Showing posts with label Writerly Topics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Writerly Topics. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

We've picked a book for our Book Club!>
We've picked a book for our new Writing Craft Book Club!

Finding your Writer's Voice by Thaisa Frank, Dorothy Wall

If you are not local or can't make our meetings, feel free to read along with us and discuss it online on our Meetup group page.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Excellent Articles about Writing from the Blogosphere

Here are some excellent articles we've come across while stalking the blogosphere. And one video:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How to Submit Your Writing to Literary Magazines

"Those who think the editor is rejecting with some pleasure in hurting are entirely wrong."

Makes sense to me. Unless the editor is a sadist, of course, but I'm guessing most sadists wouldn't choose to edit a literary magazine just to torture writers. There are easier ways. :)

That quote is from the article What Editors Want; A Must-Read for Writers Submitting to Literary Magazines. It is a very informative article on how to handle submitting to literary magazines. Like most things in marketing - and getting your stories published IS marketing, whether you want to admit it or not - in order to succeed, you need to understand the person you're trying to reach. You need to understand what motivates them (the editors, the development execs, the agents, the fresh-out-of-college script reader) to take action. I've been telling writers for years to pick the magazines they submit to wisely. If you know what they are looking for, then you can pull something from your story catalog that fits that publication. Don't write one story and blanket it all over the literary universe. Write many stories and send them to the appropriate places. If your stories are ready, your acceptance rate will increase dramatically. This doesn't mean you should write for a specific audience. Write whatever story YOU want to tell. THEN find the right interested party.

Also read the LA Times Jacket Copy Article about it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

An Evening with Sandra Cisneros at Live Talks LA

Live Talks LA presents author Sandra Cisneros in conversation with Cheech Marin.

Sandra Cisneros is the founder of the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation, the Elvira Cisneros Award and the Macondo Foundation, all of which work on behalf of creative writers. She is the recipient of numerous awards including a MacArthur.

Her writings include novels: The House on Mango Street and Caramelo; short stories: Woman Hollering Creek; and poetry collections: My Wicked Wicked Ways and Loose Woman. She is currently at work on several writing projects including Writing in My Pajamas, essays; Infinito, stories; Have You Seen Marie?, an illustrated book for adults; and a children’s book, Bravo, Bruno. She served as Grand Marshall at the 2010 Poteet, Texas Strawberry Festival. She makes her home in San Antonio, Texas, where she is writer in residence at Our Lady of the Lake University. Visit her website:

Net proceeds from this event will benefit the Macondo Foundation. The Macondo Foundation works with dedicated and compassionate writers who view their work and talents as part of a larger task of community-building and non-violent social change.

For tickets and more information: An Evening with Sandra Cisneros

Bloggers file Class Action Lawsuit against Huffington Post

Gavel (PSF)

Mediabistro reports that Jonathan Tasini has filed a class action lawsuit against The Huffington Post on behalf of their bloggers.  GOOD.  I was hoping this would happen.  We're rooting for you Jonathan and all you bloggers who were used and paid nothing while Huffpo sold the site and made what?  300 Million?  And Huffpo couldn't bother to pay the people who created the content for the site, without which a sale would have never existed?

Bloggers Against Blogger Lawsuit Against HuffPo

Additional reading:

Image by Pearson Scott Foresman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Author Thaisa Frank at Vromans Bookstore Tonight

The author of our current writing book club selection will be at Vromans Bookstore tonight! Go meet and support her! Thank her for providing us with our discussion points for our upcoming book club meeting.

Thaisa Frank discusses and signs Heidegger's Glasses

Location: Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Blvd
City: Pasadena,
Postal Code: 91101

April 12th, 2011, 7:00 pm

During the end of World War II, The Third Reich's obsession with the occult has led to an underground compound of translators responsible for answering letters written to those eventually killed in the concentration camps. Into this covert compound comes a letter written by eminent philosopher Martin Heidegger to his optometrist, a man now lost in the dying thralls of Auschwitz. How will the scribes answer this letter? Part love story, part thriller, part meditation on how the dead are remembered and history is presented, this novel evocatively illustrates the Holocaust from an entirely new vantage point. Heidegger's Glasses was sold to ten foreign countries before publication and got a starred review in Publisher's weekly.

Heidegger's Glasses is a tour de force whose imagery haunts the reader long after the final page is turned...
.Jim Moret,
-The Huffington Post

This is stunning work, full of mysetry and strange tenderness. Thaisa Frank has written one of the most compelling stories of the Nazi regime since D.M. Thomas's Pictures at an Exhibition. It is a book that will haunt you.
-Dan Chaon, author of Await Your Reply

Thaisa Frank works "by a tantalizing sense of indirection...."
-The New York Times

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Who or what influenced you to be a writer?

