New writing group site! And other writing news…

This week, my writing group, Just Write Chicago, launched our website.  In the past six years, we’ve grown from a small  group to a city-wide group of over two thousand members.  This March, Michael Mills and I will celebrate three years of running the south side chapter.

My favorite part about having a regular writing group is the support and consistency it brings to my life.  There have been many nights when I’ve arrived at a meet up feeling frustrated and stuck and the act of sitting down and writing, then talking with other writers made me leave feeling uplifted.  If you are interested in  starting your own writing group, check out my post on the subject.

In other writing news…

This past January, I took Mary Robinette Kowal’s Short Story Intensive workshop.  It  was one of the most useful writing courses I’ve taken to date.  I particularly enjoyed her approach to critique, which she details in this video.  Since taking her class, I’ve been using her exercises around the MICE quotient to outline a plot for my short stories.  For me, fiction ideas start as images or concepts, rather than as plot points.  I struggle with transferring the image into a plot structure, and using the idea of MICE and is helping me think through plot and structure.


My friend Joy and I finally started the Quaker fashion blog we’ve been talking about for three years. As far as I know, it is the only Quaker fashion blog on the web–or in existence, ever.  Come for the William Penn jokes, stay for the queries about red lipstick, grandpa ties, and showing up for racial justice.


Amelia’s 2015 Best of Prospect Research List!


Now is the time when we are flooded with listicles from all major media outlets about the past year .  I rather enjoy those, particularly the weird data round-ups.  So, I propose we share our own prospect research highlights of 2015!

Here are some of the items that rocked my research cubicle in 2015:

  1. New data resource (US): Donor Search!  My office just started to use it for proactive prospecting and it has been very useful so far.  Stay tuned!
  2. New data resource (international):  London City Data Store  Free data about London!
  3. Professional development event: APRA in NOLA
  4. Professional development presentation:  Tie between Preeti Gill and Jen Filla‘s presentation on female philanthropists and Kenny Tavares and Elizabeth Roma’s (Helen Brown Group)  podcast on family offices.
  5. Major news article: The Financial Timesseries on London housing prices.  This series led me to reexamine how my team rates London prospects.
  6. Academic article: Mesch, Debra, Mark Ottoni-Wilhelm, Una Osili, Xiao Han, Andrea Pactor, “Women Give 2015,” Indiana University Lilly School of Philanthopy. November, 11, 2015. IUPUIScholarWorks Repository.
  7. Tweets: I agree with the adage that a good tweet does one of the three e’s i.e. engage, entertain, or educate.  Here are my 2015 favorites in each category:
    1. Educate: Sabine Schuller’s tweet about the international $1M gift report.
    2. Entertain: Catherine Cefalu’s thoughts on her pending thesis (good luck!)
    3. Engage: Helen Brown’s conversation about prospect researchers’ wild-eyed dreams.
  8. Prospect Research Humor:  This post by Fundraiser Grrl.
  9. Book: Preeti Gill’s What About Women? Prospect Development from a Female Perspective
  10. Office Technology:  Slack.  My office switched from Gchat to Slack this year, and I’ve liked all of the ways we’ve been able to customize it.