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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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 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”

Writing Rules – Part II

(Yes, I’m thinking of making this a series)

By Bob McCrillis

Who knew?

While poking around on the internet to find some of Ray Bradbury’s earliest short stories, I discovered his twelve rules for writing. Elmore Leonard wasn’t the only one – imagine. A celebrated author, presumably with a busy schedule, took the time to codify his rules and tips.  His willingness to share them with the world was, to me, even more shocking – why encourage competitors?

My much-boasted-about short story per week for a year effort came from the first of Mr. Bradbury’s twelve rules:

  • Don’t start out writing novels. They take too long. Begin your writing life instead by cranking out “a hell of a lot of short stories,” as many as one per week. Take a year to do it; he claims that it simply isn’t possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row. He waited until the age of 30 to write his first novel, Fahrenheit 451. “Worth waiting for, huh?”

Continue reading “Writing Rules – Part II”

Writing is Ruining My Reading

By Bob McCrillis

Escape Denied

Since I learned to read, books have been my ticket to adventure and a means of escape from…well, escape from lots of things. That is not to say that my reading list runs in any particular direction. For example, the last book I finished was Thomas Merton’s Seven Story Mountain, which details his search for God. Ultimately Merton was accepted as a monk at a monastery in Kentucky where he spent the rest of his life writing and advocating for social justice. However, this weighty tome is bookended by Michael Connelly novels featuring the flawed detective Harry Bosch.

The problem? Instead of becoming, for a time, a hard-bitten Los Angeles detective on the trail of a psychotic killer, I’m pondering whether Connelly should have taken us deeper into what triggered Harry’s flashback to Viet Nam. With Merton, I filled pages with notes. Not on his lifelong struggle to find meaning in life, or the superficiality that he found in the Church of England, but comments like “too many clauses” and “why not simplify” or “these damn euphemisms are frustrating me!” Continue reading “Writing is Ruining My Reading”

Guild Notes, 2019 Class Preview and BookFest

By Linda Donaldson

Cindy Louden opened our August Writers Guild meeting opened with a preview of the 2019 Writing Center’s classes with final dates to be announced.

Linda Wisniewski will offer a Beginner’s Memoir series of classes for six weeks in May and June. She will then offer Advanced Memoir classes monthly from June through October.

Pam Varkony, author, speaker and last year’s recipient of the Pearl S. Buck Woman of the Year award, will teach two classes next year: one on essays, op-eds and exposes, and the other on marketing your writing through web and social media. Pam plans to offer each of these two topics at three different times – morning, afternoon and evening – June and July.

Writers Guild meetings will be held next year at 1pm to 3pm on the third Sunday of the month from March through October. Continue reading “Guild Notes, 2019 Class Preview and BookFest”

Finding Your Character

By Bob McCrillis

I like to write in the first person. That POV helps control my natural desire to tell rather than show. That means that there is a lot of dialogue in any of my stories, which brings up a continuing problem – losing the reader in the dialogue.

Everyone, I’m sure, has had this experience. I’m caught up in a book when I realize that I’ve lost track of who’s speaking. Then I backtrack to the last speech that’s tagged and work forward again. While this may not be a fatal error, anything that takes me out of the story spoils the flow of the narrative and provides me the opportunity to decide it isn’t a very good book and move on. At the very least, it’s an annoyance.

The easy solution is to tag more speeches. Duh. The thought of all those “saids”, regardless of how artfully I conceal them by using synonyms, strikes me as beyond boring. In the back of my mind I also have the Elmore Leonard rule to not replace “said” with a synonym. He says that the word should disappear into the background. I call this the said-balance solution – to have enough tags to keep the reader on track but not so many that he gets bored. Continue reading “Finding Your Character”