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About two years ago I started writing short stories and flashes. I have written 128 stories since then, and am a member of Show Me Your Lits, (a website dedicated to working up a story off of a given prompt, and finishing it in 90 minutes). This site provided ample opportunity to grow. Since then, I have been published a bit (Woo Hoo!) and would like to discuss the process of writing with other budding or seasoned authors. It occurred to me that Bookmooch might be an excellent place to troll for comrades in arms, or pens or computers. I would love to hear how others generate story-lines, overcome procrastination, view other's books from the perspective of a writer, deal with the hassle of targeting publications to submit to, contest announcements, etc., etc. Anything having to do with writing would be welcome. Where else are you going to find such a literate group?? I look forward to hearing from you!

Val Saichek
2 years ago

Recent comments:[write a comment]
(2 years ago)Hmmmmmm! Thanks for the clarification!
Val Saichek
(2 years ago)Hi. I've recently written a book, and I'm fishing for readers who might write me a review. The name of the book is The Boon: Thoughts of a Schizophrenic in Remission, and it's part memoir, part experimental narrative nonfiction. If you think you might like to read it and work up a paragraph or two about it for Amazon ( and other sites, please drop me a line. I'm mruttleysz at gmail dot com. I can get you a free ebook via SmashWords. Thanks! Uttley
Eugene Uttley
(2 years ago)A "pair writer" is one who gets paid despite a propensity towards typos.
Chalie B
(2 years ago)Thank You! This is great! Val P.S. What is a "pair" writer?
Val Saichek
(2 years ago)I have been posting writing tips for writers, and will continue. Some actually make good sense (the ones I stole, anyway.) You may want to check them out. Anyway, I have been teaching writing and composition since 1995, owned my own newspapers and have been a pair writer for forty years. Nobody's caught me yet! Check out: BECHTEL'S WRITING TIPS @ Charles Bechtel
Chalie B
(2 years ago)Thank you for such an informative and well thought-out post. I am very interested in the material you presented and will definitely avail myself of this book. Anything that prompts deeper thinking into the creation and development of character/plot and milieu is well worth the effort. Some of these fundamental steps are avoided by writers who want a more intuitive relationship with their writing and characters. However, after the intuition has blazed a path, these questions you posit can transform an interesting read into a deeply seductive and satisfying one, able to go beyond the nuts and bolts of story telling. Thank you for sharing this. I really appreciate it. I'll write a response after I have read the book. Please feel free to share more, Your contributions may help inspire others to do the same! All the best, Val Saichek
Val Saichek
(2 years ago)A Guide To Fantasy Literature by Philip Martin - Review Guiding The Imagination Did your parents read you Grimm’s Fairy Tales when you were a child? Or perhaps they read you A. A. Milne’s Winnie-The-Pooh? Or did you yourself read Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, or J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, or some other imaginative adventure? If so then you have a start in the ever expanding world of fantasy literature. Philip Martin’s A Guide To Fantasy Literature will appeal to anyone who has an imagination, who can put aside their “disbelief” (as William Wordsworth wrote in his Preface to Lyric Ballads) and allow a story to take them wherever it will. Martin has peppered his book with quite lengthy quotes from the novels and this serves to very much wet the appetite of those who have not read much fantasy. “That is interesting, and what happens next?” we ask ourselves. The general reader is also guided to see what to look for in a fantasy book, or indeed any book. We are encouraged, for example, to ask: what is the character’s motivation, and do they change through the book? Thinking about these questions may at first seem a bit deep, but they are things we ask ourselves about the people we know in ordinary life. Thinking about books in this way can help us to see fantasy tales as more than simply adventure stories, to enjoy them even more because they say things about ‘real’ life. For those who have read a lot of this genre there will be many moments of pleasurable recognition as old favourites are recalled to mind. The seasoned reader may also come away from A Guide To Fantasy Literature liking the novels they have read even more, as Martin has a great knack of bringing out the more subtle details and messages hidden by the authors in their stories. As well as readers, this book will very much appeal to those who want to write fantasy stories. The first edition of this book was indeed published under the title The Writers Guide To Fantasy Literature. Martin examines the nuts and bolts of the genre and his enthusiasm for the subject makes us think, “I wonder if I could write fantasy?” Many of us do in fact have manuscripts hidden in the back of cupboards and this is just the book to encourage us to get them out and get to work on them again. It is important to note, though, that this is not a ‘how-to’ book, with writing exercises designed to get you writing. The new title is more appropriate as this book really will appeal to a wide variety of readers, but none the less would-be authors will take a special interest. Martin’s reading on the subject has been very wide and indeed covers everything from the little tales of Beatrix Potter to the writings of Jungian psychology analyst Joseph Campbell. He quotes books as old as Homer’s Odyssey to as contemporary as Harry Potter. The Guide also contains many quotes from the relevant literary criticism. This may sound off putting, however, you certainly do not have to be a university graduate to understand and enjoy the book. Martin has selected very clear quotations and his own text simply and clearly brings out the meaning in a way that is very easy to understand. Reading the book is more like listening to a widely-read, fan speak, and indeed the Introduction makes clear that Martin is just that. He has read fantasy novels since he was an excited boy. Many fans of Lord Of The Rings, for example, know that its