Reasons Why You Should Join a Writer’s Group

Let’s face it, writing is a lonely profession.  You sit in front of your computer, concentrating on what words should come next, all alone. Just you, your keyboard and your monitor.

If you are lucky, you have s significant other who will read your words and give feedback, but many of us do not.

So you work on, thinking, typing and maybe even wondering if what you are creating is worthwhile, if anyone, anywhere, would want to read it.

If your friends ask what you do in your free time, they don’t know what to say when you respond, “I write.” Maybe you’ll get a, “That’s nice. What are you writing?” before they smile and move on.

So, what do you do to get the feedback and support that you need? Join some type of writers’ group.

The following are some excellent reasons why you need to take this step:

  1. Everyone needs motivation to keep going. When you know that a meeting is coming up and that you will be expected to share newly created work, you write.
  2. Ideas have to come from somewhere. If you’re lucky, your brain is able to come up with enough new ideas to keep you going for a long time. But what happens when you get stuck? Reading and critiquing the work of others and having your work critiqued as well, gives you an opportunity to see what others are doing. You get to ask clarifying questions, share ideas to see what others think of them, and even spend time brainstorming new places to take your story.
  3. What happens when you write yourself into a dead end? Who do you turn to? That’s another advantage of belonging to a writers’ group. You can ask advice about how to move to the next point, or to choose between beginnings.
  4. There is nothing that feels as good as a pat on the back. That’s what a good writers’ group will do for you. They’ll mention specific phrases that they like, descriptions that make a scene come alive, characters that are multidimensional. Hearing praise makes us want to work on, to move into the next segment of our story.
  5. If you post your work on a blog, you, hopefully, will get feedback from an even wider audience. That helps you see what is touching others beyond your narrow circle of readers. This is especially true when writing for a target age group. Say you’ve written the next hit Young Adult novel. How else to find out if it reaches the teenager unless at least one of them reads it? You don’t have to have a blog, but you might be able to find an online group in your genre.
  6. Belonging to a group that enjoys what you do, that writes and critiques and posts work, makes you a professional. Isn’t that what all writers want to be? You can also join your local writers’ club, such as the California Writers’ Club which has branches all over the state.


There are probably a host of additional reasons why you should join a group. Go online and research. I’ll bet you can find a hundred more.

I hope this helps.


The Importance of Tone

Tone is an important component in any piece of writing. Tone is set by conveying emotions or feelings through the choice of words. The way a character feels about an idea or concept or event, or even another person can be determined through the facial expressions that character uses, through gestures such as movement, action and arm waving, and even in the voice used.


The following are three examples of tone. the protagonist, Nicole, is the same in all three, but her attitude as she approaches a mundane, but necessary task is what changes the overall tone of each piece.

Version #1


The house was a mess.  The kids’ toys were scattered all over the family room floor, random socks hung abandoned across chair arms, and dishes in various stages of decay were piled high in the sick. Nicole looked at the mess in disgust. She knew she should do something about it, but lacked the energy to tackle the project without first taking a sustaining sip of her favorite drink: whiskey.

She poured herself a wineglass full, turned on the television, then sat in her husband’s recliner. She pushed back, sending the footrest high, leaned back and settled in for her soaps. All that television drama fortified her belief that there was no such thing as a good marriage. After all, look at her own.

Her husband, a handsome, successful businessman, left home before dawn and came home after the kids were in bed. He did nothing around the home, not even picking up his own dirty clothes. He seldom spent time with the kids on weekends, and when he was home, his phone was glued to his ear focusing on solving one crisis after another. Nicole often wondered if he was having an affair, but she was too tired to care and too terrified to ask.

When her shows were over and the whiskey long gone, Nicole began work. She flung the toys in the direction of the toy box, not caring if they actually fell within its sides. Next she tackled the socks, picking them up one by one, then tossing them out in the garage, where they landed in front of the hamper. The dishes were so disgusting that Nicole didn’t want to touch them, but she had no choice. If she didn’t wash them, no one would.

