Friday, December 24, 2010

on hiatus...

Going to the Holy Land Dec 17-Jan 10, but will take along my iPad with wireless keyboard to keep writing. Got to prepare for novel-writing workshop Jan 22/23!

tap tap tap...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Auburn deck poem

Our Gal Gaia

The earth rolls

to meet the sun,

she rolls over

to greet him.

Always to her side

in the morning,

she rolls over.



Monday, December 13, 2010

night scene at Lodi College

Got a bit done in this end-of-semester crush of reading student papers/stories:

The journalism classroom was set up as a sort of city room, individual desks topped with Dell computers to simulate the setting of a real newspaper for the student staff writers.

Bob Dotters, chief editor of The Light, had asked Hilary about plagiarism, a simple technical question that shut her up for a long 30 seconds. Would it never fade away? After ten years, the fear of getting found out still nailed her to the cross of the secret, punctured the center points in her palms, polished the floor of fear in her belly, and charged her feet with a quicksilver itch to run.

Even when she googled her old name, nothing popped up. The Colombia folks had been merciful out of deference to her father and let her drop from the program rather than be kicked out. Bless them.

Later that night Hilary walked the dimly lit corridor with the student writers, away from the newspaper office after they put the paper to bed, out to their cars. The odor of wet leaves left too long on concrete testified to the preference of the night maintenance workers to sit indoors drinking coffee instead of sweeping the maze of campus walkways with their push brooms.

She had parked in the faculty lot and not the student lot, so she veered to the left and hurried to her bright pink Cadillac this chilly fall night in early October a couple weeks before Halloween.

Looking across the lot towards the huge new PriceCuts, right next door to the college, she was grateful for their halogen lamps, not set up for her but rather to make their customers forget time, like a casino having no clocks and lit up 24/7. That was the only thing good about the massive new retail outlet, just opened a year ago in the fall of 2004, in time for Christmas shopping. One by one small businesses had folded just as predicted, the latest being Hubbard Hardware.

This week, the students were running an article about how friendly PriceCuts was as a neighbor to the college, letting them park in the lot. Hilary kept walking to the left and the editors to the right as they moved off campus. The students ducked across a dimly lit strip of grass separating the school's parking lot from PriceCuts'. Hilary could hear sputters of starting engines of the old clunker belonging to Bob Dotters.

She tried to keep an open mind, the way she advised her students, but she really felt for the local shop owners, getting squeezed out by the big-box retailer, even if they so far kept to the edge of the Lodi, out in the rural area, where land was cheaper. Customers did not seem to mind driving out there, the prices were so good and many of them were house poor from paying nearly a half-million for a house in the new tracts springing up like mushrooms after rain.

There were lots of cars in the PriceCuts lot, Hilary noticed, even around on the side near campus. The place stayed open until midnight, a wonder it wasn't open 24/7.

She was excited that Jacki Jones was coming to town in a few weeks to open her line of home furnishing in PriceCuts. The students were lined up to do an advance story on Jackis business holdings. Hilary just didn't want the story to get too big.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

shaping up Hilary

This morning wrote 604 words of a community college setting for Hilary to be teaching journalism in as backstory for her work as a reporter about to go interview PriceCuts HR manager about Jacki Jones, the glamorous homemaker's design maven, coming to the Lodi PriceCuts to launch her new furniture line in the fall of 2005.

Also, last week wrote her deep secret plagiarizing incident while a student at the Colombia School of Journalism.

onward! got to get this final version of House of Cuts done by end of March, 2011!!!!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

fall leaves

Leaves falling now brought to mind this old poem:


I carry

Your book

From the library shelf

Anne Sexton

And walk down the aisle

Gripped by your line-drawn eyes


Through cellophane covering

Your Awful Rowing Towards God.

A shudder folds up my belly,

Gooseflesh dances my boundaries.

I am about to receive

Your presence—

These paper leaves

Ironed and inked,

Transformed from those we raked

Into outlined houses

Over the dead grass

Of childhood’s fall.


June Eleanor Skalisky Kimmel Comarsh (Gillam)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

interviewing new protagonist

Preparing to delve deeper into new protagonist for House of Cuts, Hilary Broom, a late-20s flaming red-headed reporter for the Lodi news. We are sitting down at The Omlet House in Lodi, California, Oct. 15, 2005, just before the killings start in at the new PriceCuts in Lodi.

Here are my interview questions to make Hilary more "real" for my readers and me:

Character Questionnaire 2

This questionnaire was invented by the noted French author Marcel Proust. These questions are frequently used in interviews so you may want to pretend you’re interviewing your characters.

  • What do you consider your greatest achievement?

  • What is your idea of perfect happiness?

  • What is your current state of mind?

  • What is your favorite occupation?

  • What is your most treasured possession?

  • What or who is the greatest love of your life?

  • What is your favorite journey?

  • What is your most marked characteristic?

  • When and where were you the happiest?

  • What is it that you most dislike?

  • What is your greatest fear?

  • What is your greatest extravagance?

