Open Discussion

This month we held an open session- the group shares questions, ideas, experiences and tips with each other. We also checked in to see how National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) was going for those who are participating in the event.

November 14, 2019

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Audio Transcript


Writers Circle – Open Discussion

Presented by Diane O’Neill and Leeanne Frydrychowicz

November 14, 2019

Diane O: Well welcome everyone to the Writer's Circle. Debbie Worman is not able to be with us today, but she sends her best and she's looking forward to being with us next month. I'm Diane O'Neill and did you want to introduce yourself Leeanne?

Leeanne F: Sure, my name is Leeanne Frydrychowicz I am a learning expert here at Hadley and I know I've spoken with a number of you on the Crafting Circle group that I run. So, Diane asked if I could cohost for her this month, I'm very excited. I am not a fantastic writer like all of you sound to be but I'm an avid reader and I write mostly for journaling and scrapbooks and for my children.

Diane O: Diane speaking, I've seen Leeanne’s writing for different course material and I was like ooh, she is so creative. So, that's why I thought of asking her to cohost today. And I'm Diane O'Neill, I've been a learning designer here for like, 17 years but in my other life I write, I have an MFA in creative writing and I've been published a few places and most recently, a lady bug magazine for children, which really was exciting. And I know a lot of you are very prolific writers and some of you may be beginners, this is always a great meeting, great discussion group. So, today is a general discussion so, we can talk about whatever we want, probably want to check in on NaNoWriMo.

But, one thing that we wanted to ask you, Debbie wanted to ask you and I'd like to know this too is, what do you want from this group? Where do you want the group to go? And is there anything that you'd like us to do differently? If you'd like to tell us that now, that would be great. I was thinking later, in case you're somebody who might want to think about it, feel free to email us or call us later too and give any ideas. But, what do you think? Just curious what you think about what you want from the group, any changes you'd want, where you want the group to go, anything you'd like different. Anybody have any ideas or any thoughts on this?

Lisa: Hi, this is Lisa. Just wondering if we could get writing prompts or formats, outlines, how to outline a story depending on where people are at.

Lisa: I'm sure people who are wanting to get published at some point have different ideas on publishing and outlines are important to different types of writing.

Diane O: Sure.

Lisa: Focus, it depends on where everybody's at but, you know? Poetry, there's so much writing but I think an outline for me would be good in focus in writing, memoir writing, novel writing. Thank you.

Diane O: Thank you that's a good suggestion. Anyone else? Let's see, no let me call me call on somebody. How about Kim?

Kim: Hi, I'm just basically listening to this chat because I'm interested in writing, haven't gotten real serious about it yet but I am beginning to read books, I'm reading one now about how to write poetry. I'm wondering if we could sometimes go over different styles of poetry. I'm learning a little bit about that in the book I'm reading, but mostly it's what I write. I have written some poems, I've kind of done journaling, and I would be into really short stuff like, children's stories. I don't think my brain is complicated enough to plot a novel, that length of thing. But I am interested, and I did sign up for that free class that starts tomorrow.

Diane O: Diane speaking, that's great. I've taken their classes before and they've been immensely helpful to me. So, I hope you like it. There are a lot of resources out there and that's a great idea, covering different styles of poetry. We did cover children's writing once before, but we can always do that again, these are great, great ideas.

Kim: Okay, thanks.

Joy: I'm Joy, I just joined you a few minutes ago.

Diane O: Sure, hi Joy.

Joy: I'm interested in fantasy writing and maybe you could give us some pointers on how to ... how to be better at that [crosstalk].

Diane O: Diane speaking, that's a good idea. We can definitely find some resources for that and some different activities, you know? Because there's a lot out there I just saw some course recently on fantasy. I'm always looking for things that are low cost or free so, I'll mark that down on our list of things that we might want to spend a session on, or at least get some resources on, thank you.

Joy: Alrighty.

Diane O: Let's see, Carol.

Carol: Yes, okay I have two things. I really enjoyed when you had the author and got a lot of insights from her and how put things aside and just keep working on them; I'd like to hear more authors. And my second thing is maybe not exactly Writer's Circle, but you might want to pass it on to Hadley, trying to be a blind person and create a blog is a pain in the, you know what and I would really like to try to create a blog for my writing so that, it's a place that I can go collect things and then work to publish them. So, those are my two ideas I'm done.

Diane O: Diane speaking, those are great ideas and I will pass them on definitely, thank you.