author, Tolkien, was a member of a writing club called The Inklings, along with the other famous authors C. S. Lewis and Charles Williams, but not so many know that one of the origins of the character Gandalf was a postcard bought during an Alpine trek in the author’s youth, in 1911, which depicted “the ‘spirit of the mountain’: an old man with flowing beard, broad-brimmed hat, and long cloak, sitting on a rock under a pine.” (Chapter 2) Martin has also included quotes from interviews which he himself carried out with several authors. This material is new and unique. For example in Chapter 4 there is a quote from Martin’s interview of Peter Beagle where that author explains: “I will literally walk around the room talking dialogue and description to myself. I’m going for rhythm …” We get an interesting, new insight into exactly how that author writes. For those who want to read more on the subject of fantasy literature Martin has included a bibliography which is annotated; that is, he gives you a very brief summary of what is in each book. Very much in brief the main topics covered by the book are: Are these tales just empty, fanciful entertainments, or do they have a meaning applicable to the ‘real’ world? The history of fantasy from myth and epic narrative to modern classics like Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain series. What exactly is fantasy and does it differ from science fiction? How do authors get their fantastic ideas? The five ‘types’ of fantasy: high fantasy, adventure fantasy, fairy-tale fiction, magic realism, and dark fantasy. Particular techniques and elements such as meter, repetition and magic. The importance of location and geographic description, particularly in making the ‘unreal’ seem real. Techniques of characterization and the representation of real human struggle, with the aim of placing ‘real’ people in very ‘unusual’ circumstances. The centrality of plot and why we keep turning the page. Martin’s A Guide To Fantasy Literature will appeal to a very wide audience ranging from the general reader who has not read much of the genre to university students doing a course in imaginative literature. The book is not at all dull and is written by someone who clearly loves the subject and whose enthusiasm is catching. Martin is very knowledgeable, but does not write in an overly scholarly style. His text is clear, simple and approachable.
Raymond Mathiesen
(2 years ago)Good point. However, I have gotten 3 stories published out of 8 submitted - not 90.
Val Saichek
(2 years ago)You've made a mistake of confusing plan with plot. By working with a first line you have a plan and work it. That takes you to a chair at which you work out the who, what, when and where. Maybe how, which I usually find in second drafts. Perhaps if you had a better plan, and there are better, you'd do better than 3 of 90. As for Dickens, your info is grossly incorrect. He left many outlines behind. For King I can make no comment except to say he sits down evrry day except his birthday and Christmas. Read Ray Bradbury's book on writing to see what I mean by plan.
Chalie B
(2 years ago)Well, I must respectfully disagree. There are many different types of thinkers and writers out there and I am a very different one than you propose. As I mentioned in my intro, I've produced 128 stories in two years and added thirty two to that number since I originally posted. I have gotten three published. (I have submitted eight stories total - not a bad publishing record so far - about 38% success rate!) I also made the short-list for the Eric Hoffman New Writer's of America Award. I beat out over 5000 other writers and made it to the final cut of three contenders. This is how I write. I use two methods. First, I have several notebooks full of "first sentences" that come to me during the day. When I am ready and excited to write (about three or four days a week,) I'll pick a sentence and start writing. I do not decide on characters, plot, setting, but rather let the spark of that first sentence take me forward. I always finish a draft in that sitting - usually between 1500 to 3000 words. It is often pretty close to a final draft with corrections and some editing. I tend not to restructure or rewrite a story unless it is very intriguing. My second method is this. I am a member of a great Literary Flash Contest Website called "Show Me Your Lits." The contest is run weekly. A prompt is given - usually three or four sentences and three or four pictures, and you choose what you will, to generate ideas. You then have 90 minutes to come up with a complete, finished story, which usually ends up being between 700 and 1500 words, since it is a Flash Writing site. The member entries are placed in anonymous groups and everyone who writes, votes for the winners in several categories such as, Best Setting Development, Best Voice, Best Narrative, etc. Then, we all vote on "Best Flash." Each time you win a category you get a token to display proudly next to your critiquing comments. Oh, that is a very important part of this process as well. If you write, you must critique the stories in another group, usually six or seven stories. It hones your skills and awareness of your own talents and shortcomings. I also have joined another professionally driven Writer's Group called "Scrawl." This site is dedicated to published writers who want critiques on certain pieces in order to hone the work for publication. You also must critique other's writing on this site as well - it is much tougher, more driven than most sites in terms of critiquing, so a tougher skin is required. Oh, by the way, an absolutely extraordinary book on writing is one by Steven King, called "ON WRITING." He states, he NEVER plans a story - he starts with a character; that's all, and allows that character to write the story - he simply gets out of the way. I'd say he's had some success with that. Also, Somerset Maugham as well as Charles Dickens NEVER PLANNED A SINGLE STORY. Everyone must discover what works for them in taking on any creative endeavor. I have A.D.H.D.and am dyslexic. If I tried your method I'd have no stories written, instead of over 90. Finally, PLAY IS GOOD. Structure is fine, but if it ain't your thing, it's not going to stimulate you creatively. Finally, another useful site is You might be interested in this article. Thanks for your comment . . . now I've learned of ANOTHER way to write stories!
