Posted in Jobe Workshop Review

CALS Con Writing Beyond the Real: Fantasy, Horror and Science Fiction

I had the great pleasure of participating in CALS Con this year by putting on a creative writing class for genre lovers: specifically, readers and writers of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. That class included two sisters and a mom who were an absolute riot and delight. I so enjoyed that class and I daresay the attendees did too. Here’s the presentation I created for that class, updated and expanded.

When using the computer, I love Canva for making my own quotes


Check out
Check out


I’ve loved Cathy Yardley since 2015! Also, check out
Check out Los Angeles Review of Books


Check out the OUP Blog (Oxford University Press blog)


Check out Writers Write


Check out Writing Cooperative


(Many of the following quotes I found with Google image searches but I tried to tag all sources. Please let me know if you notice one I missed. Thanks! xoxox)


Check out Dragons, Heroes, and Wizards


Check out We Are Teachers


Check out


Check out Short List
Check out iUniverse
Posted in Jobe Workshop Review

How to Be an Awesome Writer & Totally Kick Butt

I had the great pleasure of participating in LitFest this year by putting on a creative writing class for teens. Those young writers were absolutely stupendous and I had a fantastic time. Here’s the presentation I made for that class.

I used Canva to make many of the quotes I share here
I used this source and Google image searches


Mental Floss


Jean Lane


Natasha Lester




Writing Cooperative


Jean Wilson Murray


NY Book Editors
Lit Hub
The Millions


Thought Catalog




Studio Mothers


Now Novel


Posted in Jobe Workshop Review, Writing Prompts

Creative Writing 101 for Teens: Workshop Review

I only had one hour instead of the two hours I’m used to, but I knew I could use the time to provide some starting pointers for the attendees. I told the class about my blog and let them know that if they were looking for inspiration or encouragement, “Thursday Writers” would be a good category to browse. I explained that writing is one of those awesome things that you can get better at just by doing it, whether you have a teacher or not.

I opened the class with the usual introductions around the room. Then we started talking about stories. Whether we’re used to writing or not, we know a lot more about story structure and content than we think we do. Because we all read stories, we all watch stories unfold on the screen, and we all tell stories about things that have happened to us or people we know. So even if we’re new to writing, don’t be scared to get started. And since even adults sometimes feel too self-conscious, I didn’t ask anyone to read aloud after each prompt; we just went around the table and talked about our writing or the ideas we explored.

I told the class that a main character always has something they want, and that’s relatable, because we all have things that we want too. So we dove right into our first writing exercise: Desire. Write about something you want.

After that we talked about how a story always has conflict. That conflict can come from another person who wants something different than (or the opposite of) what the main character wants. Or it could be an event that takes place, like a tornado or a breakup or an injury. For the second writing exercise: Conflict. Write about  someone or something in the way between you and your goal.

We talked about how story structure, no matter how complicated it seems, can basically be broken down into these classic categories: story_arc

The example we used was of a college student who wanted to study abroad. Maybe she’s rushing to get the paperwork in on time, but the office is closed early, but she happens to know someone who can still get her in—whether the story is a mystery and there’s a dead body in the travel location when the student arrives; whether it’s a romance and she meets someone once she arrives; if it’s a science fiction story and she has to travel off-world. No matter the genre, all stories follow the basic structure.

I wanted to make sure to mention some fun writing prompt sites so they could be on the lookout for prompts of their own. I told them about the weird and sometimes hilarious watchout4snakes, and I told them about the 7x7x7 exercise from Write to Done. We talked about how anything in life can be used as inspiration for a story idea, and that if a person were to carry around a little notebook all day and just write down all the interesting things they encountered, from overheard conversation to quotes from other writers, they might find a lot of content from which to spark.

Next I asked the teens to come up with suggestions for things that people are afraid of. They threw up some fun ideas: clowns, spiders, water, death, children, heights, social situations, stage fright, and technology. I asked them to call out some of the “touchy subjects” we’re not supposed to talk about: politics, relationships, sexuality & gender, religion, money, and personal views. The third writing exercise was to create a scene using one or two of these concepts as the cause of tension in the scene.