Diane O: Okay, Cheryl.

Cheryl: Hi, thank you. First, congratulations about Ladybug, that's fabulous.

Diane O: Thank you.

Cheryl: I think that's wonderful and so exciting.

Leeanne F: Diane, this is Leeanne, I was just going to suggest since there's the fair number of hands already raised, and I'm sure you want to get to other topics as well, trying to get everybody's comments to maybe a minute or two, tell us what you're interested in and getting where you want to see this group go and then we can move on to the other topics because I know there's a lot of hands raised.

Diane O: That sounds like a good idea, Leeanne.

Leeanne F: Okay.

Diane O: Yeah, if everybody could kind of keep it to a minute or two and we can always get back to this later because we do want to get on to other topics too. And let's see we have, Ronia.

Ronia: Yes, hi, this is Ronia so, I am interested in finding connections with maybe agents or editors or publishers. If anybody in the group has connections or Hadley has connections, as somebody who's just starting my career as a romance writer, and I know a lot of my contemporary can go off to conferences and do their networking there and get to know the different people in the industry and that is something as a deaf blind person is not available to me. So, I would just be interested in networking and career development among other things but that's my top priority right now.

Diane O: Diane speaking, before I forget I know we're supposed to keep this a minute or two, but have you heard of Romance Writers of America?

Ronia: I do think I have [crosstalk].

Diane O: Because I think they offer workshops and things like that, I mean I know they probably have conferences too but I think they have a lot of resources I think I once took a class from them for like 20 bucks and something else. So, I'll see if I can put that with our show notes.

Ronia: Okay, that would be great, thank you.

Diane O: Okay, Kevin.

Kevin: Good afternoon, can you hear me?

Diane O: Yes, I can hear you, thanks.

Kevin: Okay, I also have an interesting blogging I have blog started, it's very, very basic, I'm interested in moving forward with in terms of adding pictures or adding art or what have you. There's also a way to make money with blogging and I don't really have very much information on how to do that but like, that kind of information. And then, also I'm interested in songwriting, that's the one thing I haven't heard mentioned today so, I'd like to share resources on that, ideas, et cetera. I do think however it can happen, it would be very beneficial to have some kind of an ongoing group where people can share ideas as they come all the time and not just once during these meetings. So, those would be my comments.

Diane O: Great, that's great Kevin. Those are great comments and I'm going to pass them along. I think there was some site I saw that offered songwriting. If I find it I'll get it on the show notes because I think there was a free course in songwriting and again, they're free. There's much more advanced things but it looked pretty good. Carol, I don't know if you've spoken yet.

Carol: Sorry, I heard you and I was [inaudible]. I just have a quick note when you were talking about resources, the National Braille Press has their poetry contest going on right now until, I believe it's February seventh. And they want a poem on freedom, it can be your freedom, freedom in blindness, or in national freedom. And if you want more information on that, I'd go to their website and besides that, they give a hundred-dollar gift items for the person that wins. So, just wanted to mention that. Done.

Diane O: Thank you so much Carol, I'll put that in the show notes, too. Thank you. Okay, those are all great ideas and again, if somebody has an idea later or you just didn't feel like bringing it up right now, feel free to call or email because we want your ideas for where the group goes and you've given a lot of great suggestions. NaNoWriMo check-in, how is everybody doing? Ann.

Ann: Okay, that was kind of funny. 28,091 words.

Diane O: That is Diane applauding.

Ann: Well, word sprints on Twitter follow at writing sprinter. That's at, writing sprinter if you want to join us. Red, yellow, blue, or green team, choose your team. What you do is, after you put your word count in there, you put 244 blue or 244 red, whatever team you want to choose to be on, it's that simple, it's fun. You get mentioned if you're one of the top word sprinters, if you have the top word count on Twitter. These guys do a great job and that's what's pushing me forward in my edits [inaudible].

Diane O: Well, that's very cool.

Anne: I'll send that to you later, Diane.

Diane O: That sounds great, thank you. Bravo. Okay, Paul.

Paul: I'm doing good. Word counts no problem, 32,000. If I had a problem if would be that this is my first novel and my first NaNoWriMo and I am learning how unprepared I was but, that's a good thing because I went into NaNoWriMo with, this is going to be my first attempt and I'm going to learn a lot. And so, that's one thing I've learned is that the next time I try to write a novel, I need to have a better idea in my mind of exactly what I want to do and what story I want to tell. So, in my opinion, it's a wonderful success and a great event and I plan on participating next year as well.

