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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, and most of us know there must be a balance between the two.

But there is a third method, one that is vital to improving our craft; one that can refill our empty coffers. Play. 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 


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Seashore Scene

by Louise E. Sawyer


Imagine you are writing about a character walking along a beach. Imagine the weather and what the character is looking at.  Here are a few words you might use in your scene.


  2. TROET
  3. IRNA
  5. DNSYA
  6. ELAS
  7. VESAW
  10. SGOD
  11. ORKSO
  12. UKSDC
  13. OGSL
  15. ESEGE
  16. TSMIY
  19. YRZEBE
  21. NYNUS
  22. GRUDEG
  23. STAV
  24. MTRSO



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An Interview with
Member of the Year - Kasturi Patra

by Joyce Hertzoff

You’ve recently had a novel and a couple of short stories published. 2020 wasn’t a good year for most of the world, but you ended it on a high note. Tell us about your novel and short stories.
I wrote the first two drafts of this novel in 2018 and then left it in the backburner. Around the same time, I joined WVU and I got more interested in writing literary short stories, so I’d been doing that ever since. However, when there was a novel pitch competition by the Indian publisher, Half Baked Beans, my husband inspired me to send the pitch. I really didn’t expect it to win the competition but it did. The book is about to be released in a few months’ time.

A few of my short stories got published in 2020. All of these stories began in WVU. I’d run with a prompt and then let it take me on a creative adventure.

For example, I wrote Reunion as a homage to Richard Ford’s Reunion. This is a part of an anthology and will be found on Amazon. I wrote it in the Homage Story class. Broken Dolls and The Atlas began in the Literary Fiction class. Dadu’s Beedi which is forthcoming in Lakeview International Journal also began in the Literary Fiction class. Lucky was written in a Flash Fiction class.

All my published stories in 2020 have been inspired by the classes, exercises, and discussions in WVU and the Sweethearts of the Rodeo workshop.

Do you prefer working on longer or shorter pieces? Why?
I love working on short stories more because there’s so much to learn in terms of the writing craft. I feel that the more I revise, edit, apply certain techniques, tweak the structure, POV, voice, etc. the more I grow as a writer.

What are you working on now?
Currently, I’m working on a collection of linked short stories based in ‘90s Kolkata and the present day Delhi and Kolkata. The stories are linked by themes such as female friendships, coming of age, mother-daughter relationships, growing up in nineties India as a woman, and so on. The women in these stories have different personalities but the one thing that they have in common is the way they try, sometimes even desperately, to rise above their experiences/conditions. They refuse to be defined by whatever happened to them. Just as in life, they succeed at times, and fail at others. There will be characters that feel more lovable than others, however, my aim is that they are all realistic and are people that the readers can empathize with, even though they might not be lovable. It will be a character-driven collection with certain social messages, however, it will not be preachy in any way.
Some of my published stories that I mentioned before are a part of this collection.

What courses and forums at WVU have helped you along the way?
The Literary Fiction class which I think I’ve taken thrice so far!  Also, the Linked Stories course and workshop which I’d taken twice.

I also enjoyed the Narrative Design class, some of the classes on flash fiction, and the series of classes based on Lisa Cron’s Wired for Story.

I am a part of the Sweethearts of the Rodeo study group and I owe a lot to the group for my growth as a writer. I learn a great deal from each of the talented writers over there. Their feedback helps me strengthen my stories and become a better writer. We do weekly writing prompts and that has been the one steady writing practice in my life even during my busiest or roughest phases. Sweethearts is my true “home” in the literary world. 😀

What advice would you give writers who are just starting out?

• Read extensively. I do not know of any other way to become a better writer.

• I thank my stars almost every day for leading me to WVU. Whatever little I could achieve in terms of writing was because of this place. Writing communities are extremely important and so are the giving and the receiving of feedback for our work.

• Be open-minded to critiques because that’s the best way to learn and improve. At the same time, be confident about your vision of the story, and don’t try to incorporate each and every feedback you receive. Only include the ones that you think go with your vision.

• Write every day. If you’re not writing, then edit or revise. I don’t believe in writer’s block and my personal experience is that the more I write, the more ideas come to me. I’ve set myself a goal of writing or editing 500-1000 words every day for six days a week. I completely adhere to this quote by Cheryl Strayed: “Writing is hard....Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig.”

