Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Don't Just Let 'em Stand There!

Not too long ago I was reading a book and admiring the lively dialogue, the interweaving of the senses, a nicely done deep POV and evocative word choices. But at the end of one scene, I realized that despite those skillfully rendered techniques, I hadn’t really gotten into the story. Didn’t SEE the characters.

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I re-read the scene again in an effort to pinpoint the problem. And then it dawned on me...
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These two characters were conversing. I don’t mean they were “talking heads” where there are no speaker-identifying tags, no emotion, no inner monologue, no description. Rather, there was no movement. Except for facial expressions, they never moved a single muscle. Their bodies were frozen on the page for the entire scene.
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WOW. Light bulb moment.
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Have you ever wondered why cinematic features are called movies or motion pictures? It’s because the story plays out in front of a viewer with physical activity. Not still shots. Not narrative. Moviegoers and fans of the theatre watch the characters actively go about their business. Actors seldom stand in the middle of a stage or in front of the camera, stiffly reciting lines of dialogue with arms locked rigidly at their sides.
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So today, let’s take a look how character motion can enhance a scene! Here’s an example from Mary Connealy’s “Over the Edge.”
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   A bullet slammed through the door of the stagecoach, threading a needle to miss all four passengers.
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   "It’s a holdup!” Callie grabbed her rifle. “Get down!”
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   The stage driver yelled and cracked his whip. More flying lead hit, higher on the stagecoach. The man riding shotgun got his rifle into action.
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   “Get on the floor.” The woman sitting across from Callie was frozen with fear. That endangered Connor and made Callie furious.
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   The bullets came fast. The stage was moving slow on a long uphill slope. With the driver’s shout they picked up speed. From the roof, she heard a steady volley of deafening return fire.
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   Reaching across, Callie grabbed the woman by the ruffled front of her pink gingham dress and dragged her off the seat. The woman shrieked but didn’t put up a fight, which was smart of her. Callie would’ve won that fight.
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Now that is maximum motion! But you DON’T have to write an action-packed suspense or a shoot-em-up to enrich a scene with movement. It can be quite subtle, painting a vivid picture and lending a sense of immediacy.
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Let’s take a look at a few “before” and “after” examples... In the following scene, the heroine watches as hero Gabe teaches her little boy Jason how to clean a fish:
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   “Good job, big guy.”
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   “Yep.” Jason finished with a satisfied look on his face. “Gabe will teach you how to do it, too, won’t you Gabe?”
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   “Sure,” Gabe said. “You’re in luck, we have one more.”
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   Memories of high school biology came flooding back. “Great. No problem at all.
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   “Here, hold the knife like this. And the fish like this.”
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   It had been a long time since she’d attempted a simple dissection. Her life revolved around pinning insects and diagramming plants. This was going to take all day. Her palms turned clammy whether from the fish or from her nerves she wasn’t certain. She did know that she hadn’t been this close to a man in years.
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   “Ouch.”
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   “'Sorry.” What a time to daydream.
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   “Let’s try it again.”
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This scene holds interest, doesn’t it? But now let’s take a look at how Seeker Audra Harders enhanced it with a bit of body language in her “Rocky Mountain Hero.”
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   “Good job, big guy.”
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   “Yep.” Jason finished and reached for a paper towel. He wiped his hands, a satisfied look on his face. “Gabe will teach you how to do it, too, won’t you Gabe?”
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   “Sure.” He reached around her and picked up the last fish. “You’re in luck, we have one more.”
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   Memories of high school biology came flooding back. She raised a brow at him in silent challenge. “Great. No problem at all.
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   “Here, hold the knife like this.” After placing the knife handle in her right hand, he wrapped her fingers shut. “And the fish like this.”
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   He kept his rough palm under her left hand for support. Her grip tightened around the cold trout. She nestled her knuckles into his palm.
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   “Now right along here.”
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   It had been a long time since she’d attempted a simple dissection. Her life revolved around pinning insects and diagramming plants. This was going to take all day. As if reading her thoughts, Gabe gripped her bunched fist and changed her angle to underhand. “Now you have leverage.”
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   His work-hardened hands guided her with gentle yet decisive motion. Her palms turned clammy whether from the fish or from her nerves she wasn’t certain. She did know that she hadn’t been this close to a man in years.
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   “Ouch.” The muscles in his arm jerked.
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   “Sorry.” She pulled away. He held on tighter. What a time to daydream. She tried to drop the knife into the sink.
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   “Let’s try it again.” His breath fluffed her hair.
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Doesn’t Audra’s version draw you in at a deeper level? In this next example, the heroine is being confronted by her father:
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   “Not return to New York? Of course you will continue your music studies. This is what you have worked so hard for all you life!”
