2016 Anthology named EXPLAIN now available! Writing tips!
Issue 81
December 2016

This Issue

New 2016 Anthology Released!
What's Hot and What's Not
Writing Terminologies
Book Review on House Rules
Competitions, Literary Agents, Writing Jobs
December Trivia Quiz
Points to Ponder
Connect with our CEO




And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt
call his name Jesus: for He shall save
His people from their sins.

Matthew 1:21 

*Art work by Luana Spinetti

New 2016 Anthology Released!

Released just in time for Christmas gift giving -- Creative Writing Institute's 2016 anthology named Explain!

One theme sentence runs throughout all thirty stories... "Explain how that happened." Stories written by contest winners, finalists, invited best-selling authors, contest judges, other guests and Creative Writing Institute staff.

Check it out at


What's Hot and What's Not!
by Kevin Keeney,

One of Writer's Digest's Best 101 Websites for Writers, the award-winning Creativity Portal ( offers articles, advice, tools and interviews for writers, artists, and crafters of all levels.
The navigation of is well thought out, but due to the massive amount of information within, this reviewer is reminded of the novel, The High House, by James Stoddard, where a Victorian house holds infinite worlds within. While most websites reveal information from the top down, the Creativity Portal is like an onion. The main page is the core and it expands outwards.
The main menu bar displays Home, Creativity, Writing, Arts, Prompts, Interviews, Generators, and Collaborate. Each of these menus opens into multiple topics, and some change on the next page, but the bottom navigational bar of the main page expands into a menu with over 50 topics.
The main page is three columns wide and has a pleasing, colorful format. Topics include links to:
  • Rethinking Depression (series)
  • Thought Awareness Training: The First Step (article)
  • The Knockout Nonfiction Book Proposal (article)
  • Habits To Spark Your Creative Genius (series)
  • Write-Brain Writing Exercises
  • Creativity Interviews
  • Magic Crayon Journaling
  The Writing option on the menu bar reveals topics to explore, including:
  • Blogging
  • Collaborative
  • General Writing
  • Poetry
  • Prompts
  • Publishing
The Creativity Portal features a recommended Imagination Prompt Generator. According to the website, this feature started in 2005, and contains writing prompts which are selected by clicking on a button. You click on the button, get a prompt from the database, and start writing. Simplistic technology at its best.
Another feature of the “Prompts” section is 365 Picture Prompts, which displays a different picture each day for a year, and the same pictures will repeat next year. Take a look at the picture, and start writing. If the current picture doesn't spark your imagination, come back tomorrow and check out the next one.
There are about 20 links to other prompts and writing exercises to help you exercise the writer's block demon which resides within.
The General Writing Section of the Creativity Portal offers links to several blogs and resource websites for writers, including:
  • Writer's Digest
  • The Writer Magazine
  • Explore Writing
Likewise, the Poetry section itemizes links to help writers in their craft, including:
  • Text Etc.
  • Poetry Archive
The Creativity Portal is set up to inspire with ideas, exercises, and articles relating to creativity for children and adults. While there are some good points about the website including its appearance and many topics on creativity, the negatives far outweigh the positives.
 Problems encountered include:
  • The organization (or lack thereof) of the site – expanding outwards.
  • The dearth of current information due to the age of the sections.
  • The large amount of topics and subtopics, presented in various ways.
  • Changing navigation bars depending on the page visited.
  • Many broken links.
While it is impressive that Creativity Portal is still listed on Writer's Digest's Best 101 Websites for Writers, one can't help but wonder when Writer's Digest examined it last. We give this a score of 5 out of 10. In our opinion, your time would be better used by searching your item of interest. This site has outdated information and broken links.


Writing Terminologies 
by Michelle Malsbury, Columnist

Christmas is upon us! Let's take this opportunity to study BIblical terminologies. 

Archangels are attendants of God. Keep in mind, angels appear to have divisions of hierarchies and Archangels may be near the top as the Archangel Gabriel told the virgin Mary she would give birth to the Son of God.

