Breakthrough Writing

My new short story collection, The Talker, was released by Torrey House Press in Spring 2017. You can read an excerpt from the story Up Near Pasco on this site. My novel, 29, was released August 12, 2014. Booklist and Publishers Weekly loved it.  Arizona Daily Sun interview by Diandra Markgraf  Please buy The Talker and 29 at an indie bookstore.  Now, write YOUR stories. Join us for an intensive writing workshop in Markleeville, California.

I honor story. I honor the importance of craft. I imagine that if you have found your way to Breakthrough Writing, you are discouraged or dissatisfied with how you honor your story, your craft – or both. Together, we can bring you home to your writing. You’ll find no gimmicks here, no cute buzz words, no guarantees. You will find support in rediscovering the ancient art of storytelling, and help with the craft of bringing your stories into their finest shape.

I’ve been mentoring writers one-on-one for the last twenty-five years, working with fiction, non-fiction, creative non-fiction and memoir. I teach writing at universities and colleges, for writing conferences and book festivals and in private workshops and circles.

I bring to my students not just thirty years of writing personally and professionally, but a solid grounding in the deeper traps and fears that stop us from our creativity. I worked as a counselor for fifteen years, but more importantly I live with an addictive personality and a penchant for obsession – both challenges have hurt my writing, served it and taught me much. I also raised three children by myself. My professional writing had to wait. I doubt there is much of what a writer goes through to get themselves firmly in their writing chair that I haven’t felt.

Mary Sojourner, writing mentor and instructorI’ve written seven nationally published books, ten years of NPR commentaries, hundreds of magazine articles and columns, filled dozens of journals with words – and spent years not writing. Those droughts felt like not being fully alive. I know that something crucial is missing.

If you’ve come here because you know there is something missing in your life, it may be finding the time to write. Many of us have taken on demanding careers, demanding partners, demanding anything so that we’ll be too busy to write. And we would rather talk about writing, read books about how to write, go to therapy to unblock our writing, listen to writers tell us how to write, than sit down and write. You can begin here and now to break that cycle.

A prompt: We are in relationship with our writing as we are in relationship with our lives. Grab a pen or put your hands on the computer keys and write for ten solid minutes from that prompt – no stopping. If what you discover brings you closer to your writing, contact me and we will take you further into your work. To receive free weekly writing tips, craft exercises and prompts, subscribe to Breakthrough Writing.

Note: My deepest thanks to Rick Hardman for the photograph that invited you in. See more of Rick at:


On Writing

Up Near Pasco

It happened up near Pasco, Washington. My aunt calls from Burns to tell me. “Jinella, I got some sad news. Kyrin laid himself down on the railroad tracks up near Pasco and got hit. Far as the cops could tell, he had his music plugged in his ears, you know how the kids do…and his… … more >>>

The Map of How to Write

The Map of How to Write

I FINISH MY READING at a Southwestern Writers’ Conference. I have spoken about crippling pain from a hiking fall and seeing a dust cloud from the Gobi Desert turn the sun moon-silver over the Black Rock, and how a volcanic out-cropping seen against sunset can become figures from a Javanese shadow play. A woman in… … more >>>

Recent Postings

Breakthrough Writing for June 28, 2022

Breakthrough from the Past: First you listen. Then you write out the clues.  “What kinds of things do you write?” asked Martha…          ”I’m not exactly a writer,” Sam corrected her.  “I’m a listener.  I’m listening for clues about day-to-day life on the planet.” “But do you write things down?” asked Jessie. “Of course,” said… … more >>>

Breakthroughwriting: week of 5/23/2022: Thank you, James Carpenter

I recently invited you, my readers, to send in your takes on breaking through into your writing. James Carpenter responded. While Japan is known, in part, for its shrines and temples, these ancient places are emblematic of only one aspect of the culture; others can be gleaned from how the Japanese buy and sell land. If… … more >>>

Subscribe to My Blog

Copyright©2019. All Rights Reserved. The content of this writing services website is exclusively owned by Mary Sojourner (Flagstaff, Arizona). Duplication and usage of all literary writing, short stories, writing tips, writing workshops coursework, and mentoring instruction is prohibited without direct permission from the author and writing teacher.

Writing & Literary Website Designed by Reliable Web Designs.