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Writer’s Mail

Tuesdays with Story
February 16, 2021

The first word . . .

Whatever you’re writing today do it with the confidence of a four year old in a batman T-shirt. 

Tuesday’s With Parkas . . .

Some members of our group proved they are mere mortals this week, succumbing to illness or household calamities. Subzero weather outdoors, Covid lurking in nooks and crannies, the rest of us gathered via zoom. Here is some of what was said:

Kashmira Sheth   Kashmira will present her chapters next week as she got knocked down by her Covid vaccine booster. Fortunately she reported doing considerably better on Wednesday.

— Amit Trivedi (Poem: When I Think of You Now I Smile) . . . Poem received mixed reviews. Jack felt it did not make much sense whereas Larry felt it was simple but complex. John and Jerry mentioned a few words changes and suggested rewriting a sentence. 

Bob Kralap (Poem: Everbearing) . . . The poem “Everbearing” got a mixed reception. Jerry liked it, especially the line about a morning that hums with bees. Although Larry liked its rhythm and sensibility, he was uncertain, because of details relating to weather, whether it was set in early summer or late. Jack focused on line breaks, as well as the imagery used. 

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Writer’s Mail

Tuesdays with Story
February 2, 2021

The first word . . . Panegyric

Some of us don’t use the word blessed much anymore. Maybe too complicated, used by some, misused by others.

But I’ll use it anyway:  Tuesday with Story has been blessed to have Jerry Peterson as its leader/administrator/guru/guide/inspiration/add your own panegyric, for the last God knows how many years. 

Author of at least six novels and novellas and as many short story collections, and according to him, a suitcase full of early rejection letters, Jerry gives hope to all of us who envision invitations to book fairs once our successful book is published.  He’s been our under spoken friend, mentor, and guide.  Some of the success obtained by the published authors in the group, and those authors who have left for England or ceased attending due to age, must be attributed to Jerry.

The life of TWS has been usually friction free for the two decades or so that I have attended.  We offer each other critiques without criticism, stretch from our own literary venues into the strange worlds others are creating, to participate and email endless notes of advice and encouragement to one another.  That too is a reflection of our leader.

So define blessed:  VENERATED:  Not yet, he’s still too young.   HALLOWED: Close, but it would be an overstatement that Jerry would edit out.  OF ENJOYING HAPPINESS:  That’s a good one.   Despite our endless wrestling with words, the community Jerry has formed and fostered with TWS provides the joy of solidarity and mutual support.  We are a bit like the fraternal organizations that once dotted all Wisconsin towns, local clubs and organizations with some sort of general goal that brought together men and women of disparate employment, culture and age to form a supportive community, providing not only some attainment, but also the pleasure of each other’s company.

For the joy we need to thank Jerry, blessed as we have been by his efforts.

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Tuesdays with Story
January 5, 2021

The first word . . . 

“Language is courage: the ability to conceive a thought, to speak it, and by doing so to make it true.”
― Salman Rushdie

 Six people submitted this week.

— Jaime Nelson Noven (chapter 5-6, Outsleep). . . A lot of important things to chew on this week, including illustrating what makes Rice tick, in particular why she hates outsleep and why she’s a standup. We looked at other low birthrate stories and stories where kids live their lives in the limelight and ask what makes my story unique. We wondered what the media’s and her parents’ expectations were for her, how she would have subverted them, and how that would have affected her life. I’ll be working hard at connecting all these dots! Thank you.

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Writer’s Mail

Tuesdays with Story
September 18, 2020

The first word . . .

Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day that says, “I will try again tomorrow.”

And they gathered once more . . .

Seven hopped on Zoom, Tuesday evening, to critique the works of six of their colleagues. Here is some of what was said:

Jack Freiburger (2 poems) . . .

Jaime Nelson Noven (chapter 2, Outsleep) . . . Chapter 2, Outsleep: We looked at flashbacks and the reason for them, misleading descriptions of bubbly doctors who aren’t bubbly and cow eyed wives who aren’t disliked, and the stereotype of the fainting woman. Jack suggested a “regular stranger” alternative to the confusing “regular waiter” image. We corrected my hospital logistical errors and honed in on clunky descriptions. Very helpful stuff!

–Amber Boudreau (chapters 30-32, Second Nature) . . . Amber’s chapters we’re pretty well received anything there was some question of how fast a small cabin would burn and there should be some mention of the roof feeling in at some point. Jaime wanted to know why the main character didn’t tell another who ordered the wolves after then.

  • Also, I will be doing a virtual book launch at A Room if One’s Own on September 22nd at 6 pm for my debut YA fantasy, The Dragoneer. I’ll have a conversation with writer Tracey S. Phillips and we’ll talk about writing and answer questions. 
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Writer’s Mail

Tuesdays with Story
August 25, 2019

The first word . . .