Mary and Joseph hailed from Nazareth. Traveling to Bethlehem and finding all the inns full, they took refuge in a stable. Considering the day and age, the stable may have actually been a cave. In these humble surroundings, Mary gave birth to baby Jesus and laid Him in a manger,  which was a container that held feed for livestock.

An angel visited the shepherds and told them the Savior was born. The shepherds and Wise Men found the manger by following a brilliant star.

Magi is another name for the three Wise Men, and while our minds may be busy conjuring three lone figures, these were wealthy men who were likely accompanied by a large group of attendants. Think of a caravan and you will probably have the right idea.

The Wise Men brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Frankincense is an expensive perfume. Myrrh is an aromatic resin, and gold is that beautiful substance that constantly eludes most of us. Thus, the poor family of Mary, Joseph and Jesus became wealthy overnight.

There is evidence that might lead one to believe Christ was actually born in late summer, but the Western Church of Rome selected December 25 as his birth date and called it “Christ’s Mass.” The Eastern Church designated January 6 as Epiphany, meaning “the appearance of.”  Don't try to figure it out. It's apt to give you a headache.

Merry Christmas, one and all.


 Book Review on House Rules
Novel by Jodi Picoult
Reviewed by Karen Johnson, Columnist

House Rules, a 529-page novel by Jodi Picoult, depicts insight, mystery, and challenge.
Emma and Henry Hunt divorced when their children were young. Theo seemed to be a normal, everyday boy who loved to play. The other son, Jacob, grew up with Asperger’s syndrome. His mother, Emma, quit her day job in Washington and devoted her life to his care.  As a result, Theo felt ignored and turned to crime as a teenager.
Jacob, congenitally incapable of reading social cues or proper self-expressions,retreated into a world of forensic science and Crime Buster reruns. With notebook in hand, Jacob played detective while manning a police scanner in his room, often sneaking off to actual crime scenes and offering advice to police.
When Jacob’s social-skills tutor, Jess Ogilvie, was found dead, the police looked for her hot-tempered boyfriend, but the picture changed when Emma Hunt saw the victim’s body wrapped in her son’s favorite quilt on television. The police arrested 18-year old Jacob and charged him with murder.
The hallmark behavior of Asperger’s spoke guilt to the judge and jury. Unable to look anyone in the eye, Jacob sang and twitched during the trial, laughing at inopportune moments. His young inexperienced lawyer, Oliver Bond, offered a poor defense, and prosecutors sought the death penalty. No one knew Jacob's brother, Theo, had a secret that would impact the outcome of the trial.
House Rules is a mystery and a family love story. We recommend this book and rate it seven out of ten stars.



Competitions, Agents, and Jobs

by Michelle Malsbury, Editor

As most of us are preparing for Christmas and New Year’s, entering contests might fall by the wayside. Competition may not be quite as heavy!

  • Flash 500 Competition holds quarterly contests with an upcoming deadline of December 31, 2016. Though an entry fee is required, the prize money reflects the skill required to encapsulate an entire story in just 500 words. Log onto their website at
  • The Colonial Players’ Promising Playwright Competition is open to playwrights who currently reside in any of the original thirteen colonies or Washington D.C. The Colonial Players is a not-for-profit community theater in Annapolis, Maryland. Submit online by December 31. The winner will receive $1,000. Visit their website at
  • Words Magazine is a voluntarily run website for writers and readers of short stories. New and unpublished authors will find a big welcome on this site. Words Mag holds two competitions each year, and the December theme is “Murder.” Maximum length is 2,000 words, due by December 31, 2016. Only email submissions will be accepted. Visit
  • Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror will be an anthology of addiction-themed horror. Grand prize is $500 with the deadline for entries January 1, 2017. Find more information at
  • The Moth Magazine Poetry Competition sponsors the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize, which has established itself as one of the most sought after prizes in the world for a single unpublished poem. One judge chooses four poems and a winner evolves from there. Grand prize is 10,000 pounds or close to $13,000 U.S. dollars. Deadline for entries is December 31, 2016.

Agents: offers a great deal of assistance.

And is another good source.