  • Which living person do you most despise?

  • What is your greatest regret?

  • Which talent would you most like to have?

  • Where would you like to live?

  • What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

  • What is the quality you most like in a man?

  • What is the quality you most like in a woman?

  • What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

  • What is the trait you most deplore in others?

  • What do you most value in your friends?

  • Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

  • Whose are your heroes in real life?

  • Which living person do you most admire?

  • What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

  • On what occasions do you lie?

  • Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

  • If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

  • What are your favorite names?

  • How would you like to die?

  • If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?

  • What is your motto?


questionnaire from

the #2 one said to have been used by Proust

Friday, October 29, 2010

one become two

Just finished dividing up the 19 chapters of House of Cuts--still 19 chapters for it and now have 15 chapters of the new Amy's Mother, was the working title for her story, but will actually be the Cup of Stone novel that I started long time ago!

What a mystery this writing is--obsession, really, a calling for sure.

Now need to write a new Plot Point Chart for House of Cuts--will work to get it finished first. Love the charts from Writer's Digest, Dec. 2006 "All Mapped Out," Daniel Steven, Dec, p. 46. You can go to this web page to order back issues--would be worth it to get these plot templates, in my view.

Write hard, die free.

Monday, October 25, 2010

knife in the heart

At the Moke Hill novel workshop, Lucy and Toni convinced me of what Verna had noted last spring. I have two novels in House of Cuts, not one. For years I've been trying to weave these two stories together and even though I got it to work for me, it didn't for most readers, except darling sister Jacki. Goes to show the best critics may not be your family!

I guess this is the jarring time you hear about when you have to toss out that first awful novel and start the next one. So, I'm going through all 19 chapters and slicing out the parts that belong to a literary novel, Amy's Mother for lack of a better title for now.

Then rewriting House of Cuts as a suspense thriller with edges of wacky humor.

A couple lines from a Mary Mackey poem pop into my mind, not sure of the punctuation, sorry:

Out of the one, two
Out of the still point, the multitude

Yikes and double yikes!!!!! Sigh, sit in the chair, and just keep going. Driven by some kind of mystery.

Friday, October 22, 2010


What makes a character "real" to you? This is our Eng 44B next question to create an action plan around. What do you think makes a character real?

Getting my 20 pages of House of Cuts all polished to take up to the Novel Writing Workshop this weekend. Have to make 8 copies for this in-depth event in a small group, meeting in a Victorian home (painted orange and green--how's that for near Halloween?). You read your work aloud while others follow along on their copies. Then Lucy Sanna and Antoinette May lead an hour-long critique session of your work.

Can't wait to see what I learn this time!


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Useful cooperative inquiry

Wow--I got such great ideas from my fellow writers in the Eng. 44B class on how to increase the mood of suspense in our work. We are using a Cooperative Inquiry process, the same as I used with my dissertation group of women that produced Creating Juicy Tales (on now).

We came up with six ways to increase tension:

1. Fool the reader about the character’s consciousness state: Dreaming vs. reality.

2. Have the character wonder about another character’s desires and fear them.

3. Give access to the character’s worried thoughts and doubts over a secret.

4. Describe the character’s physical manifestations of worry.

5. Show the character make an assumption that the reader could see might be wrong.

6. Add in adverbs and adjectives used by professional writers in an effective suspense scene.

I used #s 2, 3, and 4 for a scene in Ch. 2, House of Cuts, that really kicked up the tension! Onward to prepare for next week's Novel Writer's Workshop in Moke Hill.

Great to see such a lot of Comments *:)


Sunday, October 10, 2010

organizing, reorganizing plot

Egads! Next novel I'm going to write a finely detailed plotline first! This will be about the third time I'm going over House of Cuts 320 pages again, charting all the scenes and their connections, linking to the overall story arc. Using filetab dividers for each chapter and its critiques, sorted into a file box.

Getting 20 pages of HofC ready to take to Moke Hill novel workshop soon--a useful two-day event for a small group in which we read out loud our 20 pages to about eight people and get their critiques, one of them being Antoinette May and the other Lucy Sanna

Got rich, helpful feedback from this process last Oct. and want to give it another go.

write hard, die free!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hot Spot Grid roll

On a roll now--up at 4:00 a.m. updating character files with photos of characters' typical gestures/stances plus a HotSpotGrid (copyright, mine--how do I get the copyright symbol from my keyboard?) plot outline to sharpen up the flow of the story, following Joseph Campbell's structure, similar to those offered in How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth by James N. Frey and The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, by Christopher Vogler. Will try out Lord Raglan's mythic structure for fun and comparison, too.

As Tom Robbins says in Even Cowgirls... WOW, WAHOO, WHOOPEE, WHY NOT, AND WHEW!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

hooray! finished that part...

Okay, done with revisions based on Jacki's critique. Now to a whole reread, this time with deeper understanding of what is going on among the characters and settings. What a world, this writer's chair in the imagination.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Back at it (again)

Last night found the teensy red post-it note on which I'd written my intention to have House of Cuts out to agents by 4/11/11. I had written that in the morning the day before Easter Sunday of '09. That afternoon my darling Jerry passed away--so truly weird!!!!!!!

