Ashedit

June 23, 2014

AJ Hayes Writing Contest at Noir @ the Bar L.A.

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 3:20 pm

The essence and style of AJ Hayes was very evident last night as crime writers and readers hoisted toasts at the bar, read excerpts of his work, and celebrated the winners of the first annual crime writing contest named after him. It was an event within an event, hosted by Noir at the Bar L.A. and held at the Mandrake Bar in Los Angeles. First, the Hat…

To the side of the stage, a battered chair sat with a brown fedora on the seat. This was the designated place of honor for AJ's hat.

To the side of the stage, a battered chair sat with a brown fedora on the seat. This was the designated place of honor for AJ’s hat. Just a few seats away, in the front row, sat Thury Hayes, AJ’s beautiful wife, anxiously waiting to hear the names of the winners.

Thury & Nestle

Eric Beetner(L) announced the talented recipients of cash prizes made possible by the excellent promotion and publicity of Steve Weddle and the Do Some Damage crew.

Angel Luis 
1st Place: Angel Luis Colon SHOTGUN WEDDINGJen Conley

2nd Place: Ray Nessly THE BALLAD OF BILLY HAYES  (Ray is pictured above with Thury Hayes)

3rd Place: Jen Conley THE REPAIRMAN (right)

 

Winners will be featured on DO Some Damage and also Col Bury’s Thrillers, Killers & Chillers site. CONGRATULATIONS WINNERS!

Richard Godwin sent a recording of a poem that was played out loud and Josh Stallings read some of AJ’s work to the audience:

AJ Josh

 

Josh 2

Below: Travis Richardson, Christa Faust, Eric Beetner (far right)

AJ Travis + Krista

Organizer Stephen Blackmore has an expressive moment with Christa Faust and friend.

AL Krista Stephen

Also reading were IVY POCHODA (L), CRAIG FAUSTUS BUCK (r),

Ivy

Craig

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samuel

TRAVIS RICHARDSON (shown above, seated) and SAMUEL GAILEY (L) The Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore staff ably crewed the book table.

 

Another terrific Noir @ the Bar organized by Eric Beetner and Stephen Blackmore. Thanks guys!

 

 

 

April 24, 2013

You’re Not a Real Writer Until You’ve Been Trashed

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 7:38 pm

A-9 Skull2When I first blogged back in 2012 about “You’re Not a Real Writer Until You’ve Been Screwed”  I thought it was a stand alone piece about the realities of the business-end of writing. Now that I’ve received my first one-star review on Amazon, I realize it’s a series. My latest hard-won truth is: “You’re Not a Real Writer Until You’ve been Trashed.”

It doesn’t matter what the reader (a verified Amazon purchaser) said about my book (HARD BITE). Everyone is entitled to an opinion and has the right to express it. Of course I disagree with the review, but that’s not what this column is about. It’s about coming to terms with reality—accepting slings and arrows right along with bouquets, and not getting too influenced by either. In my opinion, you’re not a real writer until you can handle it. At least in public. In private it’s okay to break plates and turn the air blue—along the lines of what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

I write fiction that tends toward experimental. The potential for readers to “get it Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 8.29.12 PMwrong” or dislike it is higher than traditional works of genre. But I’m not a writer that likes to play it safe. That’s not where I’m happy. When I get it “right” I hear words like, “fresh, different, unique” tossed around, and I get compared to some very cool people.  Just the other day, over at the Dead End Follies blog, Benoit Lelievre wrote about one of my short stories: “I don’t think Philip K. Dick could have written this idea better, if he had been into crime fiction.” Before  my head had the chance to swell up,  a one-star review appeared on Amazon saying (among other choice nuggets),“… a pain in the butt to even read until 30% where I finally gave up and dumped the thing where it belongs. The dust.

