On the Right Side of the Law

I’ve always liked stories about lawyers and the law,atticus “To Kill a Mockingbird,” starting me off in a big way in childhood. Being from the South, the book has always had a special resonance with me, and, really, who doesn’t love Atticus Finch — or Gregory Peck?

Now that I’m writing my own novels, I’ve learned to appreciate lawyerly books – and movies and TV —  even more, not just as pure entertainment but also as little instruction manuals on how to tell rich and satisfying tales, no matter the… Continue reading

Escape Your Writing Distractions

book by MargoLike many of my friends and compadres, I have a wish list. Right up there at the top is beloved, prize-winning novelist. Yes, beloved. I want my readers to love me. Unfortunately, that isn’t going to happen unless I publish a novel.

I do have a finished manuscript that is crying to be heard. All I have to do is tweak it–a lot. How hard could that be?

My writing day goes something like this. I pull up my manuscript and begin to read, trying to get… Continue reading

Mysteries: Why I Love Them

I’d like to add to the often quoted phrase that “we are what we eat.” I also think “we are what we read and sometimes write.”

9781450250986_COVER.inddIn 2005, when the idea of writing a book first appeared in my head, I decided to start with a memoir. Looking back, that made sense. Start with what you know, right? My book, The Education of a Teacher (Including Dirty Books and Pointed Looks), is a piece of my heart. I’d spent thirty-four years teaching high school English in a small town… Continue reading

But and Therefore – A Tool For Your Storytelling Toolbox

How many of us have been telling a story, gotten through one part and said, “And then…”  I think we’ve all done it. I know I have.  And it works to keep the story moving.  In writing, it’s a bit different.  I attended a workshop this past weekend and while I learned a lot of things, the most important was to substitute “and then” or to know that if my scene ends and you would say “and then,” that it’s not working as well as it should be.

So what should we be saying?  The answer is “but” or… Continue reading

Mind Mapping

Recently, I came across some software for “Mind Mapping,” a snazzy virtual visualization technique that is currently all the rage.  Although the concept of Mind Mapping dates back some 25 years, Mind Mapping software is much newer. So, always on the lookout for things that will help organize the gazillion bits and pieces of information I collect in the process of writing a novel, I set off to investigate this phenomenon. Little did I know what I was getting into.

First, I found the motherlode site, http://www.biggerplate.combiggerplate a… Continue reading

Twisted History: Playing the “What If” Game

TwistMost story plots are based on previously written fiction or our own history. Writers love to reach out and give the past a little twist, playing the “what if” game in the hopes of creating ideas unique enough to propel their story onto the best seller lists. You see “what if” all the time in Science Fiction where the ordinary and known world is flipped upside down. The lure of Science Fiction is the possibility that what you’re reading might actually materialize in the future. We readers are fascinated and disturbed at the… Continue reading