Sunday, May 29, 2011

Judy Zarowny's Writing Prompts for May 29, 2001

Kelli Curtis, Published Childrens Author - AMBER AND THE FALLEN BRIDGE

Thanks for the wonderful prompts, Judy Zarowny.

I chose #4:  A broken heart was the worst of the injuries she suffered when the device placed under the hood of her car, miss-fired.

"Oh shucks, I don't think that's good!" she said allowed to herself.  She was parked at a red light and traffic was congested both ways.  She quickly looked around her and thought to herself, 'does anyone think that was from my car?  Nah, just do a quick make-up check in the mirror, keeping looking ahead and smile.  They'll all think it's someone else's car'.  All the while, black smoke continued to billow up from the engine.  She wasn't exactly the sharpest tack; the lights were on, but no one was home - ya know what I mean?!?!

Please check out my blog :-)

What's The Difference Between a Writer and an Author?

In my opinion, a writer can apply interesting, informative words to a known subject, thought or situation. Besides the skill for transmission of information, the words and formation of the work can be enjoyed for itself. A sound example of this writing in my memory would be McKenzie Porter who wrote a column in a Toronto newspaper for many years.

On the other hand an author is compelled to write about something that interests or inspires his/her creative juices. An author "thinks outside the box" and creates feelings in the work. Often times an author will introduce new ideas, new facets to old ideas and change trends in social norms. Dickens, Shakespeare, J.K. Rowlings, etc. form a tiny example.

Written by Joe Gilbey

Meeting Minutes May 29, 2011

I'm baaaacccckkkk! Well, for this meeting anyway.
Unfortunately, our leader for this week, Judy, was at home nursing a badly sprained ankle and a broken finger. She did send us some wonderful prompts via Nancy, keeping the "broken" theme in mind. Hugs to you, Judy, get well soon!!!

Ashley (sporting a new haircut!) announced that Westside Secondary School will be publishing their own anthology before the end of the school year. She will let us know when the book launch will be and where the book will be available.

Just a reminder that the Brian Henry workshop is next Saturday, June 4th from 10am - 3:30pm. The fee for members is: $38.94 + 13% hst = $44 paid in advance or $42.48 + 13% hst = $48 if you wait to pay at the door. To reserve your spot, email So far, we have 8 people registered.

Our annual retreat, in lieu of a meeting, is June 12 at Eramosa Eden, near Rockwood. Directions are on their website: ( or contact Pat for more info. Please remember to bring your own lunch, sunscreen and writing tools. Coffee will be provided.

There have been a few more tweaks to our guidelines. Members voted on the changes and, once they are complete, Pat will post them to the webpage. The guidelines will be handed out along with a welcome letter and schedule to new writers.

Several members brought things to read today.
Kelli read her query letter for approval by the group. She's joined QueryTracker to help her out. Jayne reminded her that she was trying to sell "Amber and the Bully" not "Amber and the Fallen Bridge". She should also use shorter sentences in her query letter to match the tone of the book, and include an approximate word count.

Jenn read a fabulous poem called "Strength" which was a lovely tribute to her mom and aunt. Thank you for sharing such an emotional piece!

Joe had an article he had written to post on his webpage at He is using his responses to emails he has received to create a blog. His target audience is mostly people interested in naval history. He has written three articles that he plans to post soon. His self-professed lack of computer savvy, led to a discussion of how some of us are "technologically challenged" (Pat's words). Nancy reminded us that we were all beginners. Ron said that itn's not the people, but the computers that create the biggest hurdle.

Ron read an article about his new computer. He has converted to MacIntosh. He commented on how "everybody speaks fast these days. Words in sentences have no spaces or punctuation." He wonders if it will only get faster as more things are run by computers. Kelli commented on how, as writers, we need to speak and write slowly and clearly, especially to kids. We want to be understood. Nervous people talk fast, Nancy told us, especially when reading in front of a group.

Clare showed us his article "A columnist takes a look at quarry plan" that appeared in the Banner. About 90% of his original article appeared, including a line from T.S. Eliot: "I will show you fear in a handful of dust."  He also informed us that Tracey Duguay has left the Banner and has been replaced by Richard Vivien.

Diane read a short piece called "Blue Suede Shoes," a tribute to Elvis that drew a lot of laughs. Nancy pointed out that Dean Koontz used Elvis as a character in "Odd Thomas". Pat thought the whole idea of Elvis testing his Number One Fan, was a metaphor for testing faith.

Aside from the prompts Judy sent, Nancy added one of her own and challenged whoever used it to post their responses to the blog: "What is the difference between an author and a writer?"

