Monday, February 24, 2014

What Inspires You?

By Glenn Walker

This has been a busy week for the South Jersey Writers' Group, and Kathryn Craft as well. She can't seem to get rid of us! Thursday she spoke at our regular meeting, and Sunday she was the Philadelphia Liars Club representative at this month's Writers Coffeehouse. She moderated a terrific session on inspiration and motivation.

Kathryn's prelude to the meeting came via the Writers Coffeehouse Yahoo! Group where she posted before the meeting:

Since I'm getting the impression we've all about had it with winter, let's think inspiration and renewal—and tap into our inner child by having show and tell! Bring one or two quotes or small items along to share that you keep in your writing space for inspiration. We know you have them. If propriety suggests this item not be brought (no booze or pets, please!), then you can just tell us about it. BECAUSE WE NEED ALL THE INSPIRATION WE CAN GET!!

Sure enough, come Sunday afternoon, all of the writers in attendance brought something from their workspace, whether an actual object or a description of same to share with the group. It was like a mad, creative game of show and tell. I have to say, it was wonderful and inspiring just hearing about all the things that inspire other writers, full of unique items, motivational quotes, pictures, and even Legos.

It's worth mentioning that the Writers Coffeehouse is always in itself an inspiring and motivational experience, just hearing what other writers are doing and going through, and meeting and networking with folks you already now or only know online - in person. I got the chance to finally meet in real life Uriah Young, who I've known only online for some time. He's a terrific young writer who has a bright future ahead of him, you should all check out his blog and Follow him on Twitter.

When it came around to me to talk about what inspires me, I blathered on about making music playlists, and how I had some action figures and Legos on my desk, but it wasn't until after the meeting that I realized what really inspired me. As fellow South Jersey Writers Patti O'Brien, Dawn Byrne, Robert Repici, Tom Minder, and I sat around talking writing at Panera Bread, it came to me. I'm inspired by the presence, encouragement, and support of fellow writers. I think we all are. As much as writing seems like a solitary sport, it's really a group effort. That's why get-togethers like the Writers Coffeehouse are so important.

Now, what inspires you?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Kathryn Craft Tunes Our Storytelling Engines

By Glenn Walker

This past Thursday at the regular monthly meeting of the South Jersey Writers' Group, we had a very special guest. Author, editor, blogger, and member of the Philadelphia Liars Club, Kathryn Craft came to speak with our group. Her topic - Tune Your Storytelling Engine.

Kathryn's talk took us through a basic understanding of story structure, but more importantly how it works, why it works, and how to fix it when it doesn't work. Along with her presentation she provided an excellent handout outlining the process. For over an hour she dazzled us with her talent and experience, answering questions and discussing obstacles and solutions with the group. I could tell you what we talked about, but I don't want to spill all of Kathryn's secrets here. You can check out her work in that area at and at The Blood-Red Pencil.

At the end of her presentation, Kathryn Craft read an enticing and emotional excerpt from her debut novel, The Art of Falling. Much of her presentation came from her experiences writing this and her upcoming second novel, so it only cemented a very subtle sales pitch for the book. I bought mine for Nook on my iPhone while she talked earlier in the evening. I'm reading it now, and it's excellent. The only downside is I couldn't get Kathryn to sign my new ebook copy.

We at the South Jersey Writers' group thank Kathryn Craft for her time and spending a wonderful evening with us. She was entertaining, educational, inspirational, and one very cool lady as well. She rocks. If you'd like to get in touch with Ms. Craft, you can go to her website, and you can buy her novel The Art of Falling here.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Day of Writing, Blogging, Schmoozing Over Coffee

By Marie Gilbert

I'm having some "me" time with my fellow members of the South Jersey Writers' Group. We are at Audubon, New Jersey's Treehouse Coffee Shop and we are all either working on our blogs, or learning how to set up a blog, or writing period. Amy Hollinger is at one table helping new bloggers set up their blogs and giving helpful hints on how to manage and share their posts.

While our president is busy doing this, Glenn Walker, better known around the writing community... oh okay... to the other members of South Jersey’s writing group as the ever patient, ever helpful, all knowing Patron Saint of Blogs, is helping the already established bloggers with any problems that we may have with our blogs.

Blogging is fun, especially, if you know what you’re doing and if you are somewhat tech savvy, but if you’re like me and a few of the other bloggers in our group, blogging is somewhat of a challenge; not the writing part, because I have plenty of ideas, but the settings, links and whatnots that help you to share or enhance your blog. This is where St. Glenn Walker, shines!

He helps everyone sitting at his table with whatever questions they have, and let me tell you, we all appreciate his help, and glancing over to the other table where Amy is helping the new bloggers, I’m seeing three very happy faces. Amy has launched a new troop of bloggers. Welcome aboard!

