ellen.gilman

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  • in reply to: HOOK ‘EM: LESSON SIX #43021
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    Linnea, Yikes, this was hard. Not really understanding SF makes this difficult. I’ve read over and over the two version so here goes.

    I do see a lack of specificity in your setting of the first version. I am not sure where Trilby is except on a ledge somewhere. The second version it seems clear she is on a space vehicle, and the setting is much more specific especially in your opening first sentence.

    Trilby’s character and inner thoughts are much better expressed and revealed n the second version….I can really feel the fear and  at the end the triumph. I did not get that as much in the first version.

    There is backstory in the first version, but it is difficult to follow who the enemies are and who are the good guys. Sorry wish I could have done this better.

     

    in reply to: HOOK ‘EM: LESSON SIX #43022
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    Linnea, Yikes, this was hard. Not really understanding SF makes this difficult. I’ve read over and over the two version so here goes.

    I do see a lack of specificity in your setting of the first version. I am not sure where Trilby is except on a ledge somewhere. The second version it seems clear she is on a space vehicle, and the setting is much more specific especially in your opening first sentence.

    Trilby’s character and inner thoughts are much better expressed and revealed n the second version….I can really feel the fear and  at the end the triumph. I did not get that as much in the first version.

    There is backstory in the first version, but it is difficult to follow who the enemies are and who are the good guys. Sorry wish I could have done this better.

     

    in reply to: Student: Ellen Gilman Homework Thread #42904
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    Ah-ha ….Remember: It’s not that your character isn’t allowed to think on your opening pages. It’s that when you replace action or masterful scene craft with the deep thoughts of a character we don’t really know yet, and whose conflict we’re not yet invested in, then you’re most likely dampening our enthusiasm to read on.
    .Makes me re-visit starting the book with a prologue of Daisy meeting Edward five years earlier. Maybe I can fit in when they meet (at their interviews for the law job) in a conversation as they drive to Houndsville. going to try that!
    another ah-ha Your opening pages might be in trouble if…

    #2) Your novel opens with White Room Syndrome.

    In other words, you may have succeeded at putting at least one character on the page, and maybe some sort of action, too, but you’ve forgotten to share any details about your setting.Anchor your reader in time and place in your manuscript’s opening pages—this is the number-one comment I make when I do critiques at conferences.

    I  definitely have a tendency to  fall into this trap.   I don’t like reading books where there is too much setting (I tend to skip through it) so I have fallen into the trap of not having setting play an important part in my own writing. I also find “setting” difficult to write.  I want to fit the setting in with the dialogue but sometimes it seems stuck in and not weaved in properly. I looked back over my opening but can’t figure out how to add setting details.

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by ellen.gilman.
    in reply to: Student: Kendra Frost Homework Thread #42903
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    Kendra, I just read your newest re-write. as you know I loved your opening before but now I can really see the difference. Everything is so much clearer and more inviting to a new reader of your genre. This class has been amazing…..and so much fun to see how the lessons and comments have impacted our openings and made them so much better. I vote that Linnea teach this same class again in a few months and we can all come back to see how everyone is progressing.

    in reply to: Student: Ellen Gilman Homework Thread #42883
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    Ana thanks for the edits. They were great! I used them, but I used a toolbox tool that Linnea taught me for changing the sentence where Daisy howled. I don’t remember what Linnea called it (I believe it had a name) but I had Daisy admit howling was childish because that’s how I saw the scene from her POV. She feels intimidated by her dad so she loses her composure and resorts to a childish behavior.

    Linnea did I solve the craft problem with my change.

    “I thought I might see you again today.” Her dad’s piercing dark eyes threatened her composure.His tightly folded arms across his chest didn’t help.

    She forced herself not to squirm and show weakness. A show of confidence was absolutely imperative while she waited for her dad to pounce.

    “Would you like to explain to me why after grooming you for five years you’re considering turning down lead lawyer for the B P group?”

    No point in trying to be tactful. She dropped the bombshell.“Mom fell and broke her wrist. She needs my help with the shop.”

    Her dad’s face darkened. She braced her hands on the armchair. “So that’s what is more important than accepting lead council for Braxton? I’m disappointed in you Daisy. It seems you don’t have the hard driving nature i thought you did.”

    She chewed her lip. She was not about to argue the point with a master litigator. She’d never win. “I’ll only be gone for about ten days. Braxton can do without me.”

    “Of course they can. They can deal with Sondra instead.”

    “Dad.” she howled instantly regretting her childish response, but no longer able to hold in her feelings.“You see red if I ever mention mom. You’ve been divorced for years. Get over it. if you were being honest with yourself you’d agree she’d never call and force me to choose between the two of you. She’s stuck.”

