Posts Tagged ‘Margaret Davis’

How Important is Dialogue in a Memoir or Novel?

January 1, 2011

I’m speaking as an editor/manuscript consultant. Whether you are writing fiction or narrative non-fiction, employing dialogue that not only represents each character’s personality but also gives clues  in an entertaining way will move your story forward.

How important is dialogue in a memoir or novel? Re-read your favorite story and study the author’s techniques.

When I’m not editing for my wonderful clients, I study dialogue in movies.
Since a script usually doesn’t offer narrative or internal monologue to supplement “words” the way a book does, dialogue (and how the lines are delivered) is an essential component in story-telling.  I love smart dialogue.

In the movie Woman Chases Man (1937), protagonist Virginia Travis, a starving architect (Miriam Hopkins) sees three portraits in the living room of B.J. Nolan (Charles Winninger).

Virginia:  (She sees a portrait of a little boy holding  Pilgram’s Progress)  “Who’s that?”

BJ:  “My son Kenneth.”

Virginia:  (She’s looking at the second portrait–a teenage boy holding the same book) “ Another son?”

BJ:  “Same one. Age sixteen.”

Virginia:  “Must be a slow reader.”

Virginia:   (She looks at third portrait–a young man in his cap and gown, holding diploma)  “I see he finished the book.”

BJ:  “Yeah, he has the checkbook now.”

Virginia:  “I had a checkbook once.”

The story is launched, with B. J. and Virginia scheming to get  Kenneth (Joel McCrae) to sign a check.  By the way, young Broderick Crawford’s portrayal of Hunk (friend of Virginia, disguising as B.J.’s butler) is hilarious.

Screen play by Joseph Anthony, Mannie Seff and David Hertz

Original story by Lynn Root and Frank Fenton

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In Cold Comfort Farm (1995) screenplay by Malcolm Bradbury, from the novel by Stella Gibbons (1930s), protagonist Flora Poste (recently orphaned) moves to the country to live with her relatives so that she can live on her modest 100 pounds a year and be a novelist.  Flora’s relations are odd in deed.  The mysterious matriarch, Flora’s Great Aunt Ada, doesn’t leave her room because she suffers from a terrifying memory of an event. As a girl, Ada had seen “something nasty in the wood shed” and now decades later she still has recurring nightmares.  Flora is the first person to ask Aunt Ada questions, which serves as the turning point in the story.  As it turns out, Aunt Ada doesn’t remember what she saw. But she won’t let go of her suffering (or let her family leave the farm either).

Toward the end of the story when a movie Czar Mr. Neck comes to the farm to take her grandson Seth to Hollywood . . . Great Aunt Ada comes running out of the house . . .
Great Aunt Ada : “I saw something nasty in the wood shed.”

Mr. Neck:  “Sure you did, but did they see you Baby?”

Coach Teresa here.  I emailed my friend Margaret Davis (author of Straight Down the Middle) to ask her if she has seen the movie and Margaret replied:
“My mother had a selection of novels in our house when I was growing up.  I was an avid reader, and I read, and reread, many of them over and over.  I knew Cold Comfort Farm by heart!  I also enjoyed Stella Gibbons’s book Nightingale Wood (also knew it by heart as a child!), and I know my own writing is definitely influenced by her.”

Happy New Year & New Writing Energy to Everyone!

Remember to employ dialogue that not only represents each character’s personality but also gives clues  in an entertaining way to move your story forward.

Sincerely,

Teresa LeYung Ryan

Manuscript Consultant / Writing Career Coach / Author / Publisher

Teresa loves to edit thrillers, mysteries, women’s novels, memoirs, children’s and young adult fiction with quirky or feisty protagonists.

http://WritingCoachTeresa.com

Make Every Word Count When Pitching to Agents or Acquisition Editors

February 28, 2010

“Make Every Word Count When Pitching to Agents or Acquisition Editors”
by Writing Career Coach Teresa

You have spent months, perhaps years, writing and rewriting your project/work.  And, you’ve decided to pursue either an agent (who earns his/her commission when he/she sells a client’s work to a publishing house) or an acquisition editor (whose job is to buy authors’ works for the publishing house he/she works for). Let’s say you’ve done your homework and have compiled a list of agents or acquisition editors who specialize in the kind of project (commodity) you wish to sell.

An agent or acquisition editor receives hundreds of pitches/query letters each week.  What can you do to catch these folks’ attention?  Use the right bait.  Make every word count.

