Thursday, February 25, 2010

Organic Writing

I read a fascinating book this week.

It wasn't just the message that appealed to me, although the author's thesis certainly tickled my mind and got me thinking. The book's format intrigued me. Short paragraphs, no indents, and

snappy ideas,

presented separately,

for stronger impact.

And it did impact me.

Recently I attended a writing workshop, and the instructor's favourite buzz word was


Everything from the setting, to the character's dialogue, to the minutest descriptive detail should be organic to what you're writing, she insisted.

Now for me, the word organic congers up images of weed-infested gardens, where the produce might be "healthy" but its bruised, bug-nibbled hides are far from appealing. So what has that got to do with my writing?

The book I read this week showed me.

By packaging his new



in a new



the author successfully married his message to its format.

He achieved


Its taken me years to comprehend the basic rules of fiction writing. The importance of story arc, voice, point of view, and yes, grammar. But I am now being told, in this age of post-modern literature, that I need to explore outside the box of literary rules.

I need to step out

take a chance.


So my question is:

if I try this new method of writing,

will it make any sense?

J.E. Self


”It’s important to read aloud what you write. In writing groups, I ask
people to write and then immediately afterward, ask them to read.
It is apart of the writing process, like bending down to touch your toes
and then standing up again. Write. read, write, read.

If you don’t read aloud, the writing tends to fester like an infected
wound in your notebook.”

Natalie Goldberg – Wild Mind

On October 25, 2001, the late Ed Wildman read the whole chapter of Reading Aloud at the first workshop I attended. I knew without a doubt that I’d have to read my raw writing. I’d been writing for five years and I’d only shared my writing a couple of times to my dream group, (that’s where I met Gloria).

Ed utilized writing practice that he learned from Natalie Goldberg when he took a workshop with her in Taos, New Mexico. He advised that if you used this method of writing practice, you’d never experience writer’s block again.

Check out the writing practice on our website:

He started with the prompt, what I don’t remember is . . .

When I wrote what I don’t remember in my journal, I held on to the pen so tight that my fingers started to cramp. Oh God, please don’t take me there. A memory from my troubled family home had surfaced. I fought it. I wrote out what I don’t remember is . . . at least five times.

For the last five years, I’d been writing morning pages (The Artist Way by Julia Cameron) and I’d become accustomed to going where the pen took me. I knew if I didn’t go with “flow” that I’d experience writer’s block. So I wrote the dreaded memory.

I’d listened to the others read their writing. Most of it contained phrases like what I don’t remember is what I went upstairs for …”

“Nancy,” Ed said. “Would you like to read your piece?”

My voice shook. “I didn’t what to write what I wrote because I knew that I’d have to read it. But I went where the pen took me.”

To be continued …

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Why not take this test for fun! You may be surprised to find out their suggestion for your best life!

I’d always said if I knew what I know today I would have become a _________! And darn if it didn’t show up.

Email me and let me know…

Or post on the Blog. I know that I’d enjoy reading your result and your feelings regarding the result.


Thank you Diane and Gloria for posting to our blog.

I enjoyed reading your posts.


SPOTLIGHT: Tweeting for the Life of Your Book by Carolyn Howard Johnson

A MUST READ! Pat mentioned Twitter.

FROM THE INSTRUCTOR'S DESK-- Answers the question: What about self-publishing?

Reviews & Tips – Reviews software Snowflake Pro Novel Writing Software


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I just want to express my thanks for this great group. As writers we are well used to the solitary aspect of our craft, so it is a treat to be with a group of like minded people to laugh, cry and celebrate each other. I am a new member of the Guild and look forward to getting to know each of you. Last Sunday was challenging to write a poem, but Harry is such an excellent mentor and poet, he made it fun.
Gloria Nye


Two weeks ago, my younger daughter had a bad day at work. She told me that she cried all the way home.

I said to her, “I don’t care what anybody says about you. I BELIEVE you were born to be a teacher.”

A tear fell from her eye.

I read the following to her.