• Be gentle with yourself. Writing is lonely and hard. Be open to learning but don’t judge yourself too harshly. Celebrate your successes no matter how small they are.

• Take time out for self-care. Meditation, vision journaling, and exercising are the three things that I do almost every day. They hugely help me with my writing and with navigating life in general.

• Other writers are your friends and not your rivals. The more you’re open to helping and learning from your peers, the more your work will improve. We are all unique human beings with unique stories to share. Someone else’s success should be the cause for celebration and not jealousy. Be inspired by the success stories of your peers, try to learn from them. When you live from an abundant mindset, everything you do (and this includes writing) brings so much joy and fulfillment!

Do you have a website? How active are you on social media?
Yes, my website is called

I share writing and reading-related resources; inform readers about publication/submission opportunities; talk about my own work and learnings, as well as, those of my fellow writers.

I’m very active on Facebook. I also have a page over there called Kasturi Patra – Writer 

My novel is yet to be released.

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An Interview with Gary Josephsen

by Brigitte Whiting


What made you decide to become a facilitator?
It made sense to give back to WVU after years of taking classes. WVU runs on all of us. We're our own community and we make it what we want. Facilitating is a good way to contribute.



Has being a facilitator affected your writing?
I think so. As the facilitator, you're thinking about the concepts in more depth. You answer questions, reread things, and troubleshoot difficult concepts. All of this helps you learn better than simply taking the course. Also, sometimes as a student I might feel negativity or intellectual laziness, but as a facilitator, I remind myself to be positive and set an example (it's silly but it's true). Of course, this ends up making the experience more positive for me, as you'd expect, especially when the going gets tough.



What tips do you have for a newbie facilitator?
Stay positive and confident. We're all here to learn, and your fellow Villagers appreciate you facilitating these courses. When you read posts, highlight all the things students are doing well and empower their writing by asking questions and giving positive feedback.



Have you taught or facilitated classes outside of WVU?
This is the only forum in which I've taught writing, but I'm an ER doctor who teaches medical students. I'm also helping homeschool our kids right now, so there's a lot of teaching going on whether I'm motivated to do it or not. The key for me is to always look for the positive and highlight what students are doing right. This might also be a weakness of my teaching style, but I feel people are hard enough on themselves.



What has been your favorite class or classes to facilitate?
I created a course on dialogue and facilitated it with help from other Villagers. The process was difficult but rewarding. It highlighted that sometimes there is a disconnect between one's expectations and the reality of the course as it plays out and people learn. Times like that are a good opportunity to focus on that positivity manta.



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?
Researching and preparing for a class the first time is a little time intensive. I copy and save the code in a file on my computer which makes it easier to post again the next time you facilitate the class. Feedback can also require a lot of time in a large class, but you can explain your constraints and keep it short when you need to do so. People understand and respect your time. Feedback, like anything else, is quality over quantity.



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?
What I love about writing is the chance to share a character's inner world. No other medium allows us to do this as well as a written narrative. It's a bit of a miracle: an ancient art of written telepathy that despite thousands of years of progress, cannot be improved upon, like bread.

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Karen Barr: Our World is Not Normal. Published in WOW! Women on Writing,

Karen was also interviewed for WOW! Ezine, The Muffin.

Glenda Walker-Hobbs (Glennis Hobbs): Haiku from the Canadian Shield, published by Local Gems Press 2020. The Water and Wildlife exhibit was held partly for Culture Days and partly as a way of promoting Flin Flon tourism. Glenda’s muse can be enjoyed here on youtube

Louise Sawyer: The Seashore Journey. Published with Local Gems Press.

Lina Sophia Rossi: The Sakura Tea Under the Gingko Tree. A haiku chapbook published at Local Gems Press a small press based on Long Island, New York, has published poets from over ten countries and over 30 different states.   

Get a Grip, Grid Poetry soon to be published with Local Gems Press.   

Walt Whitman's Collaborative Anthology. In production with Local Gems Press

Antiquated Asylum. Published in North Carolina Bards Charlotte Poetry Anthology

Fall Leaves Under the Blue Moon of All Hallow's Eve. Local Gems Press Halloween Chapbook Challenge.

Road Kill Technician. Horror Writer's Poetry Showcase Vol IV.

Bygones, Be Flygones: A Conversation with a Sarcophagi Flesh Fly. Horror Writer's Poetry Showcase Vol III.

Check out Lina’s Amazon Author Page.

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