Writers Guild March Recap, New April Date

Even though the Writers Guild met on St. Patrick’s Day this month, there were 14 of us including four new participants. After introductions, which revealed quite a diverse set of writing genres and life experiences, we began sharing excerpts and discussing them.

First Joe Vitella set a scene with two skilled and deadly men in a tense verbal exchange. The undercurrent of pent-up potential violence, as they carefully test each other out, was palpable. Great buildup of suspense. Commenters agreed a little more dialogue might balance the descriptive passages.

The metaphors that David Werrett uses in his story “Prison of Guilt” serve to expressively and visually describe the mental construct of escaping from the shame of childhood trauma. These nightly dream journeys in can be solace for a wounded psyche. David’s use of language was applauded.

Discussion digressed over substitutes for semi-colons. Anne Kaler recommended the two separate sentence technique, or the use of “em” dashes. Linda Donaldson shared the history of the terminology behind small or “en” dashes and wider “em” dashes. The names derive from the width of an “n” or “m” in metal handset type.

Melissa Triol brought a new chapter to her novel that introduced her protagonist Eglantine in her youth, living at home with her father and cross older sister. The quiet dinner with an old soldier friend of her father brings with it revelations about this friend’s complicated life and issues of race, illegitimacy and inheritance.  Anne praised Melissa’s use of symbolism.

A passage using “she” several times referring to two separate women needed some name clarification. This is a common writing problem and Bob McCrillis suggested reading one’s work aloud or using a text to voice program.

A Guild member, Kat Cerruti was accompanied by her daughter Shannon Cerruti, a local high school student.  Shannon brought a poem about a lovely, yet thorny rosebush.  The narrator loves the beauty of the bush which brings great joy in times of sadness, anger or confusion.  The bush tempts her to embrace it and even its sharpness brings comfort.

Jane Bleam, whose memoir excerpts always entertain, brought a story from her childhood school days. Many questioned exactly where she attended school and encouraged Jane to include those facts. Jane’s adventures brought smiles of recognition from some of us contemporaries who fondly remember our own school days.

Finally, Jennifer Klepsch brought an opening chapter that introduces a meeting between her new novel’s two main characters. It was full of choice details but didn’t have that “hook” of drama to get us right into the book. This beginning might just need to be “flashed back” to, giving more urgency to the book’s first chapter.

We explored stories with lots of variety. Our authors have many new ideas to pursue. We missed you!

We look forward to seeing you at our next meeting on Sunday, April 14th. (Note: We are changing the date to avoid Easter Sunday.) The Guild will meet at 1pm in the Red Barn on the grounds of Green Hills Farm, 420 Dublin Road, Perkasie, PA 18944.

Remember to bring 15 copies of any excerpt up to 4 pages you’d like to share. Also, add your email address on the copies so members can further share comments via email later.

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Writers Guild Begins 2019 Season

The Pearl S. Buck Writers Guild invites authors and poets to our 2019 season on the lovely grounds of Green Hills Farm, Pearl’s historic Bucks County residence, on Sunday, March 17th.

The Guild meets 1 to 3pm on the third Sunday monthly, March through October. Writers of fiction, non-fiction, essays, memoir, poetry and short stories are encouraged to join us to share and critique their writing.

Members may bring 15 copies of their excerpts for comments. This provides a forum to gain support and feedback from other writers and editors.

The first 2019 meeting is Sunday, March 17th at the Cultural Center [Red Barn building], 520 Dublin Road, Perkasie, PA 18944. Season membership is $50 for eight meetings. Single meetings are $10.

Click here to register.

Writing Center Announces Evening Classes

The Writing Center is pleased to offer two evening courses, ideal for writers who are unavailable to take day classes. Both courses feature three classes held Tuesday through Thursday from 6:30 to 8:00pm in the Cultural Center (Red Barn) at Green Hills Farm, 520 Dublin Road, Perkasie, PA 18944.

The instructor for both is the celebrated writer, speaker and women’s advocate, Pam Varkony. Read a brief biography at the end of this post, and visit her website to learn more about her.

Be Your Own Writing Carpenter:
Building Your Audience and Your Platform
May 28, 29, and 30, 2019
(recommended for beginning writers)
$75 for three classes     Click here to register

Course Description:
You are a writer; you are a crafter of beautiful words you want to send in to the universe. First you have to get published. In today’s world, most agents and publishers will insist you have a platform before they consider representing you. Even if you plan to self-publish, people have to know about you to buy your work.

