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Posts Tagged ‘Nathan Bransford’

Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Week of April 8, 2014

April editor . . .
Andy Pfeiffer is Writers Mail editor for this month. Got news or got feature stuff or something you’ve found on the net that will help writers? Send it to Andy.

Minutes from Tuesday . . .
We had a good turnout Tuesday at the bookstore and welcomed guest Hanna Ruoho. Kristin Oakley had printed copies of her novel, Carpe Diem, Illinois, in hand, and we had a lively discussion about the Writer’s Institute recently held through the UW Extension. Kristin and Holly have promised to write up some words of wisdom for future newsletters.

Diving into the critiques we started with Katelin Cummin’s short piece, “Treasure.” Kristin felt there was some confusion regarding the point of view of the main character – had she experienced date rape or a one night stand? Terry did point out that the woman might be confusing the two in her own mind simply because the concept of rape is too much to bear. Deb, however, points out that Richard very specifically says this is happening because she didn’t say “yes.” In order to strengthen the story within such a tight word count, Holly suggested culling out many of the actions – only leave in those that are most important. Andy felt the opening was very effective and the reader didn’t need much more information about what was going on. Carol was looking for a stronger punch at the end.

Ruth Imhoff read a new chapter of Motto of the Hound. Katelin liked the description of the shop and Holly loved the charms. Terry suggested dropping a charm in his pocket. The character’s name, Blackfan, is used an awful lot, though, and the word “light” pops up quite often, too (which is a bit odd, considering how dark the shop is). Holly pointed out a few cliches, and there was confusion regarding how Blackfan knew there was someone in the basement. Maybe a sound tips him off? Move the swinging lightbulb earlier in the scene – that would help, too.

Carol Hornung brought in a scene from Ghost of Heffron College. Terry felt that Kyle should be more interested in finding out what Travis said to Autumn. Holly felt Autumn gave up too quickly with her accusations against Kyle. Kristin pointed out that she’s accusing him of something, but what, specifically? Could be more there. Hanna said the line referring to Kyle as being “nothing special” kind of clashes with reality – he does stand out from others. Kristin wondered about the internal monolog – would a guy really think this much about what’s going on as the conversation is happening? Andy, representing the Y chromosome at the meeting, suggested that yes, a reasonably introspective guy – perhaps a timid one, too – would be thinking a lot in this way.

-Thanks Carol for the notes (more…)

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Writer’s Mail
March 21, 2014

First and Third Meeting March 18, 2014 at Barnes and Noble
A small group yesterday evening, only nine of us. Jerry was out of town, so Pat Edwards facilitated.

Lisa McDougal read from Tebow Family Secret, Chapter 14. The group liked the twist at the end where Jessica suggests to Adam that he contact Glenn to see if he can uncover Izzy’s trail. Andy thought the twist make the chapter awesome.

Kashmira Sheth and Amit Trivedi read from the second chapter of their novel. They had not been able to upload the chapter for the group to read whole thing. So when they get it up, we can read the whole chapter. From the part they read, the group liked the tensions, with descriptions that gave a feeling of “being there, at the time when India was going through political dissent.

Bob Kralapp read from The Hole In The Wall, Part 2. The group wanted more than two pages into this chapter, feeling that it was more of a teaser than a whole chapter. Lisa wondered if Alice wouldn’t have been more cautious than to go into basement unaccompanied, considering the previous night’s experience. Pat suggested that she might want to keep some of information to herself. Since Alice’s actions show that she does not want to tell Gary about the previous night’s actions, and Gary doesn’t seem to “pick up” on any of her body language, Kashmira asked about the length of their marriage. Bob said they were together only two years. She felt that Alice would give away enough with her body language considering the previous night’s events. The group asked Bob about the length of his piece and he said it would be long short story around 30 pages or so. The group was a bit surprised at the couple’s age—in their 20’s. Suggested that some information indicate their age. (more…)

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Writer’s Mail
February 6, 2014


“The greatest rules of dramatic writing are conflict, conflict, conflict.”
– James Frey

Notes from 2/4/2014

A dozen of us gather round the tables at the old B&N.