With furrowed brow, Nicole decided to tackle the dishes next. The easiest ones were on top, for they were from breakfast. She had fixed the kids pancakes which they drowned in syrup, now a sticky sludge. She scrubbed it off, sometimes having to exert a little muscle. She scraped off as much food remains as she could, then rinsed each dish before setting it in the dishwasher. It was a tedious task.

Next down were the ones from last night’s dinner. Spaghetti. Thankfully the sauce rinsed off quite nicely. Stacked next to the sink were the pots and pans. Now they were a huge mess. Crusted sauce. Hardened batter. Bits of hamburger stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Nicole kept at it until everything was either clean and put away or stacked in the dishwasher.

That was not the end of the job, however. There was dusting to do and changing of the kids’ beds. She went into the boys’ room first and stripped off the blankets and sheets. One set she put in the washer. The other she left on the floor. Back in the room, she sprayed the mattress covers with Febreeze and then ran a dust rag across the tops of the chest of drawers and around the legs of the beds.

In her daughter’s room she did the same.

Next on tap was the bathroom that the kids used. It was a mess. Damp towels in jumbles on the floor. Dried toothpaste in the sink. A dirty ring around the tub. While Nicole cleaned, inwardly she clenched her stomach, fighting the revulsion that threatened to erupt.

She loved her kids, but hated cleaning up after them. They were all of an age where they should pick up clothes and toys and change beds, but Nicole didn’t want to upset the family order. She was a stay-at-home mom with nothing important to do, so, according to her husband, she should be the one to attend to those details.

It made her so mad that somedays she thought about leaving. Considered packing a suitcase full of her favorite clothes and walking out the door while the kids were at school. She wouldn’t call to check up on them, wouldn’t come by the house to see if it still stood, wouldn’t email or text or make any attempt at contact. But where would she go? That’s what stopped her.

While she waited for the last load of laundry to dry, she poured herself another whiskey and settled in front of the television. She watched a mindless interview-type show in which brokenhearted ex-lovers aired their woes to millions. There was screaming and yelling and insults being tossed back and forth, to the enjoyment of the live audience.

Nicole would love to have the gumption to tell her husband what she thought of him. To complain about his lack of involvement in the family’s lives. To yell about all the things he does not do around the house. To slap him in the face and kick him in the shins. But that wasn’t her style.

She kept it all bottled up inside, telling no one how she felt. Abandoned. Ignored. Used. Taken advantage of. Unloved.

Nicole got up when she heard the dryer buzz. She gathered the sheets and blankets and made her daughter’s bed.

Then she went into the kitchen and began preparations for dinner. She’d just started browning a roast when her kids burst through the door. Their smiles, their energy, their hugs. That’s what she lived for. That’s what kept her going.



Version #2


Nicole loved spring. Birds sang out merry tunes as they built nests and prepared for the hatching of the eggs. Trees sprouted buds, harbingers of bright green leaves that would soon provide comfort and shade. The grass grew in the yard and flowers bloomed. It was a time of high energy. A time to do things.

For her, it meant cleaning. Many of her friends moaned about time wasted dusting furniture, and a few even hired housekeepers to spare themselves of the task. But not Nicole. She loved the smell of furniture polish. Loved the waxy feel on the rags. Admired the shine on the table tops and legs and the tops of dressers and vanities.

She disliked cobwebs, but loved taking her whisk into corners and across the beams, removing every trace. It felt terrific to see all remnants gone. Her walls and corners free of evidence that a spider had ever been there.

Nicole’s favorite room was her newly remodeled kitchen with its honey colored cabinets and granite countertops. She whistled as she scrubbed the doors and drawer fronts, taking time to ensure that all finger smudges were gone. Using her special polish, she worked it into the countertops, rubbing until the surfaces sparkled.

After doing all that, it was time to take a damp mop to her wood floors. There was something cathartic about erasing footprints and going over and over every inch of the floor until it shone.

Finished with that project, Nicole got the vacuum cleaner out of the closet and pulled it down the hall. Her bedroom was the only room in the house that still had carpet. She plugged in her machine and pushed it around the room, bending over to get it as far under the bed as possible. Nicole loved how the vacuum made each fiber stand up tall.

