Category: Uncategorized (page 2 of 6)

Recap of the Hometown Authors Event at LHP Library

Recap of the Hometown Authors Event

three authors hometwon event

Picture courtesy of Nina Romano @ninsthewriter on twitter

On Saturday, May 7th, the Lighthouse Point Friends of the Library hosted a Local Author’s forum.  Nina Romano, author of The Secret Language of Women (the first book in her Wayfarer’s Trilogy), T. Mara Jaraek, Author of A Supersleuth is Born, and myself were selected among other worthy candidates as the featured honorees.  This event was showcased with brief bio and our photos in the May edition of The Lighthouse Point Magazine, along with announcements in 2 local papers, The Observer and The Pelican. The program began at 11:00 at Fletcher Hall, the city’s community auditorium located next to the Library.  We were all seated on stage and with microphones so we could be heard. There was a wonderful turnout of all ages in attendance.

hometown authors stage pic

Picture courtesy of Nina Romano @ninsthewriter on twitter

Our featured host and dedicated and recently retired library Director, Doreen Gauthier stared the program by giving a brief biography about each author. Then the invited moderator, Moderator John Spera, Library’s Book Group Coordinator and circulation volunteer. asked each of us 10 intriguing questions, ranging from the first questions, “Writing is often said to be biographical, so where did each of us find your ideas”; to “What author or authors have influenced your style, genre, or even your idea (as each of our books had a different target audience)?

Their last question, which held significant concern to the organizers was, “What do you think is the importance and role of the library in today’s society? The moderated question and answer session lasted nearly an hour before the audience were invited to join in and share their comments or ask questions. The program concluded by drawing 3 raffle tickets, to which each winner was presented with one featured books. Last, Doreen presented each author with a lovely bouquet of flowers, which was unexpected, but made each of us feel very special.  Afterwards, everyone returned to the atrium, where we displayed our books, chatted with attendees and answered any additional questions.  By the time we left, Nina, Tina, and I so enjoyed learning about each other’s books, that we purchased each other’s books! I look forward to reading their fictional works.  All in all, it was a most enjoyable and rewarding experience.

How to Write a Novel in a Year

How to Write a Novel in a Year


There’s only one way, and that’s to begin. As my friend and mentor John Dufresne always says, “First rule of writing: sit your ass in the chair.”

And as the story goes on Quote Investigator ( …

Red Smith was asked if turning out a daily column wasn’t quite a chore. “Why, no,” dead-panned Red. “You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.”

Something similar has been attributed to many great writers including Wolfe and Hemingway. In other words, there just ain’t an easy way to do it, but to do it. Put black ink on white paper.  So now that that’s settled.  Here’s how I did it.

It took me at least five years to complete my first novel, Lemon Blossoms, set in Sicily, and about seven years to write my second one, The Secret Language of Women, set in China.  I did a great deal of revising.  Then I switched the order of these two novels and decided to write a third one to craft them into the Wayfarer Trilogy.

The third book of the trilogy is the one I’m finishing now, In America. Guess where the setting is? This novel took me only one year.  How did I accomplish this?  Easy.  I never thought I’d say that, let alone write it on paper for somebody to actually read.  I always marveled at how some authors produce a book a year. Now I’ve learned that it’s possible, and requires not just skill, but sacrifice and persistence.

I was under contract with Turner Publishing and my editor expected the finished novel at the end of November 2015. I delivered!  Determination plays a great part in getting the job done. If you don’t have those requisites, invent them.  Tell yourself you’re going to have a publisher, an agent, an editor, and set a date for yourself.  Write it on paper and make it come true.  If I can do it, so can you.

I began by talking about the story—not even.  I started by thinking about what I could possibly write, and sent notes to the acquiring editor, who had already agreed to the first two books, but she wanted to see more of the development of Book # 3— more and more.  Finally, I wrote a three and a half page “treatment,” which is what I called it for lack of a better word—it’s not an outline, because I don’t know how to write an outline, never wrote one and probably would feel like being locked in a prison cell if I ever had to write one.