There may be days when you get up in the morning and things aren’t the way you’d hope they would be. That’s when you have to tell yourself that things will get better.

There are times when people disappoint you and let you down, but those are the times when you must remind yourself to keep life focused on believing in yourself and all that you are capable of.

There will be challenges to face and changes to make in your life, and it’s up to you to accept them. Constantly keep yourself headed in the right direction. It may not be easy at times, but in those times of struggle you will find a stronger sense of who you are.

So when the days come that are filled with frustration and unexpected responsibilities, remember to believe in yourself and all you want your life to be, because the challenges and changes will only help you to find the goals that you know are meant to come true for you.


After I read this to my daughter, she hugged me.

When Judy read her excellent piece The Voice that details a person’s battle with her inner critic, we couldn’t stop laughing. We all understood that we all fight our demons or the voice that constantly belittles us. I believe the voice is a compilation of all the negativity we’ve heard since childhood.

The late Ed Wildman, my beloved friend and mentor, is the most charismatic person that I’ve ever known. He always had the right words to inspire and motive all people.

After the meeting, I spoke with Glenn who talked about his fear of joining a writing group and loosing his voice. He mentioned that he is surprised at the number of people who were willing to help him become a stronger writer.

I smiled. “I’m so happy when other members succeed in the writing group. It means that Ed’s legacy lives on.”

I wish that I had Ed’s gift but I do my best to inspire people to live their dreams, as do other members of our group.

When Anita mentioned that our writing group gave her the courage to live her dream, it brought a tear to my eye. I know Ed is smiling in heaven.

Thanks Ed.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Shirley!

We wish you a Happy Birthday,
We wish you a Happy Birthday,
We wish you a Happy Birthday,
And new Paper and Pens!

All the best to you!

Meeting Minutes Feb 21, 2010

I'm back! Thank you Nancy and Pat for picking up the slack! We had a fun meeting on Sunday, broken up a bit from other meeting going on at the church, but nothing major.

The meeting began with Anita asking if anyone had a spare pen. Harry gallantly gave her one of his then had to borrow one from Nancy - his second one died.

We were joined this weekend by Gloria Nye, our dear friend from Eramosa Eden. Gloria has been working hard to edit a new anthology called Stories of Prayer and Faith. She brought along a proof copy for us to check out. This was especially exciting because our own Nancy Rorke and Diane Bator (me) have stories in it and can't wait for it to be released! Nancy read her story about her near death experiences to the group.

Lots of people brought pieces to read. Gloria read a story about John Grisham. Diane read a poem by her uncle Hubert Rondeau from his book Pierced and showed off a book by Alyxandra Harvey called Hearts at Stake. Clare read about students pulling a prank on their teacher in an old schoolhouse.

Ron read an article about Haiti that led to a discussion about the history of Haiti. Clare is working on Meanderings and talked to Jennifer Wells at the Toronto Star for information.

Glenn read a short story edited for the Toronto Star Short Story contest. Thanks to Judy, Nancy, and Pat for their help with it. He was afraid to join the group in case he would lose his writing voice. He didn't lose his voice, we helped make it louder." He will be in Alberta for the next 2 months.

We discussed being true to our characters. Also about how we tend to put parts of ourselves into our writing.

Judy told off her inner critic. She will submit her humourous piece to the Toronto Short story.

Harry's group in Collingwood is trying to bring Shane Koyczen, the poet from the Olympic Opening Ceremonies to the Collingwood Arts Festival Sept 11, 2010. April is National Poetry month. There will be a celebration at the Grey Roots Museum near Owen Sound on April 24, 2010.

Harry's prompts had to do with Spoke Word poetry. Poems that "wriggle us out of our skin." According to Harry poetry is defined as "prose slowed down." Ron surprised us. He has been a poet for years.

Anita has been working hard to become a Minister and is going to Toronto on April 14th for her next stage. The group helps her find her voice and never hesitates to give her support and ideas. She read her poem that she called "Cloud of Unknowing."

Nancy told us she was contacted by a lady looking to bring writers in to Westside Secondary School on Tuesdays to inspire and mentor young writers. Anyone who is interested can contact Nancy.

