Finding Time to Write

The following is an excerpt from a blog post by author and FWG member, Greg Miller.


Let’s face it. You can’t find time to write. From the moment you drag yourself out of bed in the morning, until you fall back into it in the evening, a daily barrage of interruptions march themselves in front of you demanding your attention. The laundry needs to be washed, folded and put away; the cat needs to be fed, and box cleaned; kids need just about everything, and instantly too. Spouses need direction, and hand holding, everything from what to wear, to what to pick up at the grocery store. You need coffee, food, exercise, a bathroom break, the lawn demands mowing . . . and so on. There’s no time to be found there, so what do you do? Simply put, you MAKE time to write. If it is what you want to do, then put it on your list, and DO IT. Don’t make excuses, just set aside the time, lock the door, grab your taser, sit your butt in a chair and write for some amount of time, and not until you run dry either. If you are like me, writing comes in ebbs and flows; sometimes the urge gets so strong, that it catches me up like a wave, and propels me forward into such a current of creativity that I cannot stop. By all means, ride it until the urge is spent, and the words no longer come.  But — and this is important — you need to force yourself to write a little longer…

Read the rest of this post and see other work by Greg on his blog–Poisoned Cheetos



By: Carla Marvin FWG Co-Founder

I have been writing for a good many years now, the stack of poetry and unfinished novels in my closet will testify to that.  A few friends from high school and college might even remember a good deal of time spent with pen and paper in hand.  It wasn’t until I was in college that I knew I not only wanted to be a writer, but that it is also my calling.  There are many people who go through life not knowing or understanding what their real purpose is. I am one of the lucky ones.  I used to think that I was supposed to be a lawyer, and I would have made a darn good one, too, as stubborn and argumentative as I can be, but as it turns out, I’m just supposed to be me.

Well, you might be asking,who are you? I am a 33 year old wife, mother, and writer.  I have an affection for all things literary.  I love the sight, the feel, and the smell of books–old and new.  I love the atmosphere of a bookstore almost more than any other place.  In this day of digital everything, I still think there are some things that should never go away.  I hope that my child will grow up to enjoy these things as much as I do.  To the surprise of many of my readers, I still enjoy writing with pen and paper.  I have embraced the digital age, though with my Pulse Pen, courtesy of a husband who wishes to save my hands from any further arthritis damage caused by having to type in all those handwritten pages. Writing on the computer is just not the same.  I can sit and stare at a blank screen for ages, but the minute I put pen to paper, ideas begin to flow like rivers.

Other than writing, I enjoy spending time with my family, especially my 3 year old son, reading, crocheting, movies, music, art, exercise, sunshine and fresh air.  I would love to be out and about all the time if I could, just enjoying nature and all that God has given us which showcases the beauty of His work and the wonders of His love.  It is important to include time to stop and smell the flowers when organizing our over-packed daily schedules.


By: Connie Dowell

I’ve been writing since I could hold a pen. My parents used to fold computer paper and staple the edges to make “books” for me to write in. Once the “book” was written and illustrated, my sister served as both my first fan and my first critic.

I moved to Virginia from Georgia in 2010, and I now work as a university writing tutor. My passion for both writing and teaching has led to my interest in children’s literature. I’m currently in rewrites on a middle grade manuscript, but I have plans for future projects ranging from picture books all the way to YA.

The best advice I could give to someone starting to write fiction for the first time is to never stop learning and to write quickly. Keep educating yourself both in the craft of writing and in other areas that interest you. You’ll find that the more you learn the more story ideas you will have. Even the most esoteric subjects–the mating habits of emperor penguins, 18th century teacups, etc.–could work into your writing and create a fantastic scene. Next, write quickly on the first draft so you don’t have time to worry about whether it’s any good. All first drafts are awful, no matter how much time is spent on them. It’s better to accept that and plan to spend plenty of time on revision.

But there’s another benefit to writing quickly. When you’re sailing though your story and the pages are piling up, it’s more fun! You can immerse yourself in your plot and characters and settings. Whizzing through that first draft, you disappear into story world for a while, just like you would when reading a good novel. When you type the last word, hit save, and finally emerge from your work, you’ll feel satisfied, having experienced the story fully.

