Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays! I hope that you have a lovely time this season celebrating, resting, spending time with loved ones and perhaps revisiting some memories.

I particularly love choosing gifts for writers. For books, shop at independent bookstores (online and in-person.) You might support a literary magazine by sending a loved one a subscription. Consider donating to a nonprofit in someone's name (PEN InternationalSingapore Unbound or Split this Rock are great choices.) If your loved one is in the D.C. area, they might enjoy a gift certificate to the Folger Shakespeare Library.

If your loved one is interested in writing coaching, I offer gift certificates.

See you back here in 2018!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Poems, Books, Collaboration and Family

My mother, Melabee M. Miller, is an artist who has always inspired and encouraged me. When she asked to create a book from a poem in my current manuscript, I was very excited to see how she would interpret the poem.

Scroll down to see photographs of her lovely creation and where to see this book and others by members of the Book Arts Roundtable:

The Stone Wall & Moving Pages

An exhibition by members of the Book Arts Roundtable 
Pierro Gallery at The Baird Center, 5 Mead Street, South Orange, NJ 07079
December 7 - December 19, 2017

Gallery Hours: Monday-Thursday: 10:00-4:00 / Friday: 10:00-3:00 / Saturday: 10:00-4:00

• The theme Stone Wall was inspired by the current political discussion about immigration restrictions. Roundtable members were invited to create blocks of stone that open to tell a story, deliver a message, or provoke a thought.

• The theme Moving Pages challenged the artists to work with multiple book openings and layouts that move across folds or gutters. The artists use pre-treated, crumpled, textured, or decorative paper, and muted or pastel colors. The content incorporates symbols, diagrams and charts. Low-tech typewriting, stencils, hand-lettering, solvent transfers and rubber stamps tell the story.

Mothers: Poem by Chloe Yelena Miller and Visual Art by Melabee M. Miller: 

Please email me if you'd like to read the poem: chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Light & Looking

I have been thinking a lot about light. As I write poems on this subject this past year or so, I've been adding the poems to a manuscript most tentatively titled, "Light: A memoir in poems." Meanwhile, our child has been taking pictures of art here in Florence, Italy, and it seems that he is also noticing the light.

Last weekend we visited the Bargello Museum. The four year old asked for my phone and took pictures of what he noticed. I loved seeing what caught his eye and how he framed the images, which sometimes took a few tries. 

The connections between visual art and writing are well documented. Each creator is carefully looking, focusing in on something and illuminating it with our own light - a camera, pen or something else. This post is a reminder to be attentive to everything all around us - from what is placed on a pedestal for us to look at to the floor and to the air itself.

Here are some of our child's photographs from the Bargello:

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Lifelong Learning With Thor

Avengers comic book
"What's that mean, Mommy?"

I'm reading our four-year-old an Avengers superhero comic book that we bought at a newsstand in Florence. It is in Italian. The text is small. When I stumble on a word, I have to figure out first if the word is an Italian one or a superhero-specific one that I don't know. I don't know a lot about superheroes.

I could write a dictionary of words I've learned from the four-year-old's children books. To think I once called myself, "almost fluent;" his books have set me straight.

"Look it up, Mommy!"

This year, we rely heavily on Google Translate and are learning new words together. A hammer is a martello. Thor's hammer, however, is called, Mjolnir.

When I teach college composition writing classes online, most of my students are busy adults going back to school while raising a family and working full-time. I always love their stories of doing homework at the kitchen table while their kids do their homework. The kids see that the parents value education and everyone studies together. What role modeling! (If you're going back to school with younger kids who need more attention, here's some helpful advice about keeping them busy while working to balance everyone's needs.)

None of this is easy. Sometimes I want to "lose" these harder books that I have trouble following in Italian (and probably would in English, too.) I'm tired at the end of the day and don't always have the energy to "work" through a kid's book.

It is scary to say, "I don't know," especially to your kids. This year I'm trying really hard to encourage our child, who is slowly learning a new language, to keep asking questions. That it is fun to learn something new and enter into new worlds, with or without Thor. 

Hopefully these lessons, along with a big one about patience, will sink in. (Yes, for both of us.)