A reminder of the Brian Henry workshop on March 13, 2010 at the Tweedsmuir Church. If you have not already registered, contact Brian through the Quick Brown Fox newsletter and send him your cheque!

Our next meeting is March 7th. Nancy will be leading.
Bring your pens and be ready to write!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Awwww, you love me, you really love me!

Apologies to Sally Field! Sorry I messed things up by being absent at the last meeting. Life happens. I promise to get on top of the latest meeting minutes and have them posted soon! Scouts honor. Okay, I wasn't a scout but I knew lots of them.

Keep on writing and stay positive.
Deadline for the Toronto Star Short Story contest is FEB 28! If you haven't finished your submissions it's time to get a move on. (That means me!) There is no entry fee this year. All it costs is postage.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


It’s not my fault. (Don’t you just hate whiners?) Honest, I was sick and Diane missed the meeting. Pat said, “You’re more detailed than I am. You should take the notes!”

Hasn’t Pat read my fiction? I’m the most detailed person but certainly not in taking notes. Did I mention that I was sick, too?

Finally, yesterday, I began feeling better. I’m pieced together my sporadic notes and hopefully it makes sense to you. Then I noticed that Pat had posted her notes from the meeting. But what the heck!

Richard complained that Alex brings his notebook to write. *LOL* I mentioned that mostly we write by hand but it’s whatever works for you. So bring your laptops, if you so desire.

Last meeting, Judy mentioned that she read her writing (especially her Fat and Other F word poetry) to her friends and she felt like a “real” writer. Everybody must have heard her even if they weren’t present.

At least half of the writing group brought writing to read. Everybody received constructive criticism of their work.

Richard mentioned to Pat who read from her novel that possibly she should graph her novel. Judy said, “Robert McKee, American screenwriter and lector, also mentions to plot out your writing. "Pat received helpful critiquing re her sub-plot.

I said, “It’s whatever works for you.”

Richard outlined his first novel "The Ositary” and wished that he’d outlined his second novel.

Glenn complained that I was sharing my germs by coughing and sneezing on him.

Clare almost stopped in the middle of a suspenseful line . . . but we begged him to continue. Richard said, “ENOUGH!” We all laughed. Clare used a prompt from the week before. The clock struck 13, she was sure of it.

I read from my journal, an entry, started by my seven-year-old granddaughter.

I was in a cave with my friend Abby and there was no way to get out. The cave was dark. The cave had a hundred bats and possibly some bears.
(to be continued …)

When I told her that I’d read it, she glowed. Possibly, we have another writer in the making.

When Alex read, it was suggested that he submit his article/essay to In the Hills or Sideroads. Jayne advised that if you submit to one magazine the other one wouldn’t publish you for at least a year.

We discussed the possibility of publishing online.

Richard brought an email that he received from Melrose Press. They praised his writing and if they had contacted him the first day, he would have given them the $12,000.00 to publish his book. Later, he realized that it was a Vanity Press (self-publishing).

He said, “It was only Vitamin B+ for your ego.” I guess you can figure out what the B+ stood for.

Richard suggested that you post your novel on Harper Collins reviews this site.

Keep one copy of the original novel before you make any changes. Print if off and save it on a CD.

Della, a new writer, asked me if we were all published.

“No.” I mentioned that the late Ed Wildman always told us, “Don’t compare yourself to other writers.”

Richard nodded. “You can’t compare yourself.”

“I’d have to quit writing,” I said.

Alex commented that he liked our new room. He preferred the natural light as opposed to the basement and the room was less formal.

If I missed anything, please feel free to comment.

THE BLOG – I read, "Do You Read Our Blog" that was posted on December 16, 2009, and I mentioned that I haven’t noticed any comments. Many writers make light work. Would it be possible for volunteers to post on the blog, twice a week, once a week, every other week, or once a month? It’s also a chance to be published. Anything that is posted online is considered published.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Since Diane wasn't at the last meeting, very few notes have been posted. (Diane we can't function without you!)