But now that I found the post-it again, it got me going in my revision/polishing routine for the first time since my move to Auburn! Hooray and only about 30 pages until the end (of the 300 pages)--that will complete the revision sweep brought on by sister Jacki's critique.

Then the fun of doing a "whole novel read" at one sitting again, this time really firming up the chapters and then sorting the novel into separate documents, chapter by chapter, to hone each chapter.

Working with advanced students on creating suspense moods, and that is quite useful for House of Cuts scenes, too!

We are all teaching what we most need to learn, as friend Vicki Marie said so long ago.

Friday, September 10, 2010

swamped by books, files

Yikes! Book boxes unpacking happened with help from dtr Julie and g'dtr Laurel: still too many books and not enough bookshelves!

Got the two new lateral files hauled upstairs (thanks to Kurtis and Anthony) and after a trip back to Staples for instructions, got the file "ribs" set up to take letter-sized hanging file folders.

Got file labels printed out in categories, ready to cut and slip into clear plastic label holders. So far:

For 7 years other financials
Record Keeping guidelines

Marriage, divorce records other legals








Near computer: CONTACTS

Other technology i-Pad stuff





Trish/Jerilyn Group

CATEGORY LAP publisher

HOUSE OF CUTS Native Americans
Islam Maps
Versions other HofCuts

CARDS FROM PEOPLE I LOVE things kids made

Thursday, September 2, 2010

new writing room organized

Today the two big lateral file cabinets I've ordered should arrive and I can start filing ALL my stuff!!!!! Poems, short stories, novel starts, memoirs, business stuff, etc.

Seems like an impossibility, really, but going to go for it so can stop wasting time chasing down papers scattered in boxes, drawers, cheap old vertical files of various sizes, etc.

Friday, August 27, 2010

preparing a place

The flooring is now in my upstairs "garret" after the installers pounded and sawed all day yesterday. I sit here at the computer, trying to get my brain around the task of now unpacking all those boxes of books and boxes of writing files!

Also, where to sit and write?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Whew! that was a long hiatus!

I'm back from a summer of moving to Auburn and taking a month-long trip to Europe! Got to get my new writing spot established and get rolling in my new writing group to finish that revision of House of Cuts! Think I will need yet another revision, actually, based on feedback from agent Verna Dreisbach, but hey, learning a lot regarding how to link character and plot.

Going to use the Cooperative Inquiry method for the first time with students in Delta's Creative Writing, Style, class, so that should be a juicy piece of learning.

Monday, June 7, 2010

About to take a break...

Been keepin on the polishing, but going to take a break to move, so on hiatus til get resettled...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June 1st and still at it...

Working an hour each morning again, on the polish pass through after sister jacki gave feedback on the whole--trying for 25 pages per morning so as to get to the end! (then will still need one or two more passes through it all--a labor of love/obsession!)

Monday, May 24, 2010


Again at the polishing HOC task this morning, trying to fit it into my busy life, erggg!

Will be trading the first five pages with other writers tonight at the UCD extension group to give each other critiques based on the advice in THE FIRST FIVE PAGES by Noah Lukeman, a great book I look forward to rereading *:)

Monday, May 17, 2010

facing our duality

Love this line from Sister's in Crime blog post today by L. J. Sellers, defending the literary and otherwise merit of crime fiction:

"[Crime] Novels with well-written protagonists and antagonists bring us to terms with the duality within ourselves."

See the whole piece at


Got the synopsis down to two single-spaced pages now, in prep for turning it in to tonight's class. Will fine tune and also revise my query letter from last week.

Saturday, at Zoe Keithley's Story Circle Workshop, got a new scene written as part of adding in autopsy report along with deeper motivation for detective Eddie Keen.

Write hard, die free *:)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

synopsis time!

Today began writing a 2-page synopsis of House of Cuts as part of a UCD Extension class on the business of writing, taught by agent Verna Dreisbach--great class!

I'm using the whole book outline I created last September as the basis for the synopsis and it is working!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, May 10, 2010


Just starting UOP prof. Scott Evan's TRAGIC FLAWS, a mystery set in the Delta. You can get it on Amazon or at

back at it

Finally! Back this morning working on House of Cuts--the polishing seems endless; this time I reworked the opening scene reflecting input from writers at Gold Rush Writer's Conference weekend before last, in the Joy of Writing Sex workshop facilitated by Antoinette May, author of Pilate's Wife and other works.

We agreed that Americans can be so prudish, Europeans kid us for that "flaw," and folks agreed with me that if we put more sex into mainstream novels, the romance genre might not grab the 57% of the market that it does now.

