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Writer’s Mail

(Apologies for the late posting of this newsletter. Times being what they are, I think you for your patience.)

Tuesdays with Story
April 24, 2020

The first word . . .

In the age of pandemic:

“If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door- or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present.”

― Rabindranath Tagore

They met on Zoom . . .

Eight of our colleagues—Larry, Jerry, John, Mike, Amit, Kashmira, Jack, and Paul—gathered Tuesday evening in front of their computers, bottles of beer and glasses of wine in hand . . . hey, now that’s the way to meet . . . to critique the stories and chapters of four of our writers. Here is some of what was said:

John Schneller (chapter 18, Broken rewrite) . . .  The significant elements in this chapter made it a good read for most. The healing in a two-step human/supernatural process held interest. The wolves proved brutal enough to be a formidable antagonist. Larry discussed a stronger revision on Silent Eyes’ philosophical dialogue and Jerry provided significant comings and goings of commas and paragraph breaks.  Thanks for all the comments! Continue Reading »

Writer’s Mail

Tuesdays with Story
March 6, 2020

The first word . . .

Skip a day or more between writing sessions and your mind will drift away from the deep moments of your story. You’ll have to slog back to the place abandoned if you had written every day.  (a note that has been on my wall for so long I forgot who it came from)

 

They met at Barnes & Noble . . .which they won’t do again for a while because of Covid-19.

 A full table of authors commented on style, word choices, and moments in history. Much aid and opinion offered to the well being of all projects.

— Meg Williams (???) . . . A LOT of old noir crime feel going on with the first chapter and I need to get away from that

– A lot of character action logistics need a LOT of work.

– Instead of killing characters, I need to kill all of the adverbs used in the narrative portions

– A surprise plot twist involving human trafficking instead of a typical drug bust.

– Conclusion: First Chapter needs to be rewritten and resubmitted for critique. There’s definitely some bad writing habits that I really need to break. So I’m going to take a page out of Taylor Swift’s book and Shake It Off and Write On 🙂 Continue Reading »

Writer’s Mail

Tuesdays with Story
February 21, 2020

The first word . . .

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”
― Jack London

“I hate writing, I love having written.”
― Dorothy Parker

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Learning music is hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it because it’s so much fun.”

My old friend John, a jazz pianist who was teaching me basic guitar chords. Much later, when I could finally do a few chord progressions without effort, I realized that he was right. It’s good to know that other writers, and musicians, talk about their craft being work, something that they have to practice or they lose the muscle memory of that skill. And unlike piano playing, writing can be practiced almost anywhere.

 

Last Tuesday evening with Tuesdays with Story…

 Nine dedicated folk gathered together at Barnes & Noble to discuss their work. Continue Reading »

Writer’s Mail

Tuesdays with Story

February 4, 2020 meeting.

The first word…

Ernest Hemmingway wrote: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” But that seems a little too dramatic to me, like the guitar player saying he “played until my fingers bled.” Really? More realistically from Hemmingway is, “The first draft of anything is shit.” Years later, Anne Lamott followed up on this idea with an entire chapter of her book on writing, “Bird by Bird,” entitled, “Shitty First Drafts,” which explained that it’s okay to have a first draft that might be a little rough. I’m not sure where I’m going with that, except to say that it’s good to know that even Hemmingway had to start somewhere. Continue Reading »

Writer’s Mail

Tuesdays with Story
January 25, 2020

The first word . . .

“Five common traits of good writers: (1) They have something to say. (2) They read widely and have done so since childhood. (3) They possess what Isaac Asimov calls a ‘capacity for clear thought,’ able to go from point to point in an orderly sequence, an A to Z approach. (4) They’re geniuses at putting their emotions into words. (5) They possess an insatiable curiosity, constantly asking Why and How.”
― James J. Kilpatrick (1920-2010), newspaper journalist, columnist, author, writer and grammarian

Tuesday evening at ye olde booksellers . . .

Seven hearty souls gathered around the tables—yes, we had two tables—at Barnes & Noble Westside to work over chapters of four of their colleagues. Here is some of what was said:

— Larry F. Sommers (chapters 38-39, Freedom’s Purchase) . . . Jerry wondered how Anders could hold a rag to Will’s head when they were walking to the hospital. He also noted there was too much detail on Grant’s military maneuvers, and a big dump of pointless information on Daniel’s activities before hiring on as a hospital aide. Amber was interested in the romantic possibilities of Anders’ possible demise. Jerry was bemused by the thought that maybe Maria, rather than Anders, is the main character—a possibility suggested by the structure of the story. Thanks to all for comments. Continue Reading »

Writer’s Mail

Tuesdays with Story
January 10, 2020

The first word . . .

