27 June 2013

Review: The Man in My Basement

The Man in My Basement
The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The author unravels a chilling story, revealing little by little the redemption of a white man. Not only does the story evolve, but so does the protagonist's outlook in life as well as the white man's physical attributes while his true identity is fully exposed.

The first half of the book is fast paced and rich with culture and it had a balanced feel with character development and relationship boundaries. I enjoyed the exchanges and dialogue. The reading experience was smooth and nothing jarred me from the immersion. I enjoyed this book extremely, finishing it in less than two days (wherever I could find the time to read).

However, I did find myself wanting to press through the third part of the book rather quickly and felt that it could have been tightened. I found myself skipping over some parts to get to the real deal, the ending, which was not what I had expected. It was a wonderful experience.

I would recommend this book with enthusiasm.

View all my reviews

23 June 2013

The Plot Clock by Jamie Morris

This year's TWA conference and book festival was the most beneficial one I've attended. One of the things I'm sharing with you today is the condensed version of The Plot Clock, a system developed by Ms. Jamie Morris.

First, here's a small graphic I created to show how these plot points look in relationship to one another. Each student in the mini class drew this by hand, but you don't want to see my scanned, handwritten version. You really don't. It is sad, really sad.

Note: The inner gray circle is just a reminder that any subplots within your main plot must also follow this circular path of THE PLOT CLOCK.

Act I (The Ordinary World)

Story Start

The story begins at the top of the plot clock and starts the protagonist on the journey while in the ordinary world. The character is developed and living in a world which is comfortable, safe, and familiar. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy is in Kansas, conflicted by her daily dealings with family and the evil Mrs. Gulch.

Inciting Incident

Something happens to the protagonist which calls upon them to act and leave behind the ordinary world. They may choose not to act right away; maybe they will question this step and not answer the call.

Either way, they are placed in a position to be aware of this dilemma. Dorothy locks herself in her room over the devastation of Mrs. Gulch taking Toto, a tornado whisks her away, leaving behind her family who had escaped into an underground shelter.

Binding Point

The protagonist is forced into leaving the ordinary world at which point they cannot return, at least not as the same person or via the same route. When Dorothy discovers she's in Oz, there's obviously no turning back. She must move forward to get back home.

Act II (The Special World)

The Special World

The special world will have a look and feel so different from the ordinary world. It should throw the protagonist out of her comfort zone. It's not safe and familiar, not like the ordinary world.

Many things will happen to your main character while in the special world (think of Dorothy meeting the Scarecrow, Tin man, and Cowardly Lion), but the most important things in Act II are exposing weaknesses.


Exposing weaknesses in your characters makes them more likable. Nobody wants to read about perfect characters. This is an opportunity to test your characters so that when they come back in Acts III and IV, the reader will know from where they came and cheer for them when the time comes.

Low Entry Point

This is when the main character enters the lowest point in the story. It's when they discover things are truly hopeless and life is over as they know it. When Dorothy is told by Oz that he cannot get her home, she is devastated and must return with the evil witch's broom.

In Top Gun, when Maverick's wing man is killed in a freak accident, it's like his whole world changed instantly. The internal change has begun for these characters.

Act III (The Special World continued)

Internal Change

The biggest struggle for the main character happens in this part of the story. They've been tested beyond anything they could ever have imagined. They are desperate. This happens to Maverick in the moment he is declared not responsible for his friend's death, but he still carries demons.

Low Exit Point

The character exits the low point. A story must create change in your character and this change is what gets your character climbing toward the turning point. Your main character will now have obstacles which expose their strengths.


Exposing strengths in your characters makes them worthy of success. You can't keep them wallowing in weaknesses. Here is where they've earned their right to be where they are. They're wiser, less fearful, and more heroic in the choices they make. It's what gets them to the Turning Point.

Act IV (The Special World continued)

Turning Point

There is hope for your protagonist! This might come in the form of an anti-climax or it may just continue on with obstacles. I've decided to use it a bit differently in Precinct 9. We'll see how that goes.

This is the part where Maverick has graduated from Top Gun. Things look to be turning for the better and he's come to grips with the death of his friend and the demons left behind of his father's legacy.

Final Battle

Your protagonist must fight the fight of all fights. This is the huge dogfight in the sky for Maverick. It's a big win for him, too. He finally stuck with his wing man and they pull off a successful air battle. Likewise, Dorothy escapes captivity with help from friends and melts the wicked witch.


Tie things together, explain things, show the happily ever after. In the romance novel, it's usually the man professing his love and explaining all the reasons why he'd been a complete oaf to her.

In Top Gun, it's when Maverick shows back up at the club where he'd met Charlie, the instructor. Someone plays the song he'd sung to her back then, "You've Lost That Loving Feeling". Dorothy is back in Kansas telling everyone about her dream and how they were all in it.

Do your stories follow The Plot Clock to some extent?

