Thanksgiving Promptings

by Jackie Houchin

Glazed TurkeyOften, before diving into a scrumptious feast, the host of a Thanksgiving celebration will ask her guests to pause and answer this question.

“What is one thing you are thankful for?”

Dutifully each guest around the table mentions some thing or person they especially appreciate. Perhaps a prayer is given to further delay devouring the meal. But finally the repast begins in earnest with guests consuming on average a hearty 3,000 calories each.  (That’s just at the table! Another 1,500 will be eaten while snacking later on.)

I could ask that question here too, but I’d like to do something different. We are writers after all, and presumably you readers scribble a few things down now and then as well.

So instead of that question….

I’d like to challenge you to take one (or more) of the facts or prompts below and think up a brief scenario, or outline, of a fiction story you could develop from them. Write an “elevator pitch” in the comments below. Who knows, you may be able to use it later in a novel, or short story, or as an anecdote in your memoir.

Give it a try, but don’t spend too much time on them. After all there’s a turkey to thaw, bake, eat, or re-purpose into soups or sandwiches. (Along the way, I might offer a mini-suggestion to get your juices running.)

  1. Now a Thanksgiving dinner staple, cranberries were actually used by Native Americans to treat arrow wounds and to dye clothes. (A prison escapee gets a leg wound and…..?)
  2. “Everyone says you can’t go home again. Well this Thanksgiving, I tried and this is what happened….”
  3. Baby turkeys are called poults. Only male turkeys gobble and, therefore are called gobblers. (What is that awful sound Uncle Herbert always makes….?)
  4. “I never realized how grateful I was to have a home until…..”
  5. Black Friday is the busiest day for Roto-Rooter, a major plumbing service. They are called in to clean up “overwhelmed” sewer systems. (At one house, the plugged up sewer system yields…..)
  6. The song “Jingle Bells” was originally written as a Thanksgiving song. (The song writer’s reaction when the publishing of his song is delayed till December….?)
  7. Parents frustrated by a teenager’s lack of gratitude, determine that THIS Thanksgiving, she will be taught a lesson….
  8. The Friday after Thanksgiving is called “Black Friday” because stores hope the shopping day will take them out of the “red” and into positive profits. (Show an alternate reason for why it is called Black Friday.)
  9. Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879), who tirelessly worked to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday, was also the first person to advocate women as teachers in publish schools, the first to advocate day nurseries to assist working mothers, and the first to propose public playgrounds. She is the author of two dozen books and hundreds of poems, including “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”  (Choose one aspect of her life and turn it into a Historical-Fiction piece.)
  10. Approximately 50 million people watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television. (But that year, ONE of them saw….?)

Aw, go on!  Try at least one!

And Happy Thanksgiving!  Each day in November I am posting on my Facebook page things that I am thankful for. Come on over and take a look, and add yours. http://facebook.com/jackie.houchin

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Recently I have been writing short stories for children about missionary life in Malawi, Africa, based on my 3 excursions to the dark continent over the past few years. Stop by and read a few if you are interested. http://www.jackiehouchin.wordpress.com .

Say It Isn’t So…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA by G.B. Pool

Okay, I’ll say it. Christmas isn’t just for kids.

They might have all the fun Christmas morning, but it took a lot of effort to make it happen. Santa brings a lot of those toys, but good old mom and dad put a few of them under the tree, too. And then there are the clerks in the stores who sold the toys and the folks in the factories who made some of them. Santa’s elves might make their share, but lots of others work hard all year to design new toys and get them on the shelves.

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And then there are the decorations. Kids make a few cute things in school, but adults make an awful lot of those beautiful things and they put up the tree and string the lights and decorate the outside of the house and bake the cookies and pies and Christmas dinner.

Then lots of adults step back, exhausted after all that work, and spend some time enjoying the holidays, too. And what better way than to watch one of the Christmas classics on TV with the family, though most of the older holiday movies were really made for adults. A kid wouldn’t understand how Jimmy Stewart’s character in It’s a Wonderful Life was taken under the wing of Clarence the Angel and shown what the world would be like without him ever being in it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOr how about A Christmas Carol? Kids might like the Ghost of Christmas Past and Present and maybe even the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, but it will take a while before they understand what the story means on a more adult level.

But that’s the gift these movies and stories are: A gift that keeps on giving as you grow older and start to understand the deeper meaning of each story every time you watch it.

