Sue’s Blog

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What’s on my Bedside Reading Table this Month?

The one good thing (actually the only good thing) about being sick is that you can lie on the couch and read without feeling like you should be doing something more productive. I’ve been down and out for the last week and have managed to read some of the books…

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What Type of Writer Are You? Does it Really Matter?

My youngest son and I are both writers. He will graduate in May with a degree in creative writing, several years of experience editing his school’s literary journal, a novel-in-progress, and years of writing instruction along with several writing conferences under his belt including Breadloaf in Vermont. We occasionally joke…

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Back to the Future: Returning to Seneca Falls for Inspiration

I drove to Seneca Falls last weekend to participate in the Women’s March there. It was a symbolic choice of marching venues; as board member of Friends of Women’s Rights National Park, Marilyn Tedeschi, said “All roads lead to Seneca Falls.” And it’s true. When I think of Seneca Falls…

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What Would Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Think: Chaos or Community?

With the federal holiday acknowledging Dr. King and the 2017 presidential inauguration falling in the same week, the timing couldn’t be better for this question. Education, voting rights and educational and economic equality were all key tenets of Dr. King’s philosophy. However, prior to his death, many feel he was…

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What’s in my Travel Journal? Four Days of Food, Fun, and Festivities in Toronto!

Following the success of our family trip to New Orleans last New Year’s, we decided to welcome in 2017 in the Great White North. We hadn’t been to Toronto in eighteen years and all of us immediately fell in love with the cosmopolitan city all over again. What’s not to…

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Wrapping it up in December-5 Tips for Making the Best of the Holiday Season

If you’re anything like me, the end of the calendar year is particularly challenging, both in terms of productivity and creativity. Don’t be a Scrooge! Every year, just about this time (mid-December) I begin to feel like I am the only writer who continues to be in my home office…

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Do you want to Write a Memoir? Not So Fast!

However you choose to celebrate, the holiday season is often a time when memories (be they joyous or traumatic) come flooding back. The sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of this particular time of year tend to cause emotions to rise to the surface of your consciousness. Though this may feel…

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To Move Forward you Need to Look Back

Warning-this post may involve some serious work on your part! LinkedIn and Twitter connections know that, in preparation for National Novel Writing Month, I recently made a serious attempt at cleaning my office. Fellow writers will understand that this is no easy endeavor. Those of us who make a career…

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What’s in my (Child-Free!) Cape Cod Travel Journal?

I thought I was strong enough to do it, but it turned out to be impossible. I just couldn't stay away from the Atlantic Ocean-not even for one summer. So, for the first time in twenty-five years, my husband and I spent four absolutely gorgeous days camping at Nickerson State Park…

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Getting Back to a Good Writing Routine this Fall

It’s official! Labor Day has come and gone, your summer whites are put away, and the time is right to return to work-hopefully rested and rejuvenated. If you’re anything like me, you may need a few transitional days to ease back into your usual proficient and prolific lifestyle. Here are…

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Why Pay for a Professional Headshot? Let me Tell You!

I’ve realized that my images for my social media were not the greatest for some time now. First I told myself it didn’t matter because the photos “weren’t that bad” and a “writer was supposed to look accessible, like a real person”. Then I decided to ask a friend or…

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What’s in my Asheville, North Carolina Travel Journal?

Where has this summer gone? It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a few weeks since I returned from my eventful trip south. My camping friend Tammy and I try to go one interesting place each summer and this year the mountains won out over the ocean. Once we…

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Six Suggestions for Choosing Readers for your Book

My last post, “Five Things I Learned about Writing a Book” generated quite a bit of interest so I’d like to talk some more about how to choose readers for your manuscript. Something I’ve heard, and read, a lot is that writers shouldn’t choose people they know well to evaluate…

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Five Things I Learned About Writing a Book

