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Showing posts from 2022

Writing a Successful Query Letter

I've written lots of queries with about a 99 percent rejection rate. My few successes have been with independent publishers who have open submissions year-round or have a small window when they accept submissions. is an excellent website for information on when these windows open. Agents also operate this way, so your response time will be short if you know someone in the business, a teacher, or a fellow writer of novels or screenplays in the same genre as yours who can give you advice or names of people they know or have met. Several free and pay-to-play websites have gathered agents' request and their availability to new clients. Discovering the next great writer is essential to their continued success, so don't waste their time if they specialize in two or three genres and your work doesn't fit into any of those. Manuscript Wish List and Querytracker are great resources. Screenplay writers have similar websites available. Some are subscription serv

Talent Can't Be Taught

 You either have or you don't. When I was teaching, I used Aristotle's Poetics as a textbook. Here's why. Aristotle, a Greek philosopher and polymath wrote about many topics, including writing. In his work "Rhetoric," he provides some advice on how to write effectively. Here are some key points from his advice: 1.      Start with a clear purpose: Before you begin writing, it's crucial to have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish with your writing. This will help guide your writing and keep you focused on your goals. 2.      Use an appropriate structure: According to Aristotle, the structure of your writing should be based on the purpose of your writing. He suggests using a three-part structure for persuasive writing, with an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. 3.      Use clear and concise language: Aristotle advises writers to use clear, concise language that is easy to understand. This will help your readers follow your argument and stay

A Novel and a Screenplay Are Very Different Mediums

 There are several key differences between writing a novel and writing a screenplay: Format: A novel is a long work of fiction that is typically written in prose and can be any length, whereas a screenplay is a written work that outlines the dialogue, action, and characters of a movie or television show. Scripts have a specific format that includes elements such as scene headings, character names, and dialogue. Narration: A novel allows for a wide range of narrative techniques, such as first-person or third-person point of view, and can include inner thoughts and descriptions of the environment and characters. On the other hand, a screenplay is focused on dialogue and action and does not include inner thoughts or detailed descriptions of the domain. Length: Novels can be any length, but screenplays are typically shorter, with most feature films falling between 90 and 120 pages. Audience: A novel is typically rea

Literary Themes

Beginning writers may find themselves wondering what their story is about. I know it sounds crazy, but sometimes something bursts from your imagination, and you’re unsure where it came from. That said, when rewriting this first draft, it can be helpful to determine precisely your story’s theme. Literary themes are the central ideas or messages in a work of literature. These themes can be explicit, meaning they are directly stated in the text, or implicit, meaning they are implied or hinted at by the events and characters in the story. Literary themes are often universal, meaning they can be understood and related to by readers from different cultures and backgrounds. Some common literary themes include love, loss, identity, power, conflict, and coming of age. The theme of a work of literature is often closely tied to its characters, plot, and setting. For example, the theme of a love story may be the power of love to overcome obstacles and bring people together, while the theme of


Wannabe writers need to know there are recognized plots of famous works that could help them find their way to success. Here are just a few.   Love conquers all: In this plot, two people from different backgrounds or circumstances fall in love and overcome any obstacles that stand in their way. The hero's journey: This plot follows the classic hero's journey, in which a hero embarks on a journey, faces challenges and enemies, and ultimately emerges victorious. Coming of age: This plot follows a young character as they navigate the challenges and changes of growing up and finding their place in the world. Overcoming adversity: This plot follows a character as they struggle to overcome a difficult situation or challenge, such as illness, poverty, or discrimination. The quest: This plot follows a character or group of characters as they embark on a journey to find something or achieve a goal. Rags to

The Wonder

 This new Netflix movie from a novel by Emma Donoghue focuses on the heartbreaking practice in the 19 th century of young girls starving themselves in hopes of attaining atonement. Parents and religious leaders saw this as proof that their beliefs were so powerful that sacrifice was acceptable. Unfortunately, religious fervor continues to drive people to infuriatingly painful decisions. This film is well made with beautiful cinematography and stunning performances. Well worth your time and attention.

The Farm has a release date

  My new novel comes out on November 21, 2023. Check it out. #gettysburgbymorning #books #bookstagram #booktok #bookreview #bookrecommendations #historicalfiction #literaryfiction #southernhistory #southernliving #abortion # #womensrights #womenshealth

Enola Holmes 2

 In this second outing based on a series of books, Enola takes on her second case, this time with even more involvement with big brother Sherlock. There are some wonderful moments between Brown and Cavill with palpable chemistry between the players. Dare I say it's even better than their first outing. Yes.

Eloise speaks

Reviews Are In

The Batman Review

  Great characterizations of classic DC heroes and villains. Plumming both the World's  Greatest Detective and corrupt damaged people looking for closure. Too long but remarkably realistic and relatable. Plausible and entertaining. 

Writing as Self Hypnosis

 I read a quote from Stephen King the other day, and I agree entirely with him. He said that performing his pre-writing ritual, breakfast, and a pot of tea allows him to access his imagination as if he were in a trance. Does it work that way for everyone? I think it does. For myself, there was a time when I had to have loud rock music playing in the room or on headphones to give me a sense of rhythm and energy. Later, I switched to classical music, and now the room is mostly quiet. Does the evolution of my process mean anything? I don’t think so. Artists change over their careers, and their process changes too. We all have our rituals to get us in the mood. While there may be a need to sacrifice some coffee beans or alcohol or drugs, legal or illegal as long as you’re not hurting anyone or anything, do it. 