Connie joined FWG in 2010. She consistently brings well-researched information to the table. Her stories and writing style are unique, lively, and entertaining. I always enjoy reading her material. She is going places and we certainly hope to be a stepping stone that she will not forget when she’s famous! 🙂

Carla Marvin-FWG Co-Founder

Calling to Write

By:  Caroline Woodward

The calling to write has gnawed at me from a young age and continues to bite at me harder with every year that passes. It’s an incessant drive that doesn’t go away. It’s been there ever since I discovered my fascination and great appreciation for books, papers, and pens. Growing up on the island of Hawaii I can remember asking my mother to please buy me yellow pads of paper and pens. On the misty shores of Monterey, California I can remember attending school and loosing myself in the stories of dinosaurs and the creepy Bloody Mary. Rambling my way through Texas I can remember late evening hours spent in the library discovering amazing books that kept me from phoning home and thus worrying my mother. In the rolling hills of Virginia, pure happiness was my father buying me a book, reading it, collecting it, and then doing it all over again!

When the time came to waive goodbye to the greenery of Virginia as I entered on my path towards young adulthood this calling to write would remain ever present but dormant.  Always lying in wait with the fears of youth, the insecurities, and the practicalities of life. Time was on my side and I could always come back to it and wait for a better occasion. Something always got in the way and something always took precedence above it. But there it stood never wavering and always hovering close enough for me to feel it as I traveled through the joys of love, happiness, and sunny smiles. Then, there it would be to nuzzle closer to me like a true friend during the passing moments of young adult disappointments, loneliness, and loss.

Now I find myself back in these green hills of Virginia, in the midst of those spring and summer rainstorms that spawn creativity, with life’s constant oppression of practicalities still hanging over me like a noose.   I have returned full circle to settle and have come to the realization, with some bitterness, that there was never ever going to be a right time. That throughout the years this calling to write remained patient and mild mannered as time was always there.  But somewhere along the way when the hard realization ousted itself, it morphed into a complex, angry, and full-blown entity that shouts at me, “YOU MUST WRITE”!

Daily and with constant messages I feel guilty when I can’t write. I really want to and time is so precious to me that I now I ask myself do I want another year of this? The nudges and the urges are no longer nice,  but instead hard shoves for me to get in the middle of it. Get in the trenches and encase myself into this new exciting world of writing, transformed now with all of the delights of technology. E-publishing and social networks are a long way from the old days of paper and pen and handwritten letter submissions to writing contests. I find myself accepting of this fact and embrace it by learning all I can about this new techie advanced writing world. I can always see the inspirations and serendipitous writing moments everywhere  The only difference now is that I’m no longer dabbling in the delights but instead I’m more conscious of it than ever before and realize I should not have let this calling to write go on for so long. Write away I go!

Caroline joined FWG in early 2010. She is truly a blessing to be around; her sense of humor and love of life are both infectious. Her hard work and dedication are truly admirable. Her writing never fails to please. Best of luck to Caroline as she answers that call to write!

Carla Marvin–FWG Co-Founder

Hello World

By: Andrew Faltum

I’m a native of Chicago and I guess you could say that, in the words of Mae West, “I’ve seen places and been things.” I was a cop, a naval intelligence officer, a civil servant and a defense contractor. Right now, I like to consider myself unemployed, although I have two retirement paychecks coming in from my Navy reserve and civil service careers, so things aren’t too bad. I have always considered myself a writer, among other things, and have had two non-fiction books on aircraft carriers published. I am currently working on a third for the same publisher, Nautical & Aviation, but would like to branch out into other areas, like short stories and novels. My other interests include running, cooking, home improvement projects and military, naval and aviation history. The Fredericksburg Writers Group has been informative and inspiring and I look forward to launching into other areas with my writing.

Published works include:      The Essex Aircraft Carriers ; The Independence Light Aircraft Carriers

Andy has been a member of the Fredericksburg Writers Group since 2010. His contributions to the group are always fun and enlightening. He brings a great sense of humor to the table, along with invaluable knowledge of research tactics developed through his years of experience. I look forward to seeing what develops when he delves into the world of fiction.

