Sunday, March 31, 2013


The ice is gone, and the spring flowers haven't sprouted yet. Here are pods and vines.

I experimented with depth of field in an attempt to achieve those nice blurry backgrounds and yet have most of the vine in focus.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Filing Card Outline

My critiques at the Vermont College of Fine Arts workshop suggested that my novel needs some major changes. To investigate the possible solutions, I made a filing card outline. I used one 3x5 card for each scene. Across the top of each card, I wrote a sentence or phrase describing the scene. At the bottom right-hand corner I noted the chapter number and assigned a scene number. 

To study my novel, I lay the cards out in columns by chapter. Our kitchen table is big enough to hold eleven chapters (approximately 1/3 of the novel) which is a reasonable amount to study at one time. The cards allow me to see what will happen if I move scenes around. I also added colored post-it notes. The yellow ones relate to problems that I noticed while making the outline. The blue ones suggest modifications that will be necessary if I leave the scenes in their original order, but change a major premise in the plot. 

Novels, especially in early drafts, are long, unwieldy things. The cards let me subdivide the problem and compare possible solutions.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Overheard #246

"The easiest thing for me to do is nothing."

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

More Spring Ice

I posted the same ice formation taken from a different angle yesterday.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Ice

Spring in Michigan means lots of freeze-thaw cycles and interesting ice formations over the river.

zombie hand


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Specific Compliments

Vicky Lorencen does a fantastic job of explaining the importance of positive comments in critiques. This post continues with that theme. In the critiquing guide for this workshop, we were asked to name three positive things about each manuscript and to be as specific as possible. Consider the following: 

“You rock on voice.” 

“You do a great job of expressing Southern dialect.” 

“Your use of colloquial expressions and the rhythm of the speech let me know that the novel is placed in the South. For example, on page five, when you wrote ‘He’s as handy as a button on a shirt,’ I was immediately transported to Texas.” 

Since this imaginary writer is trying to recreate the world of a Southern teen living in the fifties, the third comment is the only one that will help her. 

The use of specific compliments is something I can practice before next month’s critique group. Instead of saying, “What a pretty sweater,” I could tell a friend, “The turquoise in your sweater brings out the blue in your eyes.”  

The key is to say what works and why.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Warning: Puns Ahead

Something fishy this way strums.

The picture of the "bass guitar" came from Jeremy's WRA 130 paper. The caption is attributed to my husband.

My friend, Neal Levin, said, "I guess you really can tune a fish."

Overheard #245

"It’s worth more than a gold monkey."

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Busy Week

I will blog about the Vermont Writing Workshop, but until I find the time and words, please check out Vicky Lorencen's post at Frog on a Dime.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Novel Writing Retreat

On Friday, I’m off to Vermont for the 2013 Novel-Writing Retreat for Middle Grade and Young Adult Novels. 

My homework is done. Each participant in the critique track received twenty pages from three other writers and a critique guide that I found quite helpful. I also read one novel by each of the published conference organizers and three novels edited by Andrea Tompa, the guest editor. 

I'll post a meeting report when I get back.  

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Little Assignments

A couple weeks ago, I finished the rough draft of my current novel. (It’s very rough and very drafty.) This novel was difficult to write, and I wanted to push on to the end, so when I came to something that needed more research, a thread that needed to be tied in someplace else, or a scene that lacked appropriate descriptions, I made a margin note with the editor function in Microsoft Word and kept going. 

Every rough draft needs to be improved, but setting out to “make the novel better” is a non-specific and often gargantuan task. Before I jumped into the second draft, I started addressing these little margin notes, working from the last chapter forward. Some are easily remedied while others have required many hours of research. So far, I’ve added about 2500 words. Next, I analyze structure.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Overheard #244

"It saves wear and tear on the brain."

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Today was a good day for ice. And the sun was shining! The light has to be bright and at just the right angle to get that "Crystal Blue Persuasion" effect.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Overheard #243

"If February doesn't wear you down a little bit, you're not doing it right."