Some modern stories are purely fun with not much meaning lurking anywhere or even any holiday spirit. In fact, many might as well be straight comedies because there is nothing Christmas about them. Even the holiday favorite, A Christmas Story, could just as well been about a boy’s birthday wish to get that Red Ryder BB Gun. Christmas was only in the title.

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Santas Galore

But most of us watch these movies and enjoy the season year after year. We check out the Christmas lights in the neighborhood and write our holiday cards and revel in the aromas of an evergreen tree, baked goods, and the holiday feast.As for me, I have been a collector of Christmas things for some forty years. My collection of Santas is nearing 4000. It takes me two weeks to decorate the house. We put up seventeen trees and those are the ones above 12 inches high. I have doll houses with smaller trees in them, some only a few inches tall, all decorated, so the number is way above that seventeen mark.

 

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Since I like to make things, I have quite a few handcrafted Santas. I have been crafting for years. Other than the fact we are running out of space to house these guys and a few other things that I have made, my imagination leads me into other areas.

What areas you ask? Writing holiday stories, of course. The books include pictures of things that I have made and they also include the True Meaning of Christmas in the stories.

 

santaclaussingerfinalcovercroppedYears ago I worked at Walden Books in the Glendale Galleria. At the beginning of the holiday season the mall had a Santa who sang songs when he wasn’t talking to kids. I moved the Santa to Las Vegas in the book The Santa Claus Singer and made him a lounge singer who gets laid off and who ends up playing Santa at the mall and sings to the customers. He meets a young girl who is need of an operation. He is just the right blood type and he volunteers for the gig. At the same time, he gets a job singing in one of the hot night spots on Christmas Eve. A once in a lifetime opportunity. Only thing is, he promised to visit the young girl that same night. And then his car breaks down…

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The first Christmas book that uses pictures of many of the things I have made is called Bearnard’s Christmas. I got the idea for it when I worked in a miniature shop that sold doll houses. I sketched out a design for a Santa castle, wrote the story, and then built the castle and made the figures to go with the story. It’s about a lady who loves animals and who falls asleep near her Christmas tree only to wake up at the North Pole. She meets a talking Polar bear dressed in a Santa suit. His name is Bearnard. He works for Santa. Some people want to capture him and stuff him and put him in a carnival attraction. They might just get their chance if a miracle doesn’t happen.

the-santa-claus-machine-cover-final-croppedThe newest book is called The Santa Claus Machine. I got the idea from a Christmas card. In order to modernize his image, Santa builds a series of Santa robots that are sent to stores around the world. They are programmed to tell Santa’s stories and record children’s wishes. An unscrupulous sales manager at the largest department store chain in America, along with their computer engineer, kidnap the real Santa and hide him in an ice cave. They reprogram all the Santa Claus Machines to encourage children to ask for more and more toys. When Santa learns about the change, he becomes disheartened and thinks he might have to cancel Christmas.

Each story is set during the holidays for sure, but each has a deeper meaning: something seen with the heart and the soul.

every-castle-needs-a-dragon-cover-trial-2-croppedAnd I have been working on a new story for next year. The idea came when I bought a Christmas ornament, a small dragon. I found a tiny wreath on the sidewalk while walking one of the dogs and slipped it over the dragon’s head. Then I set him on the roof of the Santa castle and said, “Every Castle Needs a Dragon.” That’s the name of the book. I bet you don’t know that dragons are the protectors of something very precious in the world. If they have the wrong champion, they can go astray and do great damage, but if they are taught well, they do nothing but good. Now someone wants to capture this one particular dragon… You will get to read the rest of the story next Christmas.

Enjoy the coming Holiday Season. See it with your heart and your soul. It costs nothing and gives back so much.

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Biography:

gayle-and-santaA former private detective and once a reporter for a small weekly newspaper, Gayle Bartos-Pool (G.B. Pool) writes the Johnny Casino Casebook Series and the Gin Caulfield P.I. Mysteries. She also wrote the SPYGAME Trilogy: The Odd Man, Dry Bones, and Star Power; Caverns, Eddie Buick’s Last Case, The Santa Claus Singer, Bearnard’s Christmas and The Santa Claus Machine. She teaches writing classes: “The Anatomy of a Short Story” (which is also in workbook form), “How to Write Convincing Dialogue” and “How to Write a Killer Opening.” Website: http://www.gbpool.com.