Someone on one of my LinkedIn groups posed the question, "Who or what influenced you to be a writer?" and it elicted some fantastic answers so I thought I'd pose the question here.

For me (Nicole), here is a slightly longer version of my answer:
My writing influence stemmed from desperation and the love of a good friend. Thanks to a series emotionally blindsiding tragedies, I found myself needing to retreat and process what was happening around me. My abused friends enjoyed the brunt of my venting via email and instant message, and one valuable friend in particular changed my life when he complimented my writing and told me I should be a writer. That was the first time I'd ever considered becoming a writer. He encouraged me to take writing classes at a local university extension program. At that point, not only had I never been exposed to writing classes, I didn't even know they'd existed. When we parked in the campus parking structure, and got out of the car, I had what I now understand was a panic attack. I'd had negative scholastic experiences and just being on a campus elicted a great deal of anxiety. Still does, actually. He took my hand anyway and walked me there, steadfastly reassuring me that it would be okay. He was right. It was. If he hadn't been the Gayle to my Oprah, I wouldn't be a writer today. Thanks Geo!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Should you read in the genre you write?

Someone recently asked me why it's important to read in the genre they write, i.e., if you write science fiction, should you read science fiction, if you are a memoirist, should you read other memoirs?

In response, I asked him if he had a day job.
He did.
I asked him what he did.
He was an engineer.
I then asked, "If you'd never opened a physics book, how would that affect your job?"
He replied, "Well, I'd loose a great deal of feel for what it is I do and why things work."


Reading in your genre is not setting yourself up as a plagiarist. It is not distracting you from your writing. It is your homework, your business. If you are writing Fantasy fiction, you need to read as much Fantasy as possible. That is your job. You need to understand the conceits and structure of your genre. You need to know what's already out there. You need a background sense of what you should be aiming for in your finished product. You need to understand how to incorporate theme and foreshadowing into your prose. You need to understand how to organically set up a fantastical world. You can't work in a field you know nothing about. Well, perhaps you can, but you will likely be inefficient and ineffective.

I've heard people give writers advice to avoid reading about a subject they are writing, or in a genre they are writing because it will 'unduly influence their writing, and that they need to remain original.' I can't disagree more with this statement. This is like telling a painter never to look at other paintings. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? Studying other painters is part of what makes someone a great painter.

It's okay to be influenced. All artists have influences who have inspired their work. This is not a bad thing. This is an imagination booster, not a route to being a copycat. This is true even for screenwriters.

Read in your genre.

Photo by Lienhard Schulz (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, March 21, 2011

Do you write or aspire to write romance fiction?

The Los Angeles Chapter of Romance Writers of America sent us this announcement so I thought I'd post it in case any of you are romance writers:
Sunday - 27 March, 2011

Writer's Voice workshop by three multi-published authors Jane Porter, Liza Palmer and Megan Crane.
"Voice Lessons – Writer’s Voice, that is!

Los Angeles Romance Author’s invites you to a rare opportunity to hear Jane Porter, Liza Palmer and Megan Crane - three dynamic speakers – talk on the subject of Voice. Join me, the thrilled programmer of this event, at the Sportsman’s Lodge Hotel in Studio City on Sunday, March 27th to learn more about how to improve your novel or script with Voice and style, Voice and theme, Voice and (best of all) the writer’s market.

Date: Sunday, 27th March, 2011
Time: 9:00am - 3:00pm
(two breaks, lunch and book signings after presentation)
Cost: $25 through PayPal at
(includes continental breakfast; does not include lunch)
Place: Sportsmen's Lodge Hotel
12825 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, CA 91604
Toll Free: 800.821.8511
Local: 818.769.4700

Speaker Bios:
Jane Porter -
Megan Crane -
Liza Palmer -

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Why Los Angeles is the Best Place in the World for Writers

Where else can you find something this unique?
On Saturday, March 26, 2011, Heritage Square Museum’s annual Vintage Fashion Show and Tea will take a bold step forward, presenting “Fashions from Literature”.
Beginning at 11:00 a.m., see what Elizabeth Bennett, Dorian Gray, Scarlet O’Hara, Jane Eyre, Daisy Buchanan and other favorite literary heroes and heroines would have worn in their respective eras. Learn why only in the imagination of the printed word could there be such a thing as a bodice ripper! Excerpts from some of the most famous works ever written will come to life as historically accurate recreations of the costumes of the period are displayed before you.

With the museum’s historic Longfellow-Hastings Octagon House as the backdrop for the show, models will promenade in men’s and women’s vintage or period accurate reproduction clothing based on historical patterns from the 15th Century through the 1940s – all with a literary twist. After the show, visitors may also sample items commonly enjoyed at an afternoon tea, view a vintage clothing display inside the Hale House, shop in our Museum Store or Vendor Market, and much more. The annual fashion show is sponsored by Costumer’s Guild West, Folkwear, the Perfume Station (Alhambra) and Councilman Ed Reyes, District 1.

