New book in Tree and Tower series by Sara C. Snider

by Karen Hagersten

A Shadowed Spirit is the second book in the Tree and Tower series by Stockholm writer Sara C. Snider.  In the first book in the series, The Thirteenth Tower, young Emelyn journeys out into the world after her village is attacked by magical creatures. In facing her fears, Emelyn, too, becomes a creature of magic.

In A Shadowed Spirit, Emelyn—now a magical And’estar called Siyan—heads into the dense and dangerous forest searching for knowledge of her powers. What Siyan doesn’t know is that she, too, is being hunted by a woman named Addigan searching for answers of her own.

Both books of the Tree and Tower series are available on Amazon and most online retailers in both paperback and ebook formats. Read about them on Goodreads. 

Sara C. Snider has a bachelor's degree in Archives and Information Science. She loves fairy tales and forests, and frequently infuses both into her stories. Originally from northern California, Sara now lives in Sweden with her partner and two crazy cats. 

 Visit saracsnider.com for more!

Ron Pavellas, Haiku & Haibun

In Haiku & Haibun: California Sweden 1996-2015, Ron Pavellas gathers poems from his years in California and Sweden. He presents them under Seasons, City, Hills, Thoughts, and Haibun.

A quote from the Haiku Society of America, on page 67, tells us "a haibun is a terse, relatively short prose poem in the haikai style, usually including both lightly humorous and more serious elements. A haibun usually ends with a haiku."

A native of San Francisco, Ron hikes in northern California and Sweden. The poems reflect his exchange with natural and urban surroundings.

Ron has a following online, where he blogs and publishes essays and poems. The Pavellas Perspective is his main blog, with articles on geopolitics, government and history. A Few Words is devoted to creative writing and Making Musical Memories to music. Collections of poems and photos by Ron Pavellas on Blurb.com include Glimpses While Living (2012), The Pavellas Perspective (2011) and An Alaska Summer (2010). 

Haiku & Haibun: California Sweden 1996-2015 is available on Blurb.com.

Reading at the English Bookshop in Stockholm

by Cas Blomberg

On April 7th, 2016 the English Bookshop in Stockholm set out chairs, poured the wine and opened up the floor for four members of the Stockholm Writers Group to read their poetry and prose to guests. 

Rebecca Lynn Foreman writes a poem every day and she has a stack of journals to prove it. For this event, she presented some of her more recent poems ranging in themes from airplane neighbors to nature.

Rebecca Lynn Foreman reads at the English Bookshop in Stockholm

You might ask yourself if anything is better than yoga, and the answer is, yes, Sara Hendey's poems! Sara chose a selection of poems from her completed work, “Patanjali’s Eggs,” a hybrid collection of prose and poetry focusing on the traditions and practices of yoga. 

Sara Hendey reads at the English Bookshop in Stockholm

Cas Blomberg read an excerpt from her work in progress, a fantasy novel titled Flameborne, which is a sequel to the published Ashborne: The First Chronicle. Flameborne is in the final stages of editing and is expected to be released in 2016. 

Cas Blomberg reads at the English Bookshop in Stockholm

Ron Pavellas writes poetry and prose, but for this event he chose a variety of poems written during the chilly month of November, 2014, which included a lovely selection of Haiku and even a Haiban celebrating cinnamon. 

Ron Pavellas reads at the English Bookshop in Stockholm

Thank you to everyone who stopped by and we'd like to extend a special thank you to the English Bookshop in Stockholm for hosting us. If you missed us, we hope to see you next time! 

Paddy Kelly Publishes in Analog

By Karen Hagersten

SWG member Paddy Kelly’s short story “Lonely Hearts of the Spinward Ring” appears in the April 2016 issue of Analog: Science Fiction and Fact. Analog is the longest running continuously published magazine in science fiction and historically influential in that genre. The magazine is known for its plausible speculations about the future and the way people might live.

Paddy has always been fascinated by the contact ads in the local newspaper and one day wondered how they might look if that newspaper was instead published on a multispecies space station. This short piece was the result.

Paddy's academic background is in physics, engineering and education, but it may be his experiences as a recovering on-line dater that readers will recognize in the vaguely desperate classifieds in "Lonely Hearts of the Spinward Ring." Paddy also writes poetry and novels and tweets as @spongepaddy. His rarely updated blog can be found at http://swimmingtothesun.com.


Lillian Kwok Publishes in Anak Sastra

SWG member Lillian Kwok published two poems in Anak Sastra, a journal featuring stories from southeast Asia. The poems are "MongNgoi" and "Four Thousand Islands (Si Phan Don)."

The poems were inspired by places Lillian visited in Laos. "Mong Ngoi was such a unique, detached place," says Lillian. "There are no roads there, and electricity only lasts a few hours a day. I wanted to capture the feelings of slowness and closeness I felt there."

Lillian says "Four Thousand Islands" also arose out of a vividly felt travel experience. "It's about the feeling of half-sinking into a new culture and wondering what it would be like if it was your whole life." 

Lillian is writing now in Phuket, Thailand. She travels often and the images, tastes, experiences, and people she encounters often find their way into her writing. Before settling down in Sweden, where she studies at the Karolinksa Institute, Lillian lived in Malibu, USA and Yilan, Taiwan. 

So you’d like to be as popular as F. Scott Fitzgerald, or Danielle Steele?

Don’t write above school grade 8 or 9 reading level!

By Ron Pavellas


See here, by
Shane Snow: "This reading-level analysis will change the way you write."