Diane O: That's wonderful and you had 32,000? That's very impressive. We're only halfway through and you're on a track to winning, that's really great.

Paul: Before thanksgiving, that's the plan.

Diane O: That's especially good. Anyone else doing NaNoWriMo who want to report? I'll report that my word count is very shy, very low in comparison to Paul and Anne, as I'm working on a children's chapter book so, I have a much lower word count and I'm also kind of revising it at the same time, which again, is against NaNoWriMo rule book. I feel like I'm progressing with it so, I'm having fun. There's some cool resources I want to let you guys know about that I found out about recently.

For those of you who write for children, I think it's one person that mentioned they're writing for children. They sound a lot like me because that's how my brain is at, I think I'm more for writing for children, and I really love it and I think there's such a need for good kid's book. Anyway, I almost forgot something very important for the NaNoWriMo, there was a check-in we have a check-in from somebody from Switzerland. Dani from Switzerland reported she's doing NaNoWriMo, and she's editing a manuscript that already has a first draft, and she's been editing every day for about three hours a day and it's coming along so, I just want to say yay for Dani in Switzerland. So again, I forgot we had another person who wanted to check in.

And that's another thing too, by some chance if you ever can't be here, and you want to forward something you want to share with the group we can do that, that's not a problem. I had a couple of things one, there's an online writing conference for writers of kid's books that's coming in February, and it's practically free because, I signed up for full admission for the three-day online conference for ten dollars. If you want, you can spend a whole bunch more on different critiques and all this kind of stuff but, I'm always just kind of careful about that because, I'd rather get the lower cost but anyway, I'll put it with the show notes but it's that's, w-r-i-t-e-o-n-c-o-n dot org, o-r-g and it's February first through February 23rd. If you go on there now, before December sixth, they have a deal on the fees for the conference.

We did check out, it looks like it's going to be accessible, and you get to hear from people, and they have places to communicate with people and, I think one year when I did it I posted my query and got feedback so, it's definitely worth at least checking into and seeing if you might like it and I see a hand up, Maryland?

Maryland: I have a resource to share.

Diane O: Oh, great.

Maryland: Behind our eyes, our writer's group, just did a recent book fair, it's our first ever and nine of our authors presented summaries or accessibility of 15 books. And, if you haven't published before, I think you would get something out of hearing these authors talk about how they went about getting their idea for their book, what steps they went through to get it published, to get it together, and you might find something you want to read each other tells whether their book is available on BARD or on Bookshare or, where it can be purchased. You might find a neat little Christmas gift, it's about two hours in length, it was a phone conference we held just last Sunday, and I really think it would enlighten people as to how a group discussed each other's books and ask questions and, it's kind of inspiring I think. And it is of course the https:// all that stuff that's for WordPress, slash book fair. And, I've sent you a message in response to your announcement about this group this afternoon so, that you could put it in your show notes.

Diane O: Oh, excellent.

Maryland: For other people to see.

Diane O: Excellent, thank you. But you said it's behind our eyes?

Maryland: all small letters.

Diane O: Wonderful, well thank you so much.

Maryland: And there are three of us on the phone here, at least, from that group who did present yesterday, or Sunday.

Diane O: It sounds like that's some group because I know we always have a lot of good participation from your group. That's really great.

Maryland: You bet.

Diane O: Okay, let’s see ... Kevin?

Kevin: Just stumbled on to something, a Facebook group and it's called, “blind and visually impaired writers.” Just a casual glance doesn't look like there's a lot of activity on it but, it could be the forum for sharing ideas for those of you who have access to the web and Facebook.

Diane O: Okay, what was the name of the group? Facebook and it was “blind and visually impaired?”

Kevin: “Blind and visually impaired writers.”

Diane O: Okay, great thank you. Ooh, and before I forget to go back to NaNoWriMo, some people last time were mentioning that there were some accessibility concerns and I do have an email of somebody that you can contact if there is an accessibility issue. Because I think that was an issue before, we had a problem even knowing who to contact so, I do have hold on one second. His name is Tim Kim and if there's an accessibility issue, you can email him at And we're going to put that in the show notes too, just so you have that. And, there was something that Ann found also, I think with NaNoWriMo, a way to communicate with buddies on NaNoWriMo and we'll put that on show notes tomorrow too but that was, Again, So, that's more information on NaNoWriMo.