Draft a Table of Contents This will give you the structure you need to stay on track. It is quite easy to meander away from your topic and find yourself on a totally different path than where you began. That said, don’t think of the TOC as a static document.…

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Ask the Experts: What Journalists Should Know about School Safety

Apologies for falling off the blog wagon once again. Today I will finally conclude my posts about the Education Writers Association National Seminar’s presentations. As I mentioned previously, I try to develop a schedule ahead of time for much of the conference. But I do like to leave a little…

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Beginnings and Endings: Inspiration from the Grave

I’m going to interrupt my regularly scheduled post from the EWA conference to take a slight detour to Cleveland. My son graduated from college last weekend, a joyous and celebratory occasion for us all. So when he suggested that we take a walk in his favorite cemetery our last day…

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EWA Panel-Inequities in Technology: Bridging the Digital Divide

Our school districts here in Tompkins County are an interesting mix of urban, suburban, and rural. I ran across the term “digital inequity” at a public meeting last year and the term intrigued me. Having sent three boys to our village school and holding strong personal views on the increasing…

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A Winning Seminar Selection in Beantown

Just returned from the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar in Boston where I attended a number of excellent presentations about all sorts of education-related topics. My general rule-of-thumb when conferencing is to go to a few talks on topics I’m familiar with and write about often, but after that it’s…

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Blogging and Slogging -How to get Inspired when you’re Not!

Blogging can be a lot of work. Sometimes ideas for posts just fly into my head while walking the Rim Trail with the dog, driving to a meeting, or working on one of my regular writing assignments. Unfortunately sometimes they don’t, and I find myself searching in vain for something…

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What’s on my Bedside Reading Table in April?

I have discovered Louise Penny and Three Pines! Better late than never I always say. For months now, people have been urging me to start the series (in the order the books were written) so I finally picked up Still Life and was instantly hooked. As in staying up way…

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First Quarter Check-In: Doing Great So Far!

I’m always reading about ways to improve my writing, my work schedule, and my productivity. One of the suggestions I’ve heard multiple times is to be more specific with the goals you set by pairing action steps with them. I decided to give this a try in 2016 by setting…

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How your friends can help make your writing better

Judi, Melissa, and I have known each other since kindergarten. Naturally I was really excited when they both ended up in Phoenix because it meant I could see both of them whenever I visited. This trip was a bit different, as I made a strategic decision beforehand to combine business…

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What’s in my Orlando Travel Journal?

I have a confession to make. I’ve never been that fond of Florida as a vacation destination. When I think of that southern state, I envision strip malls, mobile home parks, and slow drivers. What will we possibly do there for five days? I wondered. But never let it be…

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Is your Creative Well Running Dry?

It happens to the best of us. One morning you wake up and it seems like everything you try to write takes twice as long, no fresh ideas trickle into your less-than-fertile brain, and the work you usually take pleasure from feels like a ball and chain around your ankle.…

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Why I Like LinkedIn Updates

For me, LinkedIn updates offer a perfect way to showcase the articles I’ve written about parenting, education, farm-to-table, politics, and fun in the Finger Lakes with my followers. The pieces I share are intended to enlighten, inform, or entertain all my professional connections, not just my writing colleagues. Not only…

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Taking Oral Histories: A Different Type of Interviewing Skill

One of my 2016 New Year’s resolutions was to try one different thing to improve my writing skills each month. So the last week of January found me attending an Oral History 101 workshop at The History Center in Tompkins County with about forty other people. Here are a few…

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How to have a Really Good Interview

As a feature article writer, a journalist, and a budding nonfiction book writer, interviewing ends up being a huge chunk of my daily work schedule. Fortunately it’s a part of my job that I like. In fact, I enjoy my interviews almost as much as the writing process or the…

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What’s on my Bedside Reading Table?

