Posts Tagged ‘NaNoWriMo’

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
February 19, 2016


The first word . . .

Nonfiction author Matt Ziselman: “I did what many writers do at one time or another: I stopped writing. But, perhaps even worse than not writing was that I stopped believing that I could write.”


Middle School Novelists

Richard Hamel is a Madison School teacher who sponsors a writing program for middle school students. Students across the district are writing novels through the NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) website (They wrote drafts last November, then revised through subsequent months). They will have a culminating workshop at the public library downtown in April to celebrate their accomplishment and to connect them to local writers. They are looking for writing volunteers for the workshop.

Are you interested?  Contact me to get Richard’s contact info.



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Tuesdays With Story
November 5,2015

Nov. 2nd Meeting

Lisa- The Tebow Family Secret, Chap42, A Trusted Friend  Alicia thought the plot moved well.  Pat suggested that the reason for Sadie’s presence in this chapter be explained.  Rest of the group thought it moved well.

Millie– Poem, “Using The Pen To Heal”, Lisa thought there were two voices in each stanza, in the alternating stanzas.  Pat liked the line “Life will turn new pages.”  Bob suggested writing from last stanza back.  Cindi felt like it was a poem in which narrator is counseling others.  Alicia suggested adding in some personal anecdotes in between.

Bob– “Letters”, Part 2.  Alicia liked anecdotes about the war.  Group suggested that Bob put more steaminess into the letters so as we know why they’re to be kept from the kids.  Cindi asked about the main character.  Bob said the main character is the husband and that his reactions to the letters give ideas of how he was as a young man.

Amit and Kashmira- 1st and 2nd chapters—Lisa felt Kedar seemed more interested in keeping friends than getting back to Uma, his fiance.  Everyone liked the chapters.  Amit said that beginning with Uma’s preparation for wedding started story off on softer foot, than beginning with Kedar in middle of the crisis and chaos of the division of the country.  Alicia suggested they put in a short prologue to explain the historical conflict, and to add in a map of the region, as well. (more…)

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Tuesdays with Story
Writer’s Mail
October 26, 2015

“The basic elements of language are physical: the noise words make, the sounds and silences that make the rhythms marking their relationships. Both the meaning and the beauty of writing depend on these sounds and rhythms.” – Ursala K. Le Guin (1929), fantasy and sci-fi author

Judith McNeil Smashwords Author!
Check out Judith’s new book on Smashwords. Note that you may have to open the Adult filter to see the book (a few curse words!).

My Mother Savior of Men by Judith G. McNeil
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 33,300. Language: American English. Published: September 11, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
The relationship between Charles and his mother becomes eroded when he decides to sabotage her decision to publish her poetry in a book that includes artistic nude pictures of her. He doesn’t realize that this is a proxy attack on her seeming inability to maintain a long term relationship. (more…)

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Writers Mail
November 4, 2014

Andy Pfeiffer read from his NaNoWriMo novel, A Song of Destiny. Judith mentioned that the age or school status should be revealed earlier in the chapter. Pat pointed out the Andy has a distinctive voice and that he should give it free rein in wackiness. Pat asked about Carter’s remarking on race of a couple of Wal Mart employees. Andy said the he has a mild case of Asperger’s Syndrome and is extremely detailed oriented. Pat suggested that Carter should either be totally focused on the person, remarking on the color of their clothes, etc., or more focused on distances, etc. Judith asked about Destiny’s knowledge of cutting lens. Others suggested that she not be allowed to cut the lens, which would provide additional conflict in the runaway venture.

Judith McNeil read from My Mother, Savior of Men, Chapters 22,23, 24. Jerry felt that Charlie’s dad had smoothed the way for his chair to be accepted at the museum. The group liked the chapter on the trip to Ecuador. Millie liked the development of the father son relationship on the trip. Jerry pointed out the need to insert how “tea” got into hotel room in that scene and to action of Charlie picking up phone in one of last scenes.

