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Members who wish to submit a blog entry should send it to A review committee will consider each submission for membership interest and may suggest edits before publishing the submission to the blog. For more information, see Blog or Be Blogged.

  • 4 Apr 2022 1:19 PM | Deleted user

    This year’s Guilded Pen – 2022 Anthology theme is:  “New Beginnings”

    What is a “theme” – it is, simply put, the meaning of the story. This year’s anthology theme is “New Beginnings.” Each submission must address this theme in some way: drama, comedy, enlightenment/transcendence. Here are links to helpful tips on writing to a theme both in short stories and essays. 

    While writing a short story or essay or poem with a theme in mind seems intimidating, here are some ways that might inspire you as you weave a thematic message through your work. 

    The Simple Way to Weave a Thematic Message:

    and › writing › themes-short-stories

    “The best works of literary fiction are driven by an overriding theme.” Some famous contemporary authors explain how they write to a theme:

    Here are tips on how to write a theme-based short story:

    Are you writing an essay? Here are links with some tips on crafting an essay with a theme:;


  • 1 Apr 2022 2:10 PM | Leon Lazarus

    For the past two years, I have had the pleasure of serving as the final copyeditor of the 9th and 10th editions of The Guilded Pen. If you are planning to submit a piece to the 11th annual Guilded Pen anthology, be sure to carefully read the requirements, stated below for your easy reference:

    1. The submission must address this year’s theme of New Beginnings. Remember, a theme is the meaning of the story. (Please read the blog post regarding writing to themes for some helpful tips.) There will be no exceptions.
    2. Up to 3 submissions may be entered; however, the aggregate word count may not exceed 3500 in total;
    3. Submissions must be:
      • Double-spaced,
      • Times New Roman, 12-point font,
      • 1-inch margins on all sides, and
      • A word document with .doc or .docx
    4. No headers or footers, no page numeration, author’s name cannot be shown on any of the pages submitted.
    5. The entry must be edited for spelling, punctuation, verb tense and other grammar issues prior to submission. The author understands that further copyediting may take place after submission is accepted.

    As copyeditor, I have little to say about the first two requirements. You, as author, are in control of what you write and how your submissions connect to this year’s theme.

    This blog post addresses items 3 and 4 above. These are items that may seem arbitrary. In this blog post, I hope to make it both easier to accomplish them and give a compelling reason for them.

    And I’ll end with a few notes on the format changes that may be applied to submissions even after you have carefully edited for spelling, punctuation, verb tense, and other grammar issues prior to submission.

    Why must submissions be double-spaced?

    This may be a holdover from when manuscripts were submitted as hundreds of typed or printed pages where the editors needed the extra line to make comments, but it remains the standard of submission requirements even when submitted electronically. We included it in order to familiarize our submitters with what is required when submitting manuscripts to agents, publishers, and contests. It is much easier to read a document with plenty of white space around the words. Double-spacing is an efficient way to introduce enough white space to invite the editors, reviewers, and final copyeditors to read the submission.

    What’s the big deal about Times New Roman and 12-point font?

    According to Lara Willard, editor and story consultant when commenting on formatting your novel manuscript, “The choice of font for your manuscript is one that’s been made for you. You need to use 12 pt. Times New Roman, double-spaced.

    “The size 12 font and double spacing is non-negotiable. The typeface is. Still, after asking dozens of literary agents about their preferences, I urge you to choose Times New Roman.”

    Why 1-inch margins?

    Once again, white space is part of the answer. But in the case of collecting pieces from several authors, the answer is that we need all submissions to have consistent margins all around so the pieces when put together will look unified in format.

    Why does the document need to be in Word?

    The primary reason is for all submissions to be consistent. The tools we use to edit the final versions require documents to be Word documents. In fact, one tool requires the documents to have the docx, not the doc extension. Upgrading the extension is simple, so we will accept documents with either extension.

    But it’s problematic to accept documents in other formats, such as Pages or rtf files. Microsoft Word has become the standard for nearly all computers. Pages is a native file format for Apple Mac products. And a Pages document can be converted to a Word document by using the Export feature. See the screenshot below:

    In the past, we have occasionally received pieces submited as rtf (rich text format) documents. I have not found a way to convert these documents into Word. Instead, I have had to copy the text and then paste it into a blank Word document. We hope submitters will do that work before submitting pieces.

    As for the final item, getting your piece edited before submitting it, don’t be dismayed if the final version isn’t letter-perfect when compared to your carefully edited submission. Changes made to submissions in order to accept them into the anthology are not intended to reflect poorly on the authors. They are for consistency throughout.

    For example, each of you may have a preferred style to emphasize a word, phrase, or even sentences or paragraphs. But the anthology is a new entity, larger than any of the entries in it. Where one author uses underlining for emphasis and another uses ALL CAPS, the individual styles conflict with one another. For uniformity, all changes made to individual submissions are done according to The Chicago Manual of Style.