I let this “treatment” sit overnight, and the next day, I refined it as much as I could, and it ended up being four pages.  I sent it off, and lo and behold, she liked it.  It was do or die.  With this sketch or skeleton to enhance, I could add flesh to design and form a story into a novel.

I started with a collection of things I thought might be good additions for this novel. I culled from the following: the Great Depression and the 1930s, Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade; the Easter Parade; the year the first spruce went up in Rockefeller Plaza; notes on Camp Isida; a letter from my mother to my father in 1931; buildings being erected in the 1930s; names of bicycles; a list of popular words; dances, songs, movies of the era; etc.  You get the picture.  All of these things would play a part in the construction of this novel, aptly named In America, as it was a continuation of the story of Giacomo and Angelica coming over to the States from Sicily.

In October of 2014 I wrote fifty pages, and decided that would be my monthly goal. I considered three-hundred and fifty pages enough, and if I reached my quota every month, I could basically have a first draft in seven months: April 2015, and I could send the manuscript to my writing group for a thorough critique when we would meet in June.

November of 2014, I was in south Florida and still going to the beach every Saturday and Sunday with my family.  I was reading a novel that I came to detest, and set aside—in fact I gave it away.  Here I was lolling on a beautiful sandy beach while my head was back in my condo at the computer, pondering, thinking and fretting about what I’d write next to finish my page count.  As I awaited my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, and a third grandchild, I waited to hear if I was going in the right direction from a reader friend—not a writer.  I gave her fifty pages to read and said,” Let me know what you think.” She got back to me with one word: “Continue,” and so I wrote on.

Here’s how I wrote when I couldn’t be in front of the computer, where I wanted or needed to be:  I scribbled on a notepad, napkins, paper towels, envelopes, bills, and when I didn’t have any of these, I wrote myself e-mail and text messages and quick reminders on a little APP on my iPhone: Notes.  What did I write?  Anything and everything: thoughts for scenes, ideas for tension, character sketches, prompts to get the writing juices flowing.

Back in my office, as soon as I hit the computer keys again, I’d check out my notes and my e-mails.  There I’d find a few lines of dialogue without quotes marks, fast descriptions, things which were of essence to this novel and must be included, such as ideas for obligatory scenes.  All of these items I played around with like putty and “shaped” into something more readable.

Sometimes I’d write thoughts or snatches of words and phrases into my notebook and brainstorm before adding them to my novel file: characters, names, moods, actions, clothes styles, names of Italian dishes, titles of songs, names of wines and of bottled water, holidays, themes, impressions for tension, motivation, cause and effect, cost of merchandise, expressions used in that time period, and notes reminding me to research this or that.

I realized that for my other two novels, much of the time I got cemented doing thorough research, so much in fact, that I wasn’t always writing.  I used a different game plan and scheme this time—worked the tactic differently.  I wrote, and if I became glued or wanted to know something particular, or needed to find out some historic details, I’d Google them, call the library, or search information in other books.  Then, it was back to the writing, adding in particular details and needed information.

At the end of December after I’d survived the holidays, and was overjoyed with the addition of beautiful Isabella, our third grandchild, I found myself already advanced by ten pages for the following month.  I foolishly printed out and read over one hundred and fifty pages and put the corrections, nice and necessary as they were, into the file. This turned out to be a setback.

NEVER again! Never, until I’m finished a complete first draft will I print out partially. Why? It interrupted the flow.  I felt smug.  Ah, look at that.  One hundred and fifty pages of text.  Pat yourself on the back.  BS! And that’s not a college degree.  Never count your half-baked  accomplishments.  Finish the job.  Write every day, even if it’s only one word, one phrase, one sentence, one paragraph or one page.  Open the file and write.  Write on a legal pad, your kid’s notebooks, in a diary.

