Weekend, Valentine’s, Writing Stuff

Many thanks to folks who have gotten their input to me on Crystal Vision. It’s a much stronger story because of your comments.

Suddenly, the weekend has shaped up to be busier than I thought. We have to take one car to the garage tomorrow. It looks like we have to make a run to start a piece of commissioned art that we’d hoped to do tonight. Then, it’s home to spiff up for the date. Sunday we pick up the art and do the church and errand thing. There’s the obligatory paper checking.

Still, I am optimistic about resuming the revision of Mark Twain’s Daughter. And I’ll try to post something interesting from it if I’m successful in doing so.

Don’t forget to say I love you to someone important this weekend. I’ve never figured that V-Day is just for couples.

Leaving you with

Behold, the Awesome Power that is Dress Barn!

Sonya was right. Dress Barn had 4 dresses I tried on, another 3 I considered, and an awesome Navy blue number with discreet accent beading that I took home.

I’m pleased. I have the perfect pearls to offset it that Allison gave me last year.

I’ve also cleared out most of my Saturday calendar to girl up. We have to take the might Hyundai to the garage for a new heater, and then I come home, instead of going to a board meeting.

So yeah. Dress Barn. That actually has some range in between. That’s the end of this commercial. We now return you to writing.


Fashion is Dead to Me

Bryon and I are a fairly romantic couple. This summer we’ve been married 23 years. February 17th marks the celebration of twenty-seven years together as a couple. It’s been an awful winter, so we thought we’d do Valentine’s Day big this year. We have reservations at an intimate Italian restaurant, where the desserts and the wine are exquisite, and the regular food isn’t half bad.

It was my hope to buy something new and pretty to wear. But I have a small problem. Everything I see is either ugly or dowdy.

Okay, okay. I know I’m not in the fashion capitol of the world. I’m not even in the fashion capitol of the Midwest. Is it too much to ask, as a 44-year old woman that there is something to wear that is

1. Fashion forward.
2. Age appropriate.
3. Tasteful.
4. Flattering
5. Well-made.

I’ve seen a lot of flimsy, overpriced dresses that are just ugly. I’m wide, so I’m not likely to wear a dress made completely of rows of raised stripes. On the other hand, I have a waistline, so I don’t want to wear a pastel sack with an overdress. I’m not about to wear a complementary shape done in a junior fluorescent color. This year, I’m not defaulting to pants, a tank, and an interesting jacket.

Note to self: plan ahead. You can’t be spontaneous about clothes in Cedar Rapids, Iowa Also this: if I wanted to look like the mother of the bride, I would have had children.

Now that I have modified Crystal Vision vis-a-vis the readings that have come in so far (today’s contribution to the writing world), I am going to two more stores. One of them is called the Dress Barn. Only in Iowa.

It’s probably going to be Valentine’s in the simple black dress and the peacock beaded jacket, which do flatter, but I wanted it to be else wise. The point? Why is it that we women “of a certain age” fall out of the flatter zone for designers?

Links to sites that prove otherwise are MOST welcome. I still want to dress up and look pretty. I’m sure others of us want that too.



We just had a fight here at Kirkwood. Most of the teachers froze like deer in headlights.

Capable Paul came in and had capable Lorna call security. I responded with my high school teacher roots, and went to find the combatants to break them up.

Which, in retrospect, wasn’t very smart, and has never been very smart, but high schools often use teachers as human shields.

Anyway, the fight broke up as Paul and I got there. No one was hurt. The combatants scattered. That makes security a precautionary measure in case someone gets hurt.

It is, interestingly enough, a sign of change at community colleges. Disciplinary issues have been surfacing in our classes for a number of years, but in the 11 years I’ve been here, I’ve never seen a hall fight.

Carry on.


Sliding Across Iowa

I like the snow days better. Yesterday, I read Kirsten Cronn-Mills YA novel, revised a short story, finished a book on the Borgias, and watched Hot Fuzz. Oh, and I checked a batch of papers.

Do you see what I could do if work would just get out of my way? But yes, I am back at the grammar mines today, just about to embark on a trip to put some quizzes in the test center.


