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Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
April 14, 2017

 

April 4 at the bookstore

We had 11 writers, including guest Katy Sullivan, around the tables at B&N Westside to critique the work seven of their fellows. Here’s some of the comments of your colleagues:

  • Millie Mader (poem, “Ballad of the Tower”) . . . Here’s my “3 sentences” re: my poem. I had submitted it once before—a couple years ago. It was well received, with a couple of word changes. I made the changes when I got home last night. Thanks for doing the newsletter.
  • Nora O’Reilly (chapter 9, Bill McCormick’s Bliss) . . . The group asked that I slash much of Bill’s internal dialogue (something I am doing currently throughout the rest of the book.) I was warned to be careful of switching my point of view between Bill and the omniscient narrator, and to cut my excessive food description. These suggestions as well as cleaning up the end of the chapter to leave a bit of a cliffhanger were also incorporated. Appreciate all the honest feedback, thanks everyone!!
  • John Schneller (chapter 11, Final Stronghold) . . . Chapter 11 was a chapter of working through a vignette on justice. The characters being mostly animals, were easier to follow, and the justice-logic worked for the group. The main discussion centered on names. How and why Jjosh is spelled (stuttering squirrel) and the possible means to remind e reader how Kotel acquired his name and what it means (Keeper Of The Lamb). Since this came out of book one, it might help to return to this early in Final Stronghold. Another useful note, your children’s names should not show up in the list of characters.
  • Mike Austin (chapters 1-6, Riding with the Reed Gang) . . . “Riding with the Reed Gang” was received very well by everyone, which is really going to put me on edge about the next chapters. We had some discussions about the alternating POV, and why Nick’s character is the only one not in first person, and if it worked or not. The consensus, if I understood correctly, is that it works so far. We also talked about making the era more clear in the beginning. There were very helpful and appreciated comments all around. Thanks!
  • Hannah Marshall (poems, “Second Daughter” and “Wintering”) . . . We had good discussion around both poems. The words “coal” and “barks” stuck out in “Second Daughter” as needing some reworking. In “Wintering,” we discussed that the first few lines were perhaps too spring-like for the rest of the poem which revolved around summer and winter.
  • Tracey Gemmell (prologue and chapters 1-2, rewrite, Losing It) . . . The prologue and introductions to Annie and Taylor were generally well received. Several group members found the writing to be tight and polished. Some tidying needed to clarify a few minor points. Mike found the prologue a little ‘stiff,’ but enjoyed the way the first chapter brought out Annie’s desperation without being melodramatic. Taylor is still not considered likeable, (Jerry has no sympathy for damaged Chanel shoes) but the backstory as to why she is like she is was helpful to readers. Hannah hated the idea of a character becoming more or less male/female in behaviors. Later story does get into how a man can be aggressively successful while a woman is simply a ‘bitch’ if she tries the same. Hey, I don’t make up societal rules ;). Many thanks for all your helpful comments and encouragement.
  • Jerry Peterson (short story, “Escape to Wenzhou”) . . . This was a fun read, kind of reminiscent of ‘Indiana Jones,’ said Mike Austin. Tracey Gemmell found the truck fixing scene a bit long. Also, said she, “I found the frequent use of ‘Sister’ [in referring to the nun] a little distracting.” Cindi Dyke and several others were confused by Boone’s knife-cut hand gesture. To Cindi, it was the throat-cut gesturing meaning stop, not a gesture meaning turn as Jerry intended. He said he’d fix it.

 
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Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
March 24, 2017

 

What you missed if you weren’t with us

For the third meeting in a row, we had 14 writers crowded around the tables at B&N Westside to critique the work seven of their fellows. Two of our 14 were guests, Lisa Jisa and Larry Sommers. Here’s some of the comments of your colleagues:

Jen Wilcher (chapter 3 rewrite, Hogoshiro Chronicles) . . .The chapter was well received. Several expressed that they found the drills easy to follow and visualize. Some asked to see a physical calming: a routine that carried her from agitated to calm and in control. A suggestion was made to allow her to exit without a reverse repetition of returning to civilian attire.

Pat Edwards (mentor and threshold chapters, What to Pack) . . . The group reviewed two of Pat’s chapters: Crossing the Threshold and Meet the Mentor. There was some confusion on the guardian’s listed — whether they were at the threshold or over it.  A few of the group did the exercises in the chapters and gave good feedback on them. Insightful notes from the group!

Amber Boudreau (chapter 14-15, The Dragoneer) . . .Amber sent out Chapter’s 14 and 15 of The Dragoneer to the group. Pat thought Moira argued with her mother in a very mature manner and wondered if that was intentional or not. Jerry read through the argument and found it fit with what his idea of the characters are like. Tracey suggested cutting a large bit of rehashed story from the beginning of Chapter 14 (which Amber did). Eva noted that the phrase, “on the fritz,” was used twice, once in each chapter, to refer to a phone not working but she found it a bit dated and wondered if there was a more current way to say it. Tracey was kind enough to text her daughter and informed the group she would probably just say it was broke. (more…)

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Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
March 10, 2017

 

Tuesday evening at ye olde bookseller’s

For the second meeting, we had 14 writers crowded around the tables at B&N Westside to critique the work seven of their fellows. Here’s some of their comments:

Jack Freiburger (3 poems, “Nostalgia I”, “Nostalgia II”, and “Half Moon Bay) . . .  Jack did his best Ezra Pound imitation Tuesday night, but with out the Fascist salute or praise for Mussolini, with two Imagist poems and one Imagistic dreamscape.  The poems were so simple and obvious that little criticism was offered, but jack did receive an anonymous email from one of the women in the group who offered to have a short affair with him as long as he memorialized it in similar Imagist poetic despair, once she ended it.