On New Year’s Day, I wrote only three pages, but for me it was important to get something down on paper, anything, because I believe what you do on New Year’s you do all year long and I wanted to write.  So the plan to write fifty pages, turned out to be a good goal that was doable.  But it wasn’t an easy year.  My husband had cataract surgery in March, and I had a hip replacement in April, but despite these life interruptions, I’d finished the writing task of a first draft. Without a draft, there can be no novel, because the real writing begins with revision.

I had been in Florida the autumn of 2014 when I’d started to bat out the words of this historical novel set in 1930s America, but in January 2015, I drove to Utah with my husband and in February, we cruised Malaysia.  I had a little note pad, an iPad, but with sporadic online access, because the costs are prohibitive on board a Holland-America cruise ship!

I’m lucky to have a great writing group.  We are five scribbling women.  Last spring before we met in June, a mystery writer member resided in Kuwait.  Another gal, a literary novelist, hosted us in Maryland.  A talented-switch-hitter writer between chick lit and mainstream lives in Wisconsin, and a North Carolinian resident is a British and American cozy mystery maven.  I had to cut some pages to ready the manuscript for the group.  I printed it out in May, read and corrected it.  My reader friend read it again, the same one who’d read the first fifty pages, now read the entire piece and gave me her thoughts and suggestions before I sent it to the Screw Iowa Writing Group on May 21, 2015. You always need beta readers!

I accomplished my goal of fifty pages, completed the first draft and readied it for these women writers to read.  They read it with the keen attention the way they’d want someone to read their work.  They are kind, but tough, and critique with careful eyes.  I respect them, but don’t always take what they say as Gospel.  Sometimes you have to go with your gut instincts.  We meet for one week in June every year.  This year was our 11th meeting.  I took their critiques—some were line by line—several with pages and pages of cross outs—OUCH! I returned to Florida and revised till summer’s end and autumn began.  October, I spent in Italy touring with my husband and friends and visiting my 101 year-old auntie in Palermo.  She’s sharp as a tack and I interviewed her for a couple of days for what may be a future novel.  I did no writing or revising, but I sure did when I returned.

In order to write a novel, you need determination, you need time, or you must make time, and you need to have dedication and discipline and then you must: “Sit your ass in the chair,” which for me equaled three-hundred and forty-seven pages. Are you going to call me a liar for the three little missing pages? There you go. How to write a novel in a year.  Good luck.



DJ Niko’s Review of The Secret Language of Women on Goodreads

D.J. Niko’s Reviews > The Secret Language of Women

The Secret Language of Women
by Nina Romano (Goodreads Author)


D.J. Niko‘s review

Feb 22, 16
it was amazing


Nina Romano’s first installment in the Wayfarer Trilogy is a richly detailed journey through China during the time of the Boxer Rebellion, circa 1900. The story follows Lian, the daughter of a Chinese mother and Swiss physician father, who struggles to find love and hope in spite of adversity. Lian’s use of Nushu, the secret language used by Chinese women, to write about her life and dreams is fascinating and at times heartbreaking. The author is also a poet, and it shows in her lyrical language. Romano’s beautiful descriptions of the setting and the characters’ inner worlds draw the reader into the plot and build interest with every page. Highly recommended.

The Important Role of Religion in Lemon Blossoms

The Important Role of Religion in Lemon Blossoms

When I was a young girl I studied with the cloistered nuns of Visitation Academy in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.  I learned not only school subjects but also a great deal concerning the Roman Catholic Religion and Latin at the hands of this devout, spiritual community. An aside—I used some descriptions of the cloister grounds inside the walls and the “parlatorio” in my third book of the Wayfarer Trilogy, In America, but a tremendous amount more about the religion is incorporated in Lemon Blossoms.

After I finished the eighth grade of elementary school, my religious training continued during my first two years of high school when I attended Notre Dame Academy on Staten Island.  I frequently participated at daily Mass, including responding in Latin to the priest as an altar boy because we didn’t have any.  I made novenas, went on retreats, and even had a nun for a roommate! Three of us girls shared a room with this nun, who slept with a curtain drawn around her bed.  She entered our room from the bathroom, after we were supposedly asleep, and after she’d had her bath. I will not divulge those long-ago secrets garnered in youth! I will say, however, that when we went home on weekends, I set up sleuth-type devices to find out if she ever riffled through our dresser drawers! Call me, Sherlock—she did!

When writing Lemon Blossoms, I sought out and interviewed the very learned Rev. Monsignor Frederick Brice various times with questions so that I would be correct in portraying my main character Angelica, a very zealous and overly religious girl at the beginning of the novel, and Padre Ruggeri, Angelica’s confessor and uncle.

I attended a neighborhood church and got to know the pastor Fr. Brice, who was retired only a few years ago and passed away last year at the age of eighty-five.  He was pastor of St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church in Lighthouse Point, Florida, for almost three decades, during the time that I sought his council.

In order to understand the significance of the vestments used during the Mass, I questioned this knowledgeable priest on many occasions.  He was generous enough to also lend me several books and have a close look at his Breviary. These were enlightening sources to consult along with my several antique Missals, one of which I had used while attending Notre Dame.  Fr. Brice was most kind and very accessible and even eager to discuss the prayers, the sacraments, the vessels, and the laws and liturgy of the church. Much of what I acquired from my discussions with this cleric is included in the novel Lemon Blossoms.



Review of M.K. Graff”s Novel Death Unscripted

What’s so great about this book, is the fact that it’s a “NOW” situation set in the Big Apple.

Didn’t you always want to know what goes on behind the scenes of those medical TV shows? Reading M K Graff’s Death Unscripted gives a firsthand peek at how some of it gets done.  The fact that Graff knows the medical profession comes through and made this such an interesting read and a seemingly REAL one.

This is a nicely paced cozy with a host of interesting characters, and one of my new personal favorites, Trudy Genova, an amateur sleuth.  Graff’s mystery drew me in right from the beginning.  The sparks set off between her mail character and the detective, add an interesting subtext.  Graff’s  settings, dialogue and plot have me begging to read her next installment in this new American series.  Brava!  I definitely “suspended my disbelief!


How to Write a Novel about Family and the Past

When I was young, I always loved to listen to our family’s stories about our past.  The lives of my grandparents fascinated me, because of their world gone by.  I was curious and wanted to see and understand how we arrived at our lives today.  Later on, I learned that if I couldn’t see it for myself, I could create it with some real elements and hints: words, ideas, family vignettes, outdated articles and kitchen utensils.   because in Sicily, we come from a line of cantastorie, bards, who travelled from town to town to sing and tell stories.

I was interested in antiques and in old ways to do things.  I loved antique rocking chairs, spinning wheels, gadgets, hand-stitched footstools, coffee grinders by hand, old copper kettles, sewing machines with peddles, iron rest plates and trivets, old irons, mandolins, books, diaries and ephemera with tattered covers and bent-eared corners.  There was nothing better than sitting around my Grandma’s table listening to her, my mother and aunts talking.

I stole my womenfolk’s stories, snippets of how things were done in the “olden” days, recipes and cooking lessons from all of them. I heard secrets. I eavesdropped as they’d switch to Sicilian or Italian so I couldn’t understand, but I’d always get a word or two or some action would give much of their confidences away.  I learned interesting Italian words and their meanings—I was by no means fluent in Italian—that would come many years later when I lived in Rome for twenty years.  I imbibed in a drink called customs and mores, ethnicities, social behavior and scruples.

There was nothing I liked better than to spend a Saturday morning with my cousin routing around in Grandma’s huge basement, Grandpa’s workroom, or the immense closet/deposit/ store room on the first landing of the main staircase, situated under the attic stairs, or else the closet in the attic bathroom that housed a tub with lion’s claws feet, in her century Brooklyn home!  I found the most interesting things, such as: a long hank of beautiful chestnut hair, a mercury thermometer, a ring with a red stone, an old meat grinder, many sepia-toned photographs that spoke parables, etc. “Every picture tells a story.”

When I looked at the photos and all of these old items, I asked myself: What are they saying?  Listen and ask.  Rob and steal with your eyes and ears, pickpocket stories, make a heist of little things that, when held, magically transform themselves into yesterdays.

There’s a line from a 1986 Clint Eastwood Movie, Heartbreak Ridge, when Eastwood says: “Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.”  I had not yet seen that movie when I was young, that would come many years later, but I was already thinking along similar terms: Invent, Change, Astound when telling a story.

I always told stories since I was little because my mother, grandmother and aunts told me stories about their youth.  When they finished speaking, I wouldn’t let them off the hook.  I was like a little inquiring editor, constantly saying, “And then what?”

And so it was that all of my childhood questions came into play when I started to write Lemon Blossoms.  I remembered my aunt Jay telling me that her grandmother was a mattress-maker, that my grandfather made wine, that my grandmother had had a miscarriage, lost another baby at birth and another a few months old in between her and her mother.

Years later, when my Dad came to visit me while I was living in Rome, I interviewed him about his youth in Sicily.  I was brought up Roman Catholic and knew a great deal about the religion because I went to Catholic schools with the nuns until I sophomore year.  They say to first write what you know—well I knew about this and well-armed with all this information, I was able to construct a first draft of my novel Lemon Blossoms while enrolled in Florida International’s Creative Writing Program as an MFA candidate.  Of course, that novel would be transformed and revised many, many times, but the basics—I had those at my fingertips.


Getting the Most Out of Your Editor’s Feedback/Heeding the Call to Revise:by Amy McElroy


    Getting the Most Out of Your Editor’s Feedback

                     Heeding the Call to Revise

  by Amy McElroy

Revising a work to its essence challenges writers of every genre and manuscript length. Hiring an excellent developmental editor remains a crucial step in the writing process. Yet even though an editor or unbiased reader can often see the need for editorial changes, writers themselves can examine the reasons behind many of these “blind spots” and look for new ways to reduce them at an earlier stage, thereby allowing others to address deeper issues in their work.

As a writer, there’s a gnawing that comes when there’s a problem in my work. Maybe it’s a treasured phrase—what Faulkner called the difficulty in “killing our darlings.” Often there’s a thread I know will cause major work to rewrite as a result. Sometimes, there’s a whole separate book or essay tangled in our manuscripts.

As writers, we try to avoid the revision or the cut, the shuffle or restructure. But deep down, we know when we give it to our editor our gut will be reaffirmed. We will have to do the dirty work.

Improving our ability to revise lies in learning to trust those instincts, so we can make those painful changes ourselves. Then we can allow the person who sees the material next to take it to yet another level instead of wasting  time on what we knew needed to be done in the first place.

Of course, sometimes, we truly don’t know what needs attention—how, when, or why to make a change—and it’s ok to ask for a second opinion. But the more we can learn to trust ourselves, the better the final product will be.

Here are some tips for revising:

At First, Just Don’t

After you finish the latest draft, put it away! Give yourself a significant chunk of time between drafts. We all must learn what that means for us, depending on the length of the manuscript, how long and how much focus we’ve given to it, how much we’ve neglected the rest of our lives. Regain some perspective. Step away long enough for the myopic focus with which you’ve been working to develop into a broader view. The next step requires  it

Hire Yourself

Don Roff said, “I’ve found the best way to revise your own work is to pretend that somebody else wrote it and then to rip the living shit out of it.”

