Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

Tuesdays With Story

September 20, 2022

First Word…

“There is a basin in the mind where words float around on thought and thought on sound and sight. Then there is a depth of thought untouched by words, and deeper still a gulf of formless feelings untouched by thought.

—Zora Neale Hurston (1891–1960) American author, anthropologist, and filmmaker.

Last Tuesday Evening with Tuesdays With Story…

Six TWS writers met via Google Meet to discuss the works submitted. Here is a summary of what was said:

—Jaime Nelson Noven (New York After All, Chs. 7-9) …Bob enjoyed the cinematic opening. Kashmira suggested getting more insight into her thoughts as she approaches. John suggested adding tension during this scene and in the dorm room. Amber noted that the teaser “after everything” is a good opportunity for backstory, since it doesn’t work well as foreshadowing. Judy recommended showing us something in the scene that “doesn’t feel right” instead of just saying it. Kashmira also suggested extending the scene to see her hesitate over her big decision in the end of the chapter. Thanks, everyone!

Amber Boudreau (Second Act, Chs. 13-14) …Amber read from the beginning of chapter 13 of her novel Second Act. Overall people seemed to like the chapters, but they thought there could have been more tension especially when the three characters go out for a meal. As John pointed out, we trust two of the characters, so the way to introduce tension would be with the third. Jamie wondered if the sound of the packing peanuts would drive a werewolf with sensitive hearing to distraction. Judy wondered how in control of his wolf the main character is. Answer: very. John wondered if the packing peanuts might have been tampered with.

Judy Cummings (A Real Hero, Chs. 1-2 and panels 1-8 of comic The Adventures of Captain Tharros) …In general, the group thought the protagonist’s voice was authentic and consistent with that of an 11-year-old boy. Amber questioned whether the name Captain Tharros might be too similar to the villain of the Marvel series. Jamie thought it wise to not feature the comic book too often between chapters, consistent with advice Judy received from an editor recently. Kashmira suggested further research on whether or not it’s appropriate to give art suggestions in the comic book sections, as this is typically not done with other types of manuscripts. Thanks for the feedback, everyone.

Kashmira Sheth (Journey to Swaraj, Chs. 24-25) …Kashmira submitted chapter 24-25 of JTS. Jaime felt that there was urgency in these chapters. Judy felt that chapter 24 had too much information in the beginning that readers might skim over. John suggested using metaphor for the death of 10 million people. Bob pointed out that characters have grown. Amber liked the present tense and wondered if Mayur and Jasubhai would return. 

Here’s who’s up on October 4…

Judy Cummings (A Real Hero, Chs. 3,4 and panels of comic The Adventures of Captain Tharros)

Suzanne Gillingham (Kaleidoscope)

Bob Kralapp (Logical Realities of the World, short story)

Kashmira Sheth (Journey to Swaraj, Chs. 24-26)

Our Editor for October…

Kashmira Sheth takes on Writer’s Mail for the next two issues. She is always on the lookout for good things to include, so if you have something you want her to include, do email it to her.

In Other News… 

Kashmira’s fifth book in the Nina Soni series will come out on October 18th, 2022. Here is the first review from Kirkus:

Nina, who enjoys making lists and sometimes has trouble focusing, is an earnest protagonist with classic worries about sometimes-intricate levels of friendship. Snow good! (Kirkus Review)

She also did a podcast with Reading With Your Kids.

The link is: https://traffic.libsyn.com/readingwithyourkids/Kashmira_Sheth.mp3

Last Word…

Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion.

Barry Lopez (1945-2020) American author, essayist and nature writer.


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Tuesdays With Story

September 6, 2022

First Word…

“The important thing is not to offer any specific hope of betterment but, by offering an imagined but persuasive alternate reality, to dislodge the mind, and so the reader’s mind from the lazy, timorous habit of thinking that the way we live now is the only way we can live. – Ursula Le Guin, Paris Review, Art of Fiction, No 221

Tuesday evening…

Jack Frieburger (Three poems) Rende Moi:  Fluff at this point, but may eventually become a poem.

Je Suis Charlie:  Some phrasing was appreciated. Larry saw moral equivalence, which was not intended. I suggest Baader was correct in that there are no innocents, but the romance and high principle of terrorism is not what the person in the street feels. But there is the suspicion of those not of the same race, class, etc., that pervades the west.