If you are a writer and you want to publish or have already published a book then you need to promote yourself by blogging, Facebooking, Twittering and Googling and you should belong to a writers’ group. Trust me, this is important.

Writers who attended today’s blogging meet-up: Victoria Marie Lees, Robert Repici, Kahlil Weston, Rosanna Martella, Loretta Sisco, Krista Magrowski, Linda Deininger, Kevin Stephany, Robert Schmus, Katrina Janco, Michael Christopher, Alex Jones, Patti O’Brien, Bob Cook, Marie Gilbert, and of course our heroes for today, Amy Hollinger and Glenn Walker.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Kristin Battestella and Her Bag of Tricks

By Marie Gilbert

The January meeting of the South Jersey Writers' Group turned out to be very interesting indeed. One of our members Kristin Battestella, author of the Fate and Fang series, published by Muse It Up Publishing, offered to do a workshop for the group called "Inside the Toy Box."

Kristin’s goal was to help us see life through our characters' eyes. Write what you know by using everyday objects to determine how these objects would be used by one of your characters. How would this method help a writer? Well, it would help a writer create more depth and dimension in their character’s everyday life; for example if your character fights with a sword, is the character right or left handed? What time period is your character from and how would they use certain items? Kristin then took a large shopping bag and placed it on the table and had one person at each table take an item from the bag. What was in the bag?

Our group really had fun with this activity. Mark pulled out a witch’s hat and Barbara Godshalk pulled out a top hat. Would a top hat be worn by a female character? Would a witch’s hat be worn by a male character? Yes, if it helped to identify your character’s strengths, beliefs and sometimes their gender role; think outside the box! If you’re writing a Steampunk story, then yes, your female character would be quite at home in a top hat and the same for a male character if he were a wizard. Kristin asked us to think what a feather boa would bring to mind today, or maybe forty years ago. What was considered risqué in the past is most likely accepted in today’s society. Corsets were a necessary part of a well-groomed woman’s outfit… but today… we think of sexy lingerie… striptease joints… Playboy magazine.

Kristin had us think about our character’s mental and physical status. How would the character get around with a disability? A lantern that was pulled from Kristin’s bag of tricks could bring up memories of days gone by and of camping trips done today, but would you think of a lantern representing a character set in a futuristic scene? What if civilization as we know it ceased to function? That lantern might be the only means of light in a world that no longer had clean running water, electricity, food, medicine… you get the gist… the zombie apocalypse.

Kristin suggested that we build our own bag of tricks to use for our characters and I’ve already started mine. Thank you, Kristin, for helping us put a little enchantment into our writing.

Kristin Battestella can be found at her blog, Goodreads, and Facebook.

Hope to see everyone at next month’s meeting on February 20th.

The Mad Writer

Presenting the next in a series spotlighting various members of the South Jersey Writers' Group - today's guest blog is by Kahlil Weston.

My writing style is based on black humor. I consider myself a dark writer. I really get off verbally smashing and dismantling people when I go into battle writer's mode. My style of writing will either have your jaw dropping about what I said or I'm socially mentally unstable as a writer. I'm prepared for the fallout if you think I'm "The World's Worst Writer." I believe in myself that I'm "The World's Greatest Writer."

I get a kick out of people when they think they got the last laugh on me and I hit them with the element of surprise and verbally shred them in my book. Be careful when you cross me you might end up in the book. That warrants a response to let you know why "The Mad Writer" had gone mad.

I treat writing on so many angles. I use it as an escape. I have no rules to writing and I break them all. If you think you can't be touched guess again. I can go ten pages long and it's like a journalist writing their report except I'm not on a deadline. It's kick ass and there's no need to ask questions later. Silencing my enemies when they see me is rewarding. Silence is golden especially when they can't counter a scathing ten-page attack.

I got the influence to write again and go professional with writing when I got to meet and kiss Mika Brzezinski. Doing that lit that fire for me to type again.

I write pretty obnoxious but I don't care. If I don't write crazy then I would go crazy. All I got to see is the dumb shit that goes on in my life or America and I can spin that metaphor. My nickname is Wes, but my other aliases to writing is "The World's Greatest Writer" and "The Mad Writer." There has to be a villain running around that people need to channel their dislike to and it's a role I grew accustomed to. I guess I'm the black sheep to the South Jersey Writers' Group. To sum it up...


About today's guest-blogger:

Kahlil Weston has authored three books (all mature content), "
The Kahlil Weston Hour," "The Wes Daddy Mack Hour," and "The Young and the Wesless" "I consider myself a different breed of a writer. I wrote with no rules and everything within my realm is fair game. When I have a bone to pick I consider myself a battle writer. I have started my own publishing company called Mad Writer Publishing. My goal with my publishing company is to publish books for writers whose last name isn't Weston."