1) The fracture in security was responsible for the bizarre behavior of senior executives who initiated orders to destroy the _______________.

2) In spite of a broken finger, she was able to scale the forbidden cliffs. Now, all she had to do was retrieve the _________________.

3) The strained seams on the teddy bear, object of a tug-of-war between Geoffrey and Lionel, ripped apart exposing a ____________, which fell to the floor and began to ________________.

4) A broken heart was the worst of the injuries she suffered when the device placed under the hood of her car misfired.

5) Sprained. That was how she described their relationship. Not broken, just temporarily disabled.

6) He revved the motorcycle and took off after _____________ which suddenly veered off into the tangle of broken trees, destroyed when the ______________ fell from the sky.

7) Away from the commotion which broke out after the _____________, a fleeting reflection of _____________ flickered across the surface of twisted metal and broken glass and caught the eye of ____________.

Just a reminder that our next meeting, June 12, has been replaced by our retreat. I hope most of you will take advantage of the wonders of nature to write, take pictures and relax!

In Judy's words: "Have fun and stay connected."


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hecticity 101

Yes, I know, hecticity isn't really a word. I made it up.
Sometimes our lives seem to spin around us at such a rate that we don't bother to reflect on things that happen on a daily basis. I'm certainly guilty of this. There are many days I crawl in bed at night and wonder what exactly happened from the time I got up until then. Today, my pace has slowed slightly.

My van got stuck this morning.
In the usual rush to leave the lake after a very wet morning of rowing, my tires spun and clung onto nothing but mud. No traction, a ticking clock and a line of cars behind me. Lucky for me, there was no time to panic. Instantly, two voices asked, "Do you need help?" Before I knew it, two rowers, high school boys my son's age, and my oldest son, were behind my van pushing. They had it out in a blink. I yelled, "Thank you" and went on my way.

Don't think I'm callous. I know who they were and I'll see them tomorrow. All the way home, I plotted ways to thank them. My favourite, a Tim Horton's gift card. What teenager doesn't love Timmies? That's what I will give them tomorrow.

But the story doesn't end there.

I went home, caught up a few chores then went to run a few errands. I grabbed a shopping cart in Walmart - which ended up being the only dry cart in easy access - and turned to see a young mom with a toddler. She was the one who remarked about the carts being wet. I gave her mine. Okay, not a life shattering choice, but it made her shopping trip easier than having a grumpy, wet toddler.
And it made us both smile.

Sometimes taking notice of life around you, means making someone else's day brighter.
It can also make for some great story ideas and make you feel a little better about yourself.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I Apologize & I Thank You

Below are 2 emails; after attending this past weekend's HWG meet where we discussed the guidelines and cleared a lot of confusion from it, I emailed Nancy with an apology b/c I felt very bad for not acknowledging everything she has done for the group since founding it.  I also mentioned other members who work hard behind the scenes to keep things going whom I want to apologize to and thank as well.  I never stopped to think about everything that everyone does to make this group possible and FUN .... for myself ... I guess I've been taking it all for granted.
Please read the 2 emails from myself (Kelli) to Nancy:
--- On Mon, 5/16/11, Kelli Curtis <> wrote:

From: Kelli Curtis <>
Subject: Nancy, I apologize and I Thank You
Received: Monday, May 16, 2011, 10:20 PM

Hi Nancy,

I feel really stupid for responding the way I did to your apology email after sitting in on the HWG meet this past weekend.  I'm so sorry.  I had no idea of all the things you do behind the scene to keep the group running as well as the tireless efforts of Pat, Diane and Clare ... and anyone else I haven't mentioned (I am still suffering from a loss of short term memory as part of one of many side effects of a medication I've been on for too long and have to be taken off of slowly ... so I apologize for my ignorance).

I love this group and thoroughly enjoy myself every time.  For some crazy reason, it never occurred to me to stop and think about all the people who make the group what it is.  I  feel guilty for that.  Until this weekend, I only knew that you founded the group, I had no idea you did a lot more. 

Thank you, Nancy for everything you do and all the hours you and everyone else puts into making the HWG the fun, amazing group it is.  Thank you.

Kelli Curtis Published Children's Author
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Hi Kelli,
Please don't feel stupid ... nobody else in the group realized what I did either. Maybe only the other members that help run the group understand. Please, don't feel bad. 
Thank you for your kind words. I treasure them. You don't know how much they mean to me.
Blessings always

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Meeting Minutes, May 15, 2011

We were joined by a new member, Brenda Wainman. Welcome Brenda!