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   “Calm down, Manuelo.” Filipa’s mother said. “Filipa is a grown woman. She has a right to make her own decisions. Even if those decisions are perhaps not the wisest.”
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   Filipa offered a grudging smile. “Thank you, Mama.”
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   "Do not take her side in this, Rosa.” No daughter of mine will spit in the face of her God-given talents!”
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   Filipa’s teenage brother Carlos--or Charlie has he preferred to be called--scowled. “If Fil’s not going back to New York, does that mean I have to give back her room? Because I’m not moving back in with Joseph. He snores.”
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Again, another interesting scene, but here’s Seeker Myra Johnson’s version in “A Horseman’s Gift.”
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   “Not return to New York?” Filipa’s father hammered the kitchen countertop with his fist. “Of course you will continue your music studies. This is what you have worked so hard for all you life!”
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   “Calm down, Manuelo.” Filipa’s mother carried a platter of baked chicken to the table. “Filipa is a grown woman. She has a right to make her own decisions” Mama narrowed one eye as she returned to the stove for the vegetables. “Even if those decisions are perhaps not the wisest.”
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   Filipa offered a grudging smile. “Thank you, Mama.”
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   “Do not take her side in this, Rosa.” Her father thudded into his chair and crossed his arms. “No daughter of mine will spit in the face of her God-given talents!”
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  Filipa’s teenage brother Carlos--or Charlie has he preferred to be called--slid into his chair with a scowl. “If Fil’s not going back to New York, does that mean I have to give back her room? Because I’m not moving back in with Joseph. He snores.”
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A little movement really seasons the scene, doesn’t it? Grounds it. In this next example, the hero is doing maintenance in a cabin resort’s laundry room when heroine comes to the door:
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   “Rob?” Olivia’s good-natured voice called through the open door. “There are some people here to see you.”
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   People? Cassie’s parents? So soon? His heart hammered. “Who are they? What do they want?”
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   “Roofers. For that leak at Sunflower.”
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   He scowled. “Why didn’t you just say so?”
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   At the growl in his voice she raised startled eyes to his. “I’m sorry.”
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   “Never mind.” Why’d she have to look so perky this morning, anyway?” The bright blue of her cotton top set her skin aglow, made her dark eyes gleam.
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   “I said I was sorry.”
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   “I heard you.”
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   “Boy, somebody got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.”
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   “I have a lot on my mind.”
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Now here’s the same scene from my "High Country Hearts.”
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   “Rob?” Olivia’s good-natured voice called through the open door. “There are some people here to see you.”
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   With a shudder, he jerked upright, whacking his head on the bottom of the sink. People? Cassie’s parents? So soon? Heart hammering, he rubbed his forehead. “Who are they? What do they want?”
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   “Roofers. For that leak at Sunflower.”
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   He scowled as he got to his feet. “Why didn’t you just say so?”
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   At the growl in his voice she raised startled eyes to his. “I’m sorry.”
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   “Never mind.” He turned to lather his hands in the sink. Scrubbed them hard. Why’d she have to look so perky this morning, anyway?” The bright blue of her cotton top set her skin aglow, made her dark eyes gleam.
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   “I said I was sorry.”
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   "I heard you.”
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   “Boy, somebody got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.”
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   “I have a lot on my mind.” He tossed the hand towel to the sink, then brushed by her, all but stalking out to the roofing crew, nerves stretched tight.
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Can you see the difference in scenes where your characters are physically involved in their surroundings? Where they move and come alive on the page?
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Don’t just let ‘em stand there! Get ‘em moving!!
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Okay, now it’s YOUR turn! See if you can add some movement to ground and enhance this bare bones dialogue:
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   “I don’t like making snap decisions, that’s all.”
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   “You’ve had days to think about it. Weeks.”
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   “So? If I make the wrong decision, I’ll have the rest of my life to regret it.”
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If you’d like to be entered in a drawing for a hot-off-the-presses copy of my October 2012 release, “Look-Alike Lawman” (Book #4 in the Love Inspired “Texas Twins” continuity series) please mention it in the comments section, then check our Weekend Edition for the winner announcement!
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A Little Boy’s Hero. When big-city cop Grayson Wallace visits an elementary school for career day, he finds his heartstrings unexpectedly tugged by a six-year-old fatherless boy. Gray offers to mentor the child, but widowed mother Elise Lopez wants nothing to do with men in uniform. Now he can’t get the struggling Lopezes off his mind. All he can think about is what family means—especially after discovering the identical twin brother he hadn’t known he had in Grasslands. Maybe a trip to ranch country is just what he, Elise and little Cory need.
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Glynna Kaye’s “Dreaming of Home” was a 2010 finalist in the “ACFW Carol Award” and “Maggie Award,” as well as a first place winner of the “Booksellers Best” and “Beacon” awards. Her “At Home In His Heart” garnered a 4 ½ star review and was chosen as a Reviewers Choice finalist by national magazine “RT Book Reviews.”



