Wednesday, June 14th
6.30 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Community Room of the Madelyn Helling Library
Free to the Public
Whether writers intuit the story arc or embed it explicitly, it is a fundamental structure that every person equates with a good story–a story that works for the reader.
- We’ll analyze a story’s arc. Story arc exercise sheet
- Apply theory to your own work.
- Be ready to share your work with others.
*Bring the completed exercise with you as well as a piece of narrative or drama you are currently working on.
Carolyn M. Crane is a produced playwright and published essayist and poet. She has taught creative writing privately through her website lightcampfarm.com and at The University of Phoenix online. She will be teaching a five-week creative writing class in Grass Valley through Sierra College extension this fall.
We warmly invite all participants in the competition and supporters of young writers to this event!
Kim Culbertson has graciously agreed to make the presentations; she will also address both the writers and others present.
First-prize winners of the Young Writers Competition:
These winners will read their winning pieces.
High School Fiction, Owen Knight (“Cuban/Smoked”), Forest Charter
High School Poetry, Anjali Figueria (“Fluffiness”), Forest Charter
Middle School Fiction, Natalie Trogdon (“Kelly Fredericks”), Home School
Middle School Nonfiction, Rachel Trogdon (“Searching for home”), Home School
Middle School Poetry, Mary Rose Athas “Valentine”), Home School.
Second and third place prizes will also be awarded.
Wednesday, April 12th
6.30 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Community Room of the Madelyn Helling Library.
According to NPR, by day Edgar Allan Poe Award-winning author WENDY HORNSBY is a genteel Professor of History, but by night is the purveyor of fictional murder most foul. Published internationally, she writes the Maggie MacGowen and Kate and Tejeda mystery series, as well as many short stories.
In addition to the Edgar Award, her work has been awarded the Mystery Scene Reviewers Choice Award, the Romantic Times Best Contemporary Suspense Award, and nominated for the Anthony Award, le Grand Prix de littérature policiere (France), and le Prix Du Roman D’Adventures (France). Publishers Weekly selected her 77th Street Requiem as one of its five best mysteries of the year. Her short stories can be found in a variety of anthologies, including several annual editions of The Best American Mystery Stories. They are collected in Nine Sons and Other Mysteries (Crippen & Landru).
Her most recent mystery, Disturbing the Dark, (Perseverance Press. April 2016) finds filmmaker Maggie MacGowen in Normandy, France. In the spring, Maggie’s ninety-two-year-old grandmother planted carrots in a field at the family’s farm estate in Normandy. In August, she harvests bones. Publisher’s Weekly declared Disturbing the Dark to be “Captivating”. Carolyn Hart found it to be, “Tense. Taut. Terrific.”
A retired Professor of History, Wendy lives with her husband in the Gold Rush country of Northern California. For more about the author, go to www.wendyhornsby.com.
At its next regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, January 11, at 6.30 p.m., Sierra Writers will welcome Chris Olander. A poet and teacher with California Poets in the Schools (CPITS) since 1984, Chris will conduct a poetry workshop designed to breathe air and life into our poetry “muscles.”
Chris has published 4 chapbooks, 4 CDs of his spoken poetry, and 4 CDs with musical accompaniment with various musicians. He blends performance techniques with spoken word to create an action art poetry, using musical image phrases to dramatize experiences. He creates a poetry akin to that based on oral and bardic traditions; he is a poet of sound exploring feelings, ideas, and meanings in rhythmic patterns.
Sierra Writers Open Read
Sierra Writers offers an “open read” several times a year to anyone interested in having their work read aloud and critiqued in a supportive, creative group environment. Work is read anonymously, by volunteer readers, and feedback is offered. The author will have the option to identify themselves after the piece has been discussed. We welcome all interested writers to attend, whether you are submitting work to be considered or not.
Please review the following guidelines:
- Bring a single copy of your piece, double spaced, Times New Roman (or similar) font. Reading from electronic devices is not allowed.
- Limit your piece to 750 words (2 to 3 pages), double spaced, or about 3 minutes, read aloud. If submitting poetry, no more than three short poems.
- Work should be anonymous. Please be sure author’s name or other identifying information is removed
- Work can be whole pieces or excerpts, poetry or prose. If it would help the group, please feel free to indicate the genre or tell us it is from a larger work. The piece will be critiqued on its own.
Please consider these suggestions for how to get the most out of the Open Read:
- Be an active listener. Take notes; be prepared to be specific with your comments.
- Begin with a positive comment. In order to grow as a writer, it is important to be able to identify what is working in a piece, even if you don’t like the topic, have issues with the voice, etc. What is the author doing that is working well? Where is the energy? What images are potent and interesting?
- Keep your criticism constructive. “I didn’t like it” is not helpful to a writer, but “I disagreed with the point the author was making, which made me lose interest in the piece. Maybe the author could look for a way to make it more accessible to people with diverse opinions.” Another example: “It was hard to follow” isn’t nearly as helpful as “The point of view moved from person to person very quickly, which I had a hard time following.” Follow up with specifics from your notes about where this happened in the piece, if possible.
- Focus on the writing. Our goal is to give the author feedback on their writing. If you find you are talking more about yourself and your own experiences related to the topic in the piece, consider talking with the author about those after the Open Read is over. Give the writing and the writer the attention during the few minutes that are allotted to their work, and engage on a personal level afterward.
Writers often do the heavy work of lifting and inspiring a society. This is important work and needs to be supported. Through reading our work aloud and seeking feedback, we can help each other find our voices, and create pieces that have meaning and integrity. Sierra Writers’ Open Reads are intended to be a safe place for writers to experiment with their craft and share their vision and voices. Be gentle, kind, and supportive.
Sierra Writers will host an Open Read on Wednesday, December 14th at 6:30 p.m. in the Madelyn Helling Library, Community Room.
All are welcome to submit their works of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry for feedback from the assembled group. If you wish to have your work treated, please respect the following guidelines: limit your submittal to 750 words (2-3 pages double spaced) and use Times New Roman 12 point font or similar; limit one prose piece per person, or three short poems; piece will be read blind–please do not include your name on the work.
Submitted writing will be read aloud by other members of the group, who will provide considerate, brief and tactful feedback. The author must be present at the reading, and may choose to identify themselves after the comments are given.
Please join us for this constructive and engaging process. This reading is free to the public.
Photo credit: Brett Hall Jones
“Find your writing voice.” You may have encountered this sentence in articles or in previous writing classes or workshops, but what does it really mean? What is voice and how important is it? How does one find it? How does it differ from style? How does your voice differ from the narrator’s? Come discuss voice and practice various techniques for point of view with Lynette Vrooman on November 9th, 2016. There will be a writing activity during this meeting.
Lynette is a Professor of English at Sierra College, Nevada County Campus. She received both her Bachelor and Master of Arts in English degrees at CSU, Sacramento and is currently working on a Master of Humanities degree through CSU, Dominguez Hills. In addition to teaching courses in literature, composition, and writing fiction, she promotes the arts at Sierra College, serving on the Sierra Writers Conference committee, and writes fiction in her spare time.