Copyright November 2015 St. Louis Writers Guild -- All rights reserved
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
Thank you for downloading this free ebook. You are welcome to share it with your friends. This book may be reproduced, copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes, provided the book remains in its complete original form. If you enjoyed this book, please return to Shakespir.com to discover other works by authors of the St. Louis Writers Guild. Thank you for your support.
Cover image, Boxwood Garden at the Missouri Botanical Gardens
Picture and cover design by Brad R. Cook
In this issue
By David Lucas
By Lauren Miller
By C. W. Pass
By Ryan P. Freeman
By gaye gambell-peterson
From the President’s Desk: Art and Power of the Word
By David Alan Lucas
What is a word? In the hands of a layman, a word when strung together with others is just a tool of communication. To a writer and a poet, it is much more than a simple instrument. A word or all of the words are to the writer what a scalpel is to a surgeon. We aim to be precise in our handling of words. This is not a natural skill for everyone; many writers spend their entire careers learning to construct words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs and beyond. Why do we take so much care in this artistry? Why do projects take much longer than expected? Is it because we can be perfectionist? Like the scalpel, the word can heal and it can do great harm.
You can walk into a bookstore or a library or go online to a bookseller or blog and see the results of the struggle to wield the word. Every book, magazine, and poem have the same sweat and blood in them. However, we don’t see the battle. We don’t always see the drafts and re-edits that have created the final document. The non-writer never realizes how difficult our art is. Nowhere can this battle be seen best than in one of the most important—no, landmark speeches in American history.
Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015, was the 152nd anniversary of the Gettysburg address. It was given on a Thursday in 1863 at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, only four and a half months after perhaps the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln knew his address had to be short since he was not the main speaker. But President Lincoln had a message to deliver to a nation torn apart by Civil War.
Imagine you were President Lincoln. While hindsight tells us who was going to win the war, fighting would continue another two years. Even though the battle of Gettysburg was a victory for the Union, it was a bloody and costly one. The opposing political party, especially the extreme members known as the Copperheads, were calling for peace at any cost. How would you write this speech? Would your message have been the firebrand of vengeance for the dead or praise for the fallen?
While President Lincoln was not a poet, per se, or a novelist, he was a storyteller. He was an artisan with the word. Multiple drafts of his speech exist, which has called into question the precise draft used for the speech, but the message he gave was clear. It was a message about the sacrifices made, the soul of democracy, and the need to ensure the survival of the American experiment.
Every day we, as a community of authors and poets, labor to master the skill to convey our message. We don’t have President Lincoln’s overwhelming burden, but we have our own tasks. It is the purpose of writing communities, like the St. Louis Writers Guild, to share our experiences and to hone our use of the word.
Workshops for Writers:
NaNoWriMo Write-In Featuring SLPL’s Eric Lundgren
By Lauren Miller
Photo by Steven Langhorst
On Saturday, Nov. 7, Eric Lundgren of St. Louis Public Library (SLPL) came to speak about resources available during the month of November for writers interested in participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).
According to the NaNoWriMo website, 650 libraries participated last year in the “Come Write In!” Program, providing space for writers to have a place to meet, write, and brainstorm their novels. Last year was SLPL’s debut year participating in this program. Space in November was available from 6:30-8:30 p.m. especially for writers to come in and write. Dedicated staff available in the reference rooms helped track down answers for research questions like, “Help me find out more about trains during the 19th century.”
The goal of NaNoWriMo—writing a 50,000-word manuscript in thirty days—is a daunting task for even the most experienced writer. Lundgren shared an inspiring story taken from a five-volume award-winning biography on the life of Fyodor Dostoyevsky by Joseph Frank:
Dostoyevsky, perhaps best known for his novel, Crime and Punishment, was also fond of Roulette. Having made a wager of writing a novel in a year with the penalty of failure being his publisher would receive rights to ALL future publications for the next nine years and pay no royalties to Dostoyevsky, with only one month of the agreement left, he was in trouble. Dostoyevsky embarked upon a wild journey of his own to write a novel in a month, turning in a short novel, The Gambler (1867) with the help of friends.
Concluding the account, Lundgren compared Dostoyevsky’s gamble with participating in a writing challenge like NaNoWriMo, “That’s what NaNoWriMo is to me, throwing it all down in a creative bet that might work.” Following Lundgren’s talk, the floor was opened to a write-in where attendees were welcomed to work on writing their own stories.
Writing prompts were available via The Storymatic™, a card game designed to inspire writing with word prompts combining people and objects, such as “a security guard “with “a magic glove,” and “a person who can’t take a hint” with “a cherished toy.”
The St. Louis Writers Guild congratulates all NaNoWriMo participants and winners!
Eric Lundgren leads the Scribblers, a general writing interest group that meets at 7 p.m. on the first Monday of the Month at Central Library, located at 1301 Olive Street. Lundgren recommended the Scribblers as a good option for writers interested in beginning the revision process and getting feedback. Learn more about the Scribblers on their blog, http://slplscribbler.wordpress.com or contact Eric at (314) 539-0376.
