Publishing 101, or Be Prepared to Publish

By Susan E. Wagner

Before you begin to look for publishers, determine the category of your work. Not only do publishers want to see that you have some awareness of the markets, but they also categorize their own services into types and subtypes. Literary agents do the same.

The first step is understanding the differences between “literary” and “commercial” work. You can check articles like the two below if you’re unsure. They are general guidelines and some publishers are more particular than others in following the guidelines. Continue reading “Publishing 101, or Be Prepared to Publish”

Recap of March Writers Guild Meeting

By Linda Donaldson

Rarely has one Zoom meeting woven so many threads together from our shared life experiences as did the March meeting of our Writers Guild. We explored the stories and how they impacted us, while discussing the selections provided by our writers for critique.

Cindy Louden started off introductions by sharing the origins of the Writing Center at Pearl S. Buck, the brainchild of Anne Kaler and herself, two retired educators volunteering at PSB. It seemed to them that the home of a famous writer should have programs celebrating the collaboration between Buck and her editor husband, Richard Walsh.

In 2010, they began the Writing Center, which has evolved to include the Guild, workshops and classes on all forms of writing, our online blog and the biannual PSB Literary Journal. And lastly, the Writing Center Press which evolved naturally, offers assistance in self-publishing. Currently WCP can boast 17 softcover books in many genres: memoir, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plus two children’s books.

The other members in turn gave a short bio with info on any writing projects in progress. Two new members each revealed that they both served in the Peace Corps, one in Liberia and another in Ukraine.

The themes of war, nuclear bombs and fallout dominated three of the six stories: Prologue by John A. McCabe (from his new book The Girl from Japan, A Soldier’s Story), Chapter One (A Memoir) by Richard Fitzgerald, and The Mushrooms of August by Anne K. Kaler.

Loss and the effects of grief were examined in Arm in Arm in Walmart by Karen Edwards. Native American history and archaeology featured in Hidden Treasures by Jane Bleam.  Finally, a novel excerpt that meshed a film noir-style detective story with a memorable cast of quirky fantasy characters in Hard-Boiled Dragon by Bob McCrillis added much needed comic relief.

Our next Zoom meeting is Sunday, April 24th from 1-3pm (one week later than usual due to the 17th being Easter Sunday). Links are sent out in advance to all registered members of the Writers Guild. To register, contact Cindy Louden at clouden@pearlsbuck.org and give your name, address, Cell phone number and Email address. You will be called for your Credit Card information.

Follow this blog and you will receive an email notification of each post to the blog. Keep writing!

Poem by Susan E. Wagner Nominated for Rhysling Award

By Editors of the PSB Writing Center

We are excited to share the news of Susan E. Wagner’s nomination for a Rhysling Award for her poem, Pa and the Devil, which was published online by Aphelion: The Webzine of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Click here for a link to the poem.

The Rhysling Award is given by the Science Fiction Poetry Association and the poems are featured in their yearly anthology. We wish Sue the best of luck!

In her announcement to her fellow Pearl S. Buck Writing Center editors, Sue said, “I never thought I’d write a science fiction/fantasy poem, let alone get nominated for an award! Thank you all for your support throughout my writing journey. It’s great to share the happy news.”

To learn more about Sue’s books and her writing coaching services, visit her website.

2022 Writers Guild Zoom Meeting Calendar

The Pearl S. Buck Writing Center’s Writers Guild will zoom meet on the 3rd Sundays monthly from March 20th through October 16th, from 1-3 pm to share and critique our writing work-in-progress.

In a friendly atmosphere, we encourage, support and challenge our adult writers to improve, whether they are experienced writers or beginners. All genres of literature are welcome from novels and short fiction to memoirs, essays and poetry by all levels of writers.

$80 Registration to cover 8 sessions is required. To register for the Writers Guild, contact Cindy Louden at clouden@pearlsbuck.org and give your Name, Address, Cell Phone number & Email address. You will be called for your Credit Card information.

March 20      1-3pm

April 24         1-3pm

May 15          1-3pm

June 26          1-3pm [Note: 4th Sun/because of Father’s Day]

July 17           1-3pm

Aug 21           1-3pm

Sept 18          1-3pm

Oct 16            1-3pm

Registered Guild members must send writings for editing consideration and distribution to lindadonaldson@verizon.net 2 weeks prior to our meetings so all attendees can read and be prepared to discuss. An online link to our Zoom meetings will be sent prior to each meeting.

