Gimmicks Don’t Help

I’ve admitted it before, and I’ll admit it again: I was not a typical or an agreeable English major. Part of the assumption people make about English majors is that we all must love literature, which is a class of reading material all its own. My university offered two options, an English BA that emphasized literature, or one that emphasized writing. I took the latter. I distinguished myself (not in a good way) by once telling a professor that the John Donne poem he’d assigned us was “the worst thing I’ve ever read” – only to have him look mildly horrified and counter that he’d written his dissertation on Donne. Continue reading

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Filed under Random Thoughts, Writing

The Matter of Manners

A few years ago, before I started making real progress on my own writing career, I was an enthusiastic reviewer of other people’s fiction. I had enjoyed some pleasant exchanges with authors via email and social media after posting positive reviews of books I’d enjoyed. Who knew that authors could be so gracious and so interested in their fans? I was delighted (truly, I was) to hear from writers who appreciated my support. And then, something went wrong. Continue reading

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Filed under Embrace the Awkwardness

The Problem of an Ambitious Mess

I haven’t posted in a while. For reasons. Let’s start at the beginning. Back in the spring, a good friend (who knows my penchant for dawdling) extracted a promise from me that I would finish a 90,000-word-minimum draft of a mystery novel I was halfway finished with. This draft’s deadline? August 1. Now, August seems a long time away when you haven’t even dragged the lawn ¬†mower out. I agreed it was a fair deadline. And then I got invited to an awesome workshop. Continue reading

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Filed under Writing, Writing Process

Storytelling Done Okay: Falling Skies

I started watching Falling Skies with real enthusiasm when it first aired. I won’t try to deny that I’m a sucker for anything that prominently features a historian. From the initial season, Falling Skies promised the perfect combination: the chief main character was a history professor, and there were aliens. Awesome. Throw in high stakes and a general sense of human-decency-at-work, and overall this was a pretty good show. At some point it lost a bit of interest for me (the last season languished a long time in the DVR), but I really did like how the characters behaved with a lasting sense of optimism and morality. Too many of the “world gone wrong” shows depict everyone at their most hopeless and worst. And that’s interesting for about five minutes. It’s the cast of characters with a code of conduct that keep me riveted because I wonder how long they will hold up under the strain. Continue reading

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My Thoughts on Dead-Dog Children’s Fiction

When I was in second grade, the teacher read us “Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls. Maybe it was part of that year’s curriculum. Or maybe she just hated us. Maybe she thought that a few of us had reached the ripe old age of 7 without losing enough grandparents, getting punched enough on the playground, or that we weren’t spending enough nights lying awake with terror at what little we understood of the Cold War. Perhaps, she thought, “Where the Red Fern Grows” would¬†round out the character building we were surely missing out on. Continue reading

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Filed under Book Review, Traditional books

Storytelling Done Right: How to Get Away with Murder

Both seasons of ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder” have held me spellbound. I generally take forever to watch anything. Shows – show that I really do like – pile up in the DVR. Programs that friends and family strenuously recommend stay on my “to watch” list for months (for years!) because I’m still slogging through the things they recommended before that. I love shows across the genres: science fiction, law dramas, detective shows, fantasy, historical fiction, anything that’s well done. Yet, for all my enthusiasm, I still usually plod through programs because there’s only so many hours in a day. I like to watch when I can actually pay attention, and carving out time for that isn’t easy. This show, however, is one I’ll watch a season of in three days. It’s like a train wreck that I can’t look away from. Continue reading

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Audible, a review

I’ve been hearing commercials, mostly on various podcasts, for Audible for years now. Seriously. Years. And it didn’t really snag my interest until a few weeks ago. The basic spiel is that you pay $15 every month in exchange for an audiobook. Now, what’s obvious to the routine purchaser of audiobooks, is that that’s a good deal. Have you priced audiobooks lately? Any typical novel can cost between $20 and $30. A very long novel can run anywhere from $30 to $50. If you normally buy an audiobook every month, Audible’s an excellent idea. I, however, normally never bought any. For some reason I thought reading only ‘counted’ if I actually read the words myself. Having them read to me by a professional narrator seemed…somehow like cheating, as far as reading goes. (I’m not going to try to make that make sense.) Continue reading

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