As the Italians say, "Forza!" (strength!) to each of us as we encounter new things we might not have chosen for ourselves. I admit that I'm starting to find the superheros' powers intriguing, as well as the imaginary worlds. I wonder if or how these images might show up in a poem or two... 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Holidays & Writing Schedules

Four year old child sitting on the floor
 reading in a bookstore in Florence, Italy
Our four year old has been known to knock on the butcher's glass window in the evening just to wave an enthusiastic, "Buona Sera!" He loves meat and has developed a friendship with the butcher near our home in Florence, Italy. The other day I stopped in to buy something while our child was in daycare. The butcher looked at me kindly and reassured me, "Don't worry, Signora. Your child will be home for the holidays soon and you'll have something to do again."

His response startled me.

I just smiled and nodded instead of expressing my anxiety about how to keep up with work (as an online instructor, my adult students take classes over the holidays and study more when they are home from their jobs), writing and family time over the holidays. With a non-stop child who wakes up at six am on a good day and has given up the afternoon nap, it isn't easy to balance everything.

Maybe the goal isn't to balance everything, but rather to choose to do some things one day and other things another day. As the holidays start in the U.S. this week with Thanksgiving, I hope that you can shift your attention easily and focus on your current activity. That might mean a self-imposed writing residency while you have time off from work or it might mean putting your writing on hold until little ones are back at school again. Whatever works for you, try to do it with self-awareness, purposefulness and openness to whatever changes inevitably happen.

For more on writing over the holidays, click through if you're thinking about gathering family stories or keeping notes during the busiest times.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Flash Sale!

Are you interested in private writing coaching? I'm offering 15% off appointments on December 1st - December 15th which are booked and pre-paid this week. Please email me (chloemiller(at)gmail) to schedule your dates before the sale ends on Friday, November 10th (noon, EST.)*

You can read more about private writing coach sessions with me here. My goal is to help you meet your writing goals. We can work on developing or completing a project, strengthening your voice and developing scenes. I can offer you writing prompts, reading suggestions, editing and organizational recommendations and anything else that might be helpful to you.

The cost is per hour, including the time it takes me to read and prepare comments on your work, as well our meeting time. I can usually read and prepare 8-15 pages double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 point font, in about half an hour. For our meeting time, I prefer to meet with writers in half hour or one hour appointments.

Since I'm in Italy, the best time for me to speak with you (phone call or a Skype, Facetime or WhatsApp audio or video call) with someone in the US is in the morning. Therefore, 6 am - 11 am EST weekdays or weekend times are best for me to give you my full attention.

Please plan on submitting your work in a .doc or .docx form one week before our scheduled appointment so that I have time to read, prepare and think about your work before we meet. I will send you comments before we talk so that you have time to read them, think of questions and otherwise plan to make the best use of our time together.

Don't hesitate to email me with any questions (chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com. I look forward to working together!

*This sale will end early once each available appointment time is booked.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Extra Help

Sometimes we need some extra help answering a pesky grammar, punctuation or citation question. Here are my three favorite websites that I recommend regularly to composition writing students:

Grammar Girl

Purdue University Online Writing Lab

Writing Commons

If you are an enrolled student, see if your school offers tutoring services, in-person or online. This is a great resource for additional, usually free, one-on-one customized help.

If you are working on something for publication, you might consider hiring an editor. I highly recommend my friend and colleague Amy Bucklin of Clear Sky Writing.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Writing & Distance

Skyline of Pine Trees at Sunset 
in the Villa Borghese Park, Rome, Italy

Writing friends ask me if my writing has changed since I've been living in Italy. While I've been writing while doing other things, as I was in the U.S., I think there's been a small shift in my bravery.

Distance makes a difference -- I am having new conversations, seeing new things and changing my routine, which feels refreshing. I'm closer to loved ones whom I've missed for over a decade, while now missing my loved ones back in the States.

The newest, terrifying element of living abroad this time is the U.S. continuing to spiral out of control. I've been writing more directly - motherhood and our nation's deteriorating state add urgency to my creative work. This is all to say that I've been feeling braver about the necessity of using my voice.

