New Nav Bar

HomeEventsBlogMembershipPressFAQForumAbout UsContact Us

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Silly Saturday - The Shelter Pet Project Ads

And for a good cause too. 
The Shelter Pet Project has a group of these on YouTube and they are all so funny. The cat ones are my favorite.

If you'd like to submit a post for Silly Saturdays, please e-mail

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Silly Saturday - All I want for Christmas!

I wanted to share this video, which I'm sure many of you have already seen.



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

And the Winner for Bad Sex is...

"David Guterson has won the 19th annual Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award, for Ed King (Bloomsbury). The prize was presented to a representative of his publishers by Barbara Windsor, star of the Carry On films and Eastenders.

Alexander Waugh and Barbara Windsor (© Alan Davidson/The Picture Library Ltd)

David Guterson lives in America and was unable to accept the prize in person. 'Oedipus practically invented bad sex, so I'm not in the least bit surprised,' he said in response to his fifth novel winning the award. His bestselling debut, Snow Falling on Cedars, won the 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

Ed King is a re-imagining of the Oedipus myth in the second half of the twentieth century. The winning scene is introduced in the book as 'the part where a mother has sex with her son'. The judges were swayed by the following paragraphs:

These sorts of gyrations and five-sense choreographies, with variations on Ed's main themes, played out episodically between 10 p.m. and 10 a.m., when Diane said, "Let's shower."
In the shower, Ed stood with his hands at the back of his head, like someone just arrested, while she abused him with a bar of soap. After a while he shut his eyes, and Diane, wielding her fingernails now and staring at his face, helped him out with two practiced hands, one squeezing the family jewels, the other vigorous with the soap-and-warm-water treatment. It didn't take long for the beautiful and perfect Ed King to ejaculate for the fifth time in twelve hours, while looking like Roman public-bath statuary. Then they rinsed, dried, dressed, and went to an expensive restaurant for lunch.

Guterson narrowly edged out strong competition from Haruki Murakami's 1Q84 ('A freshly made ear and a freshly made vagina look very much alike, Tengo thought'), Chris Adrian's The Great Night (featuring an 'impossibly stiff, impossibly eloquent cock' that 'poked her now from the front and now from the back and now from the side'), and Lee Child's The Affair ('Then it was time. We started tenderly. Long and slow, long and slow. Deep and easy. She flushed and gasped. So did I. Long and slow').

The shortlist also included:
  • On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry
  • The Final Testament of the Holy Bible by James Frey
  • Parallel Stories by Péter Nádas
  • 11.22.63 by Stephen King
  • The Land of Painted Caves by Jean M Auel
  • Dead Europe by Christos Tsiolkas
  • Outside the Ordinary World by Dori Ostermiller
  • Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy
Last year the prize was won by Rowan Somerville for The Shape of Her published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson..."

The Original article may be found below

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Silly Satudays - The Hanukkah Song by Adam Sandler

With the Holidays around the corner, thought you'd enjoy this!

If you'd like to submit a post for Silly Saturdays, please e-mail

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Walking Dead - My new obsession.

Okay, Let me begin this premise by stating I love most paranormal shows.  There are a few of those that take place in Space that I've not be able to get into. 

I was recently watching Nightline, right before Halloween and they were saying it was the year of the Zombie and they referenced a show on AMC called "The Walking Dead".  And I thought "Who would watch a show about Zombies?"  In saying this I was trying to wrap my head around how you could have an ongoing show, it seemed very unlikely you could sustain this week after week.

So one day I googled it, okay it was probably at three in the morning when I didn't want to sleep.  Anyway had put up Season 2, Episode 1.  So I thought what the heck - I'll watch it.  I was 10 minutes into it when I began to believe in a Zombie apocolypse and rushed upstairs to wake DH (Dear Husband) and force him to watch it with me because I was scared.

I was never one of those people who liked being scared.  I don't like slasher movies or movies with alot of gore, but I do love a good mystery.

Anyway DH diligently watched with me and at the end he said, "I kind of like it."

Me too.  So much so I became one of those people who goes to Walmart in their pajamas - but that's another post.

I ran out and bought the first season of The Walking Dead because I found the premise so entrancing and I'm wondering how are these people going to get out of this.

A few notes about the show: 

The main character is Rick Grimes who wakes up from a coma to go searching for his family.  The show is based on a comic series which I'm suspecting is why it got a second season. The zombies are slow moving zombies - not like the ones from "Resident Evil" or "Zo

1) It is bloody
2) People and animals are disemboweled.
3) There is swearing -quiet a bit at times

Minus the F-Bomb being thrown around.  I don't find the gore to be any worse than something you'd see on CSI or any other crime show.  Except well the walking dead are eating.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Silly Saturday: "Lessons from Crochet" (or "The Fable of the Old Woman and the Crocheted Dolls")

A man and woman had been married for more than 60 years.

They had shared everything. They had talked about everything. They had kept no secrets from each other except that the little old woman had a shoe box in the top of her closet that she had cautioned her husband never to open or ask her about.

