Daily Writing Exercises: Preptober + NaNoWriMo 2020

Practice and warm-ups are fundamental to every artistic discipline, writing included. Especially when you’re gearing up to set down 50,000 words in 30 days.

Doing a 10 – 20 minute writing exercise can help kick your brain into creative gear without pressure, give you the chance to try out new craft skills, or simply keep your writing muscles limber on days when you don’t have the time or energy to work on your work in progress.

Whether you’re getting ready for NaNoWriMo, or starting a new long fiction project, or just want to try building a daily writing practice, this course is for you.

Part 1 – Preptober

Starting October 1 you’ll get a short writing exercise via email every day for a month. These exercises will give you an opportunity to play around with voice, point of view, dialogue, and other aspects of craft plus help you get to know your characters better and dig into details of your setting. You can use the exercises to prepare for NaNoWriMo, or a non-NaNo project, or as warm-ups before starting on your current work in progress.

Part 2 – NaNoWriMo

Starting November 1 you’ll get a different set of writing exercises via email every day for a month. The November exercises will all relate directly to your work in progress, diving into the characters, the world, and the plot in ways that will help you keep moving forward.

You can sign up for Part 1 for $45, Part 2 for $45, or, if you sign up for both by September 29, you’ll only pay $70. Grants are available for those who can’t afford the registration fee.

Grants

There are a total of 10 grants available to writers who need them. Grants are for both parts of class. Five grants are available to Black, Indigenous, and other Writers of Color, five are available to any writer from any identity background.

To apply, fill out this form. You’ll be asked to provide a personal statement (up to 500 words) and a statement of financial need (300 words). Please Note: I define financial need broadly, from those who absolutely can’t pay to those who may have the money but can’t set it aside for a writing course. Don’t self reject!

Application Deadline: September 22nd.

FAQ

Do I have to be doing NaNo to take this course?

Nope! If you just want a month or two of writing exercises that will help you with your fiction or get you into a daily writing practice, this course is for you.

What are the technical requirements?

Just an email account.

Can I donate so more people get grants?

Yes! And you’d be the absolute best for doing so. Click here to donate via PayPal. You can pay to cover the full grant price or just part of one. Any amount donated is appreciated.

New Webinar: Cultural Appropriation – What It Is and How To Avoid It

Nisi Shawl and I are teaching a webinar on Cultural Appropriation next month. This class has low-cost registrations and a donation/Pay What You Can Afford option to make it more widely available to writers affected by COVID-19. Basic details:

When: May 2, 2020, 10AM – 1PM Pacific Time (Click to see when this happens in your time zone)
Where: Online via Zoom video conference
Price: $20 – $30 or Whatever You Can Afford (Details Below)

Most writers want to avoid Cultural Appropriation but worry that they don’t fully understand what it is or how to ensure their work does not include it. They wonder what the difference is between appropriation and exchange or between appropriation and influence. And they hope avoiding cultural appropriation doesn’t mean only writing stories about people from their same race, culture, or ethnic group.

In this 3 hour webinar, authors Nisi Shawl and K. Tempest Bradford will offer concrete answers to those questions and a set of resources to help authors navigate these tricky waters. The webinar includes two short lectures and a lengthy Q&A.

Click here for full details or to register

Managing Social Media for Writers header

New Class: Managing Social Media for Writers

I’m teaching a new class for Cat Rambo’s Academy for Wayward Writers about how to manage social media if you’re a writer. Especially if you DON’T want to be on it. Details:

When: Sunday, May 3, 2020, 1:00-3:00 pm Pacific Time
Where: Online via Video Conference
Price: $99 ($79 for existing Academy students) – scholarships are available

Authors need to use social media for publicity, audience building, and community connection. And yet, social networks are undoubtedly time sinks, distractions, and can sometimes be bad for our mental health. All of which can eat into writing time. Maintaining a balance between time on and off social media is important, especially for authors who want to lean more toward being OFF it. In this class, K. Tempest Bradford will offer tips for how to limit your time on social media without having to delete your account and how to set up a system of auto posting and scheduling that will allow you to maintain an appropriate presence without annoying your friends and followers.