If I were a different kind of person, I could mash up these two opinions and bring down the experimental edge to my stuff while shoring up the easy-reading part. The end result might be solid 3-star material. Agents would probably like me better if I did. But that’s not who I am. Experimental writers have always been part of the pantheon of fiction—there’s a place for me in the world. I accept my slower career trajectory—first a digital deal with Blasted Heath, then a print deal with New Pulp Press. These are smaller, more cautious deals than, say, Hilary Davidson or Frank Bill got but I’m okay with it. I’m not mainstream. My quantity is unpredictable out in the broad marketplace, and we live in a time of extreme caution among publishers. They want to “wait and see.” So my books advance by increments into the world. As long as I get to write what I want, I’m okay with that, too.

One of the milestones of getting a book distributed to a broader reading public outside the polite sanctum of the crime- writing community is getting reviews from strangers who have no vested interest in saying something nice. The first time I hit #2 on Hardboiled Mysteries, Paid in January ’13, I got 4 and 5-star reviews. The second time I hit #2 on the same list in April, and #90 on the hotly contested Thrillers, Paid list, I got my first one-star review. There it was, bonafide proof I’d reached the wider spectrum, and when that happy day came it also arrived with the truth that you can’t please everybody.

I accept my one-star review and consider it a badge of honor because the truth is you’re not a real writer until you’ve been trashed. From Edgar Allan Poe to James M. Cain to Joyce Carol Oates, bad reviews are the hallmark of any and every writer who ever made a mark. (Not that I’m anywhere near that company but I aspire to be near that company.)

Now get out there and get yourself some bad reviews.

March 25, 2013

Todd Robinson HARD BOUNCEs Los Angeles

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 10:01 am

 

ThuglitA fresh breeze blew into Los Angeles for the weekend, bringing with it the accent of New York and vigorous raconteury in the Irish tradition powered by good old American testosterone.  This heady intoxicant radiated from the person of Todd Robinson,  creator of Thuglit, one of the first  online crime publishers. Todd and his crew at Thuglit launched the careers of countless writers, (myself included under my pseudonym Anonymous-9). As long as he remained in town, Los Angeles was transformed, and writers attended his readings to listen, pay respect, and warm ourselves at his fire.

Todd’s first novel THE HARD BOUNCE is out in hard back from Tyrus Press after a ten year slog through the wilderness. Los Angeles turned out to celebrate. There was more kissing, backslapping, handshaking and hugging than an Irish wake. Comments are enabled at the end of this piece.

Elaine/Anonymous-9 & Todd Robinson at Mysterious Galaxy in Redondo Beach. MG is on the cutting edge of the crime writing scene.

Elaine/Anonymous-9 & Todd Robinson at Mysterious Galaxy in Redondo Beach. MG is on the cutting edge of the crime writing scene.

L to R: Erica and Josh Stallings, Dirty Words

L to R: Erika & Josh Stallings, Sabrina Ogden and Richard Ogden, who made the trip from Utah to be with us.
London, singer/songwriter with band of the same name and Todd. London had fond memories of New York club nights with Todd.

London, singer/songwriter with band of the same name and Todd. These guys had fond memories of New York club nights back in the day.

LA author CHRISTA FAUST [Butch Fatale] sparkled the party and offered props to organizer-and-exhibit- one-of-urbane-cool, ERIC BEETER, (The Devil Doesn't Want Me).

LA author CHRISTA FAUST [Butch Fatale] sparkled the party and offered props to organizer and exhibit-one-of-urbane-cool, ERIC BEETNER, (The Devil Doesn’t Want Me).

L to R: JULIA MADELEINE [The Truth About Scarlet Rose], STEVE?, ELAINE ASH [Hard Bite] and her fabulousness, ERIKA STALLINGS. fabulousness

L to R: JULIA MADELEINE [The Truth About Scarlet Rose], STEVE?, ELAINE ASH [Hard Bite] and the fabulous ERIKA STALLINGS.