I want to thank fellow fighting VP 13’ers. I put out a call for help on a story and 7 of you responded. One of you has even written back already. You guys are awesome. I can’t imagine what would have happened if I’d written the whole workshop. I’m not worthy. Remember, if you ever need the favor returned, the karma account is full.


I’m happy that my usual patterns of impatience in writing are giving way to the more zen path of having other eyes look at it so I can strive toward perfection (go get ’em, Grasshopper!) It really is a joy to put something out there that you’re happy with AND others have gotten.

More writing tonight, although I doubt completion. Crystal Vision was four pages and written in a language style known as affluent Iowa contractor.

The Suzy Twain story I’m trying for a style I’d like to call ornate hallucination. We’ll see.

Stay safe in the snowpocalypse, Easterners. We’ll keep digging out here.


Story, Craft, and Voice

I’d like to thank Ferrett for linking to Rachel Gardner’s article via his tweet machine.

Gardner approaches the topic from the angle of what appeals to an agent, the marriage of these three elements: story, craft and voice. Gardner believes that craft is the easiest to teach, and certainly it’s the more measurable, tangible topic. It’s what we writing teachers focus on as we get students ready for their classes. It’s measurable and prescriptive.

The other two are very hard to teach. I think they can be developed with practice, and certainly some innate talent helps writers out with these areas.

Story is a matter of talent, but it seems to me it can also be taught at the beginning stages. There are helpful blueprints that can help you develop conflict, plot, and movement in your story. Much like the five-paragraph theme, if you need a structure to hang your novel on, you can look at how other novels are put together, how television shows are put together, and so forth. There are books.

I’ll grant you that no structure can make a plot invigorating and exciting by virtue of itself, but you can begin with the blueprint, and practice can improve you. The old edict of write, write and write some more really does apply.

Now, voice. I think about this one a lot.

Continue reading “Story, Craft, and Voice”

Heather Ingemar: Demystifying the Library’s YA Section

You might remember me writing about whether romance was a ya requirement. At that time, fellow Drollerie author Heather Ingemar came clean about her day status as a young adult librarian, and offered to write an article about how YA librarians picked what was in their stacks.

Happily, her article is right here.

Of course, Heather suggests that a great deal of this classification is subjective, based on community and the individual librarian, but it looks like if a book deals with a “more adult” topic, or has a hefty vocab for middle graders, it may well end up in YA.

Any of the rest of you have anything to add? I know there are a few more YA librarians and librarians of other sorts reading.

And thanks, Heather, for stepping in to illuminate us.

Back to my snowy snow day. I think there are some papers I need to check. I procrastinated my morning away watching Hot Fuzz. Hey, it was on. I had to.


Reading Group Round Up

Seems that Catherine Cheek and myself are both reading middle grade novels at Wiscon. We’d like to call ourselves Young and Fabulous, and we’re looking for a couple of other MG novel excerpts. Could that be you? Contact me if it is.


Catherine Lundoff, if you’re putting together a Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading for Convergence, count me in.


Readercon: After studying the program and seeing the kinds of things that go on, I wonder if we Viable Paradise grads should try to arrange a reading in the fashion of Clockwork Phoenix or Beneath Ceaseless Skies. I’ll see if I can garner some support for the idea, and maybe our attending teachers could help us ease the way.


I sure wish Bryon would get here to pick me up. I’m not looking forward to our drive home at 7. No sir.

Oh, and you don’t have to be Catherine to read at a convention, but from the looks of things, it sure helps.


Now Appearing

Since I was working on academic conferences today, I’ve also spent some time getting my writerly conferences in order.

Which means that I’ve reserved hotel and procured air ticket for Readercon, which I’m trying out for the first time this year. I’m keen to see some writing peeps and I hear the atmosphere is a bit more Wiscon-y, which I like. I also have a hotel room, where we can hang if we need some quiet.

I’ve added Icon to my Iowa appearances. I’m contemplating Windycon, but only contemplating.

So, who will I see at Wiscon? Convergence? Readercon?

And it’s not too early to think about reading groups. Although I don’t know how that happens at Readercon. If it does.

Off to stumble through teaching.