Writer’s Mail


Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
June 28, 2016


Critiques from June 21st

Hannah Marshall

Repeating the Folly: Lots of great feedback on this poem; thanks everyone! Jerry noted that the word “stack” implied more cards than would fit inside a book, and Pat questioned some weaker word choices, including the verb “shattered” and the phrase “vinegar taste.” There were some great ideas for other words to use here; in my revisions, I now have “gall.” Spring without Flowers: We discussed some pronoun/antecedent agreement in the first stanza, and Pat asked me to show more in the line about the toddler going swimming.

Millie Mader

Regarding my poem, it was quite well received. A couple suggested that the last sentence could be dropped. It was one of the few I’ve written that doesn’t rhyme.

Judith McNeil

Comments on “Just Visiting” go as follows: Jerry wanted consideration given to having thoughts of the main characters be formal when they are in the non-physical and casual with contractions, etc., when in the physical. Use of the word “corporal” or “corpus” or “corporeal” when referring to characters being “in body” or “out of body”. John suggested removing first sentence of story. Continue Reading »

Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
June 15, 2016


The first word . . .

“I like thinking when I write. I just like having a headache, I guess.” – Sierra Jones, a reporter for the student newspaper at Janesville’s Franklin Middle School, in a story headlined Read (and write) all about it, Janesville (WI) Gazette, June 8, 2016


Who’s up next . . .

June 21: Mike Austin (chapter 4, Before I Leave), Millie Mader (poem), Hannah Marshall (poems), Amit Trivedi (chapter, novel), Judith McNeil (short story, part 2, “Just Visiting”), Nora O’Reilly (chapter 2, Bill McCormick’s Bliss), and Jerry Peterson (short story, “Take My Hand”).

June 28:

July 5: Pat Edwards (???), Randy Slagel (part 2, “Watered-Down Witch”), Amber Boudreau (chapter 3, The Dragoneer), Kashmira Sheth (YA novel, chapters, Journey to Swaraj), John Schneller (chapter 2, Final Stronghold), and Bob Kralapp (short story, part 2, “Wings”).


It happened Tuesday evening, last week . . .

Fourteen first-and-third writers gathered around the tables at B&N Westside. Here’s who was up and the critiques their work received: Continue Reading »

Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
June 1, 2016


Who’s up next . . .

June 7: Lisa McDougal (chapter 1 rewrite, Tebow Family Secret), Pat Edwards (???), Eva May (chapter 4, Duoda), Amber Boudreau (chapter 2, The Dragoneer), Kashmira Sheth (YA novel, chapters 18-19, Journey to Swaraj), John Schneller (???), Nora O’Reilly (synopsis, Bill McCormick’s Bliss), and Bob Kralapp (short story, part 2, “Wings”).

June 14:

June 21: Mike Austin (chapter 4, Before I Leave), Millie Mader (poem), Hannah Marshall (poems), Amit Trivedi (chapter, novel), Judith McNeil (short story, part 2, “Just Visiting”), Nora O’Reilly (chapters 1-7 for background, chapter 8 for critiquing, Bill McCormick’s Bliss), and Jerry Peterson (???).


Fifth Tuesday . . .

A dozen writers and guests gathered at the Goodman Community Center last evening for good food, good fellowship, and good Fifth Tuesday challenge stories, the event hosted by our second-and-fourth group. Look for those stories to be posted to our Yahoo group later in the week.

Now’s the time to block out the date on your calendar for our next Fifth Tuesday. That’s August 30. First-and-third will host.


What authors do you read and what do you read for?

Wisconsin novelist Jane Hamilton was asked that question by Book Browse dot Com. Her answer is instructive: Continue Reading »

Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
May 20, 2016


“Writers aren’t people exactly. Or, if they’re any good, they’re a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald


Notes from May, Week ,  2016

Guest Jane Bailey added to the international flavor of the first-and-third group meeting at B&N Westside. A Britisher visiting her sister here, Jane is a member of two writers groups back in England. She’s writing a novel. If you want to stay in touch, her email address is <janebailey811@btinternet.com>

Hannah Marshall: We looked at three poems. Many had helpful comments on “Neuroblastoma,” including continuing the imagery of hanging/hoisting in the last stanza, working on clarifying who is the speaker, and some smaller word changes. There was also a good discussion on “Looking in a Mirror” about the word choices “religion” and “unbelief.”