A mission in life *:)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

week with wings

A whole week has flow by since my last post! Spent three days at the Gold Rush Writers' Conference at Mokulumne Hill Fri-Sunday, getting some new ideas for final polishing of House of Cuts. Again, getting slowed down on yet it feels worth it. Also spent the last two Mondays at the UC Davis Extension Galleria learning more about publishing from the awesome agent Verna Dreisbach. For next Monday, we have to write and bring query letters and read aloud to the class for critique by Verna and another agent! Plus we have to give a 45 word pitch, too!

Now all I need to do is to go away to an isolated spot and finsh the novel--all the way. But, yikes, it's the end of the semester and I'm overwhelmed with student papers to read and grade!!!

~~time, need more of it!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

quick summary of Northern California Publishers and Authors event

Held at the Red Lion Hotel behind Arden Fair in Sacramento, the day long event was well worth the money. Keynoter was Dominique Raccah, founder of Source-books in 1987 and now a top independent publisher. It took all our energy just to listen to her hundreds of bits of information covering the transformation of the book from the traditional paper object to today's plethora of new business models and devices with which to deliver "content." I took 23 pages of notes, trying to capture a fraction of her wisdom!

More later...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

northern california publishers and authors

wowza! just got back from my first NCPA conference day--awesome presentations!!!! Details to follow but join that group if you can.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

in the shoemaker's shop...

the same refrain would never stop, as I tap away every early day... now 100 pages into next iteration of polishing, based on sister's input of the whole... takes a lot of stick-to-it-ness to get a novel born!!!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saturday, April 10, 2010

typing typing typing

Spent one or two hours each day this past week weaving in suggestions from editor/sister and trying to finish this "last" pass through the whole novel soon soon soon and print out for dtrs to read and give their critiques--it is feeling quite near finished *:)

Getting more of my students to create blogs and start enjoying this way of expanded networking with writers and readers!

Monday, April 5, 2010

does anyone know how to...

Is there a way to find out if followers have a blog? I have a couple new followers but I can not figure out how to find out if they have a blog I can go to and follow!!!!!

one more time!

Spent a juicy five hours on Good Friday with sista Jacki, aka mm, discussing her views on my "under construction" House of Cuts and her tips for changes.

Up at 5:00 this morning to ponder and plan what should be the final touches to the novel--not major and praying they are the last before the House is on the market *:)

Monday, March 29, 2010

gathering epigraphs

Novel now at sister/editor's house for her to read; we'll go through it Good Friday. Spent today gathering quotes for chapter epigraphs--a fun way to zero in on themes.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

nearing another finish line

Will complete this pass at polishing and take to my angel sister/editor this afternoon--she's gifting me with a whole day on Good Friday to go over it with me!

Just keep on keeping on...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

3 w's

Loads of wreadin, writin, and workshopping lately! Making progress toward this baby's actual birthday *:)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

pitch and reading prep

Got 13 pages read in 40 minutes, so will go with that for the Saturday reading at Luna's *:)

Here is my lastest pitch, to use to introduce the novel at the reading:

HOUSE OF CUTS is the story of Amy Kovar, shocked into a new life path when she discovers the awful truth about her husband. With newfound courage, she battles to learn the story of her mother, who died giving birth to her, so she can resurrect the feminine line through her own future children. In trying to rescue the person who knew her mother best, Amy will come face to face against a killer, who imagines himself to be a sort of Robin Hood, destroying a rich and powerful global retailer in order to bring back to life little mom and pop stores.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

tomorrow will read aloud and time...

Again, 90 minutes at the polishing--tomorrow and Friday will read aloud and time myself in preparation for my 40 minutes reading from House of Cuts at Luna's Cafe Saturday, part of Zoe Keithley's Story Circle workshop/practice. Zoe is a great believer in the power of hearing our written work as a way to deepen it.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

same-o, same-o

Up through page 201 of 320 now in polish/adjust scene flows.

Went to L.F. Crawford's book signing yesterday at Madison and Manzanita--what a great writer she is--so prolific, really inspiring. Her web page is at

Can't get link button to make a live link...

Friday, March 12, 2010

creeping through the middle

Working my way through the middle, my messiest part--good beginning and end, but need to make the actions by certain characters in the middle parts come up in a more logical time sequence.

Aiming for truly being done by the end of spring break, just before Easter. Somehow, symbolic in a huge way.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

one more hour

Another hour skimming through the pages on the screen and at the same time creating the latest Word Outline version of the whole novel outline. Really interesting to see it this way. Wish I could have all the scenes printed out and clipped to a horizontal board on the wall, running around the room, like in the old days when i was editor for World Radio News and International Travel News and we literally clipped each page to the wall to walk around and "see" the shape of each issue, making adjustments. The old days, before computers made things "easier," but less tactile.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

2 more hours of fun

Got carried away by the fun (thanks to John Atkinson for reminding me of the fun part) of reading the story, especially the second hour this morning--hooray for today--plan to finish this whole polishing draft by the end of spring break and send to dtr in England and to editor/friends for final input before start marketing to agents and/or presses!