St. Louis Public Library also hosts a Veterans Writing Workshop for veterans and their families. They will host Proud To Be: Writing by American Warriors, Vol. 4, a book release and reception from 1-4 p.m., Dec.19, at Central Library’s Carnegie Room. The event is in conjunction with the Missouri Humanities Council Southeast Missouri State University and will feature military personnel, veterans and veterans’ family members reading short excerpts from the collection of prose, poetry and photographs from WWII to the present.
A Christmas Toy Tale
By C. W. Pass
In the lateness of night, a star appeared, ever so brightly over a small toy factory in China. And in that factory was born a toy, not in swaddling clothes, but in a suit made of synthetic fur to keep it warm on a cold winter’s night. Soon after, three not-so-wise men came bearing humor and mischief for they had too much hooch celebrating the sight of a star or whatever in an otherwise smoggy night. Yet in that moment, they had a vision—or maybe it was the alcohol talking—for they were told to save the toy.
All were confused, but knew it must be true, for the evil emperor had decreed that all toys were banned on the eve of Christmas. But as they scratched where they shouldn’t, a brilliant idea of sorts popped forth. In that moment of epiphany, the toy appeared on Amazon for adoption. And, after languishing in the wasteland of second thoughts and blank-star reviews, the toy disguised as something other than a toy made its way into a cart and magically under a Christmas tree.
But it doesn’t quite end there, for our not-so-wise guys, a bit tipsy, went East instead of West and were captured by the empirical forces. They appeared before his Imperial Highness. Petrified, they told their tale and the Emperor, he did laugh – a hearty laugh he did. Impressed at their ingenuity and toyality, he appointed them ministers in his cabinet.
So you see, every time a toy is born, you never know what might happen.
© 2015 C. W. Pass
Villains: Write Bad Guys Who Scare You
By Ryan P. Freeman
Villains. What makes them… good?
During my writing process, I came to think about what makes a truly great villain. First, I think there are different ranges of villains. Second, I think one must delve into the philosophy of evil. And third, how well can one illustrate personal evil – or villains who hit home?
Honestly, when I think of the different levels and ranges of villains, I thank James Bond writers, 24 episodes, and politicians. In each case, there are ranks to them. Sure, there are the masterminds at the top, plotting world domination and so on… but that malevolent will often has to trickle down through many other minds in order to reach one’s character. And as the evil filters through each layer, due to sub-creative process gone awry, one gets new ways to enforce and elicit desired results. One can also craft whole new realms of terror… but to do this well, I think, one needs to understand the dark material they’re working with.
I remember sitting in my college philosophy class with Professor Axton… and I still think I hold with him, essentially, when he said something to the effect of how diabolical evil, at its core, cannot be comprehended from our human/mortal point of view at this point in time. It is slippery. When one gets to the really hellish instances of evil, the motivators behind it defy solid, concrete explanation… as if logic rules break down. Even now, I’m starting to ramble about it, which is point-in-case. Also, as a side note on this subject, I still love Alfred’s quote in The Dark Knight about how some people just want to watch the world burn. Or even take Loki’s character as another example… Good ways to get around instances where standard definitions begin to become indescribable; analogies often become an excellent work-around.
Don’t tell people about your villains—illustrate them. (Again, another example of the analogy work-around in action). It’s odd, but living in Missouri has exposed me more to really terrifying evil than anywhere else. Major metropolises I used to live in like Portland, OR, or even Albuquerque, NM, have not really illustrated evil for me (and I suppose I’m lucky for this). During college in Missouri, when I began writing my upcoming debut fantasy novel, Rienspel, I would volunteer at youth outreaches. At one, I was the doorman, ensuring youth signed in and out, made sure they had rides home, and what-not.
One night, a youth casually described his ‘friends’ dragging him out of his house and making him watch as they lit a cross on fire in front of his own front yard. It wasn’t the violence of the situation or the iconography employed or its terrifying legacy. The kid’s own nonchalance about the event—the horrific casualness of it—is what really made me shiver in the end.
For most of those living outside the Midwest (and I was one of them), one often has this vague mental stereotype about the safe, idyllic small-town atmosphere of the region. But living here now… volunteering at those youth outreaches and working at a nearby gas station, has illustrated for me rather clearly how not all is as it seems, even in the ‘safe’ places of our world.
So, when I sat down to begin writing my villains, all this was swirling around in my mind. Personally, I think there are plenty of stories where the villains are disposable. If you want stock villains, try and look elsewhere. One of my goals writing my story, Rienspel, was to create bad guys who actually scare me. I want evil that creeps out of the book at night and bothers my dreams.
Because I believe we have forgotten via experience what real goodness is like, and just how bright the dawn can be. While I don’t believe we need darkness to illustrate the qualities of true goodness, I do believe—I know—we need to be heroes again. You and I, where we are, right now. This means practicing love and courage and justice tangibly with ourselves first, and then others until we no longer even think twice about it. And also, to continue to do as Neil Gaiman once advised, and “make good art.”