Would that we could be Innocents.

Barbara Salisbury is either coming along or as far as I can take it. Previous readers saw an improvement.

Kashmira Sheth (Journey to Swaraj, Chs. 21-23) Kashmira submitted chapters 21-23 of JTS. There were some questions about how Dadima’s death would make Veena think of certain issues like fighting for freedom as well as British rule. There are few things that need rearranging. Also comment about expanding one critical scene to make it stand out more. One phrase was overused. Thanks everyone for your input. 

Bob Kralapp (Two poems) General response to Aria centered on its being warm and comforting, creating a feeling of peace. Larry liked the simile used in depicting the destitute man in Holborn Station. A few readers had questions about the choice of words used to characterize the narrators’ reaction to the man. Kashmira noted the haunting nature of the poem. Thanks for all comments.

Amber Boudreau (Second Act, Chs. 10-12) Amber read from the beginning of Chapter 12, the last of three chapters she sent to the group. (Apparently, we should only send 15 pages or so. Amber hastily makes a mental note). Everyone seemed to agree that chapters 11 and 12 were where things really picked up and started to move along. Larry suggested compressing Chapter 10 and saying the same thing, but with 75% of the words. Jamie has found the tension taking a roller coaster ride in these first chapters, but seems prepared to buckle herself in for whatever’s next. Paul wondered if werewolves could get fleas. Larry found the time it takes for our main character to change into a wolf fascinating at a whopping twenty-two minutes. 

Larry F. Sommers (Brothers, Ch. 1 rewritten, Hal view – possible opening chapter of a WWII novel) Jack and others thought the previous version, written from Jag’s viewpoint, was more robust and straightforward. Suzanne and others liked the Hal viewpoint. Point for the Hal viewpoint: Introduces the character from an internal viewpoint. Point for the Jag viewpoint: Hal will disappear for a while; better to start with a character we can follow for a few chapters and then go back to Hal.  Thanks, everybody.

Who’s up Next?

John Schneller (Precious Daughter, unnumbered chapter)

Jaime Nelson Noven (New York After All, chapters 7-9)

Judy Cummings (???)

Amber Boudreau (Second Act, chapters 13,14)

Kashmira Sheth (Journey to Swaraj, chapters 24-26)

New Members to TWS…

An invitation went out, courtesy of Jaime Nelson Noven, for anyone interested in joining TWS. Judy Cummings, Gregory Renz, Suzanne Gillingham, Mike Kern and Cheryl Vickroy answered the call. Welcome!

Last Word…

The challenge is to write about real things magically.” – Raymond Chandler

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Tuesdays with Story

The first word . . .

“At the most basic we are only discussing a learned skill, but do we not agree that sometimes the most basic skills can create things far beyond our expectations? We are talking about tools and carpentry, about words and style…but as we move along, you’ll do well to remember that we are also talking about magic.”

–Stephan King, On Writing

Tuesday evening. . .

Six TWS writers came together on Tuesday to share their works. Here’s the conversation:

Bob Kralapp  Jaime liked the sequence where Katherine is almost clipped by the Mercedes, then thinks through the incident later at the grocery store. Mike felt the story is only partially resolved since the pistol is still in the bedpost. There were several comments that some of the longer sentences later on in the story could be broken up into shorter ones. Thanks all for the excellent comments.

Kashmira Sheth Kashmira submitted two chapters of Journey to Swaraj.

Larry had a couple of comments regarding certain metaphors and phrases. Overall, he thought it flowed nicely. Jaime wanted a little more time to go by in the cart before Veena reached home from helping her brother. Bob wanted a little more information about the salt marsh, the leaders’ involvement, and its significance. Mike wrote that he enjoyed the chapters. He did find Mrs. Bibra too kind. 

Thank you all.

Jaime Nelson Noven  Chapter 1… Kashmira enjoyed the world-building but could use some clarity on the sequence of actions happening. Larry enjoyed the tension caused by the character’s lack of sleep. Jack made suggestions for cutting long sentences into smaller ones, as well as adding some more scene-building sentences. Bob also thought the chapter could go a little longer. We all wondered whether the alcohol business would have gotten better as things got worse or whether the vodka would really be made out of fermented squash from a rotting Jersey. Amit noted that the somewhat disembodied voice of Alexei speaking to Nathan from below reminded him of Alexa, which made for an amusing image. Thanks, everyone!

