Monday, February 14, 2011

Need Ideas? A Conference? A Challenge?

The following is from the Coffeehouse for Writers blog, where I regularly share reviews for the On Our Bookshelves page.  In addition to book reviews, writing advice and other goodies can be found at the Coffeehouse blog. I invite you to check it out. :)

The Writer’s Idea Book

By Jack Heffron

Need ideas? Jack Heffron, former senior editor at Writer’s Digest Books, has a few to share. Four hundred to be exact, if you count each one of the prompts included here. I purchased this book because I wanted prompt ideas to use with writing classes. Its claim, “How to develop great ideas for fiction, nonfiction, poetry and screenplays” far exceeded my expectations. Heffron doesn’t just list a bunch of prompts; he encourages us to think and explore to stretch our skills. Having fun is key, and he further elaborates by sharing the things that help make our writing shine. His philosophy consists of general writing truths that keep those creative juices flowing.

What are these truths? First, we must “show up”. In other words, make time to write. Second, acknowledge the difficulty. Yes, “showing up” on a consistent basis can be hard. Next, joy and gratitude play a part in this equation, and these are a result of the first two truths. Heffron continues by explaining what the enemies of creativity are and talks us through those as well.

The book consists of four parts: Bending and Stretching, Exploring, Finding Form, and Assessing and Developing. Each part’s chapters cover steps to guide us on the creative path, with a liberal sprinkling of prompts. Chapter Eighteen, entitled Of Sonnets and Toasters, for example, discusses “appliance fiction”. Never heard of “appliance fiction”? I hadn’t either, but it’s an interesting way to tie fiction and technology together. Add in related exercises, and you’ve got a great start to fresh writing ideas.

This book is helpful and informative from start to finish, but ideas and prompts can also be sampled and used whenever you like. I’ve used this for teaching creative writing to teens and adults, and for my own writing adventures. It’s a great resource for all genres and levels; I plan on keeping this one around for a long time.

More Conferences

The Inland Northwest Christian Writers conference in Spokane, Washington is scheduled for March 19, 2011. Keynote speaker is Jim Rubart, author of Rooms. Other speakers include Jan Cline and Terri Tiffany. Click here for details.

The "Just Write" conference sponsored by the Missouri Writer's Guild will be held in St. Louis on April 8-10. Love the title!

A Challenge

The ladies over at BooKrushed have issued a challenge. Read 11 books published in 2011, now through December 31, 2011. They invite you to join...And, there are prizes...(I said that in a sing-song voice, could you tell?) For more info, visit the BooKrushed site.

What writing books do you recommend? Which one is your all time favorite?

Happy writing,


  1. I've just purchase MArgaret Atwood's 'Negotiating with the dead', so I'm looking forward to that. I've recently read, Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. I have to say it's gotta be the best I've read :o)

    PS: where do you get your conference info? Know of any in Columbus area in November?

  2. I definitely need to show up more :-)

  3. Hi Karen,
    I'll be at the Just Write Conference. Are you attending? Would like to meet you in person, if so.

  4. That book sounds fantastic!! I love a book that will make you stretch your ideas. I'm definitely marking it down.

  5. The prompts I have, the showing up part is proving difficult right now. :( Any clues to FREE writer things where I am?

    Happy Valentine's Day! :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  6. Jessica,
    I just spot the conferences here and there online, through newsletters, and get them from friends/followers. Do you mean Columbus, OH? Haven't heard of any but will keep an eye out. I know Writer's Digest has one in Cincinnati, OH sometimes.

    I hear you, me too! Some weeks are easier than others!

    I am not going to be there, but someday we'll meet in person. That would be fun! :)

    It is one of my favorites. I think there's another similar one out by Heffron as well. But this one is packed with ideas.

    Our local writing group is having a conference in May, I believe. It won't be huge, but they should have some good things to offer. And it shouldn't be too costly to attend.

    Happy writing,

  7. Good resources and info here, Karen. And thanks for the Coffeehouse mention.

    Happy Valentine's Day to someone who's a true sweetie!

  8. Thanks for the info, Karen! I'm definitely going to have to get that book. And visit BooKrushed.

    Wishing you a happy Valentine's Day!

  9. Thanks for all the information about conferences. Happy Valentines day!

  10. I have been reading Margaret Atwood's "Negotiating with the Dead" and have bookmarked several pages.
    One piece of advice from Atwood that I have imprinted into my brain is "respect the page."

    Oh, and I'm happy you mentioned the Missouri Writers' Guild conference in April. I am registered and ready to go. It sould be a great one!

    Donna V.

  11. Jennifer,
    Thank you, and you're welcome. And you're making me blush! :)

    You are welcome! Let me know if you do the BooKrushed challenge.

    You are welcome. Hope it is helpful!

    Now that's the second person who's mentioned that book. Might be worth a look! :)

    Blessings all,

  12. The challenge sounds like fun! Have a super week!!! :O)

  13. Karen:
    I just finished "An Introduction to Christian Writing" by Ethel Herr. I frequently pick up "Writers on Writing" edited by James Watkins. My favorite one is "Write His Answer", by Marlene Bagnull.

  14. Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott is the BEST ever. The best ever! And I love to hear your awesomely cool sing-song voice. :) Talk soon, cool one.

    Shades on, coffee in hand, coolness alert blaring...

  15. Diane,
    I'm participating, how about you?

    I've heard of Marlene's book, but not the others. Will have to check them out, thanks!

    Coolness alert blaring, love it! :)


  16. I need to show up more and for longer durations; currently I am in the state one can call 'Easily Distracted.' The book sounds great.

  17. What great info. I’m on overload here. The book sounds great, I love prompt books like that, and the part about “showing up” is the advice in which I live/write by. So much can happen if you indeed just “show up”.

    On another note, thank you so much for sharing the info on the conferences. I might have to check out the one in Missouri. That would be a fairly close conference to go to! Love local stuff like that (but they never seem to hold much in the old Show-Me-State). LoL

  18. That sounds so interesting, Karen. I just may have to track it down at my Barnes and Noble (you know, the one with the Starbucks???). That, by the way, is the best potpourri right books, fresh ink, and espresso.

    I'll let you know when I get my own copy.

    Grinning like a chessy cat,


  19. I'm always looking for books that help me grow as a writer. Thank you so much for introducing me to a new one!

  20. Thank you! I'm recommending this book to my friend. It sounds perfect for both of us!

  21. Thanks for all the conference and book information, Karen.

    It's so great keep informed via the blogosphere.


  22. Rachna,
    I think I am in that phase too. Love the term! :)

    I know, the showing up part can be a challenge. Hope you get to go to the Missouri conference!

    I'm thinking that you just might have to. And, oops, get a mocha while you're there...:P

    I think some growth can be had from this one. Glad to help! :)

    Let me know how you like it if you get it, okay?

    You are welcome. There are so many great resources out there!



Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!