Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Games We Play

By Ginny Padgett

When our writer’s group gathers every few months for a social evening, three standards mark the meeting: 1) good food; 2) camaraderie; 3) a writing exercise.

At our most recent soiree we were asked to write an opening for a story. The prompt to that exercise follows in bold face; my paragraphs ensue.

This activity really massaged my creative muscle, so I challenge you to use the prompt and, as our host Alex Raley said to us, “…see where it leads.”

“Mr. Witherspoon, a Susan Matthews is on line one for you.”

“Okay, thank you.”

Bill closed the office door and pressed the line one button. “Susan, I told you never to call me at the office.”

“Bill, we have to talk. Can you meet me for lunch?”

Bill hesitated for a moment before responding, “I’ll pick you up in twenty minutes beside the dry cleaners on the corner two blocks from your office. We still need to be discreet.”

After returning the handset to the phone, Bill took a key from his briefcase and unlocked the bottom desk drawer. Retrieving a Sig-Sauer P232, he tucked it into the waistband at the back of his gray flannel pants. He donned the single-breasted jacket and went into his private bathroom.

The full-length mirror assured him his weapon didn’t disturb the svelte lines of his $2,000 suit. He leaned forward to study his face and then concentrated on relaxing the tense muscles that showed the stress from the last two weeks. Taking a cleansing breath, he tried on several smiles until he found one that would convey trustworthiness and compassion to Susan.

Locking his office door behind him and then turning toward his assistant’s desk, he said, “Elaine, please cancel all my appointments for the rest of the day. The assisted living facility where my mother lives just called. She’s suffered another stroke and I need to go to her right away.”

“Sure thing, Mr. Witherspoon. I’m so sorry. If I can do anything, just ask. Don’t worry about anything here.”

“Thanks, Elaine. I appreciate your concern,” he said as he strode toward the reception area and the elevators beyond.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Latest Addition

Meet A New Writer


Celinda is a life-long lover of the literary arts. She received her BA in English Literature so she could spend her undergraduate years talking about books. She went on to get her Master's in Library and Information Science so she could be a Librarian and be paid to read books. In the few moments when she is not reading she tries her hand at writing.

"When I finish a book I can't help but take part of the writer's world and style with me. I'll read Shakespeare and hours later I’ll start speaking in rhymes with thee's and thou's issuing forth from my lips. Often I pick up the pen and continue the story until I feel satisfied with the ending. With that satisfaction sometimes comes the beginning to a whole new tale that only I’ve been able to enjoy so far. Here's hoping that my dream to share the stories swirling around in my head with the rest of the world will some day come true!"

Celinda currently lives in South Carolina in want of love or a cat, whichever doesn’t make her sneeze.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Fool

By Celinda Barefield

It being spring, I thought I’d share an archetype with you. Though there are many to choose from, such as the “Betrayer,” “Casanova,” and “King Arthur” archetypes, I thought that a sub-character archetype would be fun for a change, so I chose the “Fool” archetype. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why that one?

The “Fool" is one of the longest standing archetypes in history. It traces its origins as far back as Homer’s Iliad. It was made famous by Shakespeare. Every single one of Shakespeare’s plays included this archetype. A current example of the “Fool” is the character Neville Longbottom in the popular Harry Potter series. Here is a character that, but for a simple chance of fate, could have been the main character of the series. Instead, he is seen as the “Fool.”

So what is the “Fool” archetype anyway? It is a character that for the sake of the story is the laughing stock. He is the center of most jokes, but not because of his own choosing. Luckily, he is also usually the wisest character in the story, or at least he has a piece of wisdom that surpasses all the others showing him to be the smartest person of the group even though everyone thinks him the dumbest. Sadly, his wisdom is often ignored leading to the downfall of a main character. It is the “Fool” that helps get a point across that others would otherwise ignore.

“Fools” make for great sub-characters. They provide comic relief to a tense situation while providing needed insights into the world of the main characters. Most stories have them if you look hard enough. You might even be creating one as you read!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

On Finding Time to Write

By Vikki Perry

As a business analyst with a software company, I love my job. No day is ever exactly the same. The job provides me with endless challenges, money to pay my bills, and a steady stream of character traits for my writing. (Like the Oracle of Corporate Speak. I have no story for him at this time so feel free to steal if you would like to.) What my job doesn’t provide me with is time to write. This is very frustrating for me as a person who wants to write constantly. Unfortunately, barring an unexpected lottery win or selling my book for a six figure deal, I don’t think I am going to get more time to write (not without sacrificing my ability to pay my bills).

That means I’m faced with choices about how to find the time to write.

Bad option: Wait patiently for the lottery win before pursuing my dream.

Good option: Write whenever I have a free moment.

I can always find five minutes to write something. The first paragraph of a blog entry. A character description. The next sentence in my novel.

Bad option: Wait until I retire before I write.

Good option: Start now.

If I had a nickel for every time that I’ve heard the phrase “I’ll write a book someday,” I could pay off my mortgage, which would put me much closer to the goal of writing full time.

Bad Option: Sitting paralyzed in front of the computer not writing anything.

Good option: Write bad prose when good prose won’t come.

The muse comes to those who are working. My muse is very fickle. She trots away for vacation in a warm sunny place during the depths of winter. She searches for cool mountain air to escape the heat and humidity of a South Carolina summer. I have to drag her back to Columbia by letting my fingers roll across the keyboard. Soon she’s back to work and good sentences are pouring onto the page.

You see, I can’t stop working at my “real” job, but I also can’t stop writing. The urge to create and to allow the characters that exist in my head to exist on the page is too strong. I have always loved to write, and I believe that if you truly love something, you will find time to do it.

What is stopping you from starting now? Your kids? Your job? Your spouse? I can tell you a dozen stories of writers who have become very successful while juggling very full lives. Think about what you do each day. I bet you can find time to do at least a little bit of writing.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


By Meredith H. Kaiser

Life’s transitions offer fertile ground for writers. When our feet are planted, each one in different soil, straddling two worlds, we are stretched to experience both places at once. That tension, our attention pulled in half, is the gift of new vision.

As writers, we can be blinded by familiarity, deadened by what is already known. But fresh directions, which we see in the context of where we’ve been and from where we set out, brighten our souls with the light of newness, possibility, awareness.

The challenge is that transitions require energy and the temptation is to focus on the details – learning a new job, packing for a move, mourning a death – while neglecting our need to write about it, to explore it in detail, to leave bread crumbs of words on paper as we travel our new path. Instead, we are encouraged to “put your head down and get through it”, “hunker down and hold on” rather than to keep our head up, our eyes open, our pens at the ready.

However, in order to grow and to mine the experience as writers, we must face the head winds of change and record the joys, fears and discoveries of the journey. Paying attention and making notes, that’s how we learn the lessons of transition. If we just stay busy and muddle through, we miss the whole point. And the lessons that are available to us remain unlearned. But they will wait for us around the next turn, patient for us to notice them.