Review of How Not to Write a Novel

How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them--A Misstep-by-Misstep GuideHow Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them--A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide by Howard Mittelmark
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thousands upon thousands of ambitious writers want to know how to get published. What is the magical key that will unlock the publisher’s door? We read endless books and blog posts on the subject. Join critique groups and subscribe to writer’s magazines. Helping the writer write is a literary genre unto itself.

So in the midst of all this helpful advice, Mittelmark and Newman suggest 200 ways to guarantee a writer’s manuscript will stay unpublished, a sort of backwards way to say the same things that have already been said. This entry into the swirling cauldron of information endeavors to both entertain and inform. At times, the book works as clever and witty entertainment. Occasionally, there are moments of crude or slapstick humor. But does this book work as a guide to writing? Not so much.

Each point is made with an example followed by an explanation. Indeed, each of the cases presented are prime examples of what not to do. Where the premise breaks down is in the following explanations. Even though the examples are sometimes humorous, the explanations are often vague or even sarcastic. There are few follow up examples of how the passage could have been written better.

An entire section is devoted to sex scenes. This section could have been written about any action sequence, not just sex scenes. The focus on sex seems more like a crass attempt to titillate the reader rather than an actual attempt to explain what not to do when writing action sequences. (And yes, sex scenes are action scenes.) As in fiction, a scene is included if it progresses the plot, not solely for the sake of writing the scene. This concentration on one aspect of writing action sequences might even been considered how not to write a how to book.

Will the reader learn something new from this book? Maybe if he or she reads between the lines and interprets everything in reverse. Will the reader be entertained? Sometimes. Depends on the reader’s definition of funny.

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Some Friday Stuff About Me #2

Each week, Feeling Beachie lists four statements with a blank for you to fill in on your own blog. If you want to join the fun and come up with four fill in’s of your own, please email feelingbeachie@gmail.com. If she uses them, she will add you as co-host to the hop! This week’s co-host is Jen from Just another Day. She came up with the last two statements…

This week’s statements:

1. I never stand on a parking lot grate.

2. Christmas is my favorite holiday.

3. I think my husband is the most wonderful guy in the whole world.

4. When there is a free moment I write or I think about writing or I talk about writing or... .

Friday Yum Yum - Shrimp and Corn Casserole

2 bunches green onions, chopped
1 large bell pepper, chopped
2 cans cream style corn
1 lb. uncooked shrimp, peeled, deveined, and chopped
1 pkg herb stuffing mix
2 sticks butter or margarine, divided
1 pint sour cream
2 T minced garlic
Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Tabasco, to taste
1 C grated cheddar cheese

Saute green onions and bell pepper in one stick of butter or margarine. Add 2 cups chopped shrimp and creamed corn; let cool.

Prepare crust: combine herb stuffing mix with 1 stick of butter or margarine. Press into buttered casserole dish, lining bottom and sides of dish.

Add sour cream to shrimp mixture; season with garlic. Tony Chachere's (or any other seasoning blend that includes red pepper and salt), black pepper, and Tabasco (red pepper sauce). Bake at 300 degrees F until bubbly, probably about 30 mins. If desired, sprinkle grated cheese on top before serving.

Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning and Tabasco are both products of Louisiana that add heat to any dish. If these products are unavailable in your area, try substituting any seasoning mix that adds heat.


His Dry Wit

elastic wit
pulled to the fringe
dry twisting elemental humor
labor of pleasure
doubles the fun
dissolves the gloom
cancels the harsh
sounds of too much serious

I was thinking of my hubby when I wrote this. His dry wit first drew me to him. Not everyone gets his humor, but no one makes me laugh like he does. When I need it most.

Read more Sunday Scribblings at http://sundayscribblings.blogspot.com/

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Read more Three Word Wednesday at http://www.threewordwednesday.com/


Some Friday Stuff About Me

Each week, Feeling Beachie lists four statements with a blank for you to fill in on your own blogs. If you want to join the fun and come up with four fill in’s of your own, please visit her blog at Feeling Beachie. If she uses them, she will add you as co-host to the hop!

This week’s statements:
1. Sometimes I eat chocolate pudding and peanut butter together.
2. I try to forget high school.
3. Deciding what to do next before I decide to be lazy is such a pain sometimes.
4. Writing is my favorite thing in the whole wide world.

#FridayYumYum - Crawfish Fettucini

1 1/2 sticks butter or margarine
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch green onions and tops, chopped
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 C flour
1/2 C water
2 lb crawfish tails
1 lb box Mexican hot Velveeta (processed cheese), cubed
1 pint half & half
salt & pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese
24 oz egg noodles cooked according to package directions

Melt butter and saute celery, bell pepper, green onions, and garlic about 15 to 20 mins. Add flour. Blend well. Add water and mix. Cook over low heat for about 5 mins., then add crawfish. Cook about 15 mins.

