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Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
March 23, 2018

Tuesday evening at B&N West side

A dozen writers, including new member Deb Cleveland, gathered around the tables to review theworks of six of their colleagues. Here’s some of what was said:

Larry Sommers (chapter 10, untitled novel)
Read from Chapter 10 of my immigrant saga, now tentatively titled The Boat-builder’s Daughter and the Schoolmaster’s Son. Both Jerry and Tracey zeroed in on lack of explanation as to why Maria’s letter home to Norway had to be sent. Jerry wondered how Maria, out in her frontier cabin, would know when it was 4 am and time to get up for her job at the Petersburg Hotel; I didn’t have an immediate answer to that. And there was no setup for the change in personnel staffing that hotel job from Maria to Anne, leading the reader to wonder if it was just a typo. Pat, Tracey and others thought there might be a better way to finesse the difference in identities between the two similar-but- not-the- same Norwegian chambermaids. And there was some general concern about the technique of narrating the most exciting part of the chapter, the confrontation with the slave-catchers, indirectly through the ex-post facto dialog of the participants. Good comments, all. Much to think about.

ALSO: I presented some early portions of my manuscript to the Downtown Rotary Genealogy and Family History Fellowship today at 1:10 pm at the Park Hotel. About a dozen people were there and received it very kindly. It then formed part of a general discussion about the uses of family history and the ways to approach it. Several of those present signed up for e-mail notification when the book is scheduled for publication. It was a lot of fun. Continue Reading »

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Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
March 9, 2018

Welcome home

Nine writers noshed on Thin Mints provided by Tracey, Tuesday evening, while critiquing the works of seven of their colleagues. Here’s some of what was said:

Millie Mader (chapter rewrite, Stone Cold Stripper
Paul Wagner (short story rewrite, “Mad Jack”) . . .
John Schneller (chapter 20, Final Stronghold) – Jerry pointed out several details that were implausible and can be corrected simply. Tracy pointed out that Kotel’s goal has been unclear to her and makes the story one fight after the other without a reason to read on. As the author could not verbalize this clearly in the story or the elevator summary, it provided the impetus to think this through and make it clear.  Valuable at this point!! thanks. 
Kashmira Sheth and Amit Trivedi (chapter 18-19, untitled novel) – Larry wondered if ‘class conflict’ was developing as Kedar is living with to the Maldharies whereas Uma moves in elite circle. John asked why Kedar wants to wait to see Uma. The writers need to explain the cultural aspect of the situation.
Bob Kralapp (short short story, “The Quality of Mercy”) . . .
Tracey Gemmell (chapters 4-6, Accidentally Fine) – The group enjoyed the relationship between Cassie and Isabella. The scene in the clothes shop provided comedic relief from the rage and resentment, while showing the beginnings of Cassie’s transformation. Larry likened the scene to the dressing of a toreador. Tracey needs to be carefully she doesn’t make Cassie too maudlin for too long. John cautioned on making Cassie overly whinny about post-divorce life or she could become unlikeable. Many thanks for all your diligent help. Continue Reading »

Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
February 23, 2018

 

Eleven writers gathered at B&N Westside Tuesday evening to work through three chapters and one short story of their colleagues. Here’s some of what was said:

John Schneller (chapter 19, Final Stronghold) . . . Great suggestions were raised about drooling words, pollinating monstrosities . . . and a few other of my creative word choices. Also, a paragraph was unclear as to who is thinking confused thoughts (other than the reader). The consensus was to end the chapter at the scene break and switch to the second storyline, allowing the reader to question or believe that Kotel has been killed. This will work well as even when the protagonist is found to live through this attack, there are other important characters that are gonna die soon. Thanks for the input.

