Scratch Paper, Episode 17: How to run a writing workshop in person or via email

Want someone else to read your work?

Writing workshops, whether in person or online, are incredibly valuable in getting your work done and polished. I would not have finished the first draft of Finding Lucy, my first novel out on submission, without an email writing exchange that I did with a woman I met through a writing meet-up. Writing workshops were also my favorite part of earning my MFA–though occasionally terrifying, having other people read my work was validating and inspiring. It made me feel like a real writer.

In this episode of Scratch Paper, I share the guidelines to my favorite type of workshop and to the email exchange that helped me finish my manuscript. You can take these ideas to your writing group, a local meet-up, or a writing friend who lives far away and use them to exchange work and feedback.

To listen, scroll down (if you’re reading this in email, click here or on the image below). You can also subscribe to Scratch Paper in iTunes or on Stitcher.


Show notes:

  • Writing update: I’m on page 60 of my new, yet unnamed and un-described novel.
  • Reading update: Currently reading and thoroughly enjoying The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd
  • I went to the MFA program at UNH, which is where I got the structure for the workshops that I’m talking about

Do you have a writing group? How do you run it? What works best for you? Please share in the comments!


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Episode 16: How I found my agent

This is the fourth in a series on How to get your work published–you can find all episodes here.

In case you missed them, the episodes in this series are:

In this episode, I talk about how I found my agent, who is the reason my novel is on submission (woo!). Finding an agent took me a long time, many query letters, and two tries in Pitch Madness. But eventually it happened and it was a total thrill.

Want to read more? If you’re in email, click on the image below! You can also subscribe in iTunes.


Show notes:

Reading update: Thinking about rereading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Still lacking in the reading department.

Writing update: I am working on a new novel! I am too superstitious to share details! And sometimes it’s hard to write in coffee shops.


  • I found my agent through Pitch Madness, a.k.a. #PitMad. It’s an event on Twitter and is AWESOME. It includes every. single. genre. that I know of, and it’s an amazing opportunity. It has changed a bit since I participated, but it’s coming right up – February 24, 2017! Details here.
  • You can look at my tweets for Pitch Madness if you are interested–here is my Twitter feed (I’m @likesoatmeal).
  • My nonfiction manuscript didn’t get picked up, but I did write for the Patheos network on a blog called Surprising Faith.
  • Nathan Bransford’s blog is a treasure trove for query letter writing for novelists and nonfiction book proposal writing.
  • Ann Patchett, “Writers need great swaths of time,” comes from her amazing longform piece “The Getaway Car”

Come back next week to find out if my daily hour-long limit on the Internet has worked!

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Scratch Paper, Episode 15: How to submit (pitch) nonfiction articles

Hello, listeners! Scratch Paper Podcast has resumed.

After a break filled with winter cheer, I’m here to continue the series I started back in Episode 12 on How to get your work published. You can find all the episodes in this series here.

If you’re reading this in email, hi! Click here or on the image below to get to the podcast on my site (it’s the only way to listen).


In this episode, I talk about how pitching a nonfiction article–as in a heavily researched, non-personal essay–is different from submitting a short story. For one thing, you don’t have to have finished your article to pitch it! And for another, the publication itself is really important.

I share some of my own experience pitching to The Wire in Seacoast New Hampshire (RIP), a local weekly, and to Sojourners Magazine, a national publication.

Show notes

Writing update: My agent liked my revision of Finding Lucy and is sending it out to publishers.

Reading update: I love Elinor Lipman’s The Inn at Lake Devine and My Latest Grievance. I checked out Judy Blume’s In the Unlikely Event.


What has your experience pitching nonfiction been like? What other resources do you have for fellow pitch-ers? Please click through and share in the comments!

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Episode 14: A brief pause for celebration

No lesson this week! Celebrate, everyone!


Writing update: I finished my revision of FINDING LUCY!

Shout out to SPL, whose seventh floor will always have a special place in my heart.

Reading update: I love SPL’s ebooks available now page. It is a magical, fun page. For example, when I went to that page to get the link for these very notes, I downloaded Me before You by JoJo Moyes!

And spoiler alert: my agent did not hate my revision, and it is on submission now! Hey-o!

Next week: how to pitch research-y essays. Please come back; do not judge me by this exuberant two-minute podcast about how much I love downloading high-demand ebooks.

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