AJ HAYES and lovely, well-read wife THEORY traveled up from San Diego. A gathering of noir-istas would not be complete without them.

AJ HAYES and lovely, well-read wife THEORY traveled up from San Diego. A gathering of noir-istas would not be complete without them.

Todd headlining at The Mandrake, holding the room with an excerpt from his short story collection. A bravura performance. We wanted more.

Todd headlining at The Mandrake, holding the room with an excerpt from his short story collection. A bravura performance. We wanted more.

JOSH STALLINGS gave an inspired reading from his upstart memoir, All the Wild Children, a noir memoir. There's heat around this one, as Stallings finds his stride.

JOSH STALLINGS gave an inspired reading from his upstart memoir, All the Wild Children, a noir memoir. There’s heat around this one, as Stallings extends his stride.

TODD  and co-organizer STEPHEN BLACKMORE (Dead Things].

TODD and co-organizer STEPHEN BLACKMORE (Dead Things].

Me and ALDO CALCAGNO, one of my very first editors at POWDER BURN FLASH. Aldo was introduced from the audience to huge applause from grateful readers and writers.

Me and ALDO CALCAGNO, one of my very first editors at POWDER BURN FLASH. Aldo was introduced from the audience to huge applause from grateful readers and writers. THANK YOU, Aldo.

Christa and Stephen share a bon mot at THE MANDRAKE on La Cienega, where there's always a seat for a drinking writer.

Christa and Stephen share a bon mot at THE MANDRAKE on La Cienega, where there’s always a seat for a drinking writer.

L to R: TODD MORR who read from Captain Cooker, TODD ROBINSON, eith JACLYN of Mysterious Galaxy who expertly juggled mobile book sales with an air of  effortless cool. (It ain't as easy as she makes it look.)

L to R: TODD MORR who read from Captain Cooker, TODD ROBINSON, with JACLYN of Mysterious Galaxy who expertly juggled mobile book sales with an air of effortless cool. (It ain’t as easy as she makes it look.)

Film director JOHN ALTOBELLO (find him on IMDB) engages STEPHEN BLACKMORE who appears to be signing Dead Things. John is an old friend of Todd's and dropped by for the noir.

Film director JOHN ALTOBELLO (find him on IMDB) engages STEPHEN BLACKMORE who appears to be signing Dead Things. John is an old friend of Todd’s and dropped by for the noir.

Bright young things at the party. (My fav photo of the night.) LONDON & JACLYN TAYLOR

Bright young things at the party. (My fav photo of the night.) LONDON w/ JACLYN TAYLOR

Please feel free to leave comments, below. Anything that you didn’t get to say to Todd last night, leave it here.  BUY HARD BOUNCE HERE.HARD BOUNCE

January 14, 2013

Andrew Byers – The Reviewer Interviewed

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 6:33 am
ANDREW BYERS

ANDREW BYERS


Andrew Byers is a book reviewer of genre literature — crime, horror,
science fiction, fantasy, pulp, etc. — and blogs about all things
bookish at Tales from the Bookworm’s Lair .  http://bibliorex.wordpress.com/  I met Andrew when he reviewed HARD BITE for Hellnotes.com . That’s when I hit upon the idea of “interviewing the interviewer,” which rarely happens. Andrew’s full bio is at the end of this piece, including an interesting tidbit about his own micropress in the works. Elaine Ash

How did you get started?

Andrew Byers: I am a reader, first and foremost, and a voracious one at that.  I am also a collector of books (5,500 books and counting) – in her more uncharitable moments, my wife would say that I am obsessed with books and that my library has taken over our home.  I am also a writer myself.  It was probably only natural that I would start reviewing books.  I think I started writing book reviews for publication at some point in the mid-to-late ‘90s and have been doing it sporadically ever since.  A few years ago I put my book-related blog together (Tales from the Bookworm’s Lair, http://bibliorex.wordpress.com/ ) and have posted many of my reviews there.  Earlier this year I also became a book reviewer for Hellnotes ( http://hellnotes.com/ ), and you’ll see my recent reviews of horror-themed works there.