 

 

MY SUPERPOWER: PERSISTENCE by BONNIE SCHROEDER

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Bonnie Schroeder started telling stories in the Fifth Grade and never stopped. After escaping from the business world, she began writing full-time and has authored novels, short stories and screenplays, as well as non-fiction articles and a newsletter for an American Red Cross chapter.

 

I come from a family of quitters. Sort of.

Several generations ago, my family owned a farm in northern New Mexico, in the Four Corners area. Now, anyone who’s ever lived on a farm knows it’s hard work. There are no vacations, holidays, or sick leave. It’s dangerous work, and you’re always at the mercy of Mother Nature.

So it’s totally understandable that at some point they gave up, sold the farm, and moved on to something less overwhelming. However, the people who bought the family farm went on to discover oil there. And I’m sure my great-grandparents sometimes thought, “If only we hadn’t given up.”

I heard that story from the time I was a little kid, and it haunted me. So when I became a writer, I swore I would never give up or give in to discouragement. I would become a published writer.

Life intervened in unexpected ways, and I had to put my dreams on the back burner for a while, but I never abandoned them. I kept writing, if only in stolen moments on a commuter van traveling to and from my job.

Writing is hard work, and you often must sacrifice other pursuits, many of which are easier and more entertaining. Your friends look at you funny when you tell them you’re skipping the movie so you can work on your novel. Sometimes I’d wonder, “Is it worth it? Who will care about this book anyway?” The answer, of course, was “I will.”

I finally finished a novel, and I even found an agent. Yay! Mission accomplished!

Ooops, not really. My agent was very determined; she got me rejected by all the big publishing houses, until a junior editor at the now-defunct Zebra Books took a liking to the novel. We talked, she suggested a few changes, and I was almost done revising when my agent called. The junior editor’s boss overruled her. No publishing deal.

My agent briskly told me to write another novel— “a mystery this time.” I did. She read it and dismissed it, telling me “that theme isn’t selling right now.” And she gave up on me.

But I didn’t give up. I wrote another novel, and after years of workshops and revisions, I began sending it to agents and to publishers who took unagented work.

I sent 167 query letters over six years before luck landed me at Champlain Avenue Books (well, luck and my friend MM Gornell, a fellow member of this blog.) And after all that time and all that angst, before I could even catch my breath, Mending Dreams came into being—and into bookstores.mdfrontcover-web

I was tempted a lot of times to give up, but that family story stuck with me, and I didn’t want to be the one who walked away and let someone else reap the benefits.

You hear all kinds of slogans on this subject: “Winners never quit; quitters never win.” But in my case the slogan took tangible form, and I’m here to tell you that you CAN achieve your dreams, if only you keep trying. Sometimes just hanging on for that extra day, that extra mile, that extra page—it can make all the difference.mountaintop

I’m putting my words to the test again, working on a new novel—the most challenging one yet. But it’s easier to keep going now, because I know I can do it, and I know that I have to.

Have you ever been tempted to quit writing because it can be so hard and sometimes so discouraging? Did you persist? How did you motivate yourself to keep going?

 

A QUICK ESCAPE…

just-rosie-3 Where do you escape to when it all gets too much? When that sleep that you really, really need alludes you? For those stressed with over-work, with family or money worries or health problems – a respite is definitely needed.  Other than flying away from it all and off to an exotic desert island, what are we ordinary mortals supposed to do?  I have discovered my best escape is found between the pages of a book.

I guess I have always escaped into the magical world of stories. I have been reading all my life. My brother, Phil, reminded me that I started my own library – ‘The Leafy Way Public Library’ – in my bedroom as a small child. I had a little rubber stamp that imprinted the logo in my books. Phil remembers my issuing him with a library ticket that I date-stamped to take out books! My ‘library’ included the different Enid Blyton mystery series, The Famous Five, The Secret Seven and the Mary Mouse tales. Phil was not interested in the more girlie books that I loved:  the Pamela Brown adventures about theatre life: The Swish of the Curtain, Blue Door Ventures and Golden Pavements – or Noel Streatfield’s Ballet Shoes and the  Dancing Shoes series.  the-secret-seven

Even at that very young age I found an escape into these magical books. I even wrote my own first book, Make Believe Mondays, when I was ten – carefully handwritten, with an orange, pencil- illustrated cover. I wrote it for my brother Phil, I recall! The love of books clearly stayed with me throughout my growing up. I know I have written before about these books that colored my life.  Books have always been a wonderful escape for me.

