Thursday, February 20, 2014


This is the ITTY BITTY writing prompt for this week: Write the life of a tree from its planting to its felling. Include the story of who planted it, what happened during its life, and why it was felled. Who or what felled it? Be detailed. NO ROMANCE ALLOWED! At least 1500 words. GOOD LUCK!

Come back to see what people have written.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


WOW!  Come hear Carolyn Howard-Johnson in North Carolina.  She's come to soak in some Southern charm and leave behind a LOT of great book publicity ideas.  See the link to find out more.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011



Mindy Phillips Lawrence
September 7, 2011

There's something in the works at MPL Creative Resource and it's NOT bigger than a bread box.  In fact, it comes in much smaller bytes!  You could even say it's Itty Bitty.

YES!  I'm at work on an Itty Bitty Book of Itty Bitty's from the award-winning "Sharing with Writers" newsletter of Carolyn Howard-Johnson.  I'll be selecting my favorites from my column and expanding them into an e-book that I hope Kindle's your interest. I'll keep you advised of how near it is to publication and sound the trumpets when it's done.

Meanwhile, keep visiting this site, Carolyn's sites and Bev Walton Porter's Scribe and Quill.

May you be well and well read.

~ Mindy

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Writing About The Great Outdoors


"Writing about the Great Outdoors"
Mindy Phillips Lawrence
August 26, 2010


I have a friend who is the head pharmacist at a Walgreen’s store. When he's not dispensing medications, he's outdoors hunting and fishing. When he's not doing that, he's writing about it and taking very good photos of outdoor scenes. He’s a talented guy.

I’m not normally an outdoor chick, but lately I’ve been thinking about finding somewhere to place a small cabin so I can go and relax on weekends with an ice chest, a notebook and a camera. Yep. The bug has hit me. Between my pharmacist friend, Rudy, and my co-worker, Hoot Al, I’m thinking more about quiet time away from the city, a trail to walk on and a place to just think.

Many places take articles on these topics. Rudy writes a column for a regional newspaper on his thoughts about camping, hunting and fishing. Maybe I could write something similar on a city girl acclimating to the world of mosquitoes and toads. Who knows?  Maybe someone would give a hoot about it.

Build This Cozy Cabin

Outdoor Eyes

Missouri Outdoor



Little Portion

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Writing the Controversial


"An Itty Bitty Column on Writing" by Mindy Phillips Lawrence
From Sharing with Writers (Carolyn Howard-Johnson)
October 3, 2009


On Banned Books Week from September 26th until October 3rd, we celebrate the First Amendment which allows us the freedom to read what we wish to read. It also celebrates our intellectual freedom to express ideas that might not be acceptable to everyone.

An amazing number of books have been on the “banned” list. Almost every state in the Union still has some group who wants specific titles censored, out of the libraries and off the bookstore shelves. This is the outcome of writers who have been bold enough to speak their minds. Harper Lee did this with To Kill a Mockingbird. Mark Twain is still in the hot seat for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.

When you write, you sometimes must take sides on an issue. Writing is not for cowards, especially when you write about hot-button topics, attempt to make a specific point or include characters in your work that are less than conventional.

Writing is not only for enjoyment but also for enlightenment. When we see something that doesn’t seem right to us, or have a deep sense of commitment on an issue, we naturally have a desire to write about it. Not all readers may agree with us but we must be who we are as writers and as individuals.

To write from a controversial perspective, you must do your homework. Look on ALL sides of the issue, not just the one you agree with. Do some research on your topic and on your story line that represents your intellectual point of view. Develop your characters with care and understanding.

There is one lesson no one can teach you, how to be thick-skinned. You can suffer for your decision to express yourself so be prepared. However, if no one took writing past the normally acceptable path, we would never grow in our awareness of that which is unfair and unacceptable in our world.



ALA – Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week

Banned Books List

Taking a Stand

Diane Chamberlain Blog

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Business of Writing I

"An Itty Bitty Column on Writing" by Mindy Phillips Lawrence
From Sharing with Writers (Carolyn Howard-Johnson)
July 21, 2009

We’d rather forget, but we can’t. Writing is a business as well as a creative endeavor. The way we keep our records, log our submissions and prepare for the inevitability of taxes shows whether we are professionals or not.

In the next few issues of Sharing with Writers, I’m going to talk about ways to organize what you do and become the true professional that you were meant to be. Why? Because I need to know this information, too.

Let’s start with organizing our work area. Oh, yes, I know it’s never completely organized, but the better job you do at keeping things together the more time you have to write.

I hope you have a cozy nook where you can write. If you have a spare bedroom you can convert into an office, congratulations. If not, find a corner of a room (or a basement) where you can work. You simply must have a dedicated area. I use the second bedroom in my little duplex. Make sure you have space for your computer, printer and shelves filled with good reference books. I have four bookshelves crammed with volumes and a closet that I converted into a supply room for paper, folders, and so forth.
So get your act together! Next issue well take the next step.
Happy organizing!