Andrew & his Assistant Editor, Crisco

Andrew & his Assistant Editor, Crisco

Elaine Ash: How do you choose a book?

Andrew Byers: I buy a lot more books than I could ever possibly read in a lifetime.  That’s kind of sick, I know, but I can’t help it.  I just love books too much to let them stay on store shelves.  I’m also a completist, so when I like an author, I generally try to collect everything they’ve ever written.  So I never lack for books to review.  But increasingly, the books choose me, at least in the sense that in the last couple years, more and more authors and publishers have contacted me directly with book review requests.  I don’t mind, of course, it’s exciting to have the opportunity to read some of the best new fiction that’s being written today.

I feel very lucky to be a book reviewer and to share my thoughts on the books I read with other readers.  It’s never been a better time to be a reader, with the increased (and unprecedented) availability of fiction today.  The biggest downside is that with the growth of self-publishing, epublishing, and small presses, it’s harder and harder for readers to find good books and good writers who may not be published by the big, traditional publishers.  That’s where people like me come in.  The cream will rise to the top, even if the books are self-published or put out by tiny presses, and reviews help people find good books to read they otherwise might never notice.

LibraryThing

Elaine Ash: Who are the reviewers you think are the best in the land?

Andrew Byers: Would you think I’m a terrible person if I admitted that there really isn’t one particular reviewer I read obsessively?  When I’m considering picking up a new book, I Google it and try to find as many reviews as possible for that book.  I look at places like Amazon, LibraryThing, and GoodReads as a starting point, as well as independent book review sites and try to sample a cross-section of the reviews to get as broad as possible of a set of views on the books.  And frankly, sometimes negative reviews help me make my decision – if a reviewer trashes a book for doing something, then I decide if that thing bothers me too.  Many times the things that might turn off another reader don’t bother me at all.  Having said all that, the reviews on places like Hellnotes and Bookgasm are very useful because they bring together many different reviewers in one place.

Hellnotes logo

Elaine Ash: Any do’s and don’ts if you’re a writer with a book looking for reviews?

Andrew Byers: I receive review solicitations directly from authors once or twice a month.  Most are authors I know, or have previously reviewed, or at least read, but sometimes entirely unknown authors contact me.  That’s perfectly fine, I like discovering new authors, but it’s pretty clear on my website and from the books I review, that I review the kinds of books I enjoy reading: genre literature in almost all its forms, meaning science fiction, fantasy, horror, thrillers, crime, etc.  Every now and then I receive a review request by a very well-intentioned novice romance author who has clearly sent a mass email to everyone who has ever posted a book review online.

So, rule #1: know your audience. 

Rule #2 would probably be to make your novel available to reviewers in a decent array of file formats: PDF, Kindle/MOBI, and Nook/EPUB at a minimum.  Also, it’s OK to pester me after a couple months if you haven’t seen my review pop up or heard back from me that the review has been posted, but please don’t harass.  Also, please understand if I decline to review your book.  It may just not be to my taste, so it’s probably better from your perspective that I not post that review.  Having said that, I do post negative reviews all the time, though almost never for reviews that were solicited by an author directly.  In those cases I would probably be more likely to read the book, hate it, and contact the author to let them know that I couldn’t in good conscience write a favorable review, and leave it to them if they still wanted me to write the review.

Unlike the infamous “Harriet Klausner,” I do read books I don’t care for all the time.  When I do post negative reviews, I try to clearly lay out why I didn’t like the book, with an emphasis on why the book didn’t work for me; my reasons for disliking a work might not be shared by other readers, so my negative review could still help readers find good books they enjoy reading.  Perhaps the biggest “don’t” for an author: if you don’t like a review, don’t respond in a snarky way, insult the reviewer, etc.  That’s extraordinarily unprofessional.  You will only come off looking like a chump.  This has only happened to me once, but the author in question ended up looking very bad in the exchange and lost a lot of my respect.  (And, ironically, the author was responding to a review in which I gave his book four stars out of five, but corrected some factual errors in the text.)