But I think this is true for most of us writers. I know that with my fellow bloggers we often talk about the books that we lose ourselves in. Reading is truly a wonderful way of retreating from the woes that life sometimes presents. Even if it is a snatched fifteen minutes on a train or bus ride to work, or a quick read on a short coffee-break. What a relief to vanish from today’s world, for a glimpse into someone else’s fictional world.

the-shell-seekers  And in the middle of the night, instead of tossing and turning and sheep-counting – reach for a book. I do. I currently have a favorite Rhys Bowen novel about Molly Murphy in the turn-of-the-century New York mystery series. In a different mood, I will re-read Rosamund Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers, a Maeve Binchy novel, a Marcia Willet story, one of Carol Drinkwater’s books set in the South of France, or Victoria Hislop’s The Island and her other Mediterranean-set novels. I just love anything set in the sunny Mediterranean. No rush-hour traffic jams, no screaming police sirens, angry crowds pushing and shoving. Just gentle walks though olive grows, planning delicious simple meals, folk watching the tides come in and go out again under breath-taking sunsets. What’s not to like?

heidi         Although my all-time favorite remains the childhood classic, Heidi, by Johanna Spyri, about the little girl who goes to live with her grandfather in the Swiss mountains. Some years ago I learned to refocus my mind while in the dentist’s dreaded chair – and would whisk myself off to that Swiss mountain side with Heidi and her goat-herd friend Peter.

As a writer, I love to think that someone else might lose themselves in a story that I have created. I write about another world I like to lose myself in: Lottie Topaz’s discovery of Hollywood in the 1920s. It’s quite exhilarating to inhabit this other reality.

As we lose ourselves in someone else’s stories, one forgets – for a while – the troubles and stresses that surround us.

So the next time that bedroom clock relentlessly blinks 3:30 am at you, and you find yourself start back at number one with your counting sheep, reach for a book instead – a gentle, charming story. Nothing too violent or thought-provoking. Just a beautiful, exotic island of words, with a gentle breeze blowing across the pages and the scent of tropical flowers to lull you into that other realm that will take you out of yourself for a while. Sleep then comes more easily when you leave reality behind. To sleep – perchance to dream – of inhabiting the world of your favorite books… written by your favorite authors….

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ROSEMARY LORD BIOGRAPHY

c19f5-hlwdtandnThe author of Best Selling non-fiction Hollywood Then and Now and Los Angeles Then and Now, English born ROSEMARY LORD has lived in Hollywood for over 25 years. As an actress, her credits include Monty Python, Rivals of Sherlock Holmes, Days of Our Lives, L.A. Heat and more. She did voice-work on Titanic, Star Trek, Shakespeare In Love, The Holiday and Pirates of the Caribbean amongst many others. A former journalist,  she is published in many magazines such as Woman’s Journal, Atlantic Review, Woman, Films & Filming, Jackie, Field newspapers and more in the UK, USA and Australia, where she wrote about Hollywood’s Golden Age, interviewing such luminaries as Cary Grant, James Stewart, Tony Hopkins, John Huston. She was a Senior Publicist at Columbia Pictures. Rosemary lectures on Hollywood history and is the Historian of the Woman’s Club of Hollywood. She is a member of MWA, Sisters-in-Crime, SAG, BAFTA and contributes to The Writers In Residence Blog.

 

Her first mystery novel Lottie Topaz and the Flicker Murders… is set in the 1920s Jazz Age Hollywood featuring Lottie Topaz, an extra in silent movies.

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Rosemary’s Blog posted by…

 

There ARE Modern Mystery Writers for Readers Like Me

headshotJacqueline Vick is the author of over twenty short stories, novelettes and mystery novels. Her April 2010 article for Fido Friendly Magazine, “Calling Canine Clairvoyants”, led to the first Frankie Chandler Pet Psychic mystery, Barking Mad At Murder, followed by A Bird’s Eye View of Murder. Her first Harlow Brothers’ mystery, Civility Rules, is out in ebook format and paperback. To find out more, visit her website at http://www.jacquelinevick.com.

 

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I love flinch-free fiction. Think Agatha Christie. Rex Stout. P.G. Wodehouse. I want to enjoy the book I’m currently reading, not suffer from nightmares for weeks after I close the pages.  I’m not interested in a sex manual, and I also don’t need to learn any new dirty words. I don’t want the characters to sound like the squeaking mice from an animated cartoon, but I don’t need to be subjected to a diatribe on __________ (insert cause here .) What’s a girl to do?

