Thursday, November 18, 2010

CWC - Back to the Blog

Chesterfield Writers Club - Back to the Blog!
Hey Gang. After a long absence, we're back on the blog. There's a lot going on so get comfortable and pull up a chair...

Meetup Blackout
Well, a very strange thing happened. I was cleaning up after the Workshop event, and decided to delete the CWCAdmin meetup group we used to coordinate the workshop. I sent an email to and asked them to delete it. They overachieved - they deleted CWCAdmin AND ChesterfieldWritersClub! I have sent them email asking to have the site restored. I'll let you know what happens next.

JJ McMoon - Business side of Writing
On December 11, 2010 at 1pm JJ McMoon will present a seminar on the Business side of independent publishing. JJ was one of our panelists at the 2010 Workshop and is very knowledgeable about DIY publishing. He has a wealth of experience thanks to DIY publishing his novel "Lives - Perception is Reality". It promises to be a good show.

Branching Out - Chapters of the CWC
I plan to start opening chapters of the CWC next year at area libraries. One of the criticisms of the CWC is that the Chester library is too far away for some people. I hope to get more people involved by holding meetings at one of the other 8 Chesterfield Libraries. If you have a preference, let me know.

Facilitators Wanted
As we start branching out, there will be more need for facilitators at the other branches, and at the Chester location. I can't be everywhere at once! So, if you have an interest in facilitating a meeting on a regular basis, let me know. I'm even toying with the idea of creating a self-running meeting where anyone can facilitate. Let me know if you have ideas on that as well!

Change of Meeting Times
With the success of the Tuesday night meetings at the Commonwealth Barnes and Noble, I am thinking of moving meetings to a weeknight (still at the library though). Many people seem to think this is preferable to meeting on a Saturday afternoon. Also I'm considering going to a weekly format to accommodate all the different types of topics we want. (See next heading!)

Meeting Sections
It seems everyone wants some sort of review of their writing. And there is a desire to see an instituted "words on a page" requirement to membership. So, I'm thinking of increasing the number of meetings and create "Sections". Each "Section" would be 1-hour in length and would be one of:
  • Topics (round table topic group discussion)
  • Craft of writing (group discovery about elements of writing, with take-home exercise)
  • Review of take-home exercises
  • Writing workshop (hands-on writing exercises)
  • Critique (group review of 3-4 writer's chapter or short story)
Write me if you can think of other Sections.

Each meeting would be comprised of 2 Sections and the sections would rotate from meeting to meeting. For example, if Week 1 was Topics and Craft, Week 2 would be Review (of the take home exercise from the previous week) and Writing Workshop.

So, there is a lot happening and a lot to come. Please keep coming to meetings and email me if you have any issues, concerns or new ideas.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Mining the Muse

Here's the book.

Mining the Muse is a collaboration of work by the Chesterfield Writers' Club, a not-for-profit writers' group in Chesterfield, Virginia. Cover art by writer and graphic designer, Bonnie Watson. The book is available at our storefront. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Meet the Pen Folk

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

It's that time of year again! Time to meet up with the folks we're kin to. Who doesn't have a weird cousin, or a relative who talks loud, but has nothing to say?

Eccentric family members help writers build character(s). Face-to-face interaction with them makes life more interesting than clicking a button to send an email.

Speaking of pushing buttons, blogging here makes for interesting interaction, but wouldn't it be nice if we could meet up? We can. We've got a few days until the next meeting.

We're a little wired because we just finished our first anthology, but drop by. Don't be shy. Come back and visit, or visit our Yahoo site to see what's fueling our writing.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Why We Write

Now that we're nano-ed and na-blo-wn out, why are we still writing?

As we tie up the loose ends
on our first book, we're counting the million reasons amongst ourselves for continuing to show up. We're not just scribbling because the voices in our heads say, "Write." We've got to do it. If we didn't write, we wouldn't be writers.

voices in our heads (developing foreheads and nodding): 'nuff said

writers (perking up): thank you

voices in our heads (developing fingers and wagging): keep writing

writers (crawling back into our caves and muttering): okay, okay

Keep writing! It's fun! Be sure to come to our next meeting. 12/15/07.

Monday, November 26, 2007

You Know You're a Writer When...

The best gifts come in teeny packages. Adair Lara, who taught us that Normal is Just a Setting on the Dryer , has written a quick and witty read, You Know You're a Writer When..., that'll have writers laughing as they recognize themselves in Lara's list of quirky hallmarks.

You know you're a writer when...

"...All your bedspreads have ink stains on them."
"...You secretly love your own handwriting."
"...You accidentally sign a check with your pen name."

This book, which came out in September, would make a great gift for any writer in your life...even if you are that writer.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Unexpected Writing Resources

At Saturday's meeting, Greg asked what writing resources we were using. I didn't realize until after the meeting that the answers were at my fingertips (in my notebook) the entire time. Here are a few of the "offbeat" tools I'd taken for granted.


