Friday, May 27, 2011

Blogs That Work - Lisa Rivero's Writing Life

This month's Blog That Works is Writing Life hosted by author, teacher and speaker, Lisa Rivero. I first became familiar with Lisa when she began following my blog and making regular comments here on TLCG so I of course had to check out her blog...and I'm so glad I did! Writing Life is one of the few blogs I subscribe to and always enjoy. Lisa's thoughtful posts on the creative life always capture my full attention and leave me with something to think about for the rest of the day, or more.

What I find especially intriguing are her "Flash Narratives" or micro short stories about her great-aunt Hattie, who lived on the Great Plains and kept a diary of her experiences from 1920-1957. Lisa is in the middle of crafting a book around Hattie's pioneer-like life and uses Flash Narrative as a tool to not only capture her audience but inspire her writing in the larger work.

I had a chance to speak with Lisa about her bog and the larger piece. Here's what she had to say:

TLC: We spoke a bit about how sharing Hattie's story online has affected your storytelling on the page. Could you share a bit more about that?

LR: Something I've learned through my teaching of creative thinking is that creativity often needs boundaries in order to thrive. Before I began writing the flash narratives on my blog, I sometimes felt overwhelmed by Hattie's life and story. She wrote daily entries from January 1, 1920 through the first months of 1957--nearly seventy volumes. Not only did she change a lot in that time, but the world around her changed as well. Another question I had was whether Hattie's life would be interesting to anyone outside of my family.

By giving myself a word limit and writing about specific incidents or experiences, I've been able to explore different aspects of the diaries without having to commit to a voice or tense or perspective. I've found that, week by week, I'm becoming a better storyteller. I tend to get too wrapped up in the nuances of language when I write, but writing flash pieces forces me to tell a story succinctly, without unnecessary embellishment.

Also, I've greatly enjoyed getting feedback from other readers! Knowing what parts of the stories are meaningful (and which are not) is invaluable as I move forward. We are living in a time when these handwritten records of past lives are more precious than ever.

TLC: Could you tell us a bit about what led you to this process of flash narrative?

LR: My friend and fellow Wisconsin writer Christi Craig had been posting weekly flash fiction pieces on her blog ( and was featured earlier this year on a local radio program, where she read a flash work. She suggested I consider submitting a piece based on my Hattie project, and I immediately knew that writing short, focused stories based on the diaries would be the perfect way not only to share my project (without sharing too much in the way of lengthy excerpts) but also to practice my story-telling.

TLC: As more and more writers feel the pressure to join the great online community to blog, most don't know where to start. The most successful bloggers have compelling content, attractive looking blogs, bells and whistles, etc. . . . but how to get there? By planning and always keeping your content fresh and original. For those writers who would like to blog but don't want to share their personal opinions/thoughts, etc., flash narrative might be a great place to start. It's certainly an effective way to capture an audience without spending months of time submitting to literary journals (which you should also do, don't get me wrong), not to mention hone your craft.

Thanks to Lisa Rivero for sharing her blog with us today. I encourage you to check it out. I'm totally hooked.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


About the Blogger:

Lisa Rivero lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where she is a writer, teacher, indexer, and speaker. Her professional and writing interests include gifted education, home education, creativity, literature and the humanities, and the challenges faced by all families in this fast-paced and often perplexing 21st-century life. Her published books include Creative Home Schooling (Great Potential Press, 2002), The Homeschooling Option (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Teens (Great Potential Press, 2010), and The Smart Teens’ Guide to Living with Intensity (Great Potential Press, 2010). She is currently writing a novel based on the Great Plains diaries of Harriet E. Whitcher, and has written a middle grade historical novel about the life of homesteader and film maker Oscar Micheaux.


  1. Erin, I am thrilled to be featured as part of your Blogs That Work series! Your posts never fail to inspire and inform, and I value your steady and common sense perspective.

    I would strongly encourage anyone interested in flash narrative to give it a try. You can't really get it wrong, and it's a rewarding writing exercise.

    ~ Lisa

  2. Thanks for the post - I'm a regular follower of Lisa's blog too and LOVE it. The Hattie entries are definitely among my favorites. One thing I've done on my blog is to have guests do 100 word microfiction pieces w/me based on the same prompt. This has been not only fun, but has connected me w/other authors. Lisa and Christi Craig, who she mentions above have been guests - as have Alan Heathcock (author of VOLT) and Rebecca Rasmussen (author of The Bird Sisters). Thanks again for a great post.

  3. Lisa, it's great to feature you. I so love your blog for more reasons than the flash fiction pieces and have really enjoyed your take on "The Shallows".

    Pamela, thanks for your comment. Flash Fiction seems to be a great way to work on your craft in bite sized time. And you're right, what a great way to connect with other writers!


Leave your thoughts! Feel free to share with us your success stories or tips.