Mike Austin (chapter 27, Riding with the Reed Gang) . . . Using the first person narrative for Nick, instead of the third person I’ve been using, was received well. John Schneller suggested that if the cook brought food out to “old Willis’s” shack when Nick was hiding behind it, it could add tension to Nick’s situation. Kashmira suggested that the scene where Nick is looking at the stuffed bear is a good place for some introspection for him. Everyone agreed that the scene of Ned rolling Ben into the lake needs to be more clear. I also need to work on giving Nick more of a unique personality so that he doesn’t sound like the earlier character, Edgar. Thanks everyone for all the helpful comments!
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Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
February 9, 2018

 

Welcome home – Pat Edwards, back from wintering in Arizona, and Kashmira Sheth, back from visiting family in India, joined eight of their colleagues to discuss the works of seven members Tuesday evening. Here are some of the thoughts shared:

Millie Mader (poems, “Loss” and “Reflections on Ancient Ephesus”) . . .  I read two poems, but didn’t get much critiquing. Jerry suggested changing a line, which I’m going to do. Trying to get a bit caught up with my short story.

Jack Freiburger (four poems, “Fred Goff”, “Late Snow”, “Memorial Day”, and “Last Hay”) . . . Not a lot of feedback as I’m not sure how comfortable most of the group is editing poetry, but generally positive responses and fewer grammatical errorsfound than usual. Will really try to get on Synopsis of A Walk Upon the Water novel for a month from now.  Will be in CA working on a mobility engineering project for disabled athletes the 20th, plus a few winery tours.
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Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
February 1, 2018

 

And the winner is. . .

Tracey Gemmell!

Novelist Kelly Harms, our writing contest judge, selected Tracey’s “Slip That Collar” as the best of our Fifth Tuesday stories. Kelly extended honorable mentions to Mike Austin for his story, “Dog People,” and Larry Sommers for his story, “Fowl Fortune.”

Tracey wins a critique of the first 50 pages of her novel to be provided by Judge Kelly. She also gets the pot of entry fees with which to take Kelly to dinner. It’s there that the two will talk through Kelly’s critique. Continue Reading »

Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
January 19, 2017

Back at B&N Westside  

Nine of our writers braved the cool to gather around the tables at B&N Westside to look at the work of five of their colleagues. Here is some of what was said during the critiques:

Mike Austin (chapter 26, part 2, Riding with the Reed Gang): The reviews for the second half of chapter 26 were good. I had favorable input on my use of first person POV, and was encouraged to use it throughout the book. Jerry reminded me that a knife does not slash; a person slashes with a knife. Unless, of course, it’s a magical singing knife in a Disney film. But that would seem out of place in a book about bootleggers. Thanks everyone for your comments and insights.

Larry Sommers (chapter 7-8, untitled novel): Tracey and John presented a strong case that the long passages of family backstory and genealogical data need to be severely pruned and information which is really essential conveyed more through action and dialog. Jack and Jerry inquired about various agricultural facts, and both pointed out that the size of the Kinnaird farm made the solitariness of the plowing operation very unlikely. Also, according to Jack, the plowing would more likely have been done by one-horse, one-man units, not two horse teams with two men working them. Thanks to all for these and other insights! Continue Reading »

Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
December 8, 2017

Tuesday evening at the library  

Yes, we were at the Alicia Ashman Branch Library where we again will be on December 19. Ten of us gathered around a real double-table setup. Here’s some of what was said in the critiques:

Millie Mader (short story, rewrite 3, “Stone Cold Stripper): Most of the comments were quite critical, and I’m going to try for another big time rewrite. It’s my first attempt at a short story—except from a hundred years ago at school.

Tracey Gemmell (synopsis rewrite, book blurb, and tag lines, More or Less Annie): It seems there’s been great improvement over the first attempt. Tracey’s humor and writing style now come through in the synopsis. The book blurb is stronger and more entertaining. Minimal editing suggested. Tagline option #3 (“Hold my Pina colada”) was the clear winner with the group. Many thanks for your help.

John Schneller (chapter 17, Final Stronghold): Simplify action, add speech attributions, and modify some word choices. These suggestions along with a discussion of clarity on internal dialogue were the focal points of the Final Stronghold critiques. The need to be consistent trumps the challenge to distinguish internal thoughts from mindspeak.  A bit of work to do on the chapter.
Continue Reading »