For all of these years, he had never thought about the box, but one day the little old woman got very sick and the doctor said she would not recover.

In trying to sort out their affairs, the little old man took down the shoe box and took it to his wife's bedside. She agreed that it was time that he should know what was in the box.

When he opened it, he found two crocheted dolls and a stack of money totaling $95,000. He asked her about the contents.

"When we were to be married," she said, "my grandmother told me the secret of a happy marriage was to never argue. She told me that if I ever got angry with you, I should just keep quiet and crochet a doll."

The little old man was so moved; he had to fight back tears. Only two precious dolls were in the box. He thought she had only been angry with him twice in all those years of living and loving.

He almost burst with happiness. "Honey," he said, "that explains the dolls, but what about all of this money? Where did it come from?"

"Oh," she said, "that's what I made from selling the dolls."

A Prayer...

Dear Lord, I pray for Wisdom to understand my man;
Love to forgive him;
And Patience for his moods;
Because Lord, if I pray for Strength,
I'll beat the daylights out of him, because I don't know how to crochet.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

13 Reasons to Come to the EWW Holiday Party!

Happy Thursday! In honor of today, I figured I would do a list of 13 reasons why you should come to the third annual EWW Holiday Party. It's a not-to-be-missed event, sure to finish off the year in style!

1. It's the Third Annual Evanston Writers Workshop Holiday Party! You've seen the rest, now come to the best! We are the one and only, doing battle for writers since 2007!

2. You can party with all your writer friends, who don't look at you funny when you want to discuss past participles in public.

3. It's a Murder Mystery! You've heard about them, and now you get to come to one! Put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and follow those clues!

4. Debbie and I will cry if you don't come.

5. No, really. :)

6. You'll be able to have an old war story about the party when it's all said and done!

7. You get to find out what's in the goody bags!

8. We'll have some really good food for everyone!

9. We'll even do an awards ceremony for all EWW folks who come. Come find out what award YOU will be given! (Best Punster, Best Mustache, Best Puzzler...)

10. For all you NaNoWriters out there, come and de-stress after the full month of writing your a** off!

11. Generate fodder for your next superstar story. Even better if you write creative non-fiction - after all, truth is stranger than fiction!

12. You can say, "I was there!"

13. And the best reason of all for coming to the holiday party? TO HAVE A GREAT TIME, EWW-STYLE!!!

Register today!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thursday 13 Shows I love to watch.

  1. Castle ( ABC) - I think Nathan Fillon is awesome and I  believe Richard Castle is an ancestor of Malcolm Reynolds.  The humor is similar between the characters
  2. Body of Proof (ABC) -I'm not sure why I love this show but I seem to be on a crime spree lately - showwise that is.
  3. Unforgettable (CBS) - This is about a detective with hyperthymesia, also called Superior Autobiographical Memory.  Mary Lou Henner has this ability and is listed in the credits.
  4. CSI ( CBS) - I'm really enjoying Ted Danson this season.
  5. The Secret Circle (Thursdays CW) - I'm not sure what drew me to this teen focused paranormal show but so far I like it. 
  6. The Mentalist (CBS) - I was really hoping Red John was dead.
  7. Supernatural (CW) - I was a late starter into this show and began watching the third season.  I started buying the DVD's and am pretty much in it for the life of the show.  I was really hoping there was be a Wild West Spin-off giving the history of the relics, hunters, etc. but alas no. :(
  8. Amazing Race (CBS)- One of my favorite reality shows.  I love the weekly locales and places they visit.
  9. Sons of Anarchy (FX) - Once again I began watching this series in it's third season on Hulu.  Got the husband addicted to it.  Went back and bought seasons 1&2.  Looks like Hulu won't be airing any more FX episodes though.   I guess I'll have to wait for season 4 on DVD. Ugh!
  10. Swamp People (History Channel) - The Alligator Hunting season is over but this one is an addiction at my house.  The whole family roots for their swampers.
  11. Ax Men  (History Channel) - My husband got me into this one in the Swamp People off-season.
  12. Psych (TBS) - I checked out seasons 1&2 from the library and now I'm hooked.  This comedic version of the Metalist reminds me of '80's style TV mysteries (Murder she wrote, Matlock, etc.).  I love looking for the pineapples (or references) in the episodes.
  13. Grimm (NBC) - okay it's not out yet (October 28th) but I'm so looking forward to this show, I just know I'll love it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Editing for Passive Voice

Editing for Passive Voice by Ross Martinek
Use the table below to find passive voice in your work. If you do this exercise for ten chapters, you will find yourself spotting and eliminating passive voice as you write. The instructions are for MS Word 2011 (2010 on Windows, IIRC), but should be similar in earlier versions. I use this and it works. I wrote scientific works for over forty years, where passive voice is nearly required, rather than tolerated.
The definition of passive voice (from, an excellent grammar reference site):
“A passive voice sentence will always have:
1.  a form of “to be” + past participle for the verb (was called, will be thrown)
2.  subject of the sentence receives action rather than doing the action
3.  doer of action (if stated) is in a prepositional phrase beginning with by (or to).”
Memorizing this will help, but the instructions below work better.