Val Saichek
(2 years ago)It's not fear that prevents writers, its a failure to plan. Most people who write eventually learn that without a plan, there's no reason to write. You don't try to find time to write, you just work your plan. Has nothing to do with spaces between dishes and bed, company or solitude. It has to do with knowing what your characters are going to do. And you can't know that until you decide. Don't sit down with a pen until you know for certain who what where when and how. Why will take care of itself. You can change your plan as you write, but you can't change a plan you never made in the first place.
Chalie B
(2 years ago)Hi Amy, Thanks for responding - yes, we all have our full, spinning, plates. The number one reason people do not write, (draw, paint, fly airplanes) is simple. FEAR. I know this well, because it was with me always - for many years. My fears had to do with childhood junk - not talent or ideas. I procrastinated for twenty-five years before I got down to writing. I began my creative career as an artist, but I was always a voracious reader and wanted to write. I feared I had no ideas in me. Ridiculous. I am 53 years old. I joined Show Me Your Lits two years ago and now have 83 finished stories under my belt, (starting from zero) and three have been published out of the eight I have submitted. Show Me Your Lits is one of the finest groups of people I've ever met in terms of offering a safe place to learn a craft, as well as offering sincere and truly helpful support regarding the practice of writing. That's what the site is for, digging one's feet into the soil, then sprinting to the finish. Show Me Your Lits also has a sister-site called "Liberty Hall", another Flash Fiction writing site. Show Me Your Lits is for Literary Fiction, Liberty Hall accepts Genre fiction. Check them both out. You can lurk as long as you like, but I advise taking 90 minutes and trying a flash. You'll be surprised with what you can do - especially if you take yourself off the hook as to your effort having to be perfection. It just has to be some sort of story. Any story. Any length - even just 100 words. Go on. Give it a try. You'll use an alias so no one will know who you are. If you don't like the story you create, you don't have to submit it for critique. I also recommend an absolute GEM of a book on writing - and I've read a million. Don't blink. It's by Stephen King and it is called ON WRITING. It is brilliant, concise, well executed, and chock-full of Aha! moments, I was taken aback by its effects. Stephen King may not be your (or my) idea of the Greatest American Author, but he sure is great at what he does, and I think a fine and courageous man. This book has changed how I view writing - he took the fear away. Not bad for 288 pages. Buy it, get it out of the library, whatever. If it doesn't trip your trigger, it's not too much time wasted. If it does, you'll find loads of excellent practical and personal advice that you can put to immediate use. I wish you well on your endeavors. If you are meant to write, you'll find a way to do so. There are really only two conditions tantamount to becoming a writer: you must love to read, read, read, and you must write something, anything, most every day. It doesn't need to be finished work. I have around 90 unfinished stories hanging around waiting for their time; but read you must, and write you must. There is no other way. Remember . . . QUESTION: "How do I get to Carnegie Hall? ANSWER: Practice, Practice, Practice. Finally, if you find your busy life-style; your reasons for NOT writing are more powerful than your desire or passion to write, it is possible that writing is not for you. At least not at this time. In order to be successful at any endeavor you've got to enjoy it. If you don't enjoy it, you won't find time to do it. If it ain't fun . . . fuggetaboutit.
Val Saichek
(2 years ago)I am vigourously working to find time to write. In addition to procrastinating, I simply find it hard to dedicate some time to me. Everyone has a busy life with family and work but I am just not great at taking care of me and writing is something that is hard to find the time to do. I have had multiple storylines come to me and two have stuck. One is young adult fiction probably even 9-12 yr range. Not at all what I expected but when that creative lightbulb goes off I dont believe its something that can be predicted or controlled. Now I just go with it. My inspiration came from my childhood and the moment it came to me, was when I was at a very low point. Full of anxiety, pms and with only 2 hours of sleep been had within the previous 2 days. It was a total aha moment and although I dont have a dedicated time to sit down each day or each week, I wish, It is constantly going round and round my head so I keep notebooks around at all times. The 2nd story is extremely personal to me and is definitly an adult book. It wasnt my intention to write about something so personal to me and its hard to put yourself on the line so publicly, if ever someone close to me were to read it one day, but then I dont want to hold back either so I just wrote it from a different perspective which makes it all the more interesting :) I have a collection of short stories but I wouldn't call them short stories more like short excerpts of my perspective on things in life. Also I don't do short well lol I have a habit of writing complex pieces so they can go on a bit. I have tried so often to compress my writing into shorter pieces but I have taken good advice from professionals within the English teaching world not to edit as I write. Write it as it comes out and then reflect on it later. Feedback I've had from these people has so far been positive too. I really am an amaetuer, but I have so much to share and love to write when I get chance so I will try to keep writing and learning. I will definitly be checking out Show me your Lits as that sounds very interesting. Id love to find the time to do some online courses with Gotham Writers. Their online lessons sound fantastic and they cover a broad spectrum of genres including the obvious but also screenplay and even a course on studying reading which I thought would be helpful to prospective writers.