Lisa reads from Chapter Eleven of Tebow’s Family Secret. Pat thought the dialogue flowed and that it was a good chapter. She wondered about what was served at the restaurant the characters visited, but Lisa explains it’s a ‘fusion’ joint. Judith reread some chapters and thinks things are converging. Andy wondered why a character would find a joke about their daughter funny instead of disgusting. Pat thought the ending was very compelling. Jerry thought one character was very laid-back about his mother getting out of prison. Kashmira thought Lisa could add a smell or some description to the restaurant scene.

Cindi reads from Chapter Five of North Road. Millie could relate to the story. Andy initially thought Chapter two was a bit of an info dump, with no dialogue, but the twist at the end hooked him. Amber thought there could be a little more shorthand between sisters in the section that was read to the group. Pat thought she could cut quite a bit out of these chapters and get right into the meat of the story, the part that has emotional resonance. Bob gets the value of telling a story slowly and methodically, but it does bog it down in places. Bob also likes the characters but doesn’t think she needs to hold the reader’s hands.

Bob reads from his short story Hole in the Wall. Lisa was confused about a character who gets introduced. Pat liked the tone though she doesn’t like scary stories. Lisa thought it was too light and didn’t think a lot happened. Some thought it could be ominous. Jerry has a question about geography and if the hole has been taken out yet. Cindi and Pat thought it was very visual, which was great. (more…)

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Writer’s Mail
January 3, 2014

“Sometimes you don’t just want to risk making mistakes; you actually want to make them – if only to give you something clear and detailed to fix.” – Daniel Dennett – Intuition Pumps And Other Tools for Thinking

Who’s up next . . . weather permitting!
January 7: Lisa McDougal (chapter 11, Tebow Family Secret), Cindi Dyke (chapter 2, North Road), Millie Mader (chapter 50, Life on Hold), Ruth Imhoff (chapter, Motto of the Hound), Bob Kralapp (???), and Jerry Peterson (chapters 22-23, Capitol Crimes) . . . *Meet at Barnes & Noble Westside at our regular time of 7 p.m.

January 14: Karen Zethmayr (page of pop-up book instructions), Holly Bonnicksen-Jones (chapter 6, Coming Up For Air), Deb Kellerman (chapter 3 of recent work), Carol Hornung (chapter, Ghost of Heffron College), and Ryan Wagner (poems)… *Meet at Barnes & Noble Westside.

January 21: Amber Boudreau (chapter 28, Noble), Andy Pfeiffer (chapter, The Void), Kashmira Sheth & Amit Trivedi (???), Pat Edwards (???), Judith McNeil (chapter 8, My Mother, Savior of Men), and Jerry Peterson (chapters 24-26, Capitol Crimes).

TWS alum publishes (more…)

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Writer’s Mail
October 31, 2013

“First drafts are for learning what your novel or story is about.” – Bernard Malamud

Notes from 10/29/2013
Lisa reads from Chapter Seven of The Tebow Family Secret. Pat was confused as to why one character’s friend was there and how she got in. Andy liked the content of the chapter but he had a question about the wedding and what the dance was for. Jerry says this is a talking scene, which makes it a sleeper unless there’s something physical going on. Pat says there’s a lot of information and some tension, which is good, but there could be more. Jerry didn’t think the scene in the bleachers was believable partly because he didn’t think the bleachers are a place to discuss medical diagnosis. Andy felt the word ‘just’ was overused.

Pat shares her poem Instruments of Flight. Judith loved it. Lisa really liked it. Andy liked that every stanza was different. Bob liked there was a nice establishment and at the end it felt a little up in the air, no pun intended. The mystery almost overshadows the poem itself for Bob. (more…)

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Writer’s Mail
9-04-31

September 3rd Meeting for 1st and 3rd Group
Lisa McDougal read from chapter 6 from Tebow Family Secret. Ruth commented that the dialogue was great and that the story flowed. Betsy found Adam’s discussion of the details surrounding his wife’s disappearance intriguing. Jerry commented that the reference that Jessica makes about her New Jersey accent needs to be spelled out so that the reader can “hear” it. He also suggested that the beginning of the chapter could be shortened. Lisa said that she didn’t like the ending of the chapter. Betsy suggested that she cut the last line. The rest of the group made suggestions that Jessica could just shrug, not making any response to Adam’s abrupt order to refrain from bringing up his wife’s disappearance in the future. Judith suggested that Jessica could just change the subject. Amber suggested that she could bring up something that happened earlier in the chapter.

