Friday, April 1, 2011

Readings, Art and Wine

Come and visit our 2nd Saturday event, starting April 9th. Find us on Facebook, if you haven't already :) The details are there...

This series is the "SWS Art Bazaar"

What's our goal?

SWS will establish our self in the community this year! With readings, classes and a Wordpress publication, the organization will become more visible than ever. We will have info on what we are planning available at the Art Bazaar, but more besides.

Want to participate?

Check out our official website! We are looking for:

Groups that need new members.

Artists who want to connect with writers.

Writers looking for classes that would augment academic instruction.

What areas are we working to develop classes in/for?

SWS will be organizing classes in the following tracks:

Working as a Writer (self-publishing, publishing, business of writing)

Technology for the Writer (Programs, computer info, internet research, blogging/social media, etc)

Craft of Fiction: Exploring the craft of various genres and forms of writing.

Thematic Discussion: A SWS instructor leads a discussion related to a particular topic relevant to writing.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Meet The Editor

So I requested info from everyone taking board and administration positions. Amy had a unique approach. Rather than summarizing everything she has done, I feel it'd be better to provide you with the link she presented me.
Here is her resume.

if you go to the Clipbook, you will find a listing of her published articles.

I encourage you to take a look. Ask Amy anything you like in the comments section!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Meet Yasamin (Yaz) Our Event Manager

Below is Yasamin's Introduction of herself to our current members.
Please include any questions you might have for her in the comments.

About Yaz

The position of event manager necessarily serves two primary purposes: the planning of events and their subsequent operation. In the first stage, I plan on combining my extensive familiarity with open-mic and set-schedule events to formulate a template for successful events for this organization. Not only have I seen the behind-the-scenes of a plethora of readings, but I have come to understand what it takes to carry out one of them efficaciously. Inside of school I have been required to read, but as it is my passion, I have acquainted myself with more authors than there are fish in the sea. Using these backgrounds and interactive seminar formats, I plan on supplying those with knowledge that I may lack a venue at which to impart that information. My presence will not overshadow those being featured, but will still command the respect and exhibit the wherewithal necessary to carry out such an event without any hiccups.

Goals for the Organization

The first and foremost goal must be the sharing of art in the form of poetry and prose within the local community. There is no “too many” when talking about how many people are reading or writing these days. As I see it, “too few” would be an accurate answer as of today. Across all barriers (age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, etc.), there are poets (and writers of all stripes) awaiting an awakening, shadowed only by a lack of exposure.

Secondarily, I would like to see this organization’s sponsorship of non-fundraising events on a progressively more frequent basis. With the right planning, a non-fundraising event can be carried out at no expense, and considering the subject matter, the chances are that our resources are either currently possessed or readily accessible for dissemination. Therefore, the only limitation should be time available, and luckily for us, there should always be time in the day for poetry.

Other goals include, but are not limited to, the improvement of the poetry scene in Sacramento, the improvement of the personal writings of those with an interest in bettering themselves, as well as the offering of a safe haven for the emotional, intellectual, and in some cases spiritual, growth of Sac-Towners. Not to mention, the growth of this organization into a name worth remembering.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fundraising Manager -- Jazamin Wasi

Below is the Introductory Statement of our new Fund Raising Manager. Feel free to use the comment section to ask her questions about herself, her goals, and fund raisers she is currently researching for our organization.

I’m Jazmine Wasi and I am assuming the position of Fundraising Manager. I spent 3 years working as the Activity Director for the Black Student Union at Laguna Creek High School in Elk Grove, CA. My duties as Activity Director consisted of organizing fundraisers, community service events, scheduling club meetings, (basically any event that the club was to be involved in).

I gave weekly updates to participants in the club and rounded up volunteers to assist me in all new events I planned. I’m very organized, resourceful, and driven. Overused statement warning: I may not always know the answers to every question but

I pride myself on always being able to find answers. I usually accomplish what I set out to accomplish. Even if I don’t meet my goals at first, I eventually will, because I don’t give up easily. I generally get along with just about everybody. This makes it easier for me to effectively communicate with the necessary organizations and people in order to successfully plan fundraisers. My people skills will help me present a positive image for SWS when speaking on behalf of SWS to other organizations when arranging fundraising efforts.

With my position as fundraising manager I would like to fundraise enough money to accomplish the following things:

--find a permanent space for SWS to work out of
--spread the word about SWS
--help to accomplish the specific goals of SWS for SWS.

I would also like to help myself with this job as well. I hope to gain experience and help myself develop new strategies for planning successful fundraisers and events. I hope to advance my skills in event planning and find out where I would like to take my skills in the future. I’m still trying to find out exactly where I’m headed in life and what career I’m interested in.

I hope that the experience I get working with SWS will help me get a clearer view of what I really want. I would like to improve my position by eventually expanding my responsibilities and doing everything that is expected of me and more. I hope that everyone in SWS will be satisfied with my work, ideas, hard work and driven attitude. I look forward to getting to know everyone involved with SWS, and hopefully will be able to work alongside you in future fundraising event.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Novel: Outline Up

I'm big on character and plot. But in the last 2 years, my brain has kinda rewired itself. I've developed a more intense need for organization...