Target words for passive voice
had/have/was/ were/been/be/by/to /could/would/should/

Turn off Track Changes
Open Advanced Find
Type target word (one at a time) in search box
Select “Find whole words”
Select “Highlight all items”
Click Find
Click Title Bar of document.
Click highlight color (something you can read through)
Repeat as desired.
Turn on Track Changes
Edit and review
Turn off Track Changes
Advanced Find: Clear find box and any other search criteria check boxes
Select Highlight under the Format drop down
Select Highlight all items
Click find
Click Title Bar of Document
Select None in the highlight color dropdown menu.

*The MS Word grammar checker is essentially useless except for three things: passive voice, cliché, and colloquialisms. After you think you’ve found all the passive voice in your document, try the following.
Open Word Preferences.
Click on Spelling and Grammar
In the Grammar section, clear all check boxes except “Show readability statistics.”
In the Grammar section, click on the pull down for Writing style and select “Custom.”
Click the “Settings…” button next to that pull down.
Clear all check boxes except “Passive sentences,” “Clichés,” “Colloquialisms,” and “Sentence length.”
Click the “Okay” button to close the dialog.
NOTE: If you have previously checked either grammar or spelling, you must click the “Recheck Document” button or Word will ignore everything you want it to find! You must do this every time you want to check the document for these things.
Click the “Okay” button to close the preferences window.
Turn on “Track changes” and have at it.

Remember that not all passive sentences are bad. Sometimes they are necessary. More often, they are not.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday Review: Ringer

Sarah Michelle Gellar’s new project, Ringer, has been picked up by the CW network for a full season. I’m sure fans of Sarah’s are overjoyed, because she’s an excellent actress - smart, pretty, and fun.

I saw the series opener and was disappointed. I felt little sympathy for the main character, a former addict with six months’ sobriety. She visits her twin sister to make amends as part of her journey to sobriety, and the sister seems to forgive her. They go out on her sister’s boat and our main character falls asleep.

That’s when it gets weird.

When she wakes up, there’s a bottle of sleeping pills with only her sister’s wedding ring inside. The sister is gone, presumably having committed suicide over the side of the boat. Our main character then goes back to shore and does what any good Samaritan would do:

She assumes her twin’s identity.

See, that’s where I have trouble with it. I know we’re supposed to be sympathetic to her, because she’s kind to the husband and nice to the friend, breaks up with the man her sister had an affair with, etc. etc. But I just can’t get over the idea that someone would blithely take over their sibling’s life, live in their marriage bed and continue their friendships, with nary a twinge of ethical remorse.

I might watch a couple more episodes, because a good series sometimes takes awhile to find its footing. But for right now, I say two thumbs down.

Have you seen it? What do you think? Tell us, in comments!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thursday 13 October 6, 2011 - Why I shouldn't be at work today

  1. I need to write. My WIP is staring at me unforgivingly as if to say, "I'm more important than eating or health insurance"
  2. My Physical health. Now which is healthier, sitting behind a computer under flourescent lighting or doing laps in the swimming pool? Need I say more?
  3. My Mental health. I pet my computer today!
  4. We are having unusually beautiful weather in Chicago for October and I'm hermetically sealed 17 stories up with no windows.
  5. I need to be planning my fun and festive halloween party.
  6. Nothing fun for lunch today.
  7. Have a list at home of at least 12 phone calls I need to make.
  8. I could be tweeting.I have 30 followers yay!
  9. I am mourning the loss of Steve Jobs.
  10. I need toothpicks to keep my eyes open.
  11. My doggies are at home missing me.
  12. There are people in the office hacking and sneezing and I can feel the germs trying to get in.
  13. I'm at work writing my Thursday 13 instead of actually working

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Interview with an Evie Winner - Renee Yates

Welcome to the first interview with one of our 2011 Evie Winners - Renee Yates who won in the Fiction Category.  Renee pitched at the Evanston Writer's Workshop Conference and received a contract.  Please join me in welcoming Renee Yates!

