Monday, August 27, 2018

Upcoming Book Festivals in the Washington, D.C., area

Pile of picture books, mostly from the DC Public Library system,
by authors who will be at the National Book Festival.

I'm excited about the upcoming book festivals in the D.C. area. This will be the first year that I take our child, now five, to hear some of the children's book authors at the National Book Festival. We've been reading some of the authors and are excited to hear Dan Santat read. Maybe we'll see you there? 

Below are the links to the upcoming National Book Festival and the Fall for the Book Festival. For more area readings, check out the Folger Shakespeare Library's O.B. Hardison Poetry Series 2018 - 2019,  and Politics and Prose Bookstore's events, as well as Beltway Poetry Quarterly for more listings. 

What readings are you excited about attending this fall?

Saturday, September 1 at the Washington Convention Center. 

October 10 - 13 at George Mason University and other Northern Virginia locations

Monday, August 20, 2018

First Day of School & Patterns

Chair from my child's new classroom with the words, "Where The Wild Things Are"
and the seat painted with characters from the book.

Our five-year-old started elementary school today. (Yes, of course, I cried a little. A new school and a new school year...)

Our child's new school year marks another transition and fresh start for all of us. My family is back in Washington, D.C., after an academic year abroad and I have a chance to start new habits and routines as a parent and writer. Part of starting a new routine is recognizing my current habits first.

This attention to patterns is an important aspect of parenting. We ask ourselves many questions over the weeks - Is my child always tired at a certain time of day? Does my child need to practice doing X in order to be more independent? We parent-writers are often good at identifying our children's habits in order to help them, but it can be hard to turn that analytical eye on ourselves, especially when it concerns our creative writing endeavors.

Habits and patterns are useful to notice for ourselves as we think about our commitment to writing. Here are some questions I'm asking myself as we start a new semester that might be helpful for you, too:

How much time do I dedicate to drafting, editing and reading each week?
How can I find more time?
How can I prioritize my time to ensure that I continue to dedicate X number of hours per week to drafting, editing, and reading each week?
Do I have polished work that can be submitted for publication?
When will I regularly submit my work, new and recently rejected work?
Are there readings that I'd like to attend this season? Did I mark them in the calendar and commit to them?
Do I have a writing group or other readers who support me? How can I find them if I don't have them right now? Are there people or groups I could reach out to?

Here are some additional helpful links:
Earlier blog posts about fresh starts and self-evaluations
How to Break Bad Habits published in Psychology Today

If you are looking for more personalized help with your writing, including setting deadlines, let me know if I can help as a writing coach. Learn more by clicking through here

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

DC-area writers: Narrative Memoir Workshop at Politics and Prose Bookstore

Front of the t-shirt reads, "so many books so little time" and the back reads the name of Politics and Prose Bookstore. While wearing this t-shirt in a cafe in Reykjavik this summer, a woman asked me where I found my shirt because, she said, "it would be perfect for my daughter!" Here's to celebrating reading, writing and independent bookstores locally and from abroad!

I'm excited to announce that this fall I will be teaching a memoir writing workshop at Politics and Prose Bookstore. Please scroll down for the details and register directly through the bookstore. The class will be held at their Northwest location on Connecticut Avenue.

Spaces filled quickly in the past when I've offered this workshop, so I encourage you to register sooner rather than later.

If you have any questions about the class, don't hesitate to email me: chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com or contact the bookstore directly.

Five Mondays. Oct 15, 22, 29, Nov 5, 19, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
$175 (10% Off for Members)
Memoir, like all creative non-fiction, relies on literary craft tools such as scene and plot to mold a clear storyline and develop characters. 
This five-meeting workshop will help you to write your memories into scenes for essays or chapters of a full manuscript. Participants will respond to writing prompts and workshop one essay or manuscript excerpt (up to 750 words.) We will consider issues of editing, revising, organizing research and chapters, and publishing. Students will receive feedback from peers and the instructor during group workshop sessions throughout the last four classes.  
This class is open to all levels, from first-time memoirists to experienced writers.
In-class writing prompts will change every session; you are welcome to take this class more than once.
No homework is due for the first day of class. Please bring paper and a pen (or charged laptop) to every class. You will be writing in-class and at home starting with the first session.
We will rely on email for communication and distribution of student writing after the first week.
To participate fully in the class, it is necessary to have an email account that you check regularly. 

Required Reading: 
Current issue of Creative Nonfiction (

Recommended Reading:
The Art of the Personal Essay, ed. by Phillip Lopate
Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoirby Beth Kephart
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King
Chloe Yelena Miller has been teaching writing privately and at the college level since 2005, when she received her MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Her poetry chapbook, Unrest, was published by Finishing Line Press. Her writing has been published in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Poet’s Market, Inside Higher Ed, The Cortland Review, and Narrative, and others. Read sample publications and writing advice here:

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Returning to Washington, D.C.

Geysir steaming in Iceland
My family and I are back home in Washington, D.C., after our academic year in Florence and some travels through parts of England and Iceland. Much like a new year, this moment feels like a good chance to encourage thoughtful habits and live the lives we wish to live.

From a writing perspective, the distance from our usual routines, tastes, sights, conversations - well, everything - encouraged me to look at things differently and literally shake things up. The usual voices keeping me quiet with, "no, you can't write that," or sarcastically asking, "you think you're good enough to try that project," were mostly overtaken by better voices. I hope to continue to give myself this distance from those negative voices, real or imagined, and explore our surrounding world as if it were new. 

It was lovely to live in an apartment in Florence with large windows and a view of the hills. Sure, we couldn't run the dishwasher and the washing machine at the same time without blowing a fuse and the internet didn't always work, but the airiness and having few of our personal belongings gave us space to be together. From counter and table space to closet space, we literally had more space to move about and focus more deeply. This year we hope to continue to live more simply from a materialistic point of view and make room for more important things. 

My first impressions of returning to Washington, D.C., are mostly startling. It was familiar, but didn't immediately feel like home. Of course, I followed the news from abroad and continue to be shocked by what I read and work to counter, but it was the daily life around me that first struck me. Driving for the first time in almost a year felt difficult at first and then freeing. Such wide roads and so much space compared to sitting in the passenger seat of Italian cars and motorini zooming around! The supermarket looked like three stores knitted together after shopping in Florence. The prices seem insanely high after Florence and insanely reasonable after our time in Iceland. Walking through the local Trader Joe's and collecting jelly beans and my favorite cookies felt like a happy dream. I'm trying not to be offended by no one saying, "good morning" or otherwise acknowledging each other's presence, even after sometimes feeling like it was too much talking with strangers in Italy. 

Our child is thrilled to be back in his room with the many things we didn't ship to Italy. While he woke up the first morning needing help finding the bathroom and claimed he never, ever ate oatmeal before, he otherwise remembers this version of life. And, yes, former-Italian-teachers-of-his, we promise to keep up his Italian with a class, books, movies and friends!

I look forward to working in-person as a writing coach and teaching a class at Politics and Prose bookstore this fall (registration should open next week.) Don't hesitate to email me (chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com with any questions.