November Program Features Anthology Launch

From the November issue of The Writer’s Life.

The SDWEG general member meeting on November 27 will be devoted to the release of The Guilded Pen, 6th edition. The book is the 2017 anthology of 48 short stories and essays, as well as 7 poems written by 36 SDWEG members.

Special thanks goes to Simone Arias and Ruth Leyse-Wallace as the anthology’s editors, and Marcia Buompensiero, managing editor.

At the November meeting, the 230-page, softcover anthology will be on sale for $15. The heart of the meeting will be readings of a number of the stories and poems by the authors. As noted in the Foreword, written by SDWEG member Johnathan Maberry, the anthology is “filled with dreams, with imaginings, with ‘what ifs’,” crafted by SDWEG members who range from novice writers to seasoned professionals. Especially appealing is the extraordinary array of topics in the anthology. A small sample includes a story about a Vietnam pilot, Indians fighting slave hunters, a barber in Iran, a sexy senior, a day on an atomic sub, and a sci-fi tale of humans evolving into porpoises. This is just a taste of many fascinating reads. Enjoy!

How to Write a Query Letter in 7 Steps

Ariele of Reedsy asked that we share their blog post about the 7 steps for writing a query letter. Here's how it begins:

A starving writer stands in front of a mailbox clutching a hefty, brown envelope addressed to a publishing company. They say a prayer, push their manuscript in and begin the long wait for a reply that could make or break their career.

It's a romantic image, but most major publishers don't actually accept 'unsolicited manuscripts' these days. If that writer was serious about being published, they’d first seek out an agent. For that, they need a query letter.

For the whole story, including the infographic outlining the 7 steps, select How to Write a Query Letter.

San Diego Central Library Local Author Exhibit

From the November issue of The Writer’s Life.

The San Diego Public Library is now receiving submissions for its 52nd annual Local Author Showcase. Writers are invited to submit either a print book or an e-book published in 2017. The program’s aim is to highlight local writing talent. The Showcase runs all February in the lobby of the San Diego Central Library’s Joan /\ Irwin Jacobs Common. The submission deadline is November 27. The application is entirely online at Call (619) 236-5800 for details.

What You Missed. . .

From the November issue of The Writer’s Life.

What You Missed... notes about our October speaker, by Mardie Schroeder

Our own Margaret Harmon conducted a charmingly fun evening of full audience participation with her “Literary Games” — that is, games designed to help us break through obstacles to our creativity and productivity as writers. The focus of our particular game was “Plotting to Succeed,” with Margaret reminding us that at the heart of literary plots are three basic conflicts: Man vs. Man; Man vs. Nature; or Man vs. Himself. To play Margaret’s game, we were to build a story around one of the following nine scenarios:

  1. A 10-year-old runs away from home.
  2. A 20-year-old quits college and leaves the US.
  3. A 30-year-old disappears, leaving spouse, kids, job, and friends.
  4. A 40-year-old decides to run for President of the United States.
  5. A 60-year-old starts a new business.
  6. A 22-year-old kills a best friend.
  7. A popular priest leaves his church.
  8. A clown never removes his makeup in public.
  9. An airline pilot refuses to drive a car.

We were then asked to describe our character in over-the-top, whatever-occurs-to-you details that would make the motive inevitable. With 10 minutes or so of silence, we all scribbled away. Then the hands went up as our intrepid authors offered to read their works. The result was that an astonishing variety of characters and story-lines were revealed.

But that’s not all. The next step was to bring in a helper character, as in “No one is an island.” And again, with 10 minutes of furious scribbling, we expanded our scenarios. The plots we created featured an abundance of mayhem and angst -- and quite a few laughs. Is there a new novel in the works? Only time will tell. (Visit

Watch it here: Short Tales from the Mothership

Short Tales from the Mothership

The October 17 session of Short Tales from the Mothership was recorded and is now available on YouTube--or here.

SDWEG member Margaret Harmon reads her short tale, “They Ate the Street People First,” fifth story in the video, as well the last story, for a writer from UC Riverside.

You, too, could take part in an upcoming session. Take up the challenge to write a complete story in 250 words.

Laura Roberts Hosts Write-in Sessions for National Novel Writing Month at Alpine Library

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.

From the November issue of The Writer’s Life.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a nonprofit organization that produces a nationwide creative writing event every November. The event invites would-be authors into a community of “rightnow” writers. The goal is to write 1,667 words a day and finish a 50,000-word novel in one month.

At the Alpine Public Library, SDWEG member Laura Roberts will moderate 2-hour write-in sessions on Friday November 3, 17 and 24 to offer writing prompts and advice for this special NaNoWriMo event. Contact Laura at lrcreativeservices (at) to learn more.

Suspense Magazine: September/October Issue

Insider Source into Suspense, Mystery, Horror and Thriller Fiction: Suspense Magazine

A few months ago, John Raab, CEO and Publisher of Suspense Magazine, offered a free subscription to the magazine for the benefit of the Guild's members. Here's a message from Suspense Magazine along with a link to the September/October issue. Remember the magazine is looking for new authors in the suspense genre.

Trick or Treat! Well in this case it's both. Inside the current issue of the magazine we have articles and interviews that will treat any suspense / thriller fan. Some of the short stories will trick you into thinking you know what is going on, only to have the candy taken away from you. Some of the highlights of the issue are listed below.

Interviews with:

  • Laurie Childs
  • Terrie Farley Moran
  • Jonathan Maberry
  • Bryan Thomas Schmidt
  • Erica Spindler
  • Charlaine Harris

Forensic Files with D.P. Lyle will explore "Amnesia and the Auto Accident." Anthony Franze and Barry Lancet take their rules of fiction to the debut side with Liv Constantine.

