Tag Archives: Writing

Indulge Your Writer’s Cravings!

Snip20150702_48Of course, you want to write.  Everyone wants to write.  But there’s a difference between wanting to write and actually doing it.  There are a thousand excuses why we don’t start writing projects, and a thousand more for why we don’t finish them.  More often than not, the easiest way to jump start a writing routine is to indulge one of your writer’s craving for the things that writer’s love most: pens, papers, books….coffee.   Here are some of our staff’s best picks for indulging your dangerously creative self.


 

133744_411_2Of course, this list is going to start with a pen because of course it is.  And not just any pen.  One of the most sassy writing pens you can get.  Made by kate spade new york, the Nom de Plume ball point pen will set you back a cool $36, but it’s worth it.  Besides, that won’t like very much at all when you are sitting on top of the New York Times‘ bestseller’s list.  (Also, when you get to the number one spot, don’t forget who told you to pick up that lucky pen.)


il_570xN.494221209_pbw3There is nothing quite like beautiful stationary to get you excited about putting pen to perfect paper, especially if that paper is wonderfully illustrated.  Get in the mood to explore the realm of fantasy writing with this lovely stationary set that features all the whimsey of a magical faerie folk, and at just $15, you can travel to the other world without stopping at the ATM along the way.


5b0e7efffb47f77094df3370f872d59e.f4f4967b4463258f8415f3e665aa0ac6While there are journals of every shape and size, the Classic Travel Journal from Rouge Journals will make you feel like you have just stolen a magical adventuring book from Biblo Baggins library.  Whether you are stealing magical rings from wicked creatures or burgling the treasure hoard of a fearsome dragon, this leather bound journal will make sure that all of your adventures are kept safe there and back again.  (Also, for only $50, you will still have enough of that dwarf gold to buy a much bigger hobbit hole.


o-WHATWOULDJANEDO-570If you find yourself sitting along in your study, thinking about which suitor (if any) would be most socially acceptable for your polite if eccentric heroine should settle on, then this aptly titled book What Would Jane Do?: Quips and Wisdom from Jane Austen is exactly what you need for your book shelves. “My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.”


il_570xN.791965194_1bjcWriting is half inspiration, half coffee.  Satisfy both the cravings of your imagination and your body with this mug.  Whether it’s coffee, tea, or a delicious mug-brownie, grabbing a cup of inspiration will certainly make the difference between thinking about finishing that last chapter and actually doing it.


il_570xN.682157818_o70qFor most writers, where they do their writing is just as important as what they’re writing about.  Having a comfortable, ‘noise free’ space allows you to focus more on the page and less on the piles of excuses sitting on your desk (and probably also your floor).  Removing these distractions with something like this lovely, literary inspired piece will make sure you hit those daily word counts.

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The Central Pen Staff

[Images from featured vendor’s websites.]

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Writer’s Profile: Bronwen Carlyle Talks About Season of Shadow

unnamedOur writer’s profile focuses on Bronwen Carlyle whose new book, Season of Shadow (The Equinox Chronicles Book 1), was recently published through the Amazon Kindle store.  Carlyle was born in Augusta and grew up in North Georgia. As a young girl, she spent time with the creatures, gods, warriors, and sages found in the pages of Irish mythology and fairy tales, and has been weaving stories ever since. She currently lives near Pittsburgh, where you can find her dreaming up worlds and writing them down.  You can visit her website at www.bronwencarlyle.com, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter @BronwenCarlyle.


unnamed-1First, tell us about your new project.

It’s a young adult novel that takes place in both Georgia and a fantastical realm connected to our own. It follows the story of sixteen-year-old Everly Cotton, who has grown up in foster care, as she is caught in a battle between light and darkness.

[You can watch a trailer for it here.] Continue reading

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Four Tips for Developing Successful Blog Content

by Paul Miller

As someone who has had a successful blog for the better part of three years, I often have students show great interest in blogging.  There is one question that continuously arises:  What should I write about?  Students have an easy time understanding why blogging is so important:  It gives them a place to showcase their writing ability, their knowledge of their chosen field, and their dedication to do something not (usually) required in a college curriculum.  The issue remains:  How do you develop content?

