Monday, September 25, 2017

Fundraising for Baby Book's Recording

Composer Lauren Spavelko has set some of my poems about a miscarriage, second pregnancy and early motherhood to music. These poems come from a (yet unpublished) manuscript titled Baby Book. You might remember that she won an award to have the song cycle performed in Spoleto this July. This month, Lauren, soprano Natasha Lynn Foley & pianist Bethany Cothern are raising funds to record the song cycle.

You can learn more and donate to them through their Indiegogo page. Click through to read sample pages from the score and watch a video in which the three artists discuss the project and their interest in it. 

I hope that you will consider supporting the poems, music and women artists. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Ciao From Florence, Italy!

today's view from our balcony

I apologize for the recent blogging-silence. Our family has temporarily relocated to Florence, Italy, and are now settled into a new, yet recognizable, routine that will last until summer 2018.

As of October 2, I will be available to schedule appointments with new writing coach clients. Click here for more details outlining ways that we might be able to work together. I am flexible and able to tailor a plan for your needs, goals and interests. Please note that I can take up to three new writing clients this semester since I have a number of clients who will be continuing. If you are interested in starting, please email me as soon as possible: chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com.

If you're interested, do remember that I am six hours ahead of the east coast (EST) and the best time for me to meet with you is your morning. We can video conference (WhatsApp, Facetime or Skype), I can call you or we can do everything over email. Send me an email and we can develop a plan together.

Some of you have been asking for details about our lives in Italy. I'm writing and teaching writing online, my husband is on sabbatical researching and writing and our four year old is attending a local school. We've been eating our fair share of fresh pasta, pizza and gelato. We've visited Michelangelo's Davide at the Accademia Gallery, wandered around the many piazzas and churches in Florence, visited Pisa, Fiesole and Piazzale Michelangelo, and have a long list of more art and architecture to see in Florence and throughout Italy. And, of course, we have an equally long list of foods we want to eat.

There has also been a lot of packing, unpacking, organizing, and paperwork (the paperwork-component of a move to Italy cannot be underestimated. And by paperwork, I mean dedicating a number of mornings to going to offices where you take a number, wait a while and then find out there's another piece of paper that you need from another office.) It has been daunting at times, but as my dear friend Mary H. said, that part of the move couldn't continue forever. After about a month, the most time consuming parts have ended. My friend's emphasis on the finite quality of the administrative side of it all helped me to remember that I'd eventually get back to noticing the beauty with my family and settling into writing. A very sincere thank you to my local friends who have helped us to navigate these offices. 

I lived and worked here fourteen years ago when I was the Residence Hall Manager at NYU's study abroad campus in Florence. My senses still need some time to settle before I can really digest the changes in the city and myself. I have returned as a signora (an older, married woman, rather than a younger, single signorina) and mamma. If I were to write a memoir about this time, I think it would be titled, "Becoming a Signora," as it feels as though I receive more respect when I speak Italian (the men listen and respond to me, instead of turning towards my English speaking husband) and our child has been embraced (folks offer their bus seats to him and everyone smiles at him.) 

I'm unlikely to write that memoir, but I do hope to write some new poems and maybe draft a children's book while I'm here. I will give myself a writing routine for structure, but I'm hoping that the landscape nudges me in a new direction. If I were to guess, I think that the light and colors will feature in the new work. We'll see. Vediamo. 

And I hope to see you all, too. Keep in touch and email me with your many successes (former students: let me know if you have published new work) and any questions about writing coaching (chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Download E-books from the DC Public Library this Summer

Did you know that DC residents can download e-books from the DC Public Library? Go to the website and click on E-Content to search for content. (Click here if you need a library card.)

While you're (virtually) visiting the library, register for the Summer Reading 2017 program. This year's list for four year olds (our son's age) includes activities like looking for objects in your home that start with a particular letter and acting out a story you've read together.

After downloading the Kindle and OverDrive apps, I found a wide selection of children's picture and early reader books. This summer vacation, I look forward to reading them to our four year old and even listening to narrated books together as the pages turn on their own. I also look forward to lighter luggage!

Is reading on a device the same as reading a physical book together? Maybe not, but if your child interacts with the book and you interact with your child, more reading and together time is always better than less. We started with listening to Robo-Sauce written and narrated by Adam Rubin and shared some serious giggles. Next up: acting out the book.

Happy literary and light-weight summer travels!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Congratulations to Lauren Spavelko!

Composer Lauren Spavelko set some of my poems about a miscarriage to music. And her composition, Baby Book, won the Young Composers Competition dedicated to Gian Carlo Menotti in Spoleto, Italy! Congratulations, Lauren! I'm very honored to be a small part of her inspiration and this project.

The Monini Foundation with Casa Menotti founded the competition "to promote the activity of some of the most promising figures of the new musical generation." The prize will be awarded this month during the Festival dei Due Mondi di Spoleto and the entire cycle will be performed in Spoleto on August 10 as part of Incontri Musicali.