Thanks for the opportunity to talk about books, Elaine!  They are my true passion, and I love being able to interact with other book lovers.

Andrew Byers headshot

BIO: Andrew Byers is a book reviewer of genre literature — crime, horror,
science fiction, fantasy, pulp, etc. — and blogs about all things
bookish at Tales from the Bookworm’s Lair 
http://bibliorex.wordpress.com/ .  He is also an occasional guest
book reviewer at Hellnotes ( http://hellnotes.com/ ).  He plans to
launch his own micropress for genre fiction in 2013.  A native
Virginian, he currently lives in exile in North Carolina teaching
history at Duke University with his wife and a retired Chihuahua
gigolo.

October 25, 2012

HARD BITE by Anonymous-9 Launches

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 1:12 am

Jan. 9, 2013 HARD BITE reaches #2 on AMAZON US BEST SELLER list,

Hardboiled Mysteries, Paid

October 26, 2012 HARD BITE debuts on AMAZON UK BEST SELLER ranking

at #48 in Hardboiled Mysteries!

CLICK HERE

CLICK TO WIN PRINT COPY

CHECK OUT THE CRAZY SID PHOTO CONTEST AT BLASTED HEATH

WIN A KINDLE PAPERWHITE

September 28, 2012

GHOST MONEY by Andrew Nette

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 6:10 am

ANDREW NETTE in 1996, plying his trade as an international journalist.

It was August 1996, and I was working in the country for several months as a reporter for one of the news wire services.

Cambodia was an big international news story at the time.

The Khmer Rouge, responsible for the deaths by starvation and torture of approximately 1.7 million Cambodians during their brief rule in the seventies, were still fighting from heavily fortified jungle bases. The government was an unstable coalition of two parties who’d been at each other’s throats for the better part of a decade and whose main interests were settling historical scores and making money.

Journalists took part in a series of visits to various provinces organized by both parties in an effort show off how many Khmer Rouge had defected to their side.

The city of Phnom Penh at dusk.

The first of these was organized by the Cambodian People’s Party, the dominant Coalition partner, in control of the country during the eighties. We were told to assemble early one morning at Phnom Penh’s airport, next to a huge Russian helicopter the army used for supply runs. We waited in the baking sun for several hours until the Russian pilots, who had a reputation as notorious drinkers, turned up. As predicted, they were unsteady on their feet after the previous night’s vodka binge.

We flew for hours over an endless expanse of dense, arriving in a small village. A collection of old men and young boys, many missing limbs, stood in ragged formation in a clearing in the village. Nearby, lay a collection of ancient, rusty machine guns and rifles. Hardly the well armed, battled hardened veterans we were told to expect.

After a series of speeches we all piled back into the helicopter, along with several dozen heavily armed Cambodian men of unknown allegiance. The helicopter veered towards the ground and felt like it was going to crash, but pulled up at the last minute.

Within minutes the chopper had flown into a tropical storm. Inside, I clung to whatever I could as the craft was buffeted by rain and wind. We landed in a small clearing that had been hacked out of incredibly dense jungle and our heavily armed guests disembarked, then continued our journey.

GET A KINDLE COPY

GET A NOOK COPY

This experience encapsulated a number of lessons about working as a journalist in Cambodia I tired to inject into my crime novel, Ghost Money, which is set in that country in the mid-nineties. Never believe anything you were told and give up any hope of being able to get to the bottom of a story.

I was too caught up in the day to day reporting of events and trying to make a living as a freelance journalist to put much of a dent in the book. That didn’t come until nearly a decade later, when one day I sat down and started reading through some old notes.