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by ellen.gilman.
    in reply to: Student: Ellen Gilman Homework Thread #42876
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    note to inmates.  I was excited to  discover there is a edit button across from the date of our entries. (at the top) I was able to get out all the extra words that this system auto. puts in.

     

    in reply to: Student: Ellen Gilman Homework Thread #42872
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    I added Daisy’s confrontation with her dad to the opening.

     

    Seven p.m. Go home or talk to her dad. Earlier in the day Daisy rung his assistant, MaryLouise, hoping to find out her dad’s plans. She was informed he had a dinner engagement at 8 leaving her the choice to confront him now or wait until at least tomorrow. She went with now. If she had to wait food and sleep would be measurably impacted.

    His outer office door was open. Mary Louise’s desk was cleared off so it was safe to assume she’d left for the day. His private office door was closed. She knocked.

    “Dad, it’s me can we talk?”

    His voice boomed out, “Come in.”

    She sucked in a deep breath and positioned herself gingerly in the chair across from his massive desk keeping open the option of a quick getaway.

    “I thought I might see you again today.” Her dad’s piercing dark eyes threatened her composure.His tightly folded arms across his chest didn’t help.

    She forced herself not to squirm and show weakness. A show of confidence was absolutely imperative. “Would you like to explain to me why after grooming you for five years you’re considering turning down lead lawyer for the B P group?”

    No point in trying to be tactful. She dropped the bombshell.“Mom fell and broke her wrist. She needs my help with the shop.”

    Her dad’s face darkened. She braced her hands on the armchair. “So that’s what is more important than accepting lead council for Braxton? I’m disappointed in you Daisy. It seems you don’t have the hard driving nature i thought you did.”

    She chewed her lip. She was not about to argue the point with a master litigator. She’d never win. “I’ll only be gone for about ten days. Braxton can do without me.”

    “Of course they can. They can deal with Sondra instead.”

    “Dad.” she howled no longer able to hold in her feelings. “You see red if I ever mention mom. You’ve been divorced for years. Get over it. if you were being honest with yourself you’d know she’d never call and put me in a position of choosing between the two of you but she’s stuck.”

    She rose out of the chair and splayed her hands across his desk making sure to glare at him. “I’m going home. Next decision is in your court counselor.”

    It was time to show her dad she was stronger than he thought. She flipped around, stood straight, held her head up and left.

    When she comes into the office  the next day there’s a note from her dad. He gives her some breathing room to go home. I have to think how to word the note to add some tension for her.

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by ellen.gilman.
    • This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by ellen.gilman.
    • This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by ellen.gilman.
    in reply to: Student: Kendra Frost Homework Thread #42857
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    I LOVED YOUR comments to Kendra. Rebecca…. Your comment about filling the boxes with old craft projects was brilliant. For me a small detail like that has a huge impact and makes great writing I LOVE IT! Your thoughts about the aunt were soooo spot on for me too. Wow!

    in reply to: Student: Kendra Frost Homework Thread #42856
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    I LOVED YOUR comments to Kendra. Rebecca…. Your comment about filling the boxes with old craft projects was brilliant. For me a small detail like that has a huge impact and makes great writing I LOVE IT! Your thoughts about the aunt were soooo spot on for me too. Wow!

    in reply to: Student: Ellen Gilman Homework Thread #42843
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    Thanks Ana! Sometimes I am more comfortable (I don’t know why) using the tags but your suggestions made it tighter so I made the changes. Thanks!!!

    I am waiting to see your re-write.

    in reply to: Student: Ellen Gilman Homework Thread #42838
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    Kendra. Thanks for the comments. Everyone’s comments have helped me get it to where I like the opening myself. Seems to always work like this for me. I definitely need  feedback and suggestions and ten re-writes to get where it seems right.

    As to the conversation with her dad I have a question. I am not sure if it should go well or not. I don’t want to paint her dad as a really bad person just one who is job driven so he reacts badly.Any thoughts? Right now I’m thinking her dad might  come to Houndsville to help Daisy out after the murder when her mom is one of the suspects. It might be that Daisy is one of the suspects too..not sure yet.

    in reply to: Student: Ellen Gilman Homework Thread #42827
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    Third re-write. I had to  figure out one of my misbeliefs and that meant changes needed to be made. Thanks if you get time to read this.

    “No way! Is that a pile of chocolate kisses on your desk?” Edward groaned as he stopped in mid-stride in the doorway to Daisy’s office. <span class=”Apple-converted-space”>  </span>“Yup, must be,” he said as he walked up to her, leaned across her desk and uncovered the silver bud stash she tried to hide from him.”Ummm, Hershey kisses at nine a.m. Something’s definitely wrong.”

