Mindful Journaling Helps Process 2020

By Linda Donaldson

Jude Walsh, author and creativity coach, gave a PSB Writing Center Zoom workshop on “Journaling the Pandemic and Its Aftermath” on Tuesday, June 1st that showcased both her writing and coaching skills. Jude guided us through strategies to go beyond simply noting current events, to processing the resulting emotions and challenges.

To counter the overwhelming stress that creates mental and physical symptoms, mindful journaling can calm and clear the mind, release pent up feelings and negative thoughts, rather than simply recording experiences. Continue reading “Mindful Journaling Helps Process 2020”

May Writers Guild Meeting Recap

By Linda Donaldson

Our May 16th Guild Zoom meeting featured nine diverse selections.

Karen Edwards wrote of differing ways of coping with grief on Mother’s Day. Readers praised her descriptions and insights. Many said it reflected their own experiences.

His daydream’s conscription of reality gives the selection from David Werrett special poignancy, emphasizing the compelling desire in us to hold on to good, happy memories.

Barbara Seras gave us the beginning of a longer story about an engaging young girl whose family has newly moved and are visited by local ladies. The father’s exchange about religion with these women made readers eager to hear more of this family’s experiences with faith.

The latest version of her cat adoption story by Jane Bleam was interspersed with the cat’s comments. The cat’s reactions intrigued the readers who encouraged Jane to write the whole story from Kitty-Kitty’s point of view.

Joan Mariotti sparked lots of comments with her story’s unusual title The Ziggelboim. The sweet and imaginative story about finding one’s purpose was unanimously lauded as a sure-to-be successful children’s book.

Introducing a newly minted couple as characters, John McCabe wove a long distance romantic story by telling it from both points of view. We all wanted a different ending, so John satisfied us later that day with a revised and less unresolved conclusion.

Melissa Triol painted a severe scene of WWI battleground trench warfare. Then she followed it with a graphic depiction of the treatment of a German man by a group of British men after the war. Readers marveled at the realistic portrayal from the same author that wrote of the elegant patrician Eglantine.

We missed Megan Monforte at our meeting, but reading her long excerpt was a privilege. The excruciating loss of dignity the title character experiences, as she attempts to navigate life after brain surgery, is powerfully written. I’m sure we all are eagerly awaiting the rest of this woman’s journey.

Daphne Freise was also unable to attend, but her memoir excerpt was electrifying. After describing her father Ivan Fail’s role as a prison guard, she introduces one of the most frightening villains to inhabit the prison system as his antagonist. Talk about suspense!

Be sure to mark your calendar for our June 20th Zoom meeting of the Writers Guild from 1-3pm. Send your files to lindadonaldson@verizon.net  by June 10th and remember to add your email address for comments.

Bringing Your Middle Grade Characters to Life

A PSB Writing Center Zoom Webinar with Karen Pokras
 Tuesday, August 17 from 1pm to 2:30 pm 

Every story comes down to your main character. This webinar will cover developing the middle grade character for readers up to age 13 in a context of more than just writing dialogue and narrative. It encompasses idea generation, finding your character’s voice, using character to develop plot, writing dialogue and narrative, and developing relationships between sub-characters. Brainstorming exercises will be part of this class.

$25 registration fee. To register or for more information, please contact Cindy Louden at 267-421-6203 or clouden@pearlsbuck.org.


Karen Pokras is a daisy lover, cat wrangler, and occasional baker. She has been writing for children for over ten years, winning several indie literary awards for her middle grade works.

Karen has appeared numerous times as a panel speaker for Philadelphia Stories’ annual Push to Publish conference on topics related to marketing and writing for children and has spoken at various other workshops for children and writers in the Philadelphia area. Karen is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is a writing contest judge at NYC Midnight.

Karen’s newest middle grade story, The Backyard Secrets of Danny Wexler (Lerner/Kar-Ben) hits the shelves in November. For more information, visit karenpokras.com.

Writing to Heal with John DeDakis

Writing to Heal with John DeDakis
Pearl S. Buck Writing Center Zoom webinar
Monday, July 12, from 7 to 9 p.m.

All of us have — or will — experience the loss of a loved one.  In my case, in addition to the expected deaths of grandparents and parents, I’ve witnessed a car-train collision that killed three people, lost my sister to suicide, and endured the death of my youngest son because of an accidental heroin overdose.

Even though death is a part of life, it need not be crippling or debilitating. In this session, we’ll look at strategies — including journaling and writing — to help you move forward, through, and beyond the pain and into a future that can once again be filled with hope — and even joy.

$50 registration fee (A Zoom link will be sent to registrants prior to webinar.)

To register or for more information, please contact Cindy Louden at 267-421-6203 or clouden@pearlsbuck.org.


Writing coach, and award-winning author, John DeDakis is a former CNN Senior Copy Editor for the Emmy and Peabody-Award winning news program “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.

He is the author of four mystery/suspense novels — Fast Track, Bluff, Troubled Water, and Bullet in the Chamber. The books provide a behind-the-scenes look at real-world journalism.

In addition to book signings and readings, DeDakis travels nationally to speak on the topic “From Journalist to Novelist: (Or How I Learned to Start Making it Up).”