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.”
― Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), novelist, journalist, short story writer

 

Tuesday evening at Barnes & Noble . . .

Eight good souls gathered around the table at B&N Westside Tuesday evening to critique the works of six of their colleagues. Here is some of what was said:

 

— Kashmira Sheth and Amit Trivedi (chapters 31-32, untitled novel) . . . (1) Add ‘listing’ more times in the first paragraph of chapter 32.  (2) Have Kedar go inside the church and contrast the noise with the silence in the church. (3) Tie in the water of the Kund with the holy water of the Church. (4) “All this cloth…” It is not clear who says it. Also move the line closer to the description of the cloth market. Continue Reading »

Writer’s Mail

TWS News:

The first word . . .

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

― Louis L’Amour (1908-1988), novelist and short story writer

Tuesday evening at Alicia Ashman . . .

Amber Boudreau returned to the group, and she brought brownies to power the group while they critiqued the works of six of their colleagues. Here is some of what was said:

 

— Larry Sommers (chapters 33-35, Freedom’s Purchase) . . .  Several people commented on the apparent infrequency of letters home from Anders once he was in the Army. Huckle asked what was the point of the section in which Maria watches the mustering-in ceremony from the bleachers. Jack opined that it shows Maria has accepted Anders’ decision to enlist. There were concerns over Crawley¹s confrontation with Anders was he consistent in the way he communicated his threat, and would Anders been surprised by his presence after a month of basic training drills? The focus on baby John Oliver’s nursing drew attention from Huckle and Amber, because (1) Maria may not have wanted to wean him early due to economics, and (2) even though he was cutting teeth, the nursing process would not be “traumatic” to Maria as described. All in all, several important points to ponder. Thanks, all. Continue Reading »

Writer’s Mail

Tuesdays with Story
November 25, 2019

The first word . . .

“The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon.”

― Robert Cormier (1925-2000), author of YA novels

Tuesday evening at B&N Westside . . .

Hey, we had a long table to gather around for our last meeting of the year at B&N Westside. Five of our colleagues shared their works. Here is some of what was said:

— Huckleberry Rahr (synopsis and chapters 1-2, YA novel) . . . Continue Reading »

Writer’s Mail

Tuesdays with Story
November 14, 2019

The first word . . .

“If you want to concentrate deeply on some problem, and especially on some piece of writing or paperwork, you should acquire a cat. Alone with the cat in the room where you work, the cat will invariably get up on your desk and settle under the desk lamp. The light from a lamp gives the cat great satisfaction. The cat will settle down and be serene, with a serenity that passes all understanding. And the tranquility of the cat will gradually come to affect you, sitting there at your desk, so that all the excitable qualities that impeded your concentration compose themselves and give your mind back the self-command it has lost. You need not watch the cat all the time. Its presence alone is enough.”

― Muriel Spark (1918-2006), Scottish novelist, short story writer, poet and essayist

Tuesday evening at B&N Westside . . .

A small group gathered, six of our regular writers plus a guest, Huckleberry Rahr, a math prof at UW/Whitewater and write of YA novels looking for help in getting published. She joined the group and is on the schedule for November 19 Continue Reading »

Writer’s Mail

Tuesdays with Story
October 19, 2019

The first word . . .

“I was a lot dumber when I was writing the novel. I would come home every day from my office and say, ‘Well, I still really like the story, I just wish it was better written.’ At that point, I didn’t realize I was writing a first draft. And the first draft was the hardest part. From there, it was comparatively easy. It was like I had some Play-Doh to work with and could just keep working with it – doing a million drafts and things changing radically and characters appearing and disappearing and solving mysteries: Why is this thing here? Should I just take that away? And then realizing, no, that is there, in fact, because that is the key to this. I love that sort of detective work.”

― Miranda July (1974-), film director, screenwriter, actress, novelist, short story writer

Tuesday evening at the bookstore . . .

A small group of writers—six in all—huddled around a table on the bargain books floor, where they proceeded to critique the works of their colleagues. Here is some of what was said:

— Jack Freiburger (chapter 62, A Walk upon the Water) . . .

— Kashmira Sheth and Amit Trivedi (chapters 24-25, untitled novel) . . .

— Cindi Dyke (children’s picture book, Kerpout) . . .  This poem is the first in a series of picture books for young children. Jerry wondered why Kerpout has hooves instead of paws,  but he is a mythical woodland creature (Kerpout, not Jerry) and I see him with hooves. Jerry also didn’t think chocolate ice cream for breakfast would make you sick. I’m willing to test that out for accuracy. Kashmira thought a bit of adult vocabulary in a child’s picture book is fine, but it needs to be limited. Several thought the metrical structure needs attention in a couple of stanzas. Continue Reading »