She left the most challenging rooms for last: her kids’ bedrooms. Her daughter was a tidy little thing. Her treasures were neatly aligned along shelves her husband had built and hung. Her clothes were folded and in drawers, her shoes matched under the bed. Even her bed was always made. Nicole hated to disturb her things, but dusting had to be done. She was careful to put each item back in its spot, each shoe in alignment. After washing her bedclothes, she made sure that all corners were tucked properly, the pillow fluffed and the comforter centered.

Her sons was not as organized. Their baseball mitts were tossed on the floor next to dirt encrusted cleats and grass-stained shirts. Books were piled on the floor next to each bed, the top ones with lying upside down and spread-eagled.  Nicole bent to pick up random socks and crumpled shirts left under the bed and across the floor.

She striped each bed and carried sheets and blanket to the garage. Once the washer was going, Nicole returned to her sons’ room with dust rag and polish. She cleaned all surfaces, singing to herself a little tune that she sang to her kids as she tucked them into bed each night: “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” Not a particularly childlike tune, but one her kids loved.

Nicole saved the bathrooms till last. Her husband, thankfully, cleaned all the toilets. That was something they had agreed on before they got married. He also scrubbed the shower and tub because it was easier for him than it was for her. That left the sinks and floors. Nicole didn’t mind removing the bits of toothpaste her kids and husband left behind. It reminded her of how much she loved them, how happy she was to have them in her life, how pleased she was to be there for them.

When her work was done, Nicole took one last walk through the house, looking for things she might have missed. She did find a spot of dust on the front of her husband’s chest of drawers and a cobweb high in the corner of her daughter’s room. These she quickly removed and then put away her cleaning supplies.

Finished, Nicole got herself a cold soda, turned on her computer and began to write. She composed a poem that spoke of the beauty of spring, of familial love, of commitment and devotion. She smiled.



Version #3


When Nicole arrived home after an exhausting day at work, the dog greeted her at the door. This was a harbinger of things to come, for the dog was supposed to have been put in the backyard right before her husband left the house. She bent over and patted the dog on the top of her head, gave her a few kisses and told her how much she loved her. And then Nicole noticed the smell.

It was an acrid stench. It seemed to be coming from all directions at once. Nicole knew what had happened. The dog, in desperation, had urinated and pooped in the house. Now Nicole had to find the deposits, remove them, and cleanse.

Tears fell. She was too tired to deal with this. It wouldn’t have happened if her husband hadn’t been distracted. He must have gotten a call from work, telling him to come immediately to put out some new fire, and then rushed out of the house, forgetting all about the poor dog.

She pulled out her phone to call him, to complain, to whine, but then realized how childish it would seem.

“Oh, well,” she thought. “Might as well change clothes first.” Nicole went into her bedroom and slipped into her work jeans and an old, sloppy t-shirt.

It wasn’t the dog’s fault, but Nicole did not want to look at her for fear of striking out in anger, so she put the dog outside and locked the door. It was like punishing an innocent, she knew, but it also made a statement as to how she felt about the mess left for her to clean up.

Then the search began. She found two piles of shit on the bathroom floor, which she scooped using a plastic bag. Then she mopped until the floor sparkled. She cussed and swore as she worked, letting the words fly with each movement of the mop.

There was more shit in the front room, nicely deposited in front of the television, in a spot that she would never have missed. It was a runny glob. The poor dog must be ill, Nicole thought. She fell into her recliner and let the tears flow. The mess. And now a sick animal.

Where would she find the time to take the dog to the vet? Her husband should have to do it. Hold up his end of the deal. She hadn’t wanted a dog. It’s not that she didn’t like them, but Nicole felt it wouldn’t be fair to leave a dog home alone long hours while they went off to work. And then the dog would have to be boarded when and if they traveled. She had protested, but her husband won the argument. He brought home a beautiful black lab puppy. All wagging tail and smiling eyes.

Cute as a tiny puppy, but too big to be trapped indoors for hours on end. Nicole had insisted that a run be built in the backyard, so her husband had hired a contractor. It was perfect. Shade. Fresh water. Shelter. The dog hated it, Nicole knew, and it made her cry to put the dog out there, which is why she left it up to her husband.