Using the skeleton of the plot I developed in the mid-nineties, the basic plot of Ghost Money, a private investigator searching for a lost businessman amidst the chaos of the Khmer Rouge split, came quickly.

I drew heavily on my time as a journalist in the nineties and my reading of Cambodian history. I did quite a bit of on the ground research for parts of the book, especially in and around Battambang, a large city near Cambodia’s border with Thailand, and Pailin, Ing Sary’s former strong hold. Both of these locations feature heavily in the second half of Ghost Money. I also spent quite a bit of time just hanging out and talking to people, especially the locals, picking up nuances and colour whenever I could.

Ghost Money is a crime story, but it’s also about the politics of Cambodia the broken country that was Cambodia in the nineties, about what happens to people who are trapped in the cracks between two periods of history, the choice they make, what they have to do to survive.

Andrew Nette is a writer, film buff and pulp scholar based in Melbourne, Australia. He is one of the editors of Crime Factory, publishers of e-books as well as print books. His short fiction has appeared in a number of on-line and print publications. Ghost Money, his debut novel, is released through Snubnose Press. His blog, http://www.pulpcurry.com explores crime film and literature, particularly from Asia and Australia.


September 13, 2012

Growing up Beautiful in the 80s

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 1:37 pm

Growing up Beautiful is the book I wrote about models living in 1980’s Milan. The

LORI JONES today.

impetus came about after I returned from Europe where I modeled professionally for six years. This was a time when young women, deprived of the convenience of cell phones, or the warehouse of knowledge easily found on the Internet, faced an avalanche of choices and invitations to enter an exciting lifestyle. With little or no experience to draw from, some tried drugs, drank expensive alcohol and partied until problems surfaced. With parents and family thousands of miles away, some of these young women turned to agents who wanted to make money off them for advice, or to men who wanted to sleep with them. One of the best support systems available was other models, but even then good advice and intentions were sometimes ignored.

Even though a murder did occur while I was living in Milan (when a model shot

LORI JONES WORKIN’ IN THE 80s


her playboy boyfriend), I decided to write about the day-to-day stories that started out innocently enough, but took a bad turn. Nothing criminal… at least it didn’t seem that way at the time. They are fictionalized accounts of what I saw and heard––situations that angered me because there was no one around to protect the innocent.

I’ve been asked on several occasions, which one of my characters takes after ‘me.’ The

LOOK MA I’M ON AN ALBUM COVER! Lori at work in ’79.


answer is none. I came out unscathed by my experiences except for a few mishaps like the Saturday I booked a job an hour outside of Milan, and then was dropped off at a bench on the autostrade (freeway), handed some money and told to wait for a bus that didn’t run on weekends. I did spend twenty minutes––with cars whizzing past me at outrageous speeds––before taking a ride from a stranger. Contrary to the urban legends I grew up on, the vehicle’s window knobs still rolled down (remember those?) and the door handle opened when we returned to the city. But no one wants to read about a nice man giving a pretty girl a ride home that ends without incident, so I wrote about the stories that made me furious—the young women who were exploited, ripped off and abused—while images of them in glossy magazine ads were highly deceptive. Growing up Beautiful is their story.

Lori back in the day.

About the author:

Lori Jones had a sixteen-year modeling career from 1981 through 1997. Her career began after graduating from the Barbizon School of Modeling, and signing on with the Wilhelmina Agency in Los Angeles. Bookings included runway, print for magazines, catalogs, TV commercials, and an album cover for Kool and the Gang’s Ladies Night. Always interested in writing, she kept journals of her work experiences, extensive travels throughout Europe and Africa, and the people she met along the way. GROWING UP BEAUTIFUL is her first book. She is currently working on the sequel.

GET A COPY AND/OR FIND MORE ON LORI HERE

September 6, 2012

DARRELL JAMES & SUE ANN JAFFARIAN Launch in Style

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 5:49 am

     

DARRELL JAMES, author of SONORA CROSSING greets guests in the sunny foyer. This is the second book of his Del Shannon series, a white-knuckle page-turner surrounding the rescue of a girl with prophetic vision from a drug cartel.