There was another resource I found too and actually, I think I got connected to this resource in the first place because somebody in the group mentioned Reedsy. They offer free classes and I got an email recently and they're totally free, our accessibility expert check and they are accessible and, they're all text. They have one that sounds like appropriate, especially for anyone doing NaNoWriMo because, we're going to need this right afterwards. Study editing for authors - that was one of them but they have a whole bunch of them and they're free so, it can't hurt to check them out and we'll put that in the show notes but just so you know, it's at Reedsy, that'll be in the show notes. So, feel free to call or email too. Ann, did you have another? Ann, did you have another question?

Ann: I was going to say, I have taken several of those courses and what it is, is you go to the Reedsy learning, the website that you just gave, Diane. What people would do was go to that site, browse the courses by category or if you know a course you want, you can search or if you know the title. Browse by category. Some of them you can read right there online or get through your email but most of them, you get one email listing a day because they don't want you to take more than one courses because they don't want you to get bogged down. You can only enroll in one course at a time and each lesson's emailed to you. And they also have other blogs and resources too. So, I do want to encourage people to take those courses. I've taken courses on story development no, character development, the three-act story structure. There's one about writing an adult fiction that sells, it's called “Writing YA That Sells.” And then there's one about middle grades that I want to take. There's different courses on writing, editing, publishing, marketing, it's just a variety of things.

Diane O: Diane speaking, yeah thank you I saw that too. And I also what I like, it's free and it's accessible so, you know? You can't go wrong.

Anne: Right, because it goes right into your inbox every day.

Diane O: So, that's great. Thanks for sharing your experience, Anne. Paul, did you have something else you wanted to share?

Paul: Sure, you mentioned the accessibility of the NaNoWriMo webpage and of course that was something I ran into last month and we discussed. What I found is once you get into the forums, if you can get into the bug report category and tag your post with the accessibility tag, I found that they're actually quite responsive. There were a lot of buttons that were unlabeled initially, the key one being the how to update your word count button but, that's now been addressed, and it does seem like they're working on these and making a lot of progress. It's unfortunate that we had to get a week or two into NaNoWriMo before we started seeing progress but, they are interested in hearing our concerns. I think one of the biggest problems of course is there's no one size fits all accessibility solution for everybody but, they're doing good work in spite of that. Thank you.

Diane O: Diane speaking, thanks for that report and I'm glad they're responsive because this is a cool event, we want everyone to be able to participate.

Leeanne F: Well, I guess because this is all new to me, and I'm more on the receiving end of the written word than the producing end but, I truly appreciate how hard it is to write I know that, Diane when we have worked together in course writing, just getting each sentence just right is a big task sometimes. So, I appreciate that but while I was going through and kind of looking for some ideas for today's meeting, I came across a quote by Anne Lamott, it's L-a-m-o-t-t, Anne Lamott, I guess. From her book, Some Instructions on Writing and Life, and it just struck me, it just tickled me and I just thought I wanted to share it because I just thought because most of my writing has to do with journaling or writing in memories for my children but, this is her quote it says, "You own everything that happened to you, tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should've behaved better." And, it just cracked me up because sometimes when I'm telling especially family stories, and maybe something comes across as a little harsh and that just spoke to me because I thought, yeah well maybe you should've done something a little bit differently. I don't want to alter history, I want to be able to tell truthfully and honestly what happened as I'm documenting our lives but, it makes you think, if somebody's writing down, think about how you're treating other people because it all comes back I guess. So, I thought that was funny and wanted to share that.

Diane O: Diane speaking, I've read that quote, I love that quote, yes.

Leeanne F: That made me laugh so hard, all the other quotes that I had on, I was reading, and I thought, you know what? No, this one it most reflects my family, my life experience because we all are very human and very fallible but, when it came to documenting our lives together, that one just tickled me.

Diane O: It sounds like something I've read in Brenda Ueland's book, If You Want to Write, I don't know if any of you have read that but, there's one part there where she really focuses on honesty not sugarcoating the truth but being honest, you know? So, I always kind of like that approach.

Leeanne F: Yeah.

Lisa: I’d like to ask this question to the group, based on that quote you just said, people should've been nicer, I'm writing a memoir, and I'm like, I can't believe these things happened to me, they're not always in the best light but, I've come out of it good. Do people really want to read about all that, the angst that someone has had in their life, like is there a balance of angst and then positive? Sure, it can get a little too much I think in writing about drama, tragedy, you know? Upsets.