By the smell, Nicole knew she’d find more evidence of the dog’s discomfort if she could just get up and get going. Instead she turned on the television to the horrors of the evening news. She cried when she heard about the murder of a teen who was doing nothing more exciting than walking home from school. More tears fell when the news spoke of soldiers killed in a battle in Afghanistan. Again she cried at the mention of a wayward whale that had washed ashore and died on the beach. In fact, it seemed all she did was cry.

Nicole did not react when her husband came home. She didn’t respond when he called her name, nor when he bent over and kissed her cheek. “What’s wrong?” he asked as he gripped her hand in his. “Are you feeling okay? Is something wrong? Can I get you something?”

“Oh, hi,” she said. “Nothing’s wrong. I mean, the news makes me cry and I’ve no energy to finish cleaning up after the dog.”

“The dog?”

“You forgot to put her out. She made a mess all over the house.”

He stood and looked about. There was a puddle on the kitchen floor. A damp spot on the carpet near the back door and that runny pile in front of the television. “Don’t worry,” he said. “I’ll do it while you rest.”

He busied himself about, cleaning and scouring and scrubbing and even fixing dinner, while Nicole sat and cried some more about the news.



Murder on American Idol

Bobby Gaines knew she wasn’t the best singer in the contest and so she was terrified that this would be her last week on the show.  As the names of those who were safe were called, she became more and more sure that she was going to be the last one left. When they got down to the bottom two, Bobby sighed. The only other one left was Sandra Martinez, a sweet girl with a throaty alto that made her stand out as unique.

The host told Bobby and Sandra to come to center stage. Tears were beginning to pool in her eyes. This was it. Sandra would go on while Bobby would go home.
With a smile plastered on her face, Bobby stared at the three seated in the singers’ lounge: Dave, Curtis, and Willie. Curtis or Willie stood the best chance of winning.  Dave had limited range; he couldn’t hit the high notes with any accuracy and his low notes came out breathy and weak. Curtis sang country with a twang that grated on Bobby’s ears, but the judges seemed to like him. Willie sang ballads in the sweetest voice and with plaintive eyes that made girls weep. Bobby knew that, even if she did make it to the end, she could never beat the guys.

The emcee said,  “One of you will be leaving tonight, and the other is safe.”  He turned to the show’s judges and asked,  “Did America get it right?”

Paula Abdul said, “You are both great singers.  It’s about song choice.”

“You can’t sound like a karaoke singer and win this contest,” Simon Cowell said with a sneer.

“You got to be the bomb, baby,” Randy Jackson said, shaking his head.

“Over three million votes came in last night.  Let’s find out the results. Turn down the lights,” the host said as he tapped his right hand with a large card.

“Sandra, you sang A Hard Day’s Night, with an added country twist. Randy said it was pitchy.  Paula thought you looked beautiful.  Simon said it would be your last night.”

Then he turned to Bobby.  “You took on a Mariah Carey song.  Randy said you missed some of the high notes.  Paula said it was a big song, for a big voice.  Simon thought you would make a good wedding singer.”

After a long pause that seemed to last an eternity, he continued, “America voted.  Bobby, you are safe.”

Her eyes filled with tears.  While she didn’t really like Sandra as a person, that girl knew a lot about music, and had helped Bobby in fine-tuning melody changes that made each performance unique.  No one else had ever come forward like that, so Bobby knew she would truly be on her own from now on.

After the show was over, Bobby went back to her hotel room, following the three guys. She burned with jealousy at their joviality and seemingly endless energy.  She wished she exuded their confidence, their belief in themselves that they would win.

It had been an emotionally draining week, with rehearsals lasting long into the night.  Bed beckoned, and after coming up with a strategy to win, she fell asleep.

Shortly after her alarm went off at six, muffled shouts filled the halls. She pulled on a tank top and sweat pants, then opened the door.

“He’s dead!  Oh, my God!  He’s dead!” Dave shouted in the hall as he pulled at his mussed hair.