    Additionally, the final version may change the spelling of a word. For example, two years back, two submissions used the word copilot, but one used a hyphen as in co-pilot. Again, for consistency in the presentation of a professional quality volume, we choose the spelling in Merriam-Webster’s current edition. Words with hyphens in the past are often being combined into a single word, but there is no rule for when this happens. I look up every hyphenated word to see if it is still the preferred version.

    I’m looking forward to receiving the submissions for the 11th anthology. It’s bound to be even better than the earlier ten.

  • 18 Mar 2022 3:38 PM | Leon Lazarus

    You may have received unsolicited emails from a vanity publisher apparently disguised as a literary agent.

    After the initial excitement of seeing an agent in the inbox, it quickly becomes clear that the offer sounds too good to be true. The latest email pitch begins, "One of our book agents scoured the published writers database for prospective authors and recommended you. As a Literary Agency, we're actually looking for book titles to represent."

    Before you pay any money to a shady company and sign away your rights with a seven-year deal, remember, the sales pitch may be misleading or completely false.

    The Better Business Bureau is racking up complaints surrounding this particular "agent" and other similar bait and switch companies, none of which we can name.

    Suffice to say, please be careful out there, do your due diligence, and follow these rules:

    • If they claim to be an agent, check their credentials before you sign anything. You can find most current, working literary agents here:
    • If they ask for any money up front, run!
    • If they suggest a book deal before reading the book, run!
    • If they promise you incredible results that sound too good to be true, run!
  • 12 Mar 2022 3:05 PM | Leon Lazarus

    We invite you to use the SDWEG forums to find your next Read and Critique group.

    To learn all the most important critique group rules, connect with others looking for groups, and find groups looking for members, join the thread on the SDWEG Forums Page.

    A few choice rules

    Here are a few things to consider when looking to grow your own group or find one to join:

    1. You are there to support your fellow writers and help others improve their craft. Start at a place of respect.
    2. Submit your work on time, arrive on time, and stick to your allotted time. Your critique should go to plot, character, pacing, and other important structural elements. Your minor line edits are not worthy of everyone's time, so leave them on the page.
    3. Start and end your feedback on a positive note. Sandwich your negative comments so they go down a little easier. No one loves to find out that their work of genius has imperfections. If you have nothing good to say, decline to comment.
    4. Critique the work and not the writer. If you want to avoid your comments being perceived as destructive, watch your language. When you say something like, "I did not like your," you are calling out the writer. If you say, "I did not like the," you are focusing on the words.
    5. Accept critiques without defending your work. It is a waste of everyone's time and, if you are honest with yourself, you know a reader can only critique the words on the page. Your intentions are irrelevant once the work is submitted. Remember, when that book is opened by a reader, you are not there to tell them what to make of it. Those words stand or fall on their own.
    6. Make sure you are getting what you need from the group. If not, ask. If the group does not oblige, find another group. Don't look for fans and adulation. You want writers who consistently write, and who offer fair, unvarnished feedback.
    7. If the other writers in your group are not better than you, leave. You want a group that will challenge you and make you grow into your craft. You can all still stay friends, but your writing may improve with a different group.

  • 11 Mar 2022 4:07 PM | Leon Lazarus

    What can you say about someone who gives a decade of her busy life in service to a nonprofit? “Thank you” is a good place to start. That’s where I’ll begin with Marcia Buompensiero. Since 2012 she has served on the Board of Directors of the San Diego Writers and Editors Guild, giving her time, energy and creative thinking to that position. 

    Marcia has also filled the role of Treasurer. Based on my experience in nonprofit service, there is no position more important. Without a competent (and honest) treasurer, a nonprofit can lose its recognition by the state or federal government by which it is recognized. It can run adrift financially, spending more than it’s taking in. None of those fears have come close to being a reality during her leadership of our 501(c)(3).

    Longtime members know her service to the Guild doesn’t end there, however. For years she has made possible the signature production of the Guild, the annual Guilded Pen anthology. It’s fair to say that collection of inspiring fiction, nonfiction and poetry might not still be in publication without the dedication of Marcia and her co-editor Rivkah Sleeth.

    Why am I writing this (much-deserved) tribute to Marcia? Due to life circumstances, she is scaling back her volunteer work with the Board. Marcia remains a co-editor of the anthology this year. She has stepped down from her role as Board member and Treasurer, however. True to her dedication to the Guild, she did not do so in a way that left the organization adrift. She has recruited her friend and longtime companion, Rivkah, to step in and assume both roles through the end of 2022.

    Rivkah is another longtime giver to the Guild in so many ways, including past service on the Board. It’s hard to imagine a more capable replacement. I’m grateful to be part of a nonprofit with such dedicated volunteers willing to take on challenging and time-consuming roles.

