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WALK, DRIVE, RIDE, FLY OR SWIM, JUST BE THERE!

A man, a horse and discoveries on every page

Real live actors will be reading Gable Smiled, a work in progress, on a real live stage!

I’ll have a Q&A with audience members after the reading.

(this is so exciting)

 

NH Writers Project Hatbox Readings

New Hampshire Writers’ Project Readings at the Hatbox Theatre is a semi-regular theatrical and literary event series where actors read entertaining selections from ‘works in progress’ by three NHWP authors, and the audience offers feedback, critique, and reactions.

This event will not only allow the author to “hear” some of their novel, story, or book, but also receive immediate feedback. The audience will experience new works from NH authors live and contribute directly to an author’s creative process.

General admission.
NHWP or Hatbox Members: FREE
Adults: $10; Students/Seniors: $7.

Hatbox Theater, Concord, NH

Binky

Doctors at a besieged innercity clinic wrestle with the decision to condemn children to a future without hope.

Marino sipped cold coffee from a white styrofoam cup. He stood in his corner of the office he shared with the clinic staff. A bricked up fireplace ran along the wall nearest his desk, his clarinet on the mantle. Each day started with a little klezmer or polka, something to amuse the staff before the day began.

He nodded and smiled as they came in – “Morning, Dr. Marino”, “Morning, Janet.”, “Yo, Peter.”, “Yo yourself, Brian.” – performing a headcount.

He was one shy. Who…

Pahtmus’ and Officer Houle’s voices rose above the chants and hollers of protesters outside the clinic, beyond the perimeter fencing.

“You know you can’t park here?”

“I work here. You’ve seen me every day this week.”

“How come you don’t have a sticker on your car?”

“This is the first day I drove my car.”

“You got a sticker?”

Marino nodded to one of the new volunteers, “Vicki, could you run out with a parking permit for Dr. Pahtmus, please.”

He met Pahtmus in the entranceway. “Pretty loud today,” Marino said.

“Ah. You heard.”

“A little. You’re in triage today.”

Pahtmus nodded and shuffled off to the waiting and reception area.

“Wait a second. You’ll need this.” Marino held out a folding chair.

“Uncomfortable and austere is not chic, my friend.” Pahtmus waded into the sea of too many people and too much noise.

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Man and Boy; Tennessee, 1932

“Boy, what you straining with?”

“Don’t know, pa. It’s fighting me, though. It’s fighting me.”

“Look at that pole bend. Ease up a bit, boy. Give it some slack. See? Your pole’s not twitching. Whatever it is, it’s not fighting you, it’s dragging. Maybe something crawling on the bottom.”

“But it’s coming, pa.”

“Want me to take her for a spell?”

“I’d like that, pa.”

“Give it some slack before we switch poles. Something that heavy, you got to work slow, might have to get upstream of it to pull it in without snapping the line.”

“Look, pa. There it is. I see it.”

“Damn thing’s in the glare of the sun. What is it? Can you see? Feels like some bottom grass. Pity if we can’t loose the line.”

“It’s a man, pa. A black man.”

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What do you mean, exactly, when you tell me to Read and Write to be an author?

It’s what they don’t tell you that’ll ruin you

Almost every writing-how-to book I’ve read has something about having to read, read, read and write, write, write to be a good author. Few books (nor any classes I’ve taken in classrooms, workshops, online, et cetera) include the two pieces of information without which all the reading and all the writing are…well, maybe not worthless but definitely worth less: How to Read and How to Write.

Reading
Read anything and everything. Read omnivorously. Read trashy novels. Read pulp. Read magazine articles, newspapers. Read onlines. Read prizewinners. Read in and definitely outside your genre.

Here’s what nobody told me; Read for craft, not content.

Pay attention to what you’re reading.

 
Pay attention to how characters are developed, pay attention to how scenes unfold, how things are foreshadowed, pay attention to how mood, atmosphere and tone are constructed to create specific effects. Pay attention to how the author does everything they do to get you to read their story.

Especially pay attention to what they do that makes you stop reading their story.

An example of the former is from Fritz Leiber’s A Pale of Air. I read this story mumbledy-mumbledy years ago and remember literally feeling cold after the first few paragraphs. No idea why and continued blissfully ignorant for ever so long. Take a moment to read the opening and enjoy the chill:
Continue reading “What do you mean, exactly, when you tell me to Read and Write to be an author?”

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A short story turns into a medieval mystery

The following started as a short story in 1994. It went through four major revisions as a short story and I none of them satisfied me.

A few weeks back I decided to redo the story based on everything I’m learning. Behold, a similar while completely different story emerged.

Far from complete, it seems to be taking on novella if not novel proportions. This rewrite is pretty much a rough outline, a scene by scene rendition waiting for more scenes to take place. I’ll create the connecting sections, et cetera, as I progress. I would like to know what you think, though, so please do comment.


The witch’s hand climbed the black oak’s trunk like a strangely shaped, five-legged insect, the fingers finding purchase in the bark’s crevasses. Cartilage, sinews, and ligaments trailed from the wrist where Eric’s axe severed it from the witch herself, her hold on Julia weakened by the sudden rain.

Now the hand turned to stone where raindrops struck it, freezing it forever to the oak’s trunk, forever separate from the witch hiding in the oak’s bole.

Julia stood at the top of the rise slapping at her sleeves as if walking into a spider’s web, as if beating out still burning embers, her face white and her breathe panting, staring into the hollow, to the witch imprisoned in the oak, imprisoned by gently falling rain.

Eric spun her to face him, the witch’s blood already blackening on his axe, on his sleeves, his hands. “Julia! We have to go. Now! Julia!”

She spit at the witch. “What can she do now?” She outstretched her hands and glared at him. “The rain!”

“I have cursed us both, you fool. She’ll not rest until that hand has killed us both and it will take more than my axe to finish her. Get back to the village with me before the sun clears the skies. This is for Father Baillott and the men to deal with, not us.”

He grabbed her rain soaked arm and pulled her after him.

***
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Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Jan 2019’s Great Opening Lines)

Salinger and Atwood make the list

I wrote in Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Part 3 – Some Great Opening Lines) that I’d share more great opening lines as I found them.

“If you really want to hear about it,…” – J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye
First, the full opening line is “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”

You have the entire book in that opening line. The protagonist’s – Holden Caulfield’s – entire self-concept is revealed, the narrative voice established, you know and understand the main character and what you’re in for. Caulfield is talking to you directly, is reluctant to share anything about himself, and tests the reader’s level of interest before revealing anything. Salinger is essentially setting the reader’s expectations in the opening line. Nicely done!

“Out of the gravel there are peonies growing.” – Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace
The subtlety of that line overpowers me. It’s passive voice about a hopeful image. Talk about a killer emotional combination! Combine it with the complete first paragraph – “Out of the gravel there are peonies growing. They come up through the loose grey pebbles, there buds testing the air like snails’ eyes, then swelling and opening, huge dark-red flowers all shining and glossy like satin. Then they burst and fall to the ground.” – and you have the entire story presaged in a few short sentences, all of which echoes the passive-hopeful promise.

Nice.