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Great news: Dark fantasy published

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Click to see the coverGreat news. The Write Group proudly congratulates one of our members, Jocelyn Tollefson (@melhara2017), on her publication of her first book, Melhara, which is to be released in eBook and print in just under three weeks on March 2.

Melhara is a dark fantasy novel that tumbles through the eternal struggle between witches, demons, angels and ancient prophecies as it follows a grudging witch who is reluctantly drawn into the heart of the conflict.
 
 

Melhara is available through eBook reader devices, Amazon and select bookstores in Edmonton, Alberta, including Audrey’s Books at 10702 Jasper Avenue.

EnlargeJocelyn is coordinating with the MS Society of Canada in a fundraising effort by donating a portion of sales to the Jayman BUILT MS Walk – Edmonton. Melhara is not MS related, but the cause is important to Jocelyn. She believes deeply in the necessity of MS research.

For more information or to read a sample of Melhara, check Jocelyn’s website and reviews of Melhara from Goodreads and Smashwords.

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Event: Poetry City Challenge

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Event: Poetry City Challenge

Where: Canada
When: March or April, 2017 (by community)

In celebration of National Poetry Month and World Poetry Day (March 21), each year municipalities and people across Canada are challenged to bring poetry into politics. This event celebrates poetry, writing, small presses and the contribution of poets and all writers to the rich cultural life in our country.

In previous years, one mayor led this annual challenge (Mayor’s Challenge) by inviting a poet to read at a council meeting in March or April, then challenging mayors and councils across the nation to follow suit and join the celebration. As part of the Edmonton 2016 Poetry Festival, the City of Edmonton hosted an event at City Hall on April 20, sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets and the Writers’ Guild of Alberta. The 2016 Poets Laureate of Edmonton (Pierrette Requier and Charlotte Cranston) delivered poetry alongside Gerald Hill (Poet Laureate of Saskatchewan), Anna Yin (Poet Laureate of Mississauga, Ontario) and Cree/Métis poet Marilyn Dumont.

Anyone is welcome to contribute #PoetryCity poems during the months of March and April.

Latest update: 2017

Know of any special festivals, fairs, courses or events we should post here? Share with us and we’ll share it with the rest of the Group.

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Event: Spoken Word Festival

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Event: Spoken Word Festival

Where: Celtic Cellar, Festival Hall and Hotel Arts, Calgary, Alberta
When: April 22 – 25

The Annual Calgary Spoken Word Festival combines poetry presentations and a workshop to address issues in current poetic language topics. This year (2017) the festival begins at Hotel Arts with a workshop on metaphor, imagery and poetry. Then continues with poetry readings and slams at Festival Hall and Celtic Cellar. Anyone can share his or her ideas. Bells, chimes and gongs will punctuate the slams and readings. The festival is educational in nature. Its intention is to stimulate discussion and create an open forum of educational space in the community. The theme for 2017 is “Words and Music”.

Latest update: 2017

Know of any special festivals, fairs, courses or events we should post here? Share with us and we’ll share it with the rest of the Group.

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Event: Edmonton Poetry Festival

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Event: Edmonton Poetry Festival and Poetry Slam

Where: Multiple Venues, Edmonton, Alberta
When: April 16 – 23

The Edmonton Poetry Festival celebrates poetry in all its forms. It gets people from across the Edmonton area involved as creators and audiences. It doesn’t matter what age you are, what culture you come from, or whether you fall for slam poetry or jump at reading the classics. Publishers, writers’ organizations, community organizations, schools and literary groups get involved. It aims to stimulate the growth and quality of work created and performed by Edmonton area artists, and brings in national and international artists to inspire, entertain and educate. This year’s (2017) theme is “Horizons”.

Latest update: 2017

Know of any special festivals, fairs, courses or events we should post here? Share with us and we’ll share it with the rest of the Group.

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Event: Strathcona County Writer’s Conference

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Event: Strathcona County Annual Writer’s Conference

Where: County Hall, Sherwood Park, Alberta
When: April 22

The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County (WFSC) Writer’s Conference is an annual writer’s conference in Sherwood Park. This year’s conference (2017) is “Celebrating Canada: Sharing our experience of being Canadian in our words”. A series of presenters, displays and featured workshops will cover various topics on Canada and the Canadian character. In addition, there are booths, a silent auction table, Q&A panels, a networking lunch and a writer-in-residence information session.

Latest update: 2017

Know of any special festivals, fairs, courses or events we should post here? Share with us and we’ll share it with the rest of the Group.

Welcome to the Write Group

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Hello,

Welcome to the Write Group blog. Enjoy your visit and take your time perusing our posts and pages.

The Write GroupThe Write Group is a community of writers who mutually share and discuss our poems, stories, novels, essays, columns, articles, histories and memoirs. We are essentially storytellers and storymakers. Between meetings we write; sometimes, we also work at day jobs, enjoy our leisure and spend time with our families.

This blog is our attempt to reach out to our members and the public. We offer prompts, competitions, market information, events local and specific to us, our newsletter, our Write Group Daily newspaper, our member posts, our Twitter feed, and other material and resources.

If you are interested in who we are and what we do, check out Our Story in the menu above.

If you are interested in what we are doing this month, check out our monthly roundup page. As with most parts of this blog, this page is continuously being greened.

