• April is National Poetry Month!

    Prose writers can click here to find one way to honor their poetry fellows. See what Pacific Northwest poets are doing in April here.
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    On 12.01.09, I estimated that I had about 32,000 words left to write to complete my first draft of the opening book in my paranormal mystery series, THE LOST & FOUND.

    Here's my progress updated 2.12.10:

    33% of 32,000 (10,648 wds)
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Change is a-comin’ at Writer’s Rainbow

Public domain image: "Dendritic Cells" by HaymanJ (2008).

Small businesses are microorganisms, growing and stretching and refining themselves.

My work here for Writer’s Rainbow is maturing as well, and I’d like to call attention to a few changes in my services and programming in 2010.

For one thing, I will no longer handle poetry, unless it’s prose poetry and only prose poetry. However, most of the content of my past workshops will remain the same: I’ll still be offering programming for magical realist writers, writing parents, short story writers, bloggers, and those up for the NaNoWriMo challenge.

It’s just the way the offerings are structured and scheduled that will change.

I will be phasing out all copyediting, manuscript review, and manuscript critique as individual services starting in June 2010.  I am still going to work as a developmental editor, but I’m keeping those tasks in conjunction with my platform consulting and coaching services. Platform consulting and coaching are natural counterparts to the developmental editor’s job and it makes better sense for a writer, who wants to invest in an editor, to get the best “bang for their buck.” I also find that I’m a more loyal devotee to my clients’ work when I know I will be part of the larger picture.

Editing, after all, isn’t only about dotting Is and crossing Ts, but about bringing forth the best narrative the author aspires to write.

I am also cutting out my online class lineup in favor of 1:1 mentoring arrangements. It takes a lot of extra time to put together online workshops that function well, primarily because there are time zone issues (as my clients come from all around the world), but also because a class can only work if there’s a good live meeting time and place.

While I’ve been able to structure some of these in the past, they end up being scheduled when I should be sleeping or spending time with my family. However, 1:1 mentorship arrangements guarantee that you, as the client, will get all my attention, and that classes will never be canceled due to shifting enrollments. Future students will find added value in the simplicity of this arrangement.

Along with the shift in my services, I’m revamping the website itself, and there will be some additional changes to the overall scheduling and registration.

Check out the following FAQs to see where things are improving, simplifying, making the process simpler for both client and mentor. Meanwhile, in the coming weeks, I will be highlighting some of the upcoming 1:1 mentorships, coaching opportunities, writing clinics and consulting services starting in June 2010. Make sure and subscribe to this blog so you won’t miss any of the news!

  1. When can I sign up for coaching and/or consulting services?
    With the exception of email-only generative 1:1 workshops and special clinics, all coaching and consulting services now operate on a quarterly basis. This means when you sign up, you are registered for a full quarter (3 months) of services.Winter quarter begins in Dec; Spring quarter begins in March; Summer quarter begins in June; and Fall quarter begins in September.

    You can sign up at any time but you must prepay (or preschedule, in the event you are a repeating client) so that your slot for that quarter will be reserved. 

    Deadline to sign up for Winter quarter is November 15; for Spring quarter, it’s February 15; for Summer quarter, it’s May 15; and for Fall quarter, it’s August 15.

    You must go through the review process before registering (this is where I take a look at your work and see whether we’re a good “match”), so please don’t delay. If you contact me after that deadline, and you want to sign up for that quarter, I’ll see if there are any slots available. Chances are good there won’t be open slots, however, because there are only a limited number of them and they fill up fast (with repeat clients, in particular). If I can’t fit you in for that quarter, we can look to the following quarter to see if there are any spots there.

    Repeat clients will have priority for future quarters, as they are likely to be finishing projects, and I won’t abandon them. But if there are spots available, and I’ve determined we’re a good match, I will fit you in, I promise.

    Keep in mind that if you are interested in a generative writing class, these are handled via email only and they are offered all year and can be started at any time. The special NaNoWriMo session has its own registration deadline as well.

  2. What is a good match?
    Working intimately with another writer’s work demands that I be interested in and excited about their manuscript. I have my favorite genres of writing and I have some dislikes, like anybody else. I’m more likely to take on a manuscript which has a speculative fiction quality to it than I am a manuscript which is a romance story, for instance. Since I don’t read romances, I’m not the best person to help you, as I may not be on top of all the specific “rules” of romance writing.If I think a manuscript is ready for the review of an editor, but I’m not the right person for it, I’ll usually send you a referral, as I know many editors who handle different kinds of work.

