Replacement Program for November

WF Program Director Sharon Owen has found a program to replace this year’s cancelled Authors Fair. WF members Robb Lightfoot, Charlie Price, and Jim Dowling will be hosting a panel discussion on short story writing for the November meeting.

We will announce more details as they become available.



Critique Groups

The Writers Forum meeting last Saturday, September 10, was all about Critique Groups. Board Members Sharon Owen, Ellen Jellison, Laura Hernandez, and Vickie Linnet spoke to the gathering of thirty-three WF members about what they have learned about what makes critique groups work. WF President Laura Hernandez wrote a summary of their presentation for us.

Critique Groups

Laura Hernandez


You can form a group all by yourself or you can infiltrate an existing one with a few important things to remember.  That’s what my very own group was trying to tell you Saturday for our September General Meeting.


sharon1Getting your priorities out in the open is the best place to start.  Are you working toward fiction and publication?  You don’t have to be but everyone in your group should know if you are and you’d be better served being with people who are.  Figure out what genre you are writing in and get in a group that knows a little bit about that genre.  Your pleasure reading should be in that genre often enough so you know what you’re talking about.




ellen1Find/start a group that matches your writing skills.  If you have never taken a writing class, start!  There are many online such as Gotham Writers and UCLA Writers Extension that I have taken and recommend.  Your group shouldn’t be burdened by obvious weakness in your sentence structure, punctuation/grammar, paragraph construction, point of view, tense, and tone because you can’t figure it out.


Form groups and use SKYPE or GO TO MEETINGS online.  Decide how many pages to submit each time and when, and stick to it.


Your group should be looking for character development, story telling, plot pitfalls, consistency, drama and tension craft.  And that’s what you are looking for in their stories.  Look for books that you can keep to refer to these writing essentials.


If you meet in cafés, bring your wallet.  If you meet at someone’s home, bring cookies sometimes.  If you are meeting online, remember to meet the deadlines even though a pile of papers isn’t staring you in the face on the table.  And remember that your facial expressions and voice which usually help mitigate a criticism aren’t there online so read it to yourself and picture how this would read to you before you hit SEND.  There are some online groups included in this newsletter for you to try.  I haven’t tried them all except for Inked Voices, so don’t come cryin’ to me if you don’t like them. Experiment!  You aren’t dating these people, just writing with them!


Each criticism should have a complement, too.  And you, over there, quit defending that point that isn’t working in your story!  Your group wants your story to work and is helping you get there! Your group can be the biggest force in getting your writing where you want it to go!  So get going!

Here are links to the groups Laura mentioned.


If you would be interested in finding a local critique group to join, or even would like to start a local critique group, please feel free to use the WF Critique Group page to find others. Remember, we do not match people with groups. You need to reach out and contact them. Post your writing genre and goals, and contact those who might be a good match for you.

May Meeting with Claudia Mosby by Larry Watters

On May 11, those who attended the General Meeting were treated to an awesome workshop by Claudia Mosby. Mosby is a freelance writer, has a bi-weekly column on midlife in the Record Searchlight, and has a gig for a once a month national yearlong series on mental health that is carried locally. And she still has the energy to be an adjunct faculty member in the Communications Department at Shasta College.

claudia gesturing

Where does she get that energy, you ask? By practicing what she preaches; er, facilitates. We participated in a shortened version of Mosby’s highly successful workshops on Writing for Wellness that focus on using expressive narrative writing.

I resort to writing for delving deeper into what (or sometimes who) is bugging me.  I make a lot of discoveries. But occasionally I find that it is nothing more than putting words on paper, and revelations about me don’t surface. But during Mosby’s writing exercises that started with the typical “What’s on Your Mind” scenario, we were advised to reconsider the event or experience we had wrote about, paying particular attention to:

  • the characters
  • the setting
  • the event itself
  • the consequences
  • the meaning

Then we were told to change perspectives. For this First Person junkie, that meant writing in the Third Person.

Wowzer! Blurting out loud, “Powerful,” while still writing, I found that my normal kind words and no-negative-thoughts had transgressed to a critical role. And in the Third Person, it was not me that was beating me up, but that paid observer who was being truthfully honest.