We made sure to do prizes for everybody, a Jobe class hallmark, and this time it was free books, select at your leisure.

Lastly I asked the teens to call out their ages. We had a great range, from 13 to 19. I talked about how some knowledge comes from immediate experience, and people who are older or younger than we are may not understand something as well as we do or be as familiar with it, because of age. For the last writing exercise, I asked the teens to write about something they know because of their age.

For more writing resources for teens, Read Brightly suggests Teen InkOne Teen Story, and (what used to be Figment and is now) Get Underlined. For writers of YA Lit, check out Go Teen Writers and Kim Chance, including this guest post from Lucia Brucoli. And if you still want more, pick up my all-time fave on the topic, Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks.


Posted in Jobe Workshop Review

Genre Wars: Romance vs. Erotica

So my friend Kassandra Klay and I co-taught a workshop entitled “Genre Wars: Romance vs. Erotica.” We talked about the similarities and differences of the two, and we talked about how blurry the line can get sometimes. All in all, we had a blast teaching an impressive turn out all about it! For anyone curious who didn’t get a chance to attend, here’s a simplified version of the presentation I did for my half.

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Posted in Jobe Workshop Review

Collage Class with Jobe: Reflection


So I tried to teach a collage class at everybody’s favorite art store and I got schooled by a tough reminder that knowing how to do something is not the same as knowing how to teach others how to do it. The class was fine and the attendees turned out great work, but I could tell there was some frustration that I wasn’t providing enough information or structure. I realized belatedly that when I do collage work, there’s not much in the way of surface level “rules” or thoughts going on—I put together stuff that “feels” like it goes well together. Which is great for me, and really not helpful at all for people attending a class. I had an idea to structure with a specific project, such as making a calendar, but the class didn’t seem thrilled by the idea so I just defaulted to the traditional layering method for creating dynamic imagery. I’m hoping that bringing a million supplies counted for something, and I’m really grateful for the opportunity to try something new. But I’ll stick to teaching writing classes from now on, since I feel confident in my abilities to teach, encourage, and spark in that subject. And in case anyone still wanted a few tidbits on the topic of collage, I’ve outlined some here.

Best kind of glue? Purple glue stick. This was wise advice from the late, great Amy Edgington, reiterated by the hip young artist-poet Sandy Longhorn.

Use a thick base, such as wood, cardboard, or cardstock. If you use something slimmer, like some types of art paper, and your base starts warping, it’s too thin. That’s okay. Just glue another layer to the back.

Know that if you mod-podge the top of your finished creation in order to give it a (clear but textured) protective layer, it can warp or bubble the images you’ve used. Experiment first so you know the differences in how it will look. I tend to just slip my work into clear plastic sleeves.4232bcf63a08c54fa2ce07ad70fda539

Assemble the pieces before you glue them: lay everything out the way you want before you glue anything. If you’re afraid you’ll forget exactly how you had it, take a picture with your phone.

Alternately you can also just start gluing without a plan, just know you may end up with something a little more abstract or disjointed. Either way, it’s your creation.

Keep in mind that whatever you glue down first is going to be your bottom layer. So if there an image you really like, save it for the top.

Anything can be part of your project: scraps of fabric, ribbon, stickers, hole punches, shape punches, stamps, washi tape, words and images from magazines, as well as discarded or old used books—art books and coffee table books are especially good sources, and don’t forget comic books! You can also print virtually anything off the internet, and you can also photocopy the same image to use more than once. In addition, various papers such as: newspaper print, music paper, patterned or printed paper, graph paper, tissue paper.

If you love the look of it, clip it and save it. Inexpensive methods of storage include paper envelopes and clear plastic (sandwich or snack) baggies. If you want something a little sturdier, IKEA has corkboard slide drawers, and The Container Store has clear plastic photo storage.

