Just Write

Take a risk and go long.

In the January 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest magazine, Elizabeth Sims writes about “Miscalculations and Missteps.”  One is, “take a risk and go long.” “The value of a relatively long description is that it draws your readers deeper into the scene. The worry is that you’ll bore them. But if you do a good job you’ll engross them. Really getting into a description is one of the most fun things you can do as an author. Here’s the trick: Get going on a description with the attitude of discovering, not informing. In this zone, you’re not writing to tell readers stuff you already know—rather, you are writing to discover and experience the scene right alongside them.” Sims continues with “Go below the surface.” “A gateway to describing a person, place or thing in depth is to assign mood or emotion to him/her/it.  . . . The Bay Bridge was somber…


Play with anaphoras. Prompt #38

Anaphora: Repetition of a word or expression at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, sentences, or verses especially for rhetorical or poetic effect. For example: Abraham Lincoln’s speech, “We cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground.” — Merriam-Webster online dictionary. When Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous 1963 March on Washington speech, he repeated the phrase “I have a dream” at the beginning of his sentences. Prompt:  Using Lincoln’s speech or King’s speech as inspiration, incorporate anaphora in your next story, poem or essay. Repeat a statement or idea that drives home the core message of your narrative. — except from January 2014, The Writer magazine.  

Book Reviews

Women at Ground Zero: Stories of Courage and Compassion

Women at Ground Zero: Stories of Courage and Compassion, by Susan Hagen and Mary Carouba, is a story of remarkable courage. . . the courage that took Hagen and Carouba from their comfortable home in Northern California to New York City to learn more about the first responders for the September 11th attack on New York City.  After observing only male responders being interviewed  on television, firefighter Hagen and investigative social worker Carouba decided to pack up and head to NYC to discover the stories of the women responders. They interviewed 30 women whose stories are told in detail in this riveting book that reads like a novel.  The individual stories are tributes to the unselfish acts of bravery and valor. All of the first responders, paramedics, firefighters and police should be remembered. Hagen and Carouba have done an excellent job of telling these stories. All should be commended for…

Places to submit

Every Day Fiction

Every Day Fiction is a magazine that specializes in fine fiction in bite-sized doses. Every day, they publish a new short story that can be read during lunch hour, on transit, or over breakfast.  Every Day Fiction is looking for very short (flash) fiction, of up to 1,000 words. “There’s no such thing as too short — if you can do the job in 50 words, have at it! — but our readers prefer pieces that tell or at least hint at a complete story.”

Guest Bloggers

Guest Blogger Susan Hagen: What I want to tell you…

Guest Blogger Susan Hagen wants to tell you something… After a long weekend together, I wrote this to honor the courage and heart of the students at my fall writing retreat. I offer it again here to all of you: What I want to tell you is that you are not like most people. Most people would not be awakened at dawn by the beating of a drum and feel happy about it. Most people would not hurry through their yogurt and bacon to climb a hill and sit all day on a threadbare couch. Most people would not spend four days putting words in a notebook or listening deeply to the words other people spent four days putting in a notebook – and pay for the privilege. They would not weep in front of strangers, or talk about their sex lives, or say truth be told, I’m glad my…


Your story is buried treasure.

Writing is therapeutic. It saves lives. Your truths are eager to come out. Let them spill onto the page, and see what doors writing opens for you. Your story is buried treasure. — B. Lynn Goodwin: B. Lynn Goodwin is the owner of Writer Advice, and the author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers, available on Amazon. A former teacher, she conducts workshops and writes reviews for Story Circle Network, www.storycircle.org and InspireMeToday, www.inspiremetoday.com/. She’s working on a YA novel and brainstorming a memoir. Note from Marlene: Today’s post is dedicated to Don Riley. A brilliant man, loving husband, devoted father, and adoring grandfather . . . family man and wonderful friend to many.  His writing was deep, powerful, insightful and inspiring. His truth did indeed spill onto the page. He will be missed.

Just Write

POV is like a photographer’s lens

POV – choosing a point of view is one of the first things to decide when writing your story. In “Fiction in Focus,” January 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest magazine, Tanya Egan Gibson compares pov with how photographers frame their subjects.  She writes, “frame your story, focusing readers’ attention and leading them through the storytelling picture you’ve created, scene by scene.” Gibson writes that using pov as a lens allows you to you to go deep in describing your characters and their actions, making your manuscript stronger.  For example, “the way a character sees the world tells the reader a great deal about them. If your protagonist sees rainbows, puppies and waterfalls as gloomy, menacing and boring, your reader will come to the conclusion that the character is  depressed, without you having to come out and say so. This follows the old adage of showing, rather than telling.” You have…


What happened, from your point of view. . . Prompt #36

Today’s writing prompt was inspired from the January 2003 issue of The Writer magazine, ”On Writing Personal Essays,” by Barbra Abercrombie. Make a list of issues and experiences, important and trivial in your life right now. What frustrated you in the past month? What made you laugh or cry? What made you lose your temper? What was the worst thing that happened? The best? The most disturbing and weird? Write:  Choose one thing from your list and write about it. Write whatever comes to mind. Write what you would really like to say to the other people involved. Write what happened from your point of view.

Book Reviews

Wanting to be Jackie Kennedy is like a box of fine chocolates.

I could have devoured Wanting To Be Jackie Kennedy by Elizabeth Kern in two days. But instead, I chose to savor it like a box of elegant chocolates. I absolutely love this book. The opening introduces Ellie Manikowski in “present time.” Kern takes readers on a rich journey with Ellie as she travels the rocky path to becoming an adult. I love these memorable characters. Kern expertly uses strong verbs and well-chosen adjectives. Her detailed scene description made me feel like I was right there, even though I have never been to Chicago. Wanting To Be Jackie Kennedy is a heartwarming story of love, loss, and family secrets. It’s the story of a young Polish girl’s journey to womanhood in Chicago in the 1960s, and the role the nation’s elegant first lady plays along the way. Elizabeth Kern was born and raised on the Northwest side of Chicago in the old Polish neighborhood…