Whether you’re pitching in person, over the telephone, through an E-Mail, or by old-fashion mail, keep this in mind—the pitch (bait) has three components:
•    who needs your project
•    the unique qualities about your commodity
•    why you are the perfect author for this work

Here are 4 examples:

Genre: Self Help / Relationship / Marriage

The 50% and 60% divorce rates, for first and second marriages respectively, are a wake-up call for the United States 55.2 million married couples.

Through my book, I empower couples to get the marriage they’ve always wanted.

The Marriage Meeting Program: 45 Minutes a Week to Guarantee the Long Term Relationship You’ve Always Wanted shows how to conduct a weekly meeting that increases intimacy, romance, teamwork, and smoother conflict resolution.

A proactive, preventive approach is crucial. Regardless of how good a relationship is, there is always a need to keep it on track and room for it to grow. The Marriage Meeting Program’s step-by-step approach makes it easy to conduct the meetings. Follow-up studies show a 20 to 80 percent increase in marital happiness for couples who implement the program.

I am Marcia Naomi Berger, a psychotherapist, writer, speaker, workshop leader, and instructor of a class for therapists and counselors at the University of California Berkeley Extension. http://www.marriagemaven.com

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Genre: Memoir

There are more than 38-million boom-generation women in this country.  Through my book, I show middle-aged women how to cope with family and social pressures while dealing with their own mortality issues.

My memoir, Oldham Street, is about my journey from east coast to west bearing the pain of a son in prison, the long slow death of my father, the end of my counseling career and a ten-year relationship.  I knocked on a lemon-colored door on a short block in San Francisco.  In the next twelve years, the woman who opened that door, along with the other quirky characters in the neighborhood, inadvertently joined me in a process that brought me home to myself and into a comfortable role as the matriarch of my tribe.

I am Lynn Scott:

  • author of A Joyful Encounter: My Mother, My Alzheimer Clients, and Me (a memoir about the abundance of spirit that I found among my Alzheimer clients).
  • contributor to eight anthologies of fiction, memoir, and poetry.
  • a guest on OPRAH and other talk shows trying to educate others about the mental disorder causing child molestation.

http://lynnscottbooks.com

http://lynnscott.wordpress.com

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Genre: Women’s Fiction

Recent survey data indicates that 22% of the 55,000,000+ married women admit to having an extramarital affair. STAYING AFLOAT is the story of one of these women –although she wouldn’t have admitted it if she hadn’t gotten caught.

Crystal Scott is a stable and stalwart, stay-at-home wife and mother, aiming only to run an efficient home, care for her children and avoid confrontation.  Whatever her private thoughts are, she keeps them to herself.  But when her husband loses his job and shows no signs of looking for another, fault lines in their marriage are exposed.  She’s forced to re-enter the workforce, and when her dazzling, dynamic boss takes a personal interest in her, she slips into territory that most women have fantasized about, even if they don’t want to admit it — she morphs into a sex-starved adulteress.

I am Judith Marshall, author of the award-winning novel, HUSBANDS MAY COME AND GO BUT FRIENDS ARE FOREVER. I’ve been writing for thirteen years and am a member of the California Writers Club and the Women’s National Book Association. In addition, I am the President of Human Resources Consulting Services and a member of the faculty of the Council on Education in Management, for whom I teach a number of public seminars on a variety of HR-relates topics. I’m currently working on my third novel, BITTER ACRES.
http://judithmarshall.net/

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Genre: Women’s Fiction / Humor

39%  of the 68 million women employed in the U.S. work in management, professional, and related occupations. Through my book Katie Carlisle, I show women how to hold onto their integrity, humor, and vision . . . in spite of having to fight sexism in the corporate world.

Katie Carlisle has been lucky enough to have a mentor (her boss) who has taken her to a point where her promotion is pretty well guaranteed.  Only then everything goes wrong.  Her beloved mentor leaves the company under a cloud; his successor is a man whom Katie hates and fears; and a downward spiral in her fortunes starts.  This is the story of a smart woman’s struggle to hold onto her integrity, humor and vision in spite of the tumult around her—and her eventual triumph.

I am Margaret Davis.  I have a doctorate from Stanford University in Sociology, with a specialization in the structure and behavior of formal organizations.  I have had two non-fiction books published in my field.  Katie Carlisle, a humorous spoof on everyday life in a large corporation, is a work of fiction.  Yet, as many of my readers have commented, “Everyone who has ever worked in a big company will relate to and love this book.”

