the world I've created or the grammar isn't right, I ask my (former journalist) husband to look closely at the sentences and ideas. I have a fiction and memoir writing friend with a good eye for filling in gaps when something feels incomplete. 

Aside from family and friends, I strongly recommend that you take classes with writers experienced in your genre. This can be helpful at any stage. Instructor's feedback and the feedback of peers in a workshop class can offer you the necessary craft, plot, idea and creative input to push your work to the next level. Even if you don't agree with their feedback (they are unlikely to all agree with each other), you can see what seems to work and what areas trouble readers. 

And of course, if you are asking folks to read and respond to your work, offer to do the same for them. If you are considering forming a workshop group, you might find these tips helpful. 

When do you show your work to readers? 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Setting Writing Goals for 2016: Trust Your Calendar

Winter sunset over the Potomac River in Georgetown in Washington, D.C.

The new year can mark a fresh start. Rely on your calendar to find time to write in 2016. What do you want to accomplish? More importantly, what steps do you need to take to accomplish those goals? Schedule it all in your calendar and make it happen. 

Just as I schedule time to meet paid work deadlines, I schedule regular blocks of time to write, edit and submit writing. Give your projects the time and respect they deserve by focusing on them regularly. Even if your creative writing is unpaid, as it often is, think of it as a job that requires you to literally put in the required hours. 

Start by getting organized in early January. Make a list of your goals and mark deadlines in your calendar. Then, schedule regular time - daily, weekly or monthly - to focus on your project. You know from earlier accomplishments that small steps towards the goal will result in meeting your goal. 

If I didn't make the time, the time simply wouldn't be there. It is easy to avoid writing, as there's always more laundry to do. Of course, sometimes an emergency comes up and it isn't possible to write. Give yourself the space to be flexible as necessary. But if you are putting off your writing for too long, go back to step one and reassess your plan. What needs to be moved to make it possible to write? 

Be reasonable about your schedule. What times of day do you have available to you? Where can you work? When do you have the clearest mind? Some people will go to a writing residency for a month every summer, others write on the weekends and other write in the early or late hours when their children are sleeping. Use your answers to craft a schedule that works best for you. 

If you need feedback on your writing, deadlines and writing prompts, I have time available in 2016 to take on some new writing coach clients. You can read more about my services here. We can work together to address the needs and questions you have. I primarily teach online and have a flexible schedule to work around yours. If you are writing memoir, you might be interested in my weekly memoir writing workshop in February at Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C.

For more new year motivation, here is last year's post on setting writing goals.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Upcoming DC Reading on December 10th

I look forward to reading with friend and co-teacher at Politics and Prose bookstore, Martha Ertman, author of Love's Promises, on December 10th. I hope to see you all there!

Optional, free RSVP on the Eventbrite page.


Wellesley and Smith Alums who Write (and read!)
Come to a reading & discussion with 
Martha Ertman (Wellesley ‘85) and 
Chloe Yelena Miller (Smith ‘98)
Comments from Ellie Blume (Wellesley ‘06)

Love’s Promises: How Formal and Informal Contracts Shape All Kinds of Families by Martha M. Ertman

Unrest by Chloe Yelena Miller

DC Public Library | Tenleytown Branch
4450 Wisconsin Ave NWWashington, DC 20016 

Free and open to the public

Hosted by The Washington Wellesley Club and The Smith College Club of Washington D.C.

For more: 
Read more about Love's Promises

Read more about Unrest, a poetry chapbook

Books won't be available for sale at the library, but you can buy your copy ahead of time at Politics & Prose Bookstore and have it signed at the reading.

Share the word with our Facebook event page.