Posted on

Why Cartooning? by Danica Glamack

Creatively cartooning is a unique combination of words and doodles.

I usually start with writing my punchline and then I doodle-sketch my single panel cartoon.

Humor is the gift of giving solace. It’s comforting and cheerful.

Who couldn’t use some humor? It’s a source of relief for each and every day.

If you have a sense of humor or if you would like to develop the ability to envision humorous situations from everyday life, you will enjoy my class.

Humor can also be a tool when writing. If you’re in a jam; write and doodle a cartoon to take you through your writing freeze. Writing a cartoon will keep your story line on point.

Let’s say you want a comic strip several panels in length. Take your single panel cartoon and work backwards with your story.

Try one, their fun! Here’s how it might go …

Subject: A couple in the hospital who just became new parents.

Punchline: “We’ll take that one!” (Looking in the nursey window; speaking to the nurse)

Now, go backward …

Panel 1: (Glowing parents in hospital room)

Panel 2: (Mom being wheeled by Dad to the nursey, their anxious)

Panel 3: (Dad is excited)

Panel 4: “We’ll take that one!” (punchline)

Now you have your written draft. To start your doodles I would first research a hospital nursery. Search online for photos or clip art, etc.

I hope you had some fun creating this cartoon.

If you have any inquiries, please contact me.

And I hope to see you in my upcoming March 2017 class at Writers & Books.

Humorously yours,



Read Danica Glamack’s bio here.

Get more information on Danica’s upcoming class here.

Posted on

No Such Thing as No Process by Matt Kotula


Maybe you can help.

See, I misplaced a poem. It was here last night, right here on this same screen. Just six hours ago I wrote an amazing poem and yet I fire up Word this morning and it’s gone.

Yes of course I’ve searched the recent files. I’ve searched all my hiding spots.

Can I describe it?

I remember the first line: “the casino is always dead on Halloween.” Or was it “on Halloween the casino is always dead”?

No, the first one’s better. That was definitely it.

The title?

It had to do with horses, since the casino is at a race track, but it could have been about the horse, who was named Houdini, or the jockey, who didn’t have a name but held the riding crop like a conductor’s baton.

Stringendo he whispers in her ear / remember?”

Let’s face it. It’s no use. I lost it. It’s gone… my masterpiece.


Days pass. I write new poems. Emails come and go. One day the world is going along and I open up a folder and there it is: Houdini.

How did I miss this? I don’t believe it. I click, and it’s here. It’s not lost. It was here all along.

I scan the lines. It’s not the way I remember it. The jockey’s name is Paco. The horse is male. It’s shorter than I thought. Rougher. Parts might be usable. It’s no masterpiece, but by God it’s here.

I take the rest of the day off.


Someday I’ll figure out how to do it better.

I won’t find, for example, another poem on my work computer describing a similar horse, ridden by a jockey with a similar name, which I can claim no memory of writing, dated two months prior.

Cultivate a writing habit, I know. Block out time before breakfast. Go full night owl. Frank O’Hara got it done on lunch.

I have a thought: Maybe this isn’t random. Maybe this is my habit.  

To see with depth you need both eyes. I print the two versions and compare. I cross out, change breaks, shift tenses. It begins to move. New lines come. I can see Houdini for the first time. I run alongside her. We move, the two of us, in time.

Finally it’s finished. I print it out and read it aloud thirty times on the way to work, just how I’ll read this line aloud when I come to it tomorrow, probably around Batavia.

They say you can’t dream a face you’ve never seen. The faces you dream are chimeras you create by rearranging the features of your friends. Maybe this is my habit.

My advice: create the only way you know how.


Matt Kotula is an instructor at Writers & Books. Read his bio here.

Posted on

Ten Tips to Make the Most of Your Workshop by Jennifer Kircher Carr

When your story is “up”:

  • Assume positive intent. We’ll all in this together! Assume that your fellow workshoppers are offering feedback to help you grow, and help your story be the best that it can be.
  • Sit in silence at first. You’ll get the most benefit from the experience if you listen to unfiltered feedback from your readers. If everyone is confused on a point, or interpreting something that is not what you intended, listen to what they are saying, and take it as a point to address in revision.
  • Ask questions at the end. After everyone has given you unfiltered feedback, then you can take a few minutes and tell what you intended, and ask for help trying to better get those elements across.
  • Submit a piece representative of you and your writing. Even if it’s an early draft, make sure that you read it through and correct any misspellings or obvious errors so that your reviewers are not distracted by sloppiness on the page and can focus on the story.
  • Leave your ego at the door. It can be hard to hear constructive criticism on a piece that you’ve put your heart and soul into, but have faith that the feedback you’re receiving will ultimately help you improve this work, and help you improve your overall writing skills.

When you are a reviewer:

  • Focus on the big stuff. No one needs to spend time talking about a particular word choice or misuse of grammar. This can be handled through line edits.  
  • Don’t tell your story, unless it is brief and to illustrate a point about what you’re reviewing. Remember that workshop minutes are finite, and you’ll have your chance in the spotlight soon. Let this other writer have the full focus for these precious minutes.
  • Use the “sandwich” method of feedback. Start with positive feeding, “sandwiching” constructive suggestions in the middle, and ending with positive. Name at least one thing you loved about the piece. There is always something to love!
  • Be mindful of other reviewers. While it’s important to offer your feedback, do your part to ensure every reviewer gets a chance to speak. No one person should “own” or monopolize the interpretation of or suggestions for the story.
  • Leave your ego at the door.  Writing is personal business. In order to make the most out of workshops, we need to give graciously to help our fellow workshoppers grow.

Jennifer Kircher Carr is a writer living in western New York. Her fiction is published in numerous literary journals, including Prairie SchoonerAlaska QuarterlyThe RumpusStoryscape,North American Review,  and The Nebraska Review, where she also won the Fiction Prize. Her non-fiction is published in Poets & WritersPloughshares blog, and Edible Finger Lakes, among others. Her work-in-progress includes a novel and a collection of linked stories.

Posted on

High School Writing Contest: Maya Angelou’s “And Still I Rise.”

High School Writing Contest:
During the months of January and February, Writers & Books will run a writing contest for local high schoolers. We will accept submissions, either a 20 line poem or 250 word prose piece, based on Maya Angelou’s “And Still I Rise.” Submissions should address these questions in some way: What does Angelou’s poem mean to you? How have you or others risen? The five top submissions, as judged by Writers & Books staff, will be honored in a brief ceremony on February 27 at the Little Theatre. There is no fee to enter the contest, and all entries should be submitted to Guidelines: one submission per person. Submissions must not exceed length requirements. Deadline to submit: February 17. The winners of this contest will be recognised at the February 27th screening event at the Little.