Diamond Valley Writers' Guild

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Summary of February 2017 Meeting


Hi everybody, Lynne Spreen here with your monthly Guild meeting wrap-up. Forty-six people attended our February 25, 2017 “conversation” at the Hemet Public Library. I’m happy to say that we are up to fifty-five members, and I’d like to extend our thanks for their support. Because of you, we can afford to pay for this website, our Meetup.com group, our PO Box, and various other fees and infrastructure. Thank you.

The Guild is now an Organizational Member of the Diamond Valley Arts Council. If you haven’t already, check out their Hemet gallery and pick up a brochure of upcoming events. We’re proud to be associated with the DVAC, which shines a spotlight on creative endeavors in the San Jacinto Valley.


Marj Charlier

I welcomed Marj Charlier, the Guild’s first Webmaster. Marj is a multi-published author, speaker, teacher, blogger, and publisher. She’ll be updating our Member Books page, so if you publish a new book, let her know. She can be reached at info@MarjCharlier.com.

Folks have been asking how they might get more involved with the Guild so I made up a helpful sheet to answer that question. To see it, click here.

Ellyn Wolfe, Editor of StraitjacketsMagazine.com, reminded members to submit their work at this email address. If you haven’t already seen it, the magazine is a work of art. Take a minute to enjoy the literary offerings as well as the original artwork by Vicki Allen-Hitt.

I want to mention Lenka Lee, a real dynamo who has in a short time developed a successful website and Facebook Page dedicated to helping writers get their work noticed. For more information, click here and here.

Last month, Chuck Simms of the theater group, Four Seasons Players, invited writers to submit completed scripts to him for consideration in an upcoming production. If you missed it, you can email him at this address.

One of our members asked if any authors have converted their books to audiobooks. I have, and I did it for free. For more information, go to ACX.com (it’s an Amazon company).

Another member asked how to self-edit one’s writing. You might want to read the articles here, here, and here.

And now a summary of the conversations led by our two dynamite speakers.


Jim Hitt

Jim Hitt, award winning author of Carny, a Novel in Stories, spoke about the art of the short story. He encouraged us to consider how we might play around or experiment with short stories, citing the works of Faulkner, Chopin, and Hemingway.


  • In a short, even more than in a novel, every word counts.
  • Short stories can have an arc, or – and this is where they differ greatly from longer works – can be somewhat impressionistic, offering a snapshot of a life rather than fully developed beginning, middle, and end.
  • Irony is essential in every short story. Situational irony is when the character and the audience are both in on the irony. Dramatic irony is when the reader knows, but the character(s) doesn’t/don’t. The best example of dramatic irony is “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin.
  • In a short story, moral ambiguity is more effective and powerful than black-and-white truth.
  • The writer should be able to sum up the story in one sentence.

Jim shared the following handouts (click to read or download): Hitt’s Golden Rules of Style and Grammar, and Selected Short Stories and Authors.

CJ Hernley on old ordnance in Alaska

CJ Hernley on old ordnance in Alaska

In the second half of the program, CJ Hernley, author of eleven literary works, told us that she uses short stories (“e-shorts”) to market her books. An e-short can range from 12 to 100 pages. CJ creates e-shorts for free using CreateSpace and then publishes them solely as ebooks. She either prices her e-shorts very inexpensively or gives them away for free, and this attracts buyers to her more expensive books.

Her Amazon Author Page is a great place to see all of her books in one place. (Note that you can have a free Amazon Author Page, too. The only requirement is that you have at least one book to sell, no matter where you published it. If you have a box of books in your closet that you published at Staples, you’re still entitled to the AAP, as long as you make at least one book title available for sale on Amazon.)

cjs-book-title-displayCJ encouraged us to create e-shorts either by excerpting a chapter from one of our existing books, or creating a brand new short related to but not included in existing novels. (This idea really calls to me. I’m thinking of writing a stand-alone short story about the characters in my novels. This would entice new readers, as well as placate existing readers who loved my novels but don’t want to wait another 10 years for the next one. )

CJ points out that ebooks can be read on almost any device short of a toaster. Or maybe even that, if it has a screen and internet. To that end, she handed out these instructions, How to Download a Free Book from Amazon to Any Device.

When CJ does an ebook giveaway of one of her e-shorts, she gets a one-month sales bump at full price. At the end of each ebook she includes a link to her other books, or her Amazon Author Page.

CJ says “The formula of writing things in a series is unbeatable.”

Also unbeatable is that CJ can describe her writing in one sentence: “Every one of my books are about outdoor adventure, and several are based in Alaska.” MARKETING ALERT: note how easily she describes her niche? If CJ were standing at a book fair, and a potential customer arrived asking, “What do you write about?” she’d have a quick, full, and interesting answer. I wonder how many of US could say the same.

Like I said, a GREAT meeting!

Next month, Debby Johnson will be speaking on the topic, “Writing Children’s Books from A-Z,” and this will cover from picture books up to middle-grade chapter books. As I interviewed Debby about the speaking gig, she convinced me that writing books for children is more complicated than people think. For example, there’s the matter of word count and rhythmic pattern, what subjects are always a winner and what’s off limits, how many illustrations, how to find an illustrator, how to publish a book with pictures, etc. My 4-and-6-year-old grandkids know that I am an “offer,” and they are leaning on me to write a book about them, so I can’t wait to hear Debby’s presentation.

See you on March 25, 2017, at 9:30 a.m.

Lynne Spreen at radio interview

Lynne Spreen at radio interview

This blog post was prepared by Lynne Spreen, President of the DVWG. Lynne is a pro-aging advocate. She is a blogger, speaker, and author of midlife fiction. You may access her website here and her books here.


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