    She might be totally uptight but Edward’s deep southern accent always caught Daisy by surprise and made her smile. Her best friend with his mussed longish dark hair never fit her image of a southern gentleman.

    <span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>“Yeah, well you were right my dad asked me to be lead council on the Braxton Pharmaceutical case.” She paused before blurting out, “I told him I wasn’t sure I could do the job.” Daisy forced a calmness into her voice she wasn’t feeling.

    You did what?” Edward said bolting upright. “You’ve been waiting for this chance to shine.”

    “Hold up.” Daisy stood up, walked around her desk and over to her door. “No way do I want this conversation overheard. She’d expected Edward would check in with her just not this early. Now she’d have to explain.

    She peeked out into the hallway to see if any inquiring minds were nearby and then shut her door. “Come sit with me,” she said as she grabbed Edward’s hands and pulled him over to one of the two armchairs placed around a small round coffee table.“Listen to me. I’ve got a good reason.” She took a deep breath before continuing, “My mom called. Last Thursday she slipped on the ice and broke her wrist outside her shop. She has the contract<span class=”Apple-converted-space”>  </span>to do the flowers for the Fur-Baby Gala. It’s a huge job and hard enough normally but with a broken wrist she’s asking me to come home and help her.”

    “So I’m betting you never told your dad about your mom,” he said staring into her eyes.“Well, you need to. Even though your parents have a contentious relationship you have to hope he’ll understand.”

    “I planned to. Honest I did. But he got a phone call and waved me out of his office.”

    <span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>Well, you have to talk to him. Daisy you’ve been working day and night to get to this point. Its your chance to prove you deserve the next partner position that comes up. Otherwise your nemesis Sondra will be vying for the Braxton<span class=”Apple-converted-space”>  </span>job and the partnership might be hers too.”

    “Yes, I know, but what if he frowns on me going home. I don’t have a choice. I have to help my mom. She never asks for help.”

    “Question for you? Why can’t your mom find someone in Houndsville to help her? What about your sister? And what do you know about flower arranging? I hate to say this but you never struck me as the creative type.”

    Daisy narrowed her eyes on Edward. “Sit right here.” She stood up, walked over to her desk and fished around in the top drawer until she found what she was searching for.Once she had the scissors in her hand she walked back and sat next to Edward.

    “Grab that flower arrangement on the credenza behind you and hand it over.”

    “Whatever for?” Edward asked even though he did what he was told.

    Daisy took the rather large silk flower arrangement from Edward and unceremoniously pulled all the flowers and greenery out of the crystal bowl placing everything on the table in front of them.

    What’s that green thingy for,” Edward asked pointing to the round green sphere with metal pins sticking up inside it still in the bottom of the bowl.

    “Believe it or not its called a Pin Frog.You stick the stems into the pins and it anchors the flowers in place.Watch me and try to learn something,”she said as she picked up about a half dozen blue hyacinths and some white daisies. “Several of these hyacinths are faded and some of the daisies could use their stems cut.”<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    Several of the hyacinths she threw in a nearby trash can, and she used her scissors to drastically cut the daisies’ stems. The fernlike greenery she didn’t touch.

    Edward sat transfixed as she took her time sticking the hyacinths stems into the Pin Frog at various heights and then did the same with the daisies.She finished it off by interspersing the greenery between the blooms. She did have to end up cutting a few pieces of the fernlike greenery. Done she held the finished arrangement up for viewing. “There. All done. Looks better huh?”

    “Okay, I take back what I said. How did you learn to do that? It looks like a different arrangement now.”

    “Duh? My mom owns a flower shop. But for your information she used to teach flower arranging to some members of a local garden club. My sister, Hyacinth, and I joined in the class. I learned a lot, not so much Hyacinth. She can’t arrange flowers worth a darn. That would be why my mom reached out to me to help rather than my sister.”

    “All right you proved your point but I still want to know why your mom can’t find someone in Houndsville to hire?”

    “She did hire someone, but she told me Betsy, the new hire, lied about her flower arranging ability, and she’s turned out to be belligerent to the customers. My mom jokingly told me if I didn’t get there soon she might kill Betsy. Daisy clenched her hands together in her lap struggling to spit out her feelings. “Don’t think I’m not afraid to leave. Afraid I’ll lose my edge here. But leaving here and going home is what I need to do.” She paused before murmuring, “Come with me?”<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    Edward gave her his endearing lop-sided smile as he reached across to Daisy and squeezed her hands in his.“Why darling are you trying to change the subject by proposing that we live together?”

    Stunned into silence, Daisy blinked, opened her mouth to reply, but nothing came out. Where had her request come from?

