Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Writers Digest: The 90 Top Secrets of Bestselling Authors

Bestselling authors share their tips and secrets on Writers Digest.

Happy Holidays 2011 Challenge Entry #2

From April Whidden (member, Westside Writers)

Goody Claus and the Christmas Purpose

Tippy, tippy, tap. Little elven feet exploded on tabletops, whirling and twirling to the rhythm of a tambourine. Weekend dads posed with their kids as reporters clicked cameras. The North Pole was busy this time of year. Mrs. Claus – Goody to her friends - smiled for a quick shot and then excused herself to ‘bake cookies’.

Inside the office, Goody kicked off her shoes and slid out of her Spanx. She surveyed the room. Even in this sanctuary toys were stacked ceiling high. She reached for a cookie, thought better of it, and turned away. Even her Spanx needed Spanx. A growling noise caught her attention and she turned to see her husband sleeping in his favorite chair, a concerned wrinkle across his brow. “Poor dear,” she said, covering him and kissing his cheek. With only two weeks till Christmas he had been putting in long hours, and it was beginning to show.

Goody sighed, remembering simpler times. Dolls for girls. Trains for boys. Coal for the naughty. Nowadays everyone wanted dolls that peed and trains that moved. And Elves didn’t make batteries. Santa had to outsource that job to China.

And kids today…one toy wasn’t enough…they had lists! And now with the population tipping at seven billion… Goody furrowed her brow. She wasn’t good at mat, but she knew there were not enough elves in the Arctic to accommodate that load.

“That’s it,” she said, flopping into the computer chair. “I wash my hands of this. Santa’s exhausted and I’m fat. We’re moving to Belize.” Goody flipped on her husband’s computer and fantasized about her new life. She had spent the last 200 years baking, smiling, and feeding reindeer. Maybe now she could work out, play Bunco, and watch Oprah. She could find her purpose.

She was googling ‘things to do in Belize’ when an odd blinking light appeared in the corner of her monitor. Alarmed that she had broken something, she almost roused Santa. Then she noticed it was a message. A magic, coded message!

Dear Santa,

I no u r buzy but can I plz have a doll for xmas. I need some1 to luv me.

Mary Dryer

Goody shook her head as an image of Mary Dryer popped into her memory. A dark-haired beauty with large eyes. A child who wanted just one doll for Christmas. Goody groaned as Google summoned up pictures of a Belizean beach.

“Well, darn it,” she said, rolling the chair to the doll shelf across the room. She searched until she found the perfect one: a cuddly darling that didn’t pee. “You will be well loved,” she said, giving the doll a kiss and sending it to the sleigh.

Goody watched as 100 linking lights filled the monitor.

Santa yawned. “Good nap. Anything interesting happen while I was out?”

“Yes. You got yourself a new assistant.”

“I did? Who?”

Goody stood, dusting crumbs from her gown. “Why, me of course. I just found my purpose.”

Happy Holidays 2011 Challenge Entry #1

From Michael Fairchild (member, Westside Writers)


That naughty and nice list business is nonsense. Santa began as a saint, and saints love everyone. Me? I'm Sir. Claws, the cat who guides him through the night, just as I did when he was Bishop Nicholas those many years ago.

We received a troubled child signal as we were finishing Portland. A very intelligent six year old trying with all her might to believe in us.

"Cat," the big man said, "can you look into this?" I know, you're going to ask how we manage all this in one night. I asked Einstein's cat, and didn't understand a word he meowed. I've settled for calling it magic.

I entered the house and was met by a lovely Persian. "My mistress wants a Young Doctor Kit, an elaborate and expensive thing, educational as it is entertaining. Her single mother, can barely afford a few small gifts."

Maryann had whined, pouted, and wheedled finally exploding in a temper, "I hate you and Santa."

To which her mother, patience expended said, "that young lady is why you're not getting what you want. Try being nicer next year."

It was a strained Christmas eve in the little house. The mother was shocked at herself, knowing it was the pressures of life that had caused her to snap. Maryann, recognized the same, vowed to be better, and, to keep her belief in Santa one more year. Her mother let her set out cookies and milk, and wrap herself in a blanket to wait.

We heard a crashing sound in front of the house. "There's a car on the sidewalk," Maryann told her mother who came out of her bedroom.

