Month: July 2015

Meet Word Wizard, R.L. Gamble

In June of 2014 I found myself in Sacramento, CA. I was there to attend the Western Writers of America Conference, and on this particular morning was one of 40 or so newbies, that is, those who published their first western-oriented book or who were attending the conference for the first time, or both. We were each asked to stand and talk what brought us there. We listened politely to one another as we extolled the virtues of our own lives and creations.

Somewhat bleary-eyed after many presentations, I snapped into focus when one author announced she was from Guadalupe, CA, because no one is from Guadalupe, Ca, and because this tiny town is less than 20 miles from where I live. I rushed over to introduce myself at the first opportunity. The author’s name, it turned out, is Bonnie Kelly. She writes Westerns, pard; I mean the real Louis L’Amour, sixgun, ‘ya got me!’ westerns. I stuck with her like a burr under her saddle for the rest of the conference.

Happens, she belongs to the Word Wizards of Santa Maria. I was seeking a good writer’s critique group. Bonnie thought I’d be a good match for the Wizards; so it has turned out.

At the time I joined, I had written and published two novels. It didn’t take long for the group to find their flaws.

I had a proclivity for length: I never used one word when two would suffice. Where is the meat? my new colleagues demanded, and it became necessary for me to write much  more efficiently, sparingly, economically (To many adverbs here…BMH) to avoid my pages returned hidden under scrawled comment.

“Don’t use that.”

“Don’t begin with but.”

“You used 25 ands in one paragraph.”

“Gerunds are running amuck all over your pages.”

And so forth. This was tutelage by rote, retention by fire. Determined to have more words on my pages than my critics, I followed up each meeting with an immediate rewrite. Eventually, the cues became fixed in my mind. I no longer have conjunctionitis. Every multiple she and he pulls me up short. Red flags fly in my head as I write, often with the face of a colleague imaged in my brain.

And do you know what (did I just start a sentence with and)? I am a far better writer than I was before I joined the Santa Maria Word Wizards. Right, Barbara? I say, Barbara? Right? Barbara…?( …and, yes you are. BMH)

Meet Word Wizard, Wanda Snow Porter

It was pure luck to have met Bonnie Kelly at the Nipomo Library about three or four years ago. My old critique group had recently disbanded, and I had been looking for new one. The Word Wizards were at the Friends Fair marketing their books and Bonnie invited me to join them. I went to my first meeting with a few pages of my work-in-progress and found a group of interesting and talented people, each with great advice on how to improve my story. Now, every Tuesday I look forward to our meetings. Another huge bonus, the Wizards were not only a critique group, but also marketed their books together.

Riding Babyface, the YA story I was writing at the time I joined the group, was published by Desert Breeze Publishing last year. My new WIP, Ordinary Miracles, should be completed this fall.

I am also the author of two other YA novels, Spurs for Jose and Remedy. Check out all my books at:

Happy 20th Anniversary Santa Maria California Word Wizards

Twenty-three years ago I moved to the central coast of California from the San Francisco bay area.  After settling in I decided to step away from the work force and follow my dream of being a writer.  I took a writing course through the mail and six months later began my first book, The Blue Flame. I loved to read fantasy, but hadn’t found a story that gave me everything I wanted, so I wrote my own.

Fast forward two and a half years. My book was written…. my book had been written five times, and yes it was almost ready to need a publisher. It was then I saw a notice for a writer’s group that was to be formed in Santa Maria. I thought, why not?

The first meeting was at Café Monet, which no longer exists. There were four of us….Elaine Bierbaurer, Sylva Mularchyk,  Sylvia’s sister-in-law, Voncil ( I can’t remember the last name) and myself. The next week Ann Schafer joined our group.

What a great decision that was on my part.  In the next twenty years, along with much help and support, I wrote and had published ten fiction novels.

There have been many members who have come and gone during those years. Some have died, Ann and Elaine that I know of, some have moved away, and some have just moved on.  Sylva and I are the only original members left and poor health keeps her away from our still weekly meetings.

Now we have a core group of six writers.  We have poets, non-fiction writers and of course fiction writers.

In the next two weeks I am going to introduce you to the Santa Maria California Word Wizards. They will tell their stories of how they discovered the Word Wizards and what the group has met to them.

I’ve heard stories about some writing groups, some of it not flattering. I am so happy to know that ours is a gem. I can honestly say I don’t believe I’d be the writer I am without them.

Two years ago we created an anthology.  All of the stories had to involve February 14th.  Below are some of the authors that had stories in Scattered Hearts. .

scattered hearts copy Group

Las Vegas Observations.

I attended the Public Service Writer’s Association conference July-16-19th.  Like every year it is in Las vegas.  The conference is for authors whose writing involves those serving the public….police officers, firefighters, CSI, FBI etc, as well as others who have them in their stories. Great conference by the way.

What I want to talk about is what I observed this time. I guess it might be nothing knew, but this time is when I noticed it. At dinner with Marilyn and Hap Meredith, their daughter and Eileen Schneider we sat by a window that looked out on to the casino floor. After a sip of wine is when it hit me….the faces of those sitting in front of a slot machine. They didn’t look happy.  What they did look was intense and even angry.

I thought of all of the wonderful things you could be doing at The Orleans instead of gambling,…seeing a movie, bowling, and all the shows offered elsewhere. Why were they doing something that made them unhappy?  Life is to short to willingly participate in something that puts such a scowl on your face.  If you have a choice then do something that makes you smile.