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Thursday, April 5, 2018


Photo Courtesy, and
use here does not imply
their endorsement of me/my work.
So I haven't written much lately -- guess what? Neither has Hemingway.

I have so many things I want to tell you. Unfortunately, they are more in limbo than out.

I pretended I had a comfort zone and stepped outside of it last year. Actually, the last 2-5 years. So 2018 has me returning to a hidey-hole of sorts, allowing certain entrepreneurial fields to go fallow while working on some more creative endeavors of a personal nature.

I am also open to seeing what comes, especially of some opportunities I have had to support the artistic and entrepreneurial endeavors of others in this harrowing political time.

I do believe there is a moral crisis going on -- and I believe that there is a huge cavern between what I perceive as morals and what my opposition views as morals. I have morals which can easily be understood by a five year old and don't make my teenager look at me like I have two heads. Collectively, my spouse, son, and I have started looking at our opposition that way -- one head they talk from while the other is shoved firmly up their ass.

Make no mistake. I support immigrants, not walls. Marijuana, not big Pharma. People, not corporations. Soldiers, not guns/weapons/special interest groups with government contracts.

I've been more vocal on social media than personally, though I think anyone reading my blog would be well aware of my political leanings. Except it really isn't political anymore. Not in my mind.

I'm updating my website again today. Some things are frustrating me. One was that the blog wasn't loading. So while I was figuring that out, I wrote this. Sure hope you enjoyed it. And I have some old stuff making a comeback here from Wikinut. So you have that to look forward to. Or not.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Crawl. Stand. Walk. Run.

Many of my clients must have been told by previous writing teachers that their characters were flat.

I say they must have, because what I read, especially from my young writers, is adult characters who absolutely can't make up their minds.

And I know the students want to push back when I tell them to make decisions about their characters.

Because they're characters.

Totally made up.

Their motivations don't matter.

Like when an adult tells a child to clean a room. What is the point other than exerting authority?

From the young person's perspective, I get it. Honestly.

Writers are creating characters. Writers have the challenge of creating arbitrary characters to move their plots forward. Those plots, and the characters that drive those plots, are as varied as infinite numbers. But those reasons must exist in relation to the plot of the story.

And (MOST) writers must learn to create and develop characters the same way they learned to run.

Readers may not want flat characters, but writers need to create simple characters consistently before they can build complex characters that still make sense to readers. And if readers are reading the work of new writers, I hope they will understand and encourage writers at each step of the way. This includes encouraging young people to read LOTS, reading young writers' work and providing constructive criticism (emphasis on the constructive, not so much the criticism). And if those things aren't in a reader's wheelhouse, help connect the young writer with someone who will read their work and help them be better. 


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Illustrator Shout Out: Krissy Whiski

The FABULOUS surreal Bohemian artist Krissy Whiski is going to collaborate with me on a children's book I wrote the text for in October. I will share that story with you later. But today, I want to plug the artist who is bound and determine to make me cry, balter, and laugh all at the same time.

So this is some of my favorite Whiski art, and I hope you will love it, share it, and support her. Buy some art she's already created so she has room for more art and money for more canvas and paint!!

This one is StarChild. The version I prefer has puzzle pieces painted into the corner, which reminds me of Josephine Wall. I told Krissy I want this print as a puzzle. 

This is Sherbert Unicorn. I love how the ice cream cone makes the horn. It's so effortless.

 I love the ice cream cone babies. I have the limited edition stickers on my fridge (and you don't). But you can get the chocolate ice cream baby on a Tshirt. I love baby TRex, and will probably buy it when it is wearable. Krissy understands inclusivity, and carries sizes up to 3XL!

And I know a lot of people love David Bowie, but the way Krissy captures him is just fantastic.
To my knowledge, these aren't for sale yet, but they will be. 

Whisky also made a special commission "Angry Birds" for me. If I haven't already shared it, I will in another post. You can't buy it -- it belongs to me!  So no use making you all jealous.

OK. That's it!!  That's my plug!!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Hello Turkey Trot Participants!!!

