musings, thoughts, and writings of Barbara W. Klaser


December 31, 2005

Happy New Year 2006

This is the time of year we like to make resolutions, basically promises to ourselves about how we’ll live the year to come. For some of us it’s goals, like losing weight, spending more time with family, making more money. For some it’s measured in productivity, or in making the most of the finite amount of time we’re given each year.

I’ve had mixed success with resolutions. Some I’ve succeeded with, some have been failures. I try these days to come up with no-fail things, like getting more in touch with my true desires, what’s really important to me. That was my resolution last year. This is also the time I like to review what I’ve done over the past year. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 2:23 pm PST, 12/31/05

December 26, 2005

Write a powerful synopsis

Writing takes courage. Submitting work is in many ways the most courageous act a writer commits. I don’t know of any aspiring novelist who looks forward to the task of synopsizing his or her own novel and then waiting around for rejection after rejection.

The synopsis itself is often a major hurdle. If a story could be rendered in that short a form, you’d have written a short story instead of a novel, right? I’d rather have a tooth extracted than attempt to synopsize mine. In fact I’m in danger of running out of teeth before I find the right agent, because of my personal loathing for synopsis. Still, it’s necessary to get the idea across in a form agents can absorb and understand quickly on their way through a gazillion other queries. A good, crisp synopsis makes an agent eager to read the entire manuscript.

Can one learn this skill by example? By reading examples, along with an agent’s reasons why they’re good or not? More likely example and practice are necessary. But examples sure help. So put on your synopsis-writing cap and read through the recent series of “Crapometer” posts at Miss Snark, the literary agent. Thanks to Miss Snark for her time sharing her insider views, and thanks to the writers who braved the Crapometer’s challenge.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 2:33 pm PST, 12/26/05

December 20, 2005

Snow Angels

When I first hoped to see Snow Angels in print, I decided to come up with a concept for the cover, and I drew this sketch. Actually I drew more than one, but this was the one that made me happiest at the time. I’m not much of an artist. Sometimes I impress myself—but then I’m easily impressed. Anyway, it seems appropriate to the season.

Snow Angels is available as a free e-book on my website. My multi-talented husband, Ken, created the cover art you see there.

NOTE: Please only comment on this post if you’ve read Snow Angels. Off-topic comments will be moved or deleted. The comments on Snow Angels are sometimes snipped due to content that may give away the ending of the story (thus the term “spoiler”) to others who haven’t yet read the story.

If you’ve read and enjoyed Snow Angels, please consider a donation in support of my work and this site:


— Barbara @ rudimentary 2:27 pm PST, 12/20/05

December 19, 2005

Merry Whatever and a Happy New Year

As someone who is neither pagan (though I have pagan leanings and wonder why no one capitalizes “pagan”), nor Christian (though I have Christian leanings), nor Jewish (though I have Jewish leanings), nor atheist (though I sometimes have atheist leanings, and I notice no one ever capitalizes that, either), I find the so-called “war on Christmas” disheartening. I’m not offended by Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Yule, or Merry Christmas. The “HAPPY” and “MERRY” parts are what count.

The days are too short, the nights are cold, the traffic is terrible. If you’ve ever walked through the toy department this time of year, after the crowds have picked it over, you have a special understanding of the term “Armageddon.”
(more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 9:15 pm PST, 12/19/05

December 14, 2005

Post Secret for inspiration

If a fiction writer ever needed inspiration, Post Secret has to be one of the most likely places to find it. But I suspect most fiction writers are like me, with so many ideas they can’t sleep at night for fear they’ll never have time to use even the best of them.

View the blog, or read Post Secret the book, available at Amazon.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 11:36 am PST, 12/14/05

December 11, 2005

Pinter’s Nobel lecture

That title should provide ample warning there may be a political minefield ahead. Have you had a chance to read Harold Pinter’s Nobel Lecture?

The part I’ll quote isn’t about US politics as you might expect, but some writerly advice about politics in theater:

“Political theatre presents an entirely different set of problems. Sermonising has to be avoided at all cost. Objectivity is essential. The characters must be allowed to breathe their own air. The author cannot confine and constrict them to satisfy his own taste or disposition or prejudice. He must be prepared to approach them from a variety of angles, from a full and uninhibited range of perspectives, take them by surprise, perhaps, occasionally, but nevertheless give them the freedom to go which way they will. “

Copyright © THE NOBEL FOUNDATION 2005

My suggestion is to read Mr. Pinter’s entire lecture with that same objectivity, perhaps as if he were a character in a play, talking about another country, not the US. That may help to set aside any immediate emotional reaction and give you a chance to think through what he has to say. I found it necessary afterward to do a little research. What follows are the questions I asked myself and the thought processes I went through. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 6:17 pm PST, 12/11/05

December 6, 2005

Second draft revisited

To answer some of your comments, I’m much happier with the characters in this second draft of my latest mystery, and I think they’ll continue to grow, which is important for a series I’ll want to go back to. It wouldn’t do for the author to get bored with the backdrop and characters in a series too soon.

How does the emotional factor compare with my earlier mysteries? Shadows Fall was intensely emotional, since it dealt with Beth Gray’s PTSD and related phobia, as well as her dramatic family interactions. That was a different kind of story. It’s been called psychological suspense by some, and I think it tips in that direction. This story doesn’t go that far into psychological drama, but there’s a strong people element, as well as romance, and these characters have their histories, which to a great extent drive them to do the things they do, for good or ill. Instead of psychology, here I’m exploring one area of parapsychology—or at least paranormal experience. Nothing creepy or horrific about it, but I hope it will intrigue all the same. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 3:04 pm PST, 12/06/05

December 2, 2005

Second draft completed

I thought I’d better check in, since I’ve been absent so much lately you might think I’d been sucked into my computer and am living an alternate existence inside my own fiction. That’s how it feels sometimes. I’ve finally finished the second draft of the novel in progress. This was a huge effort, mainly because I rewrote just about the whole thing. Except for one or two of the early chapters it’s almost unrecognizable compared to the first draft, with major point of view and character changes. I’m much happier with the resolution to the mystery. I’m reading back through, looking for the places the story slows down. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 8:57 pm PST, 12/02/05

November 25, 2005

Dust devil or dust angel?

It was a hot, dry, dusty day in the Central Valley of California. Late August or early September. I rode in the camper, while my dad drove, and my mom and younger brother rode up front, in the cab of the truck. I think I was sixteen. We’d spent a few days in the Sierra Nevada. Now we headed home to San Diego County. Dad usually drove south through the valley, but it was too hot today, so we aimed for the coast, hoping for cooler weather there. We looked forward to a bowl of clam chowder in Morro Bay. I think we were somewhere west of Fresno when it happened.

I sat on a sturdy metal cooler with my back against the oven door. From time to time I peered through the cab’s open back window at the road ahead, and talked to my parents and brother. It was a boring drive, with scenery that repeated beige and flat, in unrelenting heat. Irrigated farmland created the only break in the barrenness, with its artificial patchwork of green. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 10:31 am PST, 11/25/05

November 21, 2005

A hippopotamus in the room

Once when I was seven years old, I wakened during the night for no apparent reason. I peered over the side of my bed, and I froze.

A hippopotamus loomed there in the dark, right between my bed and my sister’s. My heart nearly stopped, and I don’t think I breathed for a minute or so. I lay awake for a long time, afraid to move a muscle or make a sound, because surely if I made a noise the hippo would attack me or my sister. I was afraid to sleep, because then how could I warn anyone else, when they woke up or tried to enter our room, that the hippo was there? I was terrified. I didn’t know what to do. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 6:31 pm PST, 11/21/05


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