Renee, I want to first congratulate you on your contract with Whispers Publishing!
Can you tell us a little bit about the book contracted ?
The title of the book is The White Nightgown.  It is a story about a thirty-six-year-old African-American woman, Michelle, who marries a Jewish man, David, and their difficult relationships with his mother.  I'm told that it is scheduled to be released early next year (2012), perhaps February.  But that's tentative right now.
Did your publisher say what they liked about your piece?
Yes, Jessica Damien, my editor at Whispers Publishing put it this way:
"The White Nightgown grips the heart in a tear-jerking squeeze as the reader delves into the pathos, depression, and the despairing emotions of the characters.  The gritty, down-to-earth reality of the story begs the hope of a happy ending, and one can't put down the book until the end.
This is the sort of story a lot of publishers seem afraid to publish, but it fits in well with Whispers' new search for a broader range of plot devices.  We are looking forward to extending our readership with stories like this, which bravely go beyond the typical."
You won the Evanston Writers Contest with a different story.  What was your inspiration for the Evie winning short story, “The Easter Outfit.”
"The Easter Outfit" was inspired by memories of how exciting it was for me to get a new outfit every year for Easter when I was a child; and a disturbing experience I had with a neighbor around age eight or nine.  Even though the story was inspired by personal, unconnected events, it is pure fiction.
Do you have any writing rituals that you follow on a regular basis?
Not really.  Even though I actually began writing in the late 1980s, I still think of myself as a new writer.  I’m still trying to figure out what type of rituals or schedule will work for me.  Right now, I just write when characters speak to me or when ideas occur to me.  That can happen at any moment because the people and events that occur throughout my daily activities often inspire ideas and character thoughts. However, lately, I found that regular meditation and Yoga helps to keep my mind open to ideas.
My Macbook and a smart phone with a Notes application and a voice recorder.
If you could only answer one question, what would it be, and how would you answer?
The question:  What is the key to true happiness?
The answer:  Mindfulness
Dark or milk chocolate?
Coffee or tea?
Thanks Renee for taking the time to interview with ShopNotes.  Keep us posted on your career as we'd love to hear how things are going for one of our first Evie winners.  

If you would like to interview for ShopNotes please contact me at

Editor in Chief 
What are your must-have writing tools?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Silly Saturday!

Here are 8 words that the internet loves to confuse. (Just don't be drinking anything while you're reading, or you'll risk choking.)


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Silly Saturday!

I ran across this video recently and liked the premise...okay I admit it.  I love Seth Green and he tweeted about it. :)

Remember, if you have anything you'd like to post for Silly Saturday send it to


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Silly Saturday!

Another great video I found on YouTube, anyone with cats can probably relate to this.

Please feel free to send in your silly letters, videos, etc for silly saturday by e-mailing me at and I'll gladly put them in the queue.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Flash Focus - "Dr. Ho, The Hawaiian Dr. Who" by Mark Hudson

Our offering this week for our Friday Flash Focus series is by author Mark Hudson, who is becoming a regular contributor to our series. We're pleased to bring him back this week with a Science Fiction themed piece entitled "Dr. Ho, The Hawaiian Dr. Who." We hope you enjoy!

Dr. Robert Ho had just got back from a luau in 15th century Hawaii with his granddaughter, Lindsay Ho. He traveled with his time machine, a palm tree. He was just in time to try and stop Aloha Technology, the evil robotics company that was taking over the Hawaiian Islands, from coming to fruition. The company had been inherited by a bratty 8-year old kid, who showed up to work in a suit and tie, but made the corporation show up to work in their pajamas.

Dr. Ho showed up incognito as one of the cooks. He planned to spy on little Kaopele Mahiki, the 8-year old boy who was part Hawaiian boy, and part Irish boy. And rumor had it that they’d been doing mechanical surgery so that he’d become a robot. But nobody could quite figure that out either. We join Dr. Ho As he lingers in the kitchen, preparing a bowl of Captain Crunch cereal to bring to His Highness.

Dr. Ho walked to Kaopele Mahiki and presented the kid with the cereal. “Not sugary enough,” the boy stated.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Don't Mess with Texas

Apparently Texas is suing an author over the title of her book.  I'm very interested to see how this lawsuit will play out as it refers to registered trademarks and will effect many of us should we reference a character drinking a can of Coke.  Oops I think I did that.  :)

Here's a link to the original article:



Saturday, September 10, 2011

Silly Saturday!

The Post below comes from one of our members (Hint, Hint).  It’s an open letter to Dr. Laura. There’s also a clip of a west wing episode that used the letter.

Dear Dr. Laura,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.

a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

g) Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?

i) I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev 24:10-16) Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.

If you have something silly you'd like to share please feel free to pass it along to me at and I will gladly put it up.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Silly Saturday

I ran across this video and thought it would be something all you children of the '80's would enjoy.  I know I did.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thursday 13: Thirteen Reasons to Attend Conferences

1. The classes. You can attend all sorts of classes, from ‘how to write’ to ‘how to market yourself’ to ‘how to get published’.

2. Networking. This is a buzzword, I admit, but it’s a useful one. It’s not a new idea, either, it’s just that in today’s society of distributed social systems, it’s harder than ever for people to make contacts in any industry – much less writing. On the other hand, writers tend to be helpful to others, sometimes even in spite of themselves. You never know who you will meet, and who will end up being a friend, confidant, partner, or publisher.

3. Meet readers. First and foremost, writers are, in general, readers. They love the written word. Since you produce the written word, you get to meet your target audience.

