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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Writing Prompt 11.27.10: Thanksgiving Weekend Writing Prompt

By Marilyn Friedman

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope that you are having a fun, food filled weekend. Once you recover from eating your turkey or tofurky leftovers, don't forget to sign up for a writing class at Writing Pad. Call 323-333-2954 or email They're filling up fast! Here's what on the menu for Dec./early January:
Writing Prompt:
Make a list of 5 things that come to mind when I say the word, "Thanksgiving." You could write about things that you are thankful for, the foods that you ate or prepared for Thanksgiving, family gathering mishaps, etc. Pick one of the items off of your list, add a sensory detail to it (smell, taste, sound, touch, sight), and write for 10 minutes. Then post the results in the comments of this blog for the chance to win a free class (and for free likes and remembers)!

A few things on my list are the swiss chard and sage stuffing that took me five hours to make, cranberry persimmon sauce, and the one Thanksgiving that my father-in-law forced everyone to get H1N1 shots in the living room before we ate dinner. So I'll write about one or more of those things. What are you going to write about?

Comment on this blog! What comes to mind when I say the word, "Thanksgiving?" Post your 10 minute write in the comments, and you could win a free class!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Give Thanks for Adel's November Recipe

by Adel Aschenbrener and Amy Robinson

No matter how high your table is piled with Thanksgiving bounty, there is always room for desert. Join us for our December workshops for a sweet ending to a savory year! Your writing will be inspired by treats like Adel's heavenly pear frangipane tart:Sign up by calling 323-333-2954 or emailing Classes are filling up fast!

For our Thanksgiving recipe, Adel tells us about her personal Iron Chef moment, followed by a yummy palette cleansing Cranberry Jell-o Salad.

Adel says, "Coming from a family of cooks isn't always everything it's cracked up to be, especially during the holidays. Last Thanksgiving, inspired by the Food Network, my aunts and uncles decided to have their own Iron Chef battle, with yours truly playing the part of the Chairman.

Days of slicing, dicing, and consulting culminated in an epic feast. There were four turkeys (for fifteen people) and more side dishes than the table could hold: chorizo cornbread dressing, chipotle glazed sweet potatoes, and brussels sprouts with bacon. Pre-dinner tequila shots failed to make my decision any easier.

As I fell victim to a food coma, I scanned the table for something familiar, a palate cleanser if you will. And there it was. Amidst the smoked, rotisseried, brined, and deep fried bird parts, shining brightly in all its jiggly, trashy glory, as red and lurid as grandma's lipstick, was mom's cranberry jello salad. It was the clear winner."

Thanksgiving Cranberry Jello Salad
1 package of cranberries
2.5 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 pkgs Cherry Jell-o (3 oz. each package)
1 package mini marshmallows
1 cup diced apples
1 cup diced celery
1 cup nuts

Cook 1 package cranberries and 2 1/2 cups water until they pop. Add 2 cups sugar, 2 (3 oz.) packages of cherry Jello, 1 package miniature marshmallows and cook five minutes longer, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add 1 cup diced apples, 1 cup diced celery and 1 cup nuts. Refrigerate. (This salad is better if made the day before use.)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Writing Prompt 11/19/10: Procrastination Queen

By Marilyn Friedman

Come over to Writing Pad and get inspired to write the great American Novel or the next movie blockbuster in front of a crackling fire. We have cornucopia of delicious, affordably priced classes on our schedule right now! Call 323-333-2954 to sign up before they are full!

New sections of So You Want To Be a Writer and Finishing School taught by me and the fabulous Aaron Henne start the Wednesday night after Thanksgiving (in just 1 week). Don’t put your writing dreams off. Write your novel or screenplay this year!

One to Two Day Classes/One Night Stands

Multi Week Classes

Writing Prompt: Make a list of 5 things that you do to procrastinate. What do you do instead of writing? Pick one or several procrastination techniques off of your list. Write about it (or them) for 10 minutes in any form that you like: a letter, a scene, a poem, a rant, etc. Exaggerate the procrastination technique, take time to describe it in excruciating detail. You can start your piece with the words, “I admit it . . .” Then post the results of your 10 minute write in the comments of this blog!

For instance, my list could be: wash the dishes, pluck my eyebrows, talk on the phone, check Facebook. watch The Tudors. I could start my piece with, “I admit it, I like to watch the Tudors instead of working on my book project.” Stay tuned for my post!

Comment on this blog! What do you do to procrastinate? Write about it for 10 minutes. If you post your write in the comments, you will get free likes and remembers from Marilyn, and you could win a free class at Writing Pad!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Writing Prompt 11/10/10: Favorite Color

By Marilyn Friedman

Delicious classes are in abundance at Writing Pad right now! Get your fill before they are full by calling 323-333-2954.

Writing Prompt: Make a list of your three favorite colors. Pick one of the colors and make a second list of five items that are that color (ex. for brown, Alice Persons would have listed brownies, molasses cookies, pumpernickel, cabins, brown dogs, etc.).

Write about the color and the five items for 10 minutes. Then post the results in the comments of this blog! Below is a wonderful poem to help inspire you.

Why I Have A Crush On You, UPS Man
by Alice N. Persons

you bring me all the things I order
are never in a bad mood
always have a jaunty wave as you drive away
look good in your brown shorts
we have an ideal uncomplicated relationship
you're like a cute boyfriend with great legs
who always brings the perfect present
(why, it's just what I've always wanted!)
and then is considerate enough to go away
oh, UPS Man, let's hop in your clean brown truck and elope!
ditch your job, I'll ditch mine
let's hit the road for Brownsville
and tempt each other
with all the luscious brown foods —
roast beef, dark chocolate,
brownies, Guinness, homemade pumpernickel, molasses cookies
I'll make you my mama's bourbon pecan pie
we'll give all the packages to kind looking strangers
live in a cozy wood cabin
with a brown dog or two
and a black and brown tabby
I'm serious, UPS Man. Let's do it.
Where do I sign?

