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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 3elementsreview.com for information and how to enter.
  • 42 Anthology - 42-word stories in 42 categories. Go to http://bamwrites.blogspot.com/2018/07/42-stories-anthology.html for more about this project.
  • Garry shared that he has started a political blog: https://noonz2018.home.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, hholley@cloceanside.ca.us for more info.

Women Veterans Writing Group

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

August Meeting Recap

posted Aug 6, 2018, 4:53 PM by Bruce Rowe

One of our largest groups convened on Aug. 4 and discussed these topics:
  • The "Avenue of Heroes" in Coronado has an opportunity for writers. Vets who have at one time lived in Coronado are periodically featured on banners that hang along 3rd and 4th Streets in Coronado. Writers are needed to write the profiles of the featured vets. More on the Coronado Avenue of Heroes. Contact Ron Pickett at VWG for more info on writing a profile.
  • Writing Groups are encouraged for all who want to improve their craft. Links to groups hosted at local libraries follow:
  • Adam Lottes, owner and creator of The Secret Stash joined us. The site features local authors in four cities, including San Diego, that Adam promotes on the site and through his social media channels. Keep Forever from our own Alexa Kingaard is one featured book. Look for Listen Up! to soon be there too.
  • Alexa was also recently interviewed on the San Diego CBS affiliate. Watch Keep Forever - Sharing her story of PTSD.
  • Shara French talked about her efforts to establish a group for women vets. She says she wants it to be a "safe space" for women to tell their stories. For more info contact Shara at frenchshara at gmail.com.
  • Randy schooled us in the use of the semicolon, including two simple rules:
    • A semicolon should be used only where a period could also be used: in other words, a semicolon should separate two complete sentences.
    • The complete sentences a semicolon separates should be two closely related thoughts.
    • Also - run-on sentences and "comma splices" are fundamental grammar mistakes that can often be fixed with the semicolon. Try to find and correct them, lest your reader question your credibility.
Hope to see you at our next meeting, September 1.

July Meeting Recap

posted Jul 8, 2018, 3:54 PM by Bruce Rowe   [ updated Jul 9, 2018, 5:06 PM ]

  • Alexa Kingaard had a great discussion about her book Keep Forever on The American Veteran Show, July 1. Alexa said show host, Steffan Tubbs, was very interested in the Veterans Writers Group as well. Listen to the show. (Alexa’s segment starts 26 minutes in.) 
  • There will be a celebration of life for Terry Allan Severhill at Miramar National Cemetery at 2:30 on July 16. Terry was a proactive member of the group for many years. He shared his poetry with us and many other writer’s groups in the area. For more information or to RSVP, please email maryseverhill@gmail.com.
  • Our vets read their stories:

o   Rat hunting for nighttime recreation in Vietnam.

o   The VWG’s influence in getting one member to get off his *ss, stop being an aggravation to those around him, and move on.

o   A party, dress whites, and red wine don’t mix well with a young officer’s spill on Admiral Zumwalt.

  • Frank Ritter shared a couple of writing tips:

o   For hyphenation of compound modifiers (e.g., well-written sentence), if you can replace your modifying words with “moss-covered” then be sure to hyphenate. The exception being when the first modifier ends in “ly”, like “sharply honed knife.”

o   When deciding on present or past tense, imagine that the time line of your story is a rope stretching from the beginning to the end. When you are writing any part of the story, first ask yourself where you are in your story, then where this particular part of the story would be located on your time line. If it occurred before your current location on the time line/rope, use past tense.

June Meeting Recap

posted Jun 5, 2018, 8:36 PM by Bruce Rowe

The Veterans' Writing Group met on June 2:
  • Garry and Stacey appeared on a Palomar College Live TV segment to talk about Listen Up!
  • The "Before I Die" global art project invites people to contemplate mortality, including writing poetry about it. Spoken-word poet Ant Black will be hosting workshop and reading events when the project makes a stop in Oceanside. The event is June 15 for the workshop and June 22 for the readings at Oceanside Civic Center. Both start at 6 pm.
  • The Library of Congress is conducting a Veterans History Project. Find out how to participate.
  • The Fallbrook Writer's Read on November 13 will feature our members reading their stories from Listen Up! followed by a panel discussion. And of course, books for sale.
  • Our authors read their work:
    • Dante read a story about volunteering at a Formula 1 race in Long Beach in 1980. He recounted the bone-rattling noise and excitement as the cars roared around the track.
    • Richard continued with another installment of his work about the planning of a robbery of the Ft. Lewis payroll in 1963, getting into the logistics of the plan.
    • Glenn read his op-ed piece about the recent run of mass killings and what might be the root cause.
    • Paul read another chapter of his adventures as a submariner from Solomon Sea. Trying to out maneuver a hurricane proved futile and all aboard were tossed about, but survived. Then the real adventure began when a short dive turned into a near catastrophe when the boat's stern planes jammed.
Author Frank Ritter joined us for a mentoring session on building suspense and tension in our writing. Frank has authored several thrillers, including his most recent The Killing Games. Here's his wisdom on this topic:
  • Before you write, plan out why you need suspense and what it's going to accomplish in the story.
  • Tension creates suspense - to make it work, you can't have suspense without tension.
  • Need opposing forces (think of a stretching rubber band) or motivations in your characters with an unknown ahead.
    • We're all familiar with rival cops from competing agencies, fighting over a plan of action or jurisdiction.
  • The formula is that suspense-building comes in threes.
    • The situation arises three times with a resolution the third time.
    • He used the example of Sonny in The Godfather, who wants to act when sister Connie is abused by her husband. He holds off twice, but the third time he rushes to help her, only to meet his own demise at the hands of a rival mafia boss who had lured him there.
  • Writing two simultaneous scenes in the same narrative is one way to do it. Frank used this technique in his book about the kidnapping of the Pope. The Pope travels the stations of the cross as his pursuers tunnel underneath him to the spot where they'll nab him.
    • Can even use a clock or calendar dates to set a timeline.
  • Also, always set the "credits" of your bad guy first, showing his ruthlessness or cruel nature. That way readers know just what a challenge your good guy is up against.

