Magic

Shadows dance across the curtain Deer bounding over the snow Magic.                   Okay, I have to confess that these aren’t the deer I saw these deer are headed in the opposite direction to the ones I saw I actually took these photos last winter. My excuse is there wasn’t time to grab my camera and photograph the deer after I saw their shadows cross my curtain. They were already in the next yard by...

A Passive Character That Works

I watched About a Boy recently and it struck me that Will, played by Hugh Grant, is a passive character for most of the movie. In writing books we’re told that passive characters aren’t acceptable. A character has to be active for a story to be interesting. In this movie, though, it works because Marcus, the boy and other main character, is active. He makes things happen. At the beginning of the movie a friend sets Will up on a blind date. She’s a single mother but she’s not interested in a long term relationship. Will thinks single mothers are the way to go. They offer sex without wanting the messy love stuff and commitment. He invents a kid and joins a support group for single parents in order to get a date. That’s the only action he takes for most of the movie. But that action does set the story in motion. He goes on his date and meets Marcus. Hugh’s date has brought Marcus along as a favor so her friend (Marcus’ mom) can have a break. Afterwards, when they return Marcus home, they discover his mother has attempted suicide. At the hospital Marcus decides one person in your life isn’t enough. You need backup. So he decides to involve Will in his life. Through his relentless pursuit, Marcus makes Will his confident. Will and Marcus both meet girls. For Marcus it’s an older girl at school. For Will it’s a single mother. When she mistakes Marcus for his son, Will doesn’t correct her. He wants to get to know her and he knows connecting through their...

Bo-coo Toys

Bo discovered he could nose open the linen closet door where I keep his bag of toys. He has so many toys I’d be ankle deep in them if I left them all out. I rotate his toys periodically so he doesn’t get bored with them. But today he discovered his hoard and when I got out of the shower I discovered he had pulled out a bunch and was happily rolling around the floor playing. He’s always good for a laugh to start my day.              ...

Writing Resolutions

My critique group meets this Friday. We’ve set a tradition of putting down our writing resolutions at the first meeting each year. We will also review last year’s resolutions to see what we accomplished and where we fell short. I’m sorry to say I fell so short I’m now walking in a ditch. I didn’t achieve a single goal from my stated intentions. Not to make any of my resolutions is a major mea culpa. So where did I go wrong? Did I set my goals too high? My first resolution was to sign a contract with a major publisher for PowerForce. I had just signed with a new agent in December, so while I knew that was a high goal, I felt PowerForce was a very commercial product and the possibility was there. What I didn’t anticipate was my agent retiring after 7 months. Pregnancy lasts longer. In hindsight I think she took on my book because she thought she could sell it fast and when it didn’t sell in 3 months, she took a trip to Africa, then moved, then retired. I don’t think I got a fair deal so I get to say, “Not my fault,” on my first resolution. My second resolution was to write a new book, probably the third in the PowerForce series. I had some wonderful rejection letters from some editors about the first book and I wanted to talk to my agent about making changes to satisfy them. I thought the second book in the series would actually take care of the objections the editors had, but my agent was off...

Great Writing

I don’t understood why some people never re-read a book they enjoyed. I’ve found that if I liked it the first time, odds are I’ll like it even more the next time around. I discover new things and I appreciate the author’s skill as I recognize plot points they’ve set up that pay off later. A lot of people say (myself included) that you learn more by reading a badly written book by seeing what not to do than by reading a good book—the argument being that if the writer is good it will be harder to take apart what they’ve done well. I’d like to amend that as I’ve come to realize that while it’s true you don’t necessarily notice the skill a good writer wields because you are caught up in the story, you can see it if you read the book again. And again. There are some books I have re-read a dozen or more times. Some favorites I read every year. Sometimes I just dip in and read a scene I love. Re-reading good books can teach you what to do because it’s easier to focus on the details when you already know the story. I’ve been re-reading the third book in Lois McMaster Bujold’s The Sharing Knife series, Passage, and came across this brilliant piece of dialogue that I thought I’d share. “It’s a good system,” agreed Fawn “for malices. Not so sure about it as a system for people.” “Hm.” He rolled over and stared at the tiny pricks of light coming through the holes in their blanket-tent, held up by the ragged...