Rules for Writing

By Bob McCrillis

Elmore Leonard, as we all know, is fabulously popular in the crime genre. What I didn’t know was that his work is popular with literary people – the kind who actually have a shot a Pulitzer. Understand, I don’t personally know any of those writers, but read it in the New Yorker.

I was also unaware of his very cold-eyed approach to the business of writing for publication. When he left advertising to write novels in the early Fifties, he found that Westerns were popular so he wrote Westerns. When Westerns dropped out of favor, he switched to Crime.

A writer like this should be my hero, right? Work intended for publication is a product. It needs to be within a recognizable genre. Then I found his Ten Rules for Good Writing.

My work breaks every one – I’m doomed! Continue reading “Rules for Writing”

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Next Literary Journal Theme is Transformation

By Anne K. Kaler

The theme which the editors chose for the Fall 2018 issue of the Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal is that of Transformation.

The word itself suggests a two-part theme of before-and-after, then-and-now, which fit into the progression of any story, indeed, of any life itself. We are all transforming ourselves daily in small increments, often without looking back to see how each tiny decision led to the person we are today. Yes, it is a scary process, that one of making judgments on our present-day selves.

However, take a good look at the effects of recognizing those important points in our life’s path where, by chance or choice, we changed our “form” into something bigger than its former self. What changes us – praise, criticism, an overheard comment, an accident, a calling, a place, a person? “When I realized I was in love with you.” “You always do that to me!” “I’m tired of the rat race.”  “When will I have true freedom?” “I can’t be that person you want any more.”

All these transformative prompts should produce stories from each of us.  Certainly Pearl Buck herself struggled in trying to identify the person her parents wanted her to be, her husband wanted her to be, her children wanted her to be.  What seemed to transform her most as a writer was the need to produce works that would both satisfy her family’s need for money and her inner need to save children from loneliness and suffering.

We hope that this short explanation will help you identify the transformations in your own lives, your own writings, and your own beings.

The deadline for our Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal’s Fall 2018 issue is October 31, 2018. Click here for a link to the Submission Guidelines.

Writers Guild Meeting Notes

Sunday, July 15 was not just another day.

Once again, the writers of Pearl Buck Writing Center gathered to share, compare and contribute in an exchange of thoughts seldom exhibited in today’s atmospheric angling over petty tiffs.

Aspiring novelists and future masters of the short story seem to magically rise above the tawdry, and so, that Sunday was no exception.

A voice reads. The group listens. Near magic in the air, but also a kind suggestion offered now and then. A visitor would have felt amazed at the exchange of constructive thoughts, never sardonic or dubious comments, were the rule of the day.

The Writers Guild members come as one each month in surroundings of bucolic nature, and perhaps that lends to the success of the session, and  its excitement for intonation, rhyme, the written, yet heard voice, always rising above mere grammar and tired technicality.

We listened as Jane Bleam told of her struggles as a new widow dealing with a rebellious child – balancing hard choices with real love. Suggestions encouraged more dialogue and clarification of the timeline.

The continuing saga of Melissa Triol’s heroine was praised for its pacing and dialogue. Listeners wanted more inclusion of setting in the scene.

On the light side, David Werrett shared a laugh-out-loud recollection of his attempts at flying in his school playground. Commenters wanted to see in print the “sounds” he used to accompany his reading of the adventure.

Jennifer Klepsch brought a chapter that showcased her feisty young heroine Jesse’s experience at an archery range, competing with her more accomplished parents. Several listeners loved Jesse’s self-reliant, yet imaginative personality.

If you are a writer, you missed much. But we missed more. We missed you.

Our next session is August 19th at 1 pm. Try to be there!

Specialization: How Much Is Too Much?

By Bob McCrillis

In a wide-ranging conversation with two other writers for whom I have great admiration, I made the comment that “Most of my stories are set in the turmoil of the Sixties and Seventies. It was a period of great social upheaval, which affected each of us differently. We didn’t all go to Woodstock – regardless of what some would have you believe.”

Both of my friends argued that I was crimping my ability as a writer. Worse, I might be limiting the marketability of my books. The sweeping social changes of the present are having the same uneven effect on ordinary men and women. Writing about their struggles to adjust, triumphs, and failures are worthy of exploration.

“You don’t want to be thought of a guy who just writes about old stuff.” I was told. Continue reading “Specialization: How Much Is Too Much?”

The Crash

By Bob McCrillis

Over the holiday week, the Goddess of Rhamnous, Nemesis, schooled me on my dangerous tendency to hubris.

As you know, I’ve set myself the project of writing a short story every week for a year – as recommended by Ray Bradbury. Quite proud of myself after the first four weeks, I added a page for the resulting stories to my website.

“I’m accepting the Ray Bradbury Challenge,” I crowed. “Just watch how great this will be. My stories will be good and can only get better – and I’ll have fifty-two publishable stories,” said I.

Should have known better. Continue reading “The Crash”

Goldilocks and the Impossible Bed

By Anne K. Kaler

My favorite childhood story of Goldilocks seeking the “just right” bed must have impressed me more deeply than I ever imagined

Only recently did I realize that the blond-headed child was guilty of trespassing, breaking-and-entering, and theft in her search for a comfortable night’s sleep. Look at the facts. Probably homeless, possibly a runaway, certainly an unwelcomed intruder, the blond female perpetrator broke into the Bear house with the intent to use it as a shelter for the night. Why she was wandering in the woods in the first place is another story involving parental neglect.

A recent trip to the Midwest reminded me of Goldilocks’ homeless story. After twelve hours of driving, I was ready for a good night’s sleep. My reservation at my favorite roadside national chain was for three nights’ stay.  I should have been warned when the attendant proudly announced, “We’re completely renovated now. Enjoy your stay.” Continue reading “Goldilocks and the Impossible Bed”

June Writers Guild Meeting Summary

By Anne K. Kaler

The June 17th meeting started at 1 pm in the upper area of the red barn. Cindy Louden (chair) and Anne Kaler (instructor) led the meeting where all seven attendees presented their writings which are summarized below.

Notice was given on several new sources for short stories and poems under the BookBaby ads. One of their downloads includes a list from Authors Publish Magazine of 180 journals who accept submissions of poetry and prose. Visit www.authorspublish.com. Continue reading “June Writers Guild Meeting Summary”