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Three Habits of Successful Writers - READ - WRITE - PLAY

Some say there are only two ways that writers can improve their craft--studying the work of others and practice. That means that we must read and write. Those two are a given, and most of us know there must be a balance between the two.

But there is a third method, one that is vital to improving our craft; one that can refill our empty coffers. Play. Our imagination is a vessel. Some have much larger vessels than others but eventually, without refills, they all run dry. This is partly where reading comes in. When we read books, stories, newspapers, and magazines, as mentioned above, we fill our minds with new styles and worlds, but even our vast, immense imaginative brains can only hold so much at a time. At some point, we must stop--stop reading, stop writing, stop exposing ourselves to the world outside, and reflect.  This is where play comes in. 

Studies have shown that play has a direct effect on our brains in many positive areas. It improves cognition, creates new synapses and connections, improves language skills and memory, and promotes creative problem-solving.  While it's vital that we read and write, as creative beings we must also continuously replenish our imaginations through play. 

Village Square offers - the Leisure Arena. A place where we can stop and recharge. Each month we offer entertainment in the form of games, vocabulary builders, puzzles, author spotlights, and polls. All designed to take our minds off the reading and writing cycle of depletion, and Play  







By Louise Sawyer 


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Seashore Scene

by Louise E. Sawyer


Imagine you are writing about a character walking along a beach. Imagine the weather and what the character is looking at.  Here are a few words you might use in your scene.


  2. TROET
  3. IRNA
  5. DNSYA
  6. ELAS
  7. VESAW
  10. SGOD
  11. ORKSO
  12. UKSDC
  13. OGSL
  15. ESEGE
  16. TSMIY
  19. YRZEBE
  21. NYNUS
  22. GRUDEG
  23. STAV
  24. MTRSO



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An Interview with Miriam Manglani

Brigitte Whiting

Tell us something about yourself. What do you bring from your background into your writing?

I don’t think I ever intentionally set out to become a writer. I started writing poetry in the 7th grade, enjoyed it, and dabbled at it in college. After I graduated, I took a writing course here and there. A part of me desperately wanted to write but I was scared of trying and failing. When the pandemic hit, I asked myself what I would regret if I died from COVID. It seemed unachievable, but it was writing a book. That’s when I joined WVU because I knew I needed the support of a community and the structure of classes to take writing seriously and achieve my goal.


What do you write? Specific genres?

Although I have been writing mostly poetry, I hope to write more short stories. My first short story, The Woman in the Mirror, was published in Village Square this past April. My long-term goal is to write a novel.

What classes are you taking at WVU, and how have they helped your writing?

I recently finished taking “Dialogue as Verbal Action” and am currently taking “Verse Forms”.

Completing course assignments and giving feedback provide the structure I need to be writing regularly, plus receiving peer feedback has helped me grow as a writer.


Have you published anything? What are you working on now?

My poems have been published in various magazines and journals. I was selected to participate in the Poetry of Science project in 2021. I’m working on a full-length poetry book.

Is there something you'd like to see offered at WVU?

I’d like to see more courses focused on generating short stories.

What is the biggest surprise you've experienced at WVU?

How helpful and encouraging the community is.


A writer's tip or two you'd like to share.

Set aside a block of time to write daily and just do it! There are no shortcuts to becoming a good writer. You just have to put in the time and start writing.


BIO:  Miriam Manglani has been published in Cerasus Magazine, Sparks of Calliope, Canyon Voices, and Paterson Literary Review. Her poetry chapbook, Ordinary Wonders”, was published by Prolific Press. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three children and works full-time as a Sr. Technical Training Manager. Her hobbies include biking, sculpting animals, and drawing. Her website is:



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An Interview with Lolla Bryant

by Joyce Hertzoff

First, a basic question, what does a facilitator do? How much do they bring to the class?

As facilitators, we basically set up and manage the classroom for the duration of the course. For literature classes, we research the author and their work to provide thorough information for those taking the course. After setting up the classroom and providing the necessary information, facilitators answer any questions the students may have, keep track of who does and doesn’t post their assignments, manage feedback required for course participation, and provide progress reports and reminders for students to complete classwork. We do this for the duration of the courses, which range from 1 to 16 weeks. It is because of our detailed involvement that I believe facilitators bring a tremendous amount to the class.

When did you start facilitating classes at WVU? Do you only facilitate MFA classes? Give us an estimate of the number of classes you’ve facilitated. Do you prefer to facilitate Literature or Core classes?