I am also the author of Straight Down the Middle, a family drama involving a young mother’s efforts to do what is best for her child while trying to come to terms with her own sexuality.
http://margaretdavisbooks.com/

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Writing Career Coach Teresa will help you practice your pitch
at WNBA’s  “Meet the Agents, Editors, & Publishers”
on March 27, 2010   http://wnba-sfchapter.org

Teresa LeYung Ryan is:
*   Board member at WNBA-SF Chapter since 2004
*    Author with agent and NY publisher
*   Writing career coach
*    Past president of California Writers Club-SF Peninsula Branch
*    Library advocate

Writing Career Coach Teresa is the author of  Build Your Name, Beat the Game: Be Happily Published (a 22-day workbook for writers to build their names and attract attention and fans before and after publication).   http://WritingCoachTeresa.com

As a community spirit, Teresa LeYung Ryan uses her novel Love Made of Heart to:
• shed light on stigmas suffered by immigrant women, men, and children
• advocate understanding of mental illness/traumas to the mind
• help survivors of violence find their own voices through writing
www.LoveMadeOfHeart.com

Under the Weather Writing Career Coach

February 21, 2010

In spite of my being very careful not to shake hands and later rub my eyes, I caught a virus earlier in the week.  Turned out to be a pleasant week though, nursing the cold or flu, whatever it is.

Tuesday I went to my half-time day job and got all caught up with voicemail and email.
Wednesday I knew I had to stay home and not push myself.  So, this week I missed a memorial, a Chinese meal with my aunt & uncle to celebrate Lunar New Year, and the Women’s National Book Association event at Castro Valley Library.  However, I had a chance to “chat” with a pal in Australia on Yahoo; I’m not a speedy typist but that worked out fine.

It’s Sunday. Rain is lovely. Got up around 9:30am.  Prioritized my work for next week.

I’m drinking green tea, watching old  movies on YouTube and working as the writing-career-coach.

Colleagues and friends made my day:

Margaret Davis, author of Straight Down the Middle, with her email acknowledging receipt of the CD of photos (of her beautiful book launch) I created for her.

Mil Pribble emailed to tell me about Chinese in Mendocino County.  Mil said: “…a very well done mostly pictorial account, published last year by Arcadia Publishing,  (Available through The Temple of Quan Tai in Mendocino.)  It was assembled and written by Lorraine Hee-Chorley, a friend of mine who is the great grand-daughter of  John Song Lee, aka Joe Lee, who in the early 1850s organized a  flotilla of seven junks and attempted to cross the Pacific, intending to land at Monterey.”

Kate Farrell, author of Girl in the Mirror www.girlinthemirror.info and Workshop Leader www.wisdomhasavoice.com , says the Redwood Branch of California Writers Club http://www.calwriters.org/ has grown so big that they had to change meeting place to Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa in Santa Rosa, CA

Pal Olga offers her home to host a private party.

My hubby started a new job a month ago and he’s studying for a course, so, it’s not like I’m missing weekend outdoor fun.

So, I’m working (with Carole Lombard movies on YouTube as inspiration), pumping vitamin C, and resting.

Webpages getting my immediate attention:

http://www.americanshortfiction.org/

http://savingcinderella.ning.com/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/glenn-close/mental-illness-the-stigma_b_328591.html

It’s almost 4:00pm; time to rest a bit. Being under the weather is nothing to “sneeze” at.
Happy Writing!  Happy Name Building!

Writing Career Coach Teresa

Creator of  Build Your Name, Beat the Game: Be Happily Published (a
http://WritingCoachTeresa.com

As an author and a community member, I use my novel Love Made of Heart to:
• shed light on stigmas suffered by immigrant women, men, and children
• advocate understanding of mental illness/traumas to the mind
• help survivors of violence find their own voices through writing

http://lovemadeofheart.com/Love-Made-of-Heart-journey-of-an-adult-child-of-a-mentally-ill-parent.html

Writing Career Coach Teresa’s February 2010 Resolutions

February 1, 2010



Dear Mary Knippel  http://openuptoyourcreativity.com/,
Thank you for an empowering day (Saturday, January 30, 2010) at the Creativity Workshop for Women’s National Book Association.

I had a good time with the dozen fellow writers as you led us in “Decide, Declare, Design Your writing life for 2010!”

