Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Value Added

I promised to post about the Value Added aspect of going through Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. First let me say the exercises are extremely useful. They also require thought, time and hard work. 

Between the exercises, Maass includes a page or two of explanatory material in which he explains his ideas and illustrates them with passages from novels. Usually when reading these passages, I realize that my novel could use a passage that is similar in some way. Character B never explains exactly how Character D makes him feel, or Character A needs a stronger reaction to [plot event], or Characters A and E need to have a bigger argument. I write all these ideas on a separate page, and when the exercises get too challenging, I go back and write these scenes. 

It’s working so far.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


I bet somebody will tell me what kind of frog this is. 
(northern leopard frog)
First fall colors
Snowy egret. (And no, I don't have the right lens for this shot.) 
Correction: great egret. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


We’re home from Boston and adjusting to a quieter lifestyle. A metal band no longer rehearses in our basement. 

I’ve started a revision-read-aloud of my work-in-progress to improve voice and writing flow. When I’m done, I’ll do the exercises in Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass. These exercises are useful for increasing tension and developing character. The value added part is going through the workbook often generates additional, unrelated ideas. I hope next week, I’ll share some of that in this blog. 

In a moment of weakness, I ordered 400 bulbs for my garden. To prepare the beds for ipheion, chionodoxa and anemones, I sprinkle a dried blood product that is supposed to deter voles and mice then add generous amounts of crushed oyster shells to provide calcium and make tunneling unpleasant. After I bury the bulbs, I cover the beds with hardware cloth to keep squirrels from digging. It might work. I’m also planting allium which is related to garlic. Wild creatures aren’t supposed to like the flowers or the bulbs. 

To finish, I’ll share a cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody" that explains string theory. 


Friday, September 13, 2013

Overheard #264

“Sleeping cats are sometimes better.”

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Quest

One of the local chipmunks likes to perch on our solar lights. I've been trying to get a good picture, but it's difficult because I have to shoot through a window, and the subject is shy. Here's my best attempt so far. I'll keep trying to get a better face profile. 

If I straightened the solar light poles, he'd have a more comfortable seat.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Overheard #263

"I have an unaccompanied negative charge right by the phosphate backbone."