If you participated in the annual Turkey Trot, then you are so much braver, more resilient, more energetic (etc) than me. 

I saw you on Facebook and your energy wore me out. 

But I am so proud of you for doing something that you enjoyed.

Event organizers said there would be 5,000 of you out there on Thanksgiving day. I said "NAH."

I was wrong. I really think there were 5,000 of you out there!!

In 1,000 of the participant treat bags, there was information about my classes and workshops on a small full color flyer (1/3 a full size sheet of printer paper). 

Which means 4,000 of you did not get that flyer. 

And, as sometimes happens, some information on that flyer is missing or out of date. In our digital age, some things DO change fast!!

So let me just say -- YES!!  I help young people (and age is relative) to write their own books, publish them, and even sell them on Amazon.

What I do is more about teaching students to finish what they start, to see things through, to create goals and achieve them, and to have something to show for all that hard work. I am not the judge or gatekeeper of creative vision (there are a few things that fall under the "bullying/abuse" category that I won't help get published. If at all possible, I will steer authors in a better creative direction).  Instead, I remove the magic curtain and show how it gets done.

Also you may have heard that I sometimes use writing classes to teach and promote literacy. All true!!  Students know the story they want to tell, and recognize their own words and speech patterns in print. This allows them to pick up reading skills faster than reading something that doesn't interest them. So don't think that struggles with reading would prevent your child from being successful. I'm not about selling your young person short!

One of the ways I keep my classes affordable is by borrowing space whenever possible. So I like to cluster a group of students around a specific day and time, and then find a venue that will accommodate us. So maybe you're in Lancaster or Hanover and want a class there instead of York? Or you have a group of Girl Scouts that meets on Wednesday nights? Let me know and I will do my best to accommodate you!

I prefer to teach each class one day a week for four to six weeks rather than cram years of effort and research into a single class or a single week. Think about it -- would you expect your child to master a piano concerto or a roundoff back handspring in a day? But writers are often at different stages. Some know how to craft a story and are only interested in technical stuff. Others only write for themselves and have no interest in sharing their work with the world. So I offer both experiences whenever possible.

Whether or not one of my flyers was in your bag, stay up-to-date on the latest class information by LIKING the Creative Writing and Publishing Workshop Page on Facebook. To find out about specific classes, send me a Private Message or email me. You can even PM/email your name and number and I will call you on the phone to talk about what you want or need and how I can help. If cost is a problem, let me know that, too. I have a few very generous anonymous donors who will sponsor a young person's creative outlet. 

If you are interested in sponsoring a student now or in the future, please reach out to me as well. Authors who came to my public school when I was a child inspired me to write and inspire others. I want that legacy to carry on!!

Schedule your child for a month of creative writing (8 hours, 4 sessions, 2 hours per session)!  

Or take it one class at a time. 90 minute classes are $20 each, and include all supplies.  

Monday, November 13, 2017

True Economic Reform Comes From ... Wait for it...

Political Post -- sort of.

I saw the GOP tax plan. I've been seeing it. It's terrible for the economy. Vote them out. Flip the House (and Senate). Past damn time!!
In the meantime, we need to gather enough people of means who haven't lost compassion and good common sense to pay fair wages to all in their employ and to pressure those around them to do the same.
If every person making it big in the entertainment industry insisted on paying top dollar for every stitch of clothing they wore, every hotel they stayed at, every meal they ate, every bodyguard that protected them, every engineer that gave them great light and sound (etc), how many more people could afford $200 show tickets on a monthly basis?
When we put pressure on WalMart (and I know the work there is not done), Target and other retailers followed suit (or pointed out that they were ahead of the game) in employee treatment. The more we can extend this conversation to anyone getting rich on the backs of others, the less we have to worry about poor people being further crippled by those in power, the more leverage people down the ladder have to walk out on unfair working conditions, and overall the better for our economy.

Phyl Campbell is the author of I'm Not Writing a Book Today, the so-called procrastination guide for writers and other dreamers, and a number of other books in various genres (available on Amazon). Books she has published for young authors can be found on her website. They are also available on Amazon under their own authors and titles. Campbell lives and teaches in York County, PA.