    Also, I might turn a manuscript away because it needs more development. I am mostly interested in work that is maturing and needs a careful second set of eyes to bring it to its best potential. Manuscripts riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes are also usually riddled with narrative imbalances, careless POV shifts, faulty dialog, pacing issues and other Big Picture problems, so I will likely reject those manuscripts.

    Developmental editing is not just about mechanics and grooming, it’s a holistic approach to story building. When I work with writers, we work together from the inside out. I can only afford to take on those clients who have put a great deal of care into their work; therefore, I will not work with sloppy writers.

  3. How do I get my worked reviewed for a future arrangement with you?
    I generally ask that an interested writer send me 10 pages of a book-length manuscript with an informal summary of their book so I can get a feel for their goals as well as their writing level. Check with me first to see if I’m even available to review your work, and if I am, please allow 2-3 weeks for me to give your work the most careful review.
  4. Why must I sign up for 3 months’ worth of services?
    Experience shows that it takes, on average, 3 to 12 months for most of my clients to finish a first or successive draft of a novel. I have yet to work with a client who has needed less than 3 months of assistance to get their manuscript into working order.
  5. Why biweekly meetings (versus weekly)?
    Far and away, my past and present clients prefer this schedule because it allows them enough time to complete their work and still allow it to “incubate” before we discuss it. It means the writing process moves along more slowly, but a really good book is never written overnight.
  6. Where do we meet?
    Online. I use Google Talk, as it’s private, free, secure, easy to use, and the notes are instantly transcribed. If you’re not familiar with Google Talk, just let me know and I can take you through a practice run before our first meeting.
  7. Why not meet live? 
    Live meetings are only available if you live in Kitsap County and/or are willing to travel to Bainbridge Island for the meeting, as my rates do not reflect off-island travel time and transportation costs (i.e. ferries, gas).Even then, online meetings are a far more effective solution for both mentor and client as they offer a paper trail of notes and links that can be referred to long after the meeting is over.

    If you really must meet live, we’ll discuss options then, but be aware that such requests will result in higher fees.

  8. Why must the first 3-month session be prepaid in advance? 
    Two answers: my schedule fills up fast, so your prepayment guarantees your time slot, and I don’t have time or energy to chase down unpaid clients. I’m a single owner LLC and my resources are limited.
  9. Do you offer payment plans?
    If you’re a returning client, you can choose prepayment of your next session with a discount, or break your payment into a 50/50 schedule, or go month to month. All first sessions with new clients must be prepaid.
  10. Why is your schedule so specific?
    There is work I need to perform before and after each meeting I have with a client. The schedule helps me to stay on task and give each client the attention they’re paying for.I also have other commitments, as a writer and teacher, and budgeting my time accordingly makes it possible to maintain these commitments.
  11. Why don’t I offer a schedule that includes evening and weekend times?
    I wish I could be available to all people, all the time, but that’s not the reality. I have a family and other interests and I need my own mental health break during these times (which includes not answering email or my business calls on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays). I also sometimes teach on evenings and weekends (this is the nature of adult continuing education). Thanks for your understanding.
  12. Do you have a different schedule in the summer?
    Yes; the summer schedule is a little lighter as I do a lot of my own writing during this time, plus I travel a great deal and spend a lot of my time with my family then. The schedule for the month of December is also decidedly lighter for the same reasons.

Do you have any other questions that haven’t been answered here? Contact me directly at tamara@writersrainbow.com. I’ll be posting these FAQs in a separate page later, should you need to revisit them.


Quick Q&A with Luso-American author Darrell Kastin

I met Darrell Kastin in a previous editorial relationship—I was putting together the “Voyage to the Village” edition of Margin in 2006 and published his story, “Constanca’s War with the Elements,” which is about a woman who sleeps for seven years, prompting her husband’s infidelities and her subsequently “meteorological” reaction. Without realizing it, I loved his story for its ready association to much of the themes of Luso-American magical realism (popularized by writers Katherine Vaz, Frank X. Gaspar, Jose Saramago and Joao de Melo, among others). I had no idea he was of Azorean descent himself, and so I’m thrilled to see that Kastin has published his first novel, The Undiscovered Island, which is set in the Azores and which captures so much of what makes magical realism come alive for me.

QUICK Q&A with Darrell Kastin

WRITER’S RAINBOW: You write both short fiction and novels, among other things. How do you describe the difference between the short story and the novel to a nonwriter in terms of your writing process? Is one easier for you than the other? Is it comparing apples to oranges? Do you prefer one form over the other? What do you prefer as a reader?