Mike Rickey read his poem Grandfather’s Barns. Everyone loved the descriptions of the barns holding the energy of various aspects of the farm. Pat loved the phrase “knowers of grit”. She suggested that he show effects of weather and the elements on the barns. (more…)

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Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
October 28th, 2014

“A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic.”
― Carl Sagan

This last Tuesday –

New member Becky!

Rebecca read from Lookout. Jack asked what the weird button referred to. Several word changes are suggested. Karen noted some places words seemed to be missing or a tense change was needed. Kaitlin talked about pillbugs and how they are not insects. Ruth thinks the POV changes at one point. Alicia felt disappointed in the beginning because Ang runs from the other cat instead of confronting him. A discussion occurs as to whether the main character is being lost in the anecdotes. (more…)

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Writer’s Mail for October 14th, 2014

“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” ― Ray Bradbury

Notes from the night itself…
Katelin read from a revised chapter 1 of The Battle of Sista.
The group agreed that capitalizing the alien races would make it more clear. Wording like “drinking in the stillness” and overuse of the words “create” and “creation” made things confusing. Jack pointed out some continuity errors like “popped slowly.” Alicia thought that since there is so much to introduce, it could be good to tell more clearly what these new things are. What is the central conflict? Possibly bring that closer to the beginning while setting the scene more clearly.

Alicia read from chapter 1 of Coastie Girl.
Consider using “irreverent” instead of “sacrilegious.” Liam thought that the father would not stay in uniform after he was home and would not be washing dishes in his uniform. Katelin liked the voice of the narrator. Rebecca suggested demonstrating the girl’s talent to help people and her motivation for acting. (more…)

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Writer’s Mail for October 7th, 2014

“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.
Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”
― William Faulkner

Who’s up next . . .
October 14: Jack Freiburger (poem), Katelin Cummins (new chapter 1, Battle of Sista), and Alicia Connolly Lohr (Coastie Girl, chapter 1).

October 21: Lisa McDougal (chapter, Tebow Family Secret), Andy Brown (chapter, Man Before the Fall), Bob Kralapp (???), Pat Edwards (???), Kashmira Sheth & Amit Trivedi (chapter, novel), and Judith McNeil (???).

November 4: Judith McNeil (???), Andy Pfeiffer (chapters, The Void), Millie Mader (chapter 59, Life on Hold), Kashmira Sheth & Amit Trivedi (chapter, novel), Bob Kralapp (???), and Jerry Peterson (short story).

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Writer’s Mail for Tuesday July 1st, 2014

It had flaws, but what does that matter when it comes to matters of the heart? We love what we love. Reason does not enter into it. In many ways, unwise love is the truest love. Anyone can love a thing because. That’s as easy as putting a penny in your pocket. But to love something despite. To know the flaws and love them too. That is rare and pure and perfect.
― Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear

Amber starts off the night and reads from chapter Eight of her new urban fantasy novel. Jerry wants the character to feel the unevenness if the ground. Amit wonders about using a different word than guardian for the trees the beginning of the chapter. Andy B. and Jerry wanted a better description of the sound that the main character hears before she goes over the balcony. Andy P. thought the main character jumped from the building at one point and suggests revising.

Millie reads from Chapter fifty-five of Life on Hold. Andy P. wonders why the main character wouldn’t smack someone who was molesting her. Jerry says it was the times. Bob wondered about the structure of the events. Kashmira agrees with Bob and thinks the time delay takes away from the immediacy and urgency of the events.

Andy P. shares a couple of chapters from The Void. Jerry wonders why one character shows up in the first place. Kristin had a question about setting and was looking for something to tell her where she was. Kashmira wanted some more interaction with the environment the characters were in. Andy B. thought they could cut down on the description of the characters getting into the void. For Kashmira that was where the story slowed down for her.

