[My tiny pal Cheetoh guards everything.]
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Thursday, July 5, 2018
Thursday, June 28, 2018
Thursday, June 21, 2018
[OK, not a Picasso, not a Van Gogh, but the best I could do during an “I can paint!” phase…]
Thursday, June 14, 2018
It’s rare for me to stray off the topics of writing and the writer’s life, but today I kind of have to. If you read no further than the period at the end of this sentence, I just want to say you never know how profoundly your friendship might affect someone.
Folks have been talking a lot about the recent celebrity suicides, and therefore suicide in general. I was taken aback to read a social media post by an old friend who mentioned my name among a few others as friends who helped her, during some very dark times, stay away from the brink. I’d known she was struggling on and off, and just tried to be a good friend. But I hadn’t known how much my simple friendship meant to her. What’s a good friend? Just someone, it seems, who gets in touch and wants to do stuff together. Someone who listens. Someone who can laugh. That seems to be it.
Sometimes, though, that’s not enough, and it’s not your fault. So far in my life I’ve had one friend who committed suicide; no one knew how bad things were for her until it was too late. The worst social gathering I ever attended was her funeral, where all the wonderful hundreds of people who loved her were there. Beautiful day. Everybody was there except her. She was still lying on a slab in the morgue with a purple face and a groove around her neck from the rope. The family was too shattered to decide what to do with her just yet.
I read another social media post where someone pointed out that when an airplane decompresses, they tell you to put on your oxygen mask before helping others. So yeah. Check on yourself. How are you doing? Breathe normally.
It’s one thing to be there if a friend reaches out when they’re staring into the abyss. Naturally, you go. You do everything you can. But somehow, I guess it’s important to listen to your gut too. Even if things don’t seem that bad, your friend needs you to suggest grabbing a cup of coffee. Or get out for a walk. Just a little something.
You might never know.
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Thursday, June 7, 2018
[Other people's family trees are so boring. Photo by ES]
Thursday, May 31, 2018
Thursday, May 24, 2018
Here we go.
- Accept the fact that there’s no such thing as a perfect synopsis. Just as you need to dump perfectionism while writing, you need to dump it here too. You might need to write a long synopsis (thousands of words) and a short one (hundreds), because agents and editors ask for different things. Start with the long one. Then just cut it down to make the short one. We’ll talk about back-cover blurbs some other time.
- In your rough-out session, flip through the manuscript and write down the heart-clutching moments. You’ve just created your synopsis framework. In "Magic Cure," I advise talking it into a recording device instead of writing it. This works for some writers but not others, so you can do it whatever way suits you.
- Flesh things out by writing how each heart-clutching moment is connected to the next. If you get stuck, just tell what happens next as simply as you can.
- Prompt yourself with these two questions: What does your main character lose (or expend) during the story? What does he win (or gain) at the end? Because that’s basically your plot. Keep that character’s wins and losses in front of your reader.
- Give yourself a short amount of time to do this. You can and will dick around with this forever, unless you decide something like, “I’ll get it roughed out between 2 and 3 this afternoon, and come what may, I’ll get it finished before meeting Joe and Rose Ellen for cocktails on Saturday.”
- Break up your time on it. This might sound counter to what I just said, because won’t more work sessions add up to more time? Not necessarily. If you try to get the thing done in one long session, you’ll glaze over and stop being able to tell what sounds/reads good. But if you let it sit overnight and come back to it, maybe even three or four times, you’ll keep bringing a fresh perspective to it, and you’ll save time in the end. Spend no more than an hour at a stretch on it.
- Cut anything that doesn’t sound peppy.
- Declare victory and move on.
Thursday, May 17, 2018
Thursday, May 10, 2018
[Roam the Parkway and sometimes you get a rainbow. Photo by ES]
Thursday, May 3, 2018
Thursday, April 26, 2018
[Photo of the book cover by ES. Original photo by Amelia Stein.
The actress is Anna Manahan as Mag. I wouldn't want to cross her, either.]
Thursday, April 19, 2018