93 comments :

  1. Mary raised the Glock in both hands. “I don’t like making snap decisions, that’s all.” She fired seventeen rounds in ten seconds.

    “You’ve had days to think about it. Weeks.” Randy pulled the target seventy-five feet back to the firing line.

    Mary removed her protective goggles. “So? If I make the wrong decision, I’ll have the rest of my life to regret it.” Randy looked down and counted seventeen bulls eye 10’s.

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  2. George put the mocha curtain back onto the Wal-Mart shelf and picked up the sepia. “I don’t like making snap decisions, that’s all.” He popped the plastic snap, opened the package and felt the inexpensive fabric as if he expected the 200 thread count cotton to feel like Indian silk.

    “You’ve had days to think about it." Jane leaned against the pole obstructing the middle of the aisle, jamming her Jimmy Choo pumps against the industrial tile to keep herself from giving into the temptation of sliding down onto the nasty floor and weep. "Weeks.” In all her days of interior design, she'd never worked with a man so cheap or so picky.

    “So? If I make the wrong decision, I’ll have the rest of my life to regret it.” He crammed the fabric back in and grabbed the tan curtain.

    She took off her right shoe and wondered how quick death would come by stabbing herself repeatedly with a six inch spiked heel.

    AND that is the only contemporary scene I shall probably ever write. :)

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  3. AAHHHHHHH!!!!

    HAHAHAHAHA!!!


    Vince, I'm scared of this Mary. She reminds me of someone...

    And Melissa, you're completely missing your calling. COMPLETELY. I would buy this in hardback. And I'm cheap and picky.

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  4. Thomas stood at the gates of heaven and peered through the bars. "I don't like making snap decisions, that's all."

    "You've had days to think about it. Weeks." St. Peter let out a few crackles of impatient lightning. His gray beard stood on end,white robes flapping around his ankles.

    "So? If I make the wrong decision, I'll have the rest of my life to regret it." Thomas tried to sound indifferent but the doubt was eating him alive.

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  5. Glynna I would love to win your book. I read the first one and intend buying the rest of the series (If I dont win any). I love the idea of this series and want to know whats happening next.