Millie Mader read chapter 46 from Life On Hold . Andy and Lisa both felt that Scot’s last comment saying he wouldn’t be coming home for Christmas, could be more compelling if he gives the reason. Jerry suggested that Scot could say “That is going to be a problem”. There was also a discussion as to whether chemo was given as a shot or a drip at the time. Millie said it would be a drip and that shots of other medication were also administered. Andy mentioned that the conversation at the end between Erin and Dolly should have a smoother transition between discussion on Danny’s overdose and their anticipation about going back to school.

Ruth Imhoff read chapter 4 from Motto of the Hound. Jerry commented that FBI Agent Williams would need to get permission from the local police to do anything on the case. Ruth explained that Agent Williams is the “bad” guy. The group asked Ruth about Blackfan’s strange reaction after the phone conversation with Agent Williams. She explained that Williams uses hypnotic suggestions to influence the behavior of people who may disagree with him. The other question raised by the group was the reason Blackfan was unaware that Simon, who has been his partner of five years, was formerly an FBI agent. Jerry suggested that Blackfan should question Simon more about her that. (more…)

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Writer’s Mail
Tuesday With Story
August 20, 2013

“I love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork.” – Peter DeVries

Tuesday at Barnes & Noble . . . (thank you, Amber)
Lisa shares chapter five of Tebo’s Family Secret. Jerry asks where the manor house is because for a place to have its own zip code, it has to be huge. Pat was surprised by the intensity of some of the chapter, comparing it to Dynasty. Millie requests a synopsis. To Pat it seems really a lot and very violent. Jerry agreed the scene seemed out of place. Pat wonders why the character’s family doesn’t make up a story for her. Jerry expected that character to get fed up and leave. Pat liked the dialogue, though it was out of character for her. Lisa is concerned that she is not giving the reader enough information and says that she may end up scrapping the chapter altogether. Jerry suggests cutting some of the dialogue about hair color and styles.

Andy shares a second set of scenes from Pilleum. Millie wonders where this takes place. Andy wonders what we think of the villain. We all agree that he is unlikable. Pat doesn’t think of him as a villain yet, just an irritating bureaucrat and found the motives of one of the characters unclear. She suggests giving the characters something to do.

Bob shares a couple of poems with the group. Judith liked the second part of Last Snowfall of the Season where he describes a bird without calling it a bird. Pat found some really nice word images. In October Shower, Jerry had a question about the first arc – he never envisioned the sky as an arc. Judith suggested swapping out one of his uses of the word “pavement” as they follow one another closely. (more…)

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Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays With Story
August 6, 2013

“You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” – Jodi Picoult

Tuesday at Barnes & Noble…thanks Amber
Carol from 2nd and 4th visits with the group and shares her experience self-publishing her novel Asperger Sunset; overall, positive. Jerry and Amber bought their copies right then and there. Lisa has purchased it on Kindle (no signed copy for her.)

Lisa shares a chapter from Tebow Family Secret. Jerry wonders about there being wine in the library after Adam gives his speech. Alicia liked it and found one of the character in particular bold. Pat thought that three minutes of applause after the speech was too much and suggested that Lisa should go home and try clapping for three minutes because that’s a long time. She was disappointed when one of the characters offered another an internship after being so adamant about not starting a relationship with the person he is offering the job to. Judith got that the character was fighting his feelings, but Lisa thought she could beef that part up. Pat wondered if she could replace a reference to a real celebrity with the words, ‘movie star.’

Then Lisa shares her poem, Choir Practice at the Pool Hall with the group. Pat gives a shout out to Gwendolyn Brooks. (more…)

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Writer’s Mail
6/18/13

Spending an evening surrounded by zombie dinosaurs was the First and Third group of Tuesdays with Story. All regulars for once.

