Featured Writing

A violin resting on its case outdoors.

The Songs of Lakewood

by J D Francis Woodrow Franklin sat resting, slowly pushing back and forth on an old, wooden bench swing that hung from a rusty chain on the front porch of the tiny cottage. It is where he has lived for thirty-seven years, alone. The bench squeaked and moaned with every…

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Person writing in a notebook.

How Three Writers Moved Beyond Procrastination

Students in Southern New Hampshire University’s online liberal arts programs were invited to participate in the W.R.I.T.E. Challenge, an 8-week experiential learning program, working in groups to research and write a resource article related to writing. Beyond the challenge itself, the groups competed to be published in The Penmen Review….

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3 Horrifically Bland Words (and Alternatives to Add Some Flavor)

by Gabbi Hall Writing is like cooking; you need the right ingredients to be successful. Think of the age-old metaphor: “That’s the cherry on top.” Using descriptive words in your story equates to adding the perfect toppings to your sundae or the final strokes to a painting. The right words…

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Setting the Scene in Fiction Writing

by Amanda Marsico Essay-writing season is dwindling down and there are only a few more weeks of classes left which means I get to share another set of tips and insights from the 2013 James River Writers Conference. In the third session I attended, Kathryn Erskine, Elizabeth Huergo, and Dean King, led…

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Advice from 2013 Finalists for the Library of Virginia Literary Awards

by Amanda Marsico I’m here with installment two of the James River Writers Conference 2013 sessions review. The second session I attended was led by the 2013 finalists in fiction for the Library of Virginia Literary Awards: Gigi Amateau, Clifford Garstang, Robert Goolrick, Lydia Netzer, and Kevin Powers, moderated by Peggy…

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Tips for Building Suspense from the James River Writers Conference

by Amanda Marsico After giving myself some time to let the information overload of the 2013 James River Writers Conference settle, I’m finally got around to sharing the great tips from the “Suspense Across the Genres” session, with speakers Philippa Ballantine, Christopher McDougall, Kevin O’Malley, and Howard Owen, moderated by Julie Geen. Here are…

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3 Common Struggles of Being a Writer (and How to Combat Them)

by Gabbi Hall Writer’s have a unique set of hurdles when it comes to creating a masterpiece, so we asked writers, “What do you struggle with most in your writing? How do you combat it?” Three authors shared their biggest obstacles and how they overcome them. 1. Description. Describing people and…

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5 Discoveries About the Interview Process

by Joan Raymond First, a disclaimer: This is not one of those “How to Get the Best Interview Possible in 11 Easy Steps” type articles. Instead, this is my eight-week journey from inexperienced interviewer to weekly feature writer for a local publication. I’m still not an expert, but I have…

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