Tag Archives: Anthology

Shaped by Choices

Writing a story begins with a choice. What does the writer-in-me want to tell? That is balanced with the question, “What does the target audience want to read?”

I’ve made a lot of good choices in my life—and a few that didn’t reach that level. Some of those decisions shaped me like homemade playdough in the hands of a preschooler. I was punched, squeezed, rolled, and manipulated. Just when I thought I had reached my destiny, slam, bam. More pounding.

Julaina Kleist-Corwin, a writing instructor, gathered short stories about choices for an anthology. She extended the competition to former students and writers who had been published in her previous anthology. She read each 500-word submission and suggested changes. No pounding, punching, or squeezing. Then the writers were given the opportunity to reshape their stories. Most were memoirs. A few were fictionalized.

My memoir, “Second Chance,” is about my submission to an anthology being published by a well-known New York publisher. The book theme was true stories about Christmas miracles. No problem there. I had a story to tell.  I submitted it. Hooray! It was accepted with minor suggested edits. The congratulatory email said the next step would be to sign a publisher release form. I waited a few days. No form. Instead, an email suggested I revise my story. Playdough again.

“But that isn’t what happened,” I wrote to the developmental editor.  She gently rolled my story into shape to keep the facts and told me to sign the forthcoming release.

Two days before the deadline to sign the release, I received an email from the main editor, the one whose name would appear on the book cover. He added more fiction. “It makes a stronger story,” he said.

Slam, bam. Playdough. Only this time, I had a choice. Accept the change or insist on keeping the story as I wrote it.

What did I decide? Read about it in The Choice Matters.



Disclaimer: Julaina doesn’t know I’m including her Amazon book link in my blog, but I’m sure she’ll be delighted. The print edition and e-book are on sale at introductory prices.



Filed under Editing, Memoir, Writing

When to stop editing

WordsThe idea for “Dreamcatcher” was born from a short-story challenge in my critique group. Each of us wrote a person/thing and a location/place on paper, then folded it to hide the secret. We pulled the various-shaped papers from a container, like drawing names for Christmas gifts. I unfolded the page and stared. “Albino Indian” and “Deadwood, South Dakota stared back, defying me to conquer that challenge.

I posted the colorful stationary page on the bulletin board next to my computer. I glanced at it dozens of times over the next months without a hint of inspiration. One day, fingers poised over the keyboard, I had an Aha! moment, and the story emerged. The basic beginning, middle, and end flowed together.  I read it at the critique group the next December. Yes, they liked my story, however they reminded me that the three rules to improve writing are edit, edit, edit!

Months later, the moment arrived when I confidently submitted it to the California Writers Club Tri-Valley Branch members-only anthology. The first rounds were read and critiqued anonymously. What? It needs more edits? Doesn’t the review committee understand that I’m a copy editor. Besides, “Dreamcatcher” has been edited half a dozen times.

After revising to include the committee’s concerns, “Dreamcatcher” made the final cut. I’ll be one of the readers featured at the book launch this week. As I read the story aloud in preparation, I skip a word and inject new words. It’s then I realize my story isn’t finished—only published.

Voices of the Valley Encore
California Writers Club Tri-Valley Branch Book Launch
Voices of the Valley: Encore
January 25, 2014
2:00 p.m.
Towne Center Books
555 Main  Street
Pleasanton, California USA


Click HERE to peek inside this anthology on Amazon.


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Filed under Blogging, Editing, Reading, Writing

Tooting my own horn

Voices of the Valley: First Press

Tooting one’s own horn means that an individual is bragging about an accomplishment without waiting to be honored by others. Toot! Toot! Toot! Three of my short stories were published in Voices of the Valley: First Press , the first anthology of California Writers Club Tri-Valley Branch.

“So what?” you ask with a shoulder shrug and add the familiar cliche “Piece of cake. You’re the president. The anthology committee wouldn’t dare touch your submissions.”

I’m pleased to say that being president didn’t give me a free pass or place a halo over my head. The selection process was nondiscriminatory—no mercy for me. That editing equality gives me the right to….

TOOT! Mosaic
TOOT! Search and Rescue
TOOT! Heritage Paradox



Filed under Writing