Archive for the Category » A Writer’s Take…… «

Writing Tips: Prequels and Sequels

fairies, books for children, literacy, reading, bullying, bullies, elves,

Recently I’ve returned to the Fabled Forest  writing a new book for the series of children’s books.   
Emma and the Aardvarks will address endangered species when two sisters, aardvarks, arrive unexpectedly in the Forest. Just when I think a series has run its course another book pops into my head. 

I write fables (not fairy tales) with a lesson in every story. Subjects like bullying, running away, being different, ecology and so on. 

For you new writers:  A sequel, of course, is a new story that continues (almost) where you left off in the last one. It has reoccurring characters and the scene is usually the same as in my forest. 

A prequel is a story of what happened before your current book.  For example: I might write a story about Emma’s life before she entered the fabled forest and met all her mystical friends.

Is there a prequel or sequel to a story you have written? I’ll bet there is. This idea is very popular with readers. If they like a story, they want more of the same.

GIVE IT TO THEM! 

 

Cinderella's stepsister stumbles into the Fabled Forest clearing

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde
 
To receive my posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

Inspiration in the Check Out Line…really?

Back in 2015 I wrote this post. It’s been getting some ‘clicks’ lately from visitors so I thought I would reprise it. When something or someone inspires you, grab hold and don’t let go?   

inspiration, writing, story telling, blogging, blogs, short stories,, short plays, life     The other day I was standing in line at the grocery store, minding my own business…preoccupied that I was leaving my dogs in the car too long….when I suddenly became aware of the man in front of me being checked out.  I had picked that line because it appeared that he only had maybe six items, (boxes of something) and I was eager to get checked out.  (the dogs…remember?)

Well, it turned out that in front of the ‘boxes’, and out of my line of sight, were two dozen very tiny cans of dog food.  It seems that you can buy three tablespoons of dog food in individual cans for your darling pet.  Two bags of doggy treats and then we were ready to ring up the boxes.

Those six boxes were actually fifteen (yes I counted every one of them; the dogs in the car, remember) boxes of Healthy Choice ‘nutritious, packaged dinners; microwavable, ready to eat  in just twelve minutes’. Fifteen boxes of over-processed, heavily salted, flavor enhanced, empty food.  The nutritional value in the dog food was probably better. I wanted so badly to take my bag of fresh spinach out of my cart and give it to him with my best wishes. But, wait, he wouldn’t know how to steam the spinach or for how long.

Well!  That made me take a closer look at the customer.  And by the time he paid ($86.13 for the dog food and the TV dinners, OMG!) I had half of a short, one act play written in my head.   

The man in my story is a newly widowed senior who was married for forty years and never cooked a meal in his life. 

He goes home with his sad little boxes of food.  He puts his delicious, processed dinners in the freezer to be enjoyed later in front of his fifty-two inch high definition television.  DogSpeaking baby talk he rips open the doggy treats and gives his overweight  shiatsu a goody.

If this sounds as if I am making fun…..no, no, no…it’s written with love as this is the typical existence of the widowed male.  A snapshot of life that gave me a great little story. And  the lesson to be learned, fellow writers, is to keep your eyes and ears open.  You never know when inspiration will strike!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde
 
To receive my posts sign up for my 

 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

 

Interview (part 3) with writer, Anne LeClaire

Anne with friend, Deborah

Q. How long after were you published?

AL. I spent the next three years writing and rewriting and learning how to write a novel, getting to understand the importance of structure, etc. I was very fortunate to work with the brilliant Linda Grey

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

AL. No. When my previous book, The Halo Effect, came out I visited forty-eight book clubs, mostly in person although a few were skyped. Over and over, I heard from readers that they love to hold an actual book. They used eBooks out of convenience but the tactile satisfaction, the holding of it, gave them a pleasure they didn’t get from an eBook. I have both and think there is a place for both, but my first love is paper.

Q. What makes a writer great?

AL. Define great. And to whom? Compilers of 100 greatest lists? Or those who list books that have been timeless in appeal? At what age? Loving a book is so personal.
Another thing I witnessed when visiting book clubs is exactly that. I do know what compels me to recommend a book – to press it into the hands of friends and near strangers, and that is a combination of characters and their stories who haunt me long after I have finished, that make me think and feel and change me in an essential way.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

AL. A roller-coaster.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

AL. Eleven of my books are novels, one is a memoir in which I explore my practice of not speaking two Mondays a month (Listening Below the Noise) and I have written on children’s book. (Kaylee Finds A Friend.)