The last year, I drafted more essays and children's picture books than poetry. I spent a lot of time playing with these forms and learning in the process. Thanks to some space and time at the DC Writers Room, I was able to do that. Most pieces felt unfinished and I didn't submit as often. I felt more like a student, which is is a healthy part of growing as a writer.

Since moving, I've been editing and submitting more. Becoming a Signora, was written, submitted and published quickly. I've completed some necessary edits and have been submitting my poetry manuscript. I've also turned my attention back to some stalled projects. This is all a part of that bravery.

I'm sending you, dear reader, bravery for your own work. Whether you are working on a particular project or free writing for discovery, do so with the confidence. You voice matters. What you learn from the writing process matters.

You don't have to show every draft to readers, but please keep writing. With edits and revisions, you'll arrive at a piece that you just might want to share with the world. We'll be here to read it when you are ready.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Writing Prompt: Looking & Learning

Insightful writing requires you to look and really see something as if for the first time. I recently took a walking tour of Florence, a city I've spent over four years in, with Elizabeth Namack of Signature Italy Tours. Her insight encouraged me to see architecture, paintings, sculpture and history in a new light.

At our request, our tour guide Elizabeth Namack started the tour in Piazza della Santissima Annunziata. She described the architecture and history of the Ospedale degli Innocenti. Parents, probably mostly mothers, could anonymously leave their child at the hospital through a revolving wheel. Many parents would include a keepsake to (possibly) later identify the child and relationship. The museum kept records of the children and the unclaimed keepsakes. Of all that Elizabeth shared with us, and there were many, this really made an impression on me. This history will definitely inform my walks downtown and perhaps a poem will evolve as I return to the museum.

To read more about the opsedale, you might start with: 

Today's writing prompt? Take a local walking tour or download a walking tour (like these from the Academy of American Poets) and think about where you are.

Planning a trip to Italy? I encourage you to look into Signature Italy's many tours throughout the country. Be sure to tell Elizabeth I say, "ciao, ciao!"

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Photo of stairs leading down to the Tiber River in Rome 
with green leaves from a nearby tree

October 15th is is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. After my miscarriage, reading personal stories offered me comfort and companionship. Here are a few of those stories available online:

Grieving a Miscarriage: An Illustrated Discussion, by Jessica Zucker and Ryan Alexander-Tanner

After Infertility Diagnosis, Taking Comfort in Jewish Traditions by Dania Rajendra

Adopting A Buddhist Ritual To Mourn Miscarriage, Abortion by Deena Prichep

The Japanese Art of Grieving a Miscarriage by Angela Elon

I invite you to share links to other stories in the comments section.

I have been writing about my own miscarriage and am working on collecting them into a manuscript. You can read a few poems herehere and here at Literary Mama. Composer Lauren Spavelko has also set some of the poems to music, which she is crowdfunding to record. You can support her here. She's already met 26% of her goal as of this writing.

To any readers currently experiencing a loss, remembering a loss or supporting someone who is experiencing the loss, you are not alone. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Publication: Becoming a Signora in Poets Reading the News

Thank you to Poets Reading the News for publishing my piece Becoming a Signora. This journal publishes original poetry about current events. I hope you'll spend some time reading the poems in response to the news, like Catherine Strayhall's poem about gun control, Not the Time. This publication supports what William Carlos Williams famously wrote:
It is difficult
to get the news from poems
  yet men die miserably every day
    for lack
of what is found there.
The title of my piece comes from this blog post in which I wrote a bit about our time in Italy: "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.)" From that, encouragement from friends, and my visceral reaction to the news of recent rapes in Italy, came this new poem.

If the poem brings up anything for you or you are working to support someone else, you might start with these resources:

U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Italy, including resources for American Victim Assistance Programs - Sexual Assault 

RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network - USA)

Monday, October 2, 2017

Writing While... Doing Something Else

Fiesole (FI), Italia

My friend Sara Burnett* has as an insightful blog titled, "Writing While Parenting." She's balancing writing and parenting a young child. I love her posts about her path, which includes some goals and successes while focusing on the path. Week 4 hones in on lowering her expectations and finding joy in writing. I highly recommend reading her blog and following her journey.