In this three day course we will guide you through the steps you need to take to start building that platform in advance of contacting an agent or self-publishing your book.

The framework of building a successful author’s platform begins with a website and a blog. In today’s crowded online world, if you don’t have an online presence, you don’t exist. Next, don’t overlook the obvious: Write! Write! Write! Publish! Publish! Publish! There are thousands of outlets for guest blog posts, journals, both in print and online, and e-zines covering every topic under the sun.

At the core of all author platforms is your ability to build a following…a presence on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram can make or break a book launch.

This class will provide you with action items and resources designed to build your reputation and name recognition.

How to get readers to listen to your story is Pam Varkony’s strength. Her leadership has inspired people all over the world toward better understanding of their lives and the lives of others. Let her show you how to construct a better way to get your ideas over, using her organizational skills and management concepts.

The Truth Makes a Good Story:
Writing Literary Journalism
June 11, 12, and 13, 2019
(recommended for all writers)
$75 for three classes   Click here to register

Course Description:
Truth is a powerful storyline when writing to motivate others to care about some aspect of the human condition. Non-fiction writing is about good story-telling; story-telling that reflects the stark drama, spontaneous humor, or the often hidden minutiae of real life.

During this three-day course we will discuss the importance of doing thorough research and of being a good interviewer. We will talk about the writing style through which you weave a golden thread of understated hyperbole designed to catch the reader in your net.

In this class you will have the chance to put your experience and passions to paper, read it aloud, and have your work critiqued by your fellow writers.

Whether you are interested in editorials, commentaries, persuasive essays, grant writing, or creative non-fiction/memoir, learn to tell a “can’t put it down – can’t turn it down” story. Enlighten the reader to the world around them; persuade them to care.

Pam Varkony will show you how to make your personal stories into memorable prose. Let her show you how to construct a way to get your ideas over, using her organizational skills management and superior writing techniques.


Pamela Varkony is a non-fiction writer and a former columnist for Tribune Publishing. Her work appears in newspapers, magazines and in PBS and NPR on-air commentaries. Her poetry has been published in the New York Times.

Recognized by the Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association with an “Excellence in Journalism” award, Pamela often uses her communication skills to advocate for women’s rights and empowerment both at home and abroad. She has twice traveled to Afghanistan on a fact-finding mission and as an embedded journalist.

Pamela was named the 2017 Pearl S. Buck International Woman of Influence for her humanitarian work. She is also a recipient of the Business Council for Peace, VERA Award for her work in Afghanistan, the Chamber of Commerce Athena Award for business achievement; the American Association of University Women’s “Gateway Award” for leadership in women’s issues; a “Woman of Distinction” award from the Girl Scouts, and the Nike Award for championing women’s causes presented to her by Business & Professional Women.

Pamela was born and raised in rural Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where she and her husband, Zsolt, maintain a summer home, along with two very spoiled cats.

Read more about Pam on her website .

The Road Not Taken

By Susan Wagner

My first experience with analyzing poetry came in my eighth-grade English class. One of the poems we discussed was “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost. I clearly remember writing about how choices define a life – heady stuff for a young teen.

Flash forward to a recent day when this memory popped into my head during my journal writing. So, naturally, I do what millions of other people do – I jump immediately onto the internet. I justify this interruption of journal time with the thought that it would be interesting to see how I feel about the poem now and how that would compare to what my younger self believed.

By phone, I visit the Poetry Foundation website to read the poem. The site is easy to use and also gives you short author biographies. I read the poem and I discover it has a Poem Guide, written by Katherine Robinson. I read that too. Continue reading “The Road Not Taken”

Want to Know a Secret?

By Anne K. Kaler

“I’d tell you my secrets but then I’d have to kill you.”

                While the above may be a hackneyed phrase from a spy novel, I’ve discovered a sneaky way to reveal secrets while avoiding the “killing” part. My secret about secrets – write them out in fiction, non-fiction, and even poetry.

Take fiction, for example.  Writing your secret is easy when you can disguise it as your creative imagination or sudden insight into the nature of a character.  Who among us is going to challenge you when your writing seems to dwell on mass murders, global epidemics, or the loss of chocolate in the world?  Other writers enjoy your fantasies and think them clever.  They may even envy you without recognizing your secret any more than their readers recognize their own well-kept secrets.