To open the evening, Pat read Lisa’s published poem, marking 11 years since her father Greg had passed (6/19/02). This was received as very powerful, rendering many people speechless.

Millie Mader read from Chapter 45 of Life on Hold. Pat mentioned that Brad’s pun about blowjobs would warrant a gasp before a laugh. Jerry asked how drunk Danny was given the way he was described. Alicia wanted more dialogue in that scene to trick the modern reader, and Andy thought it happened too fast. Alicia and Pat both wanted more Erin in the scene with Danny, as she is the protagonist. Jerry expected Danny to fling the cake at Shireen or Brad, only for Erin to take the hit, and thought that would be a good way to factor her in. Pat also wanted Millie to remove trite clichés from early in this chapter.

Aaron Boehm read from the opening scenes of “Mesozoic Mall,” a short film screenplay. Millie liked it better than Whole Again. Pat praised the quick character development, and was intrigued to know what would be different from other films later on. Andy liked it, but said that the names “James” and “Jamie” were too similar and could confuse viewers. Amber said that some pieces of dialogue seemed too precocious for twelve-year-olds. She also wondered how the T-Rex had an eye, and Aaron said that it was a ghost inhabiting the skeleton and that he would need to clarify that. Amber and Alicia both questioned why a $6 million, museum-quality exhibit would be in a mall with such minimal security. After comments from Ruth, Amber suggested a zombie dinosaur that looked normal in the dark. Alicia complimented the character of Kim as well.

Alicia Connolly-Lohr presented the first chapter of a new young adult novel Coastie Girl. The story was well-liked overall. Pat praised the imagery, but wondered about Kate being precocious given how eloquent she was for a 13-year-old. She also wished that unnecessary details, like descriptions of Chicago, were more condensed and less distracting. Andy mentioned that the timeline was confusing, and that it seemed like too many events were being clumped together and that young adult readers would be lost. Amber said that the military funeral really resonated with her. Jen mentioned confusion between “Dad” and “my dad” and wondered when they should be capitalized. Jerry mentioned that “Coastie” versus “Coasty” needed to be more consistent. (more…)

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Tuesdays with Story
Newsletter for 6/4/2013

Firstly, Millie read her poem, “Apocalypse to Armageddon” to the group. Lisa noted that four, not six, people died in the Benghazi attack. Alicia said that “apocalypse” and “Armageddon” were very similar words. Pat asked Millie if she really believed her stance – Millie said she did, and Andy agreed. Alicia mentioned the Biblical undertones. Betsy mentioned the ending mentions that people should work on this problem, which was meaningful. Pat praised Millie’s imagery. Ruth said the line “Masses are maimed…” was clunky comparatively to the others; Andy questioned the rhythm of “Voices plead for…” as well. The rhyme of the poem was discussed, and it was agreed that the split rhyme was a good idea, and that rhyme is not passé.

Lisa presented Chapter 2 from The Tebow Family Secret. Betsy felt the story was compelling. Lisa thanked Alicia for mentioning that it felt like Adam was inside the building, and how London versus New York was confusing. Betsy mentioned a few rhythmic issues. Pat enjoyed Lisa’s dialogue and characters, but criticized the use of “concrete jungle” in a dream state. The obviousness of Izzy and Ana being the same person was discussed, and Alicia pointed out that the only reason why another story about 9/11 would come up was because they were related. Jerry mentioned that ten years was a long time for someone to still worry about their missing loved one; Andy mentioned the missing girls found in Ohio was a similar case. Everyone echoed that it was a strong piece, and a question arose: Who was first, Ana or Izzy?

Next was Betsy‘s conceptualization of “Alice’s Book,” which she said was a fictionalization of her mother’s life. She mentioned that she is using her mother’s diary as notes. She asked about the title; “The Locust’s Song” and “Cicada’s Song” were liked, and Andy suggested “The Autobiography of Alice Burke.” The preface was considered strong. The discussion shifted to fact versus fiction – what in this book will be based upon Betsy’s mother, and what will she make up? (more…)

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