Amit Trivedi  (If Not For The Partition, chapter 1) The group felt it was an improvement from the previous version. Babubhai illness has to be developed more. The importance of books and Kedar leaving needs to be explained.  Slowing down pacing will also help. Explain  Rangoli. Otherwise it seems it’s a police officer!

Larry F. Sommers Early passages from memoir Good Enough–There were various suggestions for word order and flow in the opening section (1948). Kashmira and others felt I, the narrator, could have been more active in seeking to play with the electric train. The final scene, being evicted from my second-grade teacher’s house, needs a bit more specification of the circumstances and elaboration of the impact. Thanks, all.

July 19,  here’s who’s on deck

So far, we have only three. There is room for more. If interested, please let Larry know. Thanks.

Kashmira Sheth

Amit Trivedi

Larry F. Sommers



Our editor

Amit will edit the July issues of Writer’s Mail. If you have something, do email it to Amit.

The last word . . .

“The first draft of everything is shit.”

                                                                                                                      —Ernest Hemingway 

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Writer’s Mail

Tuesdays With Story

June 7th Meeting

First Word…

“I write to discover what I know.”
― Flannery O’Connor

Tuesday evening…

Larry, Jack, Kashmira, Jaime, Daniel and Bob met via Zoom to discuss the works submitted. Here is a summary of what was said:

Dan Culhain (A Grand Thing, chapters 3 and 4) … Dan submitted two chapters from his work-in-progress. In general, he received more feedback on the Aikken chapter than the Nellie chapter. Kashmira thought there were some opportunities to better show Aikken’s mental state vs. telling. John offered a couple of wording suggestions related to how Aikken would perceive the sudden presence of the strangers. Jack wanted to see more of Aikken up front to invest the reader more in the character. Also, the Aikken chapter seemed to jump around a bit and could use some arrangement.

—Larry F. Sommers (“Sketches,” experimental early chapters of memoir) … Discussion centered around the contrasting and complementary roles of juvenile vs. adult narrator voice in different sections. It was illuminating and informative. I will go and try to make it better. Thanks, all.

Kashmira Sheth (Journey to Swaraj, chapters 14-16) … Kashmira submitted three chapters of Journey to Swaraj. Jack wanted sentences to be shortened in the part when Veena confronts the police officer. Jamie asked about the turban and how it came undone. John wanted to know how quickly the brother disappeared and reappeared. Overall the comments were positive. Thank you all.

Jaime Nelson Noven (New York, After All, chapter 3)… We talked this week about world-building, and Dan brought into question if the population is dwindling, why does she pay for rent, and why would the city build a new train? Larry would almost like to see this as chapter 1. Kashmira enjoyed the slow build and the character relationships. Bob enjoyed the tone, texture, and imagery of the chapter. John brought into question the connotation of a toucan’s beak (as being long more so than curved). Jack was concerned the narrative voice may be dulling the scene, and that the narrator should notice more than the characters do. Dan pointed out that Charlie needs to think about her missing book in this chapter since it’s so important to her and the plot. Thanks, everyone!

Who’s up Next?

The only definite presenters so far for June 21st are:

Kashmira Sheth               Journey to Swaraj

Bob Kralapp                    Storm, revised ending

That leaves several slots open if anyone has something to submit for the next meeting.


On June 1st, Amber Boudreau appeared as a guest on The Author Blurb Podcast, hosted by E. A. Maynard. Some of the talking points include finding a supportive writer’s group, the slippery conventions of the genre, and the sometimes disconnect between the writer’s intentions and the reader’s expectations. This interview can be seen here

Last Word…

That’s my only defense against this world: to build a sentence out of it.— Jim Harrison

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Tuesdays With Story

May 17th Meeting

“Remember, a writer writes, always.”—Billy Crystal, Throw Momma from the Train.

Five of us, Daniel, Kashmira, Bob, Jaime, and Mike, got together for Tuesday’s meeting to discuss and offer suggestions for the three submissions. Here are the summaries:

Kashmira submitted two chapters of Journey to Swaraj. Mike and Jaime said they enjoyed the metaphors that were grounded in Veena’s world. Jamie had a question about the chapter 12th ending. Daniel felt that Veena’s paranoia could be better presented and Bob wanted more details about the mob scene. Thanks all for your comments.

