Category Archives: blogs

Langston Hughes, Poet and Playwright

Langston HughesJames Langston Mercer Hughes was born on February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri and died on May 22, 1967, in New York, New York.

His first successful poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” was published in The Crisis magazine in 1920 and met with high praise.  In 1921 he enrolled in Columbia University where he studied briefly, and during which time became a part of Harlem’s burgeoning cultural movement, commonly known as the Harlem Renaissance. Hughes later dropped out of school, traveled around the world doing various jobs.  In 1925, he met Vachel Lindsay, showed some of his poems to Lindsay who was impressed enough to use his connections to promote Hughes’s poetry and bring it to a wider audience.

In 1940, at 28 years old, Hughes published his autobiography, The Big Sea.  Around that same time he began contributing to a column in the Chicago Defender, for which he created a comic character name Jesse B. Semple, better known as “Simple,” a black Everyman that Hughes used to further explore urban, working-class black themes, and to address racial issues.  The columns were highly successful and “Simple” would later be the focus of sever of Hughes’s books and plays.The Collected Poetry of Langston Hughes

From the 1940s until his death, Hughes continued prolific output of poetry, plays and other works.  On May 22, 1967, Langston Hughes died from complications of prostate cancer.  A tribute to his poetry, his funeral contained little in the way of spoken eulogy, but was filled with jazz and blues music.  Hughes’s ashes were interred beneath the entrance of the Arthur Schomberg Center for Research in Black culture in Harlem.  The inscription marking the spot features a line from Hughes’s poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.”  It reads: “My soul has grown deep like the rivers.”

His work continues to be published and translated throughout the world.

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Suzanne Bogue


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Filed under Black History, blogs


Happy New Years 2013

Panhandle Professional Writers hopes this year will be the best and brightest for all our members, fans and weblog readers. Happy writing to all!

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Filed under blogs, read, Writing


Typing Paper SkullRecently, I saw a great post on one of my favorite websites, Writer Unboxed, by Barbara O’Neal titled, The 20 Minute Win.  In the article, O’Neal describes how she manages to stay on task with her writing.  She focuses on her work each day as soon as she can possibly get to it by creating a 20-minute window to write. She got the idea from the late Ray Bradbury who said, “A writer should begin writing before he lets the world in.”

When O’Neal sits down for her 20-minute session, she sets the timer and writes whatever comes up.  Sometimes, it’s a blog.  Sometimes, it’s a scene that comes later in her book.  Sometimes, she even writes in a journal.  The point is, she writes uninterrupted for 20 minutes for the sole purpose of getting the juices flowing.Bottle of Creative Juices

This accomplishes two major things.  First, it warms up her writing muscles and gets her into her Writing Work Room.  Second, it reminds her how little time it takes to actually put words on a page if she will just show up to do it.

I decided to try it for myself.  The only modification I made was to shorten the sessions to 15 minutes.  I wrote the first piece in the allotted time. I started with this sentence: “Am I the only one who thinks the term baby bump is obnoxious and unflattering?”  When the timer sounded, I checked the word count.  Three hundred twenty-nine words.  About baby bumps.  I agree with Barbara.  It gets the writing juices flowing.  Can I sustain the pace of 1,316 words per hour all day – every day – when working on my latest novel?  Probably not, but that’s not the point.  The point is if I will just show up to write and get to it, I can actually produce words on the page.

What then shall I do with this newfound way to exercise my writing muscles and get the juices flowing?  Blog of course.  In the very near future, I will post these 15-minute writing exercises on my new blog.  After spending 15 minutes writing with no internal editing, I go back and spend a few minutes cleaning up the prose.  Then, since I’m in the writing groove, I find it easier to get to work on my latest project.   I have a short story with a February 1 deadline and then it’s back to revision hell with my first novel.   It’s a good thing I have writing to occupy my time.  Otherwise, I might end up watching reality TV.  Oh, wait, if I watch reality TV, I’ll have something to blog about!

Try Barbara O’Neal’s 20 Minute Win and see if it doesn’t get your creative juices flowing.

Matt Sherley


Filed under basics, blogs, books, creativity, exercises, methods, novels, organizing, short stories, Writing, writing advise

10 Blogs for Writers Plus a Bonus

I thought I might pass on links to some of my favorite blogs.  So, I’ve assembled a list of 10, plus a bonus blog, because I just couldn’t stop at 10.

These blogs offer advice and tips from editors, agents and writers on all aspects of the writing life.  Some include writing prompts from time to time, for those days when you just can’t seem to get started.  A couple of these blogs are genre-specific and might not interest everyone.

I’ve picked these up from friends on facebook, from Writer’s Digest lists and from recommendations by fellow writers.  One of them, called Write News is news on the latest issues and advances in the areas of marketing, publishing  and copyright.  I look to Grammar Book for help with issues of grammar and usage that often plague even the best of us.

The bonus blog is one I think should be an essential for a every writer.  It’s maintained by the Science Fiction Writers Association, but is devoted to helping new writers and well-published writers alike avoid getting scammed.

Enjoy surfing through these sites and comment on the ones you liked.  Either click on the link or copy and paste in your browser.

Bonus Link

These are only a small sample of the excellent blogs out there for writers.  Do you have a favorite I’ve missed, or a blog of your own on writing?  Tell us about it, please.


Filed under blogs, editors, genres, grammar, news, publishing, SFWA, Writing, writing advise