We welcomed possible new member Della Gurnik to the group.

There was much discussion about the blog - please check regularly, please comment on posts, please contribute.

We discussed the importance and benefits of graphing novels, a method of plotting your novel out in advance of writing it.

Jayne recommended a book by Jack Bickham - Scene and Structure (available at Amazon for $13.46). The same author has written another book entitled Elements of Writing Fiction - Scene and Structure (available at Amazon for $12.05).

Richard shared with us an article he received from Melrose Books. The Reader's Report consisted of a rave review of Richard's yet-to-be-published book The Ostiary. Richard told us how happy he was with this review until a few days later he received an email from Melrose Books asking him for X dollars to publish his book. A lesson to be learned here. Beware!

Coming Soon:

The Headwaters Writers’ Guild presents…
“Writing with style” ~ with guest author Jean-Rae Baxter ~
Saturday, March 13, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Tweedsmuir Presbyterian Church, 6 John Street, Orangeville
Email Brian Henry directly to register. Further information was posted previously.

Our next meeting is this Sunday, February 21st, 1:00pm at Tweedsmuir Church. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

When I started this group

When I started this writing group, none of us were published. Six years later, most of our members are published.

I believe it’s with the support and encouragement of fellow writers that helped us to achieve our dreams.

When I was a beginning writer, it was difficult for me to believe in myself. I think it’s beneficial to have others believe in you until you arrive at the place where you can acknowledge to yourself, I am a writer.

Don’t forget, if you write, you’re a writer.

Last week, I crawled out of bed only to go to work. I didn’t blog last week but I’m grateful that Pat has published some posts.


Congratulations to Judy, who has achieved the distinction of being a “published” writer.

Check out her article The Bank of Paper Bag, The Gold Dust Adventure.

Page 43.


Donna Ipolito answers the question ‘How do I handle thoughts?’

I'm checking this out! I personally live in my head but to put it on the page .... it's quite a different story!


Friday, February 12, 2010

My 15 minutes of fame

As you know I wrote Fifteen Minutes of Fame from a writing prompt and posted it on Triond. I received a private message from a fellow Triond writer who is a seasoned writer, educated in writing. He requested my flash fiction for his blog. That is quite the compliment. You can find it here: This is MY 15 minutes of fame. LOL!

With the Olympics upon us, it is a timely little story. Eh, oh, Canada!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


The question was brought up on Sunday as to whether anyone was following Twitter. I said I was but only so that my Triond posts could be seen. I went on to say the only people I follow are celebrities. I'd like to correct that. I follow Writer's Relief, some agents, other writers. I should probably "follow" Writer's Digest.

Today I posted a new article on Triond - "Beyond The Writing Group". You can check it out here: (By the way, my last post, which was a prompt from two weeks ago, has been requested by another member. He wants me to submit it to his blog. The Flash Fiction - Fifteen Minutes of Fame - was better than I thought!)

Shortly after my article posted I received an email saying Daniel Audet is now following me. I looked at his profile. He is a writer. I checked out his blog and thought it might be of interest to some of you. You can see it here:

Twitter is another form of networking that you might want to think twice about. Just be careful who you follow (though you can always block them) because some people will post relentlessly. There is one writer on there who wants her work to be seen to the point where she will post and repost the same thing over and over again. A bit annoying but I just skim through them.

Friday, February 5, 2010

THE TOOTH FAIRY Movie & Writing

My seven- year-old granddaughter desperately wanted to see this movie. I relented but not expecting to like the children’s movie.

Try to imagine The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) in a tutu?

My husband, granddaughter, and I loved the movie. Derek (Dwayne Johnson’s character) is forced to become a tooth fairy when he squashes the hopes of a young boy’s dream of becoming a hockey player.

In The Artist Way by Julia Cameron suggests that we are unable to live our creative lives, as well-meaning parents and teachers have ruined our dreams by negative comments.

My middle daughter at an early age showed artistic talent. I remember when she asked her father, “Do artists make money?”

“Not unless they’re dead,” he said.