I completed the facilitator’s course in November 2018 and facilitated about 3 MFA classes shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, circumstances forced me to step away from WVU within a few months of that time until 2021. Since then, I have facilitated about six classes. I try to volunteer when I see the need but usually someone beats me to it (you know how wonderful our facilitators are). I facilitate all types of classes. MFA, Literature, and Core courses; whatever the need is.I can’t say I prefer a particular type. Although, I can say that facilitating Literature courses is a good way to ensure I get them completed.

What have you learned from facilitating? Would you recommend that others take the training class and facilitate classes?

Facilitating has taught me the value of experience. In the beginning, I was afraid to facilitate classes because I didn’t want to make some sort of mistake and have my classmates pay the price. I know, I know. I overprocessed that way too much. But for a short time, I let that fear deter me from volunteering as much. But I am so glad I didn’t let that stop me because the experience I’ve gained cannot be valued. I am more confident, not just in the WVU classroom, but in my professional life as well. I’ve also learned that the best way to learn something is to teach it to others. For that reason and the fact that there are few of us and many students, I recommend others take the training and begin facilitating classes. There is plenty of need for more.

How much time do you generally spend on each class, including preparation time and research? What kinds of things do you search for to add to the class?

That depends on the type of class and the length of it. I would estimate that for a 2-week class, I spend about 2 hours setting things up, answering questions, and monitoring feedback. For a 6 – 8-week class, that time increases (because of the additional weeks) to about 5 hours because those usually have more students attending which increases the feedback and questions, as well as more time researching or ensuring archived materials are up to date. I research things such as magazine articles about an author/subject, interviews by an author, and video clips available that may explain or enlighten students about a subject or author. A lot of information is archived but as I mentioned before, I have to research and be sure that information is still up to date before posting it in the classroom. We’ve all clicked on a provided link and found it no longer available. It is my responsibility to try to minimize that as much as possible.

How do you keep track of which students complete their assignments AND give sufficient feedback? What do you expect the feedback to include?

To keep track of students and assignments, I first make a list of who has posted their assignments. Then I go through and provide feedback for each assignment while noting which students have posted feedback for that post on my list of posted assignments. I also always check to see if the feedback word count required for the class is met. For an essay, I expect feedback to include the student’s thoughts and ideas concerning the topics and significance of their classmate’s post. It should be an exchange. I encourage them to ask questions of each other. For a short story or first draft, there is a list of suggestions I provide to assist with how to leave feedback. I expect a respectful evaluation of what they just read. What did they think of the technique used? Did the point-of-view impact the telling of the story? Is there a theme that stands out? Basically, things pertaining to the story’s structure.

What’s the hardest part about facilitating?

That would be the diplomacy of it all. I ask for respect for each other, the authors, and their work. There is a fine line between directness and rudeness (real or perceived). I do my best to ensure no one feels singled out or talked down to by minimizing posting individual directions or needs for modifications for a particular student in the classroom unless necessary. I send a personal message at least twice before doing that. Depending on what the issue is, I may reach out to their advisor to have a word with them. I’ve found this helps a lot with running a smooth classroom.

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Charlotte Pregnolato: Dramatize Love in Benni Shifts, published in Write Yourself Out of a Corner: 100 Exercises to Unlock Creativity by Alice Laplante, W.W. Norton, Spring 2023:



Brigitte Whiting: Life's Losses, published in Write Yourself Out of a Corner: 100 Exercises to Unlock Creativity by Alice Laplante, W.W. Norton, Spring 2023:


Kasturi Patra:  Not Guilty published in Write Yourself Out of a Corner: 100 Exercises to Unlock Creativity by Alice Laplante, W.W. Norton, Spring 2023:


Sarveswari Saikrishna:  A One-Sided Telephone Conversation published in Write Yourself Out of a Corner: 100 Exercises to Unlock Creativity by Alice Laplante, W.W. Norton, Spring 2023:


Zurina Saban: Not Ashamed Published in Write Yourself Out of a Corner: 100 Exercises to Unlock Creativity by Alice Laplante, W.W. Norton, Spring 2023:


Frank Richards:  This story will keep you wondering. Nobody Reads Mailer Anymore published in Sensitive Skin Magazine 


Frank Richards: Writes literary fiction. First Confession has been published in the Summer 2022 edition of the Avalon Literary Review.

Joyce Hertzoff: Quint must find out why the portals between worlds are changing before the winds decimate Nokar. In Winds of Change: Portal Adventures book 2. Ebook   Print


Lina Sophia Rossi: Horror writer brings us Eye Caretaker in North Carolina Bards Poetry Anthology, 2022 Pg. 161. Published by Local Gems Poetry Press, 2022.

Donna Abraham Tijo:  A brilliant slice-of-life narration of incidents between two interesting characters who see things differently. Short Story: P.C. Joemon and Sheila Chacko Look for Purpose in a Balcony. An editor's pick of the week at

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