Go With the Flow – A Poem

Air is free,
Freedom to breath,
Breathing to live,
Living decided,
Decision to think,
Thinking for better,
Best way is sure,
Surety sealed,
Seal for strength,
Strong in unity,
United to act,
Action of truth,
Truthful is clear,
Clarity simple,
Simplicity weightless,
Weighed without pain,
Painful to no one,
Oneness not lonely.


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The Power of Slash -Life of a NaNoWriMo Novel

“Kill Words” by Clare Graith – first paragraphs:

I can’t go home. That much I know. I’ll just stay in my car at the Walmart parking lot. If I could just get the phone package open. My hands are shaking. What did he say? “Hang up and go buy a burner phone then call me back.” His words go through my mind over and over. I love his voice. It matches the tone of his blog posts. Strong but approachable. I must be crazy. He only spoke one sentence and then click. Did I make that up?

I resort to using my car key to rip a hole in the package. The phone slides out. As soon as I have it on and the screen lights up, my heart pounds even faster. I need to calm down. I’m not doing anything wrong. I look around half excepting a police officer to come by come and tell me to step out of the car as though using a disposable phone is a crime. I’ve got to get it together. Seriously, all this could be a game; “let’s see what Maisey will do”. Wait, not Maisey, Maeve. I have to remember my blog name. I’ll play along for now. I make the call.

            He picks up at the first ring. “Hi Maeve. Sorry about this.”

            “What’s going on Tyler?” I surprise myself with a demanding tone. But that’s right Maeve would be that way. “Why can’t we talk on our regular phones?”

            “The people I work for. I think they’re monitoring my phone and my email.”

            “But you work for the library, right?”

            “The library is my cover job.”



The new beginning was created by chopping the entire first three chapters, picking the story up right before Maisey’s life spirals out of control. The previous beginnings are below. I think its getting better. Who wants to bet that I’ll have another post with further revisions? Anyone want to see more?

I hope sharing the progression of the beginning of my novel, gives someone out there the courage to try slashing. It can transform the beginning from “meh” to “yeah”.

Write On! Slash on! Be free from the page already written!

Read about Tyler’s backstory at EnTyleryWords.com

The previous Beginning read like this:


Lying on my bed, staring up at the swirly pattern on the ceiling of my childhood room, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need a blog. I need a place where I can be me, not the me that everyone thinks I am. The me I know I am. I’ll be called Maeve. That’s a good, solid sounding name. Better than Maisey. Not that Maisey is a bad name, it’s just that it’s grandma Gertie’s middle name and Grandma Gertie was incredible. Widowed with ten kids at thirty, she built a business making children’s cloths. What am I building? Not even immunity, I catch a cold every other month chasing after kids as a teacher’s aide.

This kind of thinking is what happens on fall break. Give me some time and I see my life for what it is. I see clearly, I’ve bought into the lie that working hard, getting a degree with high honors means I’m destined for success. My mother was a five-time winner of the Midwest teacher of the Year award. Yet what kind of job do I land? One that does not even require a college degree; ‘preferred but not required’ to be exact.

A blog will not solve all my problems, but it won’t add to them.

This was the version before:

I’m named after my grandmother, Gertrude Maisey Warner. But I don’t have her first name, I’m called Maisey. The truth is even when I was born my parents could tell I would not fill Grandma Gerty’s shoes. She married at eighteen, lost her husband at thirty and raised ten kids by sewing children’s clothes, eventually creating her own brand. Each of her children grew up with the same penchant for success. My uncle Bill is a neurosurgeon and pioneered a technique for treating a rare brain tumor. Uncle Jack is dean of mathematics at the university. Aunt Becca is co-founder of a medical device company. My own mother not only won ‘teacher of the year’ five years in a row for the Midwest region, but she started a non-profit to combat illiteracy in the inner city. Now it was the next generation’s turn to carry on the legacy unless I break the trend.

ORIGINAL First Draft Beginning:

I’m named after my grandmother Gertrude Maisey Warner, the revered matriarch of the family. They called her Gerty, but I’m called Maisey. I guess my parents could tell even then that I would not be able to fill her shoes. She married at eighteen and had ten kids all of them growing up to be upstanding citizens. My uncle Bill is a neurosurgeon, uncle Jack head of mathematics at the university, my aunt Becca a CEO of a medical device company. My own mother not only won ‘teacher of the year’ five years in a row for the Midwest region, but she started a non-profit to combat illiteracy in the inner-city.

Pages the Book Worm is Eating

Books I’m Reading – February

In this post, I’ll share the books I’m currently reading. My love for writing is in tandem with my love for reading. Both have followed me through life as faithful friends. I personally would not want to be without either of them. It’s been a while since I’ve opened a book and not put it down until I finished it. I can’t afford the consequences of a reading hangover and (a big ‘and’), when I come upon a good book, I want it to last because I’m always afraid, I won’t find another one. What a crazy fear when there are so many good writers out there!