DARRELL KASTIN: Short fiction and novels. First, I don’t really see much difference between the writing of either. Except that one takes just this side of forever and the other can be satisfied by demanding a few years from my life.

With a short story I sometimes have only a beginning, sometimes an end, sometimes the entire story. Often I plod along, having no idea where I’m headed until I get there. I am often quite surprised. It’d be akin to moseying along the beach at Santa Cruz and suddenly finding yourself in Texarkana. Strange. How did I get here?

With the novel, I usually know where I’m starting and where I’m headed. I have the ending, but sometimes it’s not exactly the ending I originally had in mind. My second (as yet unpublished) novel, The Accomplice, is a case of this. I was sure I had a perfect ending, but then a couple of new characters came in out of the blue, and as a result I had to change it, slightly, but enough to once again surprise me. Therein lies the fun of it all, never knowing what to expect, or what you’ll find.

Whether I’m writing a short story or a novel my writing process is like dredging up an artifact from a deep murky bog, or better yet chipping away at one encased in some kind of material that has become like rock. I chip away at what is visible, and believe I am seeing the complete artifact hidden beneath. Yet further digging reveals there is more, and more. It is this continual process of digging and bringing up new aspects of the story that for me keeps me guessing, as well as surprised by what I find. But it is also frustrating, in that, like I said, it sometimes takes many years until the entire story or novel is whole. I’ll get ideas after years of working on something, and ask myself, why the hell didn’t I think of this before?

I enjoy novel writing as well as writing short stories. And I enjoy reading both. I’m hard to please when it comes to reading either, but particularly short stories. I want something to happen, but I don’t want to know what will happen; I want characters I can believe in. I like humor, too. There’s nothing like a perfectly wrought short story, like the stories of Miguel Angel Asturias or Twain, or Tommaso Landolfi, Dino Buzzati, John Collier, Shirley Jackson, Saki, Peter S. Beagle or Angela Carter at their best.

The novel, on the other hand, appeals to me for the prolonged journey, the desire to explore a world of the author’s making. It’s got to have what Chandler said makes literature: verve, wit, gusto, music and magic, but it doesn’t have to do it in a mere handful of pages as a short story does. You’ve got more time to pull it off. It’s less exacting work. And it’s easier (at least for me) to forgive lapses, or digressions, etc. The novel seems the most imperfect art form. They’re a dime a dozen, but the perfect ones, the flawless ones, well, how many are there? And plenty of people would disagree with the ones I would pick.

WR: I live on an island (albeit not a tropical one!) and sense there’s something unique about this experience, though I’m not sure I can be objective about it. I’m curious what you think it is, as a writer, about island life that makes it different from life on the mainland?

DK: Yes! There is indeed something quite special about an island. The isolation, the looking seaward. In the case of the Azores, that’s all one can see, except for perhaps another island, which isn’t quite the same as the mainland. I hope in my novel I describe the sensation and thoughts that are generated by living on an island. It certainly makes one feel closer to the sea. And I suspect that it helps awaken one’s imagination, wondering what lies out there.

To my mind there’s always been something magical about an island. That something like that can rise up out of the depths of the sea, molten rock, and that one usually finds fresh water springs, and surrounded by the sea, with always the threat of further eruptions, the thought lingers that perhaps the sea will reclaim what it has given.

WR: The Undiscovered Island is categorically a magical realist novel. You’ve received some monumental praise from one of the world’s best experts on literary magical realism.

“After Ulysses founded Lisbon as legend has it, he sailed off into forbidden waters and landed on the isle that held the fountain of Purgatory as Dante had it. Might this have been the Azores? The Undiscovered Island could confirm the fact, as all of Portuguese history, so legendary as it is, comes to a kind of culmination on these isles. Time is of no avail as its end and passage convene in this novel in what is a romp of detective story, epic, and family quest. What a great read!” ~ Dr. Gregory Rabassa, translator of One Hundred Years of Solitude

What did it feel like to read what Dr. Rabassa said about your book?

DK: I was thrilled! Rabassa?! The man who translated some of the world’s finest Spanish and Portuguese writers? There are few people I admire and respect more. Needless to say I was greatly honored and touched. I still find it hard to believe. His words are far better than any tangible reward I could possibly receive.