As the Vintage Fashion Show and Tea often sells out, reservations are required. Call (323) 225-2700 ext. 223 to secure your seats, as no tickets will be sold at the door. Admission is $20 for adults and $10 for children 6 to 12. Heritage Square Museum members receive a 25% discount on the ticket price. As this is a special event, no regular tours of the museum’s historic structures will be given on the day of the fashion show.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Difference Between Idioms and Cliches

While sitting around pondering the difference between idioms and cliches and unable to come up with the distinction on my own, I reached for my trusty MacBook and took a trip to the grammar-and-language-geek section of the internet. I finally found an article that seemed to explain the difference in the clearest possible way. Since I'm sure you also spend your early Saturday evenings pondering idioms, I thought I'd share this article with you. It's a couple years old, but timeless:

Friday, March 18, 2011

Blogs About Writing and Our Favorite Posts

It's tough to write, read, raise kids, work day jobs, keep up with the cleaning and laundry, meditate, get in some cardio, and then read about writing. With all the information out there on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, paper books, e-books, it's an overwhelming task just to keep up with all that reading.

We're going to make it a little bit easier for you. We're going to scour the web for the most helpful articles about writing and present them here, to help streamline at least a small part of your day.

Here's what we found over the last few days:

Point of View in Fiction by Writerly

The Quick and Easy Cheaters Guide to Writing Plotlines by Flash Fiction Chronicles (If we gave out gold starts for great blog posts, this one would get tripple gold stars)

What Editors are Looking For by Pub Rant's Agent Kristin

That's our list for now - more to come!

If you have a blog you follow and want us to follow it for you and post the best stuff here, let us know!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Agent Blog Post on Writing Non-Fiction Query Letters

We are on a mission to bring you the best writing-related articles we can find online.  We usually post them on twitter and facebook.  Should we post them here too or is that repetitive?

Here is an example, an article written by a literary agent:

Let's talk about non-fiction query letters for a minute

Let us know in the comments.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Time to Write

We are delighted to post a guest post blog from Andrew McFayden-Ketchum, our Mid-City writers' group moderator!


One of the most common problems I hear about from writers is "finding enough time" to, yah know, WRITE. There are dinners to make, kids to clothe, vehicles to repair, fat to lose… the list goes on and on.

Though I've been writing stories and poems since I was seven years old, I've most certainly had this problem.

Throughout my formative years I loved to write and was pretty good at it. But after graduating from college, I was tending bar at a high-end club in downtown Nashville while clerking at a law firm and working on local political campaigns. I was meeting girls, making good money, and, every night when I came home to the stars spread above my studio apartment on the outskirts of town, it seemed my muse was waiting for me.

There was only one problem: I wasn't actually writing.

At first it seemed natural. I'd just graduated. I was making a living. I needed a break.

But as summer moved into fall and fall into winter, I discovered that even when I'd carved out some random time to write, I either had writer's block or simply didn't have the energy to write in the first place. That was when I knew something had to change.

So I went to my mother and explained the problem. And pretty quickly we came to a solution: Establish a schedule and never deviate from it.

"All great artists have a work routine," she said. "You're not going to write if you don't force yourself to. It's too hard."

So we spent the afternoon looking at my finances and at my day-to-day schedule. With a little tweaking we discovered I could cut back my work schedule a bit and write 2-3 hours a day if I got up at 6 am.

I tried it for a week and the results were obvious. I was reading poetry that had been gathering dust over a year on the bookshelf, and I was writing and revising poems left and right.

Of course, back then I was just a kid. No wife, no kids, no mortgage. Well, that's all changed now (minus the kids), and I still get up at 6 am every weekday and read and write for at least four hours. That's 20 hours a week of writing folks— not bad considering I have six part-time jobs, have been married for five years to a career woman, edit an online poetry journal, and live in the second most expensive city in the country.

I'm not saying everyone has to get up at 6 am or that writing several hours a day is required to create the works you have in you to create.

What I'm saying is simpler than that.

Establish a routine and don't let anything change the plan.

Try it for a week and let the results speak for themselves!

Guest Blog Post by:
Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum
Adjunct Professor of English
Pepperdine University

------------------------ is a great way to keep yourself on a schedule by having a deadline to bring work in for constructive critique feedback every week. During the group, you have seven opportunities to bring work in and learn how you can elevate your story and your writing.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Peace of Mind for Writers

Nothing gives a writer peace of mind as much as a complete backup to an external hard drive.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

2011 Legal Workshops for Writers, Only $20

This just came in from California Lawyers for the Arts - looks like a fantastic deal chock full of great legal information we all need to know as writers...

California Lawyers for the Arts is pleased to present...


