Places to submit

Looking For A Silver Lining

Reader’s Digest is looking for stories with a silver lining: If you wished 2020 had a fast-forward button, you’re not alone. In spite of the challenges, many of us discovered unexpected reasons to be grateful this year. Perhaps you discovered a new skill—or a new friend? Did you learn something wonderful about yourself—or about a neighbor or even a stranger? Write about the best thing to come out of your year and Reader’s Digest might publish your story. Write and submit!


Never The Same . . . Prompt #533

Today’s prompt is inspired by a poem I wrote in response to the fires that ravaged Northern California, October 2017 and to the devastation throughout the world. The sentiments seem true today, especially “adjusting to a new normal” and the feelings of frustration, anger, and hope. October 10, 2017 by Marlene Cullen Sonoma, Napa, Solano, Santa Rosa will never be the same.Las Vegas concert goers will never be the same.Hurricane victims will never be the same.This City, That City . . . the list too long. new perspectivesnew fearsnew ways of thinking frustrated with natureangry with wrong-doersangry with bureaucracyangry in general now we know what we don’t want to knowthe unimaginable can happenthere are no guarantees what will we take awaywhat have we learnedwhat do we need we need time to processwe know the five-year droughtand the heavy rainsmade tinder that caught sparksfueled by heavy windscreating flying embers but the…

Guest Bloggers

Chug, Chuff, Hiss, Squeal, Off We Go

Today’s post is inspired by Nancy Julien Kopp’s blog post about using sound in writing. Nancy wrote: This morning, I was catching up on email when I heard the whine of a train whistle, blown several times. I wondered if it was the historic Union Pacific train, known as Big Boy, making its way across Kansas this week in celebration of 150 years of the Transcontinental Railroad. It was due to stop here in our town at 9:30 a.m.  The sound of that whistle made me stop and listen. I always liked to hear train whistles when I was a child. We lived across the street from the railroad tracks, so we were treated to that arresting sound on a frequent basis. I can remember being in bed on a summer night, windows open, hoping for the train to come by and announce its presence. When I did hear it,…

Places to submit

Under the Gum Tree

Sonoma County author Nicole Zimmerman’s “The Nature of Beginnings” was recently published in Under the Gum Tree. This Sacramento-based, reader supported, quarterly literary arts magazine publishes creative nonfiction and visual art in the form of a micro-magazine. Under the Gum Tree What does it mean to “tell stories without shame”? “Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together.” —Brené Brown Under the Gum Tree has been championing the mantra of telling stories without shame since 2011. We see our mission as sharing stories that remind readers of our shared humanity. Too much of the human experience gets hidden behind constructed facades based on what we perceive the world expects from us. Stop hiding. Live a story. Tell it without shame. If you write true stories, also called creative nonfiction, (and literary nonfiction, by some) and you’re taking storytelling to a level beyond “I was twelve years…


Boost Dialogue with Beats . . . Prompt #532

Too much dialogue can be boring to read. Interspersing action with dialogue makes a story interesting. In real life, we don’t talk without movement, neither should characters on a page. Plus, action gives clues to the character’s personality, habits, status and more. For example: “I dunno,” Remy said. Well, kind of boring. But what if detail were added: “I dunno,” Remy said, polishing the top of his boot along the back of his jeans. Readers can “see” this action and learn more about Remy’s character. Beats “Dialogue benefits from variety. A good way to maintain reader’s interest is to insert a variety of beats into dialogue. Beats are descriptions of physical action that fall between lines of speech.” —“Amp Up Dialogue With Emotional Beats,” by Todd A. Stone, Nov/Dec 2010 Writers Digest Facial Expressions Facial expressions signal emotions. “When a character raises an eyebrow or furrows his brow, this action,…

Book Reviews

She’s Got This

She’s Got This, Essays on Standing Strong and Moving On, edited by Joanne Hartman and Mary Claire Hill is refreshing and riveting. After I started reading it, I didn’t want to put it down. It’s uplifting and inspiring in its authenticity and revelations of humans . . . as we are . . . flawed. After I finished reading it, I wanted to immediately re-read it. It’s that good. Available on Amazon.

Just Write

Strategies For Stress Reduction

By now, many of us know the drill to stay safe during the 2020 pandemic: Wash hands, wear a mask, and social distancing. But what about our mind, body, and spirit? “My lab’s study found the best recipe for dealing with everyday stressors is to try to simultaneously plan ahead about what you can control and stay in the moment mindfully.” —Shevan D. Neupert, Ph.D, “How to Soothe Your Soul,” August 2020 Consumer Reports The activities listed to soothe your soul in this article are the same as the restorative activities in the resource section of The Write Spot: Writing as a Path to Healing. ~ Prepare and plan. “Tasks that distract you now but also benefit you in the future are wonderful.” — Joyce A. Corsica, Ph.D, “How to Soothe Your Soul,” August 2020 Consumer Reports If you are working on a writing project, plan for the result. If…