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May Meeting Recap

posted May 22, 2019, 10:04 AM by Bruce Rowe


Poetry reading and feedback. Discussion about future direction. One option is to start with a tutorial about the many forms of poetry, to help writers determine if poetry is right for them, or to give poets knowledge of their options.

Agenda for the VWG Meeting:

  • Selection of a representative from the VWG at the Memorial Day Ceremony on 5/27 at VANC. Paul Curtis will represent our Group.
  • Listing of writing contests and other writing opportunities to be posted on the website
  • Replacement for "very" in writing - a list of alternatives to avoid using and provide more concrete descriptions
  • Discussion about the time line for the next book, tentatively titled Stories That Need To Be Told
  • Excel of past meeting development topics and a request for feedback about future development needs and suggestions
  • Reading, Feedback and suggestions by three authors (Tom Calabrese, Rahn Harding, Charlie Wyatt, and Dante Purcetti)

Please visit this website to see a list of publishers looking for poetry submissions: AuthorPublish. Try to submit one of your stories prior to our next meeting! Need some ideas? Check with Ron.

SAVE THE DATE - Next VWG meeting, June 15

April Meeting Recap

posted Apr 23, 2019, 12:04 PM by Bruce Rowe   [ updated Apr 24, 2019, 12:07 PM ]

Steve Dilley from Veterans Art Project joined us. VetArt's mission is to provide free bronze casting and ceramics classes to veterans, their families, and veteran's advocates. The organization has studios locally in Vista and Fallbrook.

Ron shared a list of writing tools:
  • Boomerang Respondable for Gmail: 

    Emails that get read and responded to? Must be magic.

  • Hemingway AppComplex sentences, beware. Highlights your words and sentences and suggests simpler words, omit verbs, and make sentences less complex.

  • GrammarlyIt’s okay to be lazy when you’ve got Grammarly. (But remember, good writers break the rules.)

  • Portent Content Idea Generator: If you write a lot of headlines, bookmark this page ASAP.

  • Headline Analyzer: Not a visually appealing website. But it’s worth it.

  • Dejargonizer: Designed for science writers, but can work for you too.

Veteran Writers Pop-Up Showcase

posted Apr 22, 2019, 11:57 AM by Bruce Rowe

So Say We All is hosting this storytelling showcase through its Veteran Writers Division. The new, original stories are part of the the Creative Forces: NEA Healing Arts Network. Join them and partners Resounding Joy, Combat Arts,, Vets Community Connections, and San Diego Veterans Coalition at the Novo Brazil Brewing Company in Chula Vista.

So Say We All Veteran Writers Pop-Up Showcase

February Meeting Recap

posted Apr 8, 2019, 10:45 AM by Bruce Rowe   [ updated Apr 8, 2019, 10:54 AM ]

“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this—you haven't.” -Thomas Edison

 Notes from Garry Garretson and Shara French

Hank Phillippi Ryan, author of the bestselling novel Trust Me, was the guest for our February 23 meeting. Via videoconference from her home in Boston, Hank discussed her tips for writing and publishing success, from lack of confidence and self-doubt, to just powering through!

Fighting that lack of confidence is key. What if Tess Gerritsen and Stephen King quit writing because they thought they were not good enough? The story goes that King threw his manuscript of Carrie into the trash. His wife dug it out, and well, the rest is history. Sorry for the cliché, but King is now a major success story.

Perseverance was a recurring theme in her talk as well. She said keeping a promise to herself to write at least 500 words a day is one of the most important elements of her success.


The hardest part is just before you start. Allow your inner voice (brain), to come out and tell you things. Listen to that inner voice. Visualize the story. Is your character doing, acting, saying things that fit that character?

Hank went on to say that writers should expect a lousy first draft, but to keep moving on. A good technique is to think, “I am not writing a book.” Think about writing one page at a time: 250 words. This could help to power down the anxiety level and feeling overwhelmed. At 250 to 300 words per page (12-point font), a 55,000-word book should be about 200 manuscript pages. A 100,000-word book would be about 400 manuscript pages.

Beware of and prepare for the 150-page slump or block. Hank called her mother one day to vent about being stuck. Her mother was blunt with her advice: “Well my dear, you’ll finish it if you want.”