All workshops will be held:

Wednesdays, 7:30pm – 9:00pm at

Moving Arts Theatre, 1822 Hyperion Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90027

(Free street & free small lot parking available)


With Marc S. Williams, Esq.

This workshop will address the basics of copyright and idea submission law for writers. While most examples we will cover come from motion picture cases, the workshop is relevant to all writers. How do you obtain and enforce rights under copyright laws? What are the best practices for protecting your ideas, even if they are not protected under copyright laws? This workshop will clarify questions writers have about their contributions when they are not the final or only writers on a project.


With Gary G. Goldberger, Esq.

There are many different kinds of screenwriter deals made: film, TV, established writer, new writer, guild, non-guild, etc. This workshop will discuss and analyze the deal points involved in agreements between writers and producers.


With Cheryl Klein, California Office Director, Poets & Writers

You’ve written something, and everyone in your writing workshop thinks it’s great. Now what? This workshop will provide an overview for writers of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction who are ready for the “next step.” We will discuss finding the right outlet for your work, seeking an agent, querying literary journals and independent presses, and presenting your work at readings and other events.


With Jonathan Kirsch, Esq.

This intensive workshop will show writers what to look for--and look out for--in the "fine print" of the various contracts that book, magazine, and newspaper writers will encounter in author-publisher, author-agent, and writer collaboration agreements.

ADMISSION (Per Workshop): General: $20, C.L.A. Members: $10, C.L.A. Member Senior Citizens & C.L.A. Member Students: $5

REGISTER: Phone: (310) 998-5590



(If emailing, include your phone number, mailing address, and workshop date(s))

Monday, November 15, 2010

PITCHAPALOOZA: Presented by The Book Doctors at Vromans

Hey there writers - saw this and thought you might be interested, in case you were wondering what kind of writing-related thing you could do tonight:
The Book Doctors (a.k.a. Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry), authors of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published, are presenting Pitchapalooza at Vroman's bookstore in Pasadena on Monday, November 15th at 7PM.
It's the American Idol for books - only without Simon. Writers get a shot to pitch to a panel of publishing experts. But they only get one minute. Afterwards, the judges critique everything from idea to style to potential in the marketplace and much, much more. It's educational and entertaining. The winner gets a free consultation and a chance to jump start their book career. Arielle and David have taught everywhere from Stanford to the Miami Book Festival to the world famous Strand Bookstore. They have helped dozens and dozens of talented writers become published authors.
The Vroman's bookstore is located at 695 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena, CA.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Want to read more short stories?

Check out Kevin Brockmeier's 50 Favorite Stories, courtesy of Oxford American.

This would be a fun list to save, then slowly search out and read each one. A fabulous summer project!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

A response to "Should Creative Writing Be Taught?'"

An article by Louis Menand in The New Yorker:

Menand just published a well-written, and intriguing article in the The New Yorker entitled "Show or Tell, Should Creative Writing be Taught?"

He recounts the history of informal writing workshops to the creation of university level degree programs in creative writing, which he posits are a fairly recent development in the history of the creation of creative writers. Using many references such as John Barth's 1985 article in the Times Book Review entitled Writing: Can It Be Taught?, as well as Mark McGurl's book, The Program Era, he examines whether or not writing workshops, either informal or institutionalized, are worthwhile endeavors for both authors and readers. He poses the question: "Is the rise of the creative-writing workshop, as McGurl claims, “the most important event in postwar American literary history”?" He later writes the profound statement that "Writers are products of educational systems, but stories are products of magazine editorial practices and novels are products of publishing houses."

The article is a worthwhile read, and at the end, he injects his own experience of participating in writing workshops and how they've affected him in the long-term:
"I don’t think the workshops taught me too much about craft, but they did teach me about the importance of making things, not just reading things. You care about things that you make, and that makes it easier to care about things that other people make."
As someone who is somewhat adverse to institutional learning environments, but who has participated in, and run, many writing workshops that concentrate on the creation of new work, I have witnessed the joy that writers get from creating something they never expected they would invent, and how the act of creation itself keeps them coming back week after week. If a writing workshop makes you feel productively creative, then it has served it's purpose.

Brenda Ueland wrote in If You Want to Write,
" least I understood that writing was this: an impulse to share with other people a feeling or truth that I myself had. Not to preach to them, but to give it to them if they cared to hear it. If they did not - fine. They did not need to listen. That was all right too."
What she is saying here, and what I agree with, is the motivating factor to write should not be to gain, but rather because you love. If you gain from it, so much the better. If a writing workshop or a university degree feeds your love, feeds your passion, then participate. If writing alone feeds your love and your passion, then don't participate. Either way, write because you love.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Interview with Rob Tobin

Read an online interview with Rob Tobin, our screenwriting group moderator on ScriptLinks.