We're all writing while ... doing something else. I've been juggling (and sometimes dropping) three main balls: online teaching, parenting, and writing. I'm also getting settled in Italy and carving out some time to see the sights and travel with my family. As I find myself repeating to friends, this moving-abroad-adventure has been stunningly exciting and beautiful, but also irritating and frustrating. That is to say, this is life. Everything exists simultaneously.

The trick is to find time to, at the very least, think. Try to give yourself a moment of stillness and regroup. Then, maybe, read something published that inspires you or your own work first thing in the morning. Keep it in your mind as you do fairly mindless thing, like washing the dishes. Look around during your day to try to catch a surprise moment of light or laughter somewhere. If you are open to it, you will likely find it.

An important part of writing is to start with seeing. That is to really see what is around you and then build on that with emotions, metaphor and more. We were in Amsterdam recently and took our four year old to some museums. Did he love being in the museums? Not entirely. But we did have a few good moments in which he was in my arms, close so we could hear each other, and talked about what we saw in the paintings. He usually noticed something unusual - an expression, perhaps - rather than the composition or the larger scene. He doesn't yet have context to understand what the artist did that was novel in that moment in time or what the scene represents to that historical moment. But he can see color, figures and location and draw his own conclusions. That's the sight that allows us to function in the world and then create something new.

Hopefully with some organizing and a notebook or app open near you after seeing, you will write something down. Your muscles - and their memories - might surprise you as you start writing and launch yourself (back) into the habit.

*You might remember Sara Burnett from earlier posts here:
Poetry and the Process of Unlearning
The Next Big Thing Interview Project

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.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Politics & Prose Alum Reading

Teaching memoir writing workshops at Politics and Prose independent bookstore in Washington, D.C., is one of my favorite things to do. The bookstore attracts writers with such interesting stories, perspectives and creative goals. They ask probing questions and challenge me in ways that help me to grow as a teacher and, ultimately, writer.

With the help of the bookstore and, in particular, Justin Stephani, I recently organized a reading for writers who have taken my class. I have been teaching workshops since 2011 and have worked with over 300 writers. On Friday, ten readers shared insightful work and many brought food and drink to share. What a pleasure to be a part of such a strong, supportive and energized community!

We collected $180.00 for the Thea Bowman house run by SOME. I've been connected with them and really admire their work. You can donate to them directly online. (You might write a note dedicating your funds to the Thea Bowman House, where I recently co-led a writing workshop.)

As some of you know, my family and I will be spending the next academic year in Florence, Italy. While I will continue to teach college level classes online and work privately with writing students via email and video conference, I won't be able to teach at the bookstore.

If you are looking for writing workshops at Politics and Prose, Mathina Calliope will be teaching a memoir writing workshop similar to mine starting the end of May. It be open for registration online through the bookstore on May 8th. Here are the details:
This five-session course will help you write your memories into scenes by responding to writing prompts, by workshopping essays and excerpts, and by studying Mary Karr's Art of Memoir. Five Tuesdays: May 30, June 6, 13, 20, 27, 10:00 a.m. to noon.

Also, keep an eye out for writing classes taught by Cynthia Blair Kane, Shaheen Qureshi, Sara Burnett, Linda Kulman and Martha Ertman.

Thank you again to the bookstore, Justin and the writers who read, listened and shared food during the reading!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Leaving on a Jet Plane...

As some of you already know, my family and I will be leaving on a jet plane this summer for Florence, Italy. I can hardly believe that fourteen years after living and working there, I'll be back. This time I'll be with my husband and (soon to be) four year old. It truly feels like a dream (and large organizational project) come true. 

I will be focusing on finishing a multi-genre manuscript and continuing to work as a private writing coach. I still have a few spots available for new clients starting in September, 2017, if you're interested. We can communicate via email and "meet" via video conference (Facetime or Skype.) Read more about my services here and email to set up your first appointment (chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com.) 

My husband, Hans Noel, will be teaching a class on Italian democracy at Georgetown University's campus in Fiesole, Villa Le Balze. Meanwhile, our four year old will be attending a local, Italian school and, hopefully, learning to speak the language like a native. Look for us on Firenze's cobblestone streets as we take our evening passeggiata - with gelato, of course - every evening. 

