I'm a published novelist and freelance writer, editor, and audio tech. Check out my journal for creative writing tips, short stories, and news. To learn more about my books or my services, navigate using the links above. 

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Monday
Feb082016

Letter to Students: Interbeing and Describing a Setting

Every week of Writing Games class, I send an email to my current students with a few extra thoughts on writing and the themes or techniques we explored that week, plus take-home exercises and more. Starting this week, I'll be sharing highlights from some of these emails on the blog. To sign up for a Writing Games class, visit my Events page.

This week we focused on setting. Setting includes both time period, and place. Often, setting is something we take for granted -- or wish we could. Especially for those of us driven by character development or plot (as opposed to description), setting is often something we rush through, or something we sketch broadly in a "cardboard cut-out" manner. However, a thoughtful writer can turn setting into a virtual character in his or her story, poem, or play. Last year, I wrote a blog post on the topic. It also details some of the exercises we did today, if you want to try them at home. You can read it here

 

In addition to those practical tips on how to enhance your story with a sense of place, I mentioned Thich Nhat Hanh's concept of "interbeing." Simply put, everything is connected -- people with other people with other living things with inanimate things. To think deeply about setting is to begin to feel (on some level) that sense of interbeing. It's how a place becomes a "character." And that heightened awareness is one of the ways that our writing lives can improve our personal lives, and the world around us.

 

To view all the Letters to Students, click here. 

Sunday
Jun072015

Goners: A Short Story

A drifter. A beach town. A woman who emerges from the sea. Read "Goners," a free short story by Hannah Sternberg, and get lost in a gothic and mysterious world. Click to read:

Click to read more ...

Friday
May222015

Turning the page into summer

(Yes, I meant it both ways.)

 

 

Subscribers to my email list (signup in the sidebar to your right) got a lineup of my late spring and summer classes, and a reflection on how summer influences creative life differently from other seasons. If you missed the email, you can still find an updated list of upcoming classes and events on the Events page.

I've also added a page called Class Resources, which you may have noticed in the top navigation. This is primarily for my students, and collects links and recommended reading from each of my classes. However, non-students might still find it entertaining and enlightening if they're interested in learning more about writing, publishing, marketing, or any of the above.

Coming soon, I'll be posting a new short story! My Pinterest followers are aware I've been ramping up my plans to sew more clothes soon. I just ordered a mini sewing machine, which is about all I have space for in our cramped but adorable apartment. I feel like I've been in a frenzy of creative activity of all kinds lately -- sewing more, cooking new meals, transitioning into my summer wardrobe, gardening on the patio. But I recognize that sometimes all these wonderful, happy little bursts of creativity mask a deeper fear of working on my writing -- something that other people will judge and scrutinize. I don't much care what you think of my homemade skirt (unless you like it!) or my patio garden, because they're not my livelihood or the expression of my deepest imaginings. All those other expressions aren't a waste of time at all -- they're a precious and important part of living -- but last night I exerted a bit of discipline and set the sewing patterns aside to finish "Goners," a short story about time, brotherhood, and creepy women who emerge from the sea. I hope you like it.

Monday
Apr132015

Now Online: Reading Like a Writer Audio

Did you miss my February library talk on reading like a writer? I've finally edited and uploaded the audio so you can listen at home! You can listen using the player below, or download it here as an mp3 and listen on your phone or other device while you're on the go!

 

Enjoy! And thanks again to all who attended on that cold, cold night in February!

Monday
Mar162015

Fresh New Spring Classes!

Check out the events page for information on an exciting new crop of spring classes!

 

Monday
Feb022015

Two new events, one new blog post, and a free Kindle!

Greetings beautiful website readers! A few items:

There are two new events on the events page for you to add to your calendars! First up is "Reading Like a Writer," my talk at the SE branch of the DC Public Library, on February 12 at 7pm. The library will be raffling off a free Kindle pre-loaded with my books to one of the attendees!

Then, check out my upcoming class at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop -- I'll be teaching eight more weeks of Writing Games starting February 23! Register at the CHAW website: click here.

New online: I have another blog post up at CHAW's website, based on one of my class themes. Check it out: Making the Leap: Busting a Writer's Worst Stumper.

And, for my students: tonight I mentioned a blog post I'd written two years ago as a reference for anyone interested in learning more about publishing. Since it's now buried in my blog, here's a link for anyone who's looking: Hannah's Quick and Dirty Guide to Book Publishing.

Monday
Jan262015

Be a Farm-to-Table Art Consumer

A recent article in Slate detailed how female music artists' contributions to their albums often go uncredited, or highly questioned, whereas men's leadership over their creative projects is often accepted uncritically. In an interview with Bjork for Pitchfork, music journalist Jessica Hopper paraphrased Joni Mitchell: "whichever man was in the room with her got credit for her genius." Ultimately, though, that article and the interview it referenced made me realize how little I know about music production. I don't really know much about how the idea of a song makes it from the artist's head to the album to the consumer's ears. I hadn't realized how big of a slight it is for a woman to be denied production credit for her own album, because I don't really know what goes into a production credit. And I think I'm not alone.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jan182015

The Biggest Mistake Aspiring Writers Can Make

I’ve heard it a lot in writing circles. I’ve heard it in classes, and online critique groups, in blog posts and major magazine articles. “How am I supposed to be successful when the only stuff that’s selling well is crap like Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey?” “Editors are only acquiring stupid books that have vampires/apocalyses/BDSM in them. No one’s interested in really good books.” “Readers have really lowered their standards. No one’s buying challenging, unique books anymore.” “I’m never going to compete against the people who publish a dozen shlocky romance novels a year and get a million downloads of them.” Harboring that attitude is the worst mistake an aspiring writer can make. Even if you have great potential and drive, a bucketful of talent and a few good connections, I genuinely believe that this attitude can stunt a writer’s success. Here’s why:

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan082015

Insta-Adventures with Bulfinch!

Back when I launched Bulfinch, I posted a challenge to anyone who had pre-ordered, or requested a knight toy:

 

How to get your knights...and join the fun!

A photo posted by @hannahsternberg88 on Aug 8, 2014 at 6:41am PDT

...and, at long last, I present to you the adventures of your army of knights! I'll do my best to collect the ones that were sent to me, but if I miss something, reach out to me on Instagram or use the contact form to send me a note! Some friends submitted their photos on Facebook, so I've copied them with their permission.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec292014

Get unstuck.

Here's the final wrap-up of 2014! The theme for myself, as well as my classes, was getting unstuck -- letting go of the things holding back your life and creativity, and discovering the freedom to move forward that had been there all along.

I summed up some of my classes for the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop blog, so people who didn't live in the DC area or for some other reason couldn't make it to my classes could still follow along. Here are the links. I hope they open up your heart to more reading and writing!

Week One: Quite a Character

Week Two: Let's Do the Time Warp Again

Week Three: Where in the World Is NaNoWriMo?