If you'd like updates about recording and concerts for Lauren Spavelko's composition Baby Book, sign up here.

Auguri, Lauren! If you find yourselves in Spoleto, Italy, for the festival on August 10th, do congratulation Lauren!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Guest Post by Danielle Foote: Starting with Stillness

In our co-taught writing workshops, Danielle Foote introduces a thoughtful stillness for the participants through meditation. Below, she kindly shares her experience and some resources for you to integrate the same into your writing practice. Thank you, Danielle.

Starting with Stillness

In these increasingly tumultuous times, Chloe approached me with an idea for a single session writing workshop, especially targeting those who might not otherwise access such an opportunity. She crafted what was initially an embryonic impulse to a flexible but thoughtfully developed program that focused on narrating embodied experience. The following questions drove her: How do we translate emotions into words that help us better define ourselves? How do we find our voice?  Starting with the body and its senses, Chloe hoped to make room - even if only for two hours - for us to hear, taste, touch, smell, and see through what often feels like intangible, intractable subjectivity.

Immediately intrigued, I said yes, and the rest is a history of collaboration, a great deal of hard work, particularly on Chloe’s part, and learning, as people from diverse backgrounds impressed us with their imagination and insight. As the writer and teacher, Chloe primarily led the workshop, teaching elements of prose writing and how to keep up with it as well as managing animated, honest discussion. Hardly an expert in the craft of writing, I decided to dig up some tools I learned in graduate school, with Chloe’s support and suggestions, and introduce mindfulness as one way to ground ourselves during the session. Together, we participated in a guided exercise, and over a couple sessions, the potential meditation has to improve the creative process became more and more apparent.

The connection between meditation and writing is intuitive. As one of many tools and assets to the writing process, meditation can help us mute extraneous distraction, quiet the rambling thoughts or, conversely, tap into the rich content of our anxieties, and form words around the honest discoveries our bodies make. In short, meditation can help us more fully inhabit ourselves and in so doing, unlock the embodied coffers of knowledge and creativity. It is important to acknowledge the merits of letting the mind range freely. Or the legitimate circumstances that lead to dissociation and disembodiment. When we become so entangled in our thoughts, however, we sometimes miss sensory opportunities that can help us translate our lived experience.

Fortunately, meditation can be practiced anywhere and by anyone. We can engage in mindful meditation while standing or sitting, walking or washing dishes. We don’t have to be Buddhists or yogis or professional writers. We can begin where we are. From a place of greater stillness, we can then narrate what we notice and allow the sensory input to nourish our writing. A single moment in our world gives us volumes to transcribe. Much can get in the way of meditative writing, and as I frequently remind the clients I’m so honored to work with, we must be kind and gentle with ourselves. Below, you can find a short list of resources. Bon voyage!

Top 100 Must-Follow Meditation Blogs in the World

UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center

Meditation Podcasts

Guided Meditation Videos on YouTube

Sarah Steckler's Ultimate List of Mindfulness Resources

The Couples Clinic Mindfulness Resources

About Danielle Foote: 
Social worker by trade, Danielle Foote hails from Colorado and currently lives in Washington D.C., where her partner, plants, and other passions keep her occupied. By day, she works with some of the most vulnerable, disenfranchised individuals and families in the District. In those interstitial spaces, she reads, cooks, makes home, and schemes to travel more someday. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Claim Your Writing Time: Creating a writing residency

Five minute in-class writing exercises can be generative and show that it is possible to (start to) create something in a very, very short period of time. I try to work this lesson into my own life, too, since writing time can be short.

I took the train to New Jersey alone recently and was inspired (partially by the previous Amtrak Residency) to claim the time as reading, writing and revising time. That is to say, I made the trip between Washington, D.C., and Newark, N.J., a three hour writing residency. I downloaded what I needed ahead of time (since the internet connection never really worked, as I predicted) and arrived at the train station with a clear plan of action.

I succeeded in drafting an essay, editing a previous essay and reading before spending some time gazing out the window thinking. We should never underestimate the importance of idle time thinking and letting our mind wander...

Union Station, Washington, D.C. 

A Reading Lunch


Whoa, the internet didn't actually work. 
It was probably better that way. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Self-Publishing: On Editors & Reviews from Karen Schechner (Kirkus Reviews)

Self-publishing (working without a traditional publisher to create, publish, distribute and promote your book) is one of the paths you might decide to take with your manuscript. You'll likely want to work with professionals to help with the global and line-by-line editing, cover design and promotion. You may also want to submit your book for review to help with your book's promotion. 

Karen Schechner, Senior Indie Editor at Kirkus Reviews, works with self-published authors. I appreciate her taking the time the share some valuable resources that you might find helpful: 

An interview with Karen Schechner on why reviews matter 
Karen Schechner's piece on the importance of collaborating when self-publishing a book

If you are still working on a book and are looking for an editor, Kirkus can help you find the right professional editor. If you have already self-published your book, you might considering submitting your book for a Kirkus review

For additional resources and recommended editors, scroll down the right side of this website.