    “Okay, Edward grinned. “Seriously why would you want me to go?”

    Daisy shrugged.<span class=”Apple-converted-space”>  </span>It had been a spur of the moment decision. She remained silent.

    Edward picked up the slack.“Let’s say I’ll consider your offer. When are you leaving?”

    “At the end of the week. I plan to drive. It’ll take about seven hours.

    “Crap, you don’t give a guy much time to decide.”And you really think no one will know we went together?”

    “So let them think whatever. Houndsville, can be fun, and besides what are you going to do without me here?”

    “Okay, I have a feeling this is a huge mistake, but life without you here …well, that’s hard to imagine. Good thing I have vacation time coming, but no promises about how long I’ll stay.

    “You won’t regret it.” Was she sure about that?

    “Oh, one caveat.” he added. “You have to talk to your dad.”

    “All right. Will do.” She had a fews days to figure that out. At this point she could only hope he’d understand and might even keep the Braxton job open for her until till she<span class=”Apple-converted-space”>  </span>returned.

    Daisy’s eyes followed Edward as he left her office. His piercing blue eyes, killer smile, and teasing personalty drew many of the women in the firm to him. For a while now she knew their relationship was always a point of conversation. She could just imagine the gossip being bandied about when they both left at the same time.

    She hadn’t been totally up front with Edward. Going home would be a trial for her. She’d had few friends and was bullied in school. When the time came after high school to leave for college and eventually last school she couldn’t wait to leave. Edward might learn<span class=”Apple-converted-space”>  </span>she’d been the fat, ugly nerdy<span class=”Apple-converted-space”>  </span>kid who never much talked to anyone.<span class=”Apple-converted-space”>  </span>Would he still like her?<span class=”Apple-converted-space”>  </span>Her stomach rolled. Guess she’d find out.

    <b>Not sure if I will still include the last paragraph or save it for later in the plot.Inmates any thoughts?</b>

    The other thing was in<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span> the last several months she’d had pangs of<span class=”Apple-converted-space”>  </span>remorse for her choice of a career. The pace was so darn blistering. She never had time for friends or much of anything fun. But it all came to a head about three weeks ago.She attended a charity event where dogs needing foster homes were available to good homes.

    Soldier, a sable six year old collie captured her heart when he raised his paw to her. The forlorn look in his eyes nearly broke her. She turned her back on him. She had too. How could she be a good foster parent if she worked so many hours?

    She’d left the event right after that. She couldn’t stay any longer. Still Soldier’s eyes haunted her for days. A zillion times she’d picked up her phone wanting to see if he’d found a home but she stopped herself. Time to think and plan about her next move.

    in reply to: Student: Ellen Gilman Homework Thread #42820
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    Kathy….loved your comments….okay squawked is out…..wouldn’t want Edward to sound less attractive -:)

    About her looking terrible you give me food for thought….I like your idea of Edward hearing Sondra got the post….have to give that a try in a re-write.

    Now as to Daisy’s misbelief I tried the exercise suggested to us by the printout. I realized I was being lazy by not laying that out earlier since I used Lisa Cron’s book for guidance in my latest book. You are correct…no way to figure it out…but that’s okay because after doing the exercise I realized I want to do a re-write of my opening. One of Daisy’s misbeliefs ( she firmly believes that being independent and earning lots of money will assure her of getting what she wants in life) comes from watching her parents fight over money and leads to their divorce. With that in mind I have to consider whether she turns the head lawyer position down or not. Maybe she feels torn between what to tell her dad and going home to help her mom. Maybe he gives her an ultimatum or time limit to let him know her decision.  I’m thinking Daisy shouldn’t want to make a major career change  until much later in the storyline and use it as a major conflict rather than revealing that now. Back to the drawing board. I am going to try out your suggestions…so thanks. Glad everyone likes the flower part…like I wrote before it was too fun to write. Brought back memories of many years ago when I was in a garden club and they wanted the younger members to learn flower arranging so they had classes for us. I was terrible at it-:) Who has even heard of a garden club nowadays….shows my age!!!

    in reply to: Student: Kendra Frost Homework Thread #42815
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    Hi Kendra, As I said before I have never read your genre. I love what you wrote though, and it seems to me its perfect. I can’t think of anything I would change at this point.

    I got the “stuffies” right away but maybe that is because i was a major stuffed animal sleep in my bed kind of kid especially because I was never allowed to have a dog as a kid. I hope to read more…I’m intrigued!!!

    in reply to: Student: Ana Morgan Homework Thread #42809
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    Hi Ana, I love your premise, and I would definitely read your book.