A bit on the scary side, but it's time *:)

Monday, March 8, 2010

back to it

After a couple days off, back to the words this morning--at a stage when I'm rewriting the overall outline and trying to get all the scenes in order, and/or added, deleted, etc. Feels now like a huge parachute all open and floating in the air around me, like it is going to be a huge task to get it all positioned into the shape it needs to be in order to be finished. Wondering how to approach seeing it all in a piece and yet at the same time hearing it all unfold over time...


length, width, depth, time--dimensions all fluffed up around me and needing to be settled into a final form.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

more of same...

today and yesterday, reworking scene by scene outline and moving and shaking along with dusting and polishing--how can writing be like housework????

Saturday, February 27, 2010

tax time...

Yikes--had to open a business banking account in 2009, so said the agent for Lambert Academic Publishing, as part of the contract last summer even though they only send $$$ once a year! (And mine certainly will not sell much at that ridiculous $113.00 price!!!) Anyhoo, as Patricia Canterbury (EVERY THURSDAY) of Sisters in Crime would say, now my tax guy wants to go over my numbers and reminded me that I needed to have kept the writing business items separate! Yikes, had to go back last night and try to find those few things, like $200 for a novel workshop last summer in Moke Hill, and a few other things.

Guess I need to keep better track now of the costs and income (!), because the IRS wants you to show a profit two years out of five in order for you to be a legit "enterprise"!!!!

And yes, wrote again a couple hours on the polishing--writing a new outline along side the text of the whole novel to firm up for the LAST TIME! the flow of the novel...


Friday, February 26, 2010

keeping on keeping on...

A couple more days with a couple hours each, polishing cloth at the keyboard *:)

Last night, a couple of writer/teacher colleagues helped me think outside one of the boxes I'd written my novel into, for a more subtle way to increase the tension in the beginning and yet keep the reader's attention--yahoo and let's hear it for our writing group buddies!!!!!!!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

what's in a name

Reworked the name of the wine in scene one; wove in Amy's return to her maiden name... continued pruning deadwood and polishing prose...

Monday, February 22, 2010

45 minutes

Just worked in 45 minutes this morning as am off to help 1st graders with their reading at Emily's school--really fun to experience those little ones as they become readers *:)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

met sunny frazier

The Capitol Crimes meeting yesterday was headlined by the entertaining and informative writer, Sunny Frazier, see About 25 folks in a room at the Rancho Cordova Library heard Sunny describe her life and how it has all led up to her becoming a mystery writer, inexorably so. The author of FOOLS RUSH IN and WHERE ANGELS FEAR (put them together they spell Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries), she gave us lots of marketing tips and details about how Kindle publishing works.

The $15/year membership dues are more than worth it if every month brings such delightful speakers! Capitol Crimes is the local Sacramento chapter of Sisters in Crime.

Also, read more of John Atkinson's TIMEKEEPER, a shockingly vivid account of a young man's wandering to escape torture at home and at school.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

such fun to be a writer

Just now am writing an updated "pitch," on House of Cuts, to offer at my first visit to the Sacramento Capitol Crimes meeting, a local branch of the national Sisters in Crime writers' organization I've belonged to for years now. Never got to a local meeting due to family responsiblities, but can go now.

Just learned one of my poems, "The Coming Dust," has been accepted for Manzanita, Poetry and Prose of the Mother Lode and Sierra, Volume 6. Yahoo! It is so much fun to get your writing published. Am thinking (again) of creating a non-profit publishing organization for the Sacramento Area to let other writers have this joy, too. More to come on that later.

So, I had to update my biog for the Manzanita collection and wrote:

  • Upon discovering Ferlinghetti in the stacks at Sacramento City College Library decades ago, June Comarsh Gillam fell in love with the embodied experience of word rhythms and kaleidoscopic images, whether reading others’ work or creating her own. She has taught writing and literature at San Joaquin Delta College since 1990.
onward *:)

Friday, February 19, 2010


More of the same this morning.

I've been asked to be a featured reader at Luna's Cafe March 20, so that will be a good motivation to get some of the most juicy parts selected for reading aloud!

Onward *:)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

two more hours

Two hours seems to be my new "normal" for weaving and polishing, as again that time span today with practically no effort, in order to have the 40 pages ready for my 3-writers group next Thursday--hurry on!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

two hours today

Cutting and pasting scenes to increase the logic of the flow of the story today--creating a new scene needed to establish setting earlier--lots of pleasure getting the first 40 pages ready for a new critique by my writer's group of three. onward *:)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

busy weaving in research

90 minutes again, the magic number 90, weaving in bits of learning all coming together pretty quickly lately; just got a huge water chanels map yesterday that helps pull together more of the setting. Really amazing all the learning that goes on when writing fiction and getting to the verisimilitude aspects *:)

Friday, February 12, 2010

yikes, awol or awl?

Have been away yesterday, today and will tomorrow, too! Is that "away without leave" (the military AWOL) or can i give myself "away with leave"?