Monday, October 23, 2017

NANO is coming!! NANO is coming!!

I am amazed each year by the number of would- be and up-and-coming writers who still don't know about NANO (NaNoWriMo) or National Novel Writing Month.  With all the writers of certain experience either moaning its approach or being excited, how can anyone else miss it? It's something like all writerly posts were replaced with cat pictures on some people's social media accounts. Or some people just live under a rock.

But who am I to judge?

My challenge for you writers this week is to shoot a short video of yourselves (FB live or YouTube upload or FB upload). Promote yourself and your books, and tell your fans and fellow writers whether you are participating in NANO, participating as a REBEL, or NOT participating. And I'd love it if you said why, but I suppose I'll understand if you don't share your reason.

I've done two videos so far, but my laptop ate them. So I'll go FB LIVE later to complete my own challenge. (I'm a REBEL ALL THE WAY, my friends!!)

So whether you're writing or procrastinating, thanks for reading, and have a great end to October. Enjoy Halloween, if you do, and we'll talk again soon!

Phyl Campbell is the author of I'm Not Writing a Book Today, the so-called procrastination guide for writers and other dreamers, and a number of other books in various genres (available on Amazon). Books she has published for young authors can be found on her website. They are also available on Amazon under their own authors and titles. Campbell lives and teaches in York County, PA.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Reading Out Loud

I am an emcee for one open mic and a "regular" for another open mic, both in York.

I enjoy seeing the talents of many different individuals.

I also know that some of my prose readers get nervous joining the poets, magicians, comedians, and musicians on the stage.

But there is an audience for you, my prose readers.

And reading out loud as a prose author is so very important to author promotion. Even if you don't have a book for sale now, if you are looking at public sharing of your work, you are self-promoting. So here are some pointers to putting best pieces (and self) forward.

#know your time limit.
Do speakers get 2 minutes? 7? 20? Be familiar with the material you intend to share. You don't have to have it memorized, but have the sections selected in advance.

#you don't have to start at page one.
And it's better if you don't. Unless you are going to read the entire book, pick 2-3 compelling sections (depending on time limit) and practice them until you can look up from the page.

#look up
Do not hide behind your prose. Know your piece well enough that you can look up and connect with the listener. People WILL put their phones down and listen to you if you make and keep eye contact with them. The payoff is worth it.

#showcase dialogue
Of course I am going to say this. I prefer dialogue to monologue to descriptions of settings. But the only monologuing that I find people listening to is comedic. If your prose is not comedic, go for the drama.

#be selective
Some things read well and some things are spoken well. While some people could read us the phone book, other people are better off with more dynamic material. When giving a reading, you don't have to read every dialogue tag (especially if you differentiate voices and use dynamics). You don't have to say anything that you can reflect in your tone. While there is a difference between reading a story and telling a story, people would rather be told a story than read to.

#your best is not for everyone
And your best today may not be your best tomorrow. Keep getting out there, keep practicing out loud and keep writing. Sometimes the words you intend to share will miss their mark. But if you quit there, you won't find the words that you need to satisfy your desire to have written in the first place.

There is an exception to every rule, even (if not especially) when I am giving advice.

Join me at the next Open Mic:
  • November 9, 7-9 p.m. – GUSA by Victoria at 252 W Philadelphia St, York, PA (2nd Thursday each month), for walk-in spoken word and music performances
  • November (Saturday TBA), 12-4 p.m. – Rustic Cup Coffee Shop at 50 W. Maple Street, East Prospect, PA, for walk-in comedy, music, spoken word and magic performances, and more
I, Phyl Campbell, am a creative writing instructor and author in my own write (I mean right!) I am  creator and coordinator of the Make-a-Book classes for young authors held at GUSA by Victoria and Rustic Cup. Author of books such as A Muse Meant and I’m Not Writing a Book Today, available on and at i-ron-ic coffee shop (upstairs) in York City, or on Facebook to learn more about my writing – and how you can create a children’s book or chapter book yourself!
you can find me at