WR: The inspiration behind your novel, The Undiscovered Island, comes from your engagement in the cultural history of the Azores where several of your ancestors lived. What sparked your interest in traveling to the Azores? How often do you visit? Who are some of your favorite Azorean authors?

DK: My family held a reunion on the Azores in 1972. My grandmother had retired there a few years earlier, and so my aunts, uncles and cousins all gathered there for the summer. I was fifteen at the time. I felt like I’d stepped back 150 years in time. First off the place was extraordinarily beautiful. And unspoiled. We saw many of the islands, but spent most of our time on Pico and Faial, which were separated by a mere five-mile channel. I saw men on boats heading out to hunt whales, but unlike others who hunted whales these men used hand-held harpoons. I saw (and smelled) the whaling factories. I drank from clear cold mineral spring. I ate cheese, sugar made from beets, and drank coffee––the taste of all of which I still remember to this day. I heard stories about the islands and about our family, which had lived there since around the year 1500. The islands stayed with me. I returned in 1987, and spent 3½ months there. I returned in 2003, and again this last year. If I had my way I’d go back every year, or spend a year there, soaking it up. I’ve always wanted to live there, and hopefully soon will have my wish.

Although I’m far more familiar with brilliant Portuguese authors such as, Luís de Camões, Eça de Queiros, Álvaro do Carvalhal, Fernando Pessoa, Florbela Espanca, Mario de Sá-Carneiro, José Saramago, António Lobo Antunes, and Lídia Jorge, there are some great Azorean writers like João de Melo, Vitorino Nemésio, and Antero de Quental. The Azorean singer/songwriter and filmmaker José Medeiros has been an influence. Luís Bettencourt is another. Then there’s the poet Natália Correia. Both of my grandparents wrote poetry, articles for the newspapers, and plays. The islands are said to be full of poets, so I guess it’s in the blood.

WR: Tell me about your upcoming short story collection.

DK: My short story collection, tentatively titled: The Conjuror & Other Tales of the Azorean Nights, is due to be published in 2011, also by the Center For Portuguese Studies at UMASS Dartmouth. All but two of the stories take place on the Azores. The other two are about characters who have left the islands and gone to the United States to live. A number of the stories have appeared in literary magazines. They are Magic Realism––even the two set in the US. I hope they adequately capture the quirkiness of some of the Azorean characters. It’s hard for me to think of these stories as fantasy, given that they mirror my own experiences, what I saw or heard. They may be of the islands, but I like to believe that these fables or folk tales also in some small way represent glimpses of the world at large. Perhaps only in something lost, or as yet not regained. I can only hope.

Darrell Kastin
||  http://www.darrellkastin.com/index.html
”Constanca’s War with the Elements” || http://www.angelfire.com/wa2/margin/Kastinovich.html
Excerpt from The Undiscovered Island || http://www.darrellkastin.com/novel_excerpt.html
”The Other Realm: Writing about the Azores” || http://ww1.rtp.pt/icmblogs/rtp/comunidades/?k=The-Other-RealmWriting-about-the-Azores-12-By-DARRELL-KASTIN.rtp&post=11924

Registration now open for Winter 2010 online classes!

Due to a busy travel schedule in January 2010, I am not offering classes during his month

February 2010 class 
•WRAIN 500: Silencing the Critic (group strategies for dealing with the inner critic)
In this four-week interactive workshop, you’ll use your time to discuss the inner critic: how it manifests in your life and what to do about it. Participants are expected to join in all 4 live private chats, which I will moderate and direct, and will be given “homework” which essentially assists with behavior modification and awareness of negative self-talk issues.
Starts: February 7, 2010
Registration Deadline:  January 22, 2010

March 2010 class 
•MRC 101A/B: Rabbit’s Hat: (for magical realist writers)
In this four-week online workshop, you’ll use your time generating new work and learning strategies for incorporating literary magical realism into your prose. My aim is to nurture your understanding of literary magical realism so that it becomes a natural and organic direction for your writing.
Starts: March 5, 2010
Registration Deadline:  February 17, 2010

Sign up now before they fill up!

Registration ends Sept 3 for Rabbit’s Hat online creative writing workshop

MRC 101B: Rabbit’s Hat: (for magical realist writers)

This class if perfect for creative writers of magical realism who aren’t currently enrolled in a university program and who are working full-time and need the flexibility of an online course. This generative workshop will teach you strategies for incorporating literary magical realism into your prose. My aim is to nurture your understanding of literary magical realism so that it becomes a natural and organic direction for your writing. Flexible schedule makes this workshop manageable for full-time workers and caregivers. This class is limited to 8 members and will meet with me through a private platform online. There is an orientation period so that participants can familiarize themselves with the platform (which is very easy to use). There is no live chat session for this workshop; the focus for now is to learn by doing; that is, generating new magical realist work and acquiring new tools for honing those skills.

