The Writer and Her Book Tour

I named it the Great Pacific Northwest Book Tour and I’ve been on the road just over a week, driving from home in San Diego north on the Interstate first to Oakland for an overnight with my daughter, Amy, before I headed north again for Ashland, Oregon where I had my first book event at Bloomsbury’s Books, and where I got to hang out with my friend Midge Raymond. Midge just shared the good news that her novel, My Last Continent, has been picked up by Scribner! Hooray for Midge. (Midge and her husband, John Yunker run Ashland Creek Press, a small press that publishes gorgeous books with an ecological sensibility.)

JR & Midge @ Bloomsbury's

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The Next Best Thing

I was honored to be tagged by author Midge Raymond for The Next Best Thing project, in which writers answer the following questions about their latest projects, and then tag a few more writers who do the same, and so on. Tag-team writer support, which is just what I need to get deeper into the novel.

Following are the questions Midge answered about her work-in-progress, My Last Continent, with my responses to my own work-in-progress. I’ve tagged Drusilla Campbell, T. Greenwood, Leslie Larson, and Marivi Soliven Blanco who will answer the same questions about their own Next Best Things!

Midge Raymond on Everyday Writing

This is the first time The Lively Muse has hosted a guest blog I couldn’t be more pleased to have as our premiere guest, author, teacher, publisher, colleague and writing pal Midge Raymond. If you’re a short story aficionado, you probably already know about Midge’s award-winning collection, Forgetting English. And if you like books about writing from darned good writing teachers, then you’re going to love Everyday Writing. Here’s a sample:

Everyday Writing for Summer

By Midge Raymond

As writers, we’re told that in order to succeed, we must write every day—but of course this isn’t realistic or feasible for most of us; we have families, day jobs, and other responsibilities that can get in the way of a daily writing practice.

And in the summer? It’s even more difficult: The kids are home, the weather’s lovely, and everyone’s in vacation mode (writing, while a luxury, is still hard work, which makes sitting in the chair all the more daunting when the sun is calling).

I wrote Everyday Writing to help busy writers connect to their writer selves every day—even if they’re unable to sit down to write every day. What I’ve found is that it’s not necessary to write every single day, but what is necessary is to think like a writer every day. This means opening your eyes and ears just a little wider than the next person—to take in everything happening in the world around you, including in your own inner world, all of which provides the richest material you’ll ever need.

Here are a few prompts to get you started. I’ve designed these prompts especially for the beginning of summer, which is one of the more challenging seasons in which to stay focused (note: you can easily do these in a beach chair with a sand-covered notebook).

Enjoy—and happy writing!

Five-minute prompts

–       Write for one minute about each of the following: watermelon, sand, moon, chlorine, ice.

–       Write about the very first time you saw the ocean.

Fifteen-minute prompts

–       Write about the best summer you can remember. Be as detailed as possible, from who you spent your time with to what was going on in your life at the time. Was this summer a recent one, or was it in the distant past? (Note: Fiction writers can apply this exercise to one or more of their characters.)

–       Write about a favorite summer food or beverage. When was the last time you enjoyed it, and what was your first memory of it? Then, write a scene (either from your own life or that of a fictional character) in which this food or drink features prominently.

Weekend prompt

–       Write about the last time you did something, whether it was play the piano, ride a horse, or smoke a cigarette. Is this something you chose to give up, or something that simply faded away? Do you miss this activity? Why or why not? Be as detailed as possible, and write for as long as you can, letting this prompt lead you wherever it wants to take you.


 Midge Raymond is the author of Everyday Writing: Tips and Prompts to Fit Your Regularly Scheduled Life  and the story collection Forgetting English , which received the Spokane Prize for Short Fiction. Her work has appeared in TriQuarterly, American Literary Review, Indiana Review, North American Review, Bellevue Literary Review, the Los Angeles Times magazine, and many other publications and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Visit to subscribe to her free email newsletter for writers.