    The next time you see Marcia, please thank her for her past and continued service. And the next time you cross paths with Rivkah, please extend gratitude to her for stepping in on short notice to ensure the Guild continues to operate in a financially sound and responsible manner.

    Patrick Ross

  • 11 Mar 2022 7:04 AM | Deleted user

    The 2022 in-person Kauai Writers Conference is ON! The dates will be November 7 to 10 for master classes and November 11 to 13 for the conference and one-on-one agent sessions.

    For the last two years, the pandemic forced the postponement of their in-person event. Now at last, the conference will take place.

    Almost all of the classes and faculty scheduled for 2020 and 2021 will be held in November. In addition, they have added several new master classes and some outstanding new authors.

    They have also launched a new version of their website with all the details about the new expanded program. 

    Learn about the in-person 2022 Kauai Writers Conference

    Our devoted faculty pitched in to create a virtual conference experience. This proved so popular that it will continue along with, rather than instead of, the in-person event. You can learn about these weekly online sessions here:

    Learn about the virtual Kauai Writers Conference

  • 4 Mar 2022 1:55 PM | Leon Lazarus

    The San Diego Writers Festival is gearing up for their 4th Annual event starting  October 8.

    This year the festival  will be held both online and in-person. Most of the sessions will be in person at the beautiful Coronado Public Library Performing Arts Campus

    If you would like to present or be on a panel, you can submit for consideration right now. The earlier you submit, the better - but the deadline to submit this year is May 1, 2022.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: The 2022 Festival will only be offering 12 sessions this year so space is extremely limited. Programming announcements will be made by mid-June 2022. If your event is not selected for the 2022 festival, we encourage you to consider submitting again next year or showcasing your work as a sponsor. As a 100% volunteer-run organization, we also hope that you will consider serving as a volunteer.

    Fill out the submission forms here.

  • 25 Feb 2022 4:53 PM | Leon Lazarus

    Reviewed by Penny Paugh

    Written by the award-winning freelance journalist, Mark Stephen Clifton, “The Mayor of O.B.,” taps the author’s personal experience as a surfer, martial arts instructor, and resident of San Diego. The novel gives the reader an in-depth look at the late 1960s surfing and drug culture in northern California and Ocean Beach.

    Clifton brings his journalistic strengths to play and steeps us in the lingo, attitudes, and lifestyles of that time. We are immersed in the drug culture, following Paul and Angelina to San Francisco and back on LSD buying trips, and Captain Alfonso (Al) Marutas with his Mexican cocaine and “crank”. Along the way, we are introduced to cultural icons like Timothy Leary and the Hells Angels. We are also witness to the harm done by LSD.

    The story turns ugly with the death of a surfer, Angela’s disappearance, treachery,  murder accusations, and arrests.

    Can Al forgive his old friend Pops and find inner peace? And might Al intend Pops additional harm? Read Clifton's book to find out, and deeply experience the late 60s culture with its many repercussions.

  • 18 Feb 2022 6:18 PM | Leon Lazarus

    East County Magazine, an award-winning, nonpartisan community news agency, covers San Diego’s inland region. They are looking to hire freelance reporters and also accept volunteers. Reporters are needed to cover East County news including actions by County Supervisors and other public boards, investigative reporting, events, and features.

    In addition, the magazine seeks reviews of books by San Diego area authors who have recently published via a traditional publishing house. They accept reviews of all genres.

    Occasionally, East County Magazine reviews a book by a non-local author if it meets one of these other criteria: the novel is set in San Diego County (such as a mystery in Ramona’s wine country), the topic is of strong local interest (such as border issues, wildfires, etc.), appeals to a large population here (such as our Iraqi Chaldean population or military veterans), a prominent author is stopping in our region on a book tour, or the topic is a high-level topic of national interest such as a presidential election.

    Contact Miriam Raftery at or call (619)698-7617.

  • 18 Feb 2022 2:41 PM | Leon Lazarus

    Here are some points you need to hit in order for your story to WOW the Reviewers and Editors of the SDWEG Anthology.

    1. There is a difference between written and verbal dialogue. Know which to use.
    2. Be sure you understand what POV (point of view) means. Know how to use it.
    3. Can you write a great opening HOOK?
    4. Ensure your main character (protagonist) has a specific need or want that conflicts with their goals or circumstances.
    5. Do not be nice to your protagonist. Make it really hard for them.
    6. Make sure there is growth in your main character(s). Otherwise, it is a boring story.
    7. What is the theme of your story? Try using symbols, motifs, etc. to remind the reader of it.
    8. Don’t spend a lot of time in description unless it furthers the story.
    9. Don’t forget your grammar and formatting skills. These are the foundational elements that could get your piece eliminated immediately.
    10. Make an emotional connection with the reader. What do you want them to feel when they finish reading your story?

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