Hank said everyone has doubts. To overcome them, get a change of scenery. Take a break for a couple of days. Come back to your work fresh. Read your work as if you sent it to a friend. Love your book again and again. At moments of doubt, think back to memories of how you fell in love with your book.

More tips from Ryan:

  • There is no right way to write your book; no secret. Try different things, learn what does not work.
  • Do and write what makes you happy.
  • Use extra tools: sketch, white board, story board, try it and you will find out what works for you.
  • Learn to be alone and embrace it. Treasure that time. Imaginative concentration is where mysterious connections begin. Sit, or rest in the world of your book. Your brain knows more than you give it credit for. Search it for ideas.
  • Don’t always keep away from the real world, inspiration comes from everywhere. Observe the world, take notes.
  • Editing is crucial to getting your best work out. Do not skip a problem area in your work. Face your writing problems and fix them.

She also addressed criticism. Expect it, learn from it, but do not let it stall you. Do not underestimate how you take criticism. Take in what you need and discard the rest. Pat yourself on the back

Characters and Organization

Have the character create the story. Read out loud often. Ask yourself, how do people really talk? Are their words genuine? Do they fit the character’s personality? Why are they saying that? What is their intent? Try to align intent with the character’s personality. How would the character talk? Show your character’s actions along with words.

Finally, a good character history needs a good back story, but don’t put it all in the book. Why do they do what they do? Get to know them personally. The dialogue must have intent, it gives the written words more authenticity. “It’s not how ‘you’ the author talks, it’s how your character talks,” Hank emphasizes.

To organize your story, and for consistency and flow in your writing, make lists: birthdays, character’s age, alphabetize, scene order, events, dates, etc.

Listen to your inner voice. When re-reading your work and you find a glitch or something doesn’t look right, face that problem, and fix it then; don’t let it go. Not fixing a problem could cause more problems in the creation of your story. And, do not rush. Love yourself and love your work.


Can just be timing. What is happening in the world? The market? Wrong agent? A career can begin with rejection letters. Listen objectively to suggestions. Listen, and be open. Hank’s first book was rejected. The rejection letter was very nicely written. They said we like your book, but we want you to re-write the whole thing! She did and the rest is history.

Finally, Hank’s last few tips were equally important as the beginning writing process:

  • Determine your process, things that work for you. What time of day are you at your best? Where do you write? Home? Library? Cafes? All the above.
  • Make your own deadlines. Target amount of words per day and keep your self-promise.
  • Enlist family support. Let them know, for instance, a specific time of the day is for your writing. MAKE TIME!
  • Read, advise, research and understand your writer’s world.

Make a Plan

All you need is one good idea each day. Write 540 words a day. Give your book a title. When your manuscript draft is finished, wait one week and re-read this first draft as if you are reading it for the first time. Above all, it is a wild and crazy ride!  Share, listen, create, innovate, celebrate, persevere, have courage and care about your work. And you will be saying, “I just published my first book!”

Good luck!


Hank Phillippi Ryan has won five Agatha Awards, as well as the Anthony, Macavity, Daphne du Maurier, and Mary Higgins Clark Awards for her bestselling mystery novels. She has written eleven novels and has co-authored several other works. Hank has 34 Emmys, 14 Edward R. Murrow Awards, and has received dozens of other honors for her ground-breaking journalism. I am reading her latest novel, “Trust Me.” And trust me, it’s good!

So Say We All

posted Jan 31, 2019, 2:05 PM by Bruce Rowe   [ updated Feb 12, 2019, 10:00 AM ]

So Say We All Veteran Writers Division and its public face, Incoming, invite you to join our 2019 cohort!

Open to veterans, active duty service members, military family members, foreign national interpreters, and hazardous duty station aide workers, we are committed to helping you tell your true stories, telling them better, and then making sure they’re heard by civilians.

It all starts with you sending us a first draft of your true story right here–it doesn’t matter how rough a draft it is, whether it’s just bullet points outlining what you’d want to develop, or a completed draft of your story.

We work with non-fiction narratives and poetry only. Stories typically run in the ballpark of 1,500 words, but we’re open to work of all lengths (except book-length.) 

You will receive one-on-one editing and coaching from a fellow writer, work in a group cohort of other men and women participating in the program to give and receive feedback on your story. Selected participants will go on to receive performance coaching and perform their work at live showcases. All participants will be considered to appear on the Incoming public radio program, broadcast on KPBS and PRX.

