Draft Fiction!

Two suits of armor stood sentinel at the Renaissance Festival, the sun gleaming off their polished breastplates. Bruce paid the admission, full price for himself and Sarah and  almost got away with paying junior price for Wren, who was small for her 15 years.  Inside they found a built environment, faux trees lined the main thoroughfare, stands made to look like medieval buildings, venders done up in doublets and hose, the women, known for the day as “wenches” in satin and cotton, ample cleavage front and center, the real selling point. Village experts recycled this 500 year old celebration as a symbol of the town’s return to greatness, their hope for the future. But it was merely a symbol of tax money at work.  They chose the Summer solstice, the longest day of the year—midsummer, the pagan holiday dating back centuries, a time when fairies roamed the earth and play their wicked tricks on humans. The Wiccan ladies opened the festival in their white robes and clover wreaths, standing inside a fairy ring, chanting, dancing, one with nature. Next...

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Flash Fiction Project

Here’s a review of the flash fiction project. The requirements are: Fairy Tale story with a modern touch 2 characters: the main character (female, around 15 years old), a knight PG-13 Twist at the end ~1500 words We still need to decide if it will involve magic That’s all I can think of. Let me know if you think of anything  else. We also need to decide on a  plot. Leave your comments...

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Book Review: This Is Me, Jack Vance! Or More Properly, This Is I

Posted by on Oct 24, 2015 in Group News

This Is Me, Jack Vance! Or More Properly, This Is I by Jack (John Holbrook) Vance (August 28, 1916 – May 26, 2013)
Copyright 2009
ISBN 978-1-61947-065-1
File Size: 3018 KB
Print Length: 213 pages
Publisher: Spatterlight Press LLC (April 17, 2012)
Publication Date: April 17, 2012

Jack Vance is one of my favorite authors, so when I discovered his autobiography had been published I naturally bought a copy for my Kindle and started reading it.  Vance is somewhat notorious for not talking about his writing process, and although he largely remains true to this idiosyncrasy, he does make a few exceptions in his autobiography, mainly at the insistence of his editor.

Vance starts with vivid memories from his early childhood, progresses through several attempts at college, and spends most of his time describing his married life.  If you’re familiar with his work, you’ll find a few familiar scenarios that appear in his novels.

A few things that I was interested in learning is that Jack Vance never wrote with a typewriter.  He wrote his novels longhand, using one or more fountain pens with various color inks.  When he finally lost his eyesight, his son arranged a word processor for him so that he could continue writing.  I was surprised to learn that Vance and his family traveled extensively, settling down in some exotic location just long enough to write a novel or two, then moving on.  The family ran out of money several times, but this condition didn’t seem to phase Vance very much.

This book is an excellent read, and provides real insight into the life of a truly great author.  I recommend it to everyone.

You can read my review in its entirety here:Book Review: This Is Me, Jack Vance! Or More Properly, This Is I as it amuses you.

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Kill Your Darlings

Posted by on Oct 19, 2015 in Group News

ill Your Darlings

by Renee Shadel

This old writing advice has been passed down from teacher to student since the early 1900s, and by many authors such as William Faulkner, Agatha Christie, John Gardner, Stephen King, and Neil Gaiman just to name a few, in some form or another. The definition or items covered under its umbrella have expanded over the centuries.

Most writers agree a “darling” is:

  • Purple prose (flowery, sentimental or cheesy writing)
  • Writing that gives an effect not intended by the writer (i.e. serious, but coming across humorous)
  • Incongruous diction

Across the web and other places writers have expanded the definition to include a chapter, scene, character or POV that obscures plot or flow but the writer doesn’t want to nix it because they are too fond or proud to rework it.

Really, only one thing matters. Is it boring or annoying to the reader? When you’re too close to the immaculate birth of your masterpiece you tend to protect it. Like a parent who thinks their child can do no wrong but like any real human being it may be riddled with flaws.


  • Read it out loud – if it trips you up it needs to go or be reworked
  • Step away and come back with a more critical unemotional approach.
  • Group Critique (come visit us!)

Remedies to ease the pain:

  • My favorite is to put the darling in a folder or document and label it Cannibalize, especially for poetry. Writers have named it the graveyard, R.I.P., recycling, tombstone 1, dumpster, etc.
  • Make it a footnote, use the strikethrough tool until you’re absolutely sure you want to delete it.
  • If your darling stands alone or is a character ready to retire from a story but you don’t want to give them up – start a new piece just for them!
  • Ask yourself, is there a way to make the darling more congruent with the plot, theme, or objective of the story?

Remember, writing is a craft; like whittling wood we cut and shape our stories or poems until they clearly express our objective without taking the reader out of the story.

Renee Shadel is a mom of one daughter and her lovable labrador. She has a Bachelor’s in English/Creative Writing from the University of Toledo and intermittently tells stories and rambles through her thoughts at dryadswearthepants.com.

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Congratulations Mary!

Posted by on Jul 10, 2015 in Group News

Mary Shipko, frequenter of the the Toledo Writers group and all around swell gal, has released her book: Aviatrix: First Woman Pilot for Hughes Airwest.


Here’s a brief description:

Aviatrix is the captivating story of one of the first women pilots to break into the all-male airline flight cockpit. Hired in 1976 at Hughes Airwest, Mary Bush made a herculean effort to overcome the resistance and harassment she faced in such a position, but it was to no avail.

Mary was introduced to flying at an early age. She started flying as a teenager, studying and training long hours until she painstakingly obtained her ratings one by one. Financial hardships hit the family hard, though, and Mary–desperate for both flying experience and money–headed down to the infamous Corrosion Corner in South Florida to be a “freight dog” for fly-by-night operators. However, she was frequently denied work because of her gender. She kept praying, working, and struggling, though, with the hope of one day becoming an airline pilot, a job in which she would have both steady work and steady pay.

Then, after her brother is lost at sea in one of the family airplanes, Mary is more determined than ever to become a pilot at an airline, just as her brother had planned to be. So, when she is offered the position at Hughes Airwest, Mary is thrilled. Going out west to fly jets was everything she had dreamed of and worked for. The discrimination and lewd remarks she had often faced in Florida, though, had not even come close to preparing her for the relentless harassment she would encounter as the first woman pilot at an airline.

A close-up and enthralling account of Mary’s struggles as an aviation pioneer, this book will astound, appall, and inspire you.

With her first promotion, she had over 40,000 downloads and over 60 reviews with more still rolling in. Mary has been with the Toledo Writers Group for 2 years, and has patiently waded through our critiques and comments to come out with her autobiography.

Congrats, Mary!

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