Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Poetry Writing Workshop, Wednesday, September 15 – Sunday, September 19

There are still spaces available in the upcoming Poetry Writing Workshop. Spend five days writing in response to prompts, receiving feedback from me and the other students and integrating writing into your everyday life with this online class. The class begins Wednesday, September 15th.

Questions? Email anytime (ChloeMiller(at)gmail(dot)com) or post them below in the Comments Section.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Writing prompt: Fresh Start

I love the fresh start of a new school year. This year it is especially shiny and new since I start teaching two classes at a new school: George Mason University in Fairfax University.

For today’s prompt, describe a fresh start you've experienced. It could be the beginning of a semester, relationship, job, family, trip, book, poem, new cleaning product, new car, new program, new recipe, new exercise routine, new anything. Think about those jittery feelings in your belly and the many expectations that you have and describe them.

Will you share your writing with us below in the Comments section?

Friday, August 27, 2010


I often ask my students to write self-evaluations at the beginning, middle or end of a course. As summer comes to an end and the fall schedule starts up, it isn’t a bad idea to take a moment to write or at least think about your own writing progress and goals. Here are some questions to consider:

Did you read, write and edit all that you’d hoped over the summer?

What are your fall reading, writing and editing goals?

What are your submission goals (literary journals, manuscript submissions, conference/residency programs)?

How will you work to meet those goals?

Do you have a comfortable writing space?

What can you do to better integrate a regular reading, writing and editing schedule into your busy life?

If you’re interested in taking a fall class, have you registered?

I invite you to share your goals, questions or suggestions or below in the Comments section.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

David Sedaris in The New Yorker

I’m not a funny writer, but I’d sure like to be. I end up writing conversation-stopping lines like, “So, how about those pedestrians?” and having flashbacks to laugh-track situational comedies I’ve seen on reruns on TBS.

I admire humor and wish I had more of it. Maybe I can make friends laugh in person, but on paper? That’s not on my list of strengths.

I’ve been laughing while reading David Sedaris for years and have tried to mimic his style to try to improve my skills. {Insert more lame lines.} I haven’t succeeded and, perhaps to make myself feel better, I’ve decided that writing something funny is the hardest thing to do.

My husband and I heard him read recently at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. Surrounded by the audience’s laughter, I kept shaking my head trying to untangle why I, too, can’t be funny. Sedaris’ narrative arc, use of repetition, everyday observations and making of the normal weird, all contribute to his humor. (And breaking it down like that makes it seem less funny, unfortunately.)

One of the pieces he read that night was Standing By, which was recently published in The New Yorker. This piece, about flying in the United States, had me laughing out loud again. I’m sorry that the full text isn’t available online yet, but if you are like me, you have recent New Yorkers buried under older New Yorkers and will find it again in a few months. And if you’ve ever flown on an airplane, you’ll recognize what he’s writing about.

You can read selections of his work on NPR or watch a few videos on his author website.

What is the (purposely) funniest piece of writing you’ve ever read?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fall for the Book Festival in Fairfax, Virginia

Autumn is a great time to celebrate writing! Not only is the biennial Dodge Poetry Festival coming to Newark, New Jersey this October, but George Mason University and the city of Fairfax, Virginia will be hosting Fall for the Book Festival in September.

This free festival brings a week of readings, workshops and other events to the city, university and general public. I encourage you to look through the list of participants ranging from fiction, poetry, and memoir authors to science, folklore, cooking, parenting specialists and more.

I’m particularly excited about this festival because I will be teaching two classes at George Mason University this fall: a literature class and an advanced writing class. I have the opportunity to choose a festival author to integrate into my class and bring the students to Fall for the Book Festival to hear her. We will be reading Bel Canto by Ann Patchett who won this year’s Fairfax Prize.

Yes, the contemporary literature scene is alive and well. And it isn’t hidden: you can be a part of it all. Will I see you there?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dodge Poetry Festival

The Dodge Poetry Festival, held every two years, is amazing. Simply amazing.

This year it will be held in Newark, N.J., October 7 - 10. There are readings, workshops and discussions by today's best American and international authors. You won't want to miss the music or storytelling sessions, either. I'm particularly excited to hear some poets that I've never heard before, like Kay Ryan, Amiri Baraka and Dorrianne Laux, as well as favorite readers, like Rita Dove and Mark Strand.

While I'll miss the previous, more rural venue, I'm proud that it will be held in Newark, a city close to where I grew up. It is a city, so I recommend taking public transportation, if that's possible. It will be walking distance to Newark Penn Station.

This will be my third time at the Dodge Poetry Festival and I love running into so many poetry-friends and meeting new, like-minded friends. Will I see you there? If you are planning on attending, I recommend buying your tickets in advance.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Facebook Group: Chloe Yelena Miller, Writing Coach

I invite you to join the new Chloe Yelena Miller, Writing Coach Facebook Group. You'll stay up to date on writing prompts, upcoming classes, readings and other opportunities from a site you are already visiting everyday.

You can win one free hour of writing coaching (valued at $100.00) by helping the Facebook group to grow today. The Challenge: Share the Group with at least five friends on Facebook who you think might enjoy it. Let me know what you did in the Comments section below or on the Facebook Group Wall. A winner will be randomly selected from the participants by midnight, tonight, and announced tomorrow morning.

Read? Set? Go!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Poem “Pop Rivet” Published in Narrative Magazine - Update

Thank you to Narrative Magazine for publishing my poem Pop Rivet in April. This week in August, it moved from Backstage to the front page. You can read the poem here.

I’m in great company in this online, literary magazine. Be sure to stick around and read the other authors, interviews, profiles and more.

The poem Pop Rivet was inspired by the tool with the same name. Yes, it all started with a broken Ikea couch.

If you’re interested in more, Narrative recently published my poem Cemetery and Estate Sale Next Door is this week's Poem of the Week.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Publishing Your Cookbook

I’m teaching Food Writing, an online writing class through Fairleigh Dickinson University, this summer. While it makes me unbearably hungry to read their restaurant reviews (the onion rings they describe!), it has been a lot of fun to teach such motivated students a subject close to my heart.

The class is reading Dianne Jacob’s text Will Write For Food. The author keeps a regular blog with the same title. Today’s post, “Want to Write a Cookbook? Top Editors Reveal Best Subjects and Formats,” nicely supplements the text and answers the types of questions I receive from private writing students.

If you are interested in food, recipe or creative non-fiction writing, I encourage you to not only read this blog post, but click around the rest of Jacob’s site and read her book. I know I learned a lot.

To help support this blog, I encourage you to purchase her text through my Amazon store. You might be curious to click through the book recommendations I’ve posted there.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Online Beginning Poetry Writing Workshop this September

Interested in writing poetry? Sign up today for an invigorating, one week online workshop this September. We’ll discuss generating ideas, craft issues (line breaks, tone, etc.) and how to best revise your work.

Of course, we’ll have a good time while we’re working together! Writing can’t be all work and no play. The online writing workshops are supportive, and challenging classes to help you to find your own voice and explore ideas.

Thanks to the creative students who made the recent August Online Memoir Writing Workshop so wonderful to teach!

Details below. Let me know if you have any questions (chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com.)

Beginning Poetry Writing Workshop: Online Wednesday, September 15 – Sunday, September 19

Interested in writing poetry, but not sure where to start? In this workshop we will discuss how to write, edit and read a poem carefully. Short reading, writing and peer editing assignments will be given throughout the week. A virtual writing “staycation,” you’ll learn to integrate a regular writing routine into your life. The environment will be a safe and nurturing one which will challenge you to discover your individual voice.

You will write and workshop your original work with published writing teacher Chloé Miller and receive longer, individual feedback from her on your two longer assignments. Through group peer editing sessions, you will hone your editing abilities and receive additional feedback on your work.

The class will be held from Wednesday, September 15 – Sunday, September 19. Class enrollment is limited to ten adult students. Beginners are encouraged in this class. Adults (18 +) only, please. The class will be held in a private Google group that will be available 24/7. With a free Gmail account, you will be ready to start.

The cost is $100.00 payable by check due September 8. Chloé’s current and previous private writing students receive a 10% discount. To register, email Chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email: Chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com.

For more information on Chloé:

Chloé Yelena Miller has an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College and a BA in Italian language and literature from Smith College.

She has taught writing at a number of places, such as Fairleigh Dickinson University, NJ; Northampton Community College, PA; Hudson County Community College, NJ; Maplewood South Orange Adult School, NJ; Recreation and Education, MI and presented at a number of writing conferences, such as The Association of Writers and Writing Programs; Sarah Lawrence College’s Conference Women’s Stories, Women’s Lives; Rochester Writers’ Conference in Michigan; Ann Arbor Book Festival’s Writer’s Conference; Writer’s Center of Indiana’s Conference; and Winter Wheat: The Mid-American Review Festival of Writing.

Her work has been published or is forthcoming in the Cortland Review, Narrative Magazine, Alimentum, Sink Review, Storyscape and Lumina, among others. She currently reads poetry for The Literary Review and was previously an editor for Portal Del Sol and Lumina.

Her writing was a finalist for the Narrative Magazine’s Poetry Contest and the Philip Levine Prize in Poetry. She has been a resident at the Vermont Studio Center, A Room of Her Own’s Retreat in New Mexico and Summer Literary Seminar’s program in Prague.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Guest Blog Post on Dating in LifeBytes

Thank you to LifeBytes for publishing my guest blog post about when my husband and I began dating. All I wanted to do was cook for him to, well, seal the deal. He was a good sport about it all. Here is how it opens:

When I met my husband-to-be online, I couldn’t cook dinner for him because I was living with my parents. The good news? He still went out with me even without my wooing him with food and, um, the fact that I lived with my parents. My excuse, that I recently graduated from an MFA program and was living a financially responsible life was a good one, but still a potential turn-off.

(To continue reading…)

The LifeBytes editors, Sharon Sommerhalter and Mariann O’Connor, are accepting true stories for an upcoming anthology about online dating: Real Stories of Online Dating.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Poem “Estate Sale Next Door” Chosen as Poem of the Week in Narrative

Thank you to Narrative Magazine for choosing my poem “Estate Sale Next Door” as this week’s Poem of the Week.

When there was an estate sale in the house next to the house where I grew up, I couldn’t help but stop by and look around. The layout was almost exactly the same and I was moved to look into my parents’ windows the way I used to look into the neighbor’s windows. There are different people living there now and that was probably the last chance for this particular view.

You might be interested in earlier poems of mine that Narrative has recently published. While you’re there, be sure to read around. I’m honored to be in such great company.

Friday, August 13, 2010

DC Area Literary Resources: Festivals, Poetry Museum and Poetry Walking Tour

I am very excited to announce that we have landed safely in Washington, DC. I’m looking forward to getting involved in the local, literary community and continuing to gather DC Area Literary Resources. I’d love your suggestions on additions for the list. Below please find a list of local festivals, the Poetry Museum and the Poetry Walking Tour.

National Book Festival

Split this Rock Poetry Festival

Fall for the Book Festival

Poetry Foundation's Walking Tour of DC

American Poetry Museum

To make things easier for the future, I’ve added the links to the sidebar. What else would you add to the list? New to the area, I imagine that there must be more.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Writing Prompt: Everyday Objects

As my husband and I finish packing to move from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Washington, D.C., I can’t help but think about the many memories associated with some of my belongings: Pushing in the nose of a stuffed animal after receiving it as a birthday gift in the third grade. Wearing these Capri pants out to dinner in Florence and getting bug bites on my ankles. Always keeping this mug, which a friend gave me as a going away present, on my desk filled with markers for doodling.

While this doesn’t make for efficient packing, it does make a good writing prompt. Choose an everyday object that is important to you. You might want to pick something you look at everyday that has become a part of your home landscape. Write for 5-10 minutes without stopping and describe your memories associated with the object. You might think about when you received it, the homes you’ve displayed it in, etc.

Will you share what you’ve written in the Comments section below?

P.S.: We are moving over the next two days; the blog will return on Friday. Keep your fingers crossed for a smooth move.

Monday, August 9, 2010

DC Area Literary Resources: Reading Series

My husband and I are relocating to Washington, D.C. from Ann Arbor, MI this week and I am gathering together DC Area Literary Resources. I’d love your suggestions on additions for the list. Recently, I posted on the area’s university reading series. Below is a list of reading series in bookstores and other venues.