While others discussed their insights and feelings as the result of the perspective shift, I sat in awe of what had just transpired in my head; my outburst seemed to cover it all. The workshop moved on to a third rewrite, using as many positive emotion words as seemed realistic. Meanwhile I sat there. And sat there. And sat there.

Ok, I admit that I did not participate in the latter sessions that included using positive words as they might naturally bubble up and occur in the narrative. Nor did I experiment with context and voice by writing the narrative as someone either outside the experience or with a very different perspective.

But I have the opportunity to participate in her community classes & workshops that will be offered in the next several months. In July, a Memoir & Legacy will be hosted at Pilgrim Church. In September Mosby will lead a full blown, non-abridged Writing toward Wellness Workshop and October brings a Spiritual Autobiography class.  More information can be found at, or writing c/o PO Box 492081 Redding, CA 96049-2081, or calling 355-6827. Writing Inside Out can also be found on Facebook in the Pages as WritingInsideOut.

Understand the Inspirational Market by Marisa Shadrick

Understand the Inspirational Market

by Marisa Shadrick, Writers Forum Member

When writing provokes new thought, motivates change, or awakens an apathetic heart it’s often called inspirational. Aspiring writers need a clear understanding of this competitive market for publication.

On April 13th, Redding Writers Forum welcomed two accomplished authors, Cindy (Martinusen) Coloma and Cathy Elliott, who offered their expertise in Writing for the Inspirational Market. Cindy is a best-selling author with 13 novels and 4 nonfiction books. Cathy has authored 2 cozy mysteries with a quilting mystery to be released in 2014.


Members and guests listened attentively while Cindy and Cathy echoed a consistent theme throughout their presentation—opportunity. They encouraged writers to view inspirational writing as an expanded market for fiction and nonfiction work rather than a single genre. Retailers continue to fill their shelves with inspirational books at supermarkets, drugstores, airports, bookstores and mega outlets like Wal-Mart and Costco.


Nonfiction genres include memoir, caregiving, self-help, creative nonfiction, curriculum, children’s nonfiction, ghostwriting, greeting cards, articles and more. A familiar title would be Chicken Soup for the Soul an international series with short stories and essays.

IMG_7486Romance holds its popularity in fiction but other genres include fantasy, suspense/thriller, cozy mysteries, historical fiction, Amish stories, and more. At first glance, these genres may seem to fit the general market but inspirational writing has its differences.

Cindy and Cathy explained that “inspirational” is a broad term that includes various faiths. For Christian consideration, for example, the writing must align with the publisher’s guidelines and specific denomination. In addition, Christian writing is distinctive for its discretion with sexual content, minimal profanity, and degree of violence. Values are woven throughout each story but with imperfect characters, villains, and realistic scenes. The material is convincing but less graphic and contains a redemptive message of hope.

Writers may choose to research the inspirational market because of its diverse opportunities. To facilitate the process, Cindy and Cathy offered tips:

  • Consider why you want to write for this market.
  • Find your passion and write from the heart.
  • Do the legwork and research the publisher, guidelines, and denomination.
  • Go to a Christian Writers Conference and meet agents, publishers, and other authors. (Be prepared to pitch your book idea.)
  • Take advantage of conference CDs and learn from the experts.
  • Seize writing opportunities—it may lead to other projects.
  • Follow blogs for writing tips and market trends from leading agents and editors.
  • Know where your work fits. Search for similar works online or visit a local bookstore and check the bookbinding for placement information.
  • Write with excellence and offer innovative ideas.

IMG_7488These suggestions were the authors’ stepping-stones to publication. Perhaps your work can find opportunities in this market to inspire others and further your writing career.

Writing for the Inspirational Market Handout contains a list of industry blogs, top publishers, organizations, and annual conferences. To download the PDF file click here.

Note: Cindy (Martinusen) Coloma co-founded Quills of Faith Writers Group in 1997. She co-leads a monthly meetings every 2nd Monday from 7-9 p.m. at Anderson/Cottonwood Neighborhood Church. Visitors are welcome.