    I have one issue with your re-write, and that is i don’t feel like I am in your MC’s head.I’m not sure I know how to explain, but  I will try to give you an example of what I mean. As she walks towards the building she describes the building’s color and her surroundings. She has been going there for years ( you tell the reader that) and so I don’t believe she would think of the building’s color the way you wrote it. Maybe you could just say something like the building’s drab color …described her mood…..grey. Or how even though she’s been going there for years she can’t get over that the building has never been painted. The same thing with the steel door….instead of describing the door could you tell me how she feels when she opens the door….its heavy maybe and she feels its meant to keep her out.

    Also what is she feeling as she walks towards the building….It’s been two weeks and last time when she left she felt depressed ..she’s hoping not to feel that way today. Will today be the day her dad might remember some detail about her mom? Build the tension for me. I want to feel her trepidation at being there. Make me wonder what she is here to find out.

    Same thing when she sees her dad she describes the cameras that track him. Instead of telling me the cameras are there can she just look up at them and frown or say something under her breath about them.  Tell me how does she feel about their intrusion.

    And when her dad starts to remember…..is she nervous at what she will find out. What does she do physically while he is telling her….bite her lip, wring her hands, walk back and forth. I need to feel what she is feeling. And when they are interrupted….her blood boiled…what else….did her stomach clinch in a knot….did her head hurt…..did she want to hit anyone….I want her to feel passionate about this…it is a revelation and now it is stopped in mid-stream by someone, and for me she hardly shows any reaction. And what is she going to do to persuade  someone to let her stay? Have they ever let her stay before. What did she do that time….I need to know. You have a great storyline …I would read this book for sure but I need to have more skin in the game to care about.

    Hope you find this helpful!

     

     

     

    in reply to: Student: Ellen Gilman Homework Thread #42802
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    Pepper, thanks so much for your analysis and comment about the flower arranging. That was the major change from the first draft due to (sorry I forgot who brought it up besides Linnea) another inmate’s comment that I needed to let my reader know whether Daisy knew how to arrange flowers. Plus I employed another tool….I realized it would be so much better to  “show not “tell” that Daisy knew flower arranging.  I had lots of fun writing that part so it was particularly rewarding that you liked that piece. As to your comment about Daisy and Edward being stuck in a small town that got me thinking….ummmm…might want to use that somehow.Thanks so much!!

    in reply to: Student: Ellen Gilman Homework Thread #42788
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    Gosh, I loved this email. So fun* you had me laughing) and informative. I am going to think how to use your example about Betsy in some way in my book….it is tooo good to waste!!!!

    Thanks Linnea, you really are not only a great teacher but you’re fun!!!!

    in reply to: Student: Ellen Gilman Homework Thread #42774
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    ) motivate some character to pay attention to anything you want your reader to notice.

    Yes, Linnea you have told me this many times , but this time  it sunk in in terms of backstory.  I took it to mean that I could have characters maybe sitting around talking and revealing backstory so that it doesn’t come out like a dump.

    in reply to: Student: Ellen Gilman Homework Thread #42758
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    Ah-ha  moment:

    This entire paragraph and list that follows, but it was number six in the list that I thought I could use best.

    “MOTIVATE your reader to WANT to know the past. That means: make the past important to him. Which is to say, make the facts to be presented important to your story, and to the PEOPLE in your story.  THEN set the facts forth in a manner that allows your characters to appear normal… Techniques which may help you achieve this worthy end include:

    1) cut to the bone the amount of information you give your reader

    2) break up the essential content —instead of shoving a half page of past history at me in a lump, like soggy, dripping laundry, maybe you could plant the husband’s name in one spot, his death in another, her penury in a third, and so on…

    3) make someone NEED the information… you motivate your reader when you set someone in search of NEEDED information.

    4) make that someone have to fight to learn what he needs to know.

    5) tie information to action.

    6) motivate some character to pay attention to anything you want your reader to notice.

    in reply to: Student: Ellen Gilman Homework Thread #42746
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    Note to all my inmates….I just started reading a new cozy from one of my favorite authors who I would love to emulate. So far I am on page 33 and there is only one minor mention that something might go wrong. This book is one of a series and this book is number 11 but this book has lots of set-up and backstory. I am going to follow her example and see how it goes.<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> I also tried to incorporate a lot of the suggestions I received. They were all good and at some point I know I will use them all so thank you inmates. You have been awesome!!!!</span>

    Here goes the re-write for Fur-Get Me, Fur-Get Me Not  Linnea, P.S. I paid attention to the punctuation and spelling. Hopefully I got it all correct.

