Monday, July 31, 2006

Lesson 25: Low Tension III

Good Monday...I trust you all had a great weekend, especially those of you in California. Sorry to those of you in Chicago. The heat too shall pass!

Today we continue with Donald Maass' Writing a Breakout Novel. This is a fabulous book and I encourage each of you to buy it. What I'm presenting here is by no means a full lesson and there is a wealth of insight and additional info that will help you.

In case your just joining us...What I am attempting to do here is present truncated versions of each of the lessons in the workbook. We're done with Character Development, now we're moving on to Plot Development! Today's lesson is in Section TWO: Low Tension: Part 3.

Tension on every page is the secret of great storytelling. Everyone knows that. Practically no one does it! The dialogue of the how are you would you like a cup of coffee variety can put you to sleep. Mere talk does not keep us glued to the pages. Disagreement does.

Friction in dialogue arrests our attention. It begs the unspoken question: Will these people be able to resolve their differences? We slow down to read the next line to find out.

Dialogue, backstory, slack moments...these are just a few of the many low-tension danger spots that breakout novelists can make riviting. It's so simple, really! Tension on every page works. Low tension does not.

Make that your mantra!

Step 1: Turn to any page in your manuscript at random. Put your finger on any line at random.

Step 2: find a way to add tension at this moment. If there is already tension, skip to the next line, and heighten the tension there.

Note: Tension can be many things. it can be as obvious as a gun to the temple or as subtle as forlorn hope. Even the mere anticipation of change is a kind of tension. Without tension we have no reason to wonder how things will turn out. We might at first, but soon we start to skim

Follow-up: Pick another page at random, the pick another line. Heighten the tension at this point.

Follow-up 2: Continue picking pages at random, until you've gone through the whole novel!

Conclusion: Go back to your favorite novels and read them with an eye for tension. you will find that your favorite novelists always have tension on the page!

Here's some more things to annoy people with...use them at your own risk...LOL!

26. Finish all your sentences with the words "in accordance with the prophesy."

27. Wear a special hip holster for your remote control.

28. Do not add any inflection to the end of your sentences, producing awkward silences with the impression that you'll be saying more any moment.

29. Signal that a conversation is over by clamping your hands over your ears.

30. Disassemble your pen and "accidentally" flip the ink cartridge across the room.

31. Give a play-by-play account of a persons every action in a nasal Howard Cosell voice.

32. Holler random numbers while someone is counting.

33. Adjust the tint on your TV so that all the people are green, and insist to others that you "like it that way."

34. Drum on every available surface.

35. Staple papers in the middle of the page.

36. Ask 1-800 operators for dates.

37. Produce a rental video consisting entirely of dire FBI copyright warnings.

38. Sew anti-theft detector strips into peoples backpacks.

39. Hide dairy products in inaccessible places.

40. Write the surprise ending to a novel on its first page.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Hog Farming

Subject: RAISING HOGS

TO: Honorable Secretary of Agriculture, Washington, D.C

Dear Sir,

I have been evacuated from New Orleans because the flood took my old trailer and beat up car. I thought I might go into business to supplement my welfare check.

My friend over at Wells, Iowa received a check for $1,000 from the Government for not raising hogs. Right now I'm getting extra help from the government and Red Cross while I'm displaced but when that stops I want to go into the "not-raising-hogs" business.

What I want to know is, in your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to raise hogs on, and what is the best breed of hogs not to raise? I want to be sure that I approach this endeavor in keeping with all governmental policies. I would prefer not to raise razorbacks, but if that is not a good breed not to raise, then I will just as gladly not raise Yorkshires or Durocs. As I see it, the hardest part of this program will be in keeping an accurate inventory of how many hogs I haven't raised.

My friend, Peterson, is very happy about the future of the business. He has been raising hogs for twenty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was $422 in 1968, until this year when he got your check for $1000 for not raising hogs. If I get $1000 for not raising 50 hogs, will I get $2000 for not raising 100 hogs? I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4000 hogs not raised, which will mean about $80,000 the first year. Then I can afford an airplane.

Now another thing, these hogs I will not raise will not eat 100,000 bushels of corn. I understand that you also pay farmers for not raising corn and wheat. Will I qualify for payments for not raising wheat and corn not to feed the 4000 hogs I am not going to raise?

Also, I am considering the "not milking cows" business, so send me any information you have on that too. In view of these circumstances, you understand that I will be totally unemployed and plan to file for unemployment and food stamps.

Be assured you will have my vote in the coming election.

Patriotically Yours,
Ima Taker

Friday, July 28, 2006

Lesson 24: Low Tension II

Hey, we made it to Friday...TGIF...Hope you have a great weekend, and that the weather cools down a tad out in California.

Today we continue with Donald Maass' Writing a Breakout Novel. This is a fabulous book and I encourage each of you to buy it. What I'm presenting here is by no means a full lesson and there is a wealth of insight and additional info that will help you.

In case your just joining us...What I am attempting to do here is present truncated versions of each of the lessons in the workbook. We're done with Character Development, now we're moving on to Plot Development! Today's lesson is in Section TWO: Low Tension: Part 2.


This lesson deals with burdensome backstory! This is one of the most common ways that an inexperienced novelist...and even sometimes the practiced ones...bog down their openings.

You may think that backstory tells things about a character, that we just have to know...LOL...sometimes it can, but that still doesn't make it necessary. We don't always need to know all of these facts, all at once, or right in the beginning.

Backstory doesn't tell a story, have tension or complicate problems. However once problems have been introduced, backstory can be artfully deployed to deepen them. It can be particularly useful in developing inner conflicts.

Force yourself to withhold the backstory stuff. Having it in the first few chapters always feels awfully necessary. But it is not. It may be more useful later in the story. If when you get there you find you don't need it after all, then maybe you didn't need it in the first place.

Step 1: In the first fifty pages of your novel, find any scene that establishes the setting, brings the players to the stage, sets up the situation, or that is otherwise backstory.

Step 2: Put brackets around this material, or highlight it in your electronic file.

Step 3: cut and paste this material into chapter fifteen...Yes, chapter fifteen
NOTE: Over and over authors bog down their beginnings with setup and backstory. The fact is, the author needs to know these things, of course, but the reader does not. The reader needs the story to begin.

Follow-up: Now, look at chapter fifteen. Does the backstory belong here? If not, can it be cut outright? If that is not possible, where is the best place for it to reside after the midpoint of your novel!

Conclusion: Backstory is less important than most novelists think. If you must include it at all, place it so that it answers a long-standing question, illuminating some side of a character rather than just setting it up.

And finally...this isn't a joke...but it aught to be....Burglars do the dumbest things!

When a man pulled two guns on convenience store clerk Wazir Jiwi and demanded money, Jiwi asked how much he wanted for one of the guns. He said $100, which Jiwi paid him.

Then Jiwi offered to buy the second gun. The robber handed it over, grabbed the cash and headed for the exit. But Jiwi had pushed a button under the counter that automatically locked the door.

"He turned to me and asked what was going on," Jiwi says. "I told him to bring the money back and I would let him go. He brought the money back, and I opened the door."

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Lesson 23: Low Tension- Part 1

Good Thursday to you all. I'm finally getting the code errors in my template eradicated thanks to Bonnie Wren ! Ehat a lifesaver this woman is! LOL...she calls it butt-er in-ner, I call it Praise the Lord!

Today we continue with Donald Maass' Writing a Breakout Novel. This is a fabulous book and I encourage each of you to buy it. What I'm presenting here is by no means a full lesson and there is a wealth of insight and additional info that will help you.

In case your just joining us...What I am attempting to do here is present truncated versions of each of the lessons in the workbook. We're done with Character Development, now we're moving on to Plot Development! Today's lesson is in Section TWO: Low Tension: Part 1.
In tonight's lesson, we're going to look at Low Tension part 1, subtitled The Problem with Tea!

Donald Maass, in his workshop on this book teaches authors to cut scenes set in the kitchen or living room or cars driving from one place to another, or that involve drinking tea or coffee or taking showers or baths, particularly in the novel's first fifty pages.

Wonder of wonders! Hardly anyone wants to cut such material. Best selling author Jennifer Cruise even tacked him down at a writers retreat in Kentucky to debate the point about kitchens. She argued without kitchens, how can you tell a family story?

These kind of novels invite you to skim...and most people do! The reason is that in careless hands, such scenes lack tension. They do not add new information. They do not subtract allies , deepen conflict, or open new dimensions of character.

Typically scenes like these are to relax the tension. They do not raise questions or make use tense or worried. No wonder they don't hold people's attention!

Put your tension mete on its most sensitive setting. When your fingers try to type any scene set in a kitchen, living room, or car, I hope your tension meter sinks into the red zone and sets off a screaming alarm in your brain....Low tension alert!

Step 1: Find a scene that involves your hero taking a shower or bath, drinking tea or coffee, smoking a cigarette or reviewing prior action.

Step 2: Cut the scene

Step 3: If you cannot cut the scene, add tension.

Step 4: Find a scene set in a kitchen, living room, office, or in a car that your hero is driving from one place to another.

Step 5: Cut the scene.

Step 6: If you cannot cut the scene, add tension.

Note: The above exercise usually provokes anxiety in workshop participants. The fact is, people usually jump over such pointless review. Another trap is telling us how your hero reached a decision. Why bother? Instead, show us what happens as a result.

Follow-up: Find ten more low-tension scenes to cut or juice up with more tension.

Conclusion: Ninety-nine percent of scenes involving the above categories are by nature inactive. They are usually filler. You think you need them...but probably you don't!

And now...*snicker*...for a joke. I was sworn, under threat to my life...not to reveal who gave this to me...*Sniff* she threatened to slap me...Mwhahahahaha!

THE MIRACLE OF TOILET PAPER

Fresh from her shower, she stand in front of the mirror complaining to her
husband that her bust was too small.

Instead of characteristically telling her it's not so, he uncharacteristically
comes up with a suggestion.

"If you want your bust to grow, then every day take a piece of toilet
paper and rub it between them for a few seconds."

Willing to try anything, she fetched a piece of toilet paper and stood in front
of the mirror, rubbing it between her bust.

"How long will this take?" She asked.

"They will grow larger over a period of years," her husband replies.

She stopped. "Do you really think rubbing a piece of toilet paper between my
bust every day will make my bust larger over the years?"

Without missing a beat he says "Worked for your butt, didn't it?"

He's still alive, and with a great deal of therapy, he may even walk again.

Stupid, stupid man!!!!!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Lesson 22: Bridging Conflict

Good Wednesday...where did the week go? It's the old age...LOL...I'm forgetful now...LOL! Okay while I still remember, let's get to the lesson!

Today we continue with Donald Maass' Writing a Breakout Novel. This is a fabulous book and I encourage each of you to buy it. What I'm presenting here is by no means a full lesson and there is a wealth of insight and additional info that will help you.

In case your just joining us...What I am attempting to do here is present truncated versions of each of the lessons in the workbook. We're done with Character Development, now we're moving on to Plot Development! Today's lesson is in Section TWO: Bridging Conflict.

Did you ever arrive early for a party? It's awkward, isn't it? The music isn't playing. The host and hostess aren't ready. You offer help, but there's nothing you can do....except feel awkward.

That's how some manuscripts are. Pieces of the story are being assembled, but nothing is happening yet, and the protagonist hasn't arrived. I fact nobody you like has shown up and your wondering why you accepted the invitation.

Bridging conflict is a story element that takes care of that. It is the temporary conflict or mini-problem or interim worry that makes opening material matter. There are many ways to create it. Even anticipation of changes is a kind of conflict that can make us lean forward and wonder, What is going to happen?

How do you bridge from your opening page to your novel's main events? Do you just get us there, filling space with arrival, setup, and backstory? Or do you use the preliminary pages of your manuscript to build tension of a different sort?

Step 1: Does your novel include a prologue that does not include your protagonist, or one or more opening chapters in which your hero does not appear. Move your hero's first scene to page one.

Step 2: Once your protagonist arrives on stage what business do you feel must be included before the first big change, conflict, problem, or plot development arrives?

Step 3: What is the bridging conflict that carries us through those opening steps to the first big change, conflict, problem, or plot development?

Step 4: Open your manuscript to page one. How can you make that bridging conflict stronger at this point?

Step 5: turn to page two. Repeat the previous step. Continue until you reach the first big change, conflict, problem, or plot development.

Note: The number one reason for rejection..no conflict, especially in the opening pages.

Follow-up: Find four places in your novel, ones that fall between plot development or scenes, in which the problem does not immediately arrive.

Conclusion: To maintain high tension it isn't necessary to keep your novel's central conflict squarely front and center. Bridging conflict adds contrast and variety, and makes even peripheral action matter. It is what keeps your readers' eyes glued always to the page, even when your main plot is taking a break!

And now a joke from Ric! He's in rare form!

A gynecologist had become fed up with malpractice insurance and was on the verge of being burned out. Hoping to try another career where skillful hands would be beneficial, he decided to change careers and become a mechanic.

He found out from the local technical college what was involved, signed up for evening classes, attended diligently, and learned all he could.

When the time for the practical exam approached, the gynecologist prepared carefully for weeks and completed the exam with tremendous skill.

When the results came back, he was surprised to find that he had obtained a score of 150%. Fearing an error, he called the instructor, saying, "I don't want to app ear ungrateful for such an outstanding result, but I wondered if there had been an error
which needed adjusting."

The instructor said, "During the exam, you took the engine apart perfectly, which was worth 50% of the total mark. You put the engine back together again perfectly, which is also worth 50% of the mark."

The instructor went on to say, "I gave you an extra 50% because you did all of it through the muffler."

ROFLOL...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!!!!



I'm taking a break today....because it's My Birthday!!!

I'm 56 today....Wahoooooo!!!

And Happy Birthday wishes also go out to Mimi's husband Dave...LOL..he's still a baby...He just turned 40!!!! Hurray Dave!

And a special thanks goes out to my blogging buddy Bonnie Wren for helping me at the daunting task of straightening out my template...Another well deserved Wahoo!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Lesson 21: High Moments

Good Monday morning....I see by the news reports that there are still major power outages in Queens, New York and St. Louis, Missouri. Hope all our blogging buddies are fine....although if they have no power they won't see this...duh, Bonnie!

Today we continue with Donald Maass' Writing a Breakout Novel. This is a fabulous book and I encourage each of you to buy it. What I'm presenting here is by no means a full lesson and there is a wealth of insight and additional info that will help you.

In case your just joining us...What I am attempting to do here is present truncated versions of each of the lessons in the workbook. We're done with Character Development, now we're moving on to Plot Development! Today's lesson is in Section TWO: High Moments.

I love it when a novel makes you suck in your breath and go, "Oh!" These are high moments, when the story soars above itself and awes or inspires us in some way.

How are such effects achieved? It's easier than you think. Granted there are certain types of story events that are guaranteed to produce wide-eyed reactions. What are they?....forgiveness, self-sacrifice, reversals of direction, moral choices, and death. Do any of these occur in your current manuscript? If not, is there a place for them?

Step 1: In your novel is there one character who can be forgiven by another? What is being forgiven? When? Why?

Step 2: In your novel is there a character who can sacrifice his/herself, or something dearly loved, in some way? Who is it? What does he sacrifice?

Step 3: In your novel is there ancharacter who can change direction? Who is it? What causes the turnabout? When does it happen?

Step 4: In your novel is there a character who faces a moral choice? Who? What choice? How can that choice become more difficult?

Step 5: In your novel is there a character whom we do not expect to die, but who can nevertheless perish? Kill that character.

Note: What are the memorable moments in a novel? The high moments, of course, but what do we mean by that? They can mean many things like reconciliation, self-sacrifice, transformation, tests of character, or death. In many novels none of these things occur!

Follow-up: Using the notes you made above, incorporate each of those high moments into your novel!

Conclusion: For a novel to feel big, big things must happen: irrevocalbe changes, hearts opening, hearts breaking, saying farewell to one well loved whom we will never meet again. Create these moments. Use them. They are the high moments that make a novel highly dramatic.

And here's a joke to start the week!


Bubba was bragging to his boss one day, "You know, I know everyone there is to know. Just name someone, anyone, and I know them."

Tired of his boasting, his boss called his bluff, "OK, Bubba how about Tom Cruise?"

"Sure, yes, Tom and I are old friends, and I can prove it." So Bubba and his boss fly out to Hollywood and knock on Tom Cruise's door, and sure enough, Tom Cruise, shouts, "Bubba! Great to see you! You and your friend come right in and join me for lunch!"

Although impressed, Bubba's boss is still skeptical. After they leave Cruise's house, he tells Bubba that he thinks Bubba's knowing Cruise was just lucky.

"No, no, just name anyone else," Bubba says.

"President Bush," his boss quickly retorts.

"Yes," Bubba says, "I know him, let's fly out to Washington." And off they go. At the White House, Bush spots Bubb on the tour and motions him and his boss over, saying, "Bubba, what a surprise, I was just on my way to a meeting, but you and your friend come on in and let's have a cup of coffee first and catch up."

Well, the boss is very shaken by now, but still not totally convinced. After they leave the White house grounds, he expresses his doubts to Bubba, who again implores him to name anyone else.

"The Pope," his boss replies.

"Sure!" says Bubba. "My folks are from Poland, and I've known the Pope a long time."

So off they fly to Rome. Bubba and his boss are assembled with the masses in Vatican Square when Bubba says, "This will never work. I can't catch the Pope's eye among all these people. Tell you what, I know all the guards so let me just go upstairs and I'll come out on the balcony with the Pope."

And he disappears into the crowd headed toward the Vatican. Sure enough, half an hour later Bubba emerges with the Pope on the balcony. But by the time Bubba returns, he finds that his boss has had a heart attack and is surrounded by paramedics.

Working his way to his boss' side, Bubba asks him, "What happened?"

His boss looks up and says, "I was doing fine until you and the Pope came out on the balcony and the man next to me said, "Who's that on the balcony with Bubba?"

Saturday, July 22, 2006

He's All Yours!

Here's something I got from my hometown girl Debra Brand. This aughta' hold you over until Monday. Have a great and safe weekend!

A Lady libertarian wrote a lot of letters to the White House complaining about the treatment of a captive insurgent (terrorist) being held in Guantanamo Bay. She received back the following reply:


The Pentagon

Secretary of Defense

Washington, D.C. 20016



Dear Concerned Citizen,



Thank you for your recent letter roundly criticizing our treatment of the Taliban and Al Quaeda detainees currently being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Our administration takes these matters seriously and your opinion was heard loud and clear here in Washington at both the White House and the Pentagon.

You'll be pleased to learn that, thanks to the concerns of citizens like yourself, we are creating a new division of the Terrorist Retraining Program, to be called the "Liberals Accept Responsibility for Killers" program, or LARK for short.

In accordance with the guidelines of this new program, we have decided to place one terrorist under your personal care. Your personal detainee has been selected and scheduled for transportation under heavily armed guard to your residence next Monday.

Ali Mohammed Ahmed bin Mahmud (you can just call him Ahmed) is to be cared for pursuant to the standards you personally demanded in your letter of complaint. It will likely be necessary for you to hire some assistant caretakers.

We will conduct weekly inspections to ensure that your standards of care for Ahmed are Commensurate with those you so strongly recommended in your letter.

Although Ahmed is a sociopath and extremely violent, we hope that your sensitivity to what you described as his "attitudinal problem" will help him overcome these character flaws.

Perhaps you are correct in describing these problems as mere cultural differences. We understand that you plan to offer counseling and home schooling.

Your adopted terrorist is extremely proficient in hand-to-hand combat and can extinguish human life with such simple items as a pencil or nail clippers. We advise that you do not ask him to demonstrate these skills at your next yoga group.

He is also expert at making a wide variety of explosive devices from common household products, so you may wish to keep those items locked up, unless (in your opinion) this might offend him.

Ahmed will not wish to interact with you or your daughters (except sexually), since he views females as a subhuman form of property. This is a particularly sensitive subject for him and he has been known to show violent tendencies around women who fail to comply with the new dress code that he will recommend as more appropriate attire.

I'm sure you will come to enjoy the anonymity offered by the burka -- over time.

Just remember that it is all part of "respecting his culture and his religious beliefs" -- wasn't that how you put it?

Thanks again for your letter. We truly appreciate it when folks like you keep us informed of the proper way to do our job. You take good care of Ahmed - and remember, we'll be watching.

Good luck!

Cordially, your friend,

Don Rumsfeld

Friday, July 21, 2006

LESSON 20: The Inner Journey

Auh...we made it, Friday. I'm barely awake so I'm going to make this fast, so I can catch some Z's

Today we continue with Donald Maass' Writing a Breakout Novel. This is a fabulous book and I encourage each of you to buy it. What I'm presenting here is by no means a full lesson and there is a wealth of insight and additional info that will help you.

In case your just joining us...What I am attempting to do here is present truncated versions of each of the lessons in the workbook. We're done with Character Development, now we're moving on to Plot Development! Today's lesson is in Section TWO: the Inner Journey.

Plot development creates easy to see plot points. Less easy to identify are your protag's inner turning points. Call it growth, call it exposition, but get inside your characters head and find out where he/she is right now1

Take the time to demark the inner turning points in your current WIP. We want to know about your characters, particularly how they are changing. Show us. A sense of the trick inner lives unfolding is one of the hallmarks of a breakout novel.

Step 1: Choose any turning point except the climax.

Step 2: Wind the clock back...How does the character feel about himself NOW!

Step 3:Write a paragraph in which you delineate this character's state of mind or state of being at this earlier moment.

Step 4: Now, write a paragraph in which you delineate this character's state of mind, or state of being ten minutes after the turning point.

Step 5: Use the material you generated in the steps above to pull together a single paragraph.

Note: Has your life ever changed in a moment? Was there an incident, a second in time where your life changed irrevocable. Bring the same inner transformation that has taken place into a very detailed exercise.

Follow-up: Some novelist only do a short amount of work. Find out the feelings of a child. What does it feel to be like a child? Find out the answers from a child!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Lesson 19: Turning Points

Good Thurday, friends! Is anyone within reading distance of this blog going to the
Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference (GPCWC) in August? Well, me and my best blogging buddy M.C.Pearson (Mimi) are going for the whole three days. This will be great fun because we've been friends for about a year and a half. But we live so far away that other than the net and phone calls we've never met face-to-face.

This will be a blast! So if any other bloggers are going, let me know and we can make it a party!

Today we continue with Donald Maass' Writing a Breakout Novel. This is a fabulous book and I encourage each of you to buy it. What I'm presenting here is by no means a full lesson and there is a wealth of insight and additional info that will help you.

In case your just joining us...What I am attempting to do here is present truncated versions of each of the lessons in the workbook. We're done with Character Development, now we're moving on to Plot Development! Today's lesson is in Section TWO: Turning Points.

A turning point in a story is when things change. It could be new info coming in, a shift in events, a reversal, a twist (like revealing another role for a character), a challenge, or a disaster.

Figuring out turning points is easy enough. Making them as dramatic as possible is another story...LOL...Heightening takes work. Sometimes it is as simple as letting go of an old way of looking at things.

Take a look at the turning points throughout your manuscript. Are they as dramatic as they possibly can be? No...I guarantee it. Go back to work on them. Use stronger words, hand objects, dramatic gestures, more evocative settings...whatever it takes to wring out of them all that they have to give.

Step 1: Pick a turning point in your story. It can be a major change of direction in the plot or a small discovery in the course of a scene.

Step 2: Heighten it. Change the setting in some way. Make the action bigger. Magnify the dialogue. Make the inner change experienced by your POV character as cataclysmic as an earthquake.

Step 3: Take the same moment, and underplay it. make it quieter. Take away action. Remove dialogue. Make the transition small and internal, a tide just beginnning to ebb.

Note: Which works better, heightening the turning point or underplaying it. How did you change the setting, or use it differently? How did you make action more dramatic? Did the dialogue get louder, sharper, harder, more cutting? If a realization has taken place, how did it deepen?

Follow-up: go through your novel and find the turning points in twenty scenes. find ways to heighten (or pointedly diminish) them.

Conclusion: Many novels do not strive forward in pronounced steps. Many authors are afraid to exaggerate what is happening. That is a mistake. Stories, like life, are about change. Delineating the changes scene by scene gives a novel a sense of unfolding drama, and gives its characters a feeling of purpose over time.

And here's a bit of jockularity!

(A) The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

(B) On the other hand, the French eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

(C) The Japanese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

(D) The Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans

(E) Conclusion: Eat & drink what you like. It's speaking English that kills you.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Lesson 18: Subplots

Good Wednesday folks...Auh...Hump Day...It feels good to have the week half over. Yikes, I'm a half week older, too! Oh well, such is life.

Today we continue with Donald Maass' Writing a Breakout Novel. This is a fabulous book and I encourage each of you to buy it. What I'm presenting here is by no means a full lesson and there is a wealth of insight and additional info that will help you.

In case your just joining us...What I am attempting to do here is present truncated versions of each of the lessons in the workbook. We're done with Character Development, now we're moving on to Plot Development! Today's lesson is in Section TWO: Subplots.

Plot layers are the several narrative lines experiences by the protagonist, while subplots are the narrative lines experienced by other characters. What does a narrative line look like? It's problems that take more than one step to resolve, in other words...it grows more complicated!

Now that we understand the lingo, which is better, layers or subplots? Today the word subplot is kinda' old-fashioned. Subplots are found throughout 20th century literature, and in contemporary novels.

Novels today benefit more from tightly weaving plot layers, than from the broad sprawl of subplots. but it is not to say that subplots don't have a place in a breakout novel!

Are there subplots that can be developed for your novel? Some writers are afraid to add subplots, for fear their story will run away with them. That fear is unfounded. Subplots may make a novel sprawl, but if carefully woven together with the main layers, the novel will have the rich tapestry feeling of real life!

Step 1: Who are your novel's most important secondary characters?

Step 2: what is the main problem, conflict, or goal faced by each of these characters?

Step 3: For each, what are the three main steps leading to the solution of that problem, the resolution of that conflict, or the attainment of that goal. Put another way, what are three actions, events, or developments...of the secondary characters...that you could not possibly leave out.

Step 4: Outline each secondary character's story. while your protagonist is at work on the main problem, what is each character doing to slove his own problem?

Note: What if your novel is not really about your hero, but about another character? That is the point of this exercise: To make secondary characters active, to give them lives and stories of their own. These are true subplots!

Follow-up: Weave your plot layers together with your subplots using the method in the building Plot exercis steps from yesterday. Add the nodes of conjuncture that you discover to your novel.

Conclusion: Can subplots and secondary characters steal the show? Yep! If they do it effectively enough, you may have the wrong protagonist. But most subplots are underdeveloped or nonexistent. This exercise can help give subplots a vital pulse.

And the last of the interesting Facts!

1. There is a seven-letter word in the English language that contains ten words without rearranging any of its letters, "therein": the,there, he, in, rein, her, here, ere, therein, herein.

2. Dueling is legal in Paraguay as long as both parties are registered blood donors.

3. A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.

4. It's impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.

5. Cranberries are sorted for ripeness by bouncing them; a fully ripened cranberry can be dribbled like a basketball.

6. The letters KGB stand for Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti

7. 'Stewardesses' is the longest English word that is typed with only the left hand.

8. The combination "ough" can be pronounced in nine different ways; the following sentence contains them all: "A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed."

9. The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable.

10. Facetious and abstemious contain all the vowels in the correct order, as does arsenious, meaning "containing arsenic."

11. Emus and kangaroos cannot walk backwards, and are on the Australian seal for that reason.

12. Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds, while dogs only have about ten.

13. The word "Checkmate" in chess comes from the Persian phrase "Shah Mat," which means "the king is dead."

14. The reason firehouses have circular stairways is from the days of yore when the engines were pulled by horses. The horses were stabled on the ground floor and figured out how to walk up straight staircases.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Good Tuesday, friends...I don't know about your part of the country but it's stinkin' HOT here. It was like 95 and humid...yea, yea, I know...to Texans that ain't hot. Well this ain't Texas...and we ain't used to it. My brain synapses are misfiring...LOL!

Today we continue with Donald Maass' Writing a Breakout Novel. This is a fabulous book and I encourage each of you to buy it. What I'm presenting here is by no means a full lesson and there is a wealth of insight and additional info that will help you.

In case your just joining us...What I am attempting to do here is present truncated versions of each of the lessons in the workbook. We're done with Character Development, now we're moving on to Plot Development! Today's lesson is in Section TWO: Weaving a Story.

Yesterday we added layers. The next is to get them to work together. Without linking them you might as well be writing separate novels for each layer. Weaving them together is finding ways for them to coexist.

The devices that you use to make the connections are called nodes of conjunction. A setting in your story may recur in different layers, thus serving double duty. A character who faces his own problems in a subplot may bring relief, or introduce a complication, to your protag, who is facing their own conflict.

Secondary characters can get dragged into storylines they did not expect to grapple with. These are the ways in which storylines cross. Count the nodes of conjunction that weave together the layers in your novel. How many are there? Search for more!

Step 1: On a single sheet of paper, make three columns. In the first one list major and secondary characters. In the middle, list the principle narrative lines, main problems, extra plot layers, subplots, minor narrative threads, questions to be answered in the course of the story, etc, In the third column list the novel's principle places and major settings.

Step 2: With circles and lines, connect a character, a narrative line, and a place. Keep drawing lines and circles at random, making connections. See what develops. When a random connection suddenly makes sense...make notes.

Note: Try this and you will find connections you never saw before, characters that cross from one storyline to another, settings that host more than one storyline. these nodes of conjunction give a novel texture, a feeling of being woven together.

Follow-up: Add to you novel at least six of the nodes of conjunction that you came up with.

Conclusion: You may feel that you story is runninf away from you out of control. This panic is normal. Trust the process. If you have set a strong central problem, added layers, and found ways to weave them together, then the whole thing will come together in the end!

Here are some interesting Facts to peruse!

1. The longest one-syllable word in the English language is "screeched."

2. "Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt"

3. Almonds are members of the peach family.

4. The symbol on the "pound" key (#) is called an octothorpe.

5. The dot over the letter 'i' is called a tittle.

6. Ingrown toenails are hereditary.

7. The word "set" has more definitions than any other word in the English language.

8. "Underground" is the only word in the English language that begins and ends with the letters "und."

9. There are only four words in the English language which end in "-dous": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.

10. Los Angeles's full name is "El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reinade los Angeles de Porciuncula" and can be abbreviated to 3.63% of its size,L.A.

11. An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.

12. Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.

13. Alfred Hitchcock didn't have a belly button. It was eliminated when he was sewn up after surgery.

14. Telly Savalas and Louis Armstrong died on their birthdays.

15. Donald Duck's middle name is Fauntleroy.

16. The muzzle of a lion is like a fingerprint - no two lions have the same pattern of whiskers.

17. A pregnant goldfish is called a twit.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Lesson 16: Plot Layers

Is it Monday already...wake me up when it's Tuesday...No, huh...alright! Hi, everybody! Let's start a new week!

Today we continue with Donald Maass' Writing a Breakout Novel. This is a fabulous book and I encourage each of you to buy it. What I'm presenting here is by no means a full lesson and there is a wealth of insight and additional info that will help you.

In case your just joining us...What I am attempting to do here is present truncated versions of each of the lessons in the workbook. We're done with Character Development, now we're moving on to Plot Development! Today's lesson is in Section TWO: Plot Layers.

In understanding how to build a breakout novel, you have to grasp the difference between subplot and a layer. Subplots are plot lines given to different characters. While layers are plot lines given to the same character. Breakout fiction makes extensive use of plot layers to reflect the natural complexity of our lives.

How many layers have you heaped on your protagonist in your current WIP? Just one?...Get busy!! Even two layers may be too few to build a breakout novel!

Step 1: What is the name of your protagonist?

Step 2: What is the overall problem he/she must solve?

Step 3: What additional problems can she face? Not complications to the main problem, but altogether different problems.

Note: A plot is layered when more than one thing happens simultaneously to the hero. There are levels of problems to utilize...public problems, personal problems, and secondary problems. Small mysteries, nagging questions, dangling threads....these can be woven into the plot.

Follow-up: For each plot layer that you add, work out at least four steps or scenes that you will need to bring this narrative line to its climax and resolution. Make notes for these additional steps or scenes.

Conclusion: Have you ever noticed how everything seems to happen at once? Good things come in threes. When it rains it pours. Layers give novels the rich texture of real life. Building them into your story is extra work, but the reward is a rich resonance and complexity!


And this little story, my friends...I have voted...

DEFINITELY THE BEST E-MAIL OF THE YEAR !!!!!

A man was sick and tired of going to work every day while his wife stayed home.
He wanted her to see what he went through so he prayed:

"Dear Lord, I go to work every day and put in 8 hours while my wife merely stays at home. I want her to know what I go through, so please allow her body to switch with mine for a day. Amen."

God, in his infinite wisdom, granted the man's wish.

The next morning, sure enough, the man awoke as a woman.

He arose, cooked breakfast for his mate, awakened the kids, set out their school clothes, fed them breakfast, packed their lunches, drove them to school, came home and picked up the dry cleaning, took it to the cleaners and stopped at the bank to make a deposit, went grocery shopping, then drove home to put away the groceries, paid the bills and balanced the checkbook.

He cleaned the cat's litter box and bathed the dog.

Then it was already 1 P.M. and he hurried to make the beds, do the laundry, vacuum, dust, and sweep and mop the kitchen floor.

He ran to the school to pick up the kids and got into an argument with them on the way home.

Set out milk and cookies and got the kids organized to do their homework, then set up the ironing board and watched TV while he did the ironing.

At 4:30 he began peeling potatoes and washing vegetables for salad, breaded the pork chops and snapped fresh beans for supper.

After supper, he cleaned the kitchen, ran the dishwasher, folded laundry, bathed the kids, and put them to bed.

At 9 P.M. he was exhausted and, though his daily chores weren't finished, he went to bed where he was expected to make love, which he managed to get through without complaint.


The next morning, he awoke and immediately knelt by the bed and said: Lord, I don't know what I was thinking. I was so wrong to envy my wife's being able to stay home all day. Please, oh please, let us trade back."

The Lord, in his infinite wisdom, replied: "My son, I feel you have learned your lesson and I will be happy to change things back to the way they were."

You'll just have to wait nine months, though. You got pregnant last night!"

ROFLOL!!!!!

Voted Women's Favorite E-mail of the Year

Saturday, July 15, 2006

25 Ways to Annoy People

Stop by the Bible Study Blog where I post. On Saturdays I give a Lesson from the Land of the Bible. Presently I'm discussing scientific proof that the Bible is accurate.

Here...this will give you something to accomplish for the weekend....How to get a black eye in 25 easy lessons...LOL..see ya'll on Monday.

1. Sing the Batman theme incessantly.

2. In the memo field of all your checks, write "for sensual massage."

3. Specify that your drive-through order is "to go."

4. Learn Morse code, and have conversations with friends in public consisting entirely of "Beeeep Bip Bip Beeep Bip..."

5. If you have a glass eye, tap on it occasionally with your pen while talking to others.

6. Amuse yourself for endless hours by hooking a camcorder to your TV and then pointing it at the screen.

7. Speak only in a "robot" voice.

8. Push all the flat Lego pieces together tightly.

9. Start each meal by conspicuously licking all your food, and announce that this is so no one will "swipe your grub".

10. Leave the copy machine set to reduce 200%, extra dark, 17 inch paper, 98 copies.

11. Stomp on little plastic ketchup packets.

12. Sniffle incessantly.

13. Leave your turn signal on for fifty miles.

14. Name your dog "Dog."

15. Insist on keeping your car windshield wipers running in all weather conditions "to keep them tuned up."

16. Reply to everything someone says with "that's what YOU think."

17. Claim that you must always wear a bicycle helmet as part of your "astronaut training."

18. Declare your apartment an independent nation, and sue your neighbors upstairs for "violating your airspace".

19. Forget the punchline to a long joke, but assure the listener it was a "real hoot."

20. Follow a few paces behind someone, spraying everything they touch with Lysol.

21. Practice making fax and modem noises.

22. Highlight irrelevant information in scientific papers and "cc:" them to your boss.

23. Make beeping noises when a large person backs up.

24. Invent nonsense computer jargon in conversations, and see if people play along to avoid the appearance of ignorance.

25. Erect an elaborate network of ropes in your backyard, and tell the neighbors you are a "spider person."


Friday, July 14, 2006

Lesson 15: Complications

We made it to Friday...TGIF! I hope you all have a great weekend.

Today we continue with Donald Maass' Writing a Breakout Novel. This is a fabulous book and I encourage each of you to buy it. What I'm presenting here is by no means a full lesson and there is a wealth of insight and additional info that will help you.

In case your just joining us...What I am attempting to do here is present truncated versions of each of the lessons in the workbook. We're done with Character Development, now we're moving on to Plot Development! Today's lesson is in Section TWO: Complications.

Every protagonist has a goal. This means every one also has problems, because no goal is achieved without overcoming obstacles. Easily achieved goals are not goals at all...LOL! the obstacles to the goal are important, they are the essence of the plot!

Plot can literally be be the tally of many complications hurled at the hero. Complications can be inner, psychological, and private, or external, unprovoked, and public. Or both! Just make wherever your hero is going, difficult to get there.

The obstacles have to be believable, whether internal or external. Look at your favorite novel. Many pages are relegated to making the opposition real and credible. This is good storytelling.

The simplest way of opposition is to have an antagonist. But he/she needs to be a good villain. This is sometimes hard because most authors are not evil at heart. To be a good criminal you have to be able to justify your crime...and feel justified by it. Thus, motivating the villain is an essential breakout skill!

Step 1: What is your novel's main conflict?

Step 2: What are the main complications that deepen that conflict?

Step 3:To each complication, assign the name of the character who primarily will enact it. How will he/she do so?

Step 4: Work out the primary motives for each character who introduces a complication. Then list all the secondary motives, and underline the last ones you wrote down...Pick a scene involving that character and reverse that character's motivation, as you did back in the Reversing Motives in chapter six.

Note: Plot complications need characters to bring them about. The obvious choice of character is not always the most effective. For example: You would expect it to be the boss who tells you that you are running out of time. What if it was the janitor that told you he felt bad for the last guy who didn't complete the assignment on time.

Follow-up: For at least three complications, work out who will be hurt the most when it happens. Incorporate it in the story.

Conclusion:
Most authors underutilize their secondary characters. Adding complications is a way to get more mileage out of your cast!

And now a funny story for the weekend!
Who knows if this is true. Just the same, it's funny!

I am told that a 98-year-old woman wrote this to her bank, and the bank manager thought it amusing enough to have it published in the New York Times.

Dear Sir:

I am writing to thank you for bouncing my check with which I endeavored to pay my plumber last month.

By my calculations, three "nanoseconds" must have elapsed between his presenting the check and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honor it. I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my entire salary, an arrangement which, I admit, has been in place for only eight years.

You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account $30 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank.

My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to rethink my errant financial ways. I noticed that whereas I personally attend to your telephone calls and letters, when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has become.

From now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person. My mortgage and loan payments will therefore and hereafter no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank by check, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate.

Be aware that it is an offense under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope. Please find attached an Application Contact Status which I require your chosen employee to complete.

I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative. Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Notary Public, and the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets, and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof.

In due course, I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me. I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modeled it on the number of button presses required of me to access my account balance on your phone bank service. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Let me level the playing field even further. When you call me, press buttons as follows:

1-- To make an appointment to see me.
2-- To query a missing payment.
3-- To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there.
4-- To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping.
5-- To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature.
6-- To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home.
7-- To leave a message on my computer. (A password to access my computer is required. A password will be communicated to you at a later date to the Authorized Contact.)
8-- To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through 7.
9-- To make a general complaint or inquiry, the contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service.
While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call.

Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement.

May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous, New Year.
Your Humble Client

(Remember: This was written by a 98-year-old woman.)


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Lesson 14: Public Stakes

Thursday...only a day away...from Friday...I wish I could figure out how to put musical notes up here, so you'd know when I was singing. But then again maybe you don't want to know when I'm singing...LOL!!

Today we continue with Donald Maass' Writing a Breakout Novel. This is a fabulous book and I encourage each of you to buy it. What I'm presenting here is by no means a full lesson and there is a wealth of insight and additional info that will help you.

In case your just joining us...What I am attempting to do here is present truncated versions of each of the lessons in the workbook. We're done with Character Development, now we're moving on to Plot Development! Today's lesson is in Section TWO: Public Stakes.

We sometimes think, It can't get any worse than this. (But I can tell you after our flooding two weeks ago...and now torrential downpours)...Oh, but it can! That is the essence of raising the outward, or public stakes: making things worse, showing there is more to lose, promising even bigger disasters will happen if the hero doesn't make matters come out okay.

Everyday problems presented in an ordinary way, problems that anyone might have on any given day, do not have the power to become universal. That is, to resonate within us and remind us of all humanity and its eternal struggle. But when stakes rise to a high enough order of magnitude, a protagonist's problems will become the problems that we all have. What was personal becomes public.

In your present WIP where are the stakes? How far do they rise? How bad do they get? Take them higher and deeper. Bwa hah hah...make them worse...much worse. Your novel can only get better!

Step 1: Write down your novel's overt and outward central conflict or problem.

Step 2: What would make this worse? Write down as many reasons as you can.

Step 3: When you run out of ideas, ask yourself, "What would make this problem even worse?"

Step 4: When you run out of steam ask, "What are the circumstances under which my protagonist would actually fail to solve this problem?

Step 5: Have you novel conclude with your protagonist's failures. Can you pull some measure of happiness from this ending?

Note: Things can always get worse. Raise the stakes by making what might be lost more valuable.

Follow-up: Incorporate into your story four raisings of the outward (plot) stakes.

Conclusion:A common failure in novels is that we can see the ending coming. The author signals his preferred outcome, and guess what? That's how things turn out. The only way to keep an ending in doubt is to make failure possible. Even better is to make failure happen. Maybe what's actually at stake isn't what you thought at all!



*warning---if you are drinking coffee, swallow it now*


CLASS PROJECT GONE WRONG


An elementary school class started a class project to make planters to take home to their parents.

They wanted to have a plant in it that was easy to take care of, so they decided to use cactus plants.

The students were given green-ware pottery planters in the shape of clowns which they painted with glaze.

The clown planters were professionally fired at a class outing so they could see the process.

It was great fun!

They planted cactus seeds in the finished planters and they grew nicely, but unfortunately, the children were not allowed to take them home.

The cactus plants were removed and small ivy replaced them and the children were then allowed to take them home instead.

The teacher said cactus seemed like a good idea at the time!

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Lesson 13: Enriching Your Cast

Good Wednesday folks...it's hump day, hurray!

Hey...before we get into today's lesson, I'd like to give you a heads-up on an awesome blog called Most Frequent Blogger Questions. I'm tellin' ya' this is the place to go when Blogger makes you wanna' pull your hair out and kick the computer out the nearest window!

So stick this link in your favorites. And if you forget, I've put it on the top of my list of Blogging Tools on my lower right sidebar. Ron Southern aka The Rat Squeaks is the man! He's the guidepost I had for my last blogging problem...awesome dude!

Today we continue with Donald Maass' Writing a Breakout Novel. This is a fabulous book and I encourage each of you to buy it. What I'm presenting here is by no means a full lesson and there is a wealth of insight and additional info that will help you.

In case your just joining us...What I am attempting to do here is present truncated versions of each of the lessons in the workbook. Today's lesson is in Section One: Enriching Your Cast.

Complexity in a novel is a desirable quality. Adding plot layers is one way to do it or enriching your characters is another. But not by adding new characters, but by eliminating them...or more accurately, by combining them.

Step: 1 In two columns, list in two columns...the names of all major, secondary, and minor characters...and the purpose or function of each in the story...be brief in the description, like...supports protagonist, supports antagonist, provides special knowledge.

Step: 2 If you have ten or fewer characters, cross out the name of one. Delete him/her from the story....yea...go on...do it...LOL! If you have ten or more characters, cross out two.

Step: 3 Your cast list is now shorter by one or two, but there remains one or two functions that need to be filled. Assign those functions to one or more of the remaining characters.

Note: Give the people in your novel many roles and your story will be the big beneficiary.

Follow-up: Are there other characters in your novel who can take on multiple roles? Go down the list and note the possibilities, then put them in practice. Find at least two more roles to combine into one.

Conclusion: Were you to complete this exercise. Some authors have great difficulty with it. Most are able to reduce their casts, which makes the remaining ones more interesting. Why? Because not only do they have more to do, but them have become capable of more.

And this joke comes by way of my homegirl Debi Brand

A United States soldier was attending some college courses between assignments. He had completed missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the courses had a professor who was an avowed atheist and a member of the ACLU.

One day the professor shocked the class when he came in. He looked to the ceiling and flatly stated, "God, if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I'll give you exactly 15 minutes."

The lecture room fell silent. You could hear a pin drop. Ten minutes went by and the professor proclaimed, "Here I am God. I'm still waiting."

It got down to the last couple of minutes when the soldier got out of his chair, went up to the professor, and cold-cocked him knocking him off the platform. The professor was out cold.

The soldier went back to his seat and sat there silently. The other students were shocked and stunned and sat there looking on in silence.

The professor eventually came to, notice ably shaken, looked at the soldier and asked, "What the hell is the matter with you? Why did you do that?"

The soldier calmly replied, "God was too busy today protecting America's soldiers who are protecting your right to say stupid crap and act like a butthole. So, He sent me."


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Lesson 12: Antagonist Continued

Good Tuesday...and it is at that! The phone lines in Conklin are improving, I got service restored at my shop yesterday. Yahoo! I can visit the net during the day...and not have 89 emails to look at when I get home!

Okay...Today we continue with Donald Maass' Writing a Breakout Novel. This is a fabulous book and I encourage each of you to buy it. What I'm presenting here is by no means a full lesson and there is a wealth of insight and addtional info that will help you.

In case your just joining us...What I am attempting to do here is present truncated versions of each of the lessons in the workbook. Today's lesson is in Section One: Antagonists Outline.

This is a continuation of yesterday, because I don't like to make the lesson too long...it makes me want to fall asleep, so I know it messes with ya'll!

Today we're going to do an exercise to develop the antagonist. The person we love to hate!

Step 1: What makes the antagonist the top on your dislike list? What's their biggest problem, conflict or goal?

Step 2: What does the antagonist want most in this world?

Step 3: What is the second plot layer for the antagonist?

Step 4: Name the five important steps toward your antagonists goal, or towards resolving their central problem or conflict. In other words, what are the five events, actions, or high points, of the antagonist that you could not possibly leave out.

Step 5: Name the three important steps toward, or away from, the antagonists' greatest need.

Step 6: Using the above material, outline the entire novel from the antagonist's point of view.

Note: If your novel doesn't have an antagonist, who or what opposes your protagonist. What if it's internal. Can that internal conflict have a life and personality of its own?

Follow-up find five new ways in which your antagonist can advance his/her own interests. Let these be actions that have nothing to do with your hero.

Conclusion: We don't usually think about the antagonist's inner journey...Humanize your villain. Motivate his/her actions with kindness. Let him/her be heroic, helpful, and principled...let evil wear a compassionate face!

Now this bit of fun is specifically for the ladies today...have at it girls!

Great Female Comebacks

Man: "Haven't we met before?"
Woman: "Yes, I'm the receptionist at the VD Clinic."

Man: "Haven't I seen you someplace before?
Woman: "Yeah, that's why I don't go there anymore."

Man: "Is this seat empty?
Woman: "Yes, and this one will be too if you sit down."

Man: "So, wanna go back to my place ?"
Woman: "Well, I don't know. Will two people fit under a rock?"

Man: "Your place or mine?"
Woman: "Both. You go to yours and I'll go to mine."

Man: "I'd like to call you. What's your number?"
Woman: "It's in the phone book."

Man: "But I don't know your name."
Woman: "That's in the phone book too."

Man: "So what do you do for a living?"
Woman: "I'm a female impersonator."

Man: "What sign were you born under?"
Woman: "No Parking."

Man: "Hey, baby, what's your sign?"
Woman: "Do not Enter"

Man: "How do you like your eggs in the morning?"
Woman: "Unfertilized !"

Man: "Hey, come on, we're both here at this bar for the same reason"
Woman: "Yeah! Let's pick up some chicks!"

Man: "I know how to please a woman."
Woman: "Then please leave me alone."

Man: "I want to give myself to you."
Woman: "Sorry, I don't accept cheap gifts."

Man: "I can tell that you want me."
Woman: "Ohhhh. You're so right. I want you to leave."

Man: "If I could see you naked, I'd die happy:
Woman: "Yeah, but if I saw you naked, I'd probably die laughing."

Man: "Hey cutie, how 'bout you and me hitting the hot spots?"
Woman: "Sorry, I don't date outside my species.."

Man: "Your body is like a temple."
Woman: "Sorry, there are no services today."

Man: "I'd go through anything for you."
Woman: "Good! Let's start with your bank account

Man: "I would go to the end of the world for you.
Woman: "Yes, but would you stay there?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Lesson 11: Antagonists

Good Monday morning...I'm back at work in my shop today. Water's pumped out of the basement, electricity is on, but still no telephone. So I won't be doing any during the day blogging until the problem is solved.

Okay...Today we continue with Donald Maass' Writing a Breakout Novel. This is a fabulous book and I encourage each of you to buy it. What I'm presenting here is by no means a full lesson and there is a wealth of insight and addtional info that will help you.

In case your just joining us...What I am attempting to do here is present truncated versions of each of the lessons in the workbook. Today's lesson is in Section One: Antagonists.

Antagonists can be fun to write. In fact, villians can wind up being the most memorable character in a novel. Despite that, many times the antagonists are left to be one-dimensional, and with this flaw they do not frighten, surprise, or linger in your memory.

Develop antagonists like you would a protagonist. It demands the same attention to extra dimensions, inner conflict, larger-than-life qualities, and the rest. When developed well, an antagonist is an equal match, or more, for the protagonist.

Villians are best when they are complex. Use these exercises to develop those depths. You may wind up with an antagonist that your readers fear or even adore! Hey, shoot for both.

Step 1: Who is the antagonist in your novel?

Step 2:Create an extra dimension. Write down your antagonist's defining quality. Write down the opposite of that. Now create a paragraph in which your antagonist demonstrates the opposite quality that you have identified.

Step 3: Create an inner conflict. Write down what your antagonist most wants. Write down the opposite of that. How can this character want both of these things simultaneously? How can they be mutually exclusive?

Step 4: Create larger-than-life qualities. Write down things your antagonist would never do, say, or think. Find places where this character can and must do, say and think those things.

Step 5: Define your antagonist's personal stakes. What is his/her main problem, conflict, or goal? Write down what would make this problem matter more, and then matter more than life itself.

Note: A well rounded villian is far more dangerous and interesting that a one-dimensional antagonist.

Follow-up: Give the above qualities to a seconary antagonist who supports the villian.

Conclusion: No one is bad all the time. Villains can act like people too. Build a villian who resembles you...That might be the most chilling adversary of all!


For today we have a Charley joke from Ric.

ACTUAL AUSTRALIAN COURT DOCKET 12659 --- CASE OF THE PREGNANT LADY.

A lady about 8 months pregnant got on a bus. She noticed the man opposite her was smiling at her.

She immediately moved to another seat.

This time the smile turned into a grin, so she moved again. The man seemed more amused. When on the fourth move, the man burst out laughing, she complained to the
driver and he had the man arrested.

The case came up in court.

The judge asked the man (about 20 years old) what he had to say for himself.

The man replied, "Well your Honor, it was like this: When the lady got on the bus, I
couldn't help but notice her condition. She sat down under a sign that said, 'The Double Mint Twins are Comin' and I grinned."

"Then she moved and sat under a sign that said, 'Logan's Liniment will reduce the
swelling', and I had to smile."

"Then she placed herself under a deodorant sign that said, 'William's Big Stick Did the Trick', and I could hardly contain myself."

"BUT, your Honor, when she moved the fourth time and sat under a sign that said, 'Goodyear Rubber could have prevented this Accident'...I just lost it."

"CASE DISMISSED!!"

Friday, July 07, 2006

TGIF...Thank God It's Friday! Although I don't have much to complain about work-wise. I haven't worked at my job since the flood last Wednesday. They say it may be Monday or Tuesday before the electric and phone are back on...but I like Friday night TV on the SciFi channel! LOL!

Let's get back to our regularly scheduled programming. Okay...Today we continue with Donald Maass' Writing a Breakout Novel.

In case your just joining us...What I am attempting to do here is present truncated versions of each of the lessons in the workbook. Today's lesson is in Section One: Creating Secondary Characters.

Novels are full of as many people as the world. but how believable are the secondary characters who fill novels out. Many are here today and gone tomorrow, and then they act in only one way.

Secondary characters don't have to act like that! They can be as strong as primary characters. when that happens it's because the author has deliberately made them multidimentional, conflicted, or surprising. And that's tough to do in limited space, but it can be done.

How much attention have you given to your secondary characters? Have you taken the time to give them extra dimentions, inner conflict, and larger than life qualities? If not, why not give it a try?

Step 1: Pick a secondary character who aids your protagonist.

Step 2:Create an extra dimention: Write down the character's defining quality. Write down the opposite of that. Now create a paragraph in which this character demonstrates the opposite quality that you have identified.

Step 3: Create an inner conflict. Write down what this character wants most. Write down the opposite of that. How can this character want both things at the same time? How can they be mutually exclusive?

Step 4: Create larger-than-life qualities. Write down the things that this character would never say, do, or think. find places where this character can and must say, do and think those things!

Note: Secondary characters can be the most vibrant and active in a manuscript. They can also be lifeless and cardboard, mere props for the hero...that's a shame!

Follow-up: follow the steps above for a different minor character who supports your protagonist.

Conclusion: You may wonder if the secondary character will get too strong for the story. Don't worry. If your secondaries occupy less page time and do not enact the novel's most significant events, they will add luster to the novel without blinding your readers to your stories true hero.


Here are a few things to think about that you probably never thought about before;

Can you cry under water?

How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered?

Why do you have to "put your two cents in".. . but it' s only a "penny for your thoughts"? Where's that extra penny going to?

Once you're in heaven, do you get stuck wearing the clothes you were buried in for eternity?

Why does a round pizza come in a square box?

What disease did cured ham actually have?

How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?

Why is it that people say they "slept like a baby" when babies wake up like every two hours?

If a deaf person has to go to court, is it still called a hearing?

Why are you IN a movie, but you're ON TV?

Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in Binoculars to look at things on the ground?

Why do doctors leave the room while you change? They're going to see you naked anyway.

Why is "bra" singular and "panties" plural?

Why do toasters always have a setting that burns the toast to a horrible crisp, which no decent human being would eat?

If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a stupid song about him?

Can a hearse carrying a corpse drive in the carpool lane?

If the professor on Gilligan's Island can make a radio out of a coconut, why can't he fix a hole in a boat?

Why does Goofy stand erect while Pluto remains on all fours? They're both dogs!

If Wyle E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME crap, why didn't he just buy dinner?

If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, what is baby oil made from?

If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?

Do the Alphabet song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star have the same tune?


Why did you just try singing the two songs above?


Why do they call it an asteroid when it's outside the hemisphere, but call it a hemorrhoid when it's in your butt?

Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog's face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him for a car ride; he sticks his head out the window?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Lesson 9: Exposition

Good Thursday. I hope you all enjoyed the holiday...I sorta' missed it! *sigh*

Let's get back to our regularly scheduled programming. Okay...Today we continue with Donald Maass' Writing a Breakout Novel.

In case your just joining us...What I am attempting to do here is present truncated versions of each of the lessons in the workbook. Today's lesson is in Section One: Exposition.

We all star in our own movie. No one's life has, for each of us, the immediacy and importance of our own. Nothing is more significant than what is happening to us right now....believe me, I can identify with that thought!

This may sound self-absorbed, but it is a measure of the intensity with which we experience our lives, and the importance we attach to the things we do!

The protagonist of a novel is no different from us in that respect, or needn't be. Characters with poorly developed inner lives cannot sustain reader interest. Don't write endless passages of gushy exposition (interior monologue0, rather bring out the protagonist's self-regard that shows reflection, self-examination and the true sense of who the character really is in the story.

Self-observation can make a character enormously appealing.

Step 1:In your manuscript pick a moment when the POV character does not react to what is happening, or when in fact nothing is happening and the action of the story is paused or static.

Step 2:Write a paragraph of exposition delineating this character's self-conscious thoughts about her own state of mind, emotional condition, state of being or soul, or perception of the state of the world at this point in time.

Note: It can be as simple as "He felt lousy" or as complex as "The Hegelian paradigm was shifting." Sooner or later you must bring a reader inside your character's head and show us what's going on!

Follow-up: Repeat the above steps at four more points of deep exposition (where we experience a character's thoughts and feelings.)

Conclusion: Passages of exposition can be among the most gripping in your novel. When nothing overtly is going on, make sure that a great deal is at work beneath the surface. Otherwise your novel will have dead spots that your reader will skip!


Okay, this isn't a joke but it's just as cool...Hit the accessories button under All Programs in Windows and open up the calculator...you can't do this in your head...LOL!

Here is a math trick so unbelievable that it will stump you.
Personally I would like to know who came up with this and why
that person is not running the country.

1. Grab a calculator. (you won't be able to do this one in your head)
Go ahead I'll wait.....
2. Key in the first three digits of your phone number (NOT the area code)
3. Multiply by 80
4. Add 1
5. Multiply by 250
6. Add the last 4 digits of your phone number
7. Add the last 4 digits of your phone number again.
8. Subtract 250
9. Divide number by 2

Do you recognize the answer?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Scenes and Beans Goes Live!



Here is something really different. But really cool.

Author (and blogger) Brandilyn Collins has written a novel that comes out in August called Violet Dawn. It is part of a new series she has started called the Kanner Lake Series. She sent out Advance Reader Copies to those who requested them and asked them to choose a character that they liked. Then she asked the readers to send her a make believe post from the character for a make believe blog by the 'Kanner Lake' make believe residents. This is going to be an actual blog, called...Scenes and Beans, full of ficticious bloggers written by real bloggers who liked Violet Dawn. Confusing? Well, it begins today, July 5th! Go check it out by pressing the button for Scenes and Beans!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Lesson 8: Ultimate Stakes

Good Monday morning...For the next couple of weeks I'm home on vacation...this is going to seem strange but I try to etch out a daily schedule of writing so as not to waste the time. If anyone would like to check out our local situation, here's our Press and Sun-Bulletin Newspaper link. They've been doing a fabulous job of keeping people updated!

And these Flood Pictures show one of the houses in Conklin that blew up!

I'm going to a Christian Writers Convention in Philadelphia and I had been procrastinating at getting my manuscript ready to go. Last night while I was outside, a shooting star streaked across the sky. I looked up and said, "Okay God, I get the drift (water...flood).You didn't need a flood to get me in gear. A little rain shower, maybe dropping fish or ice chunks on my deck would have sufficed! Anyhow...now I'm on it!

Okay, let's get back to our regularly scheduled programming. Okay...Today we continue with Donald Maass' Writing a Breakout Novel.

In case your just joining us...What I am attempting to do here is present truncated versions of each of the lessons in the workbook. Today's lesson is in Section One: Ultimate Stakes.

Think about why we do the things we do...Lately my version of that has been a little skewed, but none the less...We get up, scan the paper, fight the rush hour, placate the boss, mow the lawn, save for vacation, etc, etc. There are reasons for all of these things. Not that we think about them before acting, but if pressed we could come up with explanations.

We care. We feel that what we do matters, even when it is a small thing. We have to care because no one can live for long feeling that life is futile, or without purpose. If we did, at the least, we'd stay in bed in the morning. At worst, after a life without reason, we'd check out.

When life tests us to the utmost, our motives grow exponentially greater. Our deepest convictions rise close to the surface. We become more determined to make a difference, to persist, to overcome all problems and obstacles.

At the moment of ultimate testing we summon our deepest beliefs and swear that nothing, nothing, will stop us!

The hero of your novel also will be tested to the limit of his/her convictions, or at least I hope so! If not, are there enough obstacles in the way of your protagonist? How does he/she respond at this supreme moment? the way that you or I would, let's hope, but even more strongly.

Is there a moment of ultimate stakes in your current manuscript? If not, fix it on the page. Your hero's testing and eventual commitment will be fixed in your reader's mind for a long time to come!

Step 1: Identify the moment in your story when your protagonist's stakes hit home...when he/she realizes that there is no turning back. This is the moment of irrevocable commitment.

Step 2: Write out that moment in one paragraph.

Step 3:Look at the paragraph you have written. Notice its shape, feel its effect. Now imaging that this is the first paragraph of your novel.

Note: Probably it would be difficult to place that paragraph at the top of page one. It's probably part of the climax. If you put it first you'd wind up with a novel told as a flashback. And there's a Certain Agent that we all know who would set her hair on fire at the notion of this!

Even so, it's tantalizing to think that your protagonist could have that kind of commitment, and your novel, that kind of emotional power, right from the opening moment, isn't it?

Well why not? don't dump a mountain of commitment on your protagonist immediately, yet you can give him/her a passioned caring about something at the beginning. Emotionally speaking, why open the novel in low gear?

Follow-up: The moment of commitment that you just created has an opposite: a moment of irresolution, a healthy adversion, a justified selfishness, or similar reaction. Write it down. find a place earlier in you manuscript to slot this in.

Conclusion:: You may not wind up directly using the paragraph that you created with this exercise: however, let your hero's inner commitment infuse and underlie all his/her actions. Let them be driven. When resolve weakens, reinforce it. Strong commitment on the part of your protagonist will generate strong commitment on the part of your reader.

The same is true, not surprisingly, when you create strong commitment on the part of your antagonist!

My compliments to my friend Ric for this joke.

An elderly man in Louisiana had owned a large farm for several years.
He had a large pond in the back. It was properly shaped for swimming,
so he fixed it up nice -- picnic tables, horseshoe courts, and some
apple and peach trees.

One evening the old farmer decided to go down to the pond, as he
hadn't been there for a while, and look it over. He grabbed a five
gallon bucket to bring back some fruit.

As he neared the pond, he heard voices shouting and laughing with
glee. As he came closer he saw it was a bunch of young women
skinny-dipping in his pond. He made the women aware of his presence
and they all went to the deep end. One of the women shouted to him,
"We're not coming out until you leave!"

The old man frowned, "I didn't come down here to watch you ladies swim
naked or make you get out of the pond naked." Holding the bucket up he
said, "I'm here to feed the alligator."

Moral: Some old men can still think fast.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Jade by Marilynn Griffith



It is July 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and their latest book's FIRST chapter!


This month's feature author is:
Marilynn Griffith.

