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(Upcoming Meetings, and Minutes of Past Meetings are Posted Here)


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Upcoming Meetings

If you are scheduled to make a submisson for critique, or to lead a workshop, and can't make it, please let Cathy Greco or Dave Volk know by email as soon as possible.

July Workshop - Just Write
Aug Critique Meeting - Ron M. and Barry W.
Aug Workshop - Writing Great Fiction Lecture Series
Sep Critique Meeting - Sandra F. and Betsy C.
Sep Workshop - Fix It (Come with writing issues you'd like us to help you to solve.)

 

July 10 Critique Meeting - Submissions by Bob L. and Don S.

We enjoyed both of these submissions: "The Other Side," a short story by Bob L., and Son of Megaton Man, chapter 1, by Don Simpson. Bob's submission was a ghost story with children as the main characters on each side of the veil. It was well-received, and contained Bob's trademark warmth, realisitc family potrayal and unique characters. Don's submission was the first chapter of his novel, with professional illustrations, showing Megaton man's new, ordinary life in Ann Arbor, MI, and how his son Simon comes to know that his dad and mom were really superheroes. We loved the illustrations and the flow of the story-telling, and are left wanting to read more.





June 26 Workshop - Writing Great Fiction - Evocative Writing and Integrating Dialogue into Narrative

We watched another two lectures from this very instructive series on the craft of writing. In the lecture on Evocative Writing, we learned about showing not telling, and how the addition of detail puts the reader in the scene. This gives us the opportunity to evoke emotion in the reader.

In the second lecture, we learned about using dialogue to evoke character, to tell the story, and to provide exposition, with great examples and techniques.






June 12 Critique Meeting - Submissions by John T. and Jim L.

We were treated to two strong submissions. "Sins of Omission," chapters 1-2 by Jim L., and "Wings of the Cherubim," chapters 6-8 by John Thompson. Jim's submission was a murder mystery that spans generations, with an engaging prologue and good characterization. John's submission was a tense and engaging continuation of his apocalyptic novel, with vivid descriptions.




May 22 Workshop - Just Write

Folks took advantage of focused time for writing, then retired to Eat 'n Park to refuel and relax.






May 8 Critique Meeting - Submission by Don M.

"Traitor," submitted by Don M, a tightly paced, detailed piece--chapter 8 of a noir novel in progress. 


April 24th Betwixt Meeting - Writing Great Fiction

Shawn presented two great sessions from the Writing Great Fiction series. It discussed starting the writing process, using both logistical and psychological questions. It also talked about using the five "w"s of journalism, and letting the beggining determine the story versus letting the story determine the beggining. The workshop was well-received, and other modules will be presented in the near future. Thanks to Shawn for finding and presenting it!

April 10 Critique Meeting - Submissions by Tom I. and Jeff P.

"Papyrus," submitted by Tom I.

What we liked: There was obviously lots of research behind this story. The dialogue was rich. The story is engaging and ambitious. We felt like we were there. We liked the plan to bury the idol, and the ending regarding the foreboding dreams is a great way to end the chapter.


Our Critiques: Sometimes the dialogue seemed a little expository. Dedu would know some of the things that Teta was telling him, already. The discussion between Teta and Dedu regarding the gods may have gone on just a beat too long. We would have liked to see more narrative description and internal thoughts. Dedu, considering his uprbringing, may not have referred to the idol as just a piece of stoneware.

"Untitiled Contemporary Fantasy Novel," submitted by Jeff P.

What we liked: This story was very enjoyable. It was a page-turner. The opening scenes regarding his sister and his car being shot out moved quickly and was a favorite of several of us.  

Our critiques: The internal monologues slowed down the story and weren't necessary. The mild reaction of the main character to being invisible, and his failure to immediately run to the place where his sister and niece were hiding at his first opportunity seemed unrealistic. The neighborhood where the shooting occurs may have been over-described and lacked some clarity.

Thanks to everyone for their critques, and to Tom and Jeff for great submissions.

March 27, 2018 Workshop

Bob L. read from two current short stories he has in progress, Tom I. read from a series of blog posts that are now on his website: tomimerito.com, and Ron M. read from his novel in progress, soliciting comments and suggestions from the group.





March 13, 2018 Critique Meeting - Submissions by Ron M. and Shawn W.

"The Midnight Gravedigger," submitted by Ron M.

What we liked: This story is entertaining and engaging, and several of us commented on how much we enjoyed the seedy hotel scene. Well done.

Our critiques: Self-edit for flow. Watch for unnecessary or repetitive words. Avoid the thoughts in italics: these distract and change the tense, and they are unnecessary. Help us to create more of a personal connection with the main character by showing him in relationships. Spectacular events, such as the lady in the robe, may benefit from a slower setup. This would add tension and improve believability. The story works best when it builds mood, so take your time with narration.