Handling Writers Income and Expenses

The ABC Checklist for New Writers

Organized Writer - Julie Hood

The Writer’s Legal Guide – Tad Crawford

Taxes and Freelance Writers, What to Do?

A Straightforward Guide to Creative Writing, Stephen Wade

Simple Recordkeeping and Tax Deductions for Writers, Pamela S. Thibodeaux

Tracking Your Submissions, Greg Knollenberg
Get Organized, Get Published, Don Aslett and Carol Cartaino

10k Write Day! On a WEEKEND!

For Milli Thornton's FEAR OF WRITING
July 26, 2009 _/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/

10K Weekend Write!
Tentative Date: August 22, 2009

A Saturday Dedicated to WORDS

We all have a ton going on through the week and catch up with housework, second jobs, family and sleep on the weekends. I’m here to tell you that you also need one weekend a month to dive into the glory of words. You owe it to yourself. It’s like getting a weekend manicure – only this is a word-a-cure.

So here’s the deal. Join me, Mindy Phillips Lawrence, for the first WEEKEND 10-K Write on AUGUST 22, 2009 from 1am until 12am. OF COURSE you won’t write that long but you're going to want every minute to matter. Here are ten suggestions to make your 10K Writing Day count and give you time to get all those words written:

· Do everything you can around the house on Thursday and Friday before the Write begins.

· Prepare Saturday meals the day before so they can be nuked or cooked in 30 minutes or less (access a Web site or too for recipe ideas). This is the one day you have permission to eat in front of your computer.

· See if you can get your kids invited somewhere that day. See if granny is busy. If you ARE granny, see if you can swear off keeping the grandkids that day – or write around their visit.

· Lay out your clothes the night before.

· Shower early. It pries your eyes and mind open to begin your writing day fresh and alert.

· Start Saturday laundry and write from load to load. This is like having a writing timer set and you get clean laundry to boot.

· Establish a pattern you’ll use on both your weekend and weekly 10K Writes. DEDICATE yourself to giving a day a month to develop your stories, novels, articles, Web sites and so forth. It will pay off.

· Lay out all the writing paraphernalia you’ll need to write if yon intend to use a dictionary or a thesaurus (although this is actually a no-no on 10K Days).

· Plan 15-minute breaks to where you don’t get sick of the written word.

· Plan to take a walk during the day to exercise your muscles and air out your mind.

There you are. I’ll be writing with you and reporting my progress on the link Milli gives us. Just knowing that other people are in this with me is a huge boost so CHECK IN! CHECK IN! CHECK IN!

Mindy Phillips Lawrence
Springfield , MO

Friday, April 3, 2009


"An Itty Bitty Column on Writing" by Mindy Phillips Lawrence
From Sharing with Writers (Carolyn Howard-Johnson)
January 19, 2009

I join these people in celebrating January 19th as my birthday: Chinese philosopher Tai Chen (1724), Scottish inventor James Watt (1736), US poet Edgar Allan Poe (1809), French painter Paul Cezanne (1839), US author and critic Alexander Woollcott (1887), US publisher Oveta Culp Hobby (1905), US actress Jean Stapleton (1923), Canadian broadcast journalist Robert MacNeil (1931), US singer Phil Everly (1939), English singer and actor Michael Crawford (1942), US singer Janis Joplin (1943), US singer and songwriter Dolly Parton (1946), and US newscaster Ann Compton (1947).

I’m not a teenager but I’m certainly not ready to relinquish my life to the “has been” pile either. In fact, I wish I had money for everyone who says to me, “I’m too old to do that.” BALDERDASH! Here are a few examples of writers who did NOT quit just because they had birthdays:

Norman Mailer
Until his death on November 10, 2007, Norman Mailer wrote. He was working on the second novel in a trilogy beginning with A CASTLE IN THE FOREST (2007) when he ran out of time. He was 84.

Helen Hooven Santmyer
Santmyer wrote her well-known novel, …AND LADIES OF THE CLUB, when she was 88. The 1400-page novel sold only a few copies before becoming a Book-of-the Month selection and taking off with readers. It was on the New York Times Best Seller List.

Elizabeth Jane Howard
Howard still plies her writing wares at 85. She lives and works in Suffolk, England. She works on a MAC computer and sits in an old chair that she says is comfortable. Her first novel was THE BEAUTIFUL VISIT.

Tom Wolfe
Tom Wolfe is 77 and shows no signs of stopping. His fourth novel, BACK TO BLOOD is set to be published in 2009. He sent shock waves through the publishing industry when he recently ditched Farrar, Strauss and Giroux for Little Brown.

