Pearl Buck Writers Guild Meets and Ponders

Six Guild members discussed their contributions at the April 2019 Writers Guild meeting in Pearl Buck House International Center, Bucks County, PA.

Using a story of love-remembered and the power-of-hope, John McCabe examined vivid characters and their dimensions of belief and fear of death through a sensitive story. Guild members suggested clearer name attribution to speakers in dialogue exchanges.

Melissa Triol’s latest mystery thriller revealed that her passionate, calculating heroine Eglantine was no match for her sister Prudence in the aftermath of a climactic murder scene. Plotting her cover-up, less-than-accurately named Prudence rivals any modern-day schemer in a promising page-turner. Continue reading “Pearl Buck Writers Guild Meets and Ponders”

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.

A Burst of Life

By Susan E. Wagner

We’ve all seen grenades explode on television or in the movies. It’s dramatic. It can make changes in a story and in real life.

Yusef Komunyakaa’s poem, Grenade, provides a vivid visual to the reader. A Vietnam veteran, who served in the army as a reporter during the war, Komunyakaa’s complex and powerful poem caused an immediate physical and emotional reaction in me.

The Vietnam War defined my entire childhood. It was on the news every night and in every Sunday newspaper. From sixth grade on, we discussed it in school. It was almost always our current events.

So, when I felt such a powerful reaction, I knew I needed to dig deeper. Everyday, I reread the poem. Because the imagery is so concrete, I took from individual words, phrases or a sentence, to jumpstart my daily journal writing. Continue reading “A Burst of Life”

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.

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.

 

Fall 2018 ♦ Volume 3, Number 2

Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal

 There are 20 contributions to this Fall issue of the 2018 Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal. The theme of this issue is Transformation. Submissions include essays, memoirs, poems, short stories, and an excerpt from a novel.

Our thanks to authors Dr. Anne K. Kaler, Sandra Carey Cody, David H. Werrett, Jane Bleam, Paul Teese, Joseph A. Vitella, John McCabe, Susan E. Wagner, Joel Mendez, Kat Cerruti, Meredith Betz, Linda Wisniewski, Archana Kokroo, and Bob McCrillis.

Anne K. Kaler, PhD
Professor of English Emerita
Gwynedd Mercy University

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

Transformation

An Essay by Anne K. Kaler, PSBVA

Shadows

A Short Story by Sandra Carey Cody

Sunflowers

A Poem by David H. Werrett

The Baby Squirrels

A Memoir by Jane Bleam

The Naming Project

A Short Story by Paul Teese

Jake Meets Nick Rossi

An Excerpt from a Novel
by Joseph A. Vitella

Sidewalk Sanctification

A Short Story by John McCabe

The Woman Who Bound Pain to Her Bones

A Poem by Susan E. Wagner

An Hour and Forty Minutes

A Short Story by Joel Mendez

From Walking Under Trees

A Poem by John McCabe

Father and Daughter

A Short Story by Susan E. Wagner

Mary Gertrude and the Alligator

A Short Story by Anne K. Kaler

Daddy’s Little Princess

A Memoir by Jane Bleam

A Lesson Learned

A Memoir by Kat CerRuti

White Gloves

A Memoir by Meredith Betz

Lake in the Woods

A Short Story by Linda Wisniewski

Transformations

A Short Story by Archana Kokroo

# Me Too?

A Short Story by Bob McCrillis

Swimming Lessons

A Short Story by David H. Werrett

Other People’s Shoes

A Short Story by Meredith Betz