Mike submitted a new version of his short story, Roger. Bob missed the post-funeral dinner scene in the re-write, but liked young Roger’s wondering about the baby being lonesome. Kashmira suggested that the ending should show more transformation or resolve from Roger. Daniel thought that Roger lost some kindness in this version. Thanks, everyone for your helpful comments!


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Tuesdays with Story

May 3rd Meeting

“Writing is like sex. First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money.”
–Virginia Woolf

Well, let’s just hope we don’t get as cynical as that.


Seven of us Zoomed in on Tuesday to share their writings to offer suggestions and comments on writing. Here are the summaries from the writers:

Jaime Nelson Noven (New York, After All, chapter 2)… Most writers agreed the chapter is working well in both introducing the characters and providing intrigue. For Bob, the detail of the chocolate on the breath of the nurse made the scene really come to life. Kashmira suggested that instead of telling Charlie’s intentions in the last line, I can show this by having her hesitate putting on her reading glasses. Thanks, all!

Amber Boudreau Amber read from the beginning of chapter 6 of her sequel, Second Act. Jaime seemed to take immense pleasure in deleting sentences and Amber can’t wait to see what she got rid of. John, who wasn’t with us last time, said he didn’t immediately like Jeremy as much as he did Mavis. Jaime suggested mentioning a role Jeremy didn’t get as a way to perhaps endear him to the reader. Bob wondered if Jeremy isn’t on the autism spectrum. Spoiler: he’s not. Kashmira was looking for a little more reaction from Jeremy concerning his old pack. 


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Tuesdays with Story
April 19, 2022

The first word . . .

In selecting the starting point and ending point for your story, it will help “if you will remember the following facts about readers:

  1. They are fascinated and threatened by significant change;
  2. They want the story to start with such a change;
  3. They want to have a story question to worry about;
  4. They want the story question answered in the story ending;
  5. They will quickly lose patience with everything but material that relates to the story question.”

– Jack M. Bickham, Scene and Structure, p. 7 (1993).

Tuesday evening April 19, 2022

Six TWS writers came together over Zoom and in person this week to review the works-in-progress of four of their colleagues and offer insights and critiques. Here is a summary of what was said:

— Mike Austin (“Roger”) … “Roger” was very well received. I had concerns that it might be too depressing, but that didn’t seem to be a problem. Some areas that could use fleshing out were the things that have alienated his family from him, such as his affair and his mocking of his son’s religion. I also should clarify Angie’s comment about not being able to afford an emergency room. (And along those lines, it occurred to me that if Angie had a job at the university, she’d have insurance. So I might have to give her a different job.) There was a little brawling, though no bloodshed, thanks to Zoom, about whether the structure could be changed so that the story begins with Roger waking in the waiting room, contemplating the events leading up to his being there, or if it should remain linear. I did find the idea of beginning in the waiting room appealing. Hm. Thanks to everyone for your comments and suggestions.  

Dan Culhane (A Grand Thing To Be An Afternoon, Ch. 2) Dan submitted chapter 2 in which we are introduced to Nellie, Oren, and Jacob and start to see the world of MY026. Dan received some very helpful feedback on the mechanics of the chapter, including on the opening description of the scene and the purpose of certain section breaks. A universal agreement against the use of parenthesis was duly noted. The piece succeeds in introducing characters that are engaging and get people to care about their relationships. However, the narration needs some attention in places to avoid the voice of the narrator sneaking into Nellie’s internal dialogue. All very helpful feedback and much appreciated.


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Writer’s Mail

Tuesdays with Story
April 5, 2022

The first word . . .

“Drama is the way of holding the reader’s attention. The basic formula for drama is setup, buildup, payoff—just like a joke. The setup tells us what the game is. The buildup is where you put in all the moves, the forward motion, where you get all the meat off the turkey. The payoff answers the question, Why are we here anyway? What is it that you’ve been trying to give? Drama must move forward and upward, or the seats on which the audience is sitting will become very hard and uncomfortable.” – Anne Lamott (bird by bird).