“Who’s dead?” Bobby asked.

“Curtis!  He’s blue around the mouth and he’s not breathing.  I don’t know what to do!”  Dave anxiously paced up and down the hall.

“I’ll call down at the desk,” she said as she ducked back into her room.  After placing the call, she walked over to her dresser and picked up her brush.  She ran it through her hair several times, and then put on her beat up flip-flops.  With a last glance in the mirror, Bobby erased the smug look from her face that would have exposed her true feelings, and then stepped into the hall.
The police had arrived.  A burly brunette ushered Dave to a loveseat near the elevators.  She indicated that he was to sit, and then she took out a notebook and started writing.  Bobby could see Dave’s lips moving, but she couldn’t hear a word.  His arms flew around in a melodramatic way, pointing down the hall, and then toward the elevators.

She walked down until she could see inside the suite.  Several officers bustled in and out, but when there was no one in the way, she had a clear view. Curtis was in the bed, with a couple of blue-clad paramedics hovering around him.

“Oh, my God!” Bobby cried.

“What’s going on?”  Willie sidled up to Bobby.  With his long legs and broad shoulders, he oozed strength.

“Curtis is dead,” Bobby said.  “Dave’s over by the elevators with a cop.”

“Who’d kill Curtis?”

“Who said he’d been killed?”

“Come on, Bobby.  Everyone hated him.  Curtis was so arrogant Dave nicknamed him King,” Willie brushed his long black hair over his shoulders.

“Do you think Dave did it?”

“Why would he?”

“Why not?  Dave was terrified of Curtis,” Bobby said.
“Who stands to benefit the most?”
“That’s a horrible thing to say,” Bobby purred as she leaned against Willie’s muscular chest. “No one would kill an opponent.”

“You would, I bet,” Willie said as he turned and sauntered down the hall.

“Hey, come back here!”  Bobby stomped after Willie.  “Don’t make comments like that and then walk away.  How dare you!”  She stopped just shy of Willie’s massive chest.  He towered over her petite five-foot frame.  “You can’t blame me for this! I had nothing to do with it.”

“I didn’t mean anything,” Willie said as he inserted his room key into the lock.

Bobby wasn’t one to back down from a fight, and this was an argument that she couldn’t afford to lose.  “Didn’t Dave say he’s done a lot of acting?”

“Yeah. So what?”

She whispered, “I think he’s putting on a show for the police.”

“Why would he do that?”

She giggled.  “You’re so clueless!  Dave’s gay, right?”

“Yeah. Big deal.”

Bobby said, “I bet he made a pass at you and you struck back.”

Willie glanced down the hall toward the elevators, and saw no one moving about.  “I’m not gay,” he hissed.  “Didn’t I ask you out for a drink earlier this week?  You refused, saying that you’d rather date Dave than me.”

“He asked me out, yes.  But whenever Dave was talking to me, your eyes were on him, not on me.”

“You’re one crazy woman,” Willie snarled.  He grabbed Bobby’s arm, and led her toward the stairwell.

“With Curtis out of the way, you and Dave could be roommates,” she said.  “Perfect for romance.”  As Willie pushed her through the door, Bobby cackled. “I don’t have time for kissy-face in the stairwell.  My rehearsal begins in forty-five minutes.  Let me go, Willie.” She tried to pull away, but his grip was too strong.

“Shut up,” he said as he kicked the door shut with his right foot.  He slammed Bobby into the wall.  His face was a bright red, and a vein pulsed in his sweat-drenched forehead.

Bobby sneered.  “You’re in love with Dave.  I’ve seen you two holding hands when you thought no one was looking.”

Willie growled as he grabbed Bobby’s right arm. “You’re a liar, a snoop, and a troublemaker. I’m tired of you spreading rumors about people.” His face was bright red.  “Why do you think I’m gay?” he snarled, spittle sprinkling her face.

“Yesterday during the lunch break, I saw you slip your hand into Dave’s back pocket.  Then he placed his hand on top of yours, and leaned back against your chest.”

