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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Coffee and Critique Has a New Policy to Save Trees

Summer time and the readings are easy at Coffee and Critique. Many of our members take some time off for vacation, so we might only have six or seven attend rather than our usually 10-12. Although, it's also the time when teachers on vacation drop in to read their works-in-progress.

This week we started a new practice to conserve paper and ink and ultimately save a tree. The one on the left split open after being struck by lightning at our country place last year.

The day before our critique group, I'm going to send out an e-mail with a roll call so readers will know how many copies to bring rather than printing the standard ten copies we usually bring.

"Great idea!" "Brilliant!" Are some of the comments uttered after our new policy was announced.

Hope you're staying busy writing, and when you get the chance, try
to save a tree.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Don't Miss this One: The All Write Now! Conference at SEMO July 16

All Write Now! Location
If you haven't signed up for the All Write Now! Conference already, you still have time.

This year's Conference at SEMO in Cape Girardeau, MO, will be July 16. Conference organizers have scheduled a variety of speakers including agents, editors, publishers, and award-winning writers. Other highlights include several contests, one-on-one critiques, a slush-pile workshop, on-site book sales, and door prizes!

The contest deadline is quickly approaching.

Writers of poetry, short stories, essays, middle grade, or flash fiction works have until May 15th to submit.

The good news is:

You don't have to attend the conference to submit and win!!!

The entry fee is modest (only $10 per entry).

And . . . previously published works are eligible to win!

Read complete guidelines here.

Here are the AWN! deadlines to watch:  

May 1st - June 27th - Standard registration is $85

May 15th - Last day to submit writing contest entries

June 15th - Last day to receive the group discount rate at the Pear Tree Inn. 

June 20th - Last day to submit sponsor ads (need setup time for the brochure)

June 25th - Last day to submit critique pieces, which cost an additional fee. 

June 27th - Last day to register for the conference and sign up for free pitches. 

July 1st - Last day to request the bookstore order your books.

July 16th - Last day to have pieces copied and ready for the Slush Pile Workshop.

For complete information, including names of faculty and schedule, visit the AWN website.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Coincidence or Divine Intervention?

I don't believe in coincidences. So many things have happened in my life that can only be explained as being divine intervention at work, or as some might prefer to call it serendipity. A story one of our Coffee and Critique writers read last Tuesday has convinced me even more. 

Usually our critique group limits individual readings to five pages, sometimes a few more pages if there is a small group. Last Tuesday four of us showed up and only two brought something to share, so we were able to spend more time on each piece that was read. And I'm so glad we did because the story Diana D. read was twice as long as what we usually have time for, but her story has stuck with me all week.

At times she had to stop reading as her voice broke and her eyes filled with tears. And she wasn't the only one with tears in her eyes.

Diana read a moving essay about a night she was working alone in an office at a local university/research hospital. She had already clocked out for the day but stayed late to finish a project when a young man stepped off the elevator and asked her for directions to the university hospital's emergency room.

After she gave him directions, he told her he didn't think he could make it that far because he had taken an overdose of pills then decided he didn't want to die. After calling for an ambulance and asking if she could call his parents, Diana sat and talked with the man; minutes later a security guard showed up to ask if anything was wrong. The conversation between Diana and the young man and then the security guard was uplifting and faith-focused.

I believe it was no coincidence that Diana and the security guard, both strong in their faith, were in that office the night the young man showed up asking for directions, and later spiritual guidance. To this day, because of HIPAA rules, Diana doesn't know if the young man lived or died, but she wrote the story in the hopes that it will be published and maybe the young man's family might read it and find peace.

We never know what will be read during our Tuesday critique group, and we never know when we might be called on to help someone through a difficult situation like Diana did the night the young man showed up asking for directions.

Sometimes in our critique group it's about more than just the writing, it's about sharing stories that touch our lives and lift up our spirits.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Novel Idea at Coffee and Critique

The latest change at Coffee and Critique is a result of a brilliant suggestion from long-time member Jack Zerr.

In addition to critiquing essays, articles, short stories, and chapters from novels, our group will begin reviewing entire manuscripts in bulk.

Jack developed some draft guidelines, which were distributed in advance of our Tuesday meeting. During our meeting we discussed and made suggestions to the draft guidelines. Comments received from members unable to attend the meeting were also included in the discussion.

Based on our feedback and consensus, Jack is making revisions. Notably, we will allow four weeks to read each manuscript before providing comments, and comments will focus on an overview summary rather than detailed copyediting/proofreading.

Sarah Angleton, secretary of Coffee and Critique, graciously volunteered to send out future completed manuscripts to all participants. Les Thompson was volunteered (by Jack, I believe) to serve as sergeant-at-arms in case the discussion gets out of hand. (JK! Ha! Ha!)

The first manuscript we will provide our summary review on belongs to Doyle Suit.

Participating members will deliver typed comments to Doyle at our meeting on April 12, during which time we will also discuss our impressions of and suggestions for his manuscript.

How's that for a novel idea?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Kicking Off 2016: Strange Things Brewing at Coffee and Critique

Nick's last visit to C&C
The new year kicked off on a strange note yesterday at Coffee and Critique. As those present took turns going around the table at the beginning of our first session for 2016 --during which we shared our writing, publishing and other news--first up was Pat, who showed us a photo of her new puppy and mentioned she got an e-mail informing her she made it through the first hurdle for Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Less.

That prompted a comment from Jack, who was sitting at the far other end of the table, to say, "Did you say 'the joy of lust?'"

After we all stopped laughing out loud, we discussed how CS wouldn't publish an anthology focused on the joy of lust, although it would be an interesting read. Jack's comment was one for the books!

The readings by Doyle and Jack, "the boys," went well, as did critiques from the rest of us. With only six writers present, we wrapped up our critiques and discussions early and three of "the girls" stayed for lunch.

Bea in one of her many chapeaus
While Marcia, Jane, and I were eating, I began to discuss how much I missed Bea Siros and Nick Nixon, two of our members who had passed away a few years ago within one year (almost to the day) of each other.

Just then about a dozen glasses and cups fell off the drink counter near the cash register. No one was anywhere near the counter. One server was waiting on a table on the other side of the restaurant, and the other server was in the kitchen. The closest customer was at a table over six feet away.

Bea at her birthday party
Our awesome servers, Chrissie and Kim, quickly swept up the shattered glass, and the owners came in from their office to make sure everyone was okay.  C&K explained they didn't know how the glasses fell because no one was anywhere near the counter at the time. It was indeed a strange happening.

When Chrissie stopped by our table to top off our drinks, she said. "I swear there's a ghost in here."
Her comment gave me chills because right before the glasses shattered, we were talking about the deceased members of our group. Could their spirits be lingering at the restaurant?

It could've been a coincidence, but if you ask my opinion, it looks like our critique group will be in for a strange and an interesting year.