We love feedback. If you have comments or questions about our blog that don’t fit a specific post or page, please connect with us through our guestbook.

Come join us. See what we have to offer and partake of the resources we gather. Most of all,

Enjoy and keep writing,
The Write Group

World Creation: A Book From a Map

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This post is reblogged from my writing blog, Stefras’ Bridge.

Stefras’ Bridge

For fifteen minutes after every lunch when I was in grade six, from her desk in the far front corner of the room, Penny Gwillim read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to our class. I was already a storyteller by then, but those stories read by Penny Gwillim inspired me to write.

Tolkien populated his world with story. Every named element — person and place — had a purpose and story built into it. Every horizon hid a land beyond. Each name and land had a history and significance. This built boundless depth and breadth into Tolkien’s world. And, as these persons and places overlapped, so their purposes and stories intertwined.

Today’s post is about world building. It is about creating endless story potential by mapping instead of outlining.

My favourite Tolkien quote is this.

A story must be told or there’ll be no story, yet it is the untold stories that are most moving. I think you are moved by Celebrimbor because it conveys a sudden sense of endless untold stories: mountains seen far away, never to be climbed, distant trees (like Niggle’s) never to be approached — or if so only to become ‘near trees’ (unless in Paradise or N’s Parish).

— J.R.R. Tolkien (1945)

He also extolled, in the same letter (1945), “the heart-racking sense of the vanishing past”.

Tolkien’s underscoring of names and unexplored-places-beyond-horizons with histories and stories, to me, is a powerful way to build worlds.

Plotting and Pantsing

I am a plotter and a pantser. I typically write short stories and poems on my computer with no plotting nor sense of where the story is going, other than the steeping inspirational idea. Many of these stories and poems comprise my best writing. They sing and dance for others and me. Long stories and “important” poems I sketch, write on loose-leaf, then after several versions revise and edit further on computer.

The sketch is my tool of choice: a quick list, map or outline of places, events, scenes and characters that I typically then ignore and pants around. On the continuum of pantsing to plotting, I believe most writers do some form of sketching a little in each story. Usually I sketch after I get a good start on a story.

A Sudden Insight

I have been writing several unrelated magical-realism shorts over the years. I label these as fantastic folktales. They are subtle stories, with that unmistakable undercurrent of impossibility and fantastic flowing through them. They are explorations of my imagination and my craft, vents of my passion. They have different styles, different characters, different premises, nothing really connecting them.

One morning a couple of weeks ago, I woke with the idea of creating a map for one of these stories. And to this map I added the landscape of another story, then another. Suddenly, these stories all fit together. They even had a chronology to them. Further, the map and story element connections suggested several connector and origin shorts. And under them was that hidden undercurrent of overarching fantastic which suggested it own story.

It seems so obvious, with that map and the similarity of the genre of the stories, that the stories belong together, that beneath them was a larger, suggested, untold story.

Several of the stories are ready for publishing. Others need fleshing and tweaking. But this is a project I am excited to pursue. This is a book I want to write.

It would be just if my first book contained a selection of my short stories, which each took a short while to write, rather one of my long ones that I have worked on and played with for so long. And to discover this potential in an odd urge to create a single-short story map is thrilling.

My Take on Plots and Maps

Plots come in many forms. Some plots originate from intuitive exploration (pantsing). Some from first drafts. Some from outlines. Others from maps.

Maps also build worlds (more) and, unlike the constriction of outlines, manifest unending stories, just like Tolkien’s names and horizons.

Every map is an outline to endless stories. Details and names infill a world with story. Horizons in space and history inspire a broader and deeper world and more story.

A Comparison of Outlining and Mapping

Outline maps out a story. Like a pathfinder of new lands and events, it explores the lands and events and chops a route through them. The path it picks clearly leads further travel through the lands and events. But it also restricts the possibilities of exploration. It winds from point A to point B, however complex the labyrinth of its trail. Further travel may head off the outline, but in doing so will clear its own route — its own outline — between A and B.

The outline is a good guide and even its winding and rolling trails and oxbow loops can be revised into a smooth road.

Map outlines a world. It does not blaze a trail from point A to point B, but instead suggests wilderness (forests, oceans, city blocks), encounters and adventure between and far beyond the two points. The map opens new places, new events and new context to explore — in fact, uncounted places and events, and burgeoning context. But more importantly it reveals endless new places, events and context to explore once the current story is complete. And a map can be grown. Its limits can be pushed deeper and farther beyond what the map revealed before. Horizons always have story beyond them. Unnamed places can always be named.

The map is an atlas of unending potential tales. It is not direct and smooth like an outline, but it reveals possibilities and twists the outline misses.

Used together, the map and the outline can guide the writer to and through grand stories. The outline unearths and shepherds a story. The map opens and reveals a world of stories. Just like Tolkien emphasized.

How do maps influence your stories and build your worlds? Join the conversation. Comment below.

Resources

World-building Resources

Culture-generating Resources

Map-making Resources

Reference

Tolkien, J.R.R. (1945.) Letter 96. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. First Edition, 1981. Carpenter, H. and Tolkien, C. London: George Allen & Unwin. P. 125. https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/the_letters_of_j.rrtolkien.pdf.