Barry's Back

 The super dark sitcom Barry is back on HBO Max. The last come fast and furious but don't forget the main character is a diabolical Hitman trying to change his life. Very very very dark and sometimes very very very very funny.

Part Four of One Way to Write Your Story

 You've studied, read, and found authors you like; now, it's time to get busy and start. I've found it helpful to produce a single word or sentence about the theme/question/issue before I get started. Some people decide what the story is about after they finish. It works either way, and the only way to find out what works for you is to try different methods. James Patterson, a very successful and productive best-selling author, claims that making a detailed outline for your novel is the best way to organize your thoughts and story. So do J.K. Rowling, E.L. Stein, and John Grisham. They're Plotters. Best-selling novelists Margaret Atwood, Pierce Brown, and Stephen King are writers who plop down in front of their keyboards and start typing. They're Pantsers, writing by the seat of their pants. Obviously, either method works, but only trial and error will determine what you like best. Also, if you're writing screenplays or television, it's vital that yo

Part Three of One Way to Write Your Story

Once you've decided on the question or issue you want to write about, it's time to construct a series of events that best place your diametrically opposed characters in direct and indirect conflict. The protagonist and antagonist work best when they both explore the same issue but with differing world views. For example, in Star Wars, the question is, "Is good stronger than evil." If you believe that democratic power comes from the wishes of the ordinary people, then Luke Skywalker is the protagonist. On the other hand, Darth Vader's world view is that power comes from a select, small group of people who believe control comes from a religious designation governing the people. How you portray this conflict is best described over two thousand years ago by the Greek philosopher Aristotle in his work Poetics. I highly recommend you read his principles on writing. He advised playwrights of the time that a story should include fear, pity, and eventually, catharsis for a

Part Two of One Way to Write Your Story

When planning a story, think of what form the story might take. The format can be a short story, novel, screenplay, play, graphic novel, poem, song, but remember, the way it's told is not as important as what you're trying to say. For example, you may start a story as a play and realize it would be better told as a screenplay, etc. There are expectations in all of these formats, and deciding before you start can save time. I think it's good to start with one kind of format before you begin. Now, it's time to produce characters to explore the theme of your story. I like to use Star Wars as an example of how a theme helps create characters. You can, of course, do this the other way round. The essay here is called one way, not the only way. To me, the theme of Star Wars is "Is good stronger than evil?" We've all read novels, short stories, seen movies, and television shows where this question is asked. Most times, good proves stronger, but on occasion, evil w

My Goodreads Review

It’s July 4, 1861, and the featured speaker at this year’s Independence Day celebration at Concord, MA, is high-spirited and fiercely patriotic Eloise Edwards. She rails against the South’s attack on Fort Sumter and the injustice of slavery. A newspaper article recounting the speech inspires her brother Edward to enlist. The siblings’ father, a War of Independence veteran, dies, and Edward decides he doesn’t want to join the Union army after all and runs away. Heartbroken, Eloise returns to the family telegraph office, committed to a life of boredom and servitude. The disappointment in her brother devastates Eloise. In a dramatic moment, she decides that she will take her brother’s place and fight for the honor of her family and the country. She joins the Massachusetts 20th and lives through several horrific battles, including the most devastating conflict in U.S. history, Gettysburg. General George Custer discovers her talent as a telegraph operator, and she soon rises through the ran

Three months

Part One of One Way to Write Your Story

What is your passion? When I was teaching creative writing, I asked the students their favorite movie or television show? The answers ranged from the best of Disney to the classics to smart-alecky attempts at humor. Your greatest strength in telling your story is your point of view. No one has ever lived the same life as you, had the same experiences at the same time as you, or expressed themselves the same way as you. Unfortunately, this is also your greatest weakness. Your point of view may seem like some other artist, but it's never going to be the same. When someone reads and evaluates your work, they're looking for something new, but not that new. They want something just a bit different than what everyone else is producing. But you must be true to your vision of your story, and if you get as close to creating the story in your mind as possible, you're a success. If anyone else likes what you've done, that is icing on the cake. Your first customer is you. If your w

One Way to Write Your Story Part One

One Way to Write Your Story    1.        Anything can be a good subject for your story. What is your passion: sports, justice, love, family? 2.        Create an extraordinary character (protagonist) who shares that same passion. What will they do if they don’t presently have it or are about to lose it? Next, create a character (antagonist) who shares an equal amount of desire and goes for the same thing as the protagonist. 3.        A plot is a series of events that explores the theme. Fate vs. Free Will. Is good stronger than evil? What makes a family? What is justice? And allows the protagonist and the antagonist to battle against each other over aspects of the theme through words or actions. 4.        Choose who will tell the story, a narrator (third person) or one of the characters (first person), and use description and dialogue to engage the reader’s mind. 5.        Raise the stakes of the conflict where only one will win with an ending that is both obvious and a surp

After Life

 The first two seasons of Ricky Gervais's After Life on Netflix focused on Tony, a widowed husband trying to find a reason to live after his beloved wife dies. There are life-out-loud funny scenes, with expressions of red-hot anger and a viewpoint of the absurdities of life. Season three picks up with Tony still pissed off and wondering why he should keep living. His maturation and eventual acceptance that life is worth living brings a tear to the eye and still slips in jokes and observations that make viewing well worth your time.

Gettysburg by Morning Cup