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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On the Injustice of Untimely Death

By Anne K. Kaler

So I sez to God, sez I, “God, you got it wrong.” No one younger than me is allowed to die because it seems to me to be against the natural order of things.

Like what happened to that old friend of mine, Ann (without an “e”) while I am always Anne (with an “e”). I knew she had been ill for some time, but I had to read about her death in the newspaper!  How unfair is that! A complete surprise over my morning tea and an unfair start to a snowy morning!  I didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye after knowing her for all these years. I couldn’t even contribute to her obituary although I hope to attend her funeral.

So this will have to suffice as a reminder of what happens when some younger person dies. Continue reading “On the Injustice of Untimely Death”

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.

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

October 2018 Writers Guild News

By Linda Donaldson

This Sunday, October 21st is the final 2018 meeting of the Writers Guild of the Pearl S. Buck Writing Center. We meet at 1pm until 3pm at the Cultural Center [big red barn] at Green Hills Farm, 520 Dublin Road, Perkasie, PA 18944.

We welcome all writers, published or aspiring, to bring a short 2-3 page selection from their work to share. The Guild members are eager to listen, offer praise and constructive critique. You are also welcome to attend and just listen. Continue reading “October 2018 Writers Guild News”

September Guild Meeting Notes

By Linda Donaldson

Our September Guild meeting began with Anne Kaler welcoming a new member, Shelley Craig. The group then began a short round-robin with each of us introducing ourselves and our writing genres.

There are short story authors, poets, essayists, memoir and non-fiction writers, news magazine feature writers, academic writers, and all sorts of novelists – historical romance, mystery, psychological thrillers, fantasy/adventure, and dystopian novels. Something for everyone! Continue reading “September Guild Meeting Notes”