Pshaw! Under every tale lies a truth which the writer has experienced or, at least, hoped to experience  –  some lesson learned the hard way, some  humiliating moment, some sly wished-for revenge.  Writers have long claimed innocence by burying the body of a secret in their story plots. Think about that.

Such disposal of secrets, however well hidden, can be excavated later by literary researchers in the biography of an author.  Non-fiction can also be a fertile burying ground for the secrets of others to be exhumed and exposed to a secret-loving audience.  It is much easier to see flaws in others than we can admit to in our own lives. Shakespeare saw this in Mark Anthony’s response to Caesar’s death –

The evil that men do lives after them;

The good is oft interred with their bones;

 – Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 2

 

Because poetry lays bare the bones of human frailty, good poetry, perhaps, is the truest guide to revealing private secrets.  In its simplicity, the poetic impulse brushes aside fiction’s feeble disguises to lament the inadequacy of mere words to express the weight of secrets.

Poetry best unveils the suffering human soul.  When poetry is added to music, the intensity of emotion felt is increased.  For an example, read Bob Dylan’s “Shelter from the Storm” and then listen to it put to music.  Or read the Psalm “The Lord is my Shepherd” and then listen to a choir sing one of its musical versions.  Notice the different intensities.

Still, some secrets lie too deep in our hearts and brains ever to be shared.  Those are best recorded in journals which remain private.  Remember the fable of the man who was told a secret by his king but was forbidden to reveal it.  He had to run out into the garden, dig a hole, and shout the secret down into the earth, lest he let it slip through his lips.

Use your good judgment with your secrets in journals and diaries. Arrange to have your journals burnt upon your death.  Do not, as happened to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, have your secret poems buried with you, only to have your husband dig up your grave to retrieve them.  Too gauche and Victorian.

Spring encourages the long dormant seeds and roots to rise toward the returning sun.  Writers, like us, use the winter burial of our talents to rest and revisit our secrets.  We bring forth new growth from old seeds and roots to blossom forth.  If some of those blossoms hint at a hidden message, a secret or two, so be it.  All human creativity energizes the earth and the living creatures dependent on that energy to survive.

Now you realize that this entire blog has been a sneaky way of introducing our theme for the Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal’s Spring/Summer Issue: SECRETS.  So, now that you see your goal and a path to it, start writing so that our editors can choose the juiciest secrets for our readers to enjoy!

We welcome your entries for our literary online journal by May 31st.  Please click here for our submission guidelines.

 

Call to Authors – Beat the Doldrums

By Linda Donaldson

New beginnings bring new opportunities for our Writers Guild members and our Writing Center. Soon we will be rolling out our 2019 Calendar of Events detailing two upcoming Memoir class series and our 2019 meeting schedule for the Writers Guild.

Mark Sunday, March 17th (St. Patrick’s Day) on your calendar for our first meeting at 1pm in the Cultural Center (red Barn) at Green Hills Farm, 520 Dublin Road, Perkasie, PA 18944.

Expect a blog later this week with Dr. Anne Kaler’s essay on the theme (it’s a secret) for the next issue of our Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal – the Spring/Summer 2019 issue.  Stay tuned.

Today I’d like to share a link, provided by Sandra Carey Cody, one of our Writing Center presenters and a published author, to a writing contest. The theme of the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable short story contest is Animal Stories.

Entry fee is $10 for stories of 2,000 words or less about wild animals, pets or imaginary beasts (so long as an animal is an important character or element of the story.) Deadline is March 31st.

Put on your thinking caps! And keep an eye out for new blogs by Sue Wagner, author of the new poetry book Unmuted: Voices from the Edge.

October Guild Meeting Notes Plus Sneak Peek

By Linda Donaldson

Nearly every attendee to our October Writers Guild meeting brought writing selections to share. All told there were 11 different authors’ works read aloud, and some brought two works. Such a rich array of literary work kept us well past the two hour mark.

We welcomed a new member Archana Kokroo whose first poems proved conclusively that she has much to offer. Other member who contributed were: Melissa Triol, Jane Bleam, Dave Werrett, John McCabe, Bob McCrillis, Paul Teese, Meredith Betz, Kat Cerutti, Joe Vitella and Linda Donaldson. Continue reading “October Guild Meeting Notes Plus Sneak Peek”