Maybe you're in the middle of scribbling the next great American novel, when you discover you can't write another word--and the story isn't going anywhere. Well, when was it set?

The Time and Date Calculator helps. I'm the type of writer who wants to know what day of the week Christmas fell on in 1976 and what day my character's 40th birthday will fall on in 2015.

I want my writing to ring true after I'm gone. If 20 years from now I'm writing that September 11, 2001 was on a Friday, rather than on the devastating Tuesday that it actually took place, readers may lose faith in my abilities.

Also, if I write that a soon-to-be evicted character has 40 days from Valentine's Day to get out of her apartment, I want to know what date is 40 days from February 14th.

2) Personal ads

I find many potential characters in the personals. I underline their positive qualities in green ink, and their negative ones in red. I tape my marked ads to index cards where I list 3-5 questions that may lead to a story.

Example ad: "SM, father, seeks new friends to begin a new life. I, sitting at home, watching movies...Want to join me?"
Question 1: What was wrong with his old life?
Question 2: How many children does he have, and where is their mother?
Question 3: Who has he met sitting at home? I'd really like to know...

3) Song lyrics

Sometimes I'll jot down 5 words from a song and use them in a poem or short story.

Example 1:
The hymn: "Amazing Grace"
The words: amazing, wretch, blind, sing, sun
Possible outcomes: Those 5 words could be written in love, suspense, horror, anything...not necessarily Christian writing.

Example 2:
The nursery rhyme: "Miss Mary Mack"
The words: black, buttons, fifteen, high, July
Possible outcomes: Suddenly, you're writing a mini-mystery about a summertime military heist or your own version of "Mary Poppins."

Example 3:
The popular song: "Nick of Time," by Bonnie Raitt
The words: night, babies, folks, change, choices
Possible outcomes: A poem about teenage pregnancy or an article for the local paper.

4) Jump the Shark This website has a forum that allows TV viewers to air their complaints about their favorite and least favorite shows. Did "The Brady Bunch" go wrong when they added Cousin Oliver? More than just an online complaint fest, this site helps me see what more than a few people saw as "bad" writing, and try to avoid it in my own (writing).

5) The Yellow Pages
Lots of writing books will tell you to look in the white pages of the phone book, pick a name, and create a character just from that name. I like to go to certain page numbers and pull a word or two a page from the yellow pages.

The last time I tried this was in October. I went to pages 11, 22, 33, 44, get the idea. Here's some of what I found:

11: airport, visitor
33: alarms, muffler
99: garage door opener, hardware
111: carpet, florist
222: museums, gravel
333: thrift store

One of my story ideas from the "yellow pages" prompt: A woman who leaves her car unattended at a yard sale, doesn't realize her garage door opener is missing until she gets home.

6) Stock Photo Prompts
When I noticed that fast food restaurants and insurance companies sometimes used the same photos of models in the same poses, I learned about stock photos. In addition to the ones in the clip art gallery in Microsoft Word, I use pictures from and for inspiration. Stock photos are expensive and rights have to be purchased to use them. However, rights don't have to be purchased to look at them and ask a few questions that will help you write your next story.

Click here for the picture source for the following questions about a picture of a pregnancy test.
  • She's not wearing a ring. Is she or isn't she pregnant?
  • What if she is single and childless and wants to be pregnant? What circumstances brought this desire about? Turning 30? A broken engagement?
  • There's a colorful, seemingly child-friendly piece of art behind her? Does she already have children? How will the outcomes of this test affect her and those around her?

Surely, there are other offbeat and unexpected sources of inspiration. If you know of more, let us know. Until we meet again, happy writing!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Heading Into The Home Stretch!

Well, guys and gals - it's time to do what we said we were going to do - put together our own anthology! What an exciting project! And just think how motivated we'll be to see our own words in print!

But the Anthology is not the end of the process. It's just the beginning.

Now we have to move to the next logical step. The one outlined by our fearless leader. Get published! Put ourselves out there and make the editors/publishers realize just how much talent there is in Chesterfield County. A few of our members are already doing it, so why not you?

There is a venue for each of us--young adult, faith-based, flash fiction, memoirs, self-help, DIY, pop and literary fiction--it's all out there waiting.

Where, you ask? Well, there are lots of places to look. Writers Market, Ralan's website (, Spicy Green Iguana ( to name a few. Go to the bookstore magazine racks--Ellery Queen, Asimov's, Fantasy, Glimmer Train. Check the spines on your favorite books, look inside at the Dedications, ask around, Google. It's all out there and waiting for YOU.

Let's put our best best foot out there with this anthology, but don't let that be your only step! Take that BIG step! Take that Leap!