Fortunately, after reading my Rex Stout and Agatha Christie collection again for the umpteenth time, I ventured–cautiously–into some new writers. New to me. I was pleasantly surprised, and I’d like to share some of them with you in case you’re looking for a good read.

houndedDave Rosenfeld brings us the Andy Carpenter mysteries. His character is a defense attorney who inherited a pile of wealth, so he spends most of his free time with the Tara Foundation, a dog rescue. The rescue is the launching point for the mystery, such as when a dog is stolen from the foundation only to turn up next to a corpse in Who Let the Dog Out? And yes, I do plan to purchase The Twelve Dogs of Christmas for my holiday reading list.

I daeth-wears-a-maskpicked up Ashley Weaver’s Death Wears a Mask based solely on the cover, so I guess good covers do matter. I found a fun world that revolved around Amory Ames and her playboy husband, Milo. The back cover described it as Agatha Christie updated, and I thought it came close. This is the second book in the series, so I’ll have to go back and start with number one.

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I discovered Julia Buckley on a blog. Don’t ask me which one, because I can’t remember. I thought her book sounded intriguing. A writer takes on an apprenticeship with her idol, and the first day there, a dead body turns up on the beach below the house. She reminds me of a slightly restrained Dorothy Cannell (The Thin Woman.)

Robert yankee-peddlerL. Hecker’s Yankee Peddler is more of a farcical social commentary than a mystery, but it’s so funny I had to include it. Ambassador Elizabeth Sullivan Wexford Adams sets out to sell the Litanians on “The American Way.”  Hard to do when these isolated islanders have never heard of the USA.

That’s probably enough to get you started, especially since, if you enjoy the books as I did, you’ll want to read the entire series.

Unlucky Charms Debuts

We don’t usually post on Mondays, but we have a guest post by author Linda O. Johnston that is fitting for this time of the year. Now, don’t get nervous, but it’s October and getting close to Halloween and the post is about superstition mysteries!

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Thank you, Writers in Residence.  I’m delighted to be blogging here.  In case you can’t tell, I enjoy blogging, including guest blogging.

It’s October, the month of Halloween.  Halloween is full of superstitions.   It’s a great time for the debut of my third Superstition Mystery, Unlucky Charms.

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My Superstition Mysteries feature Rory Chasen, a pet lover who managed a pet store in Los Angeles… till she came to Destiny, California.  Destiny is all about superstitions, and Rory headed there when her fiancé died after walking under a ladder.  No, the ladder didn’t fall on him, but he was hit by a car soon afterward.  Did the two interconnect?  Did he die thanks to the effect of the superstition?  Rory wants to know.

And when she first gets to Destiny with her dog Pluckie, she learns that black and white dogs are good luck, especially if you’re going to a business meeting.  Pluckie saves the life of Martha Jallopia, who owns the Lucky Dog Boutique.  Martha then asks Rory to stay in Destiny and manage the shop.

That story is in the first Superstition Mystery, Lost Under a Ladder–in which Martha becomes a murder suspect and Rory has to help her in that, too, by trying to clear her.  In book two, Knock on Wood, Rory’s bff Gemma Grayfield comes to  Destiny to be with Rory–and she’s the next one to become a murder suspect.

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Here, in book three, Unlucky Charms, Rory’s the murder suspect!

All through this, Rory remains a superstition agnostic.  Sure, it probably doesn’t hurt to comply with superstitions… but does it really help?  She continues trying to figure it out.

And there are a lot of suspicions all over Destiny that Rory gets involved with, including seeding the sidewalks in front of the Lucky Dog Boutique with lucky heads-up pennies.  Since I write a lot about dogs and other pets, more superstitions about them are contained in the stories, too–including how unlucky, or lucky, black cats are.

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Like Rory, I’m a superstition agnostic.  How about you?  Do you really believe… or not?

Just in case… well, one thing I will do here at the Writers in Residence blog is to cross my fingers, and knock on wood, that all the writers in residence, as well as all their readers, have lots and lots of good luck!

 

Linda O. Johnston, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, writes two mystery series for Midnight Ink involving dogs: the Barkery and Biscuits Mysteries, and the Superstition Mysteries. She additionally currently writes for Harlequin Romantic Suspense as well as paranormal romance for Harlequin Nocturne.