Tuesday evening April 5, 2022

Seven TWS writers came together over Zoom (mostly) this week to review the works-in-progress of four of their colleagues and offer insights and critiques. They also got a look at Larry’s freshly minted bookmarks! Here is a summary of what was said:

Kashmira Sheth (Journey to Swaraj, 7-9) …Kashmira submitted chapters of Journey to Swaraj. Larry thought that the story has improved from the previous draft. Daniel liked what the description of the food evoked. John had some logistic concerns and Bob suggested places where the story can be deepened. Jaime pointed out places where the story could be tightened. Thank you all for reading and sharing your comments.  


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Tuesdays with Story

The first word . . .

I don’t start out writing to challenge stereotypes. I think that can be as dangerous as starting out to ‘prove’ stereotypes. And I say ‘dangerous’ because fiction that starts off that way often ends up being contrived, burdened by its mission. I do think that simply writing in an emotionally truthful way automatically challenges the single story because it humanizes and complicates. And my constant reminder to myself is to be truthful.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Tuesday evening. . .

Eight TWS writers attended the March 15 meeting.  

Amit Trivedi (If Not for the Partition, Chapters 1-2)

The revised chapters are a lot better than the previous ones but still need work.

The ‘Monkey’ scene needs to be expanded.

Try to incorporate two points of view (Kedar and Uma) in the first chapter. This will also give insight to their characters and make them more interesting to the readers.

Foreshadowing a bit about the partition is acceptable.


Bob Kralapp (Slow Dancing Under the Mirror Ball)

The story was well-received. There were several comments that the story ended on a strong note. Kashmira felt there were still places where Bernie’s emotions and situations from his past could be brought out further. Both Jack and Larry saw the burning of the disability check as a crucial moment, a turning point in the growth of Bernie’s character.

John Schneller (Precious Daughter, Chapter 32)
Varied response to this chapter. Larry found quite a bit of confusion in the action. Jack felt Oltan was a cardboard character as an antagonist and bad guy. Kashmira suggests condensing the scene and prodding Kotel into this fight with Oltan. And all think turtles need to learn more complete English or we won’t know who they foiled. Lots to consider.

Jaime Nelson Noven (New York After All, Ch.1)

We looked at the logistics of what Nathan is doing: How high up is he really, what is his job exactly, and what is he standing on? Several members thought Lindyhop’s exit from her scene could be stronger and show her personality more. Bob enjoyed “saxophone artist.” Larry pointed out that calling the press a “vanity” publisher at this stage is misleading. We spent some time discussing the cigarette Lindyhop smokes but doesn’t smoke: She would have to wave it to light it, and this may highlight her different approach to things. How popular is smoking in the future, and does this hint at her view of the world or how she doesn’t want to take responsibility for her alter-persona? Does she have an ashtray that tells us something? Thanks, all!

Jack  Freiburger(3 Poems) Please see the attached file from Jack.

Kashmira Sheth (Journey to Swaraj Chapters 6-9)

We will take this up next time.

April, here’s who’s on deck

Kashmira ShethJourney to Swaraj, 7-9
Dan Culhane 
John SchnellerPrecious Girl 
Bob Kralapp 

Our editor for the April meetings:

We do not have an editor for April. Any volunteers?

 Fifth Tuesday…

Fifth Tuesday will be at Jack’s, the writing prompt is “Those Darn(ed) Masks.” People can send their up-to-500-words efforts to Larry, by Monday, March 28, so he has time to arrange them and print them up.

The last word . . .

It’s a mistake that we divide art into popular art and fine, highbrow, high-quality art…It has no basis in reality. And it is a way to keep other people and other people’s taste at a distance. It is a way of closing oneself towards some kinds of reality. So I like to play with genres and to experience the thriller and the love story and to play with reality.

Peter Høeg

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Tuesdays with Story

The first word . . .

“When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.” — George Orwell

Tuesday evening. . .

Nine TWS writers attended March first meeting.  

Bob (Slow Dancing Under the Mirror Ball, part 1)

There were many comments that the small-town setting was believable and that the conversations sounded real. The homecoming parade needs work on two points. The first is showing a stronger connection between the temperature of a snowy day and how the townspeople are dressed. The second concerns making Bernie a stronger or more continuous presence.


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