16 June 2013

The Ernest Hemingway Home

I'm surprised my husband even knew of Ernest Hemingway, so when he scheduled this trip as part of our anniversary agenda this year, it was a major shock for me! Really...Key West?! Key West was beautiful. Plus, he agreed to watch Key Largo, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, as we enjoyed our accommodations in Key Largo!

What I enjoyed most was Hemingway's work place. This is where he wrote 90% of his masterpieces...according to our guide. I would love to have this as my working environment.

This picture of the pool below is the one his second wife put in while he was on a nine month tour in Europe if I recall correctly (and if I didn't, who cares). The relevant part is that his wife had this pool installed at the expense of removing his beloved sparring grounds.

His second wife was also a fashionista! She removed all the ceiling fans in the entire house and replaced them with chandeliers like this one. It's made from blown glass.

I used to oil paint years ago, so this was a photo I had to capture. :)  

Sorry I didn't get a closer photo of Hemingway's bookshelf. It was in the stairwell and I was holding up the line of folks behind me! But it was still an awesome collection.

The chandelier over the master bedroom. Sexy! Actually, he was a big guy, so he invented the first king sized bed by placing two twin beds together and framing them up. His wife found the headboard in Europe. It's a gate piece.

The bathroom adjoining the master bedroom is gorgeous! This is a view of the vanity. I love this type of stuff. How inspiring!

It makes me feel good to know that Hemingway was an avid fisherman and hunter. I love it that writers are inspired, but I love it more to know they lived on the land and enjoyed nature as well.

Young Hemingway! How cute was he? It's hard to believe he suffered from bi polar disorder. Who would think such a talent could commit suicide. His entire family was stricken with depression. It's sad to me. He was such a great talent.

I remembered his granddaughter when she played in the movie "Lipstick". Her and her baby sister starred in it. I never knew they were related to Ernest Hemingway until years later. Posing with some of the descendants of Snowball!

I enjoyed my stay in this fabulous home. The 44 cats are all hand bred and descendants of Snowball, the first inhabitant feline of the family. I learned so much about this man, I have a better appreciation for my love of writing. I will never give up the art of making my thoughts visible, no matter what form. 

Thanks for reading what I share and I'm so happy to return home to my family and friends!

13 June 2013

On Vacation in the Keys

We will soon be returning from our vacation in the Keys. It was in celebration of our 26th wedding anniversary. A great time it was too, and I’ll have pictures to share this weekend. Miss you all out there in the Blog-o-sphere!

See you real soon. A teaser for all my writer friends out there: we visited Ernest Hemingway’s home.

04 June 2013

Increase Your Enthusiasm For Writing

There were five of ten shared points I took away from my attendance at the TWA Writers Conference last month. These points have something in common. They keep me enthusiastic about writing; therefore, I'm sharing them with you!

1. Learn something new

Why does this increase your enthusiasm to write? Because, when we learn new things it boosts our confidence and that is something we need as writers in order to allow our creativity to explode onto the screen.

When I was learning Photoshop, I wanted to share my experience, and I did. Likewise, my first digital photos made it into a blog post as well via an embedded sideshow (something else new to me, but I did it and shared it).

2. Make an outline

I never believed this would ever help me, so I never created one, though I kept petering out on every novel I started. I'd get really excited about this story in my head and before I could even pound out a beginning, I'd lost interest. I didn't know where to go when I reached chapter 5. I now have two books with exactly 5 chapters, each sitting in an electronic bookshelf somewhere on my computer. But, now I have an outline, so we'll see if it helps, or if I might just be a lazy procrastinator.

3. Set goals for yourself

Whether it's an hour or 500 words, you must have a daily goal for your writing progress. If not a daily goal, you should at least have a weekly one. I'm one to be the cheerleader for goal setting, right? Here are a few things available to choose from, and I've done them all. The ten minute stream of consciousness is the most fun.

  • Stream of consciousness writing (at least 10 minutes non-stop, even if writing non-sense like, "This is stupid, so so so so stupid I can't think of anything to write, oh and you can't spell check or worry about grammar, just WRITE! Can you tell I'm having fun?")
  • Word count goal (500, 1000, 2500)
  • Chapter per day/week
  • Blog post per week
  • Daily journal entry

4. Understand your audience

Whether you're writing erotica (*cough* gamers of text based RPGs), YA fiction, or horror, you should know your audience. Not everyone is going to love what you write, but if you know your audience, then you know what they love and you can bring it. I'm a Stephen King fan because he's not shy describing gross things like a half naked woman handcuffed to her bed while a stray dog gnaws at her dead husband's scalp as he lays lifeless on the floor because he had a heart attack in the middle of an S&M session with his wife. [deep breath] Moving along.

5. Reach out for support

Nothing will get you more enthusiastic about writing than reaching out to other writers and sharing your struggles. Believe me! I've been struggling for years, but I'd never be as far as I am if I'd not joined the Tallahassee Writers Association or the Florida Writers Association and met some really awesome writers, authors, editors, and publishers. We are all in the business of loving what we do, so why not share?

How do you keep your enthusiasm to write kicking along at maximum speed? Share your ideas.

Contact Diane


Email *

Message *