4. Have fun. Conferences are , by and large, filled with lots of social and goofy events. Depending on the type of conference, you can attend parties, costume events, music performances, and lots of other stuff. These all help feed the inner writer.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Interview Studio: A Conversation with Debbie Cairo

Many of our members know Debbie, the cheerful face behind Evanston Writers Workshop. She started the original meetup group and brought in the board that now runs the non-profit company. Tomorrow, the world!

All kidding aside, Debbie has a lot of energy, great ideas, and tremendous creativity. She's written several novels and her first, OVER MY UNDEAD BODY, is published with Whispers Publishing.

We caught up with Debbie over email to discuss her projects and writing process.

SN: You started the original Meetup group of Evanston Writers Workshop in 2007. What made you decide to get things going?

DC: I went to a Romantic Times convention prior to that and met a couple of authors, one of them being Tina Holland, who I became fast friends with and introduced me to the concept of critique partners. Unfortunately, one was in Florida and one was in North Dakota, so our critique sessions were limited to AOL Messenger and email. A gentleman named Richard started a writers group in Evanston through Meetup dot com. Five of us showed up at the first meeting. I found I really enjoyed the companionship and input of other authors. So, when he stepped down as organizer of the group less than a month after its creation, I took it over without hesitation. Since then, as we have grown and evolved, we now encompass much more than the critique group it started as. I’m very excited to see where we go in the future.

SN: When did you start to think of yourself as "a writer" and not just someone who fiddled with stories?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday Review - Writing World

Long-time author and editor Moira Allen created Writing World and has built it into a powerhouse of writing-related information and advice. They have a large number of sections, including:

  • Beginner's World
  • Becoming a Better Writer
  • The Business of Writing
  • The Writing Life
  • Freelancer's World
  • Commercial Corner
  • International Writing
  • General Fiction
  • Romance
  • Mystery
  • SF/Fantasy
  • Children's Writing
  • Poetry/Greeting Cards
  • Creative Nonfiction
  • Screenwriting
  • Publishing Your Book
  • Promoting Your Writing

I highly recommend poking around to see what appeals to you. There's enough there to keep you quite busy. Just remember to go back to your writing!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mentor Monday: Language Evolves and Grammar Lurches Along: On Keeping a Toehold on Stampeding Style, By RJ Robertson

Welcome to Mentor Monday, our second and fourth Monday feature focusing on the how-to's of writing. Today we have another installment in a series from our beloved Curmudgeon of Grammar, RJ Robertson. To refresh your memory, check out Part One. Enjoy!

Language Evolves and Grammar Lurches Along: On Keeping a Toehold on Stampeding Style
by RJ Robertson, Curmudgeon of Grammar

Part One, cont.

Well, enough of excuses and allusions. My discussion is in four parts. In the first I will detail ten of the commonest errors one encounters in everyday speech and writing. It is in the form of a quiz. If you get all or most correct, you might be satisfied to go your way in peace. Or, even if you don’t, you could simply resolve not to do it again, and still go your way in peace. If you endure to the second part, I will present the rationale for the correct choices in common sense terms. In the third part I will say a bit about the parts of language, and how they require the currently-reigning rules. (Heaven knows I’m no expert at it, but I do have the basics, and we’ll muddle through.) Finally, in the fourth part I will reverse course and propose that, if you hang around long enough, many of the things I criticize (following Strunk and White) will be common practice. Off we go, then.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Sit-Down Dinner: "The Value of Notebooks" by Hudson McCann

Welcome to our feature, Sunday Sit-Down Dinner. In keeping with the idea of a slower-paced, sit-down meal, posts in this feature are essays on life and writing. We hope you enjoy them, as you might enjoy sitting down with friends and family over a meal.

Today's feature is a re-post of one of our early features, by member Hudson McCann.

The Value of Notebooks
by Hudson McCann

While most of my night stand is covered with a disparate collection of items -- a chalk-white lamp; a beige cube clock radio, Kleenex box and 3” Super Woman doll -- a two-foot high pile of books covers the northeast corner. In the past couple of years, as writing wedged itself into my daily life, the height of the books hasn’t changed, but the contents of the pile has. Some of the books are now authored by me.

No, the books aren’t published. The self-authored books are notebooks that contain stories initiated from group prompts, first drafts, revisions of scenes, notes from lectures, character sketches, book recommendations, web pages, trade associations and other writer’s resources.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Silly Saturday: The God of Cake

For this week's Silly Saturday, I'd like to share with you the blog, Hyperbole and a Half. If you haven't stopped by for a peek, it's well worth a visit. Author and artist Allie creates posts that reflect her unique outlook on everyday life.

For today, I am recommending you give "The God of Cake" a read. You'll be glad you did.

And you'll never look at cake the same way again.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Flash Focus - "The Life of a Dollar Bill," by Mark Hudson

Welcome to another episode of Friday Flash Focus. This week, we have a feature from our regular Prompt Group member, Mark Hudson. Enjoy!