I think it's my life, really...

So I signed up for Nanowrimo. 50k words used to be fairly easy, when my life had a few less details in it :P Now, it's time to re-approach my projects.

World Building: 1st I am writing out the background of the world

This is how does the magic(s) work? Who IS magical? What is the history and how does that affect your character and world set up?

Character Building: 2nd I'm writing up the Character background for my main characters + villain--

Karryna, Dayton, Lara and Bea.

2a: Setting up the minor characters:

--I don't need to know their whole back history, but I do need to know their motivations and how that affects their interactions with my main characters:

Toni, Sera, Bea's goons, the Masons, Madre & Tia & Pappa, Ishtar ...

Outlining: 3rd, it all comes together with an outline.

Event by event, I mapped out the plot, include notes of character behaviors that will guide plot, etc.

And on Monday...I will start writing! :D

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What are Critique Groups For?

First off--this is the 100th post!

So lets celebrate by discussing the reason we're here on this blog, anyway.

Critique Groups. What are they for? Why do we need them?

Critique Groups exist to help you better your craft.

There are multiple ways to look at the purpose for improving one's art of writing. None are less worthy than any other, however different goals do impact critique style. So it is of utmost importance that dominate goal of your critique group is synonymous with your personal writing goals.

Writing for Hobby

Some people dabble. They can live without writing, but they choose not to. I can't explain this well, because I don't understand it. I used to paint for fun, and draw. I drew because I wanted to see my characters, get a handle on how they dressed...I was visually world building. But it was driven by other needs in my life.

Perhaps that is what writers who write for a hobby are doing...wrestling with other drives. Writing for therapy. Or to understand some aspect of their world, a tiny sphere of it, just to go “Ah hah! Now I got it!” So the writing, itself, isn't the goal. The self-knowledge it generates may well be the true aim.

Writing for Art

When the story and characters haunt you and refuse to leave you alone, even when you have a long day of cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping and errand-attending-to hanging over your head, and no time to write, it is the writing itself that drives you. The art takes so much time to craft, and if you find yourself stealing 15 minute breaks at work to crouch over your notepad, or even spirit away your notebook to the bathroom to scratch out some ideas in a way no one will miss got it bad.

Writing as a hobby won't sustain this need. The urge to write eats up chunks of your life. You start zoning out in the middle of conversations. You arrange a few hours here and there, but as painstakingly slow as the whole process is...these hours just aren't enough. And even when you hit dry periods, when life tosses obstacles in your way, you focus on developing techniques to keep you writing.

Myeslf? That's what started me blogging. At first I modeled what I posted from my favorite blogs, but over time I've begun to find my own voice. Precisely the same curve as fiction writing takes. Imitate what you like or the concept of what you think your chosen written form should look like, then you learn the true rules and ettiquette—why they exist—and upon implementation and adaptation you find your expression truly liberated. Suddenly the thoughts and emotions you want you reader to have...they have...even the ones who have never met you.

But I also derive inspiration from helping others. If I am in a place where Life and Writing are at odds, lest I tackle non-fiction, then I would like to see others get further down the road we both want to walk. I want to help them find the knowledge to hone craft, publish, proceed toward making at least part of their income from their writing. Recognition of hard work.

Writing for Publication

This is the realm of the successful writer. The writer who retains control of their art, and can consciously decide how much he/she wants to sacrifice for the ability to earn a living on writing alone. Or, precisely how frugally he/she can live and be content.

Goals here are to hone craft by better walking the line between self-expression and audience appeasement. While writing for art purposes can drive one to focus on how to communicate to his/her audience, that is not the same thing as appeasing said audience. Communicating lets the audience see/know what you want them too, based on what is best for your story. Appeasement means the audiences needs trump your creativity.

Just because someone “writes for publication” does not mean they are “selling out.” There are many aspects to writing for publication, chief of which is the ability to identify your audience. No human is 100% innately unique. We often feel that way. But in actuality, there are people who think like us, who like the same things we do, and despite their interests running in different arrangements and operating under different assumed categories, they are our built in audience. Who they are and how to reach them is determined by your ability to identify them, and give agents and publishers the knowledge they need to promote your book.

Promotion does not mean selling out. The modern concept seems to be that marketing of any sort means that a pursuit is “non-artistic.” But behind every artist whose name is even whispered, is a business. Not only is promotion—from fliers to press releases to article writing—essential to the advancement of any writer, it is the only way even the tiniest bits of recognition achieved for your hours of hard work.

The goals of the various levels of writing:

Dabbling Goals

For the person writing as a hobby, they want connection with other writers. Now, we all want this, but with different expectations of the relationship. Writing as a hobby means honest critique isn't the goal. Often these individuals want appreciation from a community of people who dabble in a similar fashion. True improvement of craft is not the goal, because the plan at the end of the day is to stuff the writing in a drawer.