More info

Fall 2009 online workshop schedule completed! Registration now open!

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Here’s a sneak preview of Writer’s Rainbow’s fall lineup of online classes. If you’re interested, sign up soon; class sized are limited and fill up quickly. For more information and to register: https://writersrainbow.wordpress.com/online-teaching/


*Back to School, Back to Writing
Generative workshop for writers returning to the craft after an absence.
Registration Deadline Aug 26

*Blog Content Builder
Three (3-session) blocks of blog-building strategy sessions, to be taken separately or together, for bloggers looking for new ways to generate content.
Registration Deadlines: Sept session, Aug 29
                                                 Oct session, Oct 3
                                                 Nov session, Oct 24

*Rabbit’s Hat
Generative workshop for magical realist writers who are somewhat familiar with literary magical realism or speculative fiction.
Registration Deadline Sept 3

*Silencing the Critic
Live interactive strategies for managing the inner critic, supplemented with handouts from the instructor.
Registration Deadline Sept 13

*Prose Ekphrastika—”Strangeness”
Generative class using Ekphrastic method (writing inspired by works of art).
Registration Deadline Sept 24

*Wet Dog Stories
Revision strategies for short stories up to 2000 words in length.
Registration Deadline Sept 30

*Team Rainbow 2009! National Novel Writing Month clinic
Live online clinic for all writers interested in writing a first draft of a novel between the dates of Nov 1 and Nov 30. Team Rainbow is the code word for success! Supportive team effort makes this difficult challenge much more playful and manageable. Students must be willing to follow National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.org) rules, which include no pre-writing before Nov 1. Instructor offers tips, techniques and encouragement for getting through 30 days of intensive writing. Go Team Rainbow!
Registration Deadline: Oct 5

Registration Open! “Rabbit’s Hat” Online Workshop

MRC 101B: Rabbit’s Hat: (for magical realist writers) Sign up here
Level: intermediate
Duration: Three sessions of generative writing aided by prompts
Format: Online/NonInteractive
Dates:  September 17 through October 1 (Thurs)
Description:In this three-week online workshop, you’ll use your time generating new work and learning strategies for incorporating literary magical realism into your prose. Participants are expected to submit 1-3 new drafts (a total of 3,000 words) for review over the course of this workshop and will receive weekly prompts to get them started. I will offer my feedback on what works, what could be improved, what questions might linger, and how well you were able to capture elements of magical realism. My aim is to nurture your understanding of literary magical realism so that it becomes a natural and organic direction for your writing.
                This class is appropriate for writers who are somewhat familiar with literary magical realism or speculative fiction. My specific focus will be on assisting writers in generating new work that shows a mastery of literary magical realism. Handouts will offer writing strategies and some light supplemental reading. This class is limited to 8 members and will meet with me through a private platform online. There is an orientation period so that participants can familiarize themselves with the platform (which is pretty easy to use). There is no live chat session for this workshop; the focus for now is to learn by doing; that is, generating new magical realist work and acquiring new tools for honing those skills. This workshop will be offered again in February 2010.
Texts/materials: Announced once class is filled
Price/Payment Form:$75; PayPal
Registration Deadline: September 3  Sign up here
Class Min/Max: 4/8
Platform orientation: September 10

Magic Carpet Ride 3: sail through your magical realist manuscript with the help of a pro!

Announcing the third annual Magic Carpet Ride, an innovative one-on-one creative writing mentorship.

The purpose of the Magic Carpet Ride mentorship is to assist a promising magical realist writer from anywhere in the world in the completion of a polished manuscript by the end of the session which can then be actively submitted to potential publishers. This competitive opportunity is the first of its kind to provide specialized instruction, direction, and motivation specifically for a writer of literary magical realism.

This mentorship, valued at $2000*, will be awarded annually, and on a competitive basis, to a single applicant who is able to demonstrate:

• a deep commitment to completing their work in progress

• strong writing skills

• a desire to learn and to succeed

• a good understanding of the magical realist nature of their manuscript

Postmark deadline for receipt of all application materials for the 2010 mentorship session is October 31, 2009.

Email deadline for receipt of all application materials for the 2008 mentorship session is midnight [Pacific time], October 31, 2009.

Full details: