Category Archives: Burlington Writers Workshop

Writing and Rewriting

My writers workshop had a retreat on Saturday at a lovely place in North Hero, VT. It was at the home of one of our members, Riki Moss, who is a bodacious sculptor and wonderful writer. As a woman with an artful eye for decor and a wonderful husband to assist in making this home a haven, she was exactly the right person to host this retreat. For a number of reasons of a personal nature, a few of us were arriving with no recent writing and no clear way to go on what we had with us. The idyllic setting seemed to inspire us, and several of us made unexpected progress.

Some of the writers are nonfiction writers, and discussions with them at our wrap-up (before a lovely potluck dinner) got me to thinking about my eternal rewriting of my first novel, Fantastical Trips. The memoirists convinced me that I might better approach my main character by making her first person, as I would be able to delve more deeply into her character and her reaction to being magicked away from her home world. I was only 15000 words into my most recent rewrite, so I took the bull by the horns and wrote first person on Sunday.

I am 4500 words into the first person rewrite after two long sessions at it, one in the morning, and one after I gave up on the Red Sox. As a first draft, it’s moving smoothly and I find I have more ways of showing the uncertainties and qualms of my character. The fact that she falls in love almost immediately with the cat people, known as felixities, actually gives room for some humor, and interesting discussions. Maybe, just maybe, I’ve found a way to finally tell this story that has been haunting me for over two and a half years.

My book is nearly finished!

I have written 4,000 of the projected 8,000 words to bring my book, Ascension of Peary, to an end. It will rest for two days and then I will edit this last part. It then goes to my beta reader, and my editor when I get it back from the beta reader. My projected publish date is September 18 on Amazon both for kindle and for trade paperback.

I workshopped with my buddies at the Burlington Writers Workshop last Wednesday. and they liked it but wanted it more literary. Then I told them that I was projecting it for ages 12 to 18. That changed the whole atmosphere, and we discussed the possibility of workshopping it with kids. We did not think that would work, so I went home in a bit of a funk.

I got an email about an hour later, with the subject “Your first Young Adult fan.” It turns out one of the participants got home and found her 9 year old was still awake. She decided to read him the first five or six pages of the 34 I had produced. He made her read it all, and then asked her to go download more. When she said there was no more to download, she quotes him as saying “That was amazing! I need to hear more. It’s so awesome. I can’t wait to hear what happens when she turns 18!” My first review! Admittedly for only a tiny piece, but it was good for my ego. I’ve sent her another 4000 words to share with him on the drive to his grandmother’s house, and we’ll see if he’s still enthralled.

Even better, another member of the group has two granddaughters at the lower end of my age spectrum. She will be sharing with them, and I will wait with bated breath to hear their response.

I’m so excited!

Sorry for my absence!

It  has been a tumultuous few weeks. My editor abandoned me, which may be a good thing. The leader of my writers workshop, who’s virtues I have extolled frequently in this blog, has taken a job out of state and we have been transitioning leadership in the workshop. As if this were not enough, our landlord told us that our workshop did not fit his vision for his facility since we were not “fine” artists and not suitable tenants.

We had to find a new space, which was quite a search but ultimately partially successful. We have found a wonderful  classy place with one major drawback. And a few minor ones. The major drawback is that it is a third floor walk-up, and the two flights are each horrors in their own ways. As we are trying to obtain federal recognition as a non-profit (the state has already so recognized us), we must make reasonable accommodations for the disabled. we have two easy ways of accommodating individuals, since both the library and the UU Church will be willing to allow us use of rooms for workshops when disabled persons wish to attend. We only ask for  five days’ notice so we can make the arrangements.

The new place has a dishwasher, which was part of its attraction. Writers drink a lot of coffee. First load and we soaked the hall below us. Luckily we have a wonderful new landlord. The dishwasher may be replaced by a full sized refrigerator! I am intentionally eliding over the many trips up and down those stairs in the moving process.

Last Friday we launched the Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop 2015, and I was one of the writers who got to read. But my buddy Peter set me up. He had a box into which people could put potential topics for one of my double dactyls. After I read my poems, he pulled a suggestion from the box, and I was given one hour to compose a double dactyl on that subject. It was “Putin’s War,” about which I have written before. I produced an appropriate offering, and was inundated with requests to write on all of the subjects given me.

Scummily bummily
Putin is fighting a
War with Ukraine, you see,
Without remorse

Shirtless upon a horse
Like a big hit man; his
Morals are worse

was the one for that night, but I have already written the first seven of the new ones. I have about 25 more to go. And after the launch, I was challenged to write one on the subject of groceries at our local Hannaford, a local grocery chain.

Grocely procely
Burlington Hannaford
Cookies and sauerkraut
Are there for sale

Cat food and moist wipes have
Seafood and scallops but
They don’t have whale.

Sorry, it was silly but the best I could do on the spur of the moment.

And then to top off the insanity, I helped Peter pack up to move away on Saturday. And I’ve spent last night and tonight working the phones at the UU Church for our pledge drive. So now, I’m writing this, so you won’t think I’ve just been lolling around in the balmy weather we’ve been having. Why, we’ve even broken 40 degrees a few times!

A new gig

I have been informed that there will be a bucket for people to put ideas in at the launch party for the 2015 Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop. The plan is for me to read my double dactyls as the first entry in the readings. People will then watch as one of their ideas is pulled out of the bucket, and I will be given one hour to write a double dactyl on that subject. I have a feeling I’m going to regret this. On the other hand, when the poems get started they keep on coming, so I may produce more than one. Who knows?

For any of you in the Burlington, VT, area on Friday, April 3, come to ArtsRiot on Pine Street at 7 pm. We’ll have a blast.

And here, for your delectation, is my most recent attempt:

Cruz Announces

Presidy drezidy
Cruz has announced for the
Ticket republicans
Hope will win big

Green eggs and ham won’t be
Cruz filibuster zags
When he should zig

Daily Prompt: A Plot of Land

You’re given a plot of land and have the financial resources to do what you please. What’s the plan?

Very simple. The Burlington Writers Workshop, of which I am a member, has a dream of growing up to host writers who need a retreat for periods of up to three months. In the best of all possible worlds, it would be in our own building, where we also would have space for multiple workshops at the same time.

There is a wonderful company called Deltec Homes, and they make wonderful circular houses that are environmentally sound and beautiful to behold. They would build a two story building with three bedrooms and baths on the second floor, as well as a study with space for three desks in some privacy from each other. These would be for our visiting writers.

The first floor would have a kitchen, a library with a large table and chairs that could be used for meetings, an office, a casual sitting area and another largish room also equipped for meetings. The kitchen would be for the use of members but also for any visiting writers. The office would be for the man who created by sheer force of will the BWW, Peter Biello.

Deltec can also connect a building to a garage or another building. There would be two connectors to one story houses, also circular. One would be for the manager of BWW, in this case Peter (and his lovely significant other, Jody, and their dog, Drake), and the other would be for me and my four cats. After all, I am the one receiving the land.

The great benefit of this new building would be our ability to hold more than one workshop at a time. There has been more than one occasion on which a workshop conflicts with the editorial board of either our annual The Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop (the 2015 edition launches April 3, and I’m in it!), or the editorial board of our online journal (plug, plug) Mud Season Review. This building would allow such conflicts and any other we might wish to develop. It also gives us the possibility of offering one to three month retreats for authors needing a quiet away time to finish some work. The only thing we would ask in return for offering this fine facility is that they lead at least one workshop, perhaps a week, for the duration of their stay.

So whoever is offering the land, please arrange for it to be in the Burlington area, hopefully with a view of the lake. If not the lake, the mountains.

Good News! I’m an Editor

Life is funny sometimes. I got interested in helping indie authors present better books by offering inexpensive proofreading services about a year ago. In one of the ironies of life, I gave up that work except for helping a few old clients in need of emergency work to focus on my own writing. Now I am the official proofreader for the online literary journal, Mud Season Review, a project of the Burlington Writers Workshop. Doing this interrupts my writing time, but I feel it is a service I can render with relative ease.

I have told you that some of my satiric poems are going to be in the 2015 Best of the Burlington Writers Workshop. Tonight I have been asked to proofread some of this volume, and told that I will become an Assistant Editor. Woot-woot! Life definitely has a way of coming and biting you in the butt.

And now for a sneak peak at my novel: the first two paragraphs, unedited.

The last thing Winifred Palmer, known to her friends as Freddy, remembered was taking acid in her best friend’s summer cabin. Now she found herself sliding down a rainbow chute at a casual speed, the colors quivering and morphing. Her hands skimmed the soft sides of the chute as a sense of euphoria filled her. She couldn’t see the sky or any area outside the chute, but she felt no worry.

She left the chute feet first and wafted to the ground, landing gently in a field of wild flowers, with vibrant blues, reds, oranges, and purples. She breathed the fresh air that had a hint of vanilla and lilac. The many flowers she had crushed in her landing smelled familiar but there were a few that she did not know. She reveled in the feel of the warm earth under her fingers, sensing the richness of the loam.

Fantastical Trips, coming soon to a bookstore or e-retailer near you!