The Life of a Dollar Bill
by Mark Hudson

As the stocks plummeted on the exchange, my self-esteem felt low. My name is Theodore Peabody, and I am a dollar bill. Never in U.S. history since the Great Depression has my race meant so little. The only people I pity more are the pennies.

My master's name is Walter Thouroughgood. I'm his lucky dollar. I was the first dollar he ever made when he graduated from business school. Well, not really. He sold his beat-up car and made $20,001 dollars. I was the oddball, the one dollar that didn't fit in. So he decided to deem me his lucky dollar.

I have been in a special place in his wallet for years. It's dark here, cozy and warm. But a little information about dollars you might not know, we abhor human hands. Human hands are rather filthy things. I once belonged to a politician who swapped me for an act of prostitution. I watched with my invisible eyes the debauchery of the politician.

On our skin it says, "In God we trust." Nowadays, our reputation is being ruined. The righteous providers we used to be, "In God we trust," has come to sound like a joke. Some people even say, "The devil's house is made of money."

I hope that Walter doesn't spend me on booze. He';s gone belly-up on the stock markets. I was once shuffled around a bar once. People got beer on me and it was really gross. Ever seen a dollar bill get drunk? Put one in a bar. It's like the old days...Charmin...the quicker picker upper.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Interview Studio: A Conversation with Tina Holland

Welcome to our regular Wednesday feature, the Interview Studio. Here we will sit down and chat with authors who are just starting out as well as seasoned pros. We will get a glimpse into the world of writing and publishing through their eyes and, if we are lucky, learn some tools of the trade in the process. Join me!

Our first subject is author and Evanston Writers Workshop Board Member Tina Holland. Author of eight books, Tina is also a member of Romance Writers of America and heads up their online chapter, an international discussion group of writers and authors. We are lucky to have her expertise on our board and wanted to share a little about her with you, our members and readers.
SN: You mention in your bio that you are a "military brat." Does growing up with that kind of structure and culture affect how you see your characters in your stories?

Tina: Yes and No. My parents met at a Vietnam Protest Rally – my father registering for the armed forces and my mother getting in his face. They fell in love and had sort of a tumultuous courtship before getting married. While my mother was never a structured person…I am and was from the cradle. According to my mother if she didn’t follow it, I’d be sure to let her know, quiet adamantly.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Flash Focus - Send in the Clowns, by James Kelher

Send in the Clowns

by James Kelher

I shake my head, the red wig slipping free. I raise my hands to my face, staring dumbly at the plain white gloves that sheath them. The blue and yellow stripes of my costume and the giant red shoes cladding my feet all seem part of a surreal dream.

“Buddy, you ok?” the dwarf asks again, dropping the bucket and taking a step forward. “That was quite a knock you took.”

I wave him away, attempting to rise to my feet. The effort proves more a wish than a reality and I find myself on my rump again, a sharp piece of straw poking me in the thigh.

“Easy there, fella, get your equilibrium back first.”

“What happened?” I ask.

“Elephant,” the dwarf says, looking away.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thursday 13: Thirteen Reasons Why I Can't Go to Paris Just Yet, by Marge C.

Thursday 13: Thirteen Reasons Why I Can't Go to Paris Just Yet
by Marge Coleman

1) Alex needs to get his driver's license. That means he has to practice driving using the 11-year-old family van. It's old and slow EVEN if he painted flames on it. Keep him humble.

2) I need to stay at my job and allow the routine to dominate my days from 8-3pm while my 401K grows (I hope).

3) My basement flooded. What I flushed on Friday re-surfaced on Saturday 7/23/11.

4) My dog is afraid of the thunder.

5) I cannot sell my house. For nothing.

6) I might miss the Cicada songs.

7) Where are my glasses?

8) The left knee I broke last winter ice skating needs additional rehab to appreciate the long walks I will take when I am sightseeing.

9) I drink only decaf. I need more time to learn to drink darker, thicker brews.

10) The electric bill is too high.

11) I cannot decide if I like Frenchmen with or without facial hair.

12) I get plane sick. Car sick. Escalator sick.

13) ******My husband says don't worry, Paris will wait for me. ****

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tuesday Review - Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Today I am pleased to bring you a guest post by Xakara, one of the authors of the Beyond the Veil blog. As some of you know, I was recently invited to be part of Beyond the Veil. Xakara is a talented and imaginative author as well as being a social media and marketing specialist, and I am pleased to share her review of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Enjoy!

My Two Cents ~ Rise of the Planet of the Apes, A Review
by Xakara

Rise of the Planet of the Apes, starring James Franco and Andy Serkis, rose to #1 at the box office it’s opening weekend with a gross of $54 million—almost $20 million more than the projected estimates, and it earned every penny!