"The Writers' Group," submitted by Shawn W.

What we liked: We liked the first-person-present POV, especially the narrator's cynical attitude. We liked the twist at the end (only one of us saw it coming). This was well written and entertaining.

Our critiques: Perhaps add some foreshadowing of Marcie. There are plausibility issues: if he's visting several local writer groups, with some members in common, with the same story about his intentions, he would become an obvious suspect. It could be fun to have him pick up pointers on murder from the group. Although the last several sentences in the story as we begin to understand the "reveal" are great, the very last sentence seems a little flat.

Thanks to Ron and Shawn for great submissions!


February 27, 2018 Workshop - Author Platforms

We talked about facebook pages and websites for authors. Both are vital these days to establish lines of communication with your readers. Dave showed the facebook page he's working on, but it's not quite ready to launch, so we can't put a link here. Instead, check out this excellent author facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/katemorettiwriter/

We also talked about excellent marketing tools for self-publishers, such as mailchimp.com and bookfunnel.com, for creating mailing lists and handling ebook giveaways.


February 13, 2018 Meeting - Submissions by Lyn P. and Bob L.


"Ch. 14 - John and Rion Reach Riknsaldare," submitted by Lyn P.

Since Lyn couldn't make it to the meeting, we didn't give spoken critiques of her story, but insead provided our reviews via hard copy and email. In summary, though, we loved the world building, characterization, and of course, the character names. The love scene was lovely.

"Small Change,"
 submitted by Bob Lash

What we liked: We loved the narrative voice and humor, and thought the scenes of the main character's family, his relationship with Jay, and the issues with Jay's family were all intertwined well. We enjoyed this story very much.

Our critiques: Some would have liked to know more about the main characters (the narrator and Jay). There were a few times where the dialogue may have sounded too adult coming from kids. When Grandma's spry hands were mentioned, it was confusing at first who was being talked about, because Jay's grandparents had just been mentioned. The last sentence of the story may have been too "on the nose."

Thanks to Lyn and Bob for great submissions!


January 23, 2018 Workshop - Anthology Planning

We had a very productive meeting where we reviewed and made final comments on the author contracts, decided on a cover and title for the anthology, gave advice on author blurbs, and explained how to set up an author facebook page for your author platform. Every author who will be in the anthology should create an author blurb with one or more links to your social media platform(s) (amazon author page, website, or facebook page). There are good instructions and examples on creating an author blurb here: https://insights.bookbub.com/great-author-bio-examples/

We'll post more helpful stuff in the forum on creating facebook pages and other aspects of your social media platform. Keep an eye out (figuratively).

We also talked about possible publisher names (the name that will appear on the front cover of the anthology, at the bottom). We haven't decided on a name yet, so please visit the forum, see the current conversation on that topic, and add your two cents (also figuratively).


January 9, 2018 Meeting - Submissions by John T. and Jeff P.


"The Wings of the Cherubim" - Chapters 4 & 5, submitted by John T.
  
What we liked: Everyone enjoyed the story and thought it was well written. Good dialogue, clear descriptions and a narrative that flows well, making for an easy read. Most felt the characterization of Frank and his wife were well done, as well as the interactions involving them. We are engaged with the entire story so far, and are looking forward to reading more.

Our critiques: The characters' reactions to the circumstances appear to be too tame. We'd like to see more reactions to finding the dead bodies. This scene can be drawn out more, providing greater detail, building more fear and apprehension, and revealing more character. Some feel that Ish is still underdeveloped as a character, and we would like to know more about him, his backstory and his internal conflcits.


"Zelda's Magic Emporium" by Jeff P.

What we liked: This story was well-written and imaginative. It was fun to read and humorous, with some lovely sections. We thought the story idea was rich and provided lots of opportunities for expansion, although it already stands well on its own.

Our critiques: The son's and wife's characters are a little flat. There were missed opportunities in the bubble scene for descriptions, dialogue and reactions. Some thought there wasn't enough response to these unexplainable events--no questioning, fear or confusion. Some would have liked to see more development of Zelda and Anton. There were some long paragraphs. 

Thanks to John and Jeff for great submissions, and to everyone else for their thoughtful and helpful critiques.


December 12, 2017 Meeting - Submissions by Cathy G. and Dana T.

"Dead Sexy" - submitted by Cathy G.

What we liked: We all enjoyed the story and thought it was well written. We want to read the whole story. The world-building, the Cataclysm, and the hybrid fantasy creatures are great. Cassie's attraction to David is well portrayed. The beginning is strong and funny, and the rest of the story is funny as well. Great cliffhanger at the end.