Carla Marvin–FWG Co-Founder


By: Greg Miller

I grew up in the cornfields of west-central Illinois – let me amend that to say that I was not born in and raised by feral cats in a cornfield, but rather I “came of age” in the land that opportunity forgot.  In reality, I was born in Oklahoma, the land where opportunity escaped before coming to Illinois, where it was ceremoniously caned, and kicked before being chased out of the state.  So as you can see, pursuing lost causes was already in my future.

That said, I roamed the rectangular city blocks of Galesburg, Illinois, in my wayward youth, attempting to live out the American dream in a paved-over swamp in the cornfields, with double digit unemployment, and the smell of hog poo that hovered in the air like a warm blanket of fecal love.  By the time I graduated from High School, I’d determined that my goal in life was to live somewhere else – anywhere else – and preferably, as far away as I could get.  I joined the Army Reserves so I could earn substandard pay, while defending my country from the Nicaraguan and Grenadian Communists. To add adventure to my life, I married and moved to Hawaii, where warm summer breezes blew through our overpriced condo, and lizards and flying roaches infested our kitchen at night.

While dodging slurred threats of drunk, Hawaiian policemen at the liquor store where I worked(which no longer exists), I studied computers at Hawaii Loa College (which also no longer exists), before moving to Fredericksburg, VA to study computers (which now exist only in landfills or museums).  From there I worked at Orion Enterprises for 22 years as an IT administrator until my job passed into non-existence, after the funding that supported the company disappeared as well.  Now I am self-employed, meaning I am my own terrible boss (since I refuse to pay myself, and make daily outrageous demands on my time and efforts – Do that laundry! Make me a sandwich!), while pursuing a writing career that has promise, but has not paid.  Yet hope, like my allergies, springs eternal, and I strive to stay off the train-tracks of the non-existence train and continue to improve as a writer.

That said, I have always been a fan of fantasy fiction, having analyzed the greats (Lewis and Tolkien) as well as more contemporary (Brooks, LeGuin, etc.) authors and look to be published this year (2012) in some way, shape or form.  Likewise, I am blogging on a fairly consistent basis, to keep my writing skills sharp as well as to stay engaged with the Fredericksburg Writer’s Group.  I live in Fredericksburg with my exceedingly patient and tolerant wife and two cute but terribly rotten children.

Greg has been a member of FWG since 2010. We have all enjoyed and benefited from his contributions to discussions, suggestions for assignments and group improvement. Greg’s blog Poisoned Cheetos is a delight to read.  I am so proud of Greg for his continued dedication to his writing, and for completing his long-awaited manuscript this year!

Myself, and FWG wish you the best, Greg as you journey into the world of agents and publishers!

Carla Marvin–FWG Co-Founder

An Introduction


By: Chris Jones

Chris Jones grew up in rural Fauquier County, Virginia. A year after completing high school, he began to pursue a degree in Education. While enrolled at Lord Fairfax Community College, he found a kindred spirit in his Art History professor, Laurie Marshall. Under her guidance, he decided to pursue an entirely different field of study.  After switching to Visual Communications, he later transferred his talents to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, graduating in 1998.

No matter what career Chris took on, his love for writing was always apparent.  In 2001, he won two Virginia Press Association Awards.   This earned him the position of Sports Editor for the Culpeper Star-Exponent that same year. His writing has since appeared in several newspapers and small publications, including:  Culpeper Star-Exponent, the Fauquier Times-Democrat, The Fredericksburg Parent, Piedmont Family Magazine, The Daily Progress (Charlottesville, VA), the Opelika-Auburn News, The Community Connection and Prince William Business.  Chris was also a contributing writer for the book As for Me & My House 2. Chris currently works as the Editor of the Fredericksburg Parent and Family Magazine and he maintains a blog about downtown life called “Pedestrian’s Guide to Fredericksburg”.

Chris lives in Fredericksburg with his wife, Elizabeth, and their children.


A huge thank you to Chris Jones for volunteering to be our very first featured blogger!  As a new member to FWG (early 2012), Chris is never shy, always willing to ask questions, offer advice, and jump right in to participate where asked.  I look forward to getting to know him better and seeing how his writing career blossoms.

Carla Marvin–FWG Co-Founder