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

AL. Remember that book, Everything I Need to Know in Life I learned in Kindergarten? Well, many of the things I needed to learn in life, I acquired in writing: What makes people tick? How do we learn to forgive? What is the purpose of grief? How do we grieve? How do we love? If we want to love and be loved, why do we sabotage ourselves? Above all, by sliding into the skins of characters very different from me, I began to develop empathy That’s one of the great things fiction can do for readers and writers.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

Red Sox fan

AL. That depends on the seasons. In the winter, I am a house mouse. I read and rest and go inward. Do yoga. Attend movies or concerts or theatre with friends. The rest of the year, I am more active in my down time. I swim, run, hike, hang out at the beach. I’m always reading regardless of the season. One time inspired by an exercise in The Artist’s Way, I decided to do a one-week reading fast. I lasted three days and those days weren’t pretty. I actually grew short-tempered. Reading is like oxygen to me.

Did you miss the beginning of this interview? Click here
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   April: Poet, Joe Albanese, May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde
 
To receive my posts sign up for my 

 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

Interview with author, Anne LeClaire (part 2)

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

AL. Mornings and into the afternoon are the times I write. When I am working on a first draft, I can usually only put in four hours before I need to stop. (I am always surprised by how physically tiring writing can be). But when I am working on rewrites, I can go until late in the afternoons. I love doing rewrites.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

AL. Remember how good it feels when you are finally at the desk writing.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

AL. Where? Everywhere. Dreams, newspaper articles, overheard conversations and, as the book progresses, from the story itself.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

AL. Love of story. Almost as soon as I could hold a pencil, I was scratching out stories, some only a sentence long. And reading, of course, lead fuel to the fire.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

AL. I’ve had times when character comes first and times when an idea or situation grabbed me initially. Five of my novels rose out of situation and five from character.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

AL. Yes. I lose all track of time. One time my husband had been out for hours and he came into my studio and asked what I had for lunch. I told him I hadn’t eaten yet. He informed me it was 3:30. I thought it was probably around noon.

Q. Do you have a new book coming out soon? If so tell us about it.

AL. My most recent book was published this May. The Orchid Sister is set in Mexico and Cape Cod and concerns many of the themes that fascinate me: how we deal with grief, loss, betrayal, families, faith and fear. In short, all the big things in life.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

AL. I have written as long as I can remember. I had a newspaper column in the local paper when I was in high school. In my 20s and 30s I wrote for newspapers and magazines. At the same time, I was beginning a novel. At the encouragement of an editor at Yankee Magazine I sent a brief outline and sample chapter to an agent. Four months later I had enough for her to submit to a publisher who bought the book on the basis of an outline (which I actually had to learn how to write) and three chapters.
I still haven’t mastered the skill of outlining a book. I think I like the story to unfold as I write it instead of knowing everything ahead.

Did you miss part I? Click here

The conclusion will be on June 28th. Don’t miss the end of this terrific interview.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   April: Poet, Joe Albanese, May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde
 
To receive my posts sign up for my 

 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

Interview with best selling author, Anne LeClaire

TS. Anne LeClaire is a best-selling author of ten novels, one memoir and a children’s book. She lives on Cape Cod and is married with two adult children. I discovered her in one of my searches for new (to me) authors and found ‘The Orchid Sisters‘. 

writing space

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing?  Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

AL. For years I worked at a desk in the far end of our bedroom. My next space was in the guest room in a friend’s home with a view that over looked a salt water pond. After a year there, I upped my game and rented a single room in an office building only two miles from our home. Then in 1991, I designed my dream work space. It is attached to my home and when friends first saw it they likened it to a chapel. It has lots of light and a vaulted ceiling and I enter it through a set of French doors and small library alcove that serves as a transition between two lives.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

AL. Attire first: I wear very comfortable clothes – usually sweats. I once read about an author who put on a suit and went out his front door, re-entered his home through a side door and went to his writing space as if to a job. That sounded like a lot of work to me just getting to the desk. Plus uncomfortable. I mean, a suit?
I usually have a cup of tea or glass of water at the desk. I always begin by checking my email (also known as an act of procrastination) before settling in to begin. I then open up the file to the work from the previous day and begin by working on that and before long I am into the new work. Why this way of beginning is important for me is because I don’t have to begin with a blank page. I am seduced into the new pages.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