The books I’m in the process of reading are both physical books, digital print and audio; fiction and non-fiction, old and new. Here they are:

  • West With Giraffes, By Lynda Rutledge ; Historical Fiction- set in Depression Era / Dust Bowl America, it follows the story of an orphaned teenager and giraffes making an epic, historical trek across the country. This is a strong character driven novel. Really, the characters could be in any story and they would be interesting.
  • The Myth of the Nice Girl, By Fran Hauser; Non-fiction about being a strong, woman leader while being true to the nice girl non-aggressive, non-confrontational nature. I need to read more of this. I’m not sure I haven’t left the nice girl behind already but I really want to get her back!
  • Enclave, By Thomas Locke; fiction. I started reading this when I was looking for market comparables for another WIP. It’s speculative, suspenseful, sci-fi ish.
  • The Fire-Dwellers, By Margaret Laurence; fiction from 1969. In this book Margaret writes in a stream of consciousness, flow between thoughts, dialogue (without quotes!) and flash backs. It’s a wild ride and raw with realism. I can’t wait to get to the end and see how it all comes together to a conclusion.
  • In the Shadow of the Valley, Bobi Conn; Memoir. Bobi tells her life story growing up in Appalachia in a household of abuse and harsh realities. I’m so moved that she would share the thoughts, pains and triumphs of her life. I know her story is repeated across the country, probably the world,in fragments that mirror her experiences. Those connecting points, told as non-fiction are cathartic and riveting like fiction can never be.
  • I’ve Got Your Number, By Sophie Kinsella; Fiction, audio-book. Sophie’s story structure is impeccable, somewhat predictable but thoroughly entertaining. She’s funny, funny, funny. When a book makes me laugh out loud (and almost drive off the road….just kidding), I can’t put a price on that, it’s priceless. Her books are perfect in audio as the reader has an English accent which enhance the humor. Some things just don’t sound funny without the English touch.

I have a few other books either with first pages read, purchased and waiting or I’m eagerly watching for the next one in a series. But there you have it, my current actively reading, list.

Read on! Write on!


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Disintegrated Whole – A Poem

I am scattered about,

with the cat’s toys, the dirty laundry,

the crumbs on the countertops and under the table,

In the midst of halfhearted kisses,

Between unfinished sentences,

Thoughts interrupted,

Abandoned to ‘whatever’.

In puzzle pieces,

of not all the same picture,

The veterinarian,

The farmer’s wife with lots of kids,

And animals, a horse maybe, chickens.

The surgeon since dissecting animals in lab was second nature,

The missionary to inner-city kids,

Speaking out what “Jesus loves you” really means,

A recluse living in a woodland tiny house with a garden and solar power.

I am in pieces,

divided up among real life.


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Writing Tips From the “Funnies”

Writing advice is free all around us but there’s no place more fun to get it than the Comics. What a challenge comic strip writers have: tell a story, make it funny and often times also impactful, all in three to five frames. There’s a lot to learn but not just tight story structure.

Take the message in a recent cartoon called “Zits”by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman about sixteen year old teenager Jeremy. His mom asks how his day was and he says, “It started. It ended.” Mom of course wants more and asks for the missing ‘middle’. He tells that part is in ‘on a need’ to know basis.

It’s easy to know where a new novel is going to start, and even we Pansters usually have some general idea of how it will end, but the middle is the stuff that makes or breaks it.

Between “it began” and “it ended” what would Jeremy’s mom really want to know? How he walked to school, opened his locker got out his history book, math book and a beat up pad of paper and then dropped his one and only pen, chased it down the hall, and barely made it to home room where he had to listen to ten minutes of announcements including that chocolate milk will no longer be served in the cafeteria? Would she care to know that Mr Perkins wore a striped shirt again and Joe McGinnis called him a clown to his face and got detention or that the he got spearmint gum stuck on the bottom of his sneaker? No she would not.

The description of his day could be told with literary prowess, amazing accuracy, the best writing ever and still be duller than a tax form. What mom might have wanted to know was that he asked Suzy out and now has a girlfriend. Or that an enormous crack appeared in the gym floor and some kids fell into it. Anything but the well, defined mundane happenings of the day.

Point being, make sure the middle of your story is not bulked up with a lot of great scenes that no one cares about.

There’s another gem hidden in this cartoon. The idea of dispensing information little by little on a ‘need to know’ basis. Mom might need to know there would be no gym for a few months or the school would be shut down for repairs, but she doesn’t need to know about Suzy until it’s prom time and he has to rent a tucks (or a limo).

This is a hard one. I often find myself getting caught in the trap of laying down a framework to build my story on. A critique partner recently hinted at this, pointing out how I had a lot of background information but that she likes to give out only a little explanation and then let the questions and gaps lead the reader to find out more.