Visit our blog at www.psbwritingcenter.org and become a follower – it’s free! – and you’ll receive an email notification of any new blog posts. Many past issues of our Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal – containing writing in a wide variety of genres – can also be accessed from our blog.

On behalf of all the editors, we welcome your participation and look forward to meeting you this Spring at our March 20th Zoom meeting from 1-3pm. 

Keep writing! The Writers Guild Editors:

Cynthia L. Louden – cllouden@verizon.net

Dr. Anne K. Kaler – akkaler@verizon.net

Susan E. Wagner – swagner001@gmail.com

Linda Donaldson – lindadonaldson@verizon.net

Winter 2021 ♦ Volume 6, Number 2

This Winter Issue of the Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal
includes 11 selections on the theme of Revenge – Sought or Untaken
in genres ranging from short story to memoir and poetry.

Following the introduction by Susan E. Wagner
is a table of contents with links to each selection.

Revenge

By Susan E. Wagner

The process of choosing a theme for a journal issue is entirely subjective. This time we wanted something darker and a little bit out of our comfort zone but still large enough to inspire writers. Revenge met our criteria.

Revenge is as old as humanity. It has been illustrated in ancient pictographs and told in ancient tales. Religion and civilizations are full of such stories and the resulting fall-out of acts of revenge. From Homer’s The Iliad to Stephen King’s Carrie, tales of revenge have grabbed our imaginations and seized our worst dreams. Whether it is a small or large act involving two people or two cultures, people regularly carry out acts of revenge.

While fans of Quentin Tarantino might enjoy the violent acts of revenge in his movies, scientists have discovered the far more complicated psychological responses individuals experience before, during, and after committing acts of even petty revenge. Their data suggests revenge is less sweet and more mentally disturbing. Given the complexity of individual personalities, the types, severity, and acts of vengeance are endlessly inventive, making it one of literature’s great themes. It’s no wonder that religion and ethics teach restraint, given the destructive potential of revenge. But it does make for great stories and exciting writing.

Some say that revenge is best served cold; others say that the revenger should dig two graves, one for the victim and the other for the revenger himself.  Some others see revenge as the rough justice of a troubled mind.  Some consider revenge the Eighth Deadly Sin.

Still, as writers, we hope you enjoy the diverse voices in this issue of the journal and their interpretations of Revenge.

Table of Contents – Winter 2021 Issue

(Click title to read selection.
Author’s biography at end of contribution.)

Better Enjoyed Cold

A Short Story by Bob McCrillis

The Enchanted Forest

A Short Story by Susan E. Wagner

Either Here or There

A Poem by John McCabe

The Hitman’s Protégé  

A Memoir by Daphne Freise

 Battle for the Forgotten Isle

A Short Story by Jennifer Klepsch

A Woman’s Charms

A Short Story by Anne K. Kaler

The Breach

A Short Story by Joel Mendez

My Discovery

A Memoir by Karen Edwards

High in a Castle

A Poem by Abby Mendez

Captain Predator

A Memoir by Daphne Freise

Mateo and Perla

A Short Story by Susan E. Wagner

Audience Building Tips and October Meeting Recap

By Linda Donaldson

Cindy Louden opened our October Zoom meeting by welcoming a prospective member visitor Marjorie Brans who joined us from Alaska. Cindy invited us all to introduce ourselves and say a little about our writing.

Sandy Carey Cody talked about her published novels. Karen Edwards spoke about her memoir stories and plans for more fiction writing. Jane Bleam, who has shared stories about her leg injury, happily reported her full recovery (after 10 months of rehab) to universal applause.

Marjorie shared that during a trip to her grandmother’s home she discovered part of her memoirs. She plans to seek the balance of those papers on another trip. Listeners all heard the pages turning and can’t wait to hear what Marjorie does with them.

I spoke of the Writers Guild founded by Dr. Anne K. Kaler and Cindy Loudon. Along with editor Susan E. Wagner they attended birth of the Pearl S. Buck Writing Center Press now proudly boasting 17 books in print. From those endeavors sprang our Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal on our blog at www.psbwriting.org.

This month’s selection for discussion was the Epilogue to the upcoming novel by John McCabe about the atomic bomb explosions in Japan and the US Army’s nuclear testing exposing US soldiers in the 1960s.

Readers were moved by his character’s decision to ditch his Power Point and speak from the heart concerning the need to detonate atomic bombs in Japan. Commenters asked for more sensory examples of how the speaker’s nervousness manifested itself, and how the non-agreeing audience telegraphed their discomfort with his expressed opinions about nuclear testing.

At 2pm Cindy welcomed Linda Wisniewski who related the genesis of her recent novel Where the Stork Flies. Linda teaches Memoir Writing classes at the Pearl S. Buck Writing Center, currently on Zoom.

Linda told how the germ of idea for her novel was planted by her genealogical research into her family tree. This endeavor brought her to an ancestor Regina, born in 1778, who had 11 children. Regina lived in a Polish village which was on land owned by a nobleman. Families farmed and kept livestock, turning over most of their harvest and keeping a portion for themselves.

As Linda began to imagine Regina’s life, she traveled on a Roads Scholars trip to Poland to research the area. She visited an outdoor museum, a “Skansen,” that recreated life in an 18th & 19th century village with houses, tools and farm animals.

As the story began to take shape, Linda knew her protagonist would need to do a lot of research, so she fashioned her as a librarian, a career Linda herself enjoyed for many years. In the book, Kat the librarian discovers an 18th century Polish woman named Regina in her kitchen! Both become distressed due to their language barrier and seek a translator.

Regina tells of praying to the Black Madonna of Czestochowa at a roadside shrine in 1825 and finding herself in 21st century Doylestown. This time portal doesn’t seem to work backwards, so the women bond together in a search for answers to the path back in time.

Linda said she found a common thread in these two women’s lives – their strength and love for children – which made writing easier. She set out to contrast the two worlds but found the real story in the modern woman’s quest for her “best self.”

Linda plans to write two more novels – a trilogy – with the same characters but from different viewpoints. This first was from Kat’s, the next will be Regina, and the last the Black Madonna of Czestochowa. Brava!

To finish our meeting Linda presented a power point entitled “Be a Bridge to Your Reader.”

Standing on a soapbox and shouting your message can leave your book one of millions in the wilderness of the internet. However, building bridges in person and online can connect you with potential readers.

Linda’s practical, easy-to-follow steps outline strategies to not only sell books, but create networks of other authors, local bookstores, media contacts and book clubs.

Identify your readers. Look for Facebook groups, podcasts, ethnic associations and clubs.

Contacts can be made even if you’re not finished and ready to publish yet. Establish a web presence, support other writers, join online groups in your subject area, start a blog and link to others.

Once your book is available – keep publishing!

  • Place articles on your book topic.
  • Ask journals, newspapers, websites and blogs for reviews.
  • Offer to write “guest blogs.”
  • Review others’ books, adding your book sales link in your reviewer’s biography.
  • Send press releases to TV, radio and newspapers.
  • Build a social media following with blogs and newsletters.
  • Maintain a Facebook author’s page
  • Build a website featuring links to book sale page

Do in person appearances

  • Book shops – offer to do readings
  • Museum gift shops – offer to do readings
  • Book fairs / festivals – offer to speak, offer to volunteer in a booth
  • Writing Conferences – offer to speak, do readings
  • Do Instagram or book blogger interviews

Consider these actions an investment in your writing career. Some things cost money, but most are just the investment of time and effort to build your audience.

Always thank readers who reach out to you. Send personal thanks, and don’t be too shy to ask for a review or recommendation.

Finally, Linda Wisniewski advises you to stay in touch with your audience via: email, Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Amazon and Goodreads!

We closed October’s meeting with a reminder that the Journal’s deadline is October 31st for your submission of a story, essay, memoir or poem on the theme of Revenge: Sought or Untaken.

Click here for our Submission Guidelines.

September Guild Meeting Recap

By Linda Donaldson

Cindy Louden, our Zoom moderator welcomed published author Sandra Carey Cody to our September Writers Guild meeting. She has been a presenter at Pearl S. Buck Writing Center’s workshops. Visit her at her website http://www.sandracareycody.com/home.html to learn more about her writings.

