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Three Habits of Successful Writers - READ - WRITE - PLAY

Some say there are only two ways that writers can improve their craft--studying the work of others and practice. That means that we must read and write. Those two are a given. Most of us know there must be a balance between reading and writing. We can only improve so much if all we ever do is write. Without studying other books, we can't learn about what works and what doesn't, we 'll never expose ourselves to other styles, voices, characters, and worlds.   Without reading, eventually, we'll plateau, come to a point of writer's block or frustration.

On the other end of the scale, if all we ever do is read, without ever putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), we'll learn plenty but we'll never begin our own work, we'll never begin our own journey as a writer. So the two go hand in hand--reading gives us the tools to write. 

But there is a third method, one that is vital to improving our craft; one that can refill our empty coffers. Our imagination is a vessel. Some have much larger vessels than others but eventually, without refills, they all run dry. This is partly where reading comes in. When we read books, stories, newspapers, and magazines, as mentioned above, we fill our minds with new styles and worlds, but even our vast, immense imaginative brains can only hold so much at a time. At some point, we must stop--stop reading, stop writing, stop exposing ourselves to the world outside, and reflect.  This is where play comes in. 

Studies have shown that play has a direct effect on our brains in many positive areas. It improves cognition, creates new synapses and connections, improves language skills and memory, and promotes creative problem-solving.  While it's vital that we read and write, as creative beings we must also continuously replenish our imaginations through play. 

Village Square offers - the Leisure Arena. A place where we can stop and recharge. Each month we offer entertainment in the form of games, vocabulary builders, puzzles, author spotlights, and polls. All designed to take our minds off the reading and writing cycle of depletion, and Play  







By Louise Sawyer 






Puzzle Answers


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An Interview with Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki, ‘tatjanamp’ 

by Brigitte Whiting




Tell us something about yourself. What do you bring from your background into your writing?  

I live in Vancouver, BC, Canada, where I emigrated from the former Yugoslavia (now Serbia) in the nineties. English is my second language and mastering it is an ongoing journey. The guidance and encouragement I've received from my generous WVU writer-friends has been invaluable. WVU is the best!


 I am an electrical engineer by vocation, but visual art (painting) is my second career and my main passion. Check out my art website I've been an avid reader all my life. I started my literary fiction-writing journey just a few years ago with the intent to write my late mother's memoir. This goal has since evolved into a collection of fictional short stories set in Serbia and Canada.


The first thing I did when I got the idea to start writing was to seek a good online writing course. That's how I stumbled into WVU and I’m so glad I did. The lessons I learned first in F2K and then in the WVU classes have propelled me toward a serious pursuit of the storytelling craft.




What do you write? Specific genres?


 I write literary fiction in the form of short stories. I enjoy drawing inspiration from anecdotes that spur my creative process and take me into the realm of fiction. Writing a collection of linked short stories is more fun than attempting to write a novel because each story can be a separate, relatively short project. Each can remain a stand-alone piece or become a part of a collection. Since I’m not constrained by the structure of a novel, I feel free to use different approaches and styles for the individual stories.




What classes are you taking at WVU, and how have they helped your writing?


 I completed my first F2K in 2014 and took a series of short WVU courses on the basics of the craft. I’ve also taken the metaphor class, the LaPlante series, Narrative Design, literary short story courses, and the occasional class since I want to prioritize my writing. I’m also a member of the Sweethearts of the Rodeo Group.




What is the biggest surprise you've experienced at WVU?


 My biggest surprise happened when I wrote a short story that came to me very quickly and effortlessly and my WVU friends encouraged me to submit it to literary magazines. I feared that something that took so little effort had no chance of being published, so I was shocked when this story was accepted simultaneously by two magazines, received honorable mention by a literary magazine, and has since been published in two anthologies. If it wasn't for WVU, I would have never been able to write it and I certainly wouldn't have submitted it.




Have you published anything? What are you working on now?


 I’ve submitted stories to literary magazines, competitions, and anthologies. Several of my stories won awards and have been published in literary magazines and anthologies in Canada and in the United States.


I’m presently working on my first short-story collection, a novel in stories, that is linked by a female character, Bistra, and set in Tito's Yugoslavia where I grew up. I document every step on my writing journey in my blog: and I also maintain a Facebook page, Bistra's World, at where I share tidbits about the setting and historical insights related to these stories.




There are a number of WVU members for whom English is a second language. What can the rest of us do to help you, and these other students, with completing the classes? Do you have any suggestions on how to navigate through the difficulties? Any resources that you could share?