A presto! We'll be back in D.C. August 2018. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

March for Science & Science Stanzas

Saturday, Earth Day, is the March for Science on the National Mall in D.C. and other cities. The poets, led by Jane Hirshfield and the Wick Poetry Center, are joining the scientists and hosting Science Stanzas. In D.C., they will be a part of the main stage rally, teach-ins and workshops before the march. There will be giant posters with poems and signs with poems to hold during the march. You can read through the poems and download your own signs electronically.

Join the poets and scientists as they stand up for science.

Here is the March for Science's Mission: 
The March for Science champions robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity. We unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest.
You can read their full mission here

Why will I march, as a poet, mom, teacher and wife of a political scientist? Because I believe in science. Science allows us to question what we know, learn more, experiment, keep humans, animals and the earth safe and healthy and, hopefully, improve our overall health, safety and progression into the future. I need science for fresh water and air, safe food, this laptop and internet connection, my son's vaccines, my eyeglasses and contacts, and endless other things. We, scientists and non-scientists alike, need the scientists to be free (supported financially and materially, as well as safe) to investigate our world and worlds beyond.

Monday, April 3, 2017

National Poetry Month

Happy National Poetry Month! 

Poetry happens all year, on good and bad and in-between days, of course. But April is a great time to celebrate the genre.

How will you join in?

You might start by looking at the National Poetry Month page from the Academy of American Poets (complete with my favorite: sign up for a poem a day to be emailed to your in-box throughout the month), attend a reading (the Beltway Poetry Review publishes a thorough calendar for the D.C. area), visit your local library or favorite independent bookstore and browse for books, watch and listen to poets read their work at the Dodge Poetry Festival on their Youtube station or try writing a poem a day.

For more, scroll through the resources I've gathered on the right side of this website.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Connecting with Writers, Reading Series and Venues

Do you run a reading series? Have a new book out and hope to schedule some readings? You might check these directories to help you to connect with other writers, reading series and venues that host readings:

Directory of Poets & Writers from Poets & Writers Magazine

Have Book Will Travel: Connecting Authors with Reading Series and Venues

AWP: Directory of Members from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Students' Publications & Beryl Radin's Upcoming Politics and Prose Reading

I'm excited to be linking to current and former writing students' publications on this page. Click through to read what folks are publishing: blogs, articles, literary magazines and books.

If you are a former writing student of mine, please email me a link to your work so that I can add you to the listing (chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com.

Speaking of former students, if you are the D.C. area, I hope you'll stop by Politics and Prose bookstore on Sunday, March 5th at 5 pm to hear Beryl Radin read from her new book Leaving South Dakota: a Memoir of a Jewish Feminist Academic. Details on the event on the bookstore's website.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Writing & Thinking about Taste

The five senses can help you interrogate your words when your descriptions seem dull (for example, you can ask yourself what something sounds like when sliced or dropped or what something tastes feels like on a cold or warm day.) I recently offered a generative, creative writing workshop at Georgetown University. Since we were meeting during lunch, I couldn't help but focus on taste. Here are the taste and senses-related materials that I shared with them and now you:

Isabel Allende’s book Aprhodite: A memoir of the senses

Diane Ackerman’s book A Natural History of the Senses

Grace Cavalieri & Sabine Pascarelli edited The Poet’s Cookbook: Recipes from Tuscany & Poems by 28 Italian and American Poets

Poet Jane Hirshfield’s essay Five Utensils of the Spirit (including two poems: Da Capo and Green-Striped Melons

Martín Espada’s poem Coca-Cola and Coco Frío 

Mark Strand’s poem Eating Poetry

What else would you add? 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Support Facts. Support Journalism.

image found here

We all need some giggles to get through the "alternative facts." What else can we do? We can support journalists and journalism with our wallet. Here are some places to send our dollars in exchange for facts:

Start with a print or digital subscription to The Washington Post or The New York Times.

Find a local NPR station and donate.

Browse the Global Investigative Journalism Network and choose a place to donate (they list nonprofit and related organizations worldwide that work in support of investigative journalism, listed by region.)

