March 16, 2019

Years ago, I used to write a daily private blog about everyday incidents that happened to me. When I return to the entries now, I’m amazed at the bounty to plunder for writing ideas. Without realizing it at the time, this was a great way to capture situations that later could be turned into scenes, dialogue and character development.

Watching real life scenes play out as we go about our daily business offers a minefield of idea...

July 4, 2018

Like Facebook popups of memories from years past, I had a vision of a distant Fourth of July.

I was nearing the end of my first novel, Trees with Deeper Roots, and still a novice fiction writer.

Up until I’d started that novel, I’d only written journalistically. Fiction returned me to the roots of my writing desires, and it definitely stretched me as writer.

The Fourth of July was coming up and fell in such a way that I was able...

May 26, 2018

Last (college) semester, Gold Medalist ice skater Scott Hamilton presented a nationwide college broadcast for students to hear his thoughts on being successful. His talk was based on his new book, Finish First: Winning Changes Everything, released earlier this year.

I’ve always respected Hamilton for what he’s achieved and what he’s overcome, though I never realized how “sunny” he is.

While watching his presentation at the colle...

March 11, 2018

Do you ever watch movies that you saw many years ago and fell in love with to see how they hold up and to relive the experience again?

Recently, I watched Pete’s Dragon (this is the 1977 version and different from the remake) again. I saw it when I was younger and loved it. The movie starred the fabulous Helen Reddy (a singer whose signature song, “I am Woman,” became the original anthem for women everywhere). I was always a HR...

July 18, 2017

You’re probably not related to William Shakespeare, are you? So what does the Bard have to do with a genealogical research workshop and building stories with your family history? Come this Saturday to a workshop "From Genealogy Archives to Storytelling: Research Enriches Your Writing," co-presented by me and  Knox County Archives Assistant Eric Head, and find out.

In this two-part workshop, Head and I will teach par...

June 26, 2017

Do you ever put off working on your writing project because you feel overwhelmed? And then you put it off for a longer period of time until it becomes such a monumental task that it languishes untouched for months and even …bleh… years?

You scratch around on other minor projects while the story you most want to work on remains unwritten?

Many writers have felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of a project or what they have to do to...

June 18, 2017

Recently when I was in Asheville, NC, for a business retreat, I saw a designed trail of human, pig, and turkey concrete footprints in the downtown area. A Mama and her piglet led the way for a pair of turkeys not far behind. The footprints showed how they walked together.

 I started thinking about how similar these footprints were to the journey of writers.

We may walk side-by side, but our stories leave different tracks behind....

June 3, 2017

Commercially, mushrooms are grown in the dark in controlled environments. It works well for these tasty, not to mention healthy, fungi, but for a writer living in darkness or without an inquisitive mind, the writing remains flat and lifeless.

Being curious about the world around you will fuel your writing, and you’ll never run out of topics to write about. Asking questions is one of the most important tools a writer has.

Both no...

May 26, 2017

When the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus gave its last performance this week, I felt mixed emotions about the end of this era.

My grandfather, A. Bruce Miller, whom I called Pepa, had a deep connection to the circus that remained an integral part of his life and impacted mine. His father, my great-grandfather, was a musician, a cornet player, for a brief period of time with the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, which was e...

May 18, 2017

I’ve never been one to work in my yard much. I come from a line of farmers but digging in the dirt does not fill me with joy. My grandfather and my brother, Bart, both grew tasty vegetables in the summer, but the most I do is plant a few bulbs or annuals. The flowers have to thrive along with the weeds.

Apparently, I’m really good at growing trees in my gutter.

Mowing is a chore I usually put on the backburner, especially when i...

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