So, when you pull it out, edit with the critical eye you would give to someone else’s work. You wouldn’t even know it if you were killing someone else’s darlings; they’d just look like any other words on the page. Don’t you owe your own writing the honesty & quality you’d give someone .

Grab the Mic

Speak out loud the major point or points you are trying to get across in the work. “This work shows . . . ” or “This story is about . . . ” Not a summary precisely, but more of an elevator pitch, main idea, or thesis. Using an actual microphone will help capture each attempt at this distillation of the work for later reference. Once the essence of the manuscript has been captured, use it in the next step of revision.

Make an Extra “Copy”

You can do the “old school” method by making an actual hard copy to chop up with scissors and rearrange with tape, or save the manuscript under a different file name and go through and delete or condense anything extraneous to your point.

Deleting material in our own work becomes easier when we know it’s all still there under some other file if we need it. More often than not, we’re happily surprised to find the condensed version reads better.

If you’re really struggling with how much to cut, make two new versions. Ask yourself which one reads better, so you’re free to be ruthless with the  scissors or the cut and paste functions.

While you’re revising with the extra copy method, try bringing the theme of your work to the forefront. Obviously, this doesn’t necessarily mean begin and end by outright stating the theme, but understand that readers put much stock in beginnings and endings—even subconsciously.

What to Do with the Darlings?

Save the darlings you cut for another work. Create a document entitled “Darlings” on your computer for these clips. Name longer sections with easy to find labels or in folders related to their work of origin or another system that makes sense to you.

What to Do When You’re Done

Then DO give it away for an objective opinion to someone you trust—preferably a professional editor, certainly someone who knows how to edit. Ask for particular feedback on whether the theme holds together or if there are extraneous, distracting side issues.

Read the comments, then, put the work BACK in the drawer and sit with them awhile. Again, what’s “awhile” depends on how long the works is, how long your deadline is, how you are feeling about the work and the comments, etc.

Then, you can begin to consider what part of the feedback to heed and what

Now, you’re finally ready to begin a round of revision based on another person’s feedback. Because of your preliminary work, the theme will pull together more tightly for the reader just like you’d originally hoped. And having first traveled this long and tedious road of revision alone will yield treasures that will shine brighter in the final product than any darlings that may have been sacrificed along the way. Good luck and happy revising!

Author Bio:

Amy is the Editorial Director and a writer for the popular website Her work has also recently appeared in Billfold,Noodle, ReWireMe, BlogHer, The Mid, RoleReboot, elephant journal, and The Manifest-Station. On her website,, you can find her writing craft blog—which was republished on Joel Friedlander’s Carnival of the Indies—and a list of her editorial services.



Homage to C. K.Williams

Homage to C. K. Williams

I am deeply saddened by the passing of a great poet, Charles Kenneth Williams, who always used his initials, C. K. before his last name.

At the 2008 Palm Beach Poetry Festival I was offered any poetry workshop I wanted to act as intern/assistant to a poet, due to seniority.  I was older than any of the other younger interns, I had four college degrees, one of them, an MFA in Creative Writing, and I had published a poetry collection.  I chose C.K. Williams, knowing his excellent work, and realizing the fantastic opportunity it afforded me to sit in his seminar for one week.

On January 21, 2008, I took notes from his lecture, made copies and passed them to all the fine poets in attendance. These notes follow below.

He was an instructor who pulled no punches, as I wrote on Facebook. He told you what he thought of the poem being critiqued, the musicality of the language, the word choice, whatever.  This was a professor, who did not suffer fools.  This was a teacher, who got up in the middle of one of our sessions and went next door to Claudia Emerson’s workshop, and asked her and her class to keep the noise and the laughter down to a dull roar—No, I don’t believe he said it quite that way, but when he returned to our classroom, the uproar from the class next to ours ceased.

He was a Princeton professor, who won major awards for his writing, and by his mere presence, made sure he received the respect due him.  It was a great honor and privilege, but also a pleasure to see genius in action. He has left a formidable legacy, one that I am personally grateful for.

After our workshop time together, on the last day, CK signed three of his books that I had with me: Flesh and Blood, C. K. Williams Selected Poems, and C. K. Williams Collected Poems (hard copy). The one that he didn’t sign was C.K. Williams Poems 1963-1983,  because apparently I’d left it home that day. Each book that he autographed was signed “for Nina,” and he wrote: “With warmth,” “Thanks for everything.  Best regards,” “With warmth again,” but in Flesh and Blood he wrote these precious words to me: “for Nina warmth for your poems.” I’d like to think that all the poems I’ve written since then, conveyed that very sentiment of warmth.

Having lived in Italy for twenty years, I was very familiar with the work of Primo Levi, an Italian Jewish poet/writer, and read his works repeatedly throughout the years starting in 1970.  Levi was a man who had been a member of the Italian anti-fascist resistance during the WWII, was arrested and survived the Holocaust, but then took his own life. It was beyond shocking to think that the author who wrote If This Be a Man, and endured the tortures of Hell in Auschwitz, could commit suicide. One day after reading some poetry of CK’s about Levi, we had a delightful one-on-one discussion after class. I am grateful for having had that incredible conversation, and cherish it along with the memory of my days with CK.

After the Poetry Festival, I drove him to the airport with Sharon Olds, another fine poet, and it tickled me to hear her call him, Charlie, but to me, he’ll always be CK.


Notes about revising from C K Williams                                                                                                 1/21/08  PBPF

(Nina’s Notes—take or leave, but this is what I garnered and gleaned—if you heard it differently—go with it.)

The Empty Space: A Book About the Theatre: Deadly, Holy, Rough, Immediate (Paperback)

(Available on for $9.59)

There is a kernel (an energetic spot) in each poem from which everything is variable and from which a poem can “re-grow” (into something new)

First of all in this seminar there will be no judgment (on work) these are experiments

Find the principles (which inform the work) and which will enable us to work with (the poem)

Find the principles and incorporate them (the unconscious principles)

Why did you write the poem? What was the impulse? The occasion?

What were the inspirations?

What seems to be inspired (in the work)? The magic?

Did you do justice to the inspiration and the impulse?



Who does the poem address? Why How? Is it a person?  A character?

What is the tone?—conversational, natural, artificial, poetical, formal, heightened?

Is the “self” in the poem? Is this important?  Represented enough to keep the reader reading on?

Poetical? Experiential? Is there expedience?  Metaphor? Simile?

These serve as a means of interest.  Is there plot?  A display of information?

Drama has climax—does the poem?  Where is it situated: the end or the beginning?


Not always a narrative

Diction (language) colloquial?

Compression vs. discursive

Narrative vs. logic

Irrational (unconscious) vs. rational (conscious)

Is there commitment?

Use of metaphor (aha! the light!) and simile

Music—most difficult to speak about with regards to free verse.

(stress, pulse, cadence, repetition—symphonic melody repeats)


Three Things Authors Need to Know about Dialogue by Chéri Vausé

by Chéri Vausé

Three Things Authors Need to Know

1. Don’t write dialogue the way people talk Sol Stein, the great editor and author of luminaries like Elia Kazan and James Baldwin, taught a class on dialogue that had never been taught to writers before. He taught at University of California at Irvine and had to hold the class in a medical amphitheater to house the number of writers taking his course. The first thing he said was critical. Dialogue is a foreign language. What that means is when you write you don’t write the way you were taught to speak. It must be adversarial, filled with nuance and revelatory language, but not so much for what is said, but what is meant. I love the example he uses: Elmore Leonard: “Let’s get a drink, and talk for a few days.” This line is rife with meaning. And, I’m sure you didn’t learn to talk like that.