Ryan P. Freeman is a fellow adventurer. After miraculously surviving childhood cancer and several near-death experiences, he launched into the world of AM talk radio, hosting his own live program out of Albuquerque. Ryan is a former International Red Cross guest speaker, Pastor, and medieval-enthusiast; loves sampling craft-beers, and is an unapologetically proud kilt-wearer. In his down time, his interests range from exploring real-world pan-mythology, survivalist camping, and copious video gaming. His debut high fantasy epic, The Phoenix of Redd, Volume I: Rienspel, will be published late 2016.
For more on Ryan and Rienspel, visit
From a Scorched Box
By gaye gambell-peterson
Winner, 2015 Deane Wagner Poetry Contest
I sift through piles of loss,
search for the photographs.
Loose ones are now either ash
or layers, stuck together, a sodden mess.
One scorched box, still damp, protects
a scant few images, edges ruined—
a toddler’s smile limned in black and stain,
water spots sorrowing a baby’s face,
a half-image of the backyard garden.
It was water that did the most damage
though it was meant to be the saving grace.
Too much of it, too late—against those flames
that made their own sound
before anyone was there to listen.
With proof diminished by that flood,
I can re-invent my marriage,
my sons’ first years, proud ownership.
I can imagine my husband sober,
myself peaceful, kind, and certain,
my children sure of happy endings,
our house fragrant with apple pie, cinnamon.
gaye gambell-peterson does poetry and art – connects them to each other; her two poetry+art chapbooks are pale leaf floating (Cherry Pie Press) and MYnd mAp (Agog Press). Her poems have been oft awarded and published, including online at qarrtsiluni (Fragments). Her work is in three anthologies including Flood Stage (M. Freeman/Walrus Publishing) and Breathing Out (Loosely Identified). www.gayegambellpeterson.com. [* *]
second friday notes, second Friday of each month, 7 p.m., at Whole Foods Town & Country, Clayton Road just west of Highway 141.
RIVER STYX. Third Mondays, 7:30 p.m., Tavern of Fine Arts, 313 Belt Ave. riverstyx.org/events.
POETRY AT THE POINT, 4th Tuesday of the month, at Focal Point, 2720 Sutton Ave
Sheila Nolan Whalen Reading Series at SLU, 221 N. Grand Ave., Dubourg 409. Tuesdays at 4 p.m.
CHANCE OPERATIONS on the last Monday of each month At Tavern of the Arts, 313 Belt Ave., just off Pershing, between Union and DeBaliviere. 7:30 p.m. Open mic follows featured poets.
EVERY WEDNESDAY open mic for poetry and music at Stone Spiral Coffee & Curios, 2500 Sutton in Maplewood (2 blocks N. of Manchester). Great food and beverages. Open mic, 8 until around 11 p.m.
GOODY HOUSE, 7 p.m., fourth Thursdays at Art Marketplace, 2028 S. 12th Street. Featured poets.
R-SPACE. Last Saturday of the month, Lenny Smith and friends at 2 p.m.
ST. LOUIS WRITERS GUILD open mic for prose and poetry, second Tuesday of each month, 7 p.m., Kirkwood Train Station, Argonne Drive, just west of Kirkwood Road. Allow time to find parking.
ADDITIONAL OPEN MICS at The Wolf, (every Tuesday), Legacy Books & Café (every Friday), The Historic Crossings (every other Tuesday), Shameless Grounds (Wednesdays at 7), Venice Café (Mondays at 9)
A Quick Guide to St. Louis Writers Guild Events
It’s as easy as
Workshops for Writers
First Saturday of every month (except holiday weekends)
10 a.m. to Noon at the Kirkwood Community Center
Station Open Mic
Second Tuesday of every month
7-9 p.m. at the Kirkwood Amtrak Station
SLWG Authors Series
Third Thursday of every month
Query for “SLWG Authors Series” on YouTube or check the Members’ Room on our website, www.stlwritersguild.org.
The Scribe Editorial Staff
Brad R. Cook
Special thanks to:
Ryan P. Freeman
NOTE: If you are a St. Louis Writers Guild member, please consider submitting a poem, short story or an article about writing (4,000 words or less) for publication in this newsletter. THE SCRIBE is now issued monthly and promoted to more than 1,000 people on our mailing list. Submissions should be sent by the first of each month to [email protected]—put SCRIBE in the subject line.
Also, if you are interested in joining the editorial staff as a writer, please contact [email protected] -- put SCRIBE in the subject line.
For more than a decade, The Scribe has been the mainstay for communicating with members of the St. Louis Writers Guild. It began as a way to showcase the organization and share insights into the publishing world. Back issues give a wonderful record of the Guild. The Scribe is now available to everyone, not just members. It features stories, poems, and essays from our members, as well as information about our events, most of which are open to the public. The November 2015 edition features "Villains: Write Bad Guys Who Scare You" by Ryan P. Freeman, "A Christmas Toy Tale" by C. W. Pass, "From a Scorched Box" by gaye gambell-petersona, and a report by Lauren Miller on the Guild’s Nov. 7 Workshop for Writers: NaNoWriMo Write-In Featuring SLPL’s Eric Lundgren.