I’m a writing career coach who helps my clients build their names/platforms by identifying the themes in their books (pre and post publication).  I thought I would put all my energy in promoting my new workbook the first half of this year.   Not.  While creating my vision board at your workshop, the message [ that I need to continue using my novel Love Made of Heart to shed light on stigmas on mental illness ] appeared “loudly and clearly”  in words and pictures.   My new mission statement:  I, Teresa LeYung Ryan, use my novel to shed light on the secret agonies suffered by women with mental illness.
Thank you, Mary and WNBA colleagues!
Sincerely,
Teresa LeYung Ryan
a.k.a. Coach Teresa
Creator of Build Your Name, Beat the Game: Be Happily Published
http://WritingCoachTeresa.com

Coach Teresa here with my resolutions for February 2010:

  • Finish up January resolutions
  • Attend “Other Voices TV: Why Haiti collapsed – More than an earthquake” A conversation with Seth Donnelly and Walter Riley (Paul George as moderator) on Feb. 2nd at Community Media Center in Palo Alto  http://www.peaceandjustice.org/.
  • Meet with Kim McMillon playwright, first mentor; Elisa Southard http://breakthroughthenoise.com/ to rehearse for our session at San Francisco Writers Conference
  • Present at SFWC with Elisa Southard on Feb. 12, 2010 and help attendees at Ask-A-Pro and Book Doctor consultations on Feb. 12 & Feb. 13  http://sfwriters.org/;
  • Celebrate Chinese New Year 2010 with cousins;
  • Celebrate Plant the Seeds of Greatness Month;
  • Submit comments to blogs relating to women and mental illness.

Contact WNBA colleague Elizabeth Maynard Schaefer, author of Write Out of Depression (who was also at the Jan. 30th workshop) regarding creating a workshop together  http://writeoutofdepression.blogspot.com/

Friends Are Forever, Battle of the Sexes

January 5, 2010

Exciting news!  Novels written by Judith Marshall and Margaret Davis have ingredients for the big screen–quirky characters, unusual circumstances, satisfying endings.

Sociologist Margaret Davis (author of Straight Down the Middle) offers a fresh take on the battle of the sexes.  

“The battle of the sexes is over,” according to Maria Shriver in a Forbes Woman article (by Heidi Brown, October 16, 2009).  But does anyone really believe that?

Davis tackles the subject in a different way. Straight Down the Middle tells the tale of Diane who finds herself unwillingly pitched into such a battle.  Diane wants to have a baby, her long-time lover Cindy agrees, and they ask a neighbor Sam to father the child.  But after the baby boy is born, Diane finds herself in the middle of a heated tug-of-war between a strong-willed Sam who wants to maintain contact with his son, and an equally strong-willed  Cindy, who wants him gone.  Diane’s attempts to keep the peace lead to lies, intrigues and cover-ups galore—until finally, she is forced by circumstances to “get out of the middle” and search out her own needs and desires.

The book is “A fresh take on the battle of the sexes.  A smart, modern comedy with a deep heart,” says Author and Screenwriter Frank Baldwin.

http://margaretdavisbooks.com

Glamour Gal Judith Marshall (author of Husbands May Come and Go but Friends are Forever) celebrates fresh hopes, second chances, and the anything-but-simple art of relationships.

Husbands May Come and Go but Friends are Forever is set in a small town in Northern California, in the spring of 2000 when the dot-com boom was at its peak. The story centers around Elizabeth Reilly-Hayden, a successful executive in her late fifties and a divorced mother of two. Emotionally armored and living alone, she wants only to maintain the status quo: her long-term significant other, her job and her trusted friends— five feisty women who first met in high school. Yet in a matter of days, the three anchors that have kept her moored are ripped away. The group of lifelong pals gathers at Lake Tahoe to attend to the funeral arrangements of their beloved friend, and tries to unravel the mystery of her death. Through their shared tragedy, Liz learns how disappointment and grief can bloom into healing and hope.

“Judith Marshall has written a book that, once you start it, you will not want to put down, and once you finish it, you will want to read again. It makes you remember that there is nothing quite so important as good friends.”—D.W. Buffa, author of Breach of Trust and many other legal thrillers.

http://judithmarshall.net/

Margaret & Judith,

I’m thrilled for the two of you. When your novels become Hollywood movies, I won’t wait for the release of DVDs; I will go to the cineplexes.

Teresa LeYung Ryan