Leeanne F: Can I comment? This is Leeanne. Lisa, I think that honesty sprinkled with humor, really appeals to me as a reader. I don't want anybody to sugarcoat things for me, I'd much rather hear the real story especially if it's coming from the person that has experienced that but, I find that even in my fiction reading, I find that I relate best to those people that are just kind of, brutally honest. And, you could find the good that comes out of something or, maybe the humor in it although you couldn't see humor when you're going through it but looking back and hindsight. So, that's just one person's opinion but, I think it's important to tell your story.

Lisa: I have something in me but, I think it might be several books because it's just too much sadness and ...

Leeanne F: Oh okay.

Lisa: And I'm trying to work NaNo based on that, I could figure out how to get in there. I've been writing for years and the NaNo, can you put something you've written for years? Is it safe in terms of copyrighting? Or does it have to be from just November, writing in November?

Diane O: Diane speaking, NaNoWriMo it's a fun thing to do in November, you can do it anytime and I think, they have something in April, they have like a camp or something. I think Ann knows a lot about that but, you can do it anytime. One thing is, when you download something through the NaNo side, if you're trying to win because you got the 50,000, it goes in scrambled. There's no issue of copyright whatsoever, they're not going to read it, they're just doing a word count thing. So, you know? There's nothing to worry about in that thing. And one thing you should know too, when you write something, it's automatically copyrighted to you, that's what I've always been told.

But yeah, you can do NaNoWriMo at any time a year and, actually how much you want to check in the site is totally up to you. There's been some years where I kind of did cheat-o round, and I never went on the site but, I've won in my own ways. So, anyway, Kim.

Lisa: Thank you.

Diane O: Kim, did you have a comment or question?

Kim: Hi, yeah. I just wanted to make a comment that one magazine that I love is Guidepost Magazine. And, one big thing that I've noticed, people that write articles for that magazine about things that have happened to them or, to other people that affected them, many, many of those stories and articles are written years after they happened. So, it seems like a real important thing to get some hindsight, to kind of let some time go by and you can see whatever you're writing about in a different way. You can see the good that came out of it or the bad, you know? It just seems like that's a very common feature in that magazine and these are inspirational articles and so, the people are trying to make sure that they get that spiritual idea across and, like I said, that's the one common denominator big time is, hindsight. They don't write, well very seldom do they write the story right after something happens.

Diane O: Diane speaking, that's good point. A lot of times, hindsight is often very helpful, a lot of writers go by it. And at the same time, sometimes people write while they're undergoing something so, every writer is different. Kim, or I think Ann was first. Ann, I think you're first, then Kim.

Ann: Okay, the camp NaNoWriMo sessions are in April and July and you go to And, you can login with your NaNoWriMo username and setup a project and, you can do revisions, non-fictions, poetry, short stories, novels, whatever. And, you can set your own word count, hour, minutes, pages, lines, whatever your goal is. So, you're not limited to just word count during those times.

Diane O: Oh great, thank you, Ann I appreciate that. Well, this has been a really fun session if nobody has any other comments. I think Leeanne has some wonderful prompts to give us. Take it away, Leeanne.

Leeanne F: Thank you. Well, first I just want to say thank you Diane and thank you to the group for allowing me to sneak in and be a very weak substitute for Debbie, I'm sure because I've heard her speak and I know how dynamic she is but, thank you for letting me participate. I've learned a lot in just listening to this one hour, I've always wanted to be a writer never thought I was good enough but hearing all the ideas flowing out of everybody makes me want to think about that again. And maybe start journaling more and getting some ideas together.

But, anyway so, I found some writing prompts that I thought were a little intriguing and, hopefully we'll spark some creativity with, with everyone. So, I have two reading prompts for this month the first one is, write about a missed connection. Write about a missed connection, interpret it anyway you want. Could truly be travel related, interpersonal, the sky's the limit on that one but, I really liked that idea, write about a missed connection. The other is, I have so many that I want to choose from. Okay here, since we're talking about letting it all out there and being honest in your writing, what would your mirror say, if it could talk? What would your mirror say, if it could talk? So, those are my two that I decided that I'd like to take a stab at this month and hopefully maybe I can join as a participant, next month and see what other people wrote because I'm intrigued by those two.

Diane O: Thank you, Leeanne, hope you can join us next month. Thank you everybody for joining, look forward to talking to everybody next month. Good luck to all of us NaNoWriMo people. Good luck if you're not a NaNoWriMo person and happy writing. See you next month.