Category Archives: Uncategorized

My Story Episode 21: Video Games with Tyler McCombs and Stephen Nothum

English Society Logo

Have you ever thought that video games could really apply to your learning and writing skills? Well, whether you have or haven’t, Episode 17 of the BYU English Society’s podcast, My Story will show how two former English Teaching majors have made great discoveries in the world of video game research. Stephen and Tyler are both English teachers and love what they do. They spend their days teaching, and their evenings studying. However, their late night study hours are passed behind the screen of their favorite video games as they try to understand how to apply the creative story lines of video games to their English teaching. “Its for the kids” Stephen and Tyler remarked at the end of the interview, “we are trying to improve their educational possibilities.” Tune in to this week’s episode to see just how much we have to learn from video games, and how great the learning gains can be for students. Play the podcast embedded below, and check out all our episodes featuring stories about applying your English major by visiting the BYU English Society SoundCloud page.

Check out the interview HERE

My Story Episode 20: Harry Potter and Pedagogy



Episode 20 of the BYU English Society’s podcast, My Story, features Nicole Westenskow, Whitney Sommerville, Tyler McCombs, and Stephen Nothum. This dynamic team of English Teaching Majors came together a few years back as a unsettled group BYU students. After doing their time at the university they are all now teaching full time here in Utah, and have made themselves known to the world for their unique achievements while here at BYU. In this episode the groups shares with us their unique pathway to the English Teaching Major, and highlights their experience while conducting research on Harry Potter and Pedagogy (for those of you who don’t know, that means teaching methods). This episode is a must listen for all of those Harry Potter fans, English Teaching hopefuls, and anyone else who wants to know a whole lot about what it means to be an English Major. Play the podcast embedded below, and check out all of our awesome episodes featuring stories on how to apply your English by visiting the BYU English Society SoundCloud page.

Check out the interview HERE

My Story Episode: Carli Hanson, Editing Minor, Communications Minor, and Intern Galore

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Episode 18 of the BYU English Society’s podcast, My Story, features Carli Hanson, a first in family BYU student, passionate editing student looking forward to a future in Marketing. Carli shared with us experiences she has had as an intern for Nutrigold, Hope4Utah, and Mind the Gap Worldwide. Carli shared her appreciation for the English Major and the skills that it teaches. She also offered her best advice to those looking to move towards internship opportunities. Carli also shared some of the applications that came about from her experience in the English Major and Editing Minor. If you want to know all about getting in to internships play the podcast embedded above, and please check out all our episodes featuring stories of applying one’s English by visiting the BYU English Society SoundCloud page.

Carli’s Interview

Mind the Gap Worldwide:

Editing Minor:
Communications Minor:



Episode 17 of the BYU English Society’s podcast, My Story, features Kate Neish, a stay at home mom, English Major, and 2015 English Symposium participant. Kate graduated just a few months ago, and shortly thereafter welcomed her first son into the world. Kate overcame every obstacle as a pregnant student, and made it through with flying colors. Her background in English has given her a unique approach to motherhood as she likens great literature to her life. Kate has always been passionate about English, but starter her time at BYU as a Music Major. Eventually she found her way home and decided to switch to the English Major, and focus on the art of literature. Kate said that in choosing the English Major, “learning was [her] objective” and now her communication, reasoning, and analytical skills are deeper and more easily applied. Play the podcast embedded above, and please check out all our episodes featuring stories of applying one’s English by visiting the BYU English Society SoundCloud page.

Kate’s Interview

A Creative Writer’s Survival Guide to College (Part 2)

Ahh we’re back! I’m sure by now you are all well on your ways to becoming the next Stephen Kings and J. K. Rowlings, but in case you could still use a little nudge, welcome to part two! Jumping right in…

Jumping in Waimea Bay

#5 Make time to read in your genre.

Last week we talked about things that will help you hone your craft and write more often. But the life of a Creative Writer is also filled with reading. If you are studying in college, most of the required books will be classics.

There are two types of classics: the type you read for class, and the type you read to show off and sound smart. Yes I’m talking to you, person who claims to enjoy reading To the Lighthouse. Now sure, I love a Keatsian sonnet as much as the next fellow, but I’ve got to be honest; Faulkner, Joyce, Eliot, and Austen put me to sleep faster than a high-councilman’s Sunday sermon. Unfortunately, you probably need to get used to reading this stuff if you want to be an English major. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to be educated, and reading the classics can help your writing, but don’t forget to read what’s hot in your genre as well. Do yourself a favor and pick up the latest bestseller every once in a while. It will keep you up to date, and give you something to read that you can actually enjoy before SparkNotes-ing it.


#6 Don’t get discouraged.


Perhaps you’ve been reading Middlemarch or Ulysses and think to yourself: “Wow, how can I ever write something like that?!” (In my opinion, why would you ever want to write something like that? Please, do us all a favor). Regardless, I understand the weight and pressure of literature. We have been taught early on that there is a distinction between the cannon and the common. Who are we to even try to compete? Well frankly, yeah you’re right. Our first books will probably be worth less than the worthless paper they are printed on, but never underestimate the power of practice! All of these famous authors from Whitman to Rowling and Shakespeare to Shelley had to start somewhere. And so do we. Don’t view crumpled balls of paper as failures, but as foundational practices of budding creativity.