Loicono Literary Agency in Dallas, TX, is seeking new talent. Johnnie Bernhard prefers queries via email at Her office website it

Jobs: specializes in remote freelance jobs. This organization is a middle man between writers and those who hire them. Part time or full time training is available. Can work 10-40 hours per week in data entry, content writing, social media, survey/opinion writing or as a translator. is another resource for writers seeking writing jobs. Simply register on their home page and then connect with clients seeking your skills. Jobs range from one time affairs to part and possibly full time. seeks writers. Create an account on their home page and then search for a job that fits your skills. Wider range of genres.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


December Trivia Quiz
by Julie Canfield

With the Christmas Spirit upon us, this month’s quiz is centered on one story we have heard about, probably read or watched several times: A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.

Below you will read a dialogue line. See if you can guess which character spoke the words. Interestingly, not all characters have names. They are identified as boy, sister, girl, the nephew, etc. Some names of the characters are given if they make another appearance in the book. Consider that clue a small Christmas gift.

Enjoy your quiz. Mostly, enjoy this blessed season.

1.               “Bah! Humbug!”

2.               “What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You’re rich enough.”

3.               “I wear the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link, and yard by yard: I girded it of my own free will and of my own free will I wear it.” 

4.               “A solitary child, neglected by his friends, is still there.”

5.               “Yo ho my boys! No more work tonight. Christmas Eve, Dick. Christmas, Ebenezer!”

6.               “You have never seen the like of me before!”

7.               “Tonight, if you have aught to teach me, let me profit by it.”

8.               “There are some upon this earth of yours who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all ore kith and kin, as if they had never lived.”

9.               “Sit ye down by the fire, my dear, and have a warm, Lord bless ye.”

10.            “And how did little Tim behave?”

11.            “As good as gold and better.”

12.             “He said that Christmas was a humbug, as I live! He believed it, too.”

13.             “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want.”

14.            “You are about to show me shadows of the things that have not happened, but will happen in the time before us.”

15.             “Am I the man that lay upon the bed?”

16.             “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, the Future. The Spirits of all three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone.”

17.            “Today? Why, Christmas Day!”

18.             “I think he has walked a little slower than he used to these last few evenings,  Mother.” 

19.            “I am very happy. I am very happy.”

20.            “It is only once a year, sir.”


1.               Scrooge

2.               The Nephew (Fred)

3.               Ghost of Marley

4.               Ghost of Christmas Past

5.               Fezziwig

6.               Ghost of Christmas Present

7.               Scrooge

8.               Ghost of Christmas Present

9.               Mrs Cratchit

10.            Mrs Cratchit

11.            Bob Cratchit

12.            Fred

13.            Ghost of Christmas Present

14.            Scrooge

15.            Scrooge

16.            Scrooge

17.            The Boy

18.            Peter

19.            Little Bob

20.            Bob Cratchit


Points to Ponder
by Julie Canfield, Columnist


A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches. Proverbs 22:1

He was made so much better than the angels as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. Hebrews 1:4

And she called his name Moses. She said, “Because I have drawn him out of the water.” Exodus 2:10

For unto us a child is born and unto us a son is given and the government shall be on His shoulders. And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6 Modern English Version

There are multiple scriptures in the Bible dealing with names. In each instance, examples are given as to why the name was chosen or how the person lived up to their name’s meaning. Thus, from the oldest book around, we learn how important names can be.

Parents spend months trying to find suitable names for an unborn child but how long do you spend in finding a good appellation for your characters? Do you choose a name because you like it? Is the name you bestow reflected in actions and behaviors, or does the character exhibit opposite traits from what the reader expects?

Spend time researching the meaning of names as well as the history. For example, when you hear the names Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Princess Buttercup, Lassie, Fonzie, Nancy Drew, Adam, Jacob, Esau, and even Jesus Christ, doesn’t the name provoke an image? Likewise, your characters' names should fit your characters. 

Assign working names as you write the story. Mull over permanent ones as the characters develop unique traits. Speak the names aloud. Note anything that comes to mind. Embracing the challenge of naming your characters well will lend authenticity to your story.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!



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A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.

Proverbs 25:10



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