“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.”

― Philip Roth (1933-2018), novelist and short-story writer

Tuesday evening at the bookstore . . .

Ten writers came together to critique the works of seven of their colleagues. If you weren’t with us, here’s what you missed:

— Amber Boudreau (chapters 10-12, Mavis) . . . Chapters 10 through 12 of Amber’s urban fantasy were well received. Tracey thought there might be a few too many stage directions, giving the manuscript an over-choreographed feel. Also, too many eyebrows doing things.However, a lot happened in these chapters and she liked them. Larry questioned if the audience would know what old-fashioned wringer rollers would look like. (This isn’t for YA, so I hope they do, otherwise, they can look it up.) John enjoyed it and looked forward to reading the third chapter he skipped.

— Jack Freiburger (chapters 56-57, A Walk upon the Water) . . . Some useful advice, dropped an entire paragraph, moved lines around on a rowing description, otherwise it seemed to work but for a few word changes and edits. Consensus is to use Claire not Clare for our heroine. (more…)

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Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
May 4, 2018

NO ICE OR SNOW! So we came out …

Ten TWS writers, plus new member, Meg Matenaer, struggled to find tables, chairs and space Tuesday night. Undaunted, they buckled down to consider the works of six of their colleagues. First item on the agenda, wishing Jerry and Larry speedy recoveries. You were missed. Also missed, Pat, who left for Arizona this week. Best wishes to her.

Millie Mader (poem, final draft, “A Broken Bridge”):

Bob Kralapp (Poem):

Jack Freiburger (chapters 4-5, A Walk Upon the Water):

Kashmira Sheth and Amit Trivedi (chapter 1, rewrite):

John Schneller (chapter 21, Final Stronghold): Suggestions for the chapter included, minimize ellipses, work on clarity where Kotel is moving through hills and valleys, reminders of what garogs look like, and the continuing efforts to make clear when mindspeak vs thoughts are being used in communication.  Thanks.

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Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
September 22, 2017

 

Tuesday evening at B&N

B&N actually had a table for the nine writers who circled up to critique the works of our colleagues. Here are some summary notes of what was said:

  • Larry Sommers (prologue, untitled novel) . . . Jerry felt the initial scene with Maria in the parlor was a bit lifeless and too long, and the real interest did not pick up until the boathouse scene with Maria and Anders started. Pat suggested fewer speech tags; some can be simply eliminated and others replaced with action lines. Jack mentioned excessive length of some sentences and mentioned that he has a closet full of “ands” at home that he has removed from his own writings (I think he meant to imply that I should do the same, maybe replace some with full stops and new Caps.) Mike was not as bothered by the slow start in the parlor as others. He also mentioned a valuable resource book, Wisconsin My Home by Thurine Oleson, which I will surely read and mine for details. Thanks, everyone!
  • Paul Wagner (prologue rewrite, Rise of the Serpent) . . . Immensely helpful. Already putting some changes into my prologue and working into Chap One. Everyone was good and didn’t tell me too much o my face that it stunk(kidding)(mostly) I am about half-way getting thru all my “ands”, though i’m sure i’ll find a new home for them somewhere along the way. Also trying to make things a lil clearer and fix  some other mistakes that I don’t know how happened. All in all I was very happy with how it went
  • Mike Austin (chapters 19-20, Riding With the Reed Gang) I have few comments this time as I was very late submitting. Larry commented favorably on the writing style, comparing it to Patricia Highsmith. Millie was relieved (spoiler alert!) that the girls got away.
  • Jack Freiburger (poems, “Lucifer” and “”) . . .
  • Kashmira Sheth & Amit Trivedi (chapters 5-7 , untitled YA novel) . . . Overall comments were positive. Regarding memory scenes, Pat said that it’s fine to start in the past tense but once someone is on the ‘memory’ it can be in present tense. Larry thought that Kedar’s character as the poet is quite good, especially when Kedar is trying to remember MIr’s couplet. Pat had question regarding time line. Amber suggested putting dates so as to clarify timeline.

