Introducing Juliet McDaniel

Photograph of Juliet McDaniel by Dianna Gonzalez. I recently shared the news my fiction manuscript was selected as the Book Winner in Launch Pad’s 6th Annual Prose Writing Competition. But, as if that wasn’t so much more than enough, I was also picked as one of three Mentorship Prize Winners. What does that mean? It … Read More

A Reader’s Reflections

Like most of us who write, I was a reader first. And like most of us who read, my love of reading started when I was a child. I think about this often—the way being a reader has shaped my life. We always had books in our home when I was a kid. I saw … Read More

Dreaming of a Reading Nook

I moved earlier this year, but in my last house, I set up a cozy reading nook with the best and most comfortable chair. I loved it so much. I am enjoying my new place, but it’s much smaller and doesn’t have a readily apparent space for a reading nook. I’m really missing my old … Read More

Reading Journal 2023

Earlier this year, I wrote about Reading Journals. I LOVE reading journals. I’ve been keeping them since spring 2019, when I started working toward my master’s degree in UC Riverside’s Palm Desert Low-Residency program in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts. (Hard recommend—it changed my life.) All through school, I’ve been a Heavy … Read More

The Story of Oprah’s Book Club

Image: Oprah Winfrey interviewing Elizabeth Strout, author of Olive Kitteridge and Olive, Again. Oprah Winfrey began her love affair with books when she was a little girl living in rural Mississippi. Her grandmother, Hattie Mae, read to her from books her white employers gave to her. She taught Oprah to read and to memorize at a very young … Read More

My Literary Bones

Image: The Cynthia Ann Parker House in Fort Worth, Texas. Image credit: University of Texas at Arlington Libraries, Special Collections. My family on my mother’s side is Irish, English, Scottish, French, and Native American (Comanche). I don’t know much about how my European ancestors came to the United States. I know a little more about … Read More

Close up of a woman's lap, she's wearing red buffalo check flannel pajama bottoms and a gray henley shirt, with an open book in her lap and a cup of coffee or tea, just a glimpse of her neck and short dark hair.

Writing Book Reviews

All good and serious writers are readers too, and writing reviews of good books is one way to gain experience, contribute to the writing community, be a good literary citizen, and begin establishing yourself as a writer. Even if you don’t yet have links to published writing on your website, you can include links to … Read More

Reading Journals

During the month of December, I saw a great many social media posts about the number of books people read during 2021, as well as posts about how many books people planned to read in 2022. Last week, as 2021 wound to a close, I watched a video of a woman setting up a beautiful … Read More

The Reading Writer

Here in no particular order are five of my favorite books on the writing craft and the writing life: Making Shapely Fiction by Jerome Stern I love the structure of this book, as well as its wisdom. The book is organized into four sections which are fairly self-explanatory: The Shape of Fiction. This section is … Read More

On Opening Paragraphs

My friend Jackie recently reread The Witch of Blackbird Pond for the first time since she was in junior high. This is a middle-grade novel written by Elizabeth George Speare. It was originally published in 1958, and I haven’t read it since I was a kid. According to Jackie, it still holds up, so I … Read More