Hmmmm--sounds like it might contain something helpful? Preparing to lead an out-of-town Reading Group in a discussion of Laurie R. King's Art of Detection. Did pick up a few bits from preparing for this which are useful for my book, so even though i was not at my dining room table "desk" and laptop, was (as always really) working/playing *:)


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

90 & 60

Ninety minutes Tuesday and sixty today: same-o, same-o, weaving in research bits, Find and Replace aspects of names, etc. Polishing cloth is getting hot!!!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

and onward...

90 minutes more of weaving in research after doing more of same on phone chat with nephew who is in law enforcement *:)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

online research

Two hours from 7 to 9 googling and learning--so much faster than Thursday's in-person research, yet both have immense validity for

verisimilitude |ˌverəsəˈmiliˌt(y)oōd|
the appearance of being true or real : the detail gives the novel some verisimilitude.

(from my iMac dictionary *:)

Friday, February 5, 2010

hop skip and jump

Skipped writing and posting yesterday but squeezed in 30 minutes this busy-day morning to weave in some of what I learned yesterday on research travel. Really fun to firm up my facts!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


90 more minutes, sorting through research, weaving into novel--reviewing characters, shaping into final forms, taping character sketches to dining room wall; very cool--feels like a party!

Jiveo! as my 100% Bohemian Czech dad used to toast, but I can't find that word anywhere... What I can find: na zdravi (Czech) to your health!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

characters united

Today reviewed and refreshed the list of all the characters, printed out and will tape to dining room window--surrounded now by my imaginary world of folks in prep for another "last" read through the whole novel, looking for inconsistencies to fix.

write hard, die free,
as i always say *:)

Monday, February 1, 2010

a day of rest

Took Sunday off but back at it today for an hour, still sorting seeds and weaving in stray bits.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


90 minutes weaving in bits and pieces from the seed sorting--so much fun to have a computer to Find the places to insert the bits! Am firmly fixed now on starting with the protagonist, and not the killer, so moved a couple big chunks to later in the story.

Going to read this morning at the Valley Hi Public Library. Will read from my dissertation, a before and after story showing the impact of the Cooperative Inquiry on my own writing.

What a long strange road, being a writer.

Friday, January 29, 2010

one more hour

Okay, today, an hour added to the rest, got to the bottom of the box of stuff related to HofC, tossed 1/5 of it, put some into the pile for the next novel, some into setting pile for HofC, some Character pile, a few critiques to go back and re-read. The seed sorting work of revision.

Will go tomorrow morning to be part of a READ IN with 14 or so other writers at Valley High Public Library in Elk Grove, CA, 7400 Imagination Circle. I'm supposed to read in the 11:00 to 12:00 timeslot, in case anyone wants to come listen *:)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

blogging is tricky

Whew! Just got back here.

Yikes!!!!! I could not get back into the dashboard for this blog!!!! Worked an hour Wednesday and 45 minutes today, sorting through the box of papers, etc., weaving in bits from the old into the current draft of House of Cuts, but now have to try to sort out getting back into the dashboard here.


Blogging is tricky???? I see I am signed in as J and J Gillam...? will sign out from that...

Okay did sign out--was in wrong account but don't know how I got there...


to be continued...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

sorting thru stuff...

An hour and a half going through my boxes of old stuff accumulated for the book--found some cool things to pop right into the current version! Halfway through this sorting now--does not feel too much like revising/polishing yet I know it is essential to sort seeds like one of the ants who helped in Psyche's task before completion of the whole project.

On with this heavy word work *:)

Monday, January 25, 2010


90 minutes going over old drafts, marked by workshop readers, tearing in half, one half in one recycle bag, the other half in another--my lazy way of not-exactly-shredding but not leaving hunks of the story out in the trash either. The paranoia of the unpublished novelist!

Revisiting character biogs, shaping and polishing them, seeing and feeling them, hearing them, taping them to my dining room wall and on the other wall, settings, and on the third wall, the one holding the History of the World in a huge spiral like a photo of a giant snail, plot points, what else?

Keeping useful notes, focusing in on the final draft about to manifest--feel ready for House of Cuts to be born, House of Dads is getting restless.

when i'm not going sideways...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

stitching hour by hour

One more hour at the words, today cut 12 pages that were tangents, noticed yesterday in the five hour read; changed some names to make them more consistent throughout (thank you Find and Replace All!).

Got to murder our darlings *:) See

(tried to put this in as an active link but it does not show up--the joys of learning to blog!)

Saturday, January 23, 2010


It took five hours to read all 325 pages of ms, with time out to get coffee, food, and bathroom breaks of the shortest sort possible. Overall, a good shape to the whole story, meiner meinung nach!

Found about 8 to 10 pages about 2/3 of the way through to cut out that were making the story line sag, and came up with a plan to get the whole thing reworked, so feeling great.

Just last night read in the Special 90th Anniversary Issue of Writer's Digest an interview with Ferlinghetti at age 90, in which he recounts that Bukowski, "who wrote every single day, all day," believed that "when you weren't writing, you weren't a writer." Something to keep in mind.

