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Summer 2015 Update

3 Jul

Hi Everyone,

I am still writing critiques for the upcoming Odyssey workshop. I’ve done about 21,000 words of critique so far and anticipate writing about 19,000 more before I leave on July 24th. Many friends of mine think I’m crazy for doing this “for free” but they don’t understand how much critiquing other people’s work helps me edit my own work.

And “working” for a vacation is a totally foreign concept for many. It’s not that I consider it “fun”, it’s that I consider it “important”. These are the steps I’ve chosen to take to become a better writer.

I am lucky enough to be an acquaintance of Micheal J. Sullivan, author of the Ryiria fantasy series and the scifi “Hollow World” novel. But I want to bring your attention to Robin Sullivan, his wife and business manager. She’s is a true powerhouse in the digital publishing world and does a number of free speaking engagements during the year, many of them at the Arlington Library. Her last one on how to use GoodReads was an outstanding tutorial on how to market through this invaluable website. I highly recommend reading her blogs and attending these workshops.

I get a chance to teach a workshop myself this month. I’m running a two-dayworkshop on Saturdays, 11th and 18th, at the Sterling Branch of the Loudoun County Public Library, talking about how to write a short story. The workshop is open to the public and free so if you know anyone who’d like to attend, they don’t have to register or RSVP, just show up ready to write.

Then it’s off to the Odyssey workshop and a week-long master course on Plot. I’ll return August 1 and start planning in earnest for our August 10 B&N Writers Group picnic at Lake Anne picnic pavilion. Anybody have a creative idea for a game or excercise we could do? Have a great July, everyone. -Vern

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Great Authors

11 Jan

Great Authors

Okay I have to admit to some hero worship here. Some of the biggest heroes of my life are shown on this poster. If my mother is to be believed (and she is), I quoted the Bard at three: “To be or not to be!”

The Coconut

11 Jan

Here’s a bit of flash I wrote and read for last year’s “The NeverEnding Odyssey”:

The Coconut

by Vee James


He had everything a coconut could want—sunlight, water, and a cool breeze.

But one day his world came to a complete change. His stem which had always seemed so strong and unbreakable began to wither and feel strange. No matter what he did, the stem felt more and more like it did not belong to him anymore.

Then, late one night when the wind was rocking the tree back and forth, the stem broke. In an instant he was falling, flying through the air like one of the seagulls he had often watched from his high vantage in the tree. The difference was, of course, that he was flying straight down at an unimaginable speed.

The earth which had always looked so far away came rushing up at him. Then, WHAP, he hit the ground, making a half-coconut crater in the soft sand.

He lay there for what felt like weeks. The days were hot, the wind relentless, and he was getting thirsty.  A few gulls had dropped by but instead of helping him, they tapped on his shell to see if they could get to his insides. He had the horrible thought they would just as well eat him as look at him.

Finally his thirst became unbearable. He knew he would have to take a chance. He pushed and pushed hard until his shell began to separate. “Oh please,” he prayed, “Please don’t let those gulls come back now.” He was vulnerable and he knew it.

He reached out of his shell and deep down into the sand. Deeper and deeper he reached until “EUREKA”, he almost shouted. He had found water.

He drank and drank his fill and a funny thing happened. The top of his shell cracked and a large puff of leaves began to grow out of his head. He began to stretch and grow, up and up, taller and taller until soon he could see across the wide expanse of sea and beach. He felt like a young coconut again.

And, wouldn’t you know it, he felt little bumps beginning to form under his leaves. “Well, what a surprise,” he thought, “I’m a daddy!”

Now he really DID have everything a coconut could want!



Autumn is not so far away

13 Aug

Autumn is not so far away

Sitting here in the dog days of summer, it’s easy to forget that 60 days from now we’ll have our jackets out and be stacking firewood for the coming winter.