Answering this question is something that took me quite some time to develop an understanding for.  At first, I had the same quandary.  I started my blog after an influential moment in my life, the first time I attended Harrisburg University’s Social Media Summit.  I took great notes on each panel and decided that I would write my commentary about what I learned to share with my network.  The problem arose after I wrote about each session, accomplishing my initial goal:  Now what do I write about?  The tips that I discuss are ways that I’ve managed to keep my blog going strong over the past few years and I believe these tips can help any blogger for both the short and long terms.blogging

Tip #1 – Develop a frequency of posts and stick to it

When I first began blogging, I felt that a weekly blog piece was the direction that I wanted to pursue.  After about two months, I felt that this was a goal that was very difficult to achieve.  I wasn’t because I didn’t like to write or that I had trouble finding inspiration; it was that I was working multiple jobs.  Making sure I was doing my job to the utmost of my ability superseded the need for a weekly blog.  Since then, I have vowed to have at least one blog per month.  While I’ll admit that some months I didn’t have the opportunity to write, I’ve averaged about 10 blogs per year.

For those starting a new blog, my advice would be to start with what you are comfortable with.  Don’t be unrealistic and think that you’ll be able to blog daily, or even weekly.  If you love to write and have plenty of ideas at your disposal, make an idea bank with potential topics.  That way, if something doesn’t strike you between entries, you always have ideas to fall back on.  Secondly, don’t write just to write.  Be inspired about your topic.  Show that it is relevant to your career path or at least of interest to you.  The worst blogs are those that show no passion, as if the writer is just going through the motions.

Tip #2 – Follow Influencers on Social Media/Reach out for comments/interviews

Social Media has been a communications revolution unlike any the world has witnessed in the modern era.  The world has totally changed the way we as humans communicate with one another.  This also allows us amazing access to those that influence our field of choice.  One strategy that I’ve employed is to look at the field that I’m involved in and find those that are on the cutting edge.

I continuously read and interact with these individuals so I can be in the know of current and important topics.  This has been one of my largest inspirations when it comes to writing my blog.  Also, reach out to your network and ask them questions.  I’ve never had one person turn me down for a three question email interview when I told them I was writing a blog piece.  People want to help you and you shouldn’t feel intimidated to contact them.

Tip #3 – Read articles related to your field

Beyond following people that are influential in your field, it’s important to constantly read anything you can find about these topics.  To be successful in the modern age, one must love what they do.  You have to be able be immersed in the topic on a daily basis.  Read at least two articles a day about your field of study and understand the current problems or issues that go along with it.  This will help you become educated and more importantly, well-rounded in discussion.  You can then use this knowledge in interviews with potential employers.

Tip #4 – Develop an informed opinion

This tip is the most important of all with regards to developing content; you must form your own opinion.  No one wants to read a blog that conforms to the status quo; people want to read viewpoints that differ from the norm.  This is where your knowledge of your field can truly come in handy.  Show your audience that you know what you are talking about and (more importantly) have something of value to say!In the modern day, audiences have more content at their fingertips than they could read in a 24-hour period.  If you don’t provide some sort of value to them, you risk losing them forever.

I encourage you to give blogging a try.  I cannot explain enough the value of a blog to your potential long-term career goals.  I give this example every time I speak on this subject:  Most college students are acquaintances or even friends with others in their major.  What these people really represent is competition for every job that we seek.  Stellar grade point averages are expected now from college students in the open market, so every available job is like a chess match.  With things equal, who gets the job:  Someone that has demonstrated great knowledge of their field via a blog or someone who doesn’t have one?

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About the author.

Paul Miller, paulmiller@centralpenn.edu, teaches courses in communications, business, and writing at Central Penn College.  He has blogged for The Pen before about How To Blog Effectively in Today’s Landscape and teaching courses on writing for social media and business.  You can find Professor Miller at his LinkedIn page.