“You don’t even know what you witnessed!  You idiot!”  Willie slapped Bobby’s face, leaving a red imprint on her right cheek.  “You’re trying to ruin me.  What about Curtis?  What did you do to him?”

“Me?  I didn’t do anything to him, you moron.”

“I saw you sneaking out of his room this morning.  How’d you get the key?”

Bobby laughed.  “Dave’s the moron.  He got in late after your little tryst.  He was so loaded that he dropped his room key in the hall.  I thought I’d give it back.  Being helpful, you know.”

“Yeah, you’re as helpful as a rattlesnake,” Willie said.  He leaned over Bobby.  “You’re the murderer.  Wait until the press gets this information!”

Bobby spat in Willie’s face, and then stomped on his right foot.  She spun away as Willie reached for her.

“Watch out!” he shouted.

“No, you watch out,” Bobby took one step back.  “Curtis had to die. He would have made it to the top two.  I set Dave up.  He had to take the fall. Sure, I’m not the best singer, but I deserve to win.”

“You little brat!”  Willie leaned toward Bobby, forcing her to take another step backwards.  “You come off like a sweet little girl, but inside you’re poison.”

“You better watch yourself,” Bobby said.  “You get in my way, and I’ll do anything that it takes to win that recording contract.”

Willie slapped her again, sending Bobby staggering backwards.  Her left foot slid off the top step.  With arms whirling, and a startled look on her face, she tipped back, in horrifyingly slow motion.  Her balance gone, she fell.  Willie watched as she bounced down the stairs, and smiled when her skull slammed into the wall of the next landing.

He ran his hands through his hair, tugged the waistband of his perfectly creased jeans, and then went down the stairs.  Willie stopped by Bobby’s crumpled body.  “I win; you lose.”


My Opinion About Politics

I hate politics, yet follow it faithfully. I understand that our democracy works because individuals can get on a public stage and brag about all they have accomplished and all they plan on doing, just so that the voters know who best represents their interests.

It’s like a bragging game in which the one who has the most to say, that offers the best package, wins. That person may not be the best for the smooth operation of our government, but the process has to play out.

There are those who choose not to vote as protest against the candidates, but that is dumb. Whether or not we like an individual, we have the right to mark a box for or against. Even if the one we wanted to be there is not.

This season is rampant with braggarts and bullies and haves. There are never any have-nots running for office as it takes tons of money to do so. If this is true, then none of the candidates truly represent the vast majority of Americans. None of them come from homes where food was not always plentiful and sometimes bills had to be postponed. None of them understand the life of everyday Americans, yet there are dupes who think they do.

Politics is about convincing voters that the candidate will do something for us that no other has ever done. I heard one individual from a small town saying that he was voting for a certain braggart because he knew that the candidate would reopen the bowling alley, the only entertainment in town.

I’m sorry to say, but that guy is sadly disillusioned. None of the candidates are going to reopen bowling alleys or rebuild theaters or give money to small restaurant owners. None of them are going to bring manufacturing jobs back to America as long as the minimum wage continues to rise and labor costs less overseas.

And what is even worse, as we’ve seen the last seven-plus years, is that Congress is so polarized that nothing gets accomplished. Every single incumbent thinks with the ballet in mind. Getting elected the next go-round. He/ She does not vote with Americans in mind. That we need roads rebuilt and strong education systems and jobs that offer dignity and housing to shelter our growing numbers of homeless.

None of them will do anything about the proliferation of guns because the organization that supports gun ownership has too many politicians in its pocket. Or at least in the gun sights.

I may be disenfranchised, but I still vote because it is my constitutional right to do so. If I didn’t, then I would have no right to complain about whoever wins, especially if the least objectionable of the options loses by a narrow margin. That would be my fault and the fault of every last person who fails to submit a ballot.

American politics may be a mess, but it is the best that we’ve got. This is still a democratic country where our rights are protected. We cannot let a few demigods strip away the rights that we’ve fought so hard to get. We cannot let the rich play with our money without considering the needs of the majority of Americans. We cannot let the government stay at a standstill just because politicians think with their pocketbooks.

So, get out and vote. For someone who represents what America stands for. Equality. Safety. Freedoms.