If you’re interested in more check out the Rookie Mag and The Spruce. And don’t forget, you can also search Pinterest and Etsy (until your eyes fall out) for endless inspiration and ideas.

Until Next Time!

Posted in Jobe Workshop Review

Step by Step Writing Class with Jobe: Reflection!

What a fantastic night with a fantastic group of people. Sci-Fi George, Romance Kim, and Poet Karen joined yours truly, Memoir Jobe! The conversation generated was so insightful and helpful, the writing written was so sparked and energetic and inspired! This was the most fun I’ve had in a minute.

I opened with introductions, as I always do, and then started with a super lame prompt because I was nervous and couldn’t find my notes. “I remember” was the awkward jump prompt in, but it went to great places from there. I told a little bit about Intention Inspired (I’ll do a blog post about just this later, but check it out, it’s cool). We discussed our strengths and weaknesses as writers. As always I had to also mention Nanowrimo.

From Writer’s Digest we took “Create a character with personality traits of someone you love, but the physical characteristics of someone you don’t care for” and opened it up to any combination of personality/appearance of person you love/hate.

For future use: I loved the idea from Write to Done of the 7x7x7 exercise. I made sure to mention Writing Exercises from the UK, which has a TON of prompts. And Karen told us about a random generator, Watchout 4 Snakes. I forgot to mention Poets & Writers.

In a similar spirit as The Write Practice, we used random words and phrases I collected from spam emails to generate lists of options.

We started with sprints, just some really short timed writings to get us going:
Computers can beat humans at chess
my collection of photos & posters from   Israel.
Amorphous Distribution Transformer Core

I was so inspired by how open and positive the group was I felt we had to do writing exercises based on each person’s favorite genre! I daresay there were some unexpected and impressive results!

SCI FI prompts
prestressed spiral rib
for the widening of
is intended for
feel a little uneasy about
Here please find
for railway sleeper , electric

ROMANCE prompts
at war, with
More than 15 years
Family Promise
you know that we’ve saved you
View an example of a Premium listing
ice cream machine.

POETRY prompts
Afternoon of Magic
we have two types
reaching the people with
dots mosaic bathroom
The payment after satisfaction
pumps and parts

I ended with some creative non-fiction (my genre) prompts, which are less common online than you might think. My favorite is David RM, who has a number of different kinds of non-fic/prose prompts. We started with a light subject, “Opinion Prompt – Do convenience items better our daily lives or shortchange our life experience?” Then we continued to a heavy subject, “Opinion Prompt – Do you think that people have the right to decide when to end their life?” I mentioned And Then I Came Back, which I can’t wait to read after hearing Estelle Laura speak at LitFest.

We end on a personal and emotional prompt, and I was was so impressed by everyone there being so authentic:

“Write about an event or time that you made a deliberate change for yourself. Write about what motivated you to make the change, and how you think that change has affected your life.”

Thank you so much for this opportunity. I was so blessed by these passionate, open-spirited writers. ❤


Posted in Jobe Workshop Review

More on the topic of Teen Poetry


Back in April, as part of the excitement surrounded the annual Literary Festival, Karen Hayes and I taught a handful of teen poetry classes at various library branches. It was a lot of fun, and there was a lot of talent in those rooms. Once the celebration took place, I didn’t think too much more about it. Well just the other night I was scrolling through the pics on my phone trying to see what I could delete to make more space when I chanced back upon the pics I’d snapped of our teen poetry workshop at the Main Library, in Lvl 4 (an entire floor of the library dedicated to just teens). Some of the stuff people wrote was silly, which is to be expected. We’re asking people to stretch writing muscles they seldom used. But more than a little bit of what they came up with was interesting, thought-provoking. So I wanted to share some of the highlights.

If I were a bird, I would know how the world looked from the top.

This cartoon world is taking over mine.

Blood runs deep.

If the idea of writing poetry sparks something in you, be sure to check out: Power Poetry