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Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
September 10, 2017

Tuesday evening at B&N

A baker’s dozen crowded into the story circle to critique the works of our colleagues. Here’s some of what was said:

  • Jack Freiburger (short story, part 5, “Jesus Walked into the IHOP”) . . .
  • Tracey Gemmell (chapters 19-21, Casa Something) . . . The new title option of ‘More or Less Annie’ was well received. The group considered the chapters witty and fast paced. Jerry expressed some concern that it took twenty one chapters for Annie to finally break out. However, in the story structure format Tracey is following, the switch from identity to essence typically occurs around this point. Others in the group felt the pacing was appropriate both for Annie’s character and British cultural expectations. Many thanks to all for your comments.
  • Katy Sullivan (fan fiction, part 2, The Night We Met) . . . I read the second part of Birthday Night, and some thought it was a bit slow. Suggestions others had adding dialogue to the flash back, add the mood of the song to the story, and bring in the senses. Bringing the senses will help the reader feel like they are there. From this one mentioned that smell brings back memories and to add memories with that aspect.
  • John Schneller (chapter 15, Final Stronghold) . . .Discussion centered around the length of middle grade novels for unpublished authors (90,000 words is too long). The possibility of splitting the story . . . and the alternate approach of pursuing a graphic novel.
  • Kashmira Sheth & Amit Trivedi (chapters 1-2 , untitled novel) . . .Amit and Kashmira mentioned that they are making their 1947 historical fiction a young adult novel. Pat enjoyed the details that are woven in the story. As a true British, Tracey loved the cricket scene.
  • Jerry Peterson (short story, “A new car for Boone”) . . . Jack Freiburger picked off a half-dozen problems, the largest of which was Boone asking the cop whether he was the kind who, like Norman Rockwell’s cop, hides behind billboards, waiting for speeders. “If the cop hadn’t been in World War II, Boone could really set him off by challenging him because he was,” Jack said. Pat Edwards, John Schneller and others wanted Boone to coin a line for Cronkite, the line “And that’s the way it is,” Cronkite’s signature line that he used to sign off his CBS Evening News broadcasts years later.

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Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
June 9, 2017

 

Tuesday evening at B&N

A baker’s dozen gathered around one teeny, tiny table to critique the work of seven of our colleagues. Here are the summaries:

  • Amber Boudreau (chapters 21-23, The Dragoneer) . . .
  • Millie Mader (short story, part 1, “Stone Cold Stripper”) . . .I received quite a lot of critiques on my opening chapter. Mostly to rearrange some of the paragraphs and to make it all more clear. I will start working on it this weekend. Thanks for taking on this job.  Millie
  • Eva Mays (chapter 12, Dhuoda) . . .The intrigue of the story starts to build up in Chapter 12. There were some character inconsistencies that need to be fixed. Kashmira pointed out that Dhuoda probably wouldn’t reveal what Gerberga told her with no provocation, and Mike thought she should be better at hiding her emotions at this point. Jerry mentioned that there wasn’t precicely “nothing” under the dead woman’s sleeve, and also that shears can’t actually clatter from someone’s hand. Thanks for the notes, everyone!
  • Mike Austin (chapters 10-13, Riding with the Reed Gang) . . .I received a lot of good input for my chapters of “Reed Gang.” There was some discussion of how disturbing Smitty is and whether that scene could be toned down a little or stay gritty. I also need to choose better and more varied names. There was much fun poked at the similarities, even making it sound like a Dr. Suess story. Thanks everyone for mocking me! But seriously, yes, I do need to work at that. The thing that was mentioned that I was seeing as the biggest problem was the length of time focused solely on Nick, and then suddenly bringing Ida back into the picture. I’m not sure just yet how I can remedy that, if it will be with some editing or with new chapters being written. Thank you all for reading and commenting. 

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Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
May 19, 2017

Tuesday evening

Fourteen gathered. One gentle soul was missing—and missed. There’ll always be a seat at the table for you, Judith.

Here’s a taste of the critiques:

Paul Wagner (prologue, part 1, Rise of the Serpent): No critique summary.

Pat Edwards (chapters 9-10, on purpose): “Pat received good feedback to look at how the myths and personal stories are used for examples in the chapters. The references need to be given enough explanation for those who are unfamiliar with the myth, but not bore those who are familiar. John proposed that one myth be used throughout so the reader can follow better. Most thought the stage synopsis at the start of each chapter was useful.”

Tracey Gemmell (chapters 8-10, Casa Something). “Chapters were considered well developed. Cindi identified some noteworthy turns of phrase. She questioned the notion Taylor hadn’t thought about her father in years, as she seemed to think about him often. Eva thought the work polished, but wished she liked Annie more. Larry said he would buy the book—if he weren’t reading it for free now. Jerry’s waiting for, more, belly, laughs, and, more, commas. The group diagnosed Tracey with a curtain disorder. Tracey will seek (window) treatment. She thanks you all for your concern.”

Amber Boudreau (chapters 18-20, The Dragoneer): “Amber had three chapters reviewed by the group as she attempts to finish up her rewrite by mid-summer. The note the Librarian leaves for Moira confused a lot of people. Some thought it referred to a combination of some sort, or directions, but it did not. The beginning of Chapter 20 went over well and people appeared to enjoy Moira’s discovery that her spell affected the forest. John thought two characters could be sparring while they talked at the beginning of Chapter 18 to give it some physicality.” (more…)

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