Inland Empire Poets

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If you are a poet serious about improving your craft, then the group can provide you with critical readers who love poetry, understand what it takes to write and submit work to criticism because they are writers themselves, but who are also rigorous and precise in their criticisms and suggestions.

The  group meets every Wednesday (except on holidays) beginning at 7 pm and usually meets until 9 pm. The group welcomes all types and levels of poets: beginners and veterans, formalist and free verse, experimental and performance. Currently, the group meets in the outdoor seating area outside the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in downtown Riverside: 3712 Mission Inn Avenue (between Main and Market Streets)

If you wish to workshop your poem, you must bring 12-14 copies of your poem to hand out.

For any additional information check out the workshop homepage at IEpoets

Literature on the Lawn during Arts Walk

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Go check out Literature on the Lawn at the Riverside Downtown Library during Riverside Arts Walk on Thursday, August 6th 2015 at 7:00pm.

Along with this event there will be open galleries and live music throughout downtown Riverside from 6:00pm-9:00pm. Stay and enjoy the night life downtown has to offer after Arts Walk with food and drink specials at most bars and eateries.

You can find more information on this and other events at

Bootcamp for Writers


Riverside Main Library-Downtown

This summer, Inlandia is offering writing workshops for poetry, fiction, memoir and more from 7 to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays at the at the Riverside Public Library, except for the online poetry workshop.

Introduction to Poem-Making: An Online Course with Stephanie Barbe Hammer begins June 12 and lasts six weeks. Letters and Diaries: Bringing Writers and Readers Closer Together with Yi Shun Lai begins July 9 and lasts three weeks. Gateway to Memoir with Minda Reves begins July 30 and runs for four weeks. Crafting the Short Story with Tatyana Branham begins Aug. 27 and runs for four weeks.

Cost runs from $40 to $50 per course.

The library is at 3581 Mission Inn Ave. Riverside.

You can find more information on this and other events at

Oh, I Remember Now! How to use Flashbacks

Flashbacks Done Right

Flashbacks can play pivotal roles in any story, whether it be fiction, nonfiction or a script. So what is flashback in a story? Some folks confuse it with backstory, but the time constraints of a flashback don’t allow us to share too many details. They just allow us to reveal tidbits.

A flashback is a sudden, brief relocation to a previous time and then, just as suddenly, a return to the present story. Flashbacks can hint at backstories, but they aren’t backstories themselves.

Flashbacks are quick. Backstories, because they drag in the baggage of a character or a situation, are longer.

Backstory refers to the characters’ history and other story elements that underlie the situation at the start of the book. Backstory helps to establish the setting and makes the reader care about what happens to the characters.

But be careful: Backstory by definition takes the story backward. Whether you employ flashbacks, character musings and recollections, or passages of exposition to reveal what came before, every instance of backstory stops the novel’s forward momentum, and risks leaving the story dead in the water.

Backstory, when layered effectively, can be a good way to establish setting and provide description. Diverting the readers’ attention away from the here and now allows you to focus on times and places that give deeper insight into a character or a situation.

Do time travel right. A flashback should follow a strong scene. This means that the flashback is never the first scene. It’s not even the second scene following a brief, sketchy, introductory “scene”

Orient us at the start of the flashback in time and space.

Conventions have evolved about using verb tenses to signal both the start and end of flashbacks. “Now we’ve moved back in time” and “Now we’ve left the flashback to rejoin story time,” is the best way to keep your reader from flashback confusion.

Use verb tense conventions to guide your reader in and out of the flashback.

If the story is being told in the past tense, then write the first few verbs of the flashback in the past perfect and the rest in simple past.

If you tell the story-time events in the past tense you’d say “he came back,” “he knew,” “he scanned.” To signal the start of the flashback, you can put the first few verbs in past perfect like “had done,” “had dressed,” “had bought,” “had come. After that tell the rest of the flashback in past tense (“eyes were shut,” “they passed,” etc.). The reason for this is that an entire flashback in past perfect would be cumbersome, especially if it’s very long. When you’re ready to end the flashback, revert to past perfect for the last few verbs. Then use past tense to resume story time.

Framing the Story

A “frame story,” which may be any length from a few thousand words to a long novel, is one which begins after all the action is over. Someone, announces that he is going to tell a story. He may even give the entire outcome of the story ahead of time.

Romeo and Juliet: Prologue

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents’ strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love,
And the continuance of their parents’ rage,
Which, but their children’s end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

Consider this structure carefully before using it for a story. Is there an interesting contrast between a young narrator and their later self? Interesting enough to sacrifice having your reader feel she is experiencing the story as it happens, instead of being told about it after it’s over? If so, try a frame. If not, save your flashbacks for use in the body of the work

Flashbacks Done Wrong

Flashbacks offer many pitfalls. This is because even the best-written flashback carries a built-in disadvantage: It is, by definition, already over. The scene you are detailing in your flashback isn’t happening in story time. It happened sometime earlier, and so we are being given old information. Like old bread, old information is never as fresh or tasty as new bread. The flashback lacks immediacy.

But offsetting this inherent disadvantage are the several advantages a good flashback can bring to a story. It can make plausible a character’s motives, by showing what events in his past compel him to act the way he is now. It can fill in events that show how the story situation reached the exciting state it’s in now. And it can present crucial information that happened so long ago,—years, or even decades, earlier—that there is simply no other way to include it.

Too much, too soon: the line between flashbacks and backstory in the opening pages

Including backstory in the opening pages is the same as saying to the reader, “Wait a minute—hold on. Before I tell you the story, first there’s something about these characters and this situation that you need to know.”