Donate directly to the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

For more organizations, here are great lists from PEN Center USA and Medium

Friday, January 13, 2017

Books Alive! 2017

I'm excited to be participating in the upcoming Books Alive! conference as a panel moderator. Register today to hear agents and writers talk about their craft April 28 & 29th in College Park, MD.

I will be moderating this panel on Sat., April 29th:

2:50-3:40 p.m.: The Twilight Zone: Between Memoir, Fiction, and Family History 
Moderator: Chloe Miller, a memoir-writing instructor at Politics and Prose
Tom Shroder, author of The Most Famous Writer Who Ever Lived: A True Story of My Family (named a Best Memoir of 2016 by the Washington Post)
Michael Dirda, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist and author of Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books 
Jenny Yacovissi, author of Up the Hill to Home

Books Alive 2017

5th Annual Washington Writers Conference

April 28-29, 2017

Presented by the Washington Independent Review of Books

Join the DC literary community and successful authors, agents, and publishers from around the country for the 5th Annual Washington Writers Conference at the College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Hyattsville, MD. See why this inspiring and instructive two-day conference has quickly become a leading literary event in the DC area.
It kicks off on Friday, April 28th, with an informal meet-and-greet (cash bar), followed by a "how to pitch an agent" session.
On Saturday, April 29th, the schedule includes:
  • Agent pitch sessions throughout the day. (All participants will have the chance to sit face-to-face with up to three agents for five-minute sessions and pitch their ideas. You might even sign with an agent, as past participants have.)
  • An exciting line-up of panels and conversations with authors and other industry professionals.
  • Lunch with keynote speaker Judith Viorst.
  • And much more.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Great Day Washington TV Segment

This morning may have started off with a little one's feet under my chin, but then it progressed to the set of Great Day Washington, a morning show on the local CBS affiliate. I spoke with co-host Markette Sheppard and special guest Darrell Green about journal and memoir writing, as well as Politics and Prose bookstore.

You can click through to watch the full clip here and read the follow-up article, with recommended books to get you started, here.

Great Day viewers and new clients, mention the show for a free writing coach consultation. Email me (chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com to set up your consultation and first appointment. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy New Year! Ok, Now It Is Time To Write

Happy New Year! I hope you had a lovely holiday that included some rest, treats, and time with loved ones.

Now is the moment to shake off the holiday cookies, keep the joy and settle into your writing spot. You can be your own administrative assistant who organizes and encourages you to meet your goals. Here are some tips:

What are you working towards? When do you want to accomplish those goals? Do you want to write, edit and submit an essay? Write a full manuscript and submit it to agents? Start a writing practice by journaling every day? Write your goals down. Give yourself a final deadline. Know that you can and will reach that deadline step by step.

If you sit down to work on your long term goals and only see, "write my book!' written in cursive at the top of the page, you are more likely to finish your laundry than start working on your book. Break down the large project into small chunks with deadlines. For example, maybe you want to complete some research this month and finish the outline and the opening chapter by the following the month.
List the actual steps that it will take to reach your goals. Read this post for some tips on what to short term goals to include.

At the start of last year, I wrote about trusting your calendar. If you schedule the time you have to write, you will be more likely to leave those hours free and focused on writing.

Dedicate the last ten minutes of each writing session making a very short term to-do list. Do you need to research a city? Does a particular scene need more dialogue? Is there a contest you want to submit work to? This list will help you to use shorter periods of time more effectively and to better jump into your writing project.

The beginning of a new year is a natural fresh beginning. I recommend checking-in to see how you are progressing every three months. Here are some tips on how to do a self-evaluation of your writing process.

Many writers are balancing a day job - or juggle a few day jobs - and a personal life with a writing life. You will need to say, "no" to things. This piece, "How to Say No to Taking on More Work" offers some great times. One friend recommends keeping a list of all the things you say, "no" to during the year to review at the end of the year.

I'm a big fan of using my computer's calendar program to block off time to write. I also regularly update a word processing document titled, "Writing To Do List" which lists both the large and small goals.

I haven't tried it yet, but I'm interested in the Bullet Journal, which helps you to prioritize and see the different categories your (overall) to-do list might include.

If you are looking for individualized help setting goals and meeting them, I am accepting a few new clients this February. You can read more about my writing coach services here. Email me to discuss our first appointment (chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com.