Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Writer's Block...What's That?

The other day I read this quote by Jack London: "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."

I assume that means he had writer's block at times. I'm very grateful I haven't had it. I can think of so many things I want to write that I need another lifetime!

Once in a while, I have to admit, when a specific assignment for a non-fiction piece was due, I had inspiration, but the words kept hiding. I had to use a rake to find them in the bushes. But with fiction, my fingers can't type the paragraphs fast enough.

If you ever lack inspiration, let me know, and I'll send you a spark. Hopefully it will ignite and you won't need that club.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Presenting Metaphors plus at our Writing Class in Pleasanton

On Tuesdays in Pleasanton, I'm teaching a writing class for dear writer friends of mine. Some of the members were in Nancy O'Connell's class and when she retired, we weren't pleased with the replacements. I wanted to keep as many members together as possible so several people joined me in meeting once a week to continue to read our work and learn new techniques.

Last week, under the influence of the workshops I attended at the Pleasanton Poetry, Prose, and Arts Festival, I presented the topic of Analogies, Twisted Cliches, Metaphors, and Similes.

One example I gave was Don Marquis' "Writing a book of poetry is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo." I love that!

Here's a short one from Robert B. Parke in "Widow's Walk": "The sinking feeling bottomed."

We talked about the ineffective mixed metaphor and the example from a 2007 issue of the Chicago Tribune: "So now what we are dealing with is the rubber meeting the road, and instead of biting the bullet on these issues, we just want to punt."

This coming Tuesday's topic is Sprinkling Backstory.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

First Prize Award at Pleasanton Poetry, Prose and Arts

My short story, "Fried Chicken Talks" won the first prize award in the Pleasanton Poetry, Prose, and Arts Festival this April. I won first prize last year too for "Leaving Jersey" and a second first place award for my non-fiction short story "The Principal's Principles". This year I didn't enter a non-fiction piece.

Submissions are anonymous. The judge this time was Richard Dry, a Las Positas College instructor, and I was happy to meet him Saturday at the festival. He signed his book, "Leaving", for me and we chatted about it. I appreciated the family tree he had in the front and how he hooked the reader to figure out who was speaking to the prisoners at Santa Rita that he wrote in a few chapters interspersed among the others. We don't find out until the end. The story spans several generations. I recommend it.

He said he chose my story because he felt he was there, in it, which he didn't feel in the other submissions.

The workshops were outstanding, especially those taught by Susan Wooldridge, Susan Browne, and Gerald Haslam. Save the date for next year, April 2-3.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Writing Conference this Weekend

The Pleasanton Poetry, Prose and Arts Festival is this weekend April 17-18. You can register at the door: The Pleasanton Senior Center, 5353 Sunol Blvd., Pleasanton. Peruse the brochure at I went last year and enjoyed it (probably one reason is because I won the two first place awards in their contests). But more than that, the workshops are informative, Author Row is a great way to meet authors and to buy their books, and it's just a welcome weekend to mingle with fellow writers.

See you there.