Does this mean that dabblers aren't good writers? On the contrary, they can have a lot of skill. They just don't care weather they do or not. They don't want recognition beyond a narrowly defined clique, sometimes inclusive of family and/or friends. Dabblers seek other writers to join in a quest of self-expression with. It's an activity, like a club. Not a serious endeavor.

Writing for Artistic Goals

As writing drives expression, and expression transcends hobby and becomes part of one's life as essential as eating dinner, the writer is driven to publish. This isn't a drive perpetuated by a quest for fame (necessarily) but for a little recognition. Our society recognizes hard work monetarily. We give children allowance for chores, or good grades, etc. We pay laborers based on hours worked. We derive salaries based on knowledge required, academic experience, and duties expected. Everything in our lives is commodified, and as such we are trained: recognition comes in the form of a paycheck.

The more hours spent honing craft for nothing else but the sake of the piece you are writing, the more imperative the question: “What should I get for this?” When you've sacrificed family time, time with friends, grades and sometimes even work hours for the sake of completing a manuscript it can become more than recognition that drives this move. It could be fiscal realities that prompt you to think publishing is a must.

When you are at this point in your writing career you are on the quest for knowledge. Not only knowledge about the craft of writing fiction, but writing query letters, researching agents. Who do you contact? How? What edge can you manufacture so that when your polished manuscript lands in the hands of an agent or editor they say: “Ah hah! I want this one!” How much control can you maintain over the situation to guarantee that if someone doesn't pick you up, it isn't because of some naivete or lack on your part?

Writers with these goals—the aspiring writer—needs other writers who are actively on the same journey they are. Only others at their same level can provide the thorough critiques that prepare them for publication. These writers don't need pats on the back, they need honest appraisals from others who have researched not only the industry but what the Reader sees on the page.

Writing for Publication

These writers need picky, quick, and detailed critiques that can help them sit down, fix and complete all changes needed for making a deadline. Their critiquing partners need to know their publishing goals: does this writer write for pure entertainment? Is there an artistic or political agenda? Etc. These determine the analysis and critiques given about content.

Choosing your group:

When choosing your critique group, be honest about your goals.
Be certain your group shares your same perspective.
Discuss your reasons for writing frequently.

A critique group that pats you on the back and finds mostly grammatical issues in your writing, and only what is awkward and unclear is not going to help you progress toward publication. That group is simply not thorough enough, and may be susceptible to dogmatic approaches to critiquing.

Likewise, a thorough critique that focuses on big issues, rather than the use of details to construct said big issues may give you too much to think about/fix on a deadline. If you are writing for publication and need that sort of critique, you will likely be asking for extensions :P

Discussions of why you write and for whom you write will define some of your goals here.
For instance, my response: I write for myself! But I'd really like others to see it. I want, someday, someone I don't know to come up to me and say “I loved your book! It inspired me to write, because you made writing feel like an enriching experience.” Okay, perhaps it won't be in exactly that wording, but that's the jist.

When your group does not share your goals it can be detrimental to everyone involved. Does this mean writers of all levels shouldn't associate? No. But they shouldn't be in the same critique groups.

What are your thoughts? What do you want out of your critique partners?

Friday, October 8, 2010

If You Could Describe For Me...

So, I'm posting on Thursdays :P Let's pretend today is Thursday.

What happened yesterday?

The Guy put on a computer game. Stuff had been brewing for awhile (it's part of my process ;) and I've had a few "false starts" on this project already. For the School Daze Blogfest I tried a scene from Karryna's POV. It worked. Far better than anything from stubborn Lara's perspective has.

So on went Pandora, in went the Earbuds, and out poured the latest start of the project. Starting new projects always teaches me something new. And while I'm not quite 2k words into this draft, I noticed something I want to work on.


Ok,I've always felt this was hard. Why? I could describe something till blood oozed from under my fingernails and I don't think people would feel it's real. Last night, after folding my laptop and tucking it away, I realized why.

I rely on describing what Reader should see and hear. Smell and taste is hard. I mean, really. I should have not merely described the large entryroom, the wheeled luggage grating against tiles. I should have added the faint scent of lemon circulating on the draft caused by the open door. The whiff of flour and cooking oil on Isa the Maid as she comes to take Kari's bags from Madre. And perhaps, those scents made Kari taste bread.

Smell and taste do not have to be related to food. Our mouths taste dry, metallic (or as a friend's status read the other day on FB "minty fresh") and this is related to scent, memory, emotions. In actuality any of these things can trigger scent, taste and in response, memory.

Certainly makes flashbacks easy, or background information relevant. Also this deepens Reader's experience. Reading has been more "3-D" than movies ever have, because we can feel what the Main Character feels. We can watch the characters put puzzle pieces together that a) we've already figured out b) we haven't figured out. We develop a richer understanding of character personality, which allows for greater individual complexity than a 2 hour movie permits, or a series based on stand-alone episodes can imitate.

So describing a scene isn't about...well,'s about tricking Reader's mind into thinking, for a moment "I am there." Transcending the real world and landing smack-dab into the dream world, while awake. Full use of imagination. That's what it's about.

That's why I read. To love the characters, to see things I never could. So, I hope that some day my writing can create the same experience for others. Here's to improving description!

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