Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Was Supposed to Post Something on Scenes in November

If you haven’t checked out Darcy Pattison’s 30 Days to a Stronger Scene, take a look. I’ve been following this series, and I promised to write my own post on scenes this month. Hmmm. Looks like I’d better do it today.

For revising scenes, the bottom line is simple.


I’ve been wondering how dull stuff gets into a novel in the first place. Perhaps it happens because living people need downtime more than characters. Quiet interludes recharge our bodies and give us time for creative thinking, but characters cannot be given that courtesy. They have to press on.

When my sons were little and stuck in an uninteresting situation, they made their own fun – usually in a disruptive, loud and parentally-challenging way. Yep, when things calm down, it’s time to cause some mayhem.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mystery Photo

What is it?
Please leave your guesses in the comments section.
The answer will be posted on Saturday (12-4-2010).

I think this one is extraordinarily difficult.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


twisted stems

These photographs were taken with a flash around noon on an overcast day. I used creative autofocus and slightly increased the depth of field to get the curving stems in focus and the backgrounds blurred.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Reflections on a Gift of Homegrown Pecans*

My brother recently moved to a large ranch in northeastern Texas. Before Thanksgiving, he sent me a bag of shelled pecans from trees on his property.

I was touched by the gift. In this era of busy lives and scattered families, it seemed almost like a reunion. Our families were separated by a thousand miles, yet we’d both be eating chocolate pecan pie. On Wednesday, between picking up the turkey, making cranberry sauce, preparing the stuffing, fetching one son from college and juggling cars with the other, I made a pie.

As a baker, this was not my finest hour. I hadn’t realized that the pecans, machine-hulled at my brother’s local feed store, still contained small fragments of shell. The pie, while tasty, was a minefield of tooth-cracking hard things. A metaphor for sibling relationships lurks somewhere in that chocolate studded sweetness. The gifts are unexpected and interesting, yet it takes some work to remove the shells.

*with apologies to Stephen Dunning

Friday, November 26, 2010

Overheard #121

"Chocolate ... and pecans? Oh my - now there's a combination to make you believe in Santa again!"

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

The week is flying by. The YEAR is flying by. My Thanksgiving dinner preparations are almost on schedule, so maybe I’ll post something yet this week. Perhaps, with luck, I’ll get out with my camera this weekend …

Happy Thanksgiving!

(That was as close as I could get to pumpkin color.)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Overheard #120

"I hate it when the stores go from Halloween to Christmas and don’t give us any time to be thankful."

Thursday, November 18, 2010


If you need a laugh on a Thursday morning, check out these analogies written by high school students.

(My fave is #16.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Target Audience

Writing is all about what will attract and hold the interest of the reader.

I get that.

Lately I’ve read or started to read a couple books that were intended for adult readers even though the story began when the protagonist was a child. The authors chose to present the young part of the story as an adult looking back. The language was sophisticated, and life-experiences of the adult were apparent in the telling. These authors apparently believed their adult readers would relate more readily to a young voice if viewed through the lens of memory.

I get that too.

But for someone who’s in the trenches, striving day after day to make my teenage characters’ voices sound realistic and young (without appearing to work at making them seem realistic and young), this approach seems too easy.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


the last leaf


Friday, November 12, 2010

Overheard #119

"I got a friend request from a stack of pancakes in an astronaut suit."

A few years ago, that sentence would have been nonsense.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Band with No Name

For one of my manuscripts, I need the names of a few imaginary rock bands. No problem. I assumed I could string together a few goofy or relevant words then google them to see if a band already used that name.


Just about every band has a web presence, and just about every word or short phrase in the English language has been used to name these bands. I even tried some geeky scientific terms, but they are some of the most popular. Eventually, I came across a band name generator that was helpful, but I still don’t have a stellar name.

Any suggestions?

(I’m leaning toward metal bands because of the thunderous presence of a certain metal band in my life.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Brit Lit

Jeremy’s English homework was to write a letter based on one of Shakespeare’s sonnets. His first idea was:

Dear Summer’s Day,
You remind me of this chick I know …

But being unsure of his teacher’s sense of humor, he opted for a different approach.

Think about how much the voice changes if synonyms are substituted for chick. Maybe this will evolve into a Write Night exercise.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


ice crystals on rosebuds

Friday, November 5, 2010

Overheard #118

"Et tu, telemarketer?"

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ruth's Revision Genius

This revision technique comes from Ruth McNally Barshaw.

When faced with suggestions for major revisions, all writers feel the earth tilt a bit with the realization of how many changes will be required. Eventually our planet regains its orbit and the work begins. Ruth’s revision plan is simple and brilliant.

1. Put the manuscript aside for a few days to provide time for celestial shifts.
2. Brainstorm ways to implement the changes. Take several days to do this, working for a couple hours each day and simply jotting down ALL ideas. Sometimes the concepts that seem the most offbeat at first turn out to be the best.
3. Brainstorm without the written word staring you in the face. Do not look at the manuscript or you won’t be able to see the forest for the trees.
4. Choose the best ideas and start revising.

Step 3 is the most crucial.

Monday, November 1, 2010

November Update

Just Say No to NaNoWriMo
Actually, I like the idea of NaNoWriMo, but it never fits with my writing/revising schedule. Good luck to all who are participating.

November Scene Clinic
I’m taking part in Darcy Pattison's 30 Days to a Stronger Scene. Check Darcy's blog for daily postings or her facebook event page. I’ll write about my scene ideas – at some point this month.

“Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky”
Thanks to William Shakespeare (As You Like It) for that description of winter. For the next few months, Michigan will be gray, brown and occasionally white. Skies will be overcast. As Emily Dickinson wrote:

There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons —
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes —
I’m not going to promise a photograph every Sunday. If I encounter something good, I’ll certainly share it.