Anne with friend

AL. With social media, web sites etc, my life is pretty much an open book. I give lectures and teach workshops both throughout the US and internationally. I am a licensed pilot. My music tastes are varied, encompassing opera, classical, county, jazz, ragtime and  tunes from the 40’s.
I guess readers might not know about the summer jobs I held while in high school and college: Two summers working in the Connecticut valley tobacco fields, two summers working in a plastic injection-molding factory, a summer as a dishwasher on Cape Cod and a summer as a chambermaid. Great experiences for a future writer (although I didn’t realize it at the time) which helped broaden and shape my social views.
One other thing: Once Jane Hamilton, Gail Tsukiyama and I opened a benefit with a Rap performance. I can confidently say there is little chance of being back for a repeat.

Join us for Part 2, June 21st

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   April: Poet, Joe Albanese, May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde
 
To receive my posts sign up for my 

 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

A little Philosophy, a little Humor, a little Politic Reflection

“A fire broke out backstage in a theatre. The clown came out to warn the audience (public); they thought it was a joke and applauded.

He repeated it; the acclaim was even greater. I think that ‘s just how the world will come to an end: to general applause from wits who believe it’s a joke.”  Soren Kierkegaard, Philosopher, (1800’s)

 

I think we’re almost there. Just waiting for the clown with the codes.

We don’t have to agree. We can agree to disagree. BUT, everyone should be very afraid. 

 

 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   April: Poet, Joe Albanese, May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde
 
To receive my posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

New 10 Minute Play, ‘Parkland Requiem’

Requiem: an act or token of remembrance…

Mass shootings are a part of our current culture. Not until now did I have something to say (write) about the mass murders that plague our nation. One day after the horrendous mass shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal building did I begin writing. 

Synopsis:

This ten minute play for teens (in the classroom) is to honor and memorialize the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. It focuses on a small class of students hidden away in safety by their English teacher and what happens while they wait for the shooting to stop. But the question begs will they ever be safe again?

The murdered victims:

My character, Mr. Hale is fashioned after Scott Beigel, 35, a geography teacher and the school’s cross-country coach. He was killed after he unlocked a door to allow students in to hide from the shooter,

Alyssa Alhadeff
Aaron Feis
Martin Duque Anguiano
Nicholas Dworet
Jamie Guttenberg
Chris Hixon
Luke Hoyer
Cara Loughran
Gina Montalto
Joaquin Oliver
Alaina Petty
Meadow Pollack
Helena Ramsay
Carmen Schentrup
Peter Wang

Want to see more one act plays? Click here 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   April: Poet, Joe Albanese, May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde
 
To receive my posts sign up for my 

 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

 

 

Interview with author, Boo Walker (conclusion)

Q. What makes a writer great?

BW. Persistence and butt-in-chair time hone a writer’s craft but I do believe some have an inherent ability to see life in interesting ways, which leads to the fresh voice we all crave to read.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

BW. I write an outline first, using Scrivener’s corkboard feature. I find I’m faster and crisper when I follow a storyline. Of course, I’m always open to following my characters if they want to take a detour. Once my outline is in place, I write each chapter without much looking back. I want to get the bones onto the page. Sometimes I feel like writing detail, but sometimes, I’m almost writing a sketch. Whatever feels like coming. Then I go back and edit and edit and edit. I add flesh and clothes to the bones.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

BW. I think a life spent behind a desk can be dangerous for writers. I have traveled a good bit in my life, and I think it helps me climb into other character’s minds with an open heart.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

BW. What’s downtime? If I do get to enjoy some of this so-called downtime, I love being with my family.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

BW. I started out writing thrillers but have most recently been writing book-club fiction. Something about the challenge of writing page-turners without a mystery to solve or someone to chase intrigues me.

Q. I see your guitars on the wall of your studio. Tell us about your music and Nashville.

Just for fun!

BW. My first connection to the muse was when I started writing songs in college. I fell in love with the five-string banjo, and it became all-consuming for many years. I moved to Nashville from Charleston with a band called The Biscuit Boys, and we enjoyed some great success, playing with Travis Tritt, Sam Bush, John Michael Montgomery, Ricky Scaggs, The Dixie Chicks, and many other heroes. Along with playing banjo, I found my creative stride writing lyrics. My career was cut short by a hand disorder called Focal Dystonia. I moved back to Charleston and tried to figure out the rest of my life. I needed to find a more grown-up job and joined a day-trading firm. But my muse still spoke to me. That’s why I started writing novels! 

Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

BW. Enjoy the ride.

Did you miss the first part? Click here
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   April: Poet, Joe Albanese, May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire and July — Catherine Ryan Hyde
 
To receive my posts sign up for my 

 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

Celebrating Our Veterans on Their Day, 2019!

          Members of the military impacted my life in many ways. My life  was certainly changed by members of my family serving in the armed forces.  So what better time than on this Memorial Day to honor them….those who keep us SAFE and FREE!  And to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for us and their country.

                                                    ****

Gerald Guyer (cousin)   US Marines**WWI – gave his life in Normandy, France ** Son of Gladys; nephew of Violet, about whom I have written many stories.

W. Jay Woods

William Jay Woods (father)  US Navy ** WWII –   South Pacific – PTSD.  He met my mother in San Francisco, where she owned a bar and grill.  He returned from war  an alcoholic, experienced rages and had a parrot named Butch.

John Cable, ‘Dad’

Johnny Cable (step-father)  US Army/Infantry ** WWII Southern Pacific. Lost an eye, suffered from jungle rot and PTSD.  At five years of age I remember not being able to run in and jump on the bed in the mornings to wake up Daddy.  He would wake up ready to fight the ‘Japs’ and in those first few seconds he was back in the jungle.   He was a wonderful father but the horrors of the South Pacific battles were never far from the surface.
He later served on a ship in the Korean War as a meat cutter.  He was instrumental in serving the troops a HOT Thanksgiving dinner on the beach that year.

family histories, family secrets, story telling, writers

my mother, Violet

Violet Guyer (mother) US Armed Forces ** Wife, sister, and mother of members in the military.
My mother, who I write about, was auntie to Gerald.  She married Jay (active Navy) and Johnny (active Army) and was a military wife for two decades. She was mother to Jack (US Air Force) and Doris, (US Marines).

Brother Jack

Jack Borden (brother)  US Air Force ** Loaded B52 bombers – hot spots around the world – 20+ years of service.  My brother would come home from far away places like Germany, Iceland, Africa, Panama and because he  didn’t have a hometown girl, he would take me, his teenage sister, ballroom dancing.

Jack Henderson.  (first husband) US Air Force * While in the military, he was on a ship in the Pacific and

Robert.Berry

Robert Berry, Navy Seal

witnessed one of the first A-Bomb test explosions off Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands.  

Robert Berry (second husband)   US Navy Seals, US Coast Guard ** 20+ years of service.  Robert was a Navy Seal, underwater demolition during the Viet Nam years.  He later served as a warrant officer aboard an icebreaker and was certified to scuba dive under the Arctic ice.

 

john.Viet.Nam

John Sugarek, Viet Nam

John Sugarek (husband)  US Marines ** Viet Nam –   John was my husband for 30 years. He was kind-hearted and funny and everyone loved him.  I witnessed two of his  flashbacks from battle in Viet Nam (twenty years later)  and he suffered, untreated, from PTSD. Partially due to the PTSD (I believe) he died at his own hand in 2006.  His fellow wounded warriors celebrate at the Whiskey Battery Reunion, once a year.marines

 

We are all grateful to our military for their unswerving bravery, service, and loyalty and we honor those who have come home, battered but alive.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    
                                                                                   
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks! 

 

Need a Journal for the Creative Writer?

My dear readers and fellow creative writers, don’t forget about the wonderful journals that I have created just for you.

250+ lined, blank pages for your writings, musings, and ideas. Each blank page is embedded with an inspirational quote from a famous author, writer, actor or director.  Some ‘how to’ sections (from me) to help and inspire you to get started; either writing your first short story or beginning that new novel you’ve been prevaricating about.

How To Begin
That All Important First Sentence 

How to Choose the Subject of your Story or Playtest
Formatting your Play
How to write Dialogue
How to Create Rich, Exciting Characters for your Novel
Story Arc

“I wanna write!” “I’ve got a story.” “I’ve always wanted to write.” 
Writers write!  Full stop. Period.

 

To Purchase

 

 

 

 

…and for expectant Mommy

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning, April: Poet, Joe Albanese and May: Boo Walker, June: Anne D. LeClaire,  July: Catherine Ryan Hyde
To receive my posts sign up for my 

 

Book #1 (of 10)

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!