Guest Bloggers

Guest blogger Victoria Zackheim, “If we want to live full and creative lives . . . “

Guest Blogger Victoria Zackheim writes: How many of us are beset by that nagging voice that tells us we’re not good enough, not thin enough, not smart, tall, educated, talented enough? I don’t know about you, but I face this every day. It used to run my life . . . now it’s a tiny slice of annoyance that I can easily push away. It took years—decades, to be honest—but those demons are silenced. When they try to reappear, they’re quickly vanquished. Not dead and gone, but shoved aside where they can do no harm. It wasn’t always like that . . . and for many women, and those of us who spend our lives not only writing, but putting our words into the world for everyone to read . . . and judge . . . fear is often the rule, whereas a sense of security is the exception….


The only way to get better at something is to do it.

Ray Engan, winner of the 2013 Toastmaster International Speech contest for District 57 (Northern California) says, “Everybody in this world has a story to tell and they should share their stories.” Engan believes we learn how to overcome adversity when we share our stories.  Engan had to overcome his fear of public speaking.  One of the people he met in Toastmasters, Darren La Croix, said something that inspired Engan, “The only way to get better at something is to do it.” So, what are you waiting for?  Write that story that’s been simmering on the back burner. Just write! Ray Engan is a humorist, sales trainer and executive speech coach whose lively stories can be heard every month at West Side Stories Petaluma. Ray will be giving a seminar to add humor to presentations and your life in Petaluma, CA.  Details soon on his website.


How to write fiction based on fact. Prompt #41

Part Two of how to write fiction based on fact.  Part One is Prompt #40. Alla Crone-Hayden began one of her first historical novels with this opening line:  On the cold Sunday of January 9, 1905, the pallid sun hung over the rooftops of St. Petersburg trying to burn its way through a thin layer of clouds.  The weather matches the mood of character, of story.  Perhaps draws you in.  Maybe you want to know more   .  .  .  does the sun succeed in burning through?  Second sentence:  By two o’clock in the afternoon the dull light had done little to warm the thousands of people milling in the streets. The second sentence answers the unasked question about the sun. Notice the word choices:  cold, pallid sun, thin, dull light . . . words match the mood or tone of the day/event. Alla used weather to match the narrator’s…

Just Write

Writing is like being a salesperson . .

Elizabeth Berg, Escaping Into The Open, The Art of Writing True on Persuasiveness, page 32. Excerpt: In some ways, writing is like being a salesperson. you are in the business of convincing someone to buy something, as in, believe something. Try to develop your skills of persuasion so that your villain, say, is really felt as a villain. In doing that, think about the small things—everything really is in the details. For example, it’s not so much the description of the murderer killing someone that demonstrates his evil nature, it’s the flatness in his eyes as he does it; it’s the way he goes and gets an ice cream immediately afterward. Similarly, a man offering a diamond bracelet to a woman shows love; but that same person smiling tenderly when he wipes the smear of catsup off her face shows more.  Your turn. Write a scene showing the bad guy…


Make a list of pivotal events. . . Prompt #40

Today’s Prompt is Part 1 of 2.  Part 2 will be the next Prompt Post. Part 1 Make a list of pivotal events in your life. Those times when, at night, you were not the same person you were in the morning.  By day’s end, you were a different person.  Just write a list. When you are finished writing the list:  take something from your list and write the details . . . as you remember them.  You can be as detailed, or as general as you want to be. Write about an event that altered your life:  all the gritty details. . . be as honest and as genuine as you can. Bleed onto the page. Part 2 will be the next prompt post.

Book Reviews

Captive of Silence by Alla Crone

Captive of Silence is written with an eloquence matching the elegant author, Alla Crone. Alla captures the time period (1923-1940s) with a finesse fitting her stature and the nature of the times and locales. To tell this difficult story in such a compelling way is an art that Alla has mastered. Toward the end of the book, I could not put this roman à clef * down. Alla’s writing is honest, poignant and genuine. I highly recommend Captive of Silence, especially to learn history in a fascinating way and to be inspired from a woman who rose above an abusive and extremely difficult life. * roman à clef :  French for novel with a key, a novel about real life, overlaid with a façade of fiction.  The fictitious names in the novel represent real people, and the “key” is the relationship between the nonfiction and the fiction. — Wikipedia Note: …

Places to submit

Your Life. . . in 100 words

Reader’s Digest 100 words contest. In 100 words or fewer, tell a true story about yourself. One grand-prize winner will receive $5,000 and have his or her story published in our June issue. One runner-up winner will receive $500, and six finalists will receive $100 each. Entries must be received by March 14, 2014 Good Luck!

Guest Bloggers

Guest Blogger Maria Victoria: My novels are not for free.

Guest Blogger Maria Victoria: My novels are not for free. Give away your stories for free, suggests the book marketing “expert.” He insists that if I follow his advice, readers will immediately download my novels on their reading tablets and once they read my work, they will be so enamored with my pen that they will buy everything else I publish from here on out.  His logic reminds me a little of the slogan for Lay’s Potato Chips, “you can’t eat just one.” The problem is that I’m not a potato chip. And if I don’t eat now (even a bag of Lay’s) how will I survive to write more novels? Moreover, this guy forgets that I’m paying for his advice and if I give my work away, how am I going to pay him? Of course I understand the marketing strategy of “giving a taste,” like when we get…


When you look for things in life like . . .

“The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation. For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you. ” — Neil deGrasse Tyson.  Neil deGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator. He is currently the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space and a research associate in the department of astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History.