Winter is a fantastic time to curl up in your bed or your favorite chair with a good book (unless it happens to have been hijacked by an entitled dog!) Here’s what’s been keeping me company so far this month. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman This was a…

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Ringing in 2016 with a NOLA New Year’s Celebration

Some people like to ring in the New Year with a bang; innovative cocktails, loud bands, crowds, and a fireworks display preceded by something large dropping from several stories above their heads. Others prefer to hunker down at home with a fancy dinner, a few friends, and a good movie.…

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Next Up-2016!

This will be my last post of the year. I’m planning to send 2015 out with a bang by welcoming in 2016 from New Orleans, a city I’ve always wanted to visit. Two weeks ago I wrote about the things I was proud of accomplishing this year . Today I'll…

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A Year in Review

Mid-December, when it often seems like no one else is working, is a great time to take stock of the year that is ending and to begin to plan for the upcoming year. Luckily, holiday activities like baking, cleaning, wrapping, and taking long walks to work off all the candy…

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Trust Yourself

Sometimes everything you say or do feels lackluster. Over the years I’ve discovered that when you are in this frame of mind doing something creative, even if it has nothing to do with writing, can be just the spark you need to rekindle your prose. One dreary Wednesday found me…

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A Short Lesson from a Special Pair of Hands

As writers we often hear the advice “less is more” or “show don’t tell”. But we have so many thoughts in our brains and so many words to choose from that it can be next to impossible to understand what this is supposed to mean or how to do it…

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Be Glad, Not Mad: How Rude People Can Improve Your Writing!

Last week, stiff as a board from writing and interviewing all week, I treated myself to a massage and sauna at one of our local spas. The massage was exactly what I needed, and I was just starting to close my eyes and bask in the dry sauna heat when…

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It’s not Always Sunny in Dallas

My last post praised the many attributes of Dallas. However, this week I also feel compelled to share a not-so-fond impression of the city. Today marks the last day of Banned Book Week, seven days I feel very strongly about. In my view, censorship of reading materials is wrong in…

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What’s in my Dallas Travel Journal in 2015?

This was our second visit to my oldest son’s new hometown of Oak Cliff, Texas. This time we decided to stay right around the corner and try out the latest trend (for us oldsters anyway!) Airbnb. As luck would have it, we found a “casita”, right within walking distance of…

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Delving Down Deep to Become a Better Writer

Memoir writing isn’t as easy as it sounds. Our minds are adept at changing, blocking, or eliminating entirely memories that haunt us or arouse strong, usually negative, feelings in our psyches. Though my friends frequently tell me that I should write a book about the adventures our family has had…

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What’s in my Indiana Travel Journal?

You may have thought that, after several trips to the Hoosier State, I would have run out of things to share with you about the Midwest. Not so! On our latest trip to drop off our youngest son at Valparaiso, I still managed to find three new things to share…

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Living on the Edge of your Writing Life

Last week, in an attempt to read something related to my actual career, I picked up Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life at my local library. I imagined I’d slog through it and then return to my summer diet of mysteries and the latest fiction releases. But, I found myself engaged…

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What’s On My Summer Reading List?

This summer has been a great one for reading! If you’re looking for a good book to relax with in the dog days of August, here are a few suggestions: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins This book has gotten rave reviews and frankly, I couldn’t resist the…

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Adult Coloring Channels Creativity at the Canal

This spring my friend Deb and I suffered a tremendous loss when her husband, and my good friend, passed away after a heroic battle with cancer. None of my usual coping mechanisms (like journaling) seemed to be working and I felt like I was floundering when suddenly I remembered a…

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Mockingbird or Watchman? Why Not Both?