SUE ANN JAFFARIAN signs her latest, HIDE & SNOOP, book 7 of the Odelia Grey series, published by Midnight Ink. Publishers Weekly called it “enormously entertaining.”

STEVE KISER & SYBIL JOHNSON from Sisters in Crime. Sybil is a past president of the LA chapter, and a mystery writer.

TRAVIS RICHARDSON & TERESA WONG of Sisters in Crime, check out the elegant staircase and tapestries. Travis has recently been published in the SHOTGUN HONEY webzine and anthology.

That woman can make even a door look glamorous… Janis Lipson demonstrates the pocket security door leading to the top floor (very expensive to install inside a wall). Part of the original construction in 1932, no expense was spared for security, due to the recent kidnapping of the Lindburgh baby.

MORE INFO ON THE WALLACE NEFF MANSION

VISIT DARRELL JAMES HERE

VISIT SUE ANN JAFFARIAN HERE

Many thanks to Doris Lipson for her informative tour and deluxe hostessing of the event. This was truly a highlight of book launches in 2012. Elaine Ash

August 25, 2012

WRITERS’ HOMICIDE SCHOOL Oct 6–7, 2012 Santa Monica, CA

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 7:33 am

SGT. DEREK PACIFICO is well-known to me. I’ve heard him speak, attended

DEREK IN THE CLASSROOM

Homicide School myself, and even edited his writing. (He’s good BTW.) Always entertaining, always informative, Derek is a natural teacher who loves being around creative people. HOMICIDE SCHOOL is worth every penny and is a solid investment for a writing career.–Elaine Ash

ALL THE 411 ON HOMICIDE SCHOOL: CLICK HERE

DEREK’S NPR INTERVIEW HERE!

August 18, 2012

Jean Shriver on Writers’ Groups

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 7:54 pm

Years of toiling in the lonely corridors of the writing world have convinced me that joining a writing group is a good idea. It certainly was for me. I credit my group with priceless help in publishing my two books and many articles. Others in the group have also published books and articles and we have even  given birth to one publisher.         

We meet in a public library which lets us have the room free of charge as long as  all interested writers are welcome. The people who show up Tuesdays at one o’clock are of both sexes and arguably, the most interesting people in town.  

Once, we had no barriers to participation. Then we had a guy whose writing not only verged on porn, but was saturated with  a disturbing fury toward women. While we were easing that bozo out, a sweet eleven year old boy showed up with his slightly older sister. Okay, so we didn’t like porn, but we also didn’t like censoring ourselves, for the sake of school age kids. A new rule specifies participants must be over 18. Otherwise our only stipulation is we consider fiction or non-fiction, no poetry or drama. We do our best to help any writer achieve publication. But if you just want praise for the deathless prose you’ve been hiding under your bed, don’t bother coming around. While we try not to take mean potshots,  we also try for honesty.        

At one o clock, our members file in and take a chair in the small conference room. When the chairs are filled, we are full  We put our offerings in a pile and turn it over as we begin. Many workshops send around copies of the work in advance. We don’t. Each writer reads his or her work aloud. Listeners take notes for accurate feedback. We used to read ten double spaced pages or a chapter, whichever was less. We’ve gotten so popular that we’re now limited to thirteen hundred words in order to get home before dark.             

As the Ancient Inhabitant of that workshop, I’ve seen writers come and writers go. Some are now living on another planet, some are discouraged and some some continue to write and publish. I’ve made friends in the workshop and maybe a few enemies. I always look forward to Tuesdays —- the people I’ll see and the stories I’ll hear.  –Jean Shriver

 JEAN’S BOOK ON AMAZON - CLICK HERE

BEAUTIFUL PALOS VERDES

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