    I read a book recently that had the stilted dialogue. Well actually it read like a bad diary at times and was really boring. other parts were really good. If they could have tightened up the diary parts or even gotten rid of them it would have been a really good book.

    having an early night (can we say someone did to much gardening and is aching tonight)

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  6. I was going to try, but my caffeine hasn't kicked in, and Vince and Melissa did great jobs. So I'm going to give myself a few more minutes to wake up before working on anything.

    Have a great day. I enjoyed your post!

    Jackie L.

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  7. Wow, Vince! You kicked this practice session off with a BANG! Good job! Sure don't want to mess with THAT Mary!!

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  8. MELISSA--I agree with Virginia. You're missing your calling! This brought a smile to my face--even at 4:15 in the morning! :)

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  9. VIRGINIA--You're being an especially deep thinker on yours for so late at night!

    I think this will be fun seeing how Seeker Villagers insert movement that grounds those few pieces of dialogue into such diverse scenes!

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  10. By the way, apologize for the way my post strings forever down the page, all spaced out funny and making it hard to read. :( It was all crammed up at first, then I tried to fix it and it did THAT. (I'm not usually trying to get my post scheduled 30 minutes before it's supposed to post.)

    I'll have to find a Seeker who can tell me how to get back into the post to reformat it and then republish.

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  11. Good morning, JENNY! Or rather good EVENING down under. :) Gardening? Oh, that's right, you're heading into spring now. What did you plant that wore you out?

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  12. JACKIE -- Good idea to get that caffeine going early. Where's Helen with the coffee? I don't drink coffee, so I'll just see if I can stay awake to get my 1000 words in on the WIP this morning. (It's only 4:30 here.)

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  13. ok I didn't get to bed yet. I was wedding. lots of weeds! digging I still have heaps to do but thankfully I can now do it.

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  14. Oh, this is going to be fun -

    I daresay, your challenge for us is a study in character. Not the fictional characters, but the Seekerville characters...

    love it.

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  15. Needed this TODAY! What a blessing! Thanks so much!!!

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  16. Good morning!

    Oh wow, I'm afraid right now I won't have time to write something.. maybe later?
    Great post Glynna. And good work to those participating!

    Good day!

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  17. Good morning!

    Oh wow, I'm afraid right now I won't have time to write something.. maybe later?
    Great post Glynna. And good work to those participating!

    Good day!

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  18. Mano unfolded the Swiss RailEurope map, sweaty hands bracing it against the stiff breeze. “I don’t like making snap decisions, that’s all.” Adding to his anxiety, he felt the rumble of the approaching train under his feet. Passengers raced past to the boarding area, scarves flying, children crying as they were dragged along.

    “You’ve had days to think about it. Weeks.” Weezie bit her lip and tugged at her collar to keep from saying more. Grabbing the map, she turned and raced toward the platform where the most children and women congregated.

    Running to catch up, Mano grabbed Weezie's hood and spun her around. “So? If I make the wrong decision, I’ll have the rest of my life to regret it.” The chocolate train or the cheese train? For women, it was an easy decision. For men....


    Not that the above scene will be based on real life or anything in a few weeks.

    Peace, Julie

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  19. Ah, weeds, JENNY! That will wear you down every time!

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  20. Good Morning, DEBRA! I think you're right--we're going to see deep inside the creative hearts and minds of Seeker Villagers today!

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  21. Hi, KC (and MAY!) -- I'm glad this post is of assistance.

    When I write my first drafts, sometimes I'm diligent about making sure my characters aren't just standing there chatting. I try to find a PURPOSE for them being in that particular setting where I've placed them. Other times, I have to go back in and weave in the more vivid details and figure out what "movement" my characters could be involved in that goes beyond a facial expression or the motioning of a hand.

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  22. Hi, GANISE! Yes, do come back and give it a try!

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  23. Glynna Kaye, forgot to thank you for a great post to get me started this morning! Now on to the real WIP.