Add Velveeta (processed cheese) and stir until cheese melts. Add half & half. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drain cooked noodles. Mixture will be a little thin, but that is normal. The extra liquid will absorb during baking. Mix all ingredients together and place in 9 x 13 in. baking dish. Spread Parmesan cheese on top of casserole. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F until hot and bubbly.


Review of This One and Magic Life

This One and Magic LifeThis One and Magic Life by Anne C. George
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the story of a not necessarily typical Southern family. Possibly one of the best examples of Southern Lit I've come across in a long time. Ms. George creates an ensemble of memorable characters. Sarah and Thomas, the first generation of Sullivans in Harlowe, Alabama. Artie, Donnie, and Hektor, their children, who share a horrible secret. Mariel, Donnie's wife, who feels that Artie "stole" her daughter, Dolly. The story opens with the last moments of Artie's life and unfolds after her death. Emotions are stirred when the lawyer reveals Artie's last request. She wants to be cremated. Her family divides on the subject, as they are Catholic. Each of the second generation deal with Artie's death through their own lens. Donnie honors her last request and has her cremated in Birmingham. Mariel fakes the funeral with a closed casket. Hektor has his own private funeral with some of Artie's ashes and a questionable priest he drags out of the swamps of Mississippi.

As with most families, there are triumphs, tragedies, misunderstandings, and varying degrees of dysfunction. Through flashbacks and dialogue, Ms. George reveals slowly and precisely the events and relationships that create dysfunction in this family. The roots of jealousy and misunderstanding which began with Sarah and Thomas are revealed as each character examines their relationship with the deceased. Perhaps, the character that grows the most throughout the experience is the sister-in-law, Mariel, as she redefines and rebuilds her relationship with her daughter.

I would recommend this to anyone who loves Southern Literature.

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Live Without Apology

Living is vital
beyond breathing

the small things
large things
in-between things

Happiness is fleeting


sweet things
hard things
mundane things

the moment
not forgetting the past
looking to the future
without apology

Read more One Single Impression at


The Light

Photo by Talon


without light there is no dark
without dark there is no light
one defines the other
yet one rules the other
penetrating the night
piercing the darkness
dark, the absence of light
light, the blending of color
to subdue the light
is to cover it or destroy it or
hide it or turn it off
dark is vulnerable to the light
light abuses the dark
pushing its tentative, reaching fingers
into the corners and dark spaces
and far reaches and hiding places
dark cannot abide in the presence of


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Read more Imaginary Gardens with Read Toads
at http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/


Friday Yum Yum - Jambalaya

In honor of my Daddy, who loved all things Southern. This recipe comes from the heart of Bayou country.

2 lb boned Chicken                       
salt and pepper
3 T cooking oil
2 C celery
2 C green onions
1 C chopped green peppers
1 C uncooked rice
2 C boiling chicken broth
1 t salt
1/2 t garlic salt
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 t red pepper
1 lb hot ground sausage (optional)

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown in cooking oil in Dutch oven. Remove chicken and pour off all but 2 T of oil. Add celery, onions, and peppers. Saute until tender. Stir in rice, broth, and seasonings. Return chicken to pan. Cover and bake at 375 degrees (F) for 30 minutes or until rice is done. Fluff with fork. Browned hot sausage may be added now. May substitute 1 1/2 lb beef or pork for chicken. Serves 6.


To Tweet or Not To Tweet

My life changed for the better last week. I signed with Still Moments Publishing. If you're a writer in today's techno-savvy world, you know that promotion is the name of the game. After I finished doing a happy dance, I had to get serious about my internet presence.

I started this blog months ago, actually years ago. I've deleted the original and reinvented it and tweaked and twisted the thing until it resembles the loveliness that is now Suspense, She Writes.

But my next challenge was defeating the dreaded Twitter. I'd heard about the popular social networking feed with its constant twitting and tweeting. I'd read about how celebrities reveal every detail of their sordid little lives on a series of tweets. But was this for me? My daughter experimented with the site until she posted a picture of her cutely painted toenails and got hit on by a guy with a toe fetish in Venezuela. She was so freaked out, she promptly deleted her Twitter.

So here I was... to tweet or not to tweet. So I tweeted. That's when things got really interesting. Because a tweet is limited to 140 characters, there's a lot of abbreviating going on in cyberspace. I had to catch on to the lingo and quick. I found a nice reference post on Brent Ozar PLF at http://www.brentozar.com/archive/2008/08/twitter-101/.

So I've tweeted a grand total of 15 times. I've even retweeted. What do I think of modern technology? I haven't thought about it, I've been too busy trying to catch up and hang on.

Read more Pondering With a Purpose at



Bitter Fruit

reach for the forbidden fruit again
the apple at the end of the branch
stretched arm, fingers twitching with desire
the last bitter lesson lost in instant gratification
the heart wants what the heart wants
that beating, thumping deceitful organ

ignore the cost of indulging the itch
the sticky, sweet moment of satisfaction
turns sour, dripping the acrid aftertaste
regret swirls and then dives and pierces
consequences crammed into deep wedges
of experience, should haves and could haves

the imaginary garden with real toads

Read more Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads
at http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/

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