Guest Bloggers

So, what is a story?

Today’s post is by Lisa Cron, author of Story Genius and Wired for Story. We think in story. It’s hardwired in our brain. It’s how we make strategic sense of the otherwise overwhelming world around us. Simply put, the brain constantly seeks meaning from all the input thrown at it, yanks out what’s important for our survival on a need-to-know basis, and tells us a story about it, based on what it knows of our past experience with it, how we feel about it, and how it might affect us. Rather than recording everything on a first-come, first-served basis, our brain casts us as “the protagonist” and then edits our experience with cinema-like precision, creating logical interrelations, mapping connections between memories, ideas, and events for future reference. Story is the language of experience, whether it’s ours, someone else’s, or that of fictional characters. Other people’s stories are as important as the…

Places to submit

Submit to Politico Magazine

POLITICO Magazine is always looking for smart, timely journalism aimed at a broad, but well-informed audience with a deep interest in politics. We publish both original reporting and distinctive opinion journalism that illuminate the people, ideas, and institutions that matter most in American politics and government. We’re much less interested in garden-variety op-eds, especially on narrow subjects or those with a limited shelf life. What works: Big swings at big subjects. Deep dives on the hidden forces shaping politics in a key state. Timely, original reporting on matters of national importance. Well-targeted book excerpts. Profiles of the major players influencing the political debate – or the backstage players who soon will. Unique data or new findings that challenge the conventional wisdom. Smart, elevated media criticism. What doesn’t: Op-eds on committee hearings, obscure pieces of legislation or highly specific regulation. Clichés. Talking points and predictable partisan rants. Your random thoughts on…


Go on a rant . . . Prompt #330

What are you mad about?  Write about it. Let off steam . . . Pour out your emotions on paper.  I suggest using pen and paper for this one rather than computer. Okay, use a computer if that works better for you. Plan to destroy your writing after. Crumble the paper and toss it . . . throw it into the trash. Burn it. Or, keep it, if you want. Get the angries out . . . Just write. Definition of rant:  To speak or write in an emotionally charged manner.   Source: The Free Dictionary Photo by Karen Bobier.  

Guest Bloggers

Go With The Flow

What do you call it when your creativity just seems to flow? Alison Luterman had an epiphany: I was singing in a little pop-up chorus this past month. It was a tricky classical piece, and the other women were all looking intently at their sheet music. I don’t really read music, so I ignored the paper and gazed at our teacher, trying to meld my brain with hers. Okay, I know this is going to sound woo-woo, but that night in chorus, watching the teacher’s hands on the keyboard, hearing her sing the parts, my body understood the music on a level my mind couldn’t. In Interplay we call this “ecstatic following” and we often do it as a group in dance. I remember being introduced to the concept and having an immediate suspicious reaction to it: “Ecstatic following– you mean you surrender your critical thinking? That’s how we end…


The deepest level of desire . . . Prompt #329

You have probably heard this: Stories are about a character desiring something and the things that prevent character from getting what he or she wants. This is true for both fiction and memoir. Another word for desire is yearning, suggesting the deepest level of desire. “Fiction is the art form of yearning.” “Plot is simply yearning challenged and thwarted.” — Ryan G. Van Cleave, “The Art of Yearning,” May 2017 The Writer magazine How to write fiction or memoir Give your character a problem, add some obstacles. How does the character overcome problems? Mix and stir. Get started by interviewing yourself (for memoir) or interview your fictional character by answering the following questions. You can answer every question briefly, or go into detail using one or two questions to focus on. Something most people don’t know about you. If you could change some things in your history, what would you…

Places to submit

Why There Are Words Press

                                                                   An independent publisher of exceptional literary books​ WTAW Press publishes full-length books of prose (novels, memoirs, creative nonfiction, collections of stories and essays, etc.). Additionally, opening chapters, stories, or essays of full-length manuscripts that show promise may be selected for publication in the WTAW Press Features Chapbook Series. Submissions are welcome from writers unpublished, extensively published, and in between. “We don’t privilege one aesthetic over another: we want to publish books that show us more things on heaven and earth than we have dreamt of.” The 2017 reading period will open June 15, 2017, and run through Sept. 15, 2017.  


Finding Magic in the Mundane . . . Prompt #328

Today’s writing prompt and title for this post is inspired by Suzanne Murray. “I have many favorite poets but, the Nobel prize winning Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda tops the list in his elegant celebration of common things. These poems help me find beauty and wonder in the everyday and give me a fresh perspective in the face of the difficulties in the world. Early in his writing life wrote serious political poems . . .  One line from his poem I’m Explaining a Few Things written in 1935 during the Spanish Civil War has long stayed with me capturing the intensity of Neruda’s work, …and the blood of children ran through the streets/without fuss, like children’s blood… Later in his life, as if weary of the burden of protesting atrocities and political corruption, he began to write Odes about everyday things: salt, cat, dog, dictionary, tomato, to name a few. His Odes celebrate the ordinary…


Rewrite your past.  Prompt #327

Today’s writing prompt is inspired by something Susan Hagen wrote. “A seminal moment in my life occurred when I was barely three years old. I remember sitting on the kitchen counter, pouring chocolate chips into Mom’s cookie dough. In a nod to our teamwork, my very pregnant mother said, ‘Two heads are better than one.’ A few months later, she gave birth to twins. All I could see was that they had two heads, and she had told me that ‘two heads are better than one.’ So instead of being happy that I’d gotten a baby sister AND a baby brother, I set myself on a lifelong mission to prove that my one head was as good as their two. That showed up as a double major in college, having two jobs throughout most of my life, and constantly battling an inner voice that said ‘you’re not good enough’ (because I only had one…

Just Write

Is Flash Fiction right for you?

  Want to learn more about Flash Fiction? If you live in the SF Bay Area, you are invited to attend the August 17, 2017 Writers Forum when presenter, Peg Alford Pursell, will talk about Flash Fiction: The Power of Writing Short. “Flash fiction isn’t simply fast fiction. It’s storytelling writ big—by writing short. Miniatures hold so much power that authors have turned to them to write highly successful novels and memoirs. Learn more about the short short and explore its potential to enliven and deepen your writing.”  — Peg Alford Pursell 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm Copperfield’s Books, 140 Kentucky St, Petaluma Free Read about Flash Fiction— What it is and what it is not Places to submit Flash Fiction Smokelong Flash Fiction Online Pulp Literature Fireside Fiction Note from Marlene: Whether your write short, long, fast, or slow. . . Just Write!