A man opened the car door and fell. Then picked himself up and shuffled toward the door. "He's drunk," the mother said.

"He's sick," Maryann said. "And he's a policeman."

Her mother pushed her aside and blocked the door. "Help...," he said.

"Call 911. And he doesn't need cookies," her mother said pushing away the tray Maryann held.

"Yes sugar please," the man said, stuffing cookies into his mouth.

As his condition improved, Maryann said, "you need juice."

"You're a very smart girl. You know about diabetes."

"No," the girl said, "I just know."

"Thank you, I pulled a double shift so those with families could be home, and forgot to eat. I'll go now.

"No you won't," the mother said. "You need real food and rest. A look passed between the adults that made Maryann wonder if her other wish might come true.

The girl went off to bed with her cat to purr her to sleep. The adults became acquainted over scrambled egg whites, then slept, he and on the couch, she in her bed. I followed the mother, and as her eyes became heavy, gave her the memory of finding the super deluxe Young Doctor Kit on eBay for practically nothing.

"Excellent work, Sir Claws," Santa said. "Dr. Wendy has saved her first life."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

Michael Henry's Book Now Available

Westside Writers congratulates member Michael Henry on the recent publication of his Christmas romance Six Hearts Under the Christmas Tree.

About Six Hearts Under the Christmas Tree:

Veronica and her best friend, Katrina, seem to be on top of the world. Having forged a wildly successful partnership in Katrina's music career, they finally get to live like they always dreamed of as kids. Sure, there's the crazy ex-boyfriend of Katrina's that Veronica has to pay off, and Veronica is about to marry an otherwise ideal man she doesn't love, but really, no one's life is perfect, is it? The answer, each of them thinks, is to find the exact opposite kind of guy that they usually date and marry them. Which is a great idea...in theory...but Christmas has other plans. When they meet two highly successful men in a similar dilemma, they think they've found the solution to all their problems, but why does everyone think that they're each with the wrong man?

Now Available At:


Barnes and Noble


Westside Writers 2011 Happy Holiday Challenge

Westside Writers, a writing critique group that meets in the Reedville area of Hillsboro, issues the following challenge to other Washington County writers. Create a piece of short fiction, post it on your blog or ours, and read some other local writers' work. Don't forget to leave the author a comment letting her know you read the piece and what you thought of it. Here is an easy way to view challenge submissions: just click here.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays from everyone at Westside Writers!

Here are the details:

What: Create a piece of short fiction (500 words maximum) with a happy theme centered around Christmas or another holiday of your choosing.

When: The deadline will be 11:59pm (Pacific Time) on Wednesday 21 Dec 2011

Who: Any resident of Washington County, Oregon or participant of a writers group that meets in Washington County, Oregon

Why: To have a bit of fun and share some of your writing with other Washington County writers and visitors to our blog (westside-writers.blogspot.com)

How: Submissions can be made either by: 1) adding your story to your blog or website, then sending a link to that post or page to WestsideWriters503@gmail.com. Please include a statement that you either live in Washington Co or attend a writers group in Washington Co, Oregon. OR 2) Email your submission to WestsideWriters503@gmail.com with a statement that it may be included on our blog (westside-writers.blogspot.com), include any identifying and copyright information you wish to have included on the blog post with your submission (name, web address or Twitter/Facebook/etc profile/name).

NOTE: Westside Writers may decide not to include your link or story if it doesn't meet any criteria listed in this post or if it violates our Taboo Topics as discussed on http://westside-writers.blogspot.com/p/about-us.html.

If you have any questions, please comment or email WestsideWriters503@gmail.com.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Membership Currently Closed

As of 10 November 2011, Westside Writers is closed to new members. We will update this blog when we are ready to accept new members.

In the meantime, may we suggest Parallel Play at the Main Branch of Hillsboro Public Library? You might also find other groups looking for new members on Willamette Writers online discussion forums.

Next Meeting Dates

Westside Writers will not meet again in November since the fourth Thursday is Thanksgiving. We wish you Happy Thanksgiving, however you observe it.

Our next meeting will be on Thursday 8 December.

We will also decide if we will be meeting on 22 December at the meeting on the 8th.

DYI Word Clouds

Ever want a word cloud for something you've been writing or reading? Wordle is an online tool that just does that.

Thanks Vannessa!

And just for fun, here's one for my 2011 Fall Challenge entry.