Most of the meeting was taken up with discussion of the group guidelines. Many changes were suggested and agreed upon. A revised copy will be sent to all members. Please print out your own copy upon receipt.

In the future, once finalized, the group guidelines will be attached to the welcome letter Pat gives to new members, along with the meeting schedule.

We had some time left over for a couple of people to read and to do prompts. The prompts provided by Clare were:

1. How many writers does it take to change a lightbulb?

2. You won't believe what came in the mail today.

3. It was a bright, starry night that the traveling circus rolled into town.

The next meeting is May 29th. Judy will be leading.

Friday, May 6, 2011

My How Time Flies!

This spring marks my fourth year with the HWG. What a remarkable journey so far!
During my membership with the group, I have written several novels and short stories, been published in magazines and two anthologies and won a writing contest that will see my novella published this winter. (Stay tuned for more info!)

As tends to happen in spring, things grow. Along with the flowers and weeds, my family responsibilities are taking me away from both writing and the group for a while - at least until late summer or fall. One of the remarkable things dragging me off this spring is watching my oldest son compete in several regattas. He is a rower and today I had the pleasure of watching (from VERY close up in a coach boat) his strength and determination while he and his teammates, who are juniors, race a boat load of seniors. True, the younger team had a 20 second head start, but they gritted their teeth and actually tied the older team. A first for them this season.

What amazed me the most about being on the lake was that time stood still. It seemed like we were out there for hours when it was only one hour. It seemed like we had circumnavigated the globe at top speed, yet it was only a few kilometres. How deceiving.

Writing is a lot like that. How many days have I written dozens of pages only to discover it's only been an hour since I sat down? There are times when things go smoothly and the words flow like honey from our fingers. Of course, there are many other days when we push so hard that we hit the wall. I saw an example of that today as well. One of the rowers pushed himself so hard that he literally collapsed. Those are the days that we need to, as the rower did, sit back and take a deep breath.

It's when we stop pushing that the words and energy flows. We need to relax the hunched shoulders and focus on nothing which is usually easier said than done. Our mission as writers is not to push until we drop from exhaustion. It is to release the stories and ideas from our minds, not coaxing or coercing them into life, but letting them live. Like children.

Have a wonderful, wonderous spring!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Meeting Minutes, May 1, 2011

We had a small group of 7 this week.

Clare shared some beautiful photos of birds of prey he took in Wales. He is writing an article to accompany some of these photos and will be submitting it to Sideroads Magazine. He pointed out the Orangeville connections.

Nancy read a small part from a short story she submitted to a short story contest.

Dorothy Papineau joined us for her second time and shared some poetry she had written.

Joe read a letter he wrote to the President of Hydro One complaining about a high bill he received, and responses he received from his original complaint.

Technical difficulties prevented us from viewing Marilyn's movie on Pat's laptop. We will view "Thicker Than Water" at a future meeting, or at the retreat. Instead Marilyn read an essay regarding email etiquette emphasizing that many people are still on dial-up and pictures and videos take forever to download. Marilyn's final words: "When all else fails, delete the suckers."

For prompts Marilyn brought her prompt jar and passed it around. We each took a prompt and were given 15-20 minutes to write. Everyone's writings were fun. The prompts picked were:

1. When you were little, you could swear there was a monster under your bed - but no one believed you. On the eve of your 30th birthday, you hear noises coming from under the bed once again. The monster is back and has an important message to deliver to you.

2. Write a story about two brothers who are competing for the affection of the same woman.

3. You head into the bathroom at work, walk into a stall and close the door. Moments later, as you leave the stall, you notice two people standing there and there's one major problem: They are of the opposite sex. On the spot, you make up an excuse as to why you are in the bathroom.

4. Your plane crashes on a deserted island. You and two other passengers survive. The only salvageable items from the plane are a pair of scissors, a stopwatch and an electric keyboard. Use these items creatively to get off the island.

5. You're late for work because you overslept, but your boss hates over-sleepers. He does love entertaining stories, so create the most outlandish excuse as to why you were late.

6. Your friend tells you he can pick up any girl at the bar, no matter what he says. You bet him $100 he can't. Create the world's worst pick-up line and send your friend off into the crowd. What happens?

7. The countdown clock for Christmas is ticking. Santa's elves begin working their magic on the assembly lines, but the line comes to a screeching halt when rumours leak that one elf is going to get let go that day.

Note: Some, if not all, prompts came from Writer's Digest.

The next meeting is Sunday, May 15th.