Mary Beth Miller

“All grown-ups were once children... but only few of them remember it.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

“[Kids] don't remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.”
Jim Henson, It's Not Easy Being Green: And Other Things to Consider

“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”
Albert Einstein

The Art of Revision
    Revision is as much a part of writing as drafting a story or article. Using various other artistic mediums, such as painting and composing, Ms. Miller shows students that works of art are not created on the first try. Moving from sketches and drafts to finished art, students learn to appreciate, if not love, the process of revision.

What If — Getting Students Started in

Creative Writing
    This workshop is designed to move students past the initial “brain freeze” experienced when someone is told to “write a five page story.” Sources for ideas are explored, as is the concept of playing with an idea to develop a more complete story. Examples and story starters are given.

Starting Points
    A fun, hands-on workshop. Participants pick a story prompt from photographs, first lines, and titles then write a story or first chapter from the prompt. Particularly fun is having a group of people use the same prompt and seeing the variety of stories that result. Stories are read aloud to the class, and writing techniques are discussed.
    Generally for a more advanced, older group of students.

Voice: The Holy Grail of Writing
    A distinct voice is arguably the hardest thing to achieve in writing, and it is one of the hardest writing skills to teach. Mary Beth uses other art forms to help students grasp voice as well as examples from literature (both current and classic works).

The Fine Print

    School Visits are limited in number and will be scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. Payment is expected at the time of the visit unless prior arrangements are made.     

    Half Day: $300. Consists of two programs and a meet and greet/book signing period, plus travel expenses. (Schools within an hour’s drive pay mileage only. Schools over an hour may be asked to provide hotel accommodations.)

     Full Day: $500. Consists of four programs and a meet and greet/book signing period, plus travel expenses. (Schools within an hour’s drive pay mileage only. Schools over an hour may be asked to provide hotel accommodations.)

School Visits

“I know I was writing stories when I was five. I don't know what I did before that. Just loafed, I suppose.”
P.G. Wodehouse

“When writing a novel, that's pretty much entirely what life turns into: 'House burned down. Car stolen. Cat exploded. Did 1500 easy words, so all in all it was a pretty good day.”
Neil Gaiman

    I can remember walking to my friend’s house one afternoon, totally preoccupied with a book I was reading. I was maybe twelve, and I was enthralled. Then, like a voice from above, part of me said, someone wrote that, and I knew what I wanted to be. Not do, but be. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to create worlds complete unto themselves where souls like mine could be sheltered and buffeted and lost and found. Where the reader could be immersed so fully that they forgot to eat, or go to the bathroom, or that they needed to clean their room by 4:30 when their dad came home.
    So I became a writer who is also a quilter, a backyard farmer, and a business owner. It’s hard to keep those other occupations and passions from taking over, but I get pretty upset when I’m not writing the stories blooming in my head, and I know the cure. Get the butt in the chair and write.

Why I Became a Writer

Writing Process

     A writer writes. It sound so simple. But there is no one way to accomplish the task of recording a story for posterity. Some writers spend days or weeks organizing the book in outlines or on little cards that they shuffle and reorder until they have the optimum arrangement for the book they want to write. Only then can the sit down and begin writing the actual books. Other writers find that this extensive outlining process takes the joy of discovering out of the process and when the story is ready to come out, they begin and work their way to the end. The latter process, which I call plunging, generally results in more drafts since you're more likely to write yourself into a blind alley if you don't know where you're going.

     Some writers can only write with pencil and paper. Some have to have yellow legal pads, while others love moleskin notebooks. Some writers wouldn't dream of attempting to write anything without their laptop or computer and can't imagine deciphering their scrawling penmanship later.

     Some writers write whatever scene happens to be speaking to them at the time. Others start with the first sentence and proceed without looking back until they get to The End. Some revise each page until it's a glowing gem of prose before moving on to the next. Others never edit. Others do a combination of both, going over the previous day's work before recording their new words.

     I begin each writing session by generally reading over and editing the previous day's work. I don't set time or word limits necessarily, but I like to get a chapter down or 1,500 words, depending on the book and its structure. I'm a plunger who has been trying to use some of the plotter's tools to curb the number of drafts I have to go through. I try to write several days a week since my life doesn't allow me to write every day. I write on a computer with music and hopefully no disturbances. I can't write in coffee shops or in public, partly because I've been known to act out expressions or gestures that my characters make.

Inspiring Quotes

Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It's a way of understanding it.”  ― Lloyd Alexander

“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”  ― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”  ― Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”  ― Philip Pullman

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”  ― Henry David Thoreau

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”  ― Kurt Vonnegut

“Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”  ― Franz Kafka

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”  ― John Steinbeck

“Write what should not be forgotten.”  ― Isabel Allende

“Easy reading is damn hard writing.”  ― Nathaniel Hawthorne

“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”  ― Frank Herbert

“Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.”  ― Ray Bradbury

“When writing a novel, that's pretty much entirely what life turns into: 'House burned down. Car stolen. Cat exploded. Did 1500 easy words, so all in all it was a pretty good day.”  ― Neil Gaiman

“I am a story teller. If I wanted to send a message I would have written a sermon.”  ― Philip Pullman

“A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it.”  ― Roald Dahl

“The hard part about writing a novel is finishing it.”  ― Ernest Hemingway

“If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”  ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself.”  Galileo Galilei