    “Yikes, you look terrible. Don’t tell me your dad told you that you weren’t chosen to be the lead lawyer on the Braxton Pharamaceutical case?” Edward’s deep southern accent always caught Daisy by surprise and made her smile. Her best friend with his mussed longish dark hair never fit her image of a southern gentleman.

    “No, he did pick me, but I turned him down.” Daisy forced a calmness into her voice she wasn’t feeling. Of course she expected Edward would check in with her, but she hadn’t expected him this early. She thought she’d have time to rehearse her response, and now she was caught off guard. Never a good thing in her world. Being diplomatic with her word choices was definitely not her strong point.

    “You did what?” Edward squawked as he stopped in mid-stride in the doorway to Daisy’s office.<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    “Hold up.” Daisy stood up and walked around her desk to shut her door. “No way do I want this conversation overheard.”<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    She grabbed Edward’s hand and pulled him over to one of the two ladder back chairs placed around a small round table. She sat next to him and took his hand in hers.“Listen to me. I’ve got a good reason. My mom needs me. I’m going home.” Daisy didn’t bother telling him she’d been considering turning down her dad for several weeks.

    “Are you even thinking clearly? What did your dad say? He’s been grooming you to be a partner here. If you give up this chance someone else, namely Sondra, may grab the brass ring from you.”

    “Yes. you’re probably right. And maybe I’ve made a huge mistake.”

    “You think! So go back and talk to your dad. I’m guessing considering the relationship between your mom and dad you didn’t tell him you were going home.”

    Daisy cleared her throat. She took a deep breath stared directly into Edward’s eyes and blurted out,” By big mistake I mean…there’s got to be more to life than working twenty-four seven to get to be partner here.” Yup, nothing like spitting out the truth in a tactful way.<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    Daisy clenched her hands together in her lap struggling to spit out her feelings. “Don’t think I’m not scared. I am. But leaving here and going home might be what I need to do.” She paused before murmuring, “Come with me?”

    Edward grinned as he reached across to Daisy and squeezed her hands in his.“Why darling are you trying to change the subject by proposing that we live together?”

    <span class=”Apple-converted-space”>   </span>Stunned into silence, Daisy blinked, opened her mouth to reply, but nothing came out. Where had her request come from?

    Edward gave her one of his lop-sided smiles and took up the slack. “Okay. Let’s backtrack. Explain. Why does your mom need you so suddenly?”

    “Unfortunately she broke her wrist last Thursday on an icy patch outside her shop. Her shop always does the flowers for the annual Fur-Baby Gala. It’s her biggest job of the year. She needs help.”

    “Why not find someone in Houndsville to assist her? What do you know about flower arranging? I hate to say this but you never struck me as the creative type.”

    Daisy narrowed her eyes on Edward. “Sit right here.” She stood up, walked over to her desk and fished around in the top drawer until she found what she was searching for.<span class=”Apple-converted-space”>  </span>Once she had the scissors in her hand she walked back and sat next to Edward.

    “Grab that flower arrangement on the credenza behind you and hand it over.”

    “Whatever for?” Edward asked even though he did what he was told.<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    <span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>Daisy took the rather large silk flower arrangement from Edward and unceremoniously pulled all the flowers and greenery out of the crystal bowl placing everything on the table in front of them.<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    What’s that green thingy for,” Edward asked pointing to the round green sphere with metal pins sticking up inside it still in the bottom of the bowl.<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    “Believe it or not its called a Pin Frog.You stick the stems into the pins and it anchors the flowers in place.Watch me and try to learn something,”she said as she picked up about a half dozen blue hyacinths and some white daisies. “Several of these hyacinths are faded and some of the daisies could use their stems cut.” The<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> washed out </span>hyacinths she threw in a nearby trash can, and she used her scissors to drastically cut the daisies’ stems. The fernlike greenery she didn’t touch.<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    Edward sat transfixed as she took her time sticking the hyacinths stems into the Pin Frog at various heights and then did the same with the daisies.She finished it off by interspersing the greenery between the blooms.<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> She did have to end up cutting a few pieces of the fernlike greenery. Done she held the finished arrangement </span>up for viewing. “There. All done. Looks better huh?”

    “Okay, I take<span class=”Apple-converted-space”>  </span>back what I said. How did you learn to do that? It looks like a different arrangement now.”

    “Duh? My mom owns a flower shop. But for your information she used to teach flower arranging to some members of a local garden club. My sister, Hyacinth, and I joined in the class. I learned a lot, not so much Hyacinth. She can’t arrange flowers worth a darn. That would be why my mom reached out to me to help rather than my sister.”<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    “All right you proved your point but why can’t your mom find someone in Houndsville to hire?” <span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    “She did hire someone, but she told me Betsy, the new hire, lied about her flower arranging ability, and she’s turned out to be belligerent to the customers. My mom jokingly told me if I didn’t get there soon she might kill Betsy.

