Month: May 2020


My ‘ah-ha’ moment came this week. It’s really not that momentous but, well, yeah, it is. I had decided to stop work on a middle grade mystery that is a favorite. I love the character, I love the plot, I love the pacing. The problem is that I cannot pitch this story….I can not get it down to just a few sentences and describe the plot. So after all these online programs I decided it was time to put that character and her story to the side and concentrate on a story I was able to pitch. I could identify needs and wants. I got the physical and emotional. I had the pacing of the story. I was SOOOOO GOOD!


One online program that dealt with first lines/paragraphs/chapters. One earlier editorial critique that mentioned my character–actually the one I have dispatched to the lower drawers for a time out–needed a twist, a something that made her unique, different and, well, there is no denying it, a hook that gave this character a personality. Another one talked about using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to push the character’s action as well as emotions.

I have an upcoming online program on revision with the invaluable Emma Dryden and one with Donald Maass on secrets and mysteries. And that is exactly where I am…revising a story I also love. But to love it more the main character’s needs and wants should be woven into a better mystery.

That’s my goal. And I’ve got this. The good news is that I KNOW this story. I have worked it and reworked it to a very competent mystery with rising action and the failure of success being compounded until the main character has no choice but to act and to act alone. The Ah-Ha is how she gets there. I am excited. This will be the toughest revision I have ever worked on. I am working deep in the mechanics of the story and revising the nuts and bolts. But I feel like we’ve got this, Pouvey and me. Together we may just get her story out there.

Got a comment? That’s fine. Be nice. No flaming.


This pandemic life has changed us. We are mostly housebound since Tom’s hospitalization in 2017 for a spinal cord injury. Oh, we can travel, get out, but that is limited. But now, no gym, no lunches, no shopping, no Mass, the lack of socialization is impactful. So, the huge benefit of pandemic life, for me, is the eruption of writing programs moving to virtual. The lack of assembly means scores of authors and illustrators, editors and agents, who are no longer able to do school visits not just because they are at home, but because the students are too!

I am not a copious notetaker. In many programs I find a lot of redundancy, after all, what is really new about writing or storytelling? So, attending these programs is more about what I call ‘the click factor’, someone describing or teaching or focusing on an issue or subject so that at that point in time it ‘clicks’ in your head. You might call this the ‘ah-ha moment’.

To date I have attended a poetry class in Switzerland with Bridget Magee where I learned not only about poetry but how to work on writing my own. Check out Golden Shovel poems. Not a poet here, but a great way to work on your word placement and usage.

When I own something I like to use it all, so a program by Gwen Hernandez on Scrivener was excellent, providing insights into the ways that this writing program can up your ability to focus on the writing and assist in the way to pace, plot and revise. Her book, Scrivener for Dummies is worth the price.

SCBWI Carolinas offered a program on how to ‘Raise the Stakes’ in your writing with Becca Puglisi the co-author of the Emotional Thesaurus,  Writers Helping Writers blog and  One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling.  There were two nuggets in this program. One was identifying the stakes using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. and using what I think of as a syllogism as we used in logic class all those years ago: wants +then+emotion to create the story goal.

An excellent program with the delightful Joy Bean, senior editor Boyds Mill & Kane , was a discussion of how publishing is handling the pandemic, offering insights into all the remote work for editors, publishers, book sellers and marketers in a time of social distancing.

A free program with Feeding Mind Press a part of the American Farm Bureau, on pictures books with speaker extraordinaire, Emma Dryden , provided two nuggets: one on children’s milestones to keep in mind when pitching your stories toward a particular age group and, two, the way to use screen writing in the formatting of your picture book layout.

Upcoming I have three workshops with Free Expressions Workshops, an SCBWI Nevada program on graphic novels and SinC workshops on forensics and plot twists. And, of course there are the offerings of SCBWI International Digital Programs for members, and the newly opened SCBWI Vault.

As impactful as this time is, there is room to be grateful.

Got a comment? That’s fine. Be nice. No flaming.