My Glamorous Life

6 09 2013



Get Your Signed Copies!

21 07 2013

Still have not helped yourself to one of my books? While supplies last I am offering the pair for $40.00; signed! Give yourself the chance to delve into the mystery of Fatal Compulsions and allow your emotions full reign in Daughter of My Heart. Visit me on Facebook   and send me a private message to be sure you do not miss out!

Excerpt from Fatal Compulsions

Don was on his way back to his hotel room after meeting up with a few old friends for a nightcap at one of the local bars in Madison. He had decided that a nice quiet drive would clear his mind and since he would be leaving town in less than forty hours, it would be nice to sort of say goodbye to the area as he didn’t know…

Excerpt from Daughter of My Heart

To every season there is a purpose. To every life there is a purpose whether that life lasts for just a few moments or for centuries. What we take from our encounter with that life, what we learn as individuals, is ours to apply to our own livbookses and grow or reject and fail to thrive. 

The Shrunken Manuscript Technique

18 07 2013

Without reading a single word of your novel, I can tell you some of its strengths and weaknesses by using the “Shrunken Manuscript” technique. The technique was born accidentally several years ago, when a friend asked me to critique her manuscript. We were a bit short on money at the time and I didn’t want to print out a couple hundred pages to read. Instead, I single-spaced the manuscript, reduced the font and then printed it out. What I saw amazed me. Chapters that covered ten pages were now encapsulated on just three pages. It was easier to see how Act I led into Act II. Instead of flipping through hundreds of pages to check a fact, I had only a couple dozen pages to go through. I decided to be really radical. I eliminated all white space at the ends of chapters and reduced the font to only 6-point, or even 5-point, until I had an entire 50-60,000 word novel in less than 30 pages. I’ve heard the complaints: you can’t read a manuscript at that font size. You don’t need to.

How to Use the Shrunken Manuscript Technique

Here’s how the process works. Identify something you want to visualize about your manuscript. I often ask students to identify their five strongest chapters, with strongest defined in any way they think is helpful for their manuscript. Then, take a bright marker and put an X over the strongest chapters. Yellow markers don’t tend to work as well as blue or pink. Finally, lay the manuscript on the floor in three rows with about ten pages in each row. Now, step back and observe. For example, if you have two strong chapters at the beginning and three strong chapters at the end, you have the dreaded sagging middle problem. If you have two strong chapters in the middle and three at the end, then you must question the opening: perhaps you started the story too early. An absence of X-ed chapters toward the end means you need a better climax. At first, students were skeptical that this Shrunken Manuscript technique worked. But they were working in groups, and within each group, writers had exchanged and read manuscripts. When I identified one story as having a sagging middle, I asked the writer’s group if that was true of the manuscript. They said yes.

1. 30 pages. For me, 30 pages are about all I can take in visually at a time. Manuscripts up to 60,000 words can be shrunken to 30 pages; sometimes you need to put the story into two columns, which shrinks it even more. For manuscripts over 60,000 words, divide the manuscript in half and repeat the exercise for each half.

2. Mark 5-6 items. In 30 pages, it works well to mark 5-6 successful chapters. You could do more or less, but then you start to fudge on your criteria for a strong chapter.

3. Make your own key. While I like to mark chapters with a marker, others use stickersmanuscript, glitter, beads and more.

4. Mark anything you want. The technique is flexible and can be used to consider anything in your story. Here are some suggestions, but feel free to adapt as needed:

  • How often do the protagonist and antagonist go head to head? The conflicts should be spread out consistently through the novel and it must definitely happen in the climax scene.
  • Where does a certain character appear and how much space is devoted to that character? Here, you wouldn’t mark entire chapters, but scenes in which the character appears. What’s useful here is that you can easily see proportions. If Character A only appears in short scenes, so only 10% of the story (or 3 pages total) features Character A, then A shouldn’t be the main character.
  • Dialogue versus prose. Because dialogue is often short, it tends to leave open space on the shrunken manuscript, making it easy to gauge if you are prose heavy or dialogue heavy.
  • Does your setting vary across the story? Use different colors to mark the different settings. Often, writers want a setting to recur, with the subsequent events in that setting contrasting or supporting the previous events. This allows you to pinpoint exactly when the settings occur in the story.

In other words, this technique is good at evaluating the big picture of a novel, the overall structure, pacing, interactions.

-Darcy Pattison; WOW!

Savvy Parental Advice

9 05 2013


Top 10 Essentials to a Writer’s Life

13 04 2013
I was recently reading through Eric Larson’s Top 10 Essentials List and had a good chuckle.  I figured I could “one up” on his list . So here’s his list and my CORRECTIONS 😉

Erik Larson Photo © Benjamin Benschneider

Top 10 Essentials to a Writer’s Life

1. Good Coffee: Every writer has a ritual that begins the day. It’s like turning a key to start your car. For me, the key that starts the day is a good cup of coffee, preferably Peet’s Coffee. (UGG! First of all, I HATE coffee.  For me, I prefer to start out my day with 15 minutes of meditation, 1 hour of cardio and LOTS of water.  Wake up the body=Wake up the brain.)

2. More Coffee: Alas, I drink as many as five cups a day. And then switch to tea. My teeth are the color of plum-tree leaves. ( My stomach is churning now… refer to number 1.)

3. Oreo Cookies: I mean, look, if you have a cup of good coffee, you need an Oreo. Some mornings—the tough ones—I define as two-Oreo days. Double Stuf preferred. (Okay, Eric is spot on here.  Can’t beat Oreos for brain food.  Just have to watch how many I consume.)