  • Showcase #1 takes place on Saturday April 13th.
  • Showcase #2 takes place on Friday June 28th.
  • Additional opportunities to perform will be announced as the program develops.

* Special note for submitters who are currently enrolled in an academic institution: please tell us who your current English / Humanities / Theater / Speech / etc. professors are so we can contact them about ensuring you receive course credit for participation, if applicable.

Click this link for more info from So Say We All Veterans Writers Division.

Watch videos from past veteran writer showcases.

December Meeting Recap

posted Dec 3, 2018, 11:16 AM by Bruce Rowe   [ updated Dec 5, 2018, 9:44 AM ]

Ron shared a summary of the Seven Basic Plotlines for any story, then gave a 5-minute writing prompt for people to write the plot of their life. 

Winning Writers is a good resource for writers and poets. Sign up for their newsletter and they'll send you updates on the best free literary contests where you can submit your writing.

December readings:
  • Kris read a poem: Eternity Came at a Torrid Pace
  • Sarah's story was about the car as a "memory vessel"
  • Lawrence read his Christmas jazz poem
  • Maria shared "Che," recalling a young crush that never developed into anything more
  • Charlie read his "Saving Thanksgiving" piece
  • Harry read his 1975 poem "I'm the One Called Doc", a tribute to the corpsman, which can be found posted in Marine and Navy facilities to this day
  • Tom read a preview of his upcoming story for Vista Press, "Del Mar Dana: Birthday Battle"
  • Ron told tale of new house, based on a true story of natural sounds - and supernatural sounds - in a house in Colorado
Note: Future VWG meetings are moving to the 4th Saturday of the month. Join us for the next meeting on January 26, 2019. Women's group at 9:30, full group at 11:00.

November Meeting Recap

posted Nov 5, 2018, 3:05 PM by Bruce Rowe

Remember the Tuesday night Writers Read, 6 to 7:30, Nov 13 at the Fallbrook Library. Come and bring your friends.

Join us December 1 for our next meeting.

October Meeting Recap

posted Oct 7, 2018, 2:57 PM by Bruce Rowe   [ updated Oct 8, 2018, 3:45 PM ]

Our main meeting focus this month was preparing for the November 13 VWG Night at the Fallbrook Writers Read. As part of a Veterans Day tribute, several of our members will read their stories from our second book Listen Up!, as well as other writings and poetry. Many members practiced reading and you are sure to see entertainment, power, and courage in these stories if you attend the event in November.

Please join us at the Writers Read from 6 to 7:30 pm, in the Fallbrook Library Community Room, 124 S. Mission Road.

Other notes:
  • 3Elements Literary Review posts writing contests with "three element" prompts. Go to for information and how to enter.
  • 42 Anthology - 42-word stories in 42 categories. Go to for more about this project.
  • Garry shared that he has started a political blog:
  • Frank responded to a phishing email sent from a member's account with a tip on how to monitor if your own account might have been hacked. Simply add a bogus email contact to your account. One that you will recognize when it shows up in your inbox as "undeliverable." Hackers who gain access to your account typically send scam emails to all the contacts in your account, because it's more likely that those emails will be opened and acted on since the receiver recognizes the sender. Should your bogus email address show up as undeliverable, it will be a red flag to you that your account has been hacked.
Homework: Work on understanding "Finding Your Voice." Bring something to read that you are especially proud of. Something that tells us about who you are by the words you use, the rhythm of your style, your descriptive voice, or other ways you express yourself.

Finally, a writing tip from Aristotle: "To write well, express yourself like the common man, but think like a wise man."

Please join us next time on November 3.

Oceanside Library Writing Groups

posted Sep 20, 2018, 10:39 AM by Bruce Rowe   [ updated Sep 20, 2018, 10:40 AM ]

Oceanside Public Library
Oceanside Library has two writing groups, one that meets at the Mission Branch on the second Sunday of each month at 2:00 pm, and one group that meets at the Civic Center Library, second floor Foundation Room on the 2nd & 4th Monday at 6:00 pm.  The next meeting will be on September 24 at Civic Center Library.  Here is a link to the flyer in case you want to share with the group. Contact Hilary Holley, for more info.

Women Veterans Writing Group

posted Aug 10, 2018, 3:48 PM by Bruce Rowe   [ updated Aug 15, 2018, 9:15 AM ]

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