Book Reviews

Swimming Grand Canyon and Other Poems

Susan Bono’s review of “Swimming Grand Canyon and Other Poems” by Rebecca Lawton. I am not a person who knows rivers, although some part of me yearns to be. That’s why I’ve been a fan of Rebecca Lawton’s writing ever since I read her essay collection, “Reading Water: Lessons from the River.” She takes me to those places in myself. In “Swimming Grand Canyon” she shows me her love for rivers with lines like, “The water has no bones/but carries things we love.” I expected this and was grateful for it. But I soon became aware that these poems are channeled through the hard gates of life, and that is what sticks with me. She warned me early on in “It’s Like Life” when she wrote, “You think you’ll jump on/and just ride.” Of course, it’s always more complicated than that, and I realized as I read on how much…


Pacing . . . Prompt #447

When you read the next ditty, read “d-o-e-s” as in female deer. Mairzy Doats Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy a kid will eat ivy, too wouldn’t you? Say it fast and it becomes: Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey A kiddley divey too, wouldn’t you? Link to what this sounds like. I think of this rhyme when I think of pacing – paying attention to the cadence and rhythm of writing. How and when to increase the pace when writing. Paraphrased from Make A Scene by Jordan Rosenfeld: By pacing your scenes well and choosing the proper length for each scene, you can control the kinds of emotional effects your scenes have, leaving the reader with the feeling of having taken a satisfying journey. Pace should match the emotional content of your scene. First scenes should get going with an…

Book Reviews

Write Free – attracting the creative life

Write Free – attracting the creative life, revised second edition by Rebecca Lawton and Jordan Rosenfeld If you are seeking to make some changes in your life, but don’t know where to start . . . Write Free might be the perfect resource for you. “Where you place your attention, what you focus on, is where and how you create your life.” With my first reading of Write Free, this line struck me as the heart of the book. I needed to re-read it and break it down to get it. “Where you place your attention, . . . what you focus on, . . . is where . . . and how . . . you create your life.” That sounds so simple and yet is complex to implement. Lawton and Rosenfeld offer practical suggestions, leading to discoveries towards a creative and productive writing life. These techniques can also…

Just Write

Take note.

It’s early Monday morning. The day is just getting started and it’s very quiet. The softly falling rain has hushed all ambient noises. No cars drive up our country lane. People are still sleeping on this soft-feeling day, not quite ready to begin the busyness of our lives. Even the birds are quiet this morning. And I’m wondering, do you want to write? Do you contemplate ideas to write about as you stay in bed just a little longer in the morning? Do you have brilliant, awesome thoughts for writing while you are driving? As you wait for sleep to settle in, do these brilliant ideas swirl in your head? And they are brilliant, I am sure. You tell yourself you will remember everything until you have time to write. Finally, you sit down to write and those creative ideas seem to have vanished. You stretch to grasp your dazzling…

Guest Bloggers

Guest Blogger Jordan Rosenfeld reveals secrets of successful writers.

Guest Blogger Jordan Rosenfeld: 5 Habits of Persistent Writers (That you can adopt, too). Show me two equally capable writers and I’ll show one who succeeds at her publishing dreams and one who struggles. What’s the difference between them? And no, the answer isn’t luck, or “being born with it.” The writer who succeeds persists. What does this mean, precisely? We hear a lot about persistence–is it just a numbers game, where if you keep submitting the same story or novel eventually it will just magically land? No, that’s blind hope. Persistence is passion + commitment + practice.  Below I’ll walk you through seven strategies for becoming a persistent writer, and I promise you the answer will not include self-immolation or losing sleep. Find a Passion Root: One of the most amazing things about rose bushes is that they are notoriously difficult to kill by chopping or cutting. You can prune…

Places to submit

What do these writers have in common?

Bella Andre, David Corbett and Jordan Rosenfeld have all been Writers Forum of Petaluma presenters. Scroll down for details. The September 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest magazine is filled with practical, helpful and inspirational articles. Bella Andre is on the cover. Her story, “Romancing Big Publishers With E-book Success” might encourage you to go the indie route for publishing or try traditional. She also talks about why she uses a pen name. Do you wonder about “pacing and tension?” Jessica Page Morrell has written an article that explains it in easy-to-understand format. Donald Maass writes about “Building Microtension Into Every Scene” and makes it seem like an easy thing to do.   Writer’s Digest Contest #60 is one you can enter. “Write a short story of 750 words or fewer based on the prompt: A man opens his mailbox to find an envelope containing a set of instructions.” “You can…


Find the truth of the scene — Actor Will Forte

In an interview with The Costco Connection, Will Forte – an eight-year vet of Saturday Night Live – talks about his experience working with Bruce Dern in the movie “Nebraska.”  When asked what he learned from Bruce Dern, Will answered, “Bruce would always give me this advice: ‘Be in the moment. Just find the truth of the scene.’ I’m not a trained actor, so that just seemed like drama school hogwash, but the further we got into the  movie, it really made a lot of sense to me, and then I started thinking, maybe that’s what I’m supposed to do in comedy too. The truths might be very different, the levels of reality might be different, but you have to commit 100 percent either way.” Note from Marlene: I think this is true with writing also.  When “the truth of the scene” is conveyed, writing is strong and readers feel…

Book Reviews

Jordan Rosenfeld – Make A Scene

We’ve been talking about character, let’s add location. Jordan Rosenfeld wrote an amazing book, Make a Scene, detailing how to “craft a powerful story one scene at a time.”  She explains “The purpose of setting, a core element of the scene, is almost always to support and contain the action of the scene, but rarely to be the star. Still, setting requires careful consideration, because you want to ground the reader.” Characters in a story are always somewhere. . . even if the scene is just the character thinking. . . he or she is somewhere. In the next few prompts, we’ll be setting the scene. Meanwhile, check out Jordan’s book. It’s a complete how-to book for writing scenes and a necessary book for writers.  Good one to have on your resource shelf.