Classes are limited to 15 students. They are taught online and require reliable Internet connection, although in the past participants have logged on from coffee shops, cafes, and even an airplane; a webcam is suggested but not required. Classes are recorded for the benefit of class members only.

Click here to register.

Willamette Writers logo and image of Tempest

I’m teaching at the Willamette Writers Conference

The Willamette Writers community recently announced the lineup of teachers and keynote speakers for their conference this summer, and for the first time I’m one of them! There are a ton of amazing writers, editors, and agents on that list and I’m honored to be listed alongside them. Plus, I’ve been hearing wonderful things about this conference for a while and I’m excited to attend and absorb some knowledge myself.

The conference takes place July 31 – August 2, 2020 and currently the in-person event in Portland, Oregon is still happening. However, there is now a virtual option for the conference and, if need be, the event will go full virtual.

Here’s the list of my Master Class, Panel, and Workshops:

Master Class: Describing the “Other”
Three Sessions: Monday – Wednesday, July 27-29, 5-7 PM Pacific

Writers who want to create fiction with characters from different identities, cultures, and backgrounds often grow anxious when it comes time to describe people from marginalized groups. They wonder which words and phrases they should avoid and which words to use instead. In this Master Class, writers will learn how to avoid these description pitfalls. Through lecture and writing exercises, we’ll go beyond the basics of eliminating food metaphors and other tired/inaccurate clichés and explore how to make conscious, respectful, and inclusive language choices. Writers will come away from the session with a set of resources to help them avoid descriptions that unwittingly reveal or perpetuate bias and oppression. Bring your computer, tablet, or pen and paper for hands-on exercises.

Panel: Current Themes in Science Fiction and Fantasy
Friday, July 31, 2020 9:00 AM-10:30 AM

The world of Science Fiction and Fantasy is imaginative, big, and wild. Join noted SFF authors as they discuss current themes that have found their way into SFF, and how the industry has changed in the last few years.

Workshop: Intersectionality and Characterization
Friday, July 31, 3:45 PM-4:45 PM

When writers first conceptualize characters, they often have one or two aspects of identity firmly in mind. In focusing on one particular aspect of identity – such as race or ability or sexual orientation – you can lose sight of the fact that there are always overlapping areas of identity that affect how a character moves through the world. In this workshop, we’ll discuss how Intersectionality can be used as framework for creating fully-dimensional characters, especially when those characters are from identities and cultures different from your own. There will be hands-on writing exercises, so bring your laptop, tablet, or pen and paper.

Workshop: Writing Outside of Your Experience: Characterization
Saturday, August 1, 10:45 AM-12:15 PM

Representation and creating characters that reflect the diversity of the world we all live in is fundamental to writing great fiction. But writers often find it difficult to represent people whose gender, sexual orientation, racial heritage, or other aspect of identity is very different from their own. This can lead to fear of getting it horribly, offensively wrong and, in the face of that, some think it’s better to not even try. But representation is too important to ignore. In this workshop, K. Tempest Bradford will give you tools and set you on the right path to writing characters who represent the “Other” sensitively and convincingly. There will be hands-on writing exercises, so bring your laptop, tablet, or pen and paper.

In addition, I will attend the Writers of Color Social on Saturday morning at 7:30 if there’s an in-person event.

Registration prices:

  • Online Registration: $299.00
  • Full Conference Registration: $559.00
  • Friday Only Registration: $284.00
  • Saturday & Sunday Only Registration: $404.00

You can find more details and register here. I hope I see some of you this summer!

Standing Still

December Microfiction: Standing Still

This month’s free fiction is in honor of the solstice.

In the hour before dawn a chariot climbed through the desert hills toward the Western mountains, the full moon above illuminating the way. The sky was not yet even the barest pink and every star embedded in the body of Nut winked down at the driver and passenger as they broke the night’s silence. They drove past the sealed tombs in the rock, the monuments to past kings, until the beating of the horses’ hooves echoed off the stone of the new monument ahead. Hatshepsut tapped her driver’s shoulder to indicate where they should stop, then squeezed it to keep balance once they did.

“Here, my king?” the driver asked. They were still many feet from the front of the first ramp.

“Yes, I’ll walk the rest of the way,” Hatshepsut said as she climbed down and dusted herself off. “I won’t need to return to the High House until the sun peaks, so you may return to the river to take part in the festival there.”

