Following the normal business at the Pensters September meeting, John Woods introduced feature writer Michelle Matthews, whose topic was “1 year, 100 stories: How This Feature Writer Gets It Done.” Although she is a native Mobilian and would love to do more stories about people, places, and food inRead More →

“If I just say ‘poverty is horrible’ you may agree, but if I show you a picture of children digging through the trash, you will feel something.” In her presentation for the January Pensters meeting, Dr. Charlotte Pence unpacked the “show don’t tell” mantra so often spoken in writers seminars. She offered attendees two techniques to give readers an experience, rather than a description: imagery and specificity. Read More →

The Pensters kicked off the 2018-2019 season on Saturday. A great group was in attendance for speakers Suzanne Hudson and Joe Formichella’s presentation “Cutting Out the Mad Middle Men.” The duo spoke about their experiences as authors in a traditional publishing system and how it led them to move toRead More →

For today’s writers, crafting the story is only the beginning. To see their work succeed, authors must also take on the role of marketer and business manager. During the Pensters April meeting, authors John O’Melveny Woods and Frank Kelso addressed the challenges and opportunities writers can expect to face in the current publishing industry.
Over the last decade, the landscape has shifted dramatically. Hopeful writers are no longer forced to trek back and forth to their local post office awaiting an answer from the slew of agents and editors to whom they sent query letters. There are options. It’s a development John Woods views as exciting. “You have choices now, and you have the power and ability to control your own product. We have never had this opportunity in the history of publishing.” Read More →

“I have to find out what happens; then I’ll stop.” While readers cherish stories that keep them hooked till the wee hours, writers hope to craft work worthy of such comments. So, what are the secrets to writing a page-turner?
Creating emotion is the first, according to author and guest speaker T.K. Thorne. During the March Pensters meeting, she illustrated the point by sharing what she called a “documentary” view of a cheetah and a gazelle. Asking the audience to visualize the hunt, how the cheetah crouches down then springs into action for the takedown, Thorne painted a picture that left the gazelle the undisputed sympathetic character.Read More →

Though she always enjoyed telling stories, Leslie Anne Tarabella never envisioned herself becoming a writer. Her journey from blogger to columnist, to book author was more a case of one thing leading to another. During the February meeting, she shared with Pensters and guests how a friend initially suggested she start a blog. After a little research, she decided to go for it, recruiting her teenage son for tech support and choosing a pseudonym.Read More →

“Grandad, when are you going to write a book for kids?” The question, asked by his five-year-old granddaughter, was difficult for Frye Galliard to ignore. As a journalist, he’d written and published for years, but never with this audience in mind.
During the January Pensters meeting, Galliard related how his book “Go South for Freedom” became a reality. Long before the conversation with his granddaughter, he’d passed many Saturday mornings with his own grandfather’s gardener, “helping” in the manner young boys do, riding in the wheelbarrow and leaping the collard greens. Along the way, Robert the yardman had shared stories passed down through generations. One, in particular, had captivated the author for years.Read More →

Just like know your size makes it easier to shop for a new suit, knowing where your writing fits can make it easier to connect with the right agents, publishers and ultimately readers. In the Pensters’ November meeting, guest speaker Linda Busby Parker helped illuminate the lines between literary and commercial fiction. Having published works in both, Parker points to the presence of a major theme as one of the first differences. Read More →

“If you want to be writers, the question is what are you currently writing?” With a voice that evidenced his thirty years spent as a Presbyterian minister, Dr. Jerry Blacklaw encouraged Pensters and guests to continually practice their craft through writing journals, blogs, short stories or even letters to the editor.
Long before he penned the fictional adventures of 10-year-old Uncle Weldon in Hot Coffee Mississippi, the process of preparing sermons for Sunday service taught him how to address two key questions writers face: ‘does it make any sense’ and ‘are people interested in what I have to say?’ Read More →

Humor is a multifaceted tool in the writer’s arsenal. It first offers a point of connection, allowing readers a glimpse behind the curtain, where they find not a polished, published author, but a human being like themselves. In more difficult topics, such as grief, depression or illness, humor can be the hint of levity, the spoonful of sugar transforming the nearly unbearable to tolerable.Read More →