Joan Didion
At 74, Joan Didion is still producing work. In 2005, she wrote the heart-wrenching book THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING, a catharsis about the death of her husband, writer John Gregory Dunne. She is working on an HBO special about Washington Post’s grand dame, Katharine Graham.

Mary Oliver
Oliver, a Pulitzer-Prize winning poet, is 71. Her remarkable poetry gets deeper and richer. Her most recent book, RED BIRD, came out in 2008.

What birthdays do is make you think about what is important to you as you become aware that you have less time ahead of you. The worst thing you can do is to get into the thought pattern that you are too old to do anything. The wheels will come off the wagon in due time. Meanwhile, keep driving HARD toward that finish line. Make the trip interesting.






Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Para el amor de palabras (For the Love of Words)

"An Itty Bitty Column on Writing" by Mindy Phillips Lawrence
From Sharing with Writers (Carolyn Howard-Johnson)
March 25, 2009

When I was in college (the first time), I swore what I considered an everlasting oath to study American literature and authors only. My upbringing had a hand in this decision along with the fact that my English professor who was so instrumental in my development taught American lit at that time. What I didn’t realize was that decision locked me into study of a certain range of thought, excluding other ideas from a more expansive world. I had narrowed myself. It has taken me decades to see where reading from a greater world of literature, writing and philosophy can expand what I know in a beautiful way.

I began to study languages in 1995, taking two years of Spanish, a year of Italian and began Portuguese when, unfortunately, my professor died mid-semester with no replacement (neither as an instructor nor as a person). I read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude, in Spanish. I picked up Lorca, Paz and others and begin to learn about their work.

Now I have branched out to other countries. I am reading Salman Rushdie, V.I. Naipaul. Doris Lessing, J.M. Coetzee, and Arundhati Roy. I plan to expand even more.

What has this done for my writing? It has enhanced my ability with words immeasurably. The beautiful phrasing and description in Naipaul’s work has seized my soul. It SAYS something. Everything connects to some larger truth. It’s where I want to go with my work. Plain and simple, I want to write with a purpose. Reading current world literature has expanded my ability to write about that purpose as well as defining the purpose itself.

I want to encourage you to step outside your reading and writing box and EXPAND what you know. Grasp ideas from other cultures, faiths and philosophies. You don’t have to agree with them. Not at all. What you have to do is learn from them in order to deepen your base of ideas and, therefore, your writing.

I have mentioned only a few writers from a limited number of countries in the links below. Go to the Internet, your local library or a good bookstore and expand this list of authors to begin your adventure. Drink deeply and often. Your writing will deepen as your thoughts do.


World Literature

V.I. Naipaul

Salman Rushdie

Arundhati Roy

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Doris Lessing

J.M. Coetzee

Amy Tan

Umberto Eco


"An Itty Bitty Column on Writing" by Mindy Phillips Lawrence
From Sharing with Writers (Carolyn Howard-Johnson)
March 25, 2009

Many of us work on articles, novels and other forms of writing for which we much do research. Thanks to the Internet, the job is much simpler than it used to be. However, sometimes it is still daunting.

Recently, my goal was to make a connection between Ireland and Germany in the years leading up to World War II, particularly in 1938. I didn’t know if there was an association but, thanks to Google, I found what I wanted.

If you do non-fiction writing or have a business helping others do research, you know how indispensible it is to know how to do good literary detective work. Google is not the only source.

I am fortunate to have a large public library system where I live and very good personnel there who will help me find what I need. They also allow me to interlibrary loan resources that they don’t have in house. Because of this, I have books from several far-flung college libraries in my stack at home.

Also, if there are colleges and universities in your city, or nearby, you can usually join them for a small amount annually and have access to their works. I am a member of the Missouri State Library System, Mineral Area College Library in Park Hills, MO and the Magale Library at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, Arkansas where I graduated. I will soon add the Missouri State University Library System here in Springfield.

University Faculty
Your local college or university often has faculty personnel willing to help you with research questions. Even if you are trying to figure out a computer problem, you can often call a community college or university and get someone to help you. If you are doing research in a particular field, you might call that department and find a faculty member who will answer your questions.

Experienced Individuals
By use of the Internet and through referrals, you can often find those who have direct experience in the topic you are researching. For instance, if you need to figure out a police procedure, you could call the non-emergency number of your local police department, or make a trip there in person, and find someone willing to speak with you about what you want to know.
The Internet has many lists of those who are professionals who are willing to answer your questions so get out there and find your answers.


University of Wisconsin Expert Database

California State University Expert Database

Monmouth University Expert Database

Washington University (St. Louis) Expert Database

University of Virginia Expert Database

University of Arkansas Expert Database

Louisiana Tech University Expert Database

Penn State Expert Database – Criminal Justice and Race