July 2015 is rapidly drawing to a close. By now, I’ve had enough time to process some of the ongoing controversy and discussion surrounding the release of Harper Lee’s new-to-us novel, Go Set a Watchman. I have been truly amazed by the variety of reactions voiced or written about this…

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Expanding your Horizons in the Longer Summer Days

Writers need to have fun in the summer too! Something I’ve discovered over the years is that you don’t have to shut yourself in your office with the blinds drawn every day to get things accomplished in June, July, and August. With a little creativity and a lot of flexibility,…

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Thirty Years of Writing Well-Check Out Zinsser

I’d like to share my latest discovery, William Zinsser’s book On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, with you. I found his tips on how to improve your basic skills as a writer both practical and helpful, along with his assertion that there’s no excuse for sloppy writing or…

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Words of Wisdom in the Most Unlikely Places

Graffiti is visual pollution, right? Not always. The other day, I was walking along the Erie Canal when I spotted the white-painted words on the underside of a bridge spanning the water that read, “They Say It’s Lonely at the Top”. My first thought was “I’d like the chance to…

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Cutting a Few Corners in Pursuit of Good Writing

I began my writing career late in life. I’m over fifty and I don’t have an undergraduate degree in English or Creative Writing or an MFA. Maybe that should deter me. Perhaps I should be more sensible and practical and get a job with a regular paycheck and benefits. But…

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The Opposite of Anticipation

Most of us know that life can often change in a heartbeat. Three weeks ago, my blog post was optimistically entitled, “Living a Life Full of Anticipation”. April had been an excellent month for me. I had lots of interesting assignments and people to interview. I entered several short stories…

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Living a Life Full of Anticipation

One of the best parts of reading short stories is the anticipation. Admit it! When you open the first page (or turn on your Kindle or Nook) aren’t you looking forward to what you might learn, about yourself and others, from the story’s characters and their adventures and mishaps? What…

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Be Yourself on Paper-The College Essay

Guest Post by Lucia Tyler,  Ph.D., Tyler Admissions Consulting Students dread the college essay. Why?  Often they have not reflected on their life or practiced writing about it.  This is the perfect opportunity to show a college who you are beyond the numbers—beyond the test scores and the GPA. In…

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Boris Fishman’s Tips for a Successful Writing Life

I had the good fortune to hear Boris Fishman (A Replacement Life) speak at Writers & Books in Rochester the other night. I always find published writers’ talks helpful in terms of learning about concrete steps I can take to improve my writing and to plan for future creative endeavors.…

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April Showers Bring…Inspiration!

April showers bring mud, and lots of it, at least in my little corner of the world. It sometimes feels like you’re walking in quicksand and that everything around you is brown and depressing. The colorlessness of the landscape makes it easy for artists to slip into a slump, even…

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Barrio Cafe in Phoenix-Not your Average Bodega!

The absolute best meal we had in Phoenix, hands down, was our first one at the Barrio Café on the corner of Thomas and North 16th Streets. From the outside, Barrio looks like just another unpretentious neighborhood eatery, just our type of place. But appearances can be deceiving! Once inside,…

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Tucson-A Word Lovers Paradise!

The Tucson Festival of Books exceeded my wildest expectations, despite occasional frustration of long lines for many of the author conversations and panels and the limited seating in others. I could write pages about the six discussions by famous writers that I was able to participate in, which included:  Dave…

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What’s in my Phoenix, Arizona Travel Journal?

I’ve never been a huge fan of the Southwest. I prefer cool weather, lush vegetation, and lots of bodies of water over spiders, cacti, and heat, even if it is “dry heat” as we are constantly reassured by those who call The Grand Canyon State home! However, I now have…

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The Tucson Festival of Books is Almost Here!

In the past, I’ve posted about supplies to take to writing events. But this evening, I’d rather focus on what I hope to accomplish at the 2015 Festival. Besides hearing famous authors speak about topics they’re passionate about, attending the Rock Bottom Remainders literacy-benefitting concert Friday night, and being surrounded…

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All Work and No Play? No Way!

Much of what we write is serious. News stories, feature articles, newsletters, and press releases should be compelling, but also accurate. Though these are all challenging and rewarding writing projects, sometimes writers, like anyone else, need to let off a little steam, to add a bit of frivolity to the…

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