    Peace, Julie

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  24. JULIE -- LOL! Another cute one! Loved the surprise ending. :)

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  25. Good points, Glynna! I usually write a scene and then go back and work in the tags. Sometimes it's hard to include action, but you're right, we'd have talking heads without it!

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  26. I like Vince's version, LOL!

    Teeeenster, these are perfect examples and an eye-opener for deepening a scene. And sometimes it's a few words, chopped and added, here and there. What a great lesson, chickie!

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  27. Good morning, Cara!

    I find it really helps if I can come up with something that gets my characters physically involved with a setting or activity. Audra's example could have just had them standing there talking about them planning to clean fish or having had already cleaned fish, but not actually cleaning fish. Giving them the actual activity boosted the scene's impact.

    So many things to remember when we're writing those WIPs!

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  28. LOL -- I'm still marveling at how this vegetarian could be swooning over a fish-gutting scene!!!!

    Loved all the examples so far. It really shows the diversity in imagination, doesn't it?

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  29. TEEEENSTER? I'm a TEEEENSTER now? Only in my dreams, RUTHY! Wish I had half the energy and creativity of our very own Tina! But it's something for all of us to aspire to. :)

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  30. LOL! Better watch out, KAV! Audra's scenes may sway you to the dark side. :)

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  31. Six-inch spiked heel.

    I love the exaggeratory feel of that singular comment almost more than life itself, Melissa!

    And I love fun contemp scenes. Women behaved in a more genteel fashion in most historical settings. Unless you were Scottish or Irish: We got to be wenches and fishwives, wild and crazy. I love that part of my heritage, LOL! Precious little demure in a Celtic girl.

    I'm leaving cinnamon coffee cake with streusel topping. If I'm getting fat, I'm taking the rest of the English speaking world down with me.

    So there.

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  32. Hello, Seekerville!

    It's been a while, I know! I've missed you all and hope to visit more frequently again.

    Glynna Kaye, please count me in for that drawing! :D

    Okay. Here's my add-to-dialogue:

    Todd funneled frustration into his swing and split the wood in two. “I don’t like making snap decisions, that’s all.” They didn't really need more firewood for the stove, but since he didn't have a punching bag at the cabin, he figured chopping wood was the next best thing.

    Mandy stood as safe distance away, fists planted on her hips. “You’ve had days to think about it. Weeks,” she said, exasperation pouring from every word.

    He stopped, rested the ax head on the stump and, gentling his voice, forced himself to make eye contact. “So? If I make the wrong decision, I’ll have the rest of my life to regret it.” He held her gaze. Watched tears spring to her eyes. She blinked them back. His heart twisted and he'd give anything to reassure her, but that wasn't something he could do. Not now. Maybe not ever.

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  33. Sorry to take this off track but I am wondering why my profile picture has me in my pjs reading Tina's book when every other blog has my new haircut.

    I think Teenster is the master of the Seekerville universe.

    Peace, Julie

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  34. Good morning, LINNETTE! So good to "see" you again!

    Great example with Todd chopping the wood, then pausing to focus on Mandy! It's just so amazing how action anchors us into a scene, isn't it?

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  35. JULIE -- Like Linnette, I'm seeing you with the CUTE new haircut now! But yes, the early pics that accompanied your posts this morning were different.

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  36. Yep, yep! Totally agree, Glynna! :D

    BTW, I'm celebrating today. My boys started school today. My oldest is a Senior. My third is a freshman. I watched all three walk into High School together this morning. Garrison is starting 1st grade AND TODAY is my 20th Anniversary!!! Big day! :D

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  37. CONGRATULATIONS, LINNETTE on the anniversary--AND on the kids heading back to school. But NO WAY can you have a senior in high school. Are you borrowing someone else's youthful photo for your blog posts?

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  38. Fun stuff! Thanks for inviting us to the game, Glynna!



    “I don’t like making snap decisions, that’s all.” Jace took a swipe at her side of the shared hedge with her clippers.

    From the other side of the