2. Conflict is critical in dialogue

This doesn’t mean people need to shout, or to use profanity. Yes, use profanity sparingly. Curse words should only be used when absolutely necessary. So far, I haven’t found them necessary in any of my stories. Using lots of profanity is an easy way out of designing dialogue between characters that reveals what they are made of and where they are going. It should express conflict in order to thrust the story forward. Using the “f” ­word does neither. It also shows a lack of imagination. Think of this. How do you write a scene between two people where one is so angry they are ready to kill? It would be easy to say, “I’m gonna kill that motherf­­­­­…­.” All this line shows is anger and nothing else. I personally love the line that Alan Rickman uses in Robin Hood where he screams, “I’m going to cut ­out his heart with a spoon!” Hmm. Don’t you think that gives you a better visual?

3. Dialogue should also show an adversarial bent

Sol Stein says it should “show sparks.” Crackle is another way of expressing it. Here’s an example from my book The Night Shadow: “And to think I could be at home cleaning the cat box,” Esther Charlemagne said. “Watching for a Peeping Tom is so much better.” You know at least a half dozen things about this character. Her relationship to the job and her partner is definitely adversarial. It’s the opening gambit and you already know she’s sarcastic, bored, she owns a cat, and it sounds suspiciously like they are on a stakeout… well, you get the point. Dialogue that snaps and crackles and lights a fire will make your story unforgettable. Readers love those sparks, and you won’t just have a reader of one book, but a follower.



Author bio: Chéri Vausé

Miss Vausé spent more than twenty years teaching theology and volunteering. She decided late in life to change careers and begin writing novels. With all her children grown, she turned her dining room table into a desk and research center, and now she serves up murder on an icy platter rather. She lives on a small ranch in Central Texas with her husband and two dogs, Scully and Mulder.Scully is a Coydog (half­beagle and half coyote) with reddish brown hair. Mulder is a black Great Pyrenees. Together they equal an X­File.

How to Use Twitter: Some Quick Tools

How to Use Twitter: Some Quick Tools
What I’ve learned about  how to use Twitter
  • Thank people for favorites and re-tweets–sometimes you can reciprocate with things you like from their pages
  • Don’t push your book every single minute. (Everyone out there is trying to do the same thing.)
  • Put up pertinent material–for instance I tweeted when Truner showcased my novel at BEA, and I put a link up to an excerpt of my book, or the new cover for my book.
  • Theme pictures should be interesting.  I took the cover of my book off as my theme picture and put up a picture of a statue of Buddha.  I  may change it again, but I won’t be putting up the cover of my new novel. I’ve got so many interesting pictures taken in Asia!
  • Make sure to use a photo of yourself
  • Follow people you’re interested in and follow back for the same reason
  • Check in with followers and who you’re following every couple of weeks–things change and you’ve got to keep up with the times.
  • Use some hashtags, not many.  I use them for  #writers and re-tweet groups when your’re tweeting about your publishing, or giving readings, or presentations, etc.
  • Don’t overuse direct messaging.
  • If you have time ,you can chat people up and try to make connections and “hook ups”–for instance I met a terrific writer in England and asked him to guest blog on my personal website, and I wrote a guest blog for his site. This was quite thrilling!
  • Blogging is important. Your own blog site and others (In fact my website is being revamped, but when it’s ready, I will ask some authors to write guest blogs for me.) Link to your blogs and other people’s when they have pertinent material.
  • Write interesting little tweets: quotes, links to articles, things about other writers you’d like to plug.  I use  #WW : worth watching on Wednesdays and #FF : Follow Fridays on Fridays, and then add the handles of people that I’d like to support.
  • Support other writers, even if they don’t write in your genre or mine, historical.  Support poets!
  • Follow friends, writers, professionals in other fields,  and groups. I  introduce yourself when I find something in common: various states or countries they live in and I’ve visited,  people who speak Spanish and Italian, wine-makers, etc.
  • There are tons of tools to use, but I don’t have the time, or energy to devote more than I do, which is a little every day, just to keep my fingers in the pies.
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