Bridge Street Books

in your ear reading series

Presse Bookstore

Folger Shakespeare Library Readings

PEN / Faulkner Reading Series

Library of Congress Reading Series

Beltway Quarterly's Poetry News

The Writer's Center

Poetry in Baltimore

To make things easier, I’ve added the links to the sidebar. What else would you add to the list? New to the area, I imagine that there must be more.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Writing Prompt: Your Monologue

Each of us has a unique speech pattern and manner of speaking. For today’s writing prompt, write a monologue exactly the way you would say it. You could choose a subject that gets you particularly riled up (inequality or even just a rude salesman.) Then, imagine how you would tell someone this story on the phone. Write down exactly what you would say. If you were in front of the person telling your story, you might depend on facial expressions or gestures. Since the exercise requires you to pretend you are on the phone, then your voice and words are all that you have available to you to tell your story. Imagine also that you are telling the story to your best friend; this means that you won’t self-censor the story.

After you write your piece, notice the language. What words or phrases are fairly unique to you? How did you frame and present the piece? What role does grammar and word choice play in your particular piece? It might be easiest to notice these issues if you write the same story in the voice of someone who is very different from you. The contrast will make your choices even more evident.

Would you share your writing with us below in the Comments section?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Riverside Arts Gallery Reading

Surrounded by wonderful visual art, the evening began with Bill Clark’s quintet playing jazz, followed by readings: Hillary Dorwart, Andrea Jones-Rooy and me.

I’ve been workshopping poems with Hillary, Andrea and other local writers during my time in Ann Arbor. Knowing that there were deadlines, challenging and supportive readers and like-minded friends nearby has been a wonderful gift.

The next time they read, listen for Hillary’s examination of gender in her poems and Andrea’s musings on how things change with time in her short prose (should we call them prose poems?) pieces.

Thank you to everyone who participated and attended on Friday night! We appreciate your support.

I highly recommend joining a workshop or forming one with like-minded folks. Here are some tips on how to create your own.

Monday, August 2, 2010


As a composition and creative writing instructor, plagiarism comes up in every class almost every day:

Explaining what it is and how to avoid it
Noticing it in a paper and deciding how to deal with the issue

It is easy, especially with technology today, to plagiarize not just words, but ideas. Sometimes it is done on purpose out of laziness and sometimes it is because the student writer didn’t understand how to properly cite a source.

Trip Gabriel’s recent article in the New York Times “Plagiarism Lines Blur for Students in Digital Age” explores this topic and its many facets. What do *you* think is the best way to work with students to help them learn to avoid plagiarizing text or ideas?

Luckily, in freshman composition writing courses, the goal is to teach students how to avoid it, not search them out and fail them for it. Through courses that require many drafts, errors can be caught in an early draft and corrected by the student. If the plagiarism persists, then yes, it potentially becomes a more punishable offense.

I require students in some writing classes to post their rough and final drafts on a class Blackboard Discussion Board. I encourage them to read each other’s papers and even cross-pollinate ideas. Of course, they are required to cite each other’s work, if they decide it is valuable for their own papers’ development. This group sharing of ideas and discussion of how to organize those ideas helps to make paper writing easier and the writer’s role in the process more important. The students understand that by supporting their claims and presenting their ideas clearly allows them a strong and valuable voice in an academic conversation.

It is hard to plagiarize a large part of a paper (bought or stolen) if a class requires drafts to be written. The tricky part often comes when sentences or ideas or lifted from online sources that are easy to cut and paste. Gabriel writes, “It is a disconnect that is growing in the Internet age as concepts of intellectual property, copyright and originality are under assault in the unbridled exchange of online information, say educators who study plagiarism. Digital technology makes copying and pasting easy, of course. But that is the least of it. The Internet may also be redefining how students — who came of age with music file-sharing, Wikipedia and Web-linking — understand the concept of authorship and the singularity of any text or image.”

Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab offers clear explanations on how to properly cite material. This resource helps instructors to quickly lead students to instructions on how to cite different kinds of texts, like those online, that might be tricky at first.

I always encourage students to think of writing as a part of a dialogue. Future readers can respond to original ideas through a new piece of writing that was crafted based on a response to a published piece. Therefore, material must be properly cited as the writer would want to be given credit for original ideas and valid sources.

How do you, as an instructor or student of writing, keep plagiarism at bay?