Amit reads from Chapter Four of his and Kashmira’s as yet untitled novel they are writing together. Jerry ask for a bit of synopsis, but they haven’t had a chance to write one yet. Andy B. points to one line in particular for explaining so much backstory. Jerry wanted to know what kind of snake bit one character’s daughter. Kristin points out a couple of spelling errors. Jerry questions how one character could balance a grown man against two kids—baby goats. Andy B. got a little confused by the different points of view. Jerry suggests eliminating some speech tags. (more…)

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Writer’s Mail

June 24, 2014

“If there were a clear path to follow to become a writer,a manual or a set of instructions, the next step would read,‘Repeat, and repeat again.’” -Benjamin Hedin

At this Tuesday’s meeting…

Eleven writers gathered at Barnes and Noble June 24th to critique 5 stories.

Deb read chapter 4 of Crossing Guard.

  • Rebecca wanted to know the details of what “America’s Most Wanted” had to say about the murderer. Kristin said the kids would be whipping out phones and tablets to look it up unless they can’t bring them to school or the story is set in a different time period.
  • Liam said the kids sound older than 12. Rebecca agreed and pointed out a particular line of dialogue when Rose said she hadn’t made the connection earlier. Kendra suggested making the kids teenagers, 13-16. Their current speech and actions would fit the older age group.
  • Katelin and others pointed out some paragraph break changes to keep characters speech and actions together.
  • The POV shifted to Allie at times.
  • Several members discussed whether the kids would report the crossing guard as the potential murderer or try to deal with the threat themselves. Their reason for not telling an adult about their suspicions should be clear.
  • Jack suggested cutting about 250 words to create more excitement and suggested using more decisive descriptions.
  • Don’t call the show “America’s Most Wanted,” since the show might not be on anymore.

Rebecca read chapter 2 (The Mark) from the novel she is working on, Lookout.

  • A new visitor to the group remarked that the language of the story is very unique and a bit overwhelming at first but works well once the reader becomes accustomed to it. This is consistent with the remarks from other members of the group. The first chapter in the book helps to establish the language patterns throughout the story.  
  • There are a couple of places in this scene where the point of view switches. At one point the story is seen from Amy’s perspective (the little girl that owns Ang) and at one point the squirrel appears to be telling the story.
  • Mimi, the enemy cat, played a significant role in the previous chapter but a minimal role in this chapter.  Members of the group questioned the role that Mimi would play as the story moved forward.
  • Several members of the group questioned where the story was going—there is no evidence of conflict yet. The chapters thus far have described Ang’s world very well but have not revealed the central theme of the story even this is chapter two.


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Writer’s Mail
February 6, 2014

“The greatest rules of dramatic writing are conflict, conflict, conflict.”
– James Frey

Notes from 2/4/2014

A dozen of us gather round the tables at the old B&N.

Lisa reads from Chapter Eleven of Tebow’s Family Secret. Pat thought the dialogue flowed and that it was a good chapter. She wondered about what was served at the restaurant the characters visited, but Lisa explains it’s a ‘fusion’ joint. Judith reread some chapters and thinks things are converging. Andy wondered why a character would find a joke about their daughter funny instead of disgusting. Pat thought the ending was very compelling. Jerry thought one character was very laid-back about his mother getting out of prison. Kashmira thought Lisa could add a smell or some description to the restaurant scene.

Cindi reads from Chapter Five of North Road. Millie could relate to the story. Andy initially thought Chapter two was a bit of an info dump, with no dialogue, but the twist at the end hooked him. Amber thought there could be a little more shorthand between sisters in the section that was read to the group. Pat thought she could cut quite a bit out of these chapters and get right into the meat of the story, the part that has emotional resonance. Bob gets the value of telling a story slowly and methodically, but it does bog it down in places. Bob also likes the characters but doesn’t think she needs to hold the reader’s hands.

Bob reads from his short story Hole in the Wall. Lisa was confused about a character who gets introduced. Pat liked the tone though she doesn’t like scary stories. Lisa thought it was too light and didn’t think a lot happened. Some thought it could be ominous. Jerry has a question about geography and if the hole has been taken out yet. Cindi and Pat thought it was very visual, which was great. (more…)

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