Sunday, May 31, 2015

TSS - May 31, 2015

I heard on the news this morning that Kansas City has experienced only 4 days of sunshine the entire month of May. Yesterday, the high was 62 degrees! I now know I am not meant to live in London nor the Pacific Northwest :) I need more color than gray, overcast skies.

While I might be complaining a wee bit, I know the weather is just a bit of an inconvenience here in Kansas City. I am praying for those in Texas who have endured so much worse this past week (and grateful my family in Houston continue to do well).


I am reading quite a bit of writing 'how to' books, which I will discuss a bit later, but I am trying to work my way through the historical fiction novel, A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable. So far, I have mixed feelings.

On the one hand, I am thoroughly enjoying the non-fiction storyline. Mme de Florian led a colorful life in the 9eme arrondissement during la Belle-Epoque. She fled Paris in the late 1930s, never to return. When she died in 2010, the apartment was discovered - with everything left in tact. This portion of the narrative is told in diary form, and I love imagining I am right there with her - walking the back streets of Paris, meeting the artists of the day, witnessing the grand society of the time.

On the other hand, I am not quite as fond of the modern day story. April Vogt is a PhD graduate and furniture specialist. She has been called to Paris to authenticate the furnishings for the auction house. Her marriage is on rocky ground, however, and there is the possibility of a Parisian love interest. The story is written well enough, I just don't find it as compelling as the life and times of Mme de Florian. I find myself skimming through these chapters in order to quickly return to the journal entries.

I will certainly finish the novel, but I'm curious if any of you have read it. If so, what is your opinion of the two story lines?


I am always amazed how the slightest shift in paradigm can completely change my outlook.

As many of you know (and I'm sure are tired of hearing...) I have struggled with calling myself a writer. Some days I experience confident determination, and other days I am overcome with oppressive self-doubt. Because of this, I am erratic in my writing endeavors. I know I need to practice to improve, but it often seems pointless. I am definitely lacking in self-accountability.

However, last weekend I had an idea.

I am an academic at heart. I will always complete an assignment on time and to the best of my ability. So the solution to my writing problem seemed clear: register for a class to help keep me accountable.

I am not yet prepared to spend the money for graduate classes (nor am I ready to share my writing with others), but I do have several books on the subject sitting my shelves at home. I spent some time reviewing them, and then I developed a syllabus for a my own writing class.

I have structured the class to follow a typical college level course, that is, three hours spent in the classroom and another six-to-seven hours spent on assignments. The class will focus on fiction as well as creative non-fiction, and I will continue to develop my own Works in Progress (WIP) while completing textbook exercises.

Some might find this system too structured, but I love it so far! I am excited to write and I try to find a bit of time each day to further my studies.

I plan to share the class in a bit more detail in a later blog post, but for now I will list the books I am currently using as texts.

How to write fiction "texts" include:
  • Anatomy of Story by John Truby. A wealth of information here. I have only read the first couple of chapters, which focus on a story's premise, and I have several exercises to complete before I read on.
  • Screen Writing Tricks for Authors by Alexandra Sokoloff. I have read her blog for several years, particularly because I enjoy the way she analyzes popular movies according to the three act - 8 sequence structure.
  • Story Engineering by Larry Brooks (and his second book, Story Physics). I have also read his blog for several years and thoroughly enjoy his no-nonsense writing style that is filled with writing wisdom. So far I have only read through the chapters that deal with Premise and Concept.
 How to write memoir "texts" include:
  • The Power of Memory by Linda Joy Myers, PhD. Such a powerful book. I have read the first four chapters and have numerous exercises to complete, as well as ideas to add to my current work in progress. This is the perfect book for me at this stage in my process
  • The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith. I have actually read this book twice before - it is that good. I will be using this resource more in the revision stage than in this first draft process, but it is a delightful read anytime. Her sense of humor and personable style make me feel as though I am having a one-on-one conversation with the author.
Of course, writers are also readers - and I have several books to read in each genre. Reading published authors and analyzing their works will only help me improve my craft. Hopefully I will also be able to share my thoughts and impressions of these books in future blog posts.


I have continued to focus on this 2015 word of the year - and I am fortunate writing brings such delight to my life.

But aside from writing, I have also found delight in other pursuits, like morning walks (although the rain has postponed several of those this month) ... making a few greeting cards (although I would like to make a few) ... knitting colorful dishcloths, occasionally taking photographs, and scrapbooking.

I finally edited the pictures from the European trip and had them printed. I organized my colored cardstock and even created a two page spread of Sorrento plus a few journaling cards for future layouts. 

I am hoping to organize life enough to start blogging about the trip; I would love to share the experience (and a few of the pictures) with all of you.

Stay dry my friends... and I hope this week presents several reading (and writing) opportunities for you :)


  1. Our April was very gloomy and it was the worst so I know how you feel.

  2. We'll look forward to your blogging about your trip and seeing the photos when you get to it.

  3. I've noticed that when it comes to novels having two story lines, one line is always better than the other one. It's usually the story line that's in the past too. Why is that?

    I hope you're able to get some sun too. There's nothing better than a nice sunny day.

  4. Sorry you have had such rotten weather this month while we have been surprisingly warm and dry (until this weekend, anyway). It's amazing what a difference sunshine makes in our overall attitude and demeanor. We were in FL much of the winter and everyone seemed so friendly and cheerful.

    Looking forward to photos and hearing more about your trip. Hope June will be sunny and warm!

  5. May has definitely been a trial here in Texas. Lots of flooding and awfulness for many. We are lucky in that it didn't affect us so much except to make the allergies worse - mold is incredibly high. Our area will be recovering for a time, but floods around Memorial Day are not unknown here at all. And a plus is that our lakes are almost full (after several years of severe drought) and that may mean that summer won't bring such tough water restrictions. We shall see. This week is supposed to see some sun - it's out today. Have a good week, Molly!

  6. JoAnn - we are actually considering moving to Florida, sometime in the not-so-near future. I'm glad to hear their dispositions match their sunny weather :)

    Kay - I am so glad that the weather has not adversely impacted your family. I know there is much devastation in the state. Hopefully the mold will clear up and you can start breathing well again!

    Kathy, Bryan, and Vasilly -- thanks for stopping by and adding a sunshine to my cloudy day :)

  7. Hope you will be posting photos from your trip soon!

  8. I love your word of the year! I'm thinking of making a summertime bucket list to get all the summery things in that I want to do because the seasons are just flying by, these days.

  9. I just read your review of The Paris Apartment and it reminded me of a book I read titled The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro. Have you read it?
    In Perfume, the two time periods eventually intersect in a surprising way. It's a little sad, but well written, I thought. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it if you have read it or ever do.
    Tammy Lind

  10. I just read your review of The Paris Apartment and it reminded me of a book I read titled The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro. Have you read it?
    In Perfume, the two time periods eventually intersect in a surprising way. It's a little sad, but well written, I thought. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it if you have read it or ever do.
    Tammy Lind


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