Our first discussion was about Show Me the Way by Karen Edwards. Readers pointed out Karen’s ability to find just the perfect phrase to paint her characters’ traits, and her innermost feelings. Suggestions included noting tense changes, adding more dialogue, and expanding interaction between brothers. Continue reading “September Guild Meeting Recap”

August Writers Guild Meeting Recap

By Linda Donaldson

Eight authors’ selections were sent for comments this month at our Zoom meeting. Anne Kaler reminded us that as members of The Writers Guild we all provide a valuable sounding board for each other’s stories and writing techniques. We support and encourage and benefit from the critiques of our writing colleagues. Continue reading “August Writers Guild Meeting Recap”

Writers Guild July Meeting Recap

By Linda Donaldson

We had only 5 selections to review, but discussion was lively and easily filled our two-hour Zoom meeting.

First up was a novel excerpt from Bob McCrillis from a Western romance set in Kansas in 1866. His chapter about the pursuit of kidnappers who abducted a young woman, featured a marshal and a widowed female rancher on their trail. The readers loved the dialogue and the unspoken sexual tension between the two protagonists. Bob’s “scene” as he described it was almost like a screenplay, and many felt they could “envision” the action. Setting descriptions were detailed, but some wished for more info on the characters’ sequence of movements. Continue reading “Writers Guild July Meeting Recap”

Writers Guild June Zoom Meeting Recap

By Linda Donaldson

Three of our eight authors of our June selections had other commitments on Father’s Day. We discussed the five selections and will send our comments via email to the three not present.

Joan Mariotti offered an early chapter in her novel about Vincent, a serial killer. The story starts with John, Vincent’s father at his first days at college. He is poor with no lodging, so he begins his studies and work internship while sleeping in his car. Luckily his professor offers him a place to live in exchange for fixing up her older home. Everyone knowing Joan’s overall theme was looking for horror behind every detail. We were relieved this early story doesn’t involve Vincent yet. Joan’s attention to detail in descriptions was noted, her adept handling of the professor’s colloquial clipped English dialogue, and the seamless way she introduced each new character.

Barbara Seras explained the theme of examining faith that she portrayed in both her original version of Rolling the Beads last month and her updated version was deliberately not denominationally specific. Barbara thought treating the story as a parable would make it more easily accepted by readers. Suggestions included adding more detail, even clearly identifying the women visitors as nuns, would make the story just as meaningful. Barbara’s depiction of the narrator’s longing and regret were palpable. The mother’s character could be expanded, and perhaps the narrator in the later story identified as the girl from earlier vs. the younger visitor. Also, questions arose over whether John was still living at the end of the story.

Adding even more color was the suggestion for Betty’s Trip to the City by Jane Bleam. A sweet and endearing tale of a young sister’s excitement over seeing her college-aged sister come home for Christmas ends with a rescue from near death in a moving car. Readers suggested adding even more sensory information and feelings to her story, perhaps adding food smells, Christmas tree odor, details of the tree angel heirloom and her terror during the car incident.

Melissa Triol fills in what has happened to Eglantine in Paris after locating her beloved’s grave, and then meeting Bernhard again. Readers were captivated by the seamless way through dialogue and setting the scenes Melissa explains what has happened to Eglantine in the meanwhile. The story examines where she is emotionally, when she is brought together with the man who will change her life.

A gentle interaction between adult siblings occurs in Kent’s East by Karen Edwards. In dialogue and a subtle explanation of family dynamics, she sets the stage for a slow unfolding of a now single sister, visiting home after her divorce, interacting with her brother about where she went the night before. Karen built the story to the last line with humor and finesse. Readers wanted more clues to story’s time setting.

David Werrett in Energy Fields gave a profound explanation of staying attuned and sensing responses to our departed loved ones intuitively. His piece ends on a hopeful note of anticipation that one’s physical life may adapt to make room for someone else in the future.

Painting a mesmerizing picture of the contrast of sheer, bleak poverty and staggering wealth, Daphne Freise introduces an unforgettable character in The Perfect Broken Boy. After reading a paragraph, you’ll never get the image of the tiny beggar out of your mind, or the bystanders calmly ignoring him as they transact their trading in gold and jewelry. The sensory details are compelling and the story gripping.

Megan Monforte rewrote her Arizona story with a smoother flow. This newer version alternates sections that occur in the present with those happening on the day her husband died. The suspense builds until the end when all becomes clear. A triumph of the examination of guilt and remorse.

Writers please note, the deadline for our Summer 2021 Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal has been extended to September 30th, 2021. The theme is “Revenge – Sought or Untaken,” so sharpen your writing instruments and put your own twist on this universal theme. Click here for our Submission Guidelines.