The effects were simply amazing. There is no point where you’re left to doubt Caesar is anything but a large, powerful, frightenly intelligent chimpanzee. The world is believable from the first frame and never wavers. But I fear that the emphasis will be on the effects for the movie while overlooking what those effects made way for in the end.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mentor Monday: Language Evolves and Grammar Lurches Along: On Keeping a Toehold on Stampeding Style (Part 1), by RJ Robertson

Welcome to our new feature, Mentor Monday. Every second and fourth Monday, we will feature helpful articles on all aspects of writing, from the craft of writing to the business of being an author. This week, we feature regular ShopNotes contributor RJ Robertson and his four-part series on grammar. Enjoy!

Language Evolves and Grammar Lurches Along: On Keeping a Toehold on Stampeding Style, Part 1
by R.J. Robertson

"Many years ago a wise and cynical man proved that the way a person talks is the most important thing about him." -Robert A. Heinlein, in The Cat Who Walks Through Walls

I got this job because – having been educated before the era of “don’t inhibit a child’s self-expression” – I thrust myself unwittingly into the role of Curmudgeon of Grammar in the Evanston Writers’ Workshop.

The C of G is not exactly a knightly title, you understand, but it does have one faintly noble perquisite: you get to criticize the work of writers better than yourself. I populated this role, without realizing what I was doing, by complaining about too many liberties being taken with English grammar in otherwise excellent work submitted for critique in the Evanston Writers’ group.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday Sit-Down Dinner: A Writer's Mission, by RJ Robertson

Welcome to Sunday Sit-Down Dinner, our weekly essay feature. We will focus on essays by members and friends of Evanston Writers Workshop, including our industry partners such as editors, publishers, agents, publicists, photographers, and others. If you have something you'd like to submit, please email us at Evanston ShopNotes.

Today, we will reprise a wonderful essay written by our member RJ Robertson.  A long-time member of our weekly Critique Group, he uses his background as a retired practicing psychologist and author to craft stories and essays on a large number of topics.  Here, then, is "A Writer's Mission."  Enjoy.

A Writer's Mission
by RJ Robertson

“By their works ye shall know them.” -Jesus Christ

Are writers responsible for anything more than to make a living at writing? I believe so. The very fact that people will pay for a writer’s efforts indicates that the customer finds the work of value. But what exactly is that value? “Entertainment,” one quickly replies, but what does that mean? Depending on how you define it the term can mean escape into a fantasy world in which the reader finds a model of heroic, long-suffering, amusing, adventurous or otherwise fascinating experience to enjoy vicariously and identify with. Or, it can mean glimpsing a corner of the world the reader had known nothing about, Or something in which to lose oneself to howls of laughter, tears of sympathy, or touching empathy. But that’s not all.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Silly Saturday

Get out your silly hats! Silly Saturdays are for those strange, goofy, funny things you see on the internet. Be curious, creative, but keep it PG-13, please!

For today, we have a video that's made its round of the internet, but is worth showcasing again.  Enjoy!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday Flash Focus - Stressed-Out Santa, by Mark Hudson

Welcome to Friday Flash Focus, our new Friday series on ShopNotes. Here is your chance to contribute stories, either fictional or non-fictional, and even poetry, to the ShopNotes Blog. Submission of anything up to 1,500 words are welcome; if you have longer pieces, please discuss it with us and we may serialize them over time.

I'd also like to introduce our new Friday Flash Focus Editor, Supie Dunbar. Supie is a long-time member of Evanston Writers Workshop and a major contributor to the Critique Group. We are pleased to welcome Supie into the ranks of EWW and hope that you will give her lots of fodder for posting!

To submit, please email to: ShopNotes .

Our first feature is an entry by long-time Prompt Group member, Mark Hudson. Mark is a poet, author, and artist in the Chicago area.  This was in response to one of the prompts in our group, which was to write a letter or story from the point of view of one of Santa's Reindeer or with Santa as the villain.

Stressed-Out Santa

by Mark Hudson

Well, this is Santa reporting from the North Pole. Looks like we won't have Christmas this year. Not only are the elves on strike, but the reindeer as well. They are demanding more pay. The elves are claiming I hired them cheaply because they are immigrants, from the elven land of Vellenhizen. And the reindeers want royalties on their jingles. Rudolph wants a memoir, and his own line of clothing. Rudolph has hired a ghost writer reindeer to write his memoir, named Gustav Robertson reindeer. His line of clothing will include mittens for hooves, llama wool hats, thick scarves, and lumberjack boots. Prancer wanted to do a hip-hop demo, he is feeling oppressed being an animal so he's got some issues to rap about. His no. 1 hit is "Don't lock me in a zoo," and his second greatest hit is "Santa drives his sleigh drunk".

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Thursday 13: We Want You!

Thursday 13 is a custom in the blogging world where folks put together lists of 13 things they're interested in. The only requirement is that there be 13 of them. It could be anything from 13 Reasons Why I Hate Opera to 13 Recipes for Quince. Whatever catches your fancy will be sufficient (but keep it PG-13, please). Pictures are event better, and if you can come up with a list of 13 pictures that interest you - perfect! If you're still stumped about what it's all about, try visiting the Thursday 13 page and reading up on it. Then, send us your lists! We will publish one list a week on Wednesday night by 8:00 P.M. Central time, so put on your thinking caps and get writing!