It’s good advice. I put that into practice with the newest round of revisions. It’s amazing what a story can do without once you start chopping!

To tie it all up, two simple pieces of writing advice – make sure what’s in the middle is what ‘mom’ would really want to know and don’t give her all the news at once.

Write on and write well!

Daily Quips and Tips – Facebook Page

Hello loyal blog followers and post likers, have you wanted to know the status of my NaNoWriMo 2020 novel?

Do you miss me on days there is no post?

Of course you do! (play along okay?)

Well, I’ve got the answer for that! Click on the Facebook Icon and start following my Facebook Page.

You’ll find regular updates (not actually promising ‘daily’ but…), random thoughts and links to EnTylerywords.com posts too. Sounds like fun no? It’s all free!!!

Help me build my fan base, and I do promise to bring you along and give you sneak peaks to WIPs and if that doesn’t get you, wait, I’ll throw in great recipes for healthy snacks and treats (or point you to some great blogs that will feed you well).

Yes, this is a bit of a joke, except that I’m giving Facebook Page a try and would really like to know what you think. I’m still learning so if you have any tips, please share…on Facebook! Click the link below or on the Icon in the blog header.

Thanks in advance!

https://www.facebook.com/clare.graith.5

Valentines Day Blah Blah Blah

It’s Valentine’s Day, love is in the air. No, it’s not. It’s the same old air as every other day, right?
Real love is not nearly as glamorous (or should it be amorous?) as the romance in novels. But who doesn’t like a love story? Not just those tales that are intended to be romantic, but all the rest with sweet, subtle love themes through the action, fear and swashbuckling adventure. Those with the undercurrent storyline of a character discovering, “he’s the one” or “she’s the one”:
“Who understands me,
Who speaks the same spirit language,
Who bends when I bend,
And holds when I stand firm. Whose eyes I can get lost in.”

I love it every time I’m drawn into a love story. But that’s not the way it goes, Sunday through Saturday when I put the book down. Maybe I’ve got it wrong. Could be. What I know does not stand up to the day starting with “V” but it does stand, every day, year after year. This is how it goes:

Facing good, bad, ugly with at least a tenuous connection maybe just our fingertips, sometimes kicking and screaming, grumbling, holding back unutterable words, sometimes speaking volumes with no voice at all.

Growing in different directions like brambles with no sense of order all prickly and sharp then in a split second, walking parallel and finding the fiery communion that burns away thorns.

Living in seamless syncopation today, then the next, two beings from different planets (no exaggeration) with the only thing in common, love for the kids and the cat.

It is rarely sweet, rarely profound, rarely effortless, but on those days when it is, I hear my heart say, “breath deeply, this is oxygen and it gives you life.”

Storm Weaver- 5

Maggie cat has stolen my prize,

She swats it across the floor.

With each swipe of her paw,

I hear the rattle of a pebble,

skipping across the tiles.

She plays with my treasure.

I don’t even know what it means.

“Shoo,” I say. But Maggie pays me no mind.

She’s carrying the bag in her mouth,

And drops it like it’s a dead mouse,

the bag empty.

I get on my knees.

with a flash light,

my hand chase dust bunnies,

reaching under the antique armoire,

I gather them.

There’s one missing,

The brown one,

And the cat smiles.

Follow the Leader – Exploring Character Types

What you are speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have you been there? There’s a sign in the conference room (remember those?)that says when a meeting is over all chairs should be pushed in and clean the wipe board.
Your boss finishes a meeting, you start to tidy up and he says, ‘leave it, we have the planning meeting to get to’. What just happened?
A kid watches his father take two free samples of buffalo flavored peanuts, when the sign says, “one per family”. The star athlete, the star dancer, the star drummer, the star brainiac, the star, starts a conversation with, “did you see what that girl was wearing?”
What is going on here? Someone down the line is faced with a choice. Will that employee heed the boss’ instructions to not make the effort to put the room in order? The boss said it’s okay, isn’t that enough? My dad is a good guy, if he says it’s no big deal to swipe two samples then it must be okay right? If my idol at school makes fun of the quirky kid, then I should laugh right?
When leaders take the easy way, make excuses, they give license to all those below them. They confuse those who know the behavior is incongruent with the authority they represent. But how far does that license go? Only as far as the next person allows, chooses, hiding behind the fault of one higher and disclaiming their own choice in their shadow. Or, they prove themselves to be the true leader. The one who faces each crossroad without looking up but looking side to side. How will my actions impact those next to me, with me, far up the road from me.
Explore that thought when developing your characters. A character can be the one who stands out, does it right, or the one who doesn’t and learns later the consequences and is inspired to change (this happens at least once to every parent) or goes on blithely unconcerned.