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Why We Need Creativity In Higher Education

When President Barack Obama launched Educate to Innovate in 2009 and shifted the conversation in education towards science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), higher education interpreted the administration’s new initiative as a clear, distinct, and in some circles, long overdue, headshot to the liberal arts. Such concerns were perhaps only intensified when President Obama made an off-the-cuff remark about the lack of value in art history degrees when compared to skilled manufacturing jobs. While the President did indeed apologize for an ill-considered comment, the sentiment it conveys represents an increasingly popular belief that in the modern global economy, the need for technical instruction trumps the need for creative expression. Perhaps this is my own liberal art bias talking, but the name of the initiative itself—Educate to Innovate—certainly begs the question: how do we become the ‘innovators’ of this new century without teaching, practicing, valuing, and rewarding creativity?

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story

You might know Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie if you have ever listened to Beyonce’s song “Flawless,” where the Beyonce sampled a portion of the author’s famous TEDTalk: “We should all be feminists” from April 2013.  The sample portion contains the most quoted part of the speech: “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls ‘You can have ambition, but not too much’.”

Adichie is no stranger to tackling the tough issues when it comes to writing and politics.  In her July 2009 talk at TEDGlobal, Adichie talks about what she calls ‘the danger of a single story.’  Growing up, Adichie had only read books by British authors, and while she credits them with stirring her imagination and passion for reading and writing, they did not represent her or her native surroundings in Nigeria.  Eventually, she comes to find African literature (she names Chinua Achebe and Camara Laye as examples) that featured ‘girls with skin the color of chocolate, whose kinky hair could not form ponytails.’

Slide16However, while these narratives helped to reinforce what she knew to be true—Nigeria and Africa were places of rich diversity, complexity, culture, and history—that another, more simplified and problematic narrative about Africa and Africans was the one told around the world.  Through multiple experiences in the west, she learns about the ‘single story of Africa’ as a place of violence, poverty, hunger, and despair—images, she claims, comes from western literature and its colonial roots.

Listen and watch as Adichie creates her own narrative about the roles of reading and writing in personal and professional life and how they form narratives about peoples and places that shape our understanding of our global community.

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Writer Spotlight: Isaiah Isley Teaches Self-Motivation Through Writing

JESS3_Social_MLK_QuoteMany of the people who converse with me would never believe that I had a problem speaking when I was younger.  Despite the numerous vocabulary words I knew, sentences would not flow effectively the way I wanted them to when I tried to plead my case.

However, I had a knack for writing poems, raps, and songs so my father said “if you can’t tell me your thoughts, write them down, I would love to read them.” Since that day, anything I see, hear, or say can serve as a catalyst for me to manipulate words and phrases in ways that I still cannot explain.


Embracing my own creativity with writing has served as an outlet for all of the negative aspects of my life such as stress, instability and a lack of self-confidence, which seemed impossible to explain to my father.


Yes, I, Isaiah Isley have doubts about myself and my abilities sometimes, but those doubts deteriorate each and every time I read aloud a small piece of material and I gauge the reactions of the audience because I am realizing that I have a gift; the gift of oratory. Utilizing my creative writing effectively has become a self-motivating technique and a reminder that I am capable of achieving a great deal of success, which is defined as one’s satisfaction with their accomplishments in this case.

 My favorite phrase that I have ever written down is “you are what you are, you accept you’ll be respected” because it encourages everyone to be comfortable embracing themselves. I am comfortable with my gift and it will not go to waste because I will not allow it to.


Creative writing opens up my mind by coercing me to paint a picture with words, which challenges my intellect, but results in a great deal of psychological pleasure in the end.


 I would encourage others to write down their thoughts in a journal, notebook, and if they are hip to the new fads they can write in their notepads on their cellular devices. Our thoughts, visions and ideas are important and they have the potential to shape and mold others over time. Shakespeare, Poe, and Twain are still idolized today because they wrote down their thoughts and someone else thought that they were important.