So much more is in store for you in the issue. We are also compiling our list of the "Best of 2017" coming in December, you won't want to miss that one!

Suspense Magazine Cover

Click on the cover to get the magazine.

Don't forget to check out Suspense Radio and all the shows on the station.


From our Mailbox: Celebrating 30 Years of Sisters in Crime

From The Mailbag

Our email inbox contained a letter from Sisters in Crime, a worldwide organization supporting the work and talent of mystery authors. Its 51 chapters are marking the organization's 30th anniversary this year.

Raising Women's Voices for Thirty Years

On October 11, we released the 2017 Publishing Summit Report, highlighting the work of Sisters in Crime over the past 30 years.

We surveyed past presidents on a range of topics, and identified themes that illustrate SinC’s growth as an organization. We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished over the past 30 years and would love your help in spreading the word.

This year’s report can be viewed here (Raising Women's Voices for Thirty Years) and the official hashtag is #SinC30.

How you can help: Here’s sample content you can copy/paste to your social media channels:



  • This year’s Sisters in Crime Publishing Summit Report highlights the work of SinC over the past 30 years. See all that we’ve accomplished and how far we have to go:
  • In 1986, Sandra Scoppettone, a founding SinC member, reported that the New York Times Book Review had not reviewed a book by a woman in months. SinC volunteers analyzed the book reviews appearing from 1985–1987 and determined the percentage of reviews of female-authored books dropped from fifteen to six per cent. Read more:
  • “I’ve never been involved with a board which works as hard as the SinC board does.” — Cathy Pickens in the 2017 Publishing Summit. Read more:

You can also send the report to your agent, publishers, editors, and publicist, and ask them to spread the word.

We appreciate your help in spreading the word and furthering the mission of Sisters in Crime.

Press Release Available: Sisters in Crime publishes Raising Women's Voices for Thirty Years (October 2017)

Our mission is to promote the ongoing advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers.

In San Diego, the Sisters in Crime chapter goes by Partners in Crime San Diego. Meeting locations vary. Check the calendar.

Expired: Chilling Horror Afternoon at Mysterious Galaxy

November 12 (Sunday, 2:00 pm) — Chilling Horror Afternoon

Everyone's favorite snarky, dangerous, idealistic, relentless covert operative is back, and this time he's brought friends. Joe Ledger: Unstoppable presents original short stories about Joe Ledger and the Department of Military Sciences by some of New York Times bestseller and SDWEG member Jonathan Maberry's "friends in the industry."

Buckle up for powerful, exciting, and nail-biting adventures by Seanan McGuire, Scott Sigler, Larry Correia, Weston Ochse, Steve Alten, David Farland, Aaron Rosenberg, James A. Moore, James Ray Tuck, Javier Grillo Marxuach, Jennifer Campbell-Hicks, Jeremy Robinson, Joe McKinney, Jon McGoran, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Nicholas Seven, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, P.G. Charles, and Dana Fredsti!

For additional information, go to or call (858) 268-4747

Mysterious Galaxy,
5943 Balboa Ave, Suite 100,
San Diego.

Photo credit: Ian Espinosa

Writing Classes, Many of Them Free

Writing Classes

Recently the Guild's email inbox contained a message from someone interested in finding beginning writing classes. Since most of the links on our Resources page are aimed at experienced writers, I went in search of free writing courses in the area or online.

Following is a list compiled to meet the mostly free or in the area criteria:

  • San Diego Writers, Ink: SDWI offers classes (several sessions) and workshops (one-time-only-meetings) in many genres including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, memoir and creative nonfiction, screen and playwriting for all levels of writers. They also offer classes in creative writing and courses in creativity and inspiration. Their instructors are experienced writers in the genre they teach and the class size is limited to ensure personal attention and lively interaction. Small cost for each class.
  • Many schools offer free online courses and materials through OpenCourseWare (OCW) projects. While formal admission isn't necessary to access lectures and other materials, these courses don't usually award college credit. Students looking for the same ease of access and the opportunity to apply their study time towards a degree or certificate program might want to consider courses that can lead to credit through
  • Creative Writing at Grossmont College: Grossmont College offers a number of writing courses following the academic year.
  • Creative Writing Now: Creative Writing Now offers a number of creative writing classes and free online writing courses.
  • Coursera: The skills taught in the Academic English: Writing Specialization will empower you to succeed in any college-level course or professional field. You’ll learn to conduct rigorous academic research and to express your ideas clearly in an academic format. In the final Capstone Project, all the knowledge that you’ve gained over the span of these courses will culminate into an academic research paper on an issue of your choice.
  • edX: No one is born with good writing skills. It takes time to learn proper writing techniques and a great deal of practice to hone your skills. Starting with any one of the EDX five introductory writing courses will not only build a strong foundation of grammar skills, but also teach the important elements of composition and style that will improve all of your written communication from business emails to job applications.
  • The Learning Path: Creative writing requires the application of hard work, discipline and much practice. Use these free creative writing courses online to hone your skills and become a better writer.
  • The Open University: Everything on the multi-award winning Open Learn is free to everyone!
  • The Crafty Writer: Are you a beginner writer? Do you know you want to put pen to paper but not know where to start? This eight-session online creative writing course will give you an introduction to the basic elements of creative writing, from prose fiction to poetry. The course is entirely free and you can work through it at your own pace. The exercises are designed to help you start writing and self-analyse your work. Feedback from a tutor will not be provided. However, you may ask questions along the way if there is something you don’t understand about how the course is put together. Post them in the comments box.  If you have any questions about how the course operates before contacting me please check out the FAQ list on the menu above which covers pretty much everything – and that includes how to get started and whether or not it’s really free!

If you have experience with any of these resources, especially if your experience wasn't positive, please share your thoughts. If you know of other area classes, either online or in person, share that information as well.