Ferlinghetti was the first poet I fell in love with, seated in the library stacks at Sac City College, pulling out one book of poetry after the other. His "poem 14" of Coney Island of the Mind threw me into the clutches of poetry, forever:

poem "14", a composition of perfect carousel circuitousness:

Don't let that horse
eat that violin

cried Chagall's mother

But he
kept right on

And became famous

And kept on painting
The Horse with Violin In Mouth

And when he finally finished it
he jumped up upon the horse
and rode away

waving the violin

And then with a low bow gave it
to the first naked nude he ran across

And there were no strings


found this at

hooray for (the internet) today!

plus, Ferlinghetti says he was not of the Beats, but before them, a bohemian...


Once I went to see him read in person at Sierra 2. His dog sat beside him the whole time, scratching.

I wrote the first line of a poem about him, but never added anything to it:

Ferlinghetti's dog has fleas.

Friday, January 22, 2010

how to handle this mass of words

Wrote from 5:00 to 6:15 and stopped at page 82 of 325 pages to make a plan. Will print out the new 82 pages "start" and replace the old start of the whole novel, residing in the red binder.

Will spend all day Saturday (trek to Sutter Buttes canceled due to, what else, rain) reading the whole novel, going all the way through it at one sitting. Maybe create a new time line or jot notes to self on things to still fix.

Yikes, the mass of words is so large, spilling all over the place like Tita's tears in Like Water for Chocolate,

like a loaf of bread that rose and overflowed not just the mixing bowl but the kitchen, the writing room, the whole house and out into the streets of Sac! Punch it back down!!!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

an hour today

Whew! Got in a full hour today, starting again back at the beginning of the story though and making sure each word is just what is needed and wanted.

Not sure how to handle being at page 60 of the revision/polishing and having to go back each time to the start of the story to monitor the flow--yet don't feel like reading and marking the paper printout of the 325 pages (as recommended by the writing teacher Lisa Leonard-Cook) either because I can't see myself reading the whole thing without making some kind of notes which would stop the flow of the reading as a whole.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

down day

Away hoy, back manana!

or more authentically:
ido hoy, aquí mañana

or to practice my French:
allé aujourd'hui, ici demain

Monday, January 18, 2010

three hours today

Well, today I wrote from 6 a.m. til 9:20 a.m. but took about 15 minutes out to eat, at the same time, of course, thinking about the writing, then went back to writing. Wondering if eating breakfast in the middle might be a good way to extend my "seat time" and thus get more quickly through the current 325 pages on this fourth pass through the novel. It's starting to feel like it is really becoming what it wants to be now and much more ready for sending to agents *:)

I'm excited because tomorrow the spring 2010 semester starts at Delta and I hope to see many of the Creative Writing, Story, students show up here and even start their own blogs to keep track of their process.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

the beat goes on

Got in an hour and 45 minutes this a.m. Found a big chunk of misplaced scene and thankful for computer Cut and Paste for about the zillionth time to better shape the flow of the story.

Wish I could stick myself in my writing chair for longer time chunks--need more of that Whidbey Island Writers' Conference "Butt Glue" LOL.

But, something is better than nothing as I tell my students, and at least I'm on the trail to the finish line to complete the novel and get started with the 2nd in the Amy Kovar series--not Amy Boykin as it says on my Guppie page:

Thinking of using a different name for this first novel in the Amy series, since Gillam is SO OFTEN MISSPELLED (Gilliam, Gillman, Gillan, etc.) which turns me into a hateful maniac wanting to lash out at sloppy stupido spellers.

How about using great g'ma Nancy's middle name, Augusta, as my last name?

June Augusta

write hard, die free

Saturday, January 16, 2010

on and on

AWOL (or AWL?) yesterday due to having to leave home at 7:00a.m. to get started on the CHIP program, in Lodi (see which involved a 12-hour fast in prep for a blood draw--yikes! Made it through that plus a faculty in-service at Delta and back to the word work this a.m. for nearly two hours *:)

Still weaving and trimming and adding so the flow of the story is what it wants to be, so to speak. Magical time, this work.

Got a few specific things jotted down to work on today at Zoe's midtown writing circle--hooray for Zoe Keithley!!!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

must be having fun now

Time flies when you're having fun
fake it til you make it: fall in love with your writing to give time wings.

This morning from 6:30 to 9:00, I just flew through my novel-polishing in a semi-bliss state. It did help to review again some comments from my small writers' group (not actual small people but a small group *:) to spur me along, must say. Thank you C and A!

Now am up to page 55 of 322 pages, and really enjoying the ride in Writerland--this part is esp. fun since I get to be both a reader of my novel and a (re)writer 8:)


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

90 minutes more

Got in another hour and a half this a.m., working on a comment from one of the writers in my small group meeting yesterday.

Aside: the homemade lentil/black bean/carrot soup from my crockpot was delish, although mysteriously spicy--first time I ever tried cooking lentils, in preparation for going vegan soon, yikes!