To kick off the festivities, I've prepared a list of 13 Reasons to Write Thursday 13 Lists! Enjoy!

1. Lists help you to write by "priming the pump." Since there doesn't have to be narrative, we can get our juices flowing without having to be intimidated by a long story idea.

2. 13 is a good number for coming up with a nice thorough list, but not so much as to be overwhelming. Some weeks you might just list 13 links. Others, 13 pictures. Still others, you might like to list a whole big narrative list explaining each section.

Shalom: Michael Golenzer

It is with profound sadness that I report the passing of Michael Golenzer, owner of The Bagel Restaurant. Mr. Golenzer was beloved by his employees, friends, and family, and a generous member of the community. Those of you who attended our Second Annual "In the Trenches with the Writer" Conference this past June will recall that The Bagel kindly donated a meal to our event. Mr. Golenzer was a kind and generous man and he will be missed.

For more information, please visit the Chicago Tribune Obituary.

For more information on his family's restaurant, please visit The Bagel Restaurant.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tuesday Review - Cowboys and Aliens

Welcome to our new Tuesday series, Tuesday Reviews.  We welcome Evanston Writers Workshop member reviews on whatever books we are reading as well as movies and television we're watching, plays, food, concerts, travel, you name it.  To kick us off, I thought we might take a peek at the new film, Cowboys and Aliens.

In some of the promo, Daniel Craig seemed awfully thin.  He sure wasn't in the movie:  he was buff, rough, and tough enough to take on an alien invasion.

Except, it takes place over a hundred years ago!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday Q&A

Welcome to the Grand Re-opening of Evanston ShopNotes!  We have all new content...some new editors, but the same original talent...You!

This is your chance to participate!  We welcome your questions, stories, and your knowledge.
Our new schedule will look like this:

Sundays - Sunday Sit-Down Dinner (Essays on life and writing; open submissions with emphasis for working authors/agents/editors/booksellers/etc)

Mondays -  1st, 3rd, 5th week:  Member Mail Bag (Questions from members)
2nd and 4th weeks:  Mentor Monday (Grammar, Business, Conferences, Websites of Interest)

Tuesdays - Reviews (we welcome your reviews on whatever books you are reading as well as movies and television you're watching, plays, food, concerts, travel, you name it)

Wednesdays - Interview Studio (We'll be leading this up with some familiar faces but feel free to request anyone.  I'll do my best to track them down.)

Thursdays - Thursday Thirteen.  Open call for submission of lists of 13 Things.

Fridays -  Friday Flash Focus, Supie Dunbar, Editor

Silly Saturdays -  You know those articles that crack you up or those viral videos or even the unusual ones.  Feel free to share with us. 

You can send your questions to me at

I hope you enjoy the changes we are making and I look forward to hearing from you.

Tina Holland
ShopNotes Editor-In-Chief
EWW Published Author Liaison and COO

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Trap by Ross A. Martinek

I have a friend who is a “small business person.” I happened to remark to her that I have a profound antipathy toward the business mentality. “I don’t like business people,” I said.

She immediately asked, “Do you like me?”

My reply was a very definite, “Yes, I do.”

“Well, I’m a business person.”

As the exchange concluded, she made the distinction between a business person and a corporation person—a distinction I had not really made until she brought it up. This caused me to consider the distinction, and especially why I did not make it. The answer is what I will call, “The Trap.” Corporations are a symptom of The Trap—they fell into it so long ago they have forgotten everything except the essence of The Trap.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Short-Story Contest -see hyperlink

"Call for entries: The Writer's 2011 Short-Story Contest

The Writer is pleased to announce its 2011 Short-Story Contest is open! Once again, we're partnering with Gotham Writers' Workshop to bring you this contest, which offers great prizes to the top three finishers:

Friday, February 11, 2011

What Writers Do by Shrinkrapper (RJ)

There is an interesting, though disturbing, article, “The Rise of the new Ruling Class and How the Global Elite is Leaving You Behind,” in the January/February issue of the Atlantic. The article is written by Christia Freeland, Global Editor-at-Large of Reuters news, according to Wikipedia, and formerly U S Managing Editor of the Financial Times. She reviews the enormous and growing discrepancy in income between the middle class and the world’s wealthiest people, pointing out that the latter are now a global elite who have much more in common with each other than with fellow citizens of their countries of origin. They have a hand on the entire rule-making-, legislative-, and financial-decision-levers of the world, and use this power to benefit their own quasii-nation first and the world as a whole second, or sometimes not at all.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

The writers of Evanston Writers Workshop would like to wish you and yours a very happy and prosperous new year.  May 2011 bring us all growth, prosperity, and peace!

During 2011, we will re-launch Evanston ShopNotes with a new editorial staff and Editor in Chief.  We will resume our series with Richard Johnson and have some interviews with the best and the brightest of the writing world.  Stay tuned!