Kashmira: Journey to Swaraj. The consensus were that the chapters flowed well with right amount of action and inner thoughts. John pointed out a place where an observation didn’t work well.

Jerry Peterson (2 short stories) . . . For “The Tricksters,” Pat requested a fix for the line that suggests the father of the bride was an abuser, and John Schneller wanted a way for the bride to show the tricks she was playing on her father rather than telling of the tricks. For “How to Cook a Turkey,” several suggested the best way of shaming Mr. Wilson, after he ruins the turkey he had been cooking in a competition with his neighbor, is for the neighbor to invite the Wilsons to bring their Thanksgiving fixings to his house and have dinner with him since his turkey came out of the deep-fat fryer perfectly cooked. Continue Reading »

Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
May 13, 2016


“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.” -Wayne Dyer

Notes from May, Week 2,  2016

Second and fourth sat in a circle at Barnes and Noble and critiqued each other’s work. But even more interesting was “Captain America: Civil War.” Have you seen it? It was fantastic! I saw it twice and I highly recommend everyone go see it. Funny, we don’t have any comic book writers in this group. That’s a shame. I guess. I don’t read comic books; I just watch the movie versions of them. Not even sure if it’s that one word or two separate ones. “Deadpool” was pretty great, too. It’s available on DVD and Blue-Ray.


Other Odds and Ends

Hey, here’s a great read on great opening lines. I highly recommend this read. Thanks, Pat.


Continue Reading »

Writer’s Mail

“I felt her absence. It was like waking up one day with no teeth in your mouth. You wouldn’t need to run to the mirror to know they were gone.” – James Dashner, The Scorch Trials


Notes from May, Week 1,  2016

Apparently there was a meeting this week and I totally spaced it. Luckily, the rest of the group was on their game and provided these notes.

Amber: Pat had to ask if the main character had two arms as only the hair raised on one of them. Most of the group picked up the fact that Moira is of mixed race, half white and half black, but there were two in the group who didn’t get that right away. Shel liked one line in particular. Kashmira missed the previous interaction with Moira’s mother at the beginning of the novel as this is a rewrite and now totally different. The ending was good and made people want to read more (I think.)

Kashmira: Pat pointed out that it slowed down a bit and there was a discussion about how to make one of the scenes more compelling. There were several questions regarding the time period. John wondered about the policeman’s race.

John: The discussion focused on two significant concerns; 1) The motivation of the protagonist that drives him to intercede and take the whipping to protect the smaller child. Is cause necessary, and is this realistic in the tough survival world of an orphanage? 2) What is the world and time period? How can the reader be made aware early enough in the story? The interaction between DinSwiller and the kids was interpreted differently by some. Need to work on clarity in this. This was a great opportunity for me as some were aware of the story while for others it was new. Continue Reading »

Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
April 21, 2016



Last night I attended a presentation by Henry David Huang (Madame Butterfly, Chinglish), who is a Pulitzer nominated and Tony award winning playwright .  He is a brilliant writer and speaker, and enlighten the crowd in a number of ways.  One take away from the talk was about a technique for tapping into the sub-conscience mind where the really good stuff festers.  The technique he learned from Sam Shepard (Top Gun, Steel Magnolias), was to write as fast as you can.  This  technique prevents the conscience mind from constantly criticizing and self editing.  I had to write a one page paper summarizing the talk, so I decided to try the technique.  Before I thought of trying the technique, I stared at the blank page wondering what the hell am I going to write.  Then the idea hit me to try just writing fast.  I quickly blasted through three pages in eight minutes and at the end I was amazed at what I had written.  Of course there were plenty of missed commas and a lack of structural flow, but there was great content that I had recalled from the previous night.  Not sure if anyone has tried this but I found it very useful.


Who’s up next . . .

April 26:

May 3: Pat Edwards (???), Eva Mays (chapter 4, Dhuoda), Bob Kralapp (short story, part 2, “Wings”), Amber Boudreau (???), and Kashmira Sheth (YA novel chapters, Journey to Swaraj), and John Schneller (???).

May 10:

May 17: Mike Austin (chapter, Before I Leave), Millie Mader (poem), Hannah Marshall (poems), Kashmira Sheth (chapters, Journey to Swaraj), Judith McNeil (short story, part 2, “Just Visiting”), Cindi Dyke (chapter 26, North Road), Jerry Peterson (short story, part 2, “Digging in the Dirt”). Continue Reading »


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