 Nora O’Reilly (chapter 10, Bill McCormick’s Bliss) . . . So for my out of order Chapter 10 from Bill’s Bliss: Some brilliant suggestions include to loose the omniscient narrator’s comments on page two (sounds too Hollywood and is distracting,) and to alter Bill’s body language in the final scene involving Joel and a park bench. Also the vote is out on whether my flashback works or not. I will leave it for now with some smoothing of the rough edges. A fun twist involving the alleged reporter from the Isthmus, Ali, is actually from the Madison police department. . .thanks, John! (more…)

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Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
February 24, 2017

 

Tuesday evening at Barnes & Noble

A big crowd for us, 14 writers gathered to critique the work six of their fellows. Here’s some of their comments:

  • Pat Edwards (Call & Refuse) . . . The group gave Pat a lot of good ideas for enhancing the chapters.  Hannah noted the change in voice once the exercises were introduced.  John and Jerry thought a clear arch of Pat’s own journey would help the readers identify with her story.  The group discussed how to make the example people’s stories more relatable and real.
  • Amber Boudreau (chapter 12, part 2, The Dragoneer) . . .
    Amber submitted the second half of Chapter 12 of the Dragoneer to the group. Pat wanted a bit more showing between two characters during a particular piece of dialogue, but otherwise seemed to like it. Kashmira noted a repetitive phrase and suggested ending the chapter earlier because it had a good hook and would want to make people turn the page. So really, it was the second half of chapter 12 and chapter 13 that got reviewed.
  • Eva Mays (chapter 9, Dhuoda) . . . Regarding chapter 9, Rebecca suggested “sprout” as a more dynamic word than “grow”. Tracey gave the group a lesson in the anatomy of a sidesaddle. Most people approved of changing Ludovic’s name to Hludowig, to avoid confusion with his son, Lothar.
  • John Schneller (chapter 9, Final Stronghold) . . . Final stronghold chapter 9 received several good suggestions. As these concerns occur regularly, greater effort needs to be applied. Problem: The large cast of characters along with minimal internal thoughts and explanations. This result in difficulties identifying POV characters, a full understanding of the scene dynamics, and full characterization of those in the scene. Efforts at tight writing and protecting subtlety may be winning the battles, but losing the war. The battle plan will be reevaluated. Thanks for all the constructive thoughts!
  • Millie Mader (poem, rewrite, “Divorce”) . . . Some of the word choices could be changed. I’m working on them—and grateful that there aren’t too many. Thanks for taking all this on — Millie

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Fifth Tuesday stories
January 31, 2017

Writing challenge: Write the very best short story, essay or poem you can with this as your writing prompt: The clock struck 11:59 p.m. on December 31st. So-and-so turned, tipped his or her glass to you (or to a fictional character) and said thoughtfully, “You know, I’ve been meaning to tell you this all year . . .” Max length: 500 words

 

The Ball at Mawley

Eva Mays

Miss Maria Welles was gratified that the drawing room door muffled the sounds of the quadrille, creating an environment much more conducive to engaging in the conversation she very much hoped was forthcoming.

Lieutenant Ashton tipped his glass to her and said thoughtfully, “I’ve been meaning to tell you this all year…”

He tapped his forefinger against th (more…)

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Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
January 5, 2017

 

CARRIED OVER FROM DECEMBER’S NEWSLETTER:

The big contest . . .

Here’s everything you need to know to win a critique of 50 pages of the book you’re writing, the critique to be provided by a published author . . . TWS alumnus and sci-fi writer Pat Tomlinson. Pat has three novels out and a fourth under contract.

Your assignment, write the very best short story, essay or poem you can with this as your prompt: The clock struck 11:59 p.m. on December 31st. So-and-so turned, tipped his or her glass to you (or to a fictional character) and said thoughtfully, “You know, I’ve been meaning to tell you this all year . . .”

Maximum length for your mini-masterpiece is 500 words. Go over and your piece will not be read.

Deadline for getting your entry to Jerry Peterson is midnight, January 22. He will forward all the entries to Pat who will select the best of the best. (more…)

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Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
December 5, 2016

Contest time . . .

TWS alumnus Pat Tomlinson will be the judge for our next writing contest. Here’s the payoff, he’ll critique 50 pages of the novel the winner is writing. The winner, that can be you.

When will the contest take place? At our next Fifth Tuesday. That’s January 31.

So . . . tomorrow evening we need to develop the writing prompt that we’ll use for the contest. Come with your best ideas.

The maximum length for an entry will be 500 words.

Deadline will be midnight January 22. That will give Pat nine days to read the entries and make his selection of the best of the best.

Those who’ve participated in past contests remember there is an entry fee. That’s $10. The winner gets all the money and must spend it taking Pat to dinner at one of our finer dining establishments in the Madison area. Over dinner, you and he will talk through his critique of your 50 pages.

Pat has three novels out and a couple weeks ago got a contract from Tor for his fourth. Check him out at his website, http://www.patrickstomlinson.com/ (more…)

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