Listen Up! Book Launched

posted May 25, 2018, 1:25 PM by Bruce Rowe   [ updated Jun 1, 2018, 7:28 PM ]

Our second book, Listen Up! Things I Learned From the Military, is published. Thanks to everyone who made our May 26 launch event such a success.

Two of our authors provide more information about the book in an interview featured on CBS8 TV in San Diego.


March Meeting Recap

posted Mar 12, 2018, 1:42 PM by Bruce Rowe   [ updated Mar 12, 2018, 1:47 PM ]

The Veterans' Writing Group met on March 3:
  • Tom Calabrese is celebrating his 100th story published in the Vista Press coming March 18. Read his latest, "The Deadly Dose." (Thanks for the juice and donuts Tom.)
  • A new book of poetry by one of our members is out on Amazon. See Bridges: Crossed and Yet to Come by Leif K. Thorsten.
  • Joe read a piece he wrote for his community newsletter called "Outside Our Gates" about the growing problem of homeless vets and how we can help. Veterans Village of San Diego organized the first "stand down" as a "hand up" for homeless vets in 1988 and continues to host one annually each July. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans also continues to host stand downs around the country. Visit the VVSD website for more info on the local San Diego stand down.
  • Garry led a discussion on developing characters in your writing. A few nuggets from the discussion:
    • Write descriptions down (Garry called it your "Character Bible") to maintain consistency in characters throughout your work, including a backstory that explains their actions and personality. This is a working document and may change as you progress through the story and uncover or need other character aspects to make the story work.
    • Capture not just their personality, but physical characteristics like mannerisms, how they move, or tics.
    • Include strengths and weaknesses in your characters.
    • Make note of characteristics of people you know.
    • Show, don't just tell, the qualities of your characters. Reveal them through actions and dialog.
  • Jerry read his story about human communication based on a misunderstanding when he tried to order a simple onion bagel with cream cheese. The young woman taking the order assumed everyone knew what an "everything bagel" was, and that led to a sender-receiver breakdown in communication.
  • Paul read a chapter of his in-progress memoir Solomon Sea. It recounted his early days in the Navy and what happened as he naively tried to invoke his recruiter's promise that he could "choose" his Navy career path.
  • Charlie related his road trip as a young student to meet To Kill a Mocking Bird author Harper Lee, in his story "Listening to the Mocking Bird."
  • Leif read his poem "Signs of Aging", composed as he watched his elderly mother-in-law  navigate a trip to the grocery store.
  • Richard read a bit of his continuing work on a book about the Fort Lewis payroll robbery.
  • Ed Fox of San Diego Veterans for Peace made a few announcements about upcoming events, including an event focused on the 50th  anniversary of the My Lai Massacre and lessons learned. For more information, visit the San Diego Veterans for Peace website.
  • Gail assigned a little homework for the April 7 meeting:
    • Write a character description using what we learned in the discussion.
    • Bring a few interesting and uncommon words that we can use to expand our vocabularies and make our writing a cut above the ordinary.

Workshop: Telling the Stories of Conflict

posted Jan 23, 2018, 3:38 PM by Bruce Rowe

Veterans are invited to Conflicted: Telling the Stories of Conflict at Home, Abroad, and in the Heart" that is part of The Writer’s Symposium by the Sea at Pt. Loma Nazarene University. The workshop is Thursday, Feb. 22, from 1-4 pm. 

Justin Hudnall, producer of the KPBS series Incoming and executive director of So Say We All will moderate. Four writers will participate, all who have witnessed or lived through war or racial and cultural upheaval:
  • Kelly McEvers, civilian journalist and co-host of NPR's All Things Considered
  • Brooke King, veteran and author of Full Battle Rattle
  • Al Letson, poet, playwright and Reveal cohost
  • Jeanne Guerrero, investigative reporter for KPBS Fronteras
For more information go to The Writer's Symposium by the Sea website and scroll down to find details on the Conflicted workshop.

January Meeting Recap

posted Jan 16, 2018, 10:19 AM by Bruce Rowe

The Veteran’s Writing Group met on January 6, 2018 in the VANC facility. 

  • Progress on book 2, LISTEN UP! was presented. We reached agreement on the design of the cover. Also, Jan. 15 is the due date for additional work to be considered for inclusion.
  • We discussed common errors that our editors have uncovered during their careful reading of the stories to be included in LISTEN UP!  Those inconsistencies include commas, semicolons, and capitalization.
  • Several members read from their latest work including Dante’ Puccetti, Charlie Wyatt, Shara French, Glen Foss, and others.
  • We decided to take up a collection monthly to defray the cost of using the room. Suggested donation is $2.00.
  • We'll see you next month on Feb. 3.

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