The many words that I have used to compose the multiple pieces of literature that I have completed have acted as my motivation and given me a sense of purpose in life.

…Creative writing is my life. 

[Image from Bok Fu Do]

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Isaiah Isley has written numerous poems, raps, songs and a short story since the eighth grade. He has performed his personal pieces in front of hundreds at talent shows, fashion shows, sporting events and open mic nights. Isley, majoring in Corporate Communications​, is currently on the Deans’ List  at Central Penn College and is on a mission to redefine success for the world through various forms of education. After graduating in 2017, Isaiah is going to attend graduate school.

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Creative Writing and The Job Market: Part Three

In a career-focused college, some may ask: how do outlets like literary magazines contribute to college students’ professional goals? how do they provide students with intellectual and professional advancement opportunities? and why do we need venues like literary magazines?  This post series looks at each of these questions in-depth and offers advice to college students who are looking to navigate an increasingly challenging (and rewarding!) job market landscape.

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Why do we need venues like literary magazines?

Too often, we get caught up in the details of everyday life.  Is it going to rain?  Did I pay that bill on time?  Where did I leave my keys?  Of course, it’s important to be able to follow directions, place a budget, and stay organized, but it also important to nurture and develop our creativity.

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Literary magazines offer writers the opportunity to create, share, engage, and yes, even empathize.  

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Creating and sharing creativity work is the most exhilarating, terrifying, and rewarding thing we do.  Often, the creative process must be done alone or whatever alone looks like to you.  It could be in your bedroom at a desk.  It could be in a crowded coffeeshop in the back corner.  It could even be on a park bench down on a river walk.  Wherever or however it is, you are shaping and structuring alone.

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The writing process can be exciting and frustrating and wonderful and awful–often all of those emotions at the same time.  

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Writers: Starving Artists or Career-Minded Professionals?

In the class room I am known as Professor Thiaw, a full time professor teaching mainly literary or cultural courses. What students may not see, is that I am also a professional writer, published under the names Maria C. James (before marriage) and Maria James-Thiaw.

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For me, writing is not a hobby, but a life-long career, and I am a working artist, not a starving one.

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Writing, in its many forms, is both an art and a process. While many people spend their spare time working out their feelings by writing, it takes a lot of effort to become a professional writer. The professional writer’s work doesn’t stay in their diary, but eventually rests on a book shelf (whether literal or virtual), available for public scrutiny. Continue reading

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Shaashawn Dial Gives Us Another Reason to Celebrate LGBTQIA History Month

Shaashawn's Wedding Passport to Love: Perfect Pairing Ceremony 8.24.2013

Shaashawn’s Wedding Passport to Love: Perfect Pairing Ceremony 8.24.2013

From radio broadcasting to mentoring students, Mrs. Shaashawn Dial-Snowden has achieved many memorable life-changing moments. Her nickname “The Voyce” is a symbol of independency and expression that portrays how closed mouths won’t get fed. Mrs. Dial-Snowden is the goddess sent from above to teach others how to express themselves with confidence and knowledge. Her ambition and success is like no one else. Her achievements display her motto: “the sky is the limit.”  Many know Mrs. Dial-Snowden as the Lead College Advisor & First Year Experience Coordinator at Central Penn College, but that’s not all that she wrote! Continue reading

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by | October 31, 2013 · 5:01 pm

Join Us for Another Write On Time Cafe!

The Central Pen E-zine presents ANOTHER Write On Time Cafe! a creative writing and slam prep workshop.  Join us on Wednesday, September 4th from 3.30-4.30 in the Charles Jones library. Refreshments will be served and there will be fun, free giveaways for the participants.  Come join club advisers, Professors Maria Thiaw and Melissa Wehler, as well as the Central Pen student editors for an afternoon of creating and crafting.  For more information, email us at thecentralpen@gmail.com.

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