Our critiques: Most felt Cassie would have contacted her own team, not leaving it up to David. Too many "buts." Perhaps hint earlier that Cassie may be under some kind of spell that leads to her intense attraction to David. We offered some general proofreading tips as well.

"Miriam" - submitted by Dana T.

What we liked: Everyone enjoyed the story and thought it was well written. We would like to read the promised extension to the story, but felt it made a good stand-alone story as well. We liked the chemistry between Ben and Sarah, the restaurant scene, the story arc, and the humor.

Our critiques: Watch the number of ellipses; some character names got mixed up; Ben's name may have been used too many times. Some would have liked to see more conflict involving Sarah--perhaps she came to a realization about Ben and Miriam too soon. Could have used a stronger narrative hook at the beginning. 

Thanks to Cathy and Dana for great submissions, and to everyone else for their thoughtful and helpful critiques.


November 28, 2017 Workshop - Book Passage Share

We tried something different this meeting, and it went very well. So well that I'm sure we'll do it again. Members brought favorite passages of books and shared them with one another. It was a treat to listen to these readings, and the conversation that surrounded each one made the meeting even more memorable. Contributing members included Bob L., Jeff P., George W., Cathy G., Dave V., Rick J., Joe R., Kitty L., Tom I. and Shawn W. Thank you to everyone who attended and contributed.




November 14, 2017 Meeting - Submissions by Sandra F. and Rick J.

"Diamonds, Gold, Sable and Sapphire" - submitted by Sandra F.

What we liked: The beautiful language; The descriptions of the tranformations; The way the main characters seemed to enjoy their punishments, and were so resistant to changing their nature; The way Carissa continued her change at the end, forgetting her past, and becoming more of an Eery creature; and Carissa's flashbacks to her childhood. We loved this story and the fantasy world it created.

Our critiques: There were parts that were confusing, including: the back-story involving Carissa, her brother and nephew, and the ownership of the land; and the locations of Carissa and Hewson as they were preparing to meet after the last big transformation.

"Hello World" - submitted by Rick J.

What we liked: This was an enjoyable short story with a clever ending that tied in well with the beginning. 

Our critiques: Some thought there was too much jargon that might lose some readers, although not everyone agreed. A smoother transition from Jasmine's childhood to her adulthood was suggested. Most felt more conflict would have helped, perhaps between Jasmine and Marty. Watch out for some common grammar issues. Finally, independent decision-making doesn't necessarily indicate self-awareness, but this seems to be the assumption in the story; the possibility that one may lead to the other could be a possible point of conflict and discussion in the story.

Thanks to Sandra and Rick for great submissions, and to everyone else for their thoughtful and helpful critiques.



October 24, 2017 Workshop - Just Write!

Once again, folks had a very productive time writing. We also did some planning for the next workshops, with an emphasis on events that require only a small amount of prep time, but are still productive and fun.





October 10, 2017 Fall Celebration


Lots of great stories were shared and treats were consumed. Original works were read by Sandra Gould Ford, Lyn Parkinson, Cathy Greco, Rick Jafrate, Ron Milanek, Barry Weinman, Bob Lash, Joe Raffaele and Dave Volk. We had just enough time to also play a scary movie-and-television theme-song game and enjoy a YouTube reading by Neil Gaiman.






September 26, 2017 Betwixt "Just Write" Meeting

We had a very productive session tonight, with everyone reporting they had a good word count done or broke through scene blocks that had been troubling them.







September 12, 2017 Meeting - Submissions by Ron M. and John T.

The Blue Ghost - submitted by Ron M.

What we liked: It's a good, entertaining story with a nice concept. We liked the scene wiht the boy and his mom at the police station.

Our critiques: The story sitches between first-person present and past. Review this carefully and stay with one. The wife may have been painted as too extreme to be completely believable. The story could be slowed down to increase the mood and characterization. The main character seems to be too quick to accept what's going on and to follow the ghost/orb to the body. Show more feelings and let us get to know the characters better. More show, less tell.

Call Him Ishmael - submitted by John T.

What we liked: This was very well written. There is a good sense of unease and anticipation. The slower pace to this chapter works well, after the intense second chapter that was submitted previously.

Our critiques: Perhaps give more hints that something is wrong while Ish is on the trail. The names Josh and Ish are too similar. Reveal more of Ish's character, and his physical appearance. Describe the environment more, including some descriptions of the several places on the trail, which were only named. Give some more description of the hiking experience.

Thanks to Ron and John for great submissions, and to everyone else for their thoughtful and helpful critiques.



Pittsburgh South Writers Group

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