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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 »

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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 »

Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
November 26, 2017

Tuesday evening at B&N  

Where were ye . . . home, ill or preparing for Thanksgiving company? Working late hours or traveling? Seven were at B&N, gathered around a lone table, helping their colleagues become better writers and better storytellers. Here’s some of what was said:

Larry Sommers (chapter 2, untitled novel) . . . Tracy and others cautioned about professorial overkill by my omniscient narrator. Jerry and Jack had some great observations about the operation of steamboats and the configuration of levees along the Mississippi in the 19th century. Mike was quite taken by the instrospective material in the back part of the chapter. There were some good ideas for wording as well. Thanks, everybody!

Tracey Gemmell (1-page synopsis, More or Less Annie) . . . General agreement that the new one-page (plus 27 words, according to Jack!) was a big improvement over the last version. There were some suggestions for rewording a couple of sections. Overall, the voice and tone were considered appropriate and more ‘Tracey-like’. No one was bothered by the removal of mention of several characters. Many thanks for all the help and a Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Mike Austin (chapters 22.2 and 23, Riding with the Reed Gang) . . .  I received a lot of encouraging feedback from everyone about “Reed Gang.” Some of the discussion revolved around the shifting POV that I’ve been using, and whether or not it’s working. There was also discussion about adding some humor. Jack suggested that instead of a pistol Edgar should just have a turnip in his pocket. “Hey Edgar! is that a turnip in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?” But seriously, yes, there could be some lightening up throughout. I appreciate all the comments. Thanks everyone! Continue Reading »

Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
November 10, 2017

Tuesday evening at ye olde bookstore   

Thirteen writers gathered around one very small table at Barnes & Noble Westside to look at short stories, chapters, a synopsis, and a picture book. Here’s who was up and summaries of the comments they received: 

Millie Mader (short story rewrite, “Stone Cold Stripper”) . . .  I was quite severally critiqued, and will try hard to rewrite a lot of my short story. It’s loosely based on fact, but hard to get all the facts together in order. Will keep on trying—and thanks all.

Tracey Gemmell (synopsis, More or Less Annie) . . .  Two truths revealed last night: writing a synopsis is hard, and Tracey’s efforts so far are not cutting it. All present agreed the synopsis ‘sells’ the book so must include more color with a better representation of writing style and humor. Tracey’s current version tries to include too much plot while stripping the real interest. Larry produced a more intriguing version, but length is still an issue if it’s to be a one-pager. All suggestions much appreciated.

Katy Sullivan (picture book, Snowalicious) . . .  I shared a children’s book. Majority seemed to think I had a two books. We discussed the tensing, word choice and illustrations. Thanks for the feedback. 
Continue Reading »

Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
November 1, 2017

Last night at Jack’s place  

Eight around the table, plus four stories, one poem, two soups, lotsa cheese, salad, wine, beer, but no John Schneller apple pie. John was away at a seminar for work.

The poem and stories are up on our Yahoo group – you can read them there – and soon they will be up on our TWS web page.

Our next Fifth Tuesday

Put it on your calendar now, January 30. Amber Boudreau will host us at her home. One caution, says Amber. She has both cats and kids, so if you have an allergy to either . . .

We do have a writing challenge: Animal stories!

Such a broad topic gives each of us a lot of latitude in selecting our subject and the viewpoint from which we want to write. Yes, it can be a dog story with a dog telling the story.

The usual limit, 500 words.

Who’s up next week  Continue Reading »

Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
October 20, 2017

 

A Small but Boisterous Bunch

Eight members gathered at the Barnes and Noble Tuesday evening to discuss book chapters, social media, and semi-colons.

Larry Sommers (chapter 1, Immigrant Saga) – Tracey and others questioned the long unrelieved passages of travelogue-like Omniscient Narrator description and thought it would be a good idea to tie more of that material to Anders’ personal point of view. Jack questioned a few historical details and said the slave auction scene was clichéd and offered one or two ideas to make it less so. Good, useful comments from everybody. Thanks!

Mike Austin (chapter, Riding with the Reed Gang) – A lot of compliments for the writing.  Mike has posted the whole story. There were questions regarding the use of first person. What will happen when the first persons get together?

Tracey Gemmell (chapters, More of Less Annie) – The chapters were appreciated for their humor and ability to move the story along at a good clip. Pat suggested some great verb alternatives. She also wanted more descriptions of the dog. Bob wanted a better transition from tentative Annie walking to beach to her turning into Julie Andrews. Several members liked the dialogue between Rob and Annie though Rob may be too good to be true at this point! Amber provided some great insight into social media platforms. Tracey has to learn to tweet. Many thanks for the great feedback. Continue Reading »