Even though they’d discussed this before leaving, the driver still looked uncomfortable leaving her king there all alone.

“I’ll be safe. Go.” She said firmly but with a smile.

Click here to read the rest.

Daily Writing Exercises - New Year's Resolution Edition 2020

Daily Writing Exercises – New Year’s Resolution Edition 2020

Is one of your New Year’s Resolutions to write more? Do you want to try building a daily (or at least regular) writing practice? Looking for some creative inspiration for new stories? This class is for you.

Starting January 15, you’ll get a 10 – 20 minute long writing exercise via email every day for 31 days. For the first few weeks the exercises will lean toward the generative, allowing you to play around with craft and character and setting while planting story seeds in your brain. Once those seeds start to grow, the later exercises will help you know more about your characters and the world they inhabit.

Even if you already have stories or novels in progress, you can use these exercises to kick your brain into creative gear without pressure and get into the habit of practicing every day. Doing a short writing exercise can keep your writing muscles limber on days when you don’t have the time or energy to work on your work in progress.

Because many writers thrive on community and support, all participants will have access to a private chat space on Discord where they can share their experience with the exercises and support each other through the month. This is optional! You can also do the exercises on your own and never speak to anyone else ever. ;)

The course costs $40 and grants are available for those who can’t afford it.

Sound good? Register Now or keep reading for more details.

All the deets.

Originality podcast episode 31

Originality podcast episode #31: Being Transparent About Hating the Process

In this episode Aleen talks to Rosemary Orchard and we discuss getting over barriers to creativity, not holding yourself to impossible standards, and establishing a writing ritual that works for you. Also: do you trust strangers to watch your stuff in coffee shops? (I totally do…)

You can listen to the podcast below or on the episode page where you can see the show notes and also subscribe.

The Initiate

November Microfiction: The Initiate

Back to Egypt…


The halls of the temple were quiet; the dawn song sung, the morning light just beginning to peek between the columns. Maatkare passed between them as silently as possible, bare feet barely making a sound on the alabaster floor and just a gentle swish from the linen wrapped around her body. Only sacred sound was permitted here.

The quiet faded the closer she came to the outer courtyard, punctuated by the quacking chirps of the flock waiting for her. She smiled at the sound–it was one reason why she enjoyed this duty above all others. The ibis roamed the courtyard, disturbed by nothing, patient and steady. This flock took a specific path around the upriver end of the city, passing each resting spot with the regularity of the sun. They knew that she, or someone like her, would appear before the heat got intense bearing their favorite food. They also knew – or so she assumed – that she always brought enough for all of them, so they never fought or crowded or menaced her the way geese would. This is why she loved them.

Click here to read the whole story.

Originality podcast episode #30: The XOXO Episode

In my recent post about communities I talked about the importance of Finding Your Tribe. In this episode we discuss this in the context of the XOXO Festival and why creating intentional community spaces at conferences like this one matters. Also ways to get to conferences even if you don’t have the funds to do so.

Let me know what you think of this one in the comments!

You can listen to the podcast below or on the episode page where you can see the show notes and also subscribe.

Even When We Don't Want to be Ourselves

October Microfiction: Even When We Don’t Want to be Ourselves

The stories in this series are based on the artwork of Chiara Bautista which is amazing and gorgeous and you should look at all of it.


Wolf and Bunny artwork by Chiara Bautista

She discarded the rabbit face in the water where the moon self still cast some light. Now that she was here on the earth she wanted a single identity. To be one of the persons.

No matter. The Earth’s rabbits found her, anyway. In the swamplands they approached her in uncharacteristically untimid ways. They knew her for one of them. And she loved them for that.

She wandered the swamps in a funk. She had detached herself from the night sky and dropped here to get some perspective, yet she still wasn’t happy. Or fulfilled. Or even sure what she wanted. To feel. To be. Nothing got solved.

She came upon the skull, half sunk in the mud and grass. She washed it, pressed a bright red flower to the place where an ear would be. That was enough.

Hello. That was the voice of what was left. A girl. No, a fish girl.

“How did you get here? This isn’t your place.”

This isn’t yours, either.

Click here to continue reading.