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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

(more…)

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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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Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
August 7, 2016

 

Who’s up next . . .

August 9:

August 16: Mike Austin (chapter, Before I Leave), Millie Mader (poem), Hannah Marshall (poems), Nora O’Reilly (chapter, Bill McCormick’s Bliss), Eva Mays (chapter, Dhuoda), Judith McNeil (???), and Amit Trivedi (chapter, novel).

August 23:

August 30: Fifth Tuesday!

September 6: Pat Edwards (???), Randy Slagel (part ???, “Watered-Down Witch”), Amber Boudreau (chapter 5, The Dragoneer), John Schneller (chapter 4, Final Stronghold), Cindi Dyke (chapter, North Road), Bob Kralapp (poem, “March Morning at the Library”), and Jerry Peterson (???).

 

Around the circle at B&N Westside . . .

Here are the first-and-third writers who had pieces up for critiques Tuesday evening:

Pat Edwards (poem, “Insomnia”) . . . Over all feedback was positive with most people wondering if the character was really awake or if she was dreaming.  Amber recommended the first line be changed to reflect that wondering.

Amber Boudreau (chapter 4, The Dragoneer) . . . Chapter 4 of the Dragoneer was well received in general. Pat had a problem with the protagonist being fine with collecting rocks for the wyvern, just some comment about this being her new normal would be helpful. She also didn’t like the line about the radio. Eva and others wondered what the officer had to say to Ansel, but the author is not saying. (more…)

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Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
February 12, 2016

 

The first word . . .

Sci-fi writer Eileen Gunn (1945- ) worked for Microsoft as director of advertising in the company’s early years. “What I learned was you have to ship the product.” Quinn applies that rule to writing. Says she, “You have to finish your stories and send them out.”

13 Writing Tips from Chuck Palahniuk

Number One:

Two years ago, when I wrote the first of these essays it was about my “egg timer method” of writing.  You never saw that essay, but here’s the method:  When you don’t want to write, set an egg timer for one hour (or half hour) and sit down to write until the timer rings.  If you still hate writing, you’re free in an hour.  But usually, by the time that alarm rings, you’ll be so involved in your work, enjoying it so much, you’ll keep going.  Instead of an egg timer, you can put a load of clothes in the washer or dryer and use them to time your work.  Alternating the thoughtful task of writing with the mindless work of laundry or dish washing will give you the breaks you need for new ideas and insights to occur.  If you don’t know what comes next in the story… clean your toilet.  Change the bed sheets.  For Christ sakes, dust the computer.  A better idea will come.

Number Two:

Your audience is smarter than you imagine.  Don’t be afraid to experiment with story forms and time shifts.  My personal theory is that younger readers distain most books – not because those readers are dumber than past readers, but because today’s reader is smarter.  Movies have made us very sophisticated about storytelling.  And your audience is much harder to shock than you can ever imagine. (more…)

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Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
January 14, 2016

 

The first word . . .

Oh, for a good title . . . Herman Melville had always called his behemoth of a novel The Whale during the 10 years he was writing it. His British publisher didn’t think much of the book, feeling it wasn’t good enough to be a children’s book, but did finally bring it out as juvenile fiction with Melville’s title. Harper & Brothers, his U.S. publisher, liked the book, but thought the title awful. Mr. Harper had recently read a real-life newspaper account of a monumental chase at sea that involved a huge white whale named Mocha Dick. Sensing free publicity, he suggested Melville give his whale a name similar to Mocha Dick and that that be the title of the book. The book was a publishing bust, selling only 3,200 copies during Melville’s lifetime. Ahh, but today –

Who’s up next . . .

January 19: Bob Kralapp (???), Kashmira Sheth (chapters, Nina Soni), Pat Edwards (???), Kashmira Sheth & Amit Trivedi (chapter, novel), Randy Slagel (short story, part 1, “Watered-Down Witch”), and Jerry Peterson (chapters 23-26, Killing Ham). (more…)

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Tuesdays with Story
September 30, 2015

“A wounded deer leaps the highest.” – Emily Dickinson

It was Fifth Tuesday at Panera Bread. I’m sure it was fabulous.

Other Ins and Things

Mystery To Me wants your vote . . .
Mystery To Me Bookstore owner Joanne Berg wants you to vote for her store as your favorite Madison bookstore in Madison Magazine’s “Best of Madison” 2016 selections. She’s been good to Tuesdays With Story, so cast your ballot. It’s all done online, and you can vote once a day between now and October 17.

Here’s the link to get you to the voting site: http://madisonmagazine.secondstreetapp.com/l/Best-of-Madison-2016/Ballot/HomeampLifestyle

Planning way, way ahread . . .
Our next Fifth Tuesday is March 30, 2016. Put it on your calendar now. First-and-third group will host. (more…)

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Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
September 25, 2015

A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just begins
to live that day.
– Emily Dickinson

Notes from September 2015, Week 4

Other Ins and Things
Fifth Tuesday Challenge!
Yes, it’s less than two weeks away . . . September 29. Members of both our writing groups plus friends and spouses will gather for good times and good food at Panera’s on University Avenue at our usual start time of 7 p.m. This is an order-off-the-menu event. Second-and-fourth hosts.
The writing challenge . . . write something EXTREME, a poem, essay, or short short story. You define what extreme is. The word limit is 250. When you have your mini-masterpiece finished, email a copy to Ruth Imhoff, (email) toastedfroglegs@yahoo.com

Build a Lasting Journaling Practice: 14 Days Journaling Challenge

The Build a Lasting Journaling Practice in 14 Days Challenge workbook you use in the challenge will help you kickstart your journaling and make it a valuable part of your daily life. (more…)

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