Monday, August 24, 2009

Writing Tip #59 - Create a Word List

Okay, let me say up front that this tip came from a book that I am rereading. A Manual of Writer's Tricks: Essential Advice for Fiction and Nonfiction Writers by David L. Carroll is full of little tidbits that can get your through almost any writer's block or creative downturn.

I am currently digging on Chapter 1 - Finding the Right Word. Carroll is of the opinion that a thesaurus, or word finder, is more valuable to a writer than a dictionary. He cautions us to get away from the myth that great writers don't use any of these tools to produce their work. Sure Toni Morrison has a big vocabulary but I bet she also owns a thesaurus.

So before you start your next writing project consult your thesaurus to compile a list of words that you will expect to use during the writing. For example, if you are writing a piece on cars, you should be looking for synonyms for that word such as "sedan," "clunker," and "automobile." This trick will save you lots of time, maintain your flow of writing because the list is right there on hand, and bring a richness to your writing.

Let me know if this tip works for you.

Until Later

Friday, August 14, 2009

Full Scholarship Available for Writing Workshop!

GirlChild Press has always been blessed with generous and enthusiastic supporters so I wasn't totally surprised when I opened my email inbox to find an offer to provide a full scholarship to a woman writer for the DC writing workshop on October 4, 2009.

If you or someone you know is interested in securing the scholarship all you have to do is complete a one page, double space essay on why you want to attend the workshop and what you would like to accomplish as a result of your attendance. All essays should be submitted by August 28, 2009 to We'll make a final determination by September 7, 2009.

If anyone else is interested in providing a scholarship for a woman writer please feel free to contact us at


Monday, August 10, 2009

New Writing Workshops (L.A. and DC)!

I can't believe the summer is almost over, but I am looking forward to some amazing things for the fall. One of those things is the return of the Woman's Work Writing Workshop! I'm excited to announce that we will be hosting the workshop on both the west and east coast. See information below.

GirlChild Press
Woman’s Work Writing Workshop
Los Angeles - Sunday, September 20, 2009 1:00pm-4:00pm
Facilitator: Michelle Sewell

D.C. - Sunday, October 4, 2009 – 12:00pm – 3:00pm
Facilitators: Yael Flusberg and Michelle Sewell

This interactive 3-hour workshop is designed to strengthen your ability to access your original voice, take creative risks, and move your writing to a deeper level. Writing exercises and feedback from your instructors and fellow writers will allow you to expand your powers of observation, imagination, and language. The workshop is perfect for writers at all stages of development.

Writing Exercises to Produce Draft Work

Discussion on:
Writing Habits and Tools
Craft Elements
Revision Techniques

A Workbook
A copy of Just Like A Girl: A Manifesta!
After workshop opportunity to submit up to 2 excerpts/pieces to GirlChild Press for a written critique

The final hour of the workshop will allow for discussion and review of existing projects. Writing should take no more than 10 minutes to read aloud.
Class size is limited to allow for maximum feedback and review. Registration will close when the class is full. Register Now!

The $50.00 workshop fee is due no later than the day before the class. Early registration is encouraged due to limited class size. For more information:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sonya Renee Taylor: Making Poetry Smart, Sexy and Funny

(originally posted on Velvet Park)

I caught up with Sonya Renee Taylor at L.A.’s famous Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffle restaurant this week to get the low down on what has been happening in her poet's life. We have recently switched coasts (She back to east and me, newly here, on the west.) and I wanted to compare notes about living the artist's life – fulltime. Sonya is an HBO Def Poet and National Poetry SLAM winner and over the last couple of years has taken the leap to make her living as a fulltime artist on the road. Her verbal acrobatics have taken her from Texas to New Zealand and back again.

I first saw Sonya do her thing at a venue in Washington, D.C. about five years ago. D.C. is one of those places where you can literally go to a venue every night and hear some amazing work being delivered. From the moment Sonya hits the stage, you can’t take your eyes off her. She is this voluptuous, confident sister armed with take-no-prisoner poetry. That particular night she came with an over-the-top, part erotic, part public service announcement piece on using condoms. By the time it was all said and done, the audience was left begging for more. I didn’t know Sonya at the time, so count me shocked when a few months later, while attending the March for Women’s Lives on the National Mall, I heard her distinct and booming voice coming from the main stage. Her call to arms piece “What Women Deserve” energized the 1.6 million people in attendance in a way few of the other headliners were able to.

About a year later we ended up sharing the same stage at MotherTongue, a women’s open mic, and after the show we formally met. I was not surprised to discover that Sonya has a master's degree in non-profit management and has devoted a good chunk of her adult life to issues impacting a great many marginalized populations. She has lent her expertise to educating and protecting sex workers, getting the word out on HIV prevention, and protecting women’s right to choose. No wonder her poetry comes off so real. She is at ground zero on many of these important issues and knows the ramifications if we remain silent and do nothing.

But Sonya knows how to keep it fun and sexy on stage as well. She wants people to enjoy themselves and for those who come to her performance with a certain set of expectations she wants to shake them of those. “People who are new to slam/performance poetry sometimes believe it’s not as good as 'page poetry' or worse, that it is just plain bad,” she shares. Five minutes into any of her sets and they quickly abandon those notions. She says she loves to watch the looks on her audiences’ faces when she goes to some taboo place through her work. “First, they are always shocked, then self-conscious and eventually they loosen up and go along for the ride,” she says. During her performances she brings as much of herself to the stage as she can. She references her blackness, her womanness, her thickness and strength. “People know when you are faking it. They know when you are just pushing the words out and don’t care whether or how they land.”

So how does she keep her work and herself fresh when she is performing at such a constant pace? She says she has over 800 poems in her catalog to pick from (about 200 of them memorized) and tries to read her audience at the very beginning to get a sense of what they need to hear. She admits there are times that she gets bored with doing her “top 10” – she gets a lot of requests for her signature pieces – but figures there are worse ways a girl could make a living than telling her truth through her poetry.

Sonya’s recent move back to the east coast is also inspiring her to take some new risks with her work. She wants to adopt a new tone for her poetry and address subjects that she might have neglected in the past. She is also putting together a poetry book, A Little Truth on Your Shirt, that will debut in early 2010. (Her latest CD, Thick Girl, can be purchased at Any trepidation she has about switching things up on her fans she keeps in check by recognizing that, as she grows, her work grows, and that’s good for everyone involved.

I recently discovered a video performance of one of her poems that I’ve never heard. I don’t know if “Slices” is in her top 10, but it should be. Enjoy!