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Monday, May 31, 2010


Memorial Day is the day I must remember the heroes who gave up everything that I might live with the most unique and wonderful array of freedoms in the world. Thank you.


What follows came to me in a chain E-mail, but the words are truths I want to share . . . lest we forget . . .

It is the veteran, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the veteran, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the veteran, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the veteran, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble.
It is the veteran, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the veteran, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

AFDOC 21: Finally Happened

Well, it finally happened. I haven't written one word in AFDOC this week. And guess what? I was busy, but not THAT busy. No explanation. Scheduled my time for next week. Hope I haven't hit some kind of wall.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Little tidbit

Yes, I'm hard at work on the Nth revision of a story that started out as "What Doesn't Kill You," was changed to "Embedded" and is now "XXX." I know I shouldn't worry about the title at this point, but it's hanging around in the recesses of my mind as unfinished business. Not that I don't recognize that an agent or publisher will change it anyway. sigh.

But back to the little tidbit . . . it's always been my habit (since my Chrysler Corp days) to print off a few pages of what I write in order to recognize those little mistakes that seem to be hidden within the pixels of a computer screen. I also frequently read the pages out loud. A visit to the Guppy blog this morning reminded me of a trick I had forgotten. Don't just print the pages, change the font as well. If you're using 12 point Courier for your work, temporarily change it to 14 point Times New Roman. Or vice versa. You'll be surprised at how different the text looks and what you'll identify.

Okay, that's my tidbit. You all keep on keeping on, and I'll try to do the same.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

AFDOC 20: Major Change to the Story Climax

As I've worked my way through the climax of the story for the 700th time, it still doesn't feel right. It isn't what I wanted to say and the idea I wanted to leave with the reader. I've known it all along somewhere underneath the layers and layers of ideas that have swirled around me over the past two years, but the process of revision brought it all to a climax {yes, I know it's a hopeless pun, but too good to ignore} in a big way this week. But you need a little background to help you see where it's been and where it is now without giving away the "big to-do." After all, you are planning to buy the book when all is said and done and I don't want to spoil the fun.

When I started this book for real about six years ago, I had in mind a feel good experience, a retrospective look at the 50s and what life for a young girl and her slightly peculiar family was like in the deep South when Elvis and Tammy were hitting the scene. As I progressed through the Good-Lord-Himself knows how many critique groups and classes and submitted material, I kept getting back there's no plot, no tension, funny but not going anywhere, etc. etc. In abundance I got critique notes on ways to throw in some dirt and make the story grittier. Now, keep in mind that I did have a few gritty surprises under my hat, but I hadn't shared any of those yet. When I did reveal where I was going what I got was it's not enough, let us see the pain, let us see some drama, and so forth. So I relented and ramped things up with grousing and arguing, a little more grit, and I've had trouble feeling attached to most of those scenes from the get-go. What I wanted to share was a family somewhere between the Adams family and the Beaver. Apparently America has become too jaded to accept that a lot of families really lived like that. I, for example, would never have seriously questioned my father to his face much less my mother. When they said be home by 10 pm, I was. I raced a few cars, smoked a few cigarettes, sneaked on eyeliner on the bus on the way to ballgames, but believe you me, my friends and I were not the Pink Ladies. If I had been caught dressing like Rizzo, I'd probably still be doing time in my room.

But this week as I labored {and it was} to write some wrongs in my story, my writing angel whispered an idea in my ear. She was more subtle than usual. This particular angel has the same personality characteristics as the ghost of Christmas Present, Carol Kane, in Scrooged with Bill Murray, and she keeps me on my toes. The change means rewriting the last third of the book in a major way and I'll need to start weaving some new foreshadowing along the way. I'll finish the first major rewrite this week and sometime in the next six months my two current critique groups will see it. It may be too sappy for them. We'll see. But, you know what, it bears a startling similarity to something I got involved in when I was 15 - 16, so I know it's possible.

Have a good one. Mahala

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Return to the fold

Yep, my eyes are with me this time. Two surgeries and several weeks without glasses later, here I am. I certainly plan for this to be a continuing visit.

During my absence, I did read a couple of books on writing -- very slowly. My eyes get tired fast, so it was read three or four pages, put the book down for a while, insert eye drops, then start again. Rather than put what follows in our book advisory column, here's my take on what I learned:

Mysteries, suspense, action/adventure genres rely heavily on plot--the idea--to move the story along. In his book, "The Plot Thickens," Noah Lukeman alerts the reader/writer to another facet of fiction writing, the character-driven plot. The author details how to craft a dynamite story with life-like characters with whom readers can identify, or at least recognize. He shows novice and experienced writers alike the way to build story using all the elements of writing. Through the use of examples, he leads the reader/writer through development of exquisite characterization, place, journey, and conflict. The book is an easy read and should be a fast one but I found myself stopping, bookmarking a page, and excitedly going back into all of my works-in-progress to incorporate his editorial insights. Lukeman also authored “The First 5 Pages.”

I am now persuaded that I should try to integrate character-driven plots into my plot-driven stories. Now for the hard part . . . doing it effectively. Well, I'm off now to give it a try.

Keep on keeping on and I'll try to do the same.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

AFDOC 18 & 19

Been off line for a week or so with the flu of all things! Finished the costumes for Wonderland and made it to opening night. It was wonderful! The rose was exceptional! If you're in the Mobile area, check out Drama Camp Productions/Sunnyside Theater for an exciting experience for your children. Summer camp will be starting soon and they would love it. Christopher Paragone is the owner and director and has an excellent ability to motivate the children. Most of the plays are based on children's books.

As for writing, the last two weeks haven't produced many pages of revision, but I discovered that a fever can fuel the thought process quite effectively. While I filled up my wastebasket with tissues, I also filled up my bedside table with notes as new ideas for revisions kept popping and ways to handle several places that needed a new approach to more aptly express what my characters are feeling came through. I got all the notes typed in this morning and am feeling rejuvenated.

Although I still sound like I have my head in a bucket, I'm feeling much better and ready to get back into the game.

Anybody remember what the commercial for headaches is that sang this little ditty?

Pop Pop Fizz Fizz

May this week get thousands of words on the page for us all. Mahala

Monday, May 3, 2010


Buried under an avalanche of fabric making costumes for my granddaughter's play Alice in Wonderland. She's the Rose if you're interested. Did get in two contest entries and added another chapter to AFDOC by dividing several. Made substantial changes to a dramatic/thriller scene. Keeping on keeping on. Once I'm out of Wonderland I'll go back to the imaginary world of AFDOC. Seeing a pattern here? Mahala