Timing is everything

Managing backstory in a novel is a matter of control. If backstory in a novel’s opening pages is a problem, why do you need to include it? You might not realize that as you begin your novel, you’re not actually writing the story—not yet. Those early pages might look like a novel, but they’re really prep work.

Writing backstory might feel like storytelling, but it isn’t. It’s regurgitating facts, or dolling up aspects of world-building and plugging in what that you already know, in the hopes that it will entertain and enlighten the reader but instead it might have the opposite effect. Less is more. Backstory is like creating a ‘connect-the-dots’ picture—you just need the dots. The reader will draw the lines.”

Ask: does the reader really need to know this fact about the character? Or is this detail something that you find interesting, but isn’t crucial to the story? Will the story fall apart if you withhold this information?

A good opening sets the scene, introduces the characters, and sets the story in motion. What it never does is answer the question, “Why?” Why the characters behave and think as they do, and how they came to this point in the opening are questions that will be answered throughout the book.

If you’ve inadvertently loaded the beginning of your novel with backstory, cut it from the beginning and weave it into the narrative. Fight those backstory battles and use flashbacks like a dash of salt and pepper for flavor— not a dicey chopped onion.


Contents of this article were pulled directly from some of the best writers advice columns to be found at If you would like to read the articles in their entirety please follow the links and enjoy.

How to Weave Backstory Into Your Novel Seamlessly, by Brian Klems of, The Writers Dig

3 Tips for Writing Successful Flashbacks, by Nancy Kress

Mistake 24: Misusing Flashbacks and Memories, by Scott Francis

Also, special thanks to for the beautiful pictures featured in this article.

Hemmingway used a Royal Quiet de Luxe typewriter; I use Scrivener

Several years ago when I first began writing I had no method of organization. Microsoft word was my writing software of choice. I used it to make notes on numerous documents at a time. My open tabs looked like a recycle bin full of yesterday’s newspapers. The bin of newspapers might have been better organized than my times roman scribblings. I couldn’t keep track of drafts and I was always losing research notes. I’ll admit it became extremely aggravating to find the trinket of information I needed months after I already published the document.

Then came my saving grace:  Scrivener-Logo

I discovered Scrivener on the blogs dedicated to the craft of writing I follow. Numerous authors mentioned the writing tool with the exuberance of a paid advertisement, so I paid attention.

Scrivner home

Scrivener’s homepage lists several prestigious awards the program has received. PC World called Scrivener one of the best 100 of 2012. Most of the accolades Scrivener lists on its homepage are from Mac centric organizations. After reading the honorable mentions by Apple loving groups I, being a PC guy, became concerned that Scrivener was a writing program geared mainly for the Mac. Wow, was I wholly wrong—as the 30 day free trial resoundingly demonstrated. Yes, Scrivener comes with a 30 day trial, and no, you don’t have to give them your credit card information right away to reserve the software.

After I downloaded the free trial I opened the program I’ll admit it overwhelmed me. The home screen looks and functions like a cockpit, and like any pilot, you have to take a few flight lessons before takeoff.

Scrivner tutorial

Scrivener provides interactive tutorials that guides you through the first few steps of learning how the various functions work.

Scrivener is intuitive to the point that using Scrivener suggests a writer designed the software, and not a computer programmer with a writer in mind.

Video tutorials are available along with the interactive tutorial, so the people behind the software set you up for easy accessibility from the onset. I was able to understand how to use Scrivener within a few hours and mastered Scrivener within a week.

The organization of the program is clutch. I am a planner; I outline my work. The cork board feature makes for a great way to keep tabs on drafts revisions and notes in a visual way. Scrivener has a place for research notes, links, videos and recordings. It also comes with easy to use templates that you can add pictures to so you can visualize your characters and settings. My favorite feature is the full screen mode which places the curser in the middle of the screen. I turn off spellchecker for a distraction free writing process. With the many tools available on Scrivener it does not detract from the writing process. Scrivener frees up hours I’d otherwise spend searching through notes, drafts and other writing tools.

The only downside to Scrivener is that I can’t save to the cloud. I saw a tutorial on how to save the project on Dropbox for the Mac but the PC is not so easy. I can’t save the entire project in dropbox, what I must do is copy and paste my work into a word doc and save it in dropbox (God bless ctrl+c and ctrl+v). If there is a way to save the project in the cloud on a PC, please message me.

What I foresee happening in the future is for Scrivener to become a monthly platform allowing several people to access the same project at the same time similar to Google Docs real time browser editing features. For authors and writers that can not work together due to distance constraints this feature would be absolutely amazing.

I may be bias. I haven’t used Final Draft or any other writing software, so I am not aware of where Scrivener fits overall into the spectrum of writing programs. Overall, Scrivener is elegant and solid. I would be at a loss if I went back to using my old methods to organize and write or adapting to something else.

The link can be found here for Scrivener’s free 30 day trial as well as a link to the tutorials.

Scrivener Homepage

Scrivener Tutorials


If you have any suggestions or comments, please, fell free to reply. Thank you for your time. I am glad to help, and by all means—write already!

Readings/Open Mic. -Claremont

August 1st, 2015

Saturday 10 – noon


Readings / Open Mic.
Inside the Old Packing House
586 West First Street, Claremont, CA 91711
Please read something you published, or are about to publish. A poem, a opening paragraph, an essay.  Keep it short, 3-4 minute readings. We have room for a few more readers, members have priority, reply to this email , or call 909 525-5559 to reserve your spot.
CWC Meetings: Every 4th Saturday, Ovitt Family Library, Ontario. 10 am to noon
Facilitator, Buddhamouse prompt writers, Claremont. Weekly, every Friday 10:30 – noon