Monday, February 16, 2009


Okay – It's Just My Website

I have several rinky-dink websites, one going back to 1997 or so – and they all cost me money, look terrible, don't provide you with much information about what I do, and in general are a point of sore embarrassment to me.
So I am going to change this situation.
I know, I know it's been more than six months since I've even updated this blog – what makes me think I can do something as complex as a new website when I can't even get the blog going? Well, I'm getting professional help. Several folks have suggested I get professional help. This may not be what they meant, but…
Since I write for publication and teach writing classes, one part of my bifurcated website will be all about My Writing Life. And since I paint and exhibit my work in galleries, the other part of the website will be about that, with lots of photos of my paintings and the places they are shown.

My Studio
Me at the Da Center Gallery
And who is that professional website designer? It's the incomparable Jerry Lerma who is busy designing websites for the State of California University system at CalPoly Pomona. He has announced his retirement plans as of the end of this year and I want to be the first in line for his services when he's available.
He has also promised to do the yard work and maybe paint the interior of the house. Yes, the shoemaker's children have long gone barefoot – Jerry is my DH.

Nothing Much, Except…

Now I will be able to spend some time getting back to updating the Blog here on writing topics – I have neglected this for too long.

For example, I taught a Short Story Workshop last month to 30 members of the Los Angeles Chapter of Sisters in Crime in Pasadena, CA. They were all preparing murder stories for an upcoming blind-submission anthology and I was able to tailor the workshop directly to their needs.

A couple of weeks ago I taught a workshop for short story writers of all levels of expertise, experience and interest at the Altadena Public Library. Chief Librarian Pauline Dutton was a joy to work with, and we had a turnout of nearly 50 people!

Altadena Public Library


My Writing Space

Here is an outline I used to teach the Altadena Workshop. Feel free to let me know if you find it helpfiul.
With Kate Thornton

1. Short Stories – What Are They?
a. A Guide to short story formats/lengths
b. We won't get rich writing them

2. Basic Story Structure
a. All stories – whatever the length – have a beginning, a middle, and an ending
b. Vignettes are not stories
c. Get a GRABBER!!

3. Where Do You Get Ideas?
a. Use your head. And your hands and feet, too – and everything you've ever read
b. The Idea File

4. Getting the Story Written
a. The BIC Concept
b. The Blank Screen of Death
c. Putting together scraps – and what did I do with that Idea File?
d. Just do it now vs. Lemme get it absolutely perfect

5. Are We There Yet?
a. How do you know when it's done?
b. Formatting – what is Standard Manuscript Format?
i. Fonts, spacing, indents, electronic formats

6. Now What? What To Do With a Finished Story
a. Revise! Or, it's never really done, is it?
b. Critiques – Or, who are all these people and why are they trying to hurt my feelings?
i. Groups, Individuals and Your Sisters (in Crime, that is) Online and offline
ii. Your family & friends who are not writers
c. Submit
i. Pay vs. No Pay – why they both work
ii. Anthologies, ezines, magazines, your church bulletin and the garden club newsletter
iii. Don't forget non-fiction venues

7. QUESTIONS, ANSWERS, SPECULATION and Are You Ready To Get That Story Ready?

These are guidelines; numbers vary
Flash: up to 1000 words (includes Micro Fiction – 500 words and below)
Short Short: Under 2,000 words
Short story: USA 2,000--7,500 words
Short Story: UK and Commonwealth 1000 - 12,000 words
Novelette (General Fiction): 7,500--15,000 words
Novelette (SF & Fantasy): 7,500--17,500 words
Novella (General Fiction): 15,000--30,000 words
Novella (SF & Fantasy): 17,500--40,000 words
Novel (General Fiction): Over 30,000 words
Novel (SF & Fantasy): Over 40,000 words

Short Mystery Fiction Society -
Crime & Suspense Mystery Magazine -
Absolute Write Water Cooler
And their main site -
Sisters in Crime Los Angeles -

A SHORT STORY BY THE MASTER HIMSELF, EDWARD D. HOCH (the most prolific mystery short story writer, well known for his regular appearances in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine):


Getting the Blog going again. Yes, it's been waaaay too long.

DH agreeing to do the websites. It feels like a whole new online life!

The rain. Okay, I am sick to pieces of it, but we need it and it gives me a great excuse to stay indoors and write or paint. And the light in the studio on a rainy day is just magnificent.

It's good to be back.


Sonnjea said...

Welcome back! I'm looking forward to the professional website - and more blogging in the meantime!

Ed said...

I'll second that comment.

pomona's art colonists said...

Yeah!!! I'm glad you're back!
I'm sorry that I missed you on Saturday.
Sounds like you had a great time, and I'm sure Ashley
like running into you also ;-D

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

Enjoy posting again and don't get washed away in all that rain.

I wish I had the skill to keep my website up to date myself, because my web designer isn't always available when I have new stuff to add.

Lauren said...

I love your writing space. Looks like a great place to get stuff done!

Ren said...

Yes it was nice talking to you that day at the Bunny Gunner take care.