Marilynn Griffith is a freelance writer and conference speaker whose online columns reach over 20,000 women each month. Her recent writing credits include Pink(Shades of Style #1), Made of Honor, Chicken Soup for the Christian Woman's Soul, Proverbs for the People, and For Better or for Worse. She is also a blogger! Visit her Rhythms of Grace blog and learn ever so much! Marilynn lives in Tallahassee, Florida, with her husband and children.


Her latest book, Jade (Shades of Style #2), just came out and she has agreed to be our July feature author for the FIRST Day Blog tour.


Having the perfect life isn't all it's cracked up to be.



Designer Lily Chau doesn't know if she's finally got it together or if life is starting to unravel. With a successful boyfriend and a great job at up-and-coming fashion house Garments of Praise, it seems she has the perfect pattern for success. But her mother's health is failing, her boyfriend just won't pop the question, and being a pattern maker is a far cry from having a clothing line of her own. Lily is sure her hands are just too full to draw her deepest dreams.


Raya and Chenille, Lily's pals at Garments of Praise offer plenty of advice and sympathy. Jean, Lily's co-worker and second Mom even goes behind Lily's back to boost her chances of success. When she's chosen for the reality show The Next Design Diva, it seems like the chance of a lifetime for Lily. But the mysterious designer chosen to mentor her sends her spinning. He's fresh, fine—and way off limits. Suddenly Lily's life goes from carefully patterned to nothing but a tangle of threads.


Praise for the Shades of Style series:


"Griffith's, Shades of Style series features four women in the fashion industry: Raya, Chenille, Lily, and Jean. The women fight to save their struggling business and learn some important lessons about people, life, and faith."— Library Journal



“The Shades of Style series combines multicultural characters with heartache, drama, humor, and romance.”—Charisma Magazine
Read the FIRST chapter!


PROLOGUE


The envelope held Lily Chau’s future. She held a letter opener, stabbing under her nails for the remnants of her past. Skimming under the nail of her ring finger, she snagged what she’d been going for, a hunk of prunes caught under her nail last week during the chop and puree fest once known as her mother’s breakfast. A breakfast that her mother had returned as quickly as Lily had spooned it all in, leaving Lily standing in a puddle in her best shoes.


“Jump in the shower. Grab the black pants. Your wrap blouse is clean. I saw it the other day,” her neighbor Pinkie had said, arms going in every direction. “You don’t know how to feed her, Lily. You should have waited for me.”


Lily had tried to wait, but her mother wasn’t in a waiting mood today. The guilt over leaving her mother hungry with their neighbor had sent her into a chopping blending frenzy that ended as such things usually did, seeping into her shoes and staining her best skirt. But that was okay. She’d put a barrette in her mother’s hair and fed her breakfast. Where God chose to store that breakfast was up to Him.


Though Lily was known around the office for her eclectic and exciting personal style, the pants she wore now were turning into her work uniform. But her mother was still alive, her boyfriend was still dropping hints about their inevitable wedding and she grew closer to God each day. Things were good, with hopes of getting better. Becoming stable.


So why was she holding the letter opener in both hands? Lily poked the point of it into the envelope, tracing the letters in the return address: The Next Design Diva Show, Nia Network. Lily slipped the blade into the envelope’s back flap then slid her finger against the instrument’s edge. She pulled upward slightly, ripping the corner and . . .


“Are you sleeping in here?” A husky voice laced with laughter echoed in the hall before its speaker reached Lily’s office. Jean believed in giving people warnings of her impending arrival, even her friends. For everyone but Lily, the announcement was usually warranted since people tended to find Jean a little intimidating. Lily saw through Jean’s fast moves and loud talk . . . to her heart. She hoped her friend wouldn’t see her through her just as quickly today.


“Can’t you ever stay in your office during the creative hour? We’ve got thirty more minutes. Take a nap why don’t you? Or color in a coloring book like that guy over in production.” Though Lily chided her loving workaholic friend for coming to visit when they were all supposed to be spending time alone to refuel their creativity, the interruption was a gift. For a moment she’d let herself consider something impossible. Something still forked on her letter opener.


Jean whisked into the office just as Lily swept the letter into her desk drawer, where it would accompany her secret copy of Modern Bride and a cigarette she’d found after quitting and hadn’t thrown away.


Lily squirmed under her friend’s withering glance as Jean pushed Lily’s huge fossil doorstep into place. Jean shook her head. “Oh my. Now she’s cramming things into that drawer again. Don’t tell me. You’re peeking at those silly ten dollar wedding books? Or were you dreaming of that picket fence on Long Island with your doctor friend?”


Warmth rushed to Lily’s face. “Neither. You need to stay out of my desk, you nosy thing.”


Jean approached Lily like a lioness in a good suit. A hearty laugh bubbled up from her throat. “Listen, honey, nobody needs to be nosy to know anything around here, especially when you stuff that drawer so full it can’t shut. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to come in here and pick all that mess off the floor since you ran the custodian away from here.”


“Here you go with that again. I told you. I did not run the custodian away. He can still clean in here . . . when I’m around.”


“Uh huh,” Jean shook her head in pity.


“He was stealing my rocks!” Lily banged the letter opener on her desk, wanting to shove it into the drawer too, but now to afraid at what might come flying out if she did.


“Listen to what you just said. Stealing rocks. Now I admit you’ve got some of the best pebble and bauble collections I’ve ever seen, but you’ve got to let it go.” She reached around Lily and yanked out the drawer. The magazine unfurled as if she’d pulled the string on a parachute. Fabric swatches, neon note squares and office supplies spilled over the sides and onto the floor.


Jean stuck her hand toward the back and came out with a pitiful excuse for a Virginia Slim. “You’ve got to let this go too. You haven’t smoked in almost two years. What are you doing, planning a slow suicide some time in the future?”
“I-I-just give me that, okay?” Lily reached for the cigarette and peeled back its skin, emptied the tobacco guts into the trash while trying not get too much of the smell on her fingers. As she considered what she’d really saved up for later, disobeying the voice of God, Lily became much less concerned with Jean and more concerned with her own heart. Sometimes it seemed like she’d come so far, but there still those little secrets she tried to keep, parts of her life she tried to stuff in a drawer. And God kept having to come and pick up the pieces when it spilled over the side.


She grabbed a wet wipe from her purse and scrubbed her hands, only to realize what dangled from Jean’s fingers.


The envelope.


The rumpled magazine had covered it, but as usual Jean had left no stone, or mangled bridal book unturned. She looked as though she’d caught a tiger by the tail.


“So they did pick you! I knew they would. They had to. I told Raya I was going to call her father myself if they didn’t.”


Lily froze. She’d carried the envelope around in her purse for two days wondering why the show had written her. She considered submitting sketches several times, but each time something happened with her mother’s health to make her forget it. There was also the quiet that had come over her every time she’d prayed about it. She felt as though she was suppose to wait and see the salvation of the Lord, that what God had would come to her through another way. Now it seemed that her other way might be from the office down the hall. “What did you do?”


Beads from Jean’s bracelets jangled as she shook her wrists. “Nothing much. I took a few sketches from your book and scanned them. Sent that robe you designed for that stupid boyfriend of yours—”


Lily clenched her fists. “The kimono? That was Ken’s Christmas present. I’ve been looking everywhere for it. How could you?”


Her friend smiled. “Easy. Now hush and open the letter. At least I don’t try and match you up with men. Not that you couldn’t use some help there too . . . Don’t look at me like that. I care about you.”


If this was caring, Lily didn’t want to think of what not caring might feel like. She pried the letter from Jean’s fingers and placed it into the drawer, now empty except for a star-shaped paper clip in neon pink and a pencil with no eraser. Lily’s sketching pencil. She stared up at the ceiling. “Why couldn’t I have regular friends who don’t care about me so much. Goodness, Jean, how could you? I mean sure I’d love to have my own line, my own show, but I can’t—”


“Here we go again. You really should have been a Catholic you, know. You’re a natural at the guilty martyr thing.” Jean dropped into the chair a few inches away. “We’ve been over this a gazillion times. You can do this. None of your excuses hold water, especially your first one, that you’re not good enough. You’re good enough and you have the sense to still question your talent. Good enough for me. As for your mother, she can go wherever you go.”


It was Lily’s turn to laugh this time, though there was little humor in it. “Like the way your grandkids could go wherever you go, Jean?”


Her stoic friend grabbed the desk with a white-knuckled grip. “Okay, you got me. I still think you should open it. Just to know.”


“No thanks,” Lily said, taking the letter from the drawer and ripping it to shreds. “Some things are best left unknown. The things that count though, that people care about you and want the best for you, those are the prizes of life.”


Jean’s jaw tightened as she swept the torn bits of paper into the trash with her cupped hand. “Oh, please. Friendship is great and everything, but this is it! Your shot. And you ripped it up. How could you?”


Lily covered her friend’s hand with her own. “I don’t know, but I did. If it’s mine, God will bring it back . . . at a time when my hands are free enough to hold it.”


From JADE, by Marilynn Griffith, Revell Books

ISBN
0800730410, June 2006, Copyright © 2006. All rights

reserved.


TO ORDER JADE (SHADES OF STYLE) PRESS HERE!