I took him aside explaining to him that he’d just ruined her dream of becoming an artist. For years, no matter what I said, she wouldn’t paint.

In order for me to write, I write morning pages (The Artist Way) and do writing practice (Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg) to free the writer within and shut up the critic who makes negative comments about my writing.

If you’re experiencing writers’ block, why not try writing morning pages (handwritten three pages) of whatever arrives in your mind.

Headwaters Writers’ Guild’s meetings include writing practice (Writing Down the Bones).

Today, my daughter is a talented artist. My sister-in-law mentioned that my daughter inherited her talent from her great-grandmother. I don't care how talented you are - if you don't have encouragement, somebody to buy you paints, and to pay for art lessons, you're not going to succeed.

The Tooth Fairy reminds adults to be careful not to destroy a child or an adult’s dream.

Check out Oprah today, Dwayne Johnson is on. Possibly, Oprah thought the movie was inspirational, too! I watch a lot of inspirational movies, like "The Blind Side", to inspire me.

Did I mention that my granddaughter is begging her mother and me to take her to see "
The Tooth Fairy" again? I've promised to buy the DVD
when it comes out.

See you on Sunday!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

How to Submit Poetry for Publication

From Writer's Relief:


We have a writing session this Sunday, February 7th,
at 1:30 P.M. at Tweedsmuir Church,
6 John Street, Orangeville, downstairs.

Richard Goodship is scheduled to lead.



Besides watching Dexter, I've been watching movies.

For the first time, I watched a movie (The Edge of Darkness) as a writer. It shocked me. I watch movies for entertainment.

Lately, since I started to blog, I’ve watched movies thinking about the screenplay afterwards.

During the movie, I whispered the ending of the movie to my husband. “The writer can’t end it any other way.”

The movie is full of action and is suspenseful. During one scene, I screamed and jumped. The last time I did this was watching Wait Until Dark and Alien (old movies).

Edge of Darkness is the story of Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson), a Boston cop, and his quest to find the murderer of his twenty-four-year-old daughter. The scenes of a young Emma Craven and her father are touching.

The movie hooks you from the beginning but it wasn’t until later that I realized the connection.

I loved the ending. Even though I predicted it, the movie is entertaining and thought-provoking.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


DEXTER – Characterization

Long Ridge E-newsletter mentions characters and I thought I'd write about one of my favourite characters.

If they can make Dexter (a serial killer) likeable then surely there’s hope for our characters.

Boxing Day, my husband bought the first two seasons of Dexter and we became addicted to watching him. After watching the first two seasons, we purchased the third season. And we watched it.

I talked to Laura about it and I think it’s because Dexter’s character is in constant transformation. He’s always evolving. On the show, all the characters are unique and believable. I especially like Debra, his sister, a cop who swears and constantly drops the “F” bomb.

Right now, I’m thinking about reading the novels by Jeff Lindsay, crime novelist, who’s novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter is the basis for Dexter, the TV series. I’ll keep you posted.

Before Dexter, I couldn’t imagine liking a “serial killer”.

Contests, Contests, Contests!

Instructional Humor Essay Writing Contest: Submit your 250-500 word humorous instructional essay to win an Amazing Creativity Tool Kit. Check out the Coaching Your Creativity Web site for details. Deadline April 1, 2010.

The Writers’ Union of Canada’s Postcard Story Competition is open for entries up to 250 words. Entry fee is $5, with a $500 grand prize. Deadline is fast approaching: February 10, 2010.

Writer’s Digest is holding it’s 79th Annual Writing Competition. Lots of categories, including poetry, essays, short stories and scripts. Deadline is June 1, 2010. Early bird deadline is May 14, 2010—add $5 to the entry fee for all manuscripts submitted after this date. Entry fee is $15 for first poem, $10 for each additional poem submitted in the same online session. All other entries are $20 for first manuscript, $15 for each additional manuscript submitted in the same online session.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Check out the whole newsletter especially Forum that talks about characters.

Have you ever thought about writing articles? Donna Ippolito, Long Ridge instructor, answers the question, what if I can’t do an interview?