I’ve been busy elsewhere with fallout from Learning by Grace, Inc., et al, v. Idoni, an artifact from my other life, so I haven’t been blogging about stories, writing, or the audio books I’ve been entertaining myself with, the most recent being Anteater of Death (a cozy mystery set in a zoo) and Foul Matter (a wicked take on the publishing industry by Martha Grimes, with the best hit-men evah!)

A link this morning from one of the writers at SheWrites, though, gave me the opportunity to do a quick link to a piece whose subject is one I’ve thought about:  ‘staying in touch online,’ in contrast with the memory of long days of relative solitude, ie, Before the Internet (BI).

  • Jonathan Fields:  “Creative Kryptonite and the Death of Productivity”
    Hyperconnectivity requires a massive volume of switchtasking, which destroys true-productivity and efficiency because every time you page through your various modes of connectivity and respond to different prompts, you lose focus. To regain that focus requires a certain amount of time and cognitive effort.

I’m sure part of my BI wistfulness is nostalgia for youth. When things were slower I was a hell of a lot younger and didn’t have as many ‘things’ to do to maintain a normal-appearing life — hair color?  every three weeks? (and no, you don’t have to point out that not only is haircoloring optional but the salon is, too; I get that). But wistful nostalgia aside, I used to get more actual activities done, although I doubt that with four kids, two cats, and a dog, I’d have spent much time online, if we’d had an “online.”

Mr. Fields’s blog post has more to it than mourning a BI life in which the most common non-person-in-front-of-us interruption was the telephone.  Then, phones were stuck to the wall so you had to be near one for it to interrupt you, and unless you had one of those long cords, you had to stay within, say, four feet of the phone to continue to use it, as did anyone who called you.   About the only wireless devices for everyday people were CB radios or walkie talkies, and you could tell who had in-car telephones from the whip antenna tied in a curve from the trunk to the hood.  Cool.

Wistful nostalgia aside, read on at the link to Mr. Fields’s blog to find out about “intermittent reinforcement,” and the “Zeigarnik Effect.”

For me, it’s back to the electron mines.  Tschüss.

The more I read about story theory, the less competent I feel I become.  Decades ago, I was confident I could tell a story; today, I’m not so sure.  Still, the trying of it keeps me off the streets and out of most trouble, so I don’t think I’ll chase off after Chicken #42,567,890.

I’m in the middle of creating new characters for an older story line because the characters I created years ago did not fit parts of the  story theory I’m now learning, and I still want to write about the main character.  The difficulties I had putting stories together for this group may have been because the characters were not as well-constructed as I’d hoped.  Luckily for me, not all of the characters were fatally flawed so I’m not in need of an entire cast.  The setting also stayed the same, so I don’t have to reinvent it as well.

To add to my slowness today in getting down to work making these new characters, I saw a reference to “character flowcharts” in an interview of Meg Waite Clayton, an online SheWrites colleague.  Using flowcharts seems like a natural addition to my notebook-upon-notebook style of composition, but I think flowcharts are more formal than the bubble maps I already use.  I’m not flowchart-trained so the research-junkie part of me went looking for more information.  My first search didn’t produce any links to a useful flowchart/storyline explanation, although I’m not done looking, but I did find a chart of stereotyped female characters.  Humor distracts me every time, and this example at least has one useful path to follow for any of the important women in the stories, and many more to avoid:

Female character flowchart from

Can she carry her own story?  Yes  –> Is she three dimensional?   Yes –> Does she represent an idea?   No –>  Does she have any flaws?   Yes –> Is she killed before the third act?   No –>  Congratulations!  Strong female character

The up-side of of my chicken-chasing today is that the distractions gave me this blog post.  I can check that job off this week’s to do list for writing and get back to inventing people, their world, and the stories about the trouble they get into.

Hello to all the SheWrites bloggers joining in Meg’s latest Blogger Ball.  This blog (in my collection, and in addition to a website) is the one about writing.  The subjects of the entries mostly range among the process of writing as I’m still making-the-still-incomplete-move from non-fiction (sample) to fiction.  With luck, and lots of sitting in the chair, I’ll move to links to stories.

The women behind the curtain at SheWrites provide more than a meeting place for a community of writers.  Among the additional services is access to audio discussions about topics important to writers.  So far, the SheWrites channel on BlogTalkRadio site has a year’s worth of programs available for instant listening (I needed to choose between links at the bottom of the audio screen:  “Play in your default player,” or “Open in new window”).

  • SheWrites channel
  • Genre, Gender and Race: A Panel Discussion
  • How Do We Write About Our Families and Friends?
  • How Do You Know If It’s A Book?
  • Francine Prose discusses “Reading Like a Writer”
  • What Do Publishers Want?
  • Funny Women She Writes Writing to Change the World
  • White Readers, Meet Black Authors
  • Sarah Wilson, Publicist and Book Marketing Expert, in conversation with Kamy Wicoff
  • Lea Beresford, Editor, in Conversation with Kamy Wicoff
  • Author/Editor Christina Baker Kline in Conversation with She Writes Founder Kamy Wicoff
  • VP of Education BK Loren and Kamy Wicoff
  • Kamy Wicoff interviews Literary Agent
  • Erin Hosier Recession-Proof Your Writing Career! Kamy interviews Pamela Redmond Satran

The writers recommended these sites recommended during today’s Wednesday Chat:

  • Duotrope’s Digest:  writers’ resource listing over 3300 current Fiction and Poetry publications
  • QueryTracker:  Organize and track your query letters to literary agents and publishers.

Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love gave a TED talk about how to look at the human relationship with creativity, success and failure.


I almost missed the Wednesday lunch chat at the Novelists page at SheWrites.  Luckily, I remembered in time, caught the tail end of it and chatted with nice online people.

Again, the Internet saves me from turning into a total recluse.

Live chat at SheWrites went well today.  A disappointing development was when I tried scrolling ‘up,’ to collect the hints about forming a critique group, and found that the chat had cut off after the critique portion.  It looks as if the chat function only retains so many entries.

Some chat members helped reconstruct most of the suggestions, but one recommendation, concerning a blog/website that had good advice, was lost.

The parts we collectively remembered were:

Critique group outline

  • application to join group
  • trial period for new members
  • no talking by person being critiqued
  • page limit or time limit for each person
  • novelists come early to read excerpts
  • submit work ahead of time for group members to read
  • ground rules for group
  • 4 – 5 ideal size of group — ask misfits to leave/or disband group and reform later

I think, though, that the “application” requirement might be a bit premature for a group that is just forming.

In today’s live chat at SheWrites, the useful tip o’ the day (for me) was not to edit and rewrite during the first draft.  The logic behind the tip is that since the writer will be editing and cutting during subsequent rewrites, there isn’t much sense in polishing passages that may wind up in the virtual wastebasket.

The flip side to this (because there always seems to be a flip side), is that if, after the completion of the first draft, a basic change must be made at the beginning of the manuscript, then the writer might need to make many adjustments throughout the rest of the first draft, and possibly even write a new draft.

I have hopes that using the “Snowflake Method” will allow me to work out most of the bugs before the first draft is typed.