    “So let’s say I understand. Seriously why would you want me to go?”

    <span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>Daisy shrugged. She wasn’t sure herself why she had asked. And she had no good answers.It had been a spur of the moment decision. She remained silent.

    “Okay, so if I can’t persuade you to stay when are you leaving?”

    “At the end of the week. I plan to drive. It’ll take about seven hours.

    “Crap, you don’t give a guy much time to decide.”And you really think no one will know we went together?”

    “So let them think whatever. Houndsville, can be fun, and besides what are you going to do without me here?”<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    “Okay, I have a feeling this is a huge mistake, but life without you here …well, that’s hard to imagine. Good thing I have vacation time coming, but no promises about how long I’ll stay.”

    “You won’t regret it.” Was she sure about that?

    Daisy’s eyes followed Edward as he left her office. His piercing blue eyes, killer smile, and teasing personalty drew many of the women in the firm to him. For a while now she knew their relationship was always a point of conversation. She could just imagine the gossip<span class=”Apple-converted-space”>  </span>being bandied about when they both left at the same time.

    She hadn’t been totally up front with Edward. Lately, it always felt like her stomach was in one huge knot. It would be good to go home.

    In the last several months she’d had pangs of regret for her choice of a career. The pace was so darn blistering. She never had time for friends or much of anything fun. But it all came to a head about three weeks ago.She attended a charity event where dogs needing foster homes were available to good homes.<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    Soldier, a sable six year old collie captured her heart when he raised his paw to her. The forlorn look in his eyes nearly broke her. She turned her back on him. She had too. How could she be a good foster parent if she worked so many hours?<span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>

    She’d left the event right after that. She couldn’t stay any longer. Still Soldier’s eyes haunted her for days. A zillion times she’d picked up her phone wanting to see if he’d found a home but she stopped herself. Going home could be good. Time to think and plan.

    in reply to: Student: Ellen Gilman Homework Thread #42743
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    Cynthia thanks so much for your comments. I liked your suggestion about the flower arranging and see if you like my re-write.

    The other questions you have are all valid, but I am not sure how much of that I can get into the opening. Plus quite honestly I have JUST started this book so I have lots and lots to work out, and usually I change my mind many times before I get even close to a final draft.

    Thanks for your comment about the title…I like it too!!!

    in reply to: Student: Ana Morgan Homework Thread #42695
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    Wow! Lots of hooks…..when Ammi asked about gene markers, when she wondered if she could  save her dad? Would her mom’s body ever be found?

    trigger, set-up Ammi is obviously petrified that she has the gene marker for schizophrenia.

    Emotions…you had me on a roller coaster up and down I went. loved the suspense you built up.

    For me, everything about this opening was perfect. I definitely would love to read more.

     

    in reply to: Student: Kendra Frost Homework Thread #42692
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    Kendra,

    You had me fully engaged(hook) with the ferret. I had no idea what to expect when I started reading. This is my very first foray into Fantasy or Urban Fantasy, but you brought me right into the story.  Sometimes when you read a new genre it is confusing to understand….not here.I felt like I was sitting beside your character and watching her interactions with all her stuffies. (emotion shown is so raw and real) She seems to be conflicted and worried about what is going to happen to her.

    Inciting incident/ trip to cat sanctuary.  what changes will be coming once they get there?

    Set-up /trigger…appearance of a magical ferret.

     

     

    in reply to: Student: Ellen Gilman Homework Thread #42691
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    Wow! Kate and Kendra your comments are soooo helpful! You’ve both given me lots to think about. Kate I will have to give a lot of thought to your comment about genre expectations. I have a gut feeling your thoughts are on target, and I may need to change the opening and start it at the flower shop.

    I’m going to go back and analyze the cozies I like and see if any of them wait a bit for the murder to happen. My plan is to have Betsy murdered at the Fur-Baby Gala. By doing that I have lots of suspects, but the Gala is not for ten days.(certainly could be subject to change)

    Kendra you gave me a great plot idea that I need to explore. My plan was to have Daisy be one of the main suspects and her dad comes to help her out allowing her mom and dad’s relationship  to be a minor plot line, but now I am thinking her mom could be the major suspect (although then I obviously have  to find a solid reason for her to commit the murder) and Daisy as a lawyer can be helpful. Her dad can still appear.

    FYI Daisy and Edward Will Not get together in the storyline. Daisy will meet Grant (in the next chapter or so) Grant is a veterinarian and a character in my other stories.

