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!

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

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 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.

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.

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”