Comment on this blog! What is your favorite color? Post your write in the comments of this blog for free likes and remembers from Marilyn and a chance to win a free class!

Writing Pad's Guide to Graduate School

Written by Kimberly Faith Waid, Edited by Halie Rosenberg

Applying for an MFA doesn’t have to require a prescription to Xanax. It can be daunting but when done right can also be a lot of fun. In 2010, Kimberly Faith Waid graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing Fiction from her top choice of schools, New York University. She is now a
working writer in Savannah, Georgia. She hopes that this article helps writers that are struggling with the big grad school application process!

Acing th
Let’s go ahead and address the bull in the corner, which is none other than the dreaded GRE (graduate record examination). Thankfully, there are many graduate schools that do not require these scores. If you just can’t bear the thought of the GRE, many reputable schools from Brown to the Iowa Writer’s Workshop do not require it. If you do decide to take the test the most important advice I can give you is:

Mark out the easy vocab words and make note cards of the more difficult ones. As you begin to memorize them, it will behoove you to refresh your knowledge of prefixes and suffixes. That way if you are faced with the word “etymology” in a multiple choice question, you will have at least learned that the suffix –logy means the study of a field.

Most writers are not exceptional when it comes to numbers. Several schools offer refresher courses, but the cheapest way to get back into the swing of things is to pick up a GRE guide from a bookstore. Many come with interactive CD’s or DVD’s to help you regain that knowledge from the dark back corners of your brain.


As for the essay section on the GRE, practice makes perfect. You are given a topic on the whims of the computer and limited time in which to compose it, check it for grammar and syntax. I would suggest after reading the proposed topic, to break it down into an outline and charge away. You can begin with a question, a quote, or a vivid image that supports your thesis.

The hired readers o
f essays read a large stack daily. The more captivating the opener, the more likely they will mark your essay higher. Filler points can be items you disagree on or at least two examples to explain your thesis. The conclusion should re-state the issue simply and wrap up all of the thoughts with a call to action or a general idea of resolution.

In conclusion, there is a brief break between sections but I would advise eating an hour before and getting decent sleep. They do host afternoon tests and occasional Saturday tests if those are possibiliti
es for you.

Picking th
e Right School
When looking for a graduate school program there are assorted factors to consider. Make a list of what your ideal scenario would be and what you are not looking for. Consider:

1. If you want to be in a small city with less distractions (Iowa Writer’s Workshop)
2. If volunteer work is important to you (NYU)
3. If you are concerned about making publishing connections (NYU or Columbia)
4. Their fi
nancial aid package--what do you need to make this work?

Another suggestion is to read the faculty’s writing. Just because it is a school of unquestionable reputation doesn’
t mean you are going to have a good time. If you aren’t excited about your professors or feel they cannot help you personally, it's probably not a good school for you. Libraries stock information on all the schools and you can even read excerpt pages on these days.

Perfecting Your Personal Statement
For me, the personal statement was about as daunting as the mathematics section on the GRE! Let’s face it, you are selling yourself! Basically in two pages, the school wants to know who you are, why you started writing, and what you are working on now. Some other things to mention could be what you are reading lately or what novel or writer made you want to start writing. This is not the place to explain your resume.

In my personal statement I reflected on my very first writing experience, explained my current project, and talked a bit about m
y favorite novel and how it excites and challenges me as a writer. Websites generally don’t give you a list of what to discuss but I followed their advice of just enlightening them on myself and it appears to have worked!

ng Your Writing Sample
The writin
g sample is really hands down the most important part of your application. Every aspect counts but the quality of the writing is the final decision on acceptance always. For poetry and fiction, reviewers like to see diversity.

When I was going through my recent work I
submitted two, sometimes three stories (depending on the requirements) always mindful of the contrast. I submitted a story with an eleven-year-old protagonist and a story with a twenty six year old protagonist. The first was a bit more comedic yet still filled with drama and the second was dancing with disturbing. I recommend submitting diverse pieces. If anything, it shows more skill, a wider palette.

I also encourage you to share your pieces with friends and fellow writers. Sometimes they will catch basic grammar you missed from looking too many times, and then sometimes they will bring a perspective that can really affect a problem you are having with a piece. But in the end, if you don’t like their structure changes listen to your gut. Trusting yourself is huge and sometimes too much editing can make a story or poem stale and heartless.

Gathering Lette
rs of Recommendation
Submit your recommendation letters as early as possible. This can be hard as you are depending on someone outside of yourself to write the letter. Hounding your recommenders to get the letters in on time is better than it getting in late and affecting your chances or just generally stressing you out.

As for who to choose for recommendation letters, every school that I considered required at least one professor from undergraduat
e studies. I did not study writing in undergraduate so don’t let that scare you. Find a professor who may have had some connection to your writing. In my case, I selected one who advised me on a senior play thesis so she knew at least that realm of my writing ability and dedication. You can’t go wrong with people who are cheerleaders of any aspect of you.

Don’t For
get to Read the Fine Print!
You really must follow the directions. While the school may not reject you for not putting your name on each page, if you are in a toss up with another writer who did do all that the other writer may get the upper hand. Pretend you're back in kindergarten and follow the directions to a T!

Best of luck, don’t be afraid to apply to several schools and most importantly, keep writing!

Helpful Links:

Barron’s Vocabulary List
Root Words & Prefixes/Suffixes
GRE Official Website