Some of our Writers are Artists, too….

…including yours truly, Webmaster Patrise Henkel.   I will have a painting in the Charles County Arts Alliance Fall Art Show, a multi-media public exhibit.

When: October 2 to December 30, 2014
Where: Waldorf West Library
10405 O’Donnell Place, Waldorf, MD

The Library consists of four separate gallery spaces on two floors, so it should be a large and varied exhibit. My painting student Neil (featured on my blog) will have 2 works in the show.

“Meet the Artists” Public Reception

Come and honor all the artists, check out the gallery, the library and enjoy refreshments.

Saturday, October 4
2:00 to 4:00 pm
Waldorf West Library’s Main Gallery 

The Challenge of Description: Robert Hass on “The Problem of Describing Trees”

Check out this remarkable poem by Robert Hass about writing, about poetry — and about trees, of course. Simple language, beautiful message, touching — but not berating — the ineffable.

The Problem of Describing Trees


The aspen glitters in the wind
And that delights us.

The leaf flutters, turning,
Because that motion in the heat of August
Protects its cells from drying out. Likewise the leaf
Of the cottonwood.

The gene pool threw up a wobbly stem
And the tree danced. No.
The tree capitalized.
No. There are limits to saying,
In language, what the tree did.

It is good sometimes for poetry to disenchant us.

Dance with me, dancer. Oh, I will.

Mountains, sky,
The aspen doing something in the wind.


“The Problem of Describing Trees” by Robert Hass, from Time and Materials. © Ecco, 2008.

Maryland Writer Suspended for Writing Fiction

I believe that we, as a free people,  are capable of telling fact from fiction, and have the right to think, dream, imagine, write or draw freely in the context of fiction. Here’s one writer who got into hot water writing about a hot topic: school shootings.

from the Atlantic monthly online:

In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment for a Novelist

An eighth-grade teacher who writes fiction under a nom de plume is ordered to undergo an “emergency medical evaluation” for his novel about a school shooting.

From the Dept. of Insane and Dangerous Overreactions to Fictional Threats:

A 23-year-old teacher at a Cambridge, Md. middle school has been placed on leave and—in the words of a local news report—”taken in for an emergency medical evaluation” for publishing, under a pseudonym, a novel about a school shooting. The novelist, Patrick McLaw, an eighth-grade language-arts teacher at the Mace’s Lane Middle School, was placed on leave by the Dorchester County Board of Education, and is being investigated by the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office, according to news reports from Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The novel, by the way, is set 900 years in the future.

[snip]  So far, there is no indication that he is guilty of anything other than having an imagination, although on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, as news reports make clear, his imagination is considered an active threat.

read the entire article here

Get Past that Writer’s Block!

AWWG member and novelist Cheryl Holloway is holding a writing workshop Saturday August 23 in LaPlata, MD, devoted to defeating writers block.

Who among us isn’t stymied now and then, or more often, when facing that blank page! Here’s a chance to get together with your sister writers and get some new tools to blast through:

Check out Cheryl Holloway’s writers workshop – click here for more info!


August Meeting Monday 8/11

Time for the August meeting, already!

Accokeek Women’s Writing Group
Monday, August 11, 2014

1:15 – 3:00 pm at the Accokeek Branch Library conference room

15773 Livingston Rd, Accokeek, MD 20607

Come and join us to meet your writing sisters! We take on challenges, explore the writing process, share our progress, and support each other along the way. Writers can read get feedback on their projects

Stuck? 5 things to try:

Ideas for when you when can’t step away from your problem

© marc johns serious drawings

Illustrator Marc Johns likes to go for a walk or do dishes to relax his mind, but when that’s not possible and he needs to push through a creative block, he tries one of five things:

  1. Instead of coming up with one solution, come up with 20.
  2. Shorten your deadline to 10 minutes from now.
  3. Put away all digital devices.
  4. Use different materials, like chalk, crayon, paper and pen. (if you type, write longhand; or vice-versa)
  5. Pretend you are a pastry chef or a pilot or a hot dog vendor (you get the idea). How do these people look at the world?

Source: Breakthrough! 90 proven strategies to overcome creative block & spark your imagination, Alex Cornell, editor.

Featured Image -- 968

The Stake Reading Club: On the first line of The Girl in the Road


An interesting way to think about reading a book — and a great writer’s prompt for your own experiment! Read and write on….

Originally posted on The Stake:


As first lines go, The Girl in the Road’s is a good one: “The world begins anew, starting now.”

A few random thoughts on these six words:

1. The statement is Meena’s—but my first thought is that this could be the first line of any number of books. Perhaps all books. What is a novel, after all, but the creation of a world? It’s said that fiction must reflect reality, but most writers, I think, know better: language creates its own reality. “Call me Ishmael,” “It is a truth universally acknowledged,” “A screaming comes across the sky,” “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself”—these words call worlds into being, worlds that don’t exist until writers and readers conspire to create them.

2. The notion of world is especially fraught in science fiction, however. Fans frequently speak of “worldbuilding” as a thing distinct from character and plot: “Great story but the worldbuilding could have…

View original 519 more words

Reference Books for Writers

At yesterday’s meeting Valerie brought her battered Houghton-Mifflin style guide, much-loved since college. While we were doing an editing exercise, several people asked for it. There is nothing like a familiar resource when you’re trying to solve a problem.

So build your reference shelf with the tools that help you write. Technical help, like dictionaries, thesaurii and style guides, inspiration from beloved writers, sources of publishers, challenges, exercises that will keep you motivated.

Kay had a great idea: she asked for a good dictionary for a gift – so much more useful than another gadget.

Here are some of my recommendations. Please leave more suggestions in the comments!


On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser

100 Ways to Improve Your Writing  by Gary Provost

Self Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne & Dave King

The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master by Martha Alderson

The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises that Transform Your Fiction


On Writing: A  Memoir of the Craft  by Stephen King

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg


The Elements of Style