For me, the key to learning a second language is to use it as much as possible in as many ways as possible, the more sophisticated the ways, the better—reading books, and taking classes at WVU and elsewhere. Most of all, having a group of knowledgeable writer-friends with a talent for providing valuable feedback is a true gift. I am forever grateful to everyone in WVU with whom I’ve crossed paths and especially to my SOTR Group. It's incredible how generous everyone has been with gentle corrections and suggestions. I couldn't have dreamed of a better place and more stellar group of people to help me on my learning journey.




A writer's tip or two you'd like to share.


I would like to advise people to not take so many classes it prevents them from having enough time to do their own writing. I used to do this when I first joined WVU. This worked initially because I needed to learn the basics in order to start writing anything anyone would want to read. But after a while, when I kept throwing myself into more and more classes, I realized I wasn't digesting the material and I felt perpetually rushed with my writing. At some point, I decided to never take more than one course at a time and to leave generous time gaps between them. This helped me with studying crafts more thoroughly and to make satisfying progress with my story collection, and even to have some stories published.



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An Interview with Brigitte Whiting

by Frank Richards

What made you decide to become a facilitator?

I was nervous about whether I could do it but I wanted to take the classes anyway and had enough time to try it out, so I jumped in.


Has being a facilitator affected your writing?

 I’m facilitating nonfiction and some of the poetry classes which means being in courses where I’m very much a student and I retake most of them for the structure and the craft. I’ve also been facilitating MFA110 and I reread the text, all the lectures, and leave feedback for everyone in my classroom—I find it’s a good review. With this many prompts, I end up writing pieces and trying genres I might never have thought of otherwise, and there’s always the challenge to see whether I can pull some idea off.


What tips do you have for a newbie facilitator?

Since facilitating takes time, start out with a one-week literature course that you need for credit. Don’t take yourself too seriously, meaning post the lessons, respond with the feedbacks, and keep records. If the posts are within the ballpark of the assignment, and this is something you’ll discover, within what each classmate is capable of doing, then accept what has been posted. I feel very much that it’s up to each student to be responsible for his or her work, not the facilitator to cajole anyone.  The weeks go by very quickly in these courses so check on your classes each day and keep up with whatever needs to be done. It’s easy to lose track of who has left feedbacks so keep a handwritten chart—I use accounting forms.


Have you taught or facilitated classes outside of WVU? 

Technically, I guess I facilitate my two local writers’ groups. I’m very much a behind-the-scenes person and will usually only step in to smooth out difficulties, to pull someone back from the cliff of giving up on writing, or to encourage us to learn new crafts and stretch our creative muscles.


What has been your favorite class or classes to facilitate?  

I like all of them.


How much time does it take to research and prepare for each class? And to give feedback? As a facilitator, what other kinds of things do you spend time on?  

Since I’m now doing the same classes, I’ve copied the lessons with their HTML coding so all I need to do is post them and reread them for clarity. The amount of time to do that varies a bit but it doesn’t take all that long. Leaving feedbacks vary, of course, depending on the lesson. If the assignment is to comment on the reading from the text, I’m usually fairly brief. If the assignments are for actual writing, I’ll spend whatever time is needed. I read everyone’s feedbacks and answer questions that come up and research those. If the course has a final project, I’ll run searches for how those are usually done and develop templates for them. Some courses are more hands-on than others.


Please share what you’d like to on your special love of writing. Is there some aspect of writing which really intrigues you? What classes have you taken here?

I think I’ve taken nearly all the MFA and literature courses, albeit some before the MFA-Certificate programs were put in place. I feel that writing is a continuing challenge to tell a story so it works, to find the words that convey what I mean, and to set up scenes so a reader can step into them. I suppose I’m a perpetual student.  

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Frank Richards: His story, An Exchange of Prisoners, was published in O Dark Thirty.   The O-Dark-Thirty.Org is the literary journal of the Veterans Writing Project. The VWP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Washington, DC



Jane Newhagen: her essay, Welcome to Maryland, has been accepted for publication in the Maryland Writers Association Anthology.




Joyce Hertzoff aka Hilandmum:
  Her published short story, A Woman Hobbles Into a Bar, will be published in the Challenge Accepted A Charity Anthology with all proceeds going to Special Olympics.



Joy Manné: Her story, Man And Boy, has been published at Every Day Fiction.



Angie Hess: Has published an essay, Trusting God, in the January 2019 issue of Ensign Magazine.


Brigitte Whiting: and her poetry group, Monday Morning Poets, have published an anthology of their poems, Wit, Wisdom and Whimsy



Brigitte Whiting: was awarded Honorable Mention for her story, Forebodings, at Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers



Aviva Basin Derenowski: published a novel, Talking to my Mother: 99 Anecdotes, 99 short excerpts from phone and Skype conversations between the author (in New York City) and her mother (in Israel). Amazon



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