#7 Do things that will help you get a job.

working people

Recently Forbes listed Creative Writing as one of the top 17 most unemployed majors. Don’t panic, don’t panic… and get used to eating Top-Ramen. Anyway, that is why it’s critical to start networking now. Try to apply for an internship that has a media or editing position open, ideally at a publishing company or such. You could also try to get a part time job with a news group or online magazines. Even though some of these you might have to work without pay, just remember a little proactivity and networking now can mean the difference between having a job or not when you graduate. Also, don’t end your ambitions with the local opportunities, there are also study-abroads and internships overseas that you could apply for. The Wordsworth Trust is one example.


#8 Remember, you have an amazing major.

do the math

As Percy Bysshe Shelley once penned: “poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” How cool is that. From film to fantasy and science fiction, writing and writers aren’t going anywhere. Sure it might be more difficult now than ever, but there are also more opportunities than ever. When you start to lose sight of that vision, pick up one of your favorite books and imagine what would happen if that author had given up before he finished. Yes, the road we are called to walk is filled with unseen abysses, dead ends, and drop-offs, but as Thomas Paine wrote: “the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” Keep writing friends and the world will eventually sing with the words you wrote.


That concludes my survival tips, but join me next time when I’ll talk about all my favorite things in writing!

–Paul Guajardo

A Creative Writer’s Survival Guide to College

It’s 1 a.m. and your eyes are about as droopy as the leftover spaghetti you had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Your computer screen displays exam reviews for amyloplasts, bifacial cambiums, and columella cells, but you can’t even remember what a trichinae is or what it has to do with botany. You long for sleep and after running out of the study comfort food you keep on hand; you decide to just take a little nap.

The next day is full of classes and deadlines, and, if you are taking English, a few papers for good measure. There’s that research project you should be working on, homework that you forgot is due tonight, a friend who tries to get you to go out, and myriad other tasks that keep piling up higher than the trash can in your dorm. (Which reminds me I should really take that out some time… Ah maybe next week!)

Falling Asleep During Class

Essentially this is college. Gone are the days when you could write for hours uninterrupted, had food magically appear in the family fridge, and your high school homework was a joke. There are real commitments now, and things you used to enjoy doing are now thrown in among the metaphorical pile of dirty laundry.

So how do you make time for the things you love? Unless you are majoring in creative writing, (which you can’t here at BYU) you’ll be pulled a hundred different ways during the day, but lets be honest that novel isn’t gonna write itself.

What you have before you in this Survival Guide are my years (weeks) of expert experience in this field (this is my first semester too). This guide has been heavily researched (I wrote it at 2 a.m. last night) and is guaranteed (no refunds though) to make your creative writing life 100x better (give or take two zeros).


#1 Take a Creative Writing Class, and if You Can’t, Join a Club or Literary Magazine.


School is full of commitments. It tries to take your time, energy, sleep, friends, fun, family, country, life… *ahem*. Granted, for most of your first two years your classes will be on archaic subjects and obscure information you’ll never actually use in real life *Cough* microbiology *Cough* math. Hey we’re English majors not engineers, so I can say that! The easiest was to make sure you have time to write is to make it one of your classes. There’s no getting out of it then, you’ll really have to commit. Some of my best short stories were written for a CW class the night before a deadline.
Still if you can’t fit that into your schedule, you should really consider joining a CW club. These are great. No deadlines, nice peers, interesting group discussions, and best of all, FREE* FOOD!

#2 Find Your Routine.


How is it that I can still find time to binge watch Doctor Who, but can’t write a page of fiction or poetry? Well probably because I don’t have this whole college thing figured out yet, but more importantly, because I haven’t allocated my time correctly. If you can watch Youtube, stalk that cute person you think is in your ward on Facebook, or Netfilx and… eat popcorn, you can definitely find time to write. It’s all about getting in a habit and remembering what matters most. For some people that time might be in the middle of the night, others in the morning, me personally I always have the most poetic angst when that super gorgeous girl rejects me. Ha. Haha. Those aren’t tears; they’re just a lot of eye sweat. Jokes on her though, I have a super good limerick after that.

#3 Or, Keep a Regular Journal


Who says journal entries can’t count as creative writing? Journaling can be good for your children, handwriting, sanity, and cholesterol. True story. But seriously, when adventure turns up in your own life, be sure to record it instead of ignore it! Imagine what would have happened if Bilbo and Frodo hadn’t recorded their experiences! Why we would be out of four great books and, and 6… well there would be six less movies. Not sure if that is a good or bad thing.

#4 Eavesdrop°


So you’re on your way to that super boring history class, when you over hear the most bizarre conversation happening to your left. Most respectable people would tell you to mind your own business and ignore it, but we’re creative writers. We sold all our respect when we took a vow of poverty with our career path. Listen in, write it down, and use it in a story. I give you permission too. Sometimes you’ll come across unique gems, for example, I was walking in the JFSB when I heard someone say into a phone; “I’m not going to torture it, it’s just a snail!!” Beautiful. Simply beautiful. I have no idea what in the Krusty Krab it was about, but still, that line will show up in one of my stories.

Join me next time for part two!

-Paul Guajardo


*I am not to be held accountable if your writing group is lame and does not provide vitals. But really if they don’t I would go to a different group. Just sayin’…
°Remember, I am not responsible, legally or otherwise, for any criminal charges of stalking, creeping, or encroaching upon peoples privacy. (But lets be honest the government already does it all the time.)