DeDakis can serve as a one-on-one writing coach, leader of a day-long workshop for aspiring writers, or as editor of book-length manuscripts. Contact him through www.johndedakis.com.

Some Thoughts on Revenge

By Linda Donaldson

Your editors have chosen “Revenge – Sought or Untaken” as the theme for the Summer 2021 issue of our Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal. It is a rich topic that sparked a little etymological research for me.

“Revenge” has many evocative synonyms such as vendetta, payback, karma, or comeuppance. It has been described as sweet or a dish best served cold. Colorful phrases such as even the score or out of spite come to mind. Plus, a new one for me, revengineering, the act of orchestrating a revenge plot! Continue reading “Some Thoughts on Revenge”

April Guild Meeting Discussion Featured Seven Selections

By Linda Donaldson

As members joined our Zoom meeting this past Sunday, several discussed the previous day’s PSB webinar about World Building by Donna Galanti.

Bob McCrillis shared that he uses Excel spreadsheets to sort scenes, plot arcs and characters to organize his work in progress. Other methods shared were cutting up, rearranging and taping segments of a manuscript, or laying out pages of sections on a large table.

Our first story, “Vincent” by Joan Mariotti, started with the frightening discovery of a body. Then we were taken back in time to the killer and his victim meeting in college for the first time. Joan really paints her characters vividly and has a great ear for dialogue. Readers noted flashbacks call for careful tense editing.

Continue reading “April Guild Meeting Discussion Featured Seven Selections”

Donna Galanti Reveals How to Get Your Manuscript Past “The Gatekeeper”

You’ve written a book, honed an “elevator pitch” and snagged an interested agent or publisher. After you submit your manuscript, you are told it is not publishable in its current state. The very first “reader” has rejected it. What is a first book’s most common flaw? It is probably not what you think.

Grammar, plot, character development? How about a lack of World Building.

Continue reading “Donna Galanti Reveals How to Get Your Manuscript Past “The Gatekeeper””

Pamela Varkony Empowers Authors

By Linda Donaldson

The PSB Writing Center’s Zoom webinar by Pamela Varkony “Building Your Audience and Your Platform” last Tuesday was an eye-opening rundown on what the modern-day publishing timeline looks like.

Most budding authors imagine finding an agent, having a book publisher edit their manuscript and set up publicity tours and book signings – not to mention offer a big advance. Dream on!

Maybe in the good old days, when myriad publishers competed for the next best seller, would they shepherd their authors through the process. Now hardback book publishing is dominated by only a handful of houses which still handle the uber-famous writers with a proven money-making track record.

Nowadays, if you are unknown and want to market yourself and sell your books, you need to get an early start. That’s just what Pamela Varkony, author, freelance columnist and commentator shared in her recent webinar. Warm and engaging, Pam told it “like it is” for our attendees. Continue reading “Pamela Varkony Empowers Authors”

Journaling the Pandemic and Its Aftermath

Pearl S. Buck Writing Center Zoom Class
“Journaling the Pandemic and Its Aftermath”
With Jude Walsh
Tuesday, June 1st, 1 to 2:30 p.m.

Centered around the Covid-19 pandemic and the ‘new normal’ soon to come, this session will offer journaling strategies to go beyond simple noting of current events to processing the resulting emotions and challenges. Strategies include: lists, dialogues, letter writing, altered perspective and prompts. Attendees will write in response to a few of the techniques, and a list of resources and additional prompts will be provided for future use. $25 registration fee required.

JudeJude Walsh writes memoir, personal essay, poetry and fiction. Her work has been published in numerous literary magazines and anthologies, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” Before retiring and beginning her writing career, she taught for 33 years, serving students from the preschool to the doctoral level. She is the author of Post-Divorce Bliss: Ending Us and Finding Me (Morgan James Press), a 2020 Indie Excellence Awards Winner and 2020 International Book Awards Finalist. More information is at her website www.secondbloomcoaching.com

We have a 2-step Registration Process for ALL Pearl S. Buck Writing Center Zoom Classes.

1) Please send your Email & your Home/Cell Phone to Cynthia L. Louden, Chair of PSB Writing Center:  clouden@pearlsbuck.org  or call 267-421-6203

2) When she receives that information, Cindy will forward it to our PSB Volunteer Association President, Nancy McElwee, who will call you asking for your credit card information to process and return a receipt.

Writers Guild & Webinar News

By Linda Donaldson

We welcomed a dozen members and our editors to our March 21st Writers Guild Zoom meeting. It was heartwarming to “see” each other for the first time in months. We had six writers’ selections to discuss.

First, a short story by John McCabe, “Virus Days with a Six-Year-Old” about the sweet interaction between generations. Some suggested that John’s initial paragraphs, that “set the stage” of the time and circumstances, should not be at the beginning. Everyone enjoyed the mystery of the toothpaste.

Next came a poignant, very frank expression of grief and coping, “A Place of In-Between” by David Werrett. Members all had a deep and emotional reaction to the raw sense of loss that David expressed. We agreed that the story might be a good one to share with family or friends experiencing loss. Continue reading “Writers Guild & Webinar News”