    Okay, my plan is that this book is not part of a series but it definitely plays with with The Best Doggone Bakery and Fur-ever In Her Heart. In Fur-ever Betsy is a new breeder and she breeds a merle to another merle (a no-no) Cleo’s two puppies are born blind and deaf. She is afraid it will ruin new reputation if people find out and she is in the process of taking them to be euthanized (sadly this does happen) when my MC and her significant other save them. Of course she is hated by all my characters when they find out what she had planned to do. So now she will be murdered, but not because the that event. It will be something in her past that someone knows about and who has tracked her down in Houndsville.

    Your comments are making me re-consider my entire premise.(a very good thing)  Maybe I don’t want to write a cozy mystery after all. I have to take a hard look at the cozies I love to see if I can meet the genre expectations. If not I will disappoint readers.

    Thanks again sooo very much!!!

     

     

    in reply to: Student: Kathy Strobos Homework Thread #42665
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    Some of my favorite authors write in first person which reads just like deep third. I am reading one now that I love so I looked at his book more carefully. He also has lots of “I’s but it feels like less because  it seems to me he employs more dialogue from other characters to get past the “I”s, He also has some other tricks like starting a sentence with “often”or “since.” Here is where if I knew grammar better (Linnea would be saying ha-ha) I could tell you how he starts a sentence with a ….. but I can’t.

    in reply to: Student: Kathy Strobos Homework Thread #42666
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    Some of my favorite authors write in first person which reads just like deep third. I am reading one now that I love so I looked at his book more carefully. He also has lots of “I’s but it feels like less because  it seems to me he employs more dialogue from other characters to get past the “I”s, He also has some other tricks like starting a sentence with “often”or “since.” Here is where if I knew grammar better (Linnea would be saying ha-ha) I could tell you how he starts a sentence with a ….. but I can’t.

    in reply to: Student: Kathy Strobos Homework Thread #42664
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    Some of my favorite authors write in first person which reads just like deep third. I am reading one now that I love so I looked at his book more carefully. He also has lots of “I’s but it feels like less because  it seems to me he employs more dialogue from other characters to get past the “I”s, He also has some other tricks like starting a sentence with “often”or “since.” Here is where if I knew grammar better (Linnea would be saying ha-ha) I could tell you how he starts a sentence with a ….. but I can’t.

    in reply to: Student: Kathy Strobos Homework Thread #42657
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    Hi Kathy. I love your premise. Lots of fun stuff. Your inciting incident is not clear to me. To me the inciting incident is something that propels you forward and prevents you from going backwards (I hope I have that right)

    Trigger or hook for me is that Rory wants a fake girlfriend.

    I am not sure I get what is about to change for Penelope. Is she about to become the fake girlfriend? I am getting that she loves Rory and so she should look forward to being his fake girlfriend if she loves him. Am I missing something here?

    One other comment. I would like if you were deeper into Penelope’s head. I want to know more about what she is thinking when she is talking to Rory Also one other comment. You do something I do ( I try to watch myself) in that you start a lot of your sentences with “I”. I too struggle with that so I am not much help in knowing how to correct it….but I am betting our jailer may give you some great suggestions.-:)

     

    in reply to: Student: Ellen Gilman Homework Thread #42655
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    Kathy thanks so much for your comments. They answer some questions for me. I did initially have more about Daisy’s parents and their acrimonious divorce but then deleted it thinking I might have too much backstory for the opening. So I’ll add it back in. As to the mystery part I have no idea if I need to have that in the opening as I have never written one before, but I think you have a valid point. You made me think about it and  I can add a sentence or two when Daisy is telling Edward about her mom hiring Betsy. Daisy could say something like, Betsy is making my mom so mad I better get home before she murders her. Actually I think that might work good. So thanks for the great comments. Most helpful!!!!

    in reply to: Student: Cynthia Young Homework Thread #42654
    ellen.gilman
    Participant

    Hi! I enjoyed this opening setting with the photographer and her descriptions of the characters provided a clear picture in my mind. I am not clear on an inciting incident. There could be two….one for Bertha and one for Elizabeth. They both seem to have some change coming in their lives.

    Trigger/Hook Seems to be the development of the railroad and what changes it will bring in the lives of Elizabeth and Bertha and her kids.

    I am not sure you will like my suggestion but I would have Elizabeth be a lot more feisty in her comments. Here is a woman who wants to change the world…at least that is the feeling I got from your opening. For me she is just way to polite. I want her to stamp her feet and gesture with her hands and express umbrage at her assistant. I want her to express anger at the railroad magnate who is doing this to the people like Brenda. I want her  to show more compassion for Brenda and her kids. What is happening to them is a travesty….give me some passionate emotions here and I think your opening will soar.

     

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