The ‘Grade Level’ is determined by the “Flesch–Kincaid readability” screen: https://readability-score.com/

I used this site to analyze a piece of my writing and received this information:

Reading Ease: A higher score indicates easier readability; scores usually range between 0 and 100. My score: 76

Grade Level: A score of around 10-12 is roughly the reading level on completion of high school. Text to be read by the general public should aim for a grade level of around 8. My score: 6.3

Additional information presented: character, syllable, and word Count; plus, characters and syllables per Word, and Words per Sentence.

Another site for text analysis: Online text analysis tool, where I find this for my text: Lexical Density : 27.0696.

“Lexical density… measures the ratio of content words to grammatical words. 
If you have a high number of content words, you’ve probably written a specialized academic text. If you have a low number of content words, you have a simple, easy-to-understand piece. Lexical density also considers the number of unique words. If you’ve re-used words, you’ve reduced your lexical density (this is why I get a higher score, it seems)." (Source)

Results of a Lexical Density Screen on three popular fictional works:

Pride and Prejudice             5.3758        
Huckleberry Finn                5.9580        
The Picture of Dorian Gray      8.6999
Mine                           27.0696           

Likewise, the readability screen:

Pride and Prejudice             68.0            
Huckleberry Finn                87.5  
The Picture of Dorian Gray      81.6
Mine                            76.0

So, who is your intended audience, and what grade level and lexical density do you think they will resonate with?
---

February Writing Challenge

Challenge begins

February 1st

Challenge details:

  • Write for 15 minutes every day.

  • At the beginning of the challenge, determine a word count goal. To be used in determining winner in the event of a tie. 

Challenge ends

Midnight, February 28th. 

Winner Announced: 

First critique workshop in February: Wednesday, March 11th, 2015. 

Awards:

  • The adulation of your peers.

  • Tangible reward to be determined at a later date.

Potential questions to consider when critiquing

by Cas Blomberg

  1. What works well with this piece? What stands out? 

  2. How do you feel about the dialogue? Was it authentic? Engaging? 

  3. Did each character project a unique voice? 

  4. Did each character's motivations stand out?  

  5. Which character did you identify with the most and why? 

  6. How do you feel about the level of depth in the characters? 

  7. Which three words would you use to describe the protagonist? Or antagonist? 

  8. Did you trust the narrator? Was he or she consistent throughout the piece? 

  9. What did you think about the balance between exposition, dialogue, and action? 

  10. Do you think the structure works? Did the scenes lead into each other?

  11. Were any events out of order, and if so, did that work? 

  12. Did you feel as if any scenes were missing? 

  13. Did you know where the story was going? 

  14. What was your favorite scene or line? 

  15. How did you feel about the tension the author created? Did you want more, less, or was it perfect? 

  16. Which themes could you identify in the piece? 

  17. Did you pick up on any symbolism? Do you think it adds to, or detracts from, the story?

  18. Which sensory details spoke to you the most? 

  19. Did the narrator reveal too much information? 

  20. What did you think of the pacing? Too fast? Not enough time to breathe? Perfect? Too slow? 

  21. What would you like to see more of? 

Speak up! When Engaged in a Writing Critique

By Ron Pavellas


1.       When you are critiquing in a group of three or more writers, you are speaking to the whole group, not just selected members.  Side conversations should be avoided because more than one person will be speaking at the same time. Side conversations do not include all members.

2.        Project your voice, consciously, toward the person furthest from you. Observe whether he/she seems to be straining to understand you.

3.       Speak from the belly, not just the throat and not just the nose. Employ the fullest possible spectrum of sound (high, medium, and low).

4.       Use your mouth to enunciate clearly. People read lips more than you may be aware. Don’t cover your mouth with your hand.

5.       Maintain your speaking volume at a consistent level.  Don’t swoop, swallow words, or make quiet and hurried asides to your neighbor, to yourself, or to Harvey the six-foot rabbit.

6.       Slow Down!

7.       Don’t talk over the current speaker. We can pay attention to only one speaker at a time. Two simultaneous conversations are just noise.

8.       Don’t be shy. You’ve something important to say and we want to understand it, not merely perceive that you are speaking.
 

Presenting your written work for critique

By Ron Pavellas

When you present your writing in a format which is easily read, it is not only considerate of your colleagues, it increases the chance that your work will receive its best attention.

So, how to present one’s work? Consider these subjects:

Font design
Font size
Line spacing
Margins
Pagination

Font design
Function is more important than form here. Pretty fonts may not please everyone. It has been shown that, in general, fonts with serifs are more quickly recognized and understood. I am most comfortable with Times New Roman and Garamond. Your group should agree upon what font design is preferable. Your group might want also to consider Courier New as your preferred font. It sometimes is requested by agents and publishers.

Font size
Twelve point is most easily read. If your group thinks 12-point seems too large for Times New Roman, try Garamond at 12-point. Of course, there are many other choices. These two are offered as a starting point.

Line spacing
I recommend “1.5 lines.”

Margins
I recommend a minimum of one inch at all four edges. Your group might want to exceed this for one or more of the edges.

Pagination
Much time will be lost during a discussion if the number of the page is in question, or pages are not physically connected. I recommend bottom right placement, where the eye most quickly lands after reading a full page.

Meeting October 8th 2014

Ten writers attended the meeting and three writers presented material for discussion and feedback. Snacks served up included chocolate biscuits, tiny French salami-type things with Parmesan, fresh figs and grapes, Aladdin chocolates and salted nuts. A solid 7/10 on the snack scale. Keep it up, people.

Paddy Kelly presented the opening chapter and synopsis from his completed novel The Endless Sleep, a contemporary fantasy set largely in dreams.

Cassandra Ware Blomberg presented two chapters from her work in progress, a novel set in Stockholm entitled Under The Chestnut Tree

Cassie Gonzales presented a radio play entitled Recombination and made our skin crawl.