She also wrote the Pet Rescue Mystery Series, a spin-off from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkeley Prime Crime.

Please visit Linda at her website: http://www.LindaOJohnston.com and friend her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LindaOJohnston

Latest book: Unlucky Charms

The Wisdom of the WInRs by Miko Johnston

FROM SCREEN TO PAGE, Part 3 with Miko Johnston

Miko Johnston is the author of A Petal in the Wind and the newly released A Petal in the Wind II: Lala Hafstein.

She first first contemplated a writing career as a poet at age six. That notion ended four years later when she found no ‘help wanted’ ads for poets in the Sunday NY Times classified section, but her desire to write persisted. After graduating from NY University, she headed west to pursue a career as a journalist before switching to fiction. Miko lives on Whidbey Island in Washington. You can find out more about her books and follow her for her latest releases at Amazon.

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I sincerely hope you, our readers, find The Writers In Residence blog as enlightening as I do.

Madeline’s recent post on story endings reminded me of a project several writers and I undertook earlier this year. We analyzed different endings, both satisfying and disappointing, and came up with a list, but nothing as contemplative as Madeline’s. There’s a difference between knowing a subject and conveying that knowledge with eloquence.

Gayle’s piece on mining your past reminded me of the importance of authenticity. In fact I touched upon that subject in my earlier blog post on killing your characters. My protagonist loses someone dear to her very unexpectedly. I summed up her reaction in a brief paragraph, taken from my own experience with an identical situation. I still get choked up when I read it, and more than one writer giving critique has as well. Mining your life goes beyond knowledge and experience. At the deepest level you hit real emotion. To ensure that I do, I’m following Kate’s suggestions regarding beta readers.

Creating authenticity in our writing has been a thread recently. Bonnie’s post on research, Jackie Vicks’ on writing what you want to know, and Jackie Houchin’s story based on her missionary experiences in Malawi reminded me of that. My current novel takes place during World War I on the lesser know Eastern front. The subject hasn’t been covered in English language literature, which makes it both unique and challenging. But the challenges go beyond research for me.

Like many writers, I struggle to balance writing time with all the other obligations in my life. I’ve lost my ability to multitask as I’ve grown older – or maybe it’s the lack of time pressure now that I no longer work – but time seems to move faster as I’ve become slower. That’s why Rosemary’s post hit home with me. Years ago I found a very effective organizing system called the Funnel Method. Picture a letter-sized page in landscape format. Divide it into three rows across and seven columns down to create 21 boxes. Label the seven top row boxes with categories of what you need to do: appointments, errands, writing, etc. and list what you need to accomplish each week in the appropriate box. Then use the boxes in the middle row to prioritize your lists, from most to least important. The third row is your weekly calendar; assign a day and time for each task based on its priority. It works brilliantly if you follow it. Unfortunately, I don’t – I rebel against micro-management; like Rosemary, ideal time management eludes me.

So thank you fellow WinRs for sharing your insight and wisdom. It’s made a difference in my writing and, I suspect, has helped other writers who read this blog. I’ll end this post with my contribution – the list of endings I mentioned earlier. See if you agree.

SATISFYING ENDINGS:file3171299616544

Summation – where you bring the previous elements back into play and sum up the action or make a statement.

Partial Summation – where some story lines are tied up, but a few are left unresolved for the sequel (common in serialized novels).

Cozy – where everything’s gonna be alright; it settles down at the end and they all have a cup of tea.

Cinematic – zoom in from the setting to the character(s), or out from the character(s) to the setting (like a movie).

Emotional – tug at the heartstrings and pull out the stops; needs to be carefully handled to avoid crossing over to sappiness.

Bookend – where it mirrors, and often clarifies, the opening scene.

Ambiguous/Cliff hanger – promotes discussion as well as sequels; doesn’t tie everything up into a neat bow.

UNSATISFYING ENDINGS:

Trite – there’s no surprise element; clichéd.

Incomplete – story doesn’t resolve or too many important threads left undone.

Abrupt – too rushed or sudden, like a curtain dropping; doesn’t provide satisfaction.

Prolonged – too slow or dragged out; destroys the tension of the climax.

Martians landed – euphemism for a scenario dropped in without being set up.

Cheap shot – solving the issue without input from protagonist.

Mismatched – ending doesn’t have anything to do with the beginning.

Incoherent – ending doesn’t make sense or is rambling.

Sappy – emotionally overdone; turns maudlin or trite.