Back to the writers' meeting; the comment was made that my main character seemed to be sometimes shallow and comedic while other times profound and poetic. So this morning's 90 minutes was devoted to taking it again from the top and weaving in a few explicit lines integrating these two facets of the same character--love getting feedback from readers to help me see how others "read" and so co-create the story 8:)


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

one day at a time

Got another hour in from 6:00 to 7:00 this morning, hooray for today! If I could do this each day, 365 hours per year = 9 solid full-time 40-hour work weeks.

A couple of writing group friends are coming over today at 2:00 to give each other input on our writing--that's always motivating, as well. It's raining here so I put on the crock pot full of lentil soup.

Wish I could go away to some isolated spot though and just plow through it all to get the final revised and polished novel all done! and ready to send to agents... not just ready, but sent out. Fantasy land.

As Jer always said, good things take time.

Monday, January 11, 2010

an hour at my words

Okay, got one good hour in today, moved a flashback scene up to become a Prologue and think I like it there! Off to 1st grade to help young readers hone their skills--someday they could be buying my novels, smile.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Saturday, January 9, 2010

double time today

Made up for absence yesterday with two hours today, 6:30-8:30 a.m. enjoying polishing the first 4774 words of the current 79,300 (320 pages). Read aloud in my inner voice helps with the polishing to get the rhythms true to my intentions with the story.

Along the way, made up a list of six points I need to research. Research is a task I can do after the critic brain wakes up but the polishing calls for the first-thing-upon-rising mind.

Having this blog to report to helps a lot even if no one is reading it--weird!

Friday, January 8, 2010

another challenging day

Again away overnight, so no morning writing today; will try to squeeze it into the day somehow!!!!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

thank you Julie and Julia

Last night watched Julie and Julia and see more clearly the power of blogging as a motivational tool to keep a regular practice. Even if no one is reading the blog, just having it out there in "public" space provides a slap up side of the head. The nature of blog space as a nag is helpful. You could be trying to be regular at any practice and let the blog serve as a silent but all-seeing mentor to report in to on a regular basis. For me, daily works the best though not sure if I can really keep it up all year.

Well, anyhoo, from 6:15 to 7:30, kept on keeping on the polishing words work. It is different from the pleasure of the flow of first draft creation, but lovely in its own way. For me the first pass or two at revision, the big blocks of scenes and interplay of characters, is the most arduous, with the first draft and this polishing the most blissful.

write hard, die free,

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Got in 30 minutes before dinner, created a sturdier "bridge" getting a character from one setting to another. Every little bit counts *:)


bumpy day

Was in Morada overnight so did not get my morning started off at the habitual laptop-in-the-dining-room space and time; hoping to get back here before day's end having spent some time busy at my words.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

lost words scare

During the 7:15 to 8:15 a.m. time polishing House of Cuts this morning, got a scare when I was trying to Select and Cut to move a piece of text from one spot to another--lost it in the maneuver and felt I needed that particular way to say it. Felt a bit of panic and had to go back and forth into the flash drive Saves of the story, to find the wording I wanted. Got it all sorted out, but kind of unnerving to lose words. Recalls to mind the advice to "murder your darlings," those words I cared enough about to go to that length to recapture likely need to be cut! See

BTW, am about 100 pages into Pete Dexter's Spooner, and find it kind of falling apart but will keep on keeping on a bit more; met a man last night who said he had given up on it though.

Monday, January 4, 2010

weaving words

I am surprised to find that nearly two hours slipped by this morning from about 5:10 to 7:00 a.m. while I wove together information and scenes in the first 3375 words of the now 79,200 word House of Cuts. Ages and times of the year did not match as they needed to, plus things that the main character has in hand later needed to be placed in her pocket earlier--that sort of thing. The kind of stuff readers keep track of *:) It's quite the hat-switching to move from the creative writer to the critical reader of a long story.

Using this method of reading from the beginning each time, though I won't be able to keep that up, makes this type of polishing/editing actually pleasurable.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

being together for an hour

Okay, last night placed a cardboard note right next to the coffee pot with big red letters that say WRITE! Spent an hour from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. refining pages 3 to 8 (of 320 pages), with RESTART HERE on page 8, getting ready for manana. 2010 goal is to write one hour every morning on arising, before my critic wakes up.

At night before sleep, reading a Christmas gift from Julie, the new novel SPOONER by Pete Dexter--love his writing!!!!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

wrote for one hour

Got to the laptop at 6:00 a.m. and read aloud/polished story for two pages before had to get off and help sister try to book a campsite via the online system. Saved changes to three flash drives. onward...

Friday, January 1, 2010

okay, did one thing today

Got laptop onto dining room table and opened up the whole novel, all 78773 words of it; will start tomorrow morning going back through to read aloud and change what pops up that needs changing, but also want to hurry up to finish this part, and then print out again the whole thing to read at one sitting, as advised by COYOTE MORNING author and writing teacher, Lisa Leonard-Cook.

Oddly, coyotes have been spotted in my American River Biketrail neighborhood lately.