4. A Sense of Pace: Many writers make the mistake of engaging in what I call “binge writing.” They write for 10 hours straight, riding the perfect wave of inspiration. The problem is, you still need to wake up the next day and do it again. Best is to pace yourself. Write for three hours straight, without interruption, then stop. (Good rule of thumb.  I don’t always follow it but slow and steady does win the race.  I have been known to binge on occasion.)

5. Knowing Where to Stop: My favorite “trick” is to stop writing at a point where I know that I can pick up easily the next day. I’ll stop in mid-paragraph, often in mid-sentence. It makes getting out of bed so much easier, because I know that all I’ll have to do to be productive is complete the sentence. And by then I’ll be seated at my desk, coffee and Oreo cookie at hand, the morning’s inertia overcome. There’s an added advantage: The human brain hates incomplete sentences. All night my mind will have secretly worked on the passage and likely mapped out the remainder of the page, even the chapter, while simultaneously sending me on a dinner date with Cate Blanchett. (I’ve tried this and what ends up happening is I forget my train of thought. I do much better leaving myself a trail of breadcrumbs at the end of a day’s writing… little snippets of direction where I believe the story is heading. Then, when I sit down the next morning, I have all these snippets at the end of yesterday’s writing that fire my brain and beg to be strung together in the story line.)

6. Blocks of Undisturbed Time: I set aside a minimum of three hours every morning, seven days a week, during which no one is allowed to intrude except to report an approaching cruise missile. (I couldn’t agree more. ALL writers need absolute solitude to work on their craft.)

7. Physical Diversion: When I stop writing, I need an escape—something that takes me out of the work and wholly into another realm. My main diversion is tennis, though I also find cooking to be very helpful. Something about chopping onions is very restorative. Dogs are helpful, too. They force you to go outside and confront the weather, although my dog did once eat a 19th-century edition of a British physicist’s autobiography. (This is the sole reason I keep Harley around [our Dutch Shepherd]. He’s my outdoors tag-a-long. My Nikon 3000D provides a good outdoor incentive too)

8. A Good Library: For all writers, but especially those of us who write nonfiction, a good library with open stacks is crucial. (I think this is necessary for writer’s of all genres. I refer to other writing styles ALL the time. Some things just work well across the board and they are too numerous to retain mentally so having referencing material on hand is vital.)

9. A Trusted Reader: Every writer I know has at least one friend or partner who can be trusted to read early drafts of a book and provide an accurate, constructive critique. My secret weapon is my wife, who annotates the margins of my drafts with crying faces, smiles and long receding lines of zzzzzzzzzzzs. (Even better is having 3 or 4. A writer needs sets of eyes and other opinions because as we writers know, we are enthralled with our babies, no matter how ugly the world perceives them to be.)

10. A Fireplace: One of the most important things a writer must do is read, and there’s no greater pleasure than settling in front of a fire on a cold night with a good book (and maybe a glass of bourbon). Falling asleep in midpage is one of the delights of life. (Let me add to this, sitting on a beach on a warm night, listening to the ocean. We writers need to read as much as we need to write. It’s fuel to our minds, transfusion to our life’s blood, and balm to our souls.)

Erik Larson is the author of The New York Times bestsellers In the Garden of Beasts, Thunderstruck, Isaac’s Storm and The Devil in the White City, which was a finalist for a National Book Award. He has written for The Atlantic, Harper’s, The New Yorker and other publications. L.T. Bentley is the author of Fatal Compulsions and Daughter of My Heart.

ReBlogged from Lee Goldberg

12 04 2013

I love Lee’s kooky sense of humor.  I recently read his blog and had to share this with my readers.  Get ready for a chuckle.

Purple Prose

Royal-palm-tree1A friend recommended a crime novel to me that came out a few years ago from a major publisher and that was also praised by some big-name authors (including some who have praised my work). I brought the book along with me on a short day trip for something to read while my wife & daughter were shopping. The book was awful, but some of the terrible writing was worth sharing. Here are some of my favorite examples:

“A sustained orgasm of flowers filled the strip between the driveway and right side of the house.”

This made me laugh out loud. So did some of the comments my Facebook friends made about it:


And on the other side of the driveway, a foreplay of hedges.


Haven’t you ever had a sustained orgasm of flowers?


Better than a multiple orgasm of concrete.


Not just an orgasm of flowers, but a sustained orgasm of flowers. I want to live in that neighborhood.
Here’s another excerpt:

“Staring at the picture, I had a clear sense of the living person whose image was cradled in chemicals on the bed of thick paper.” 

Or as a less pretentious writer might say it: “I got a clear sense of the person from her photograph.”

“The girl in the picture had a glimmer of erotic fear in her dark eyes, waving like a thin, white arm of a drowning person.” 

So fear that is sexually arousing… or perhaps fear of something to do with sex…is visible in someone’s eyes as a white glimmer that looks like the arm of someone who is drowning. Yeah, that makes sense.

“Her short black skirt clung like a high priest’s desire to the curves of her ass.”

I suppose this might make sense if anybody had any idea what a “high priest’s desire” is. A high priest of what? Tortured metaphors? Speaking of which…

“The night was filled with the exotic feeling California still evoked for me, surf shushing beyond the campfires, palm trees thrusting their composers’ haircuts up into the starry sky, swaying with the symphony of the wind.” 

Surf shushing? Palms thrusting? A composer’s haircut? WTF? And am I the only one who thinks “a symphony of wind” sounds like another way of saying “a herd of cows farting”?

Does This Mean There’s Hope?

10 04 2013

Writing is a struggle for all of us, even the Greats.

Relating To You

A site for learning about and sharing what you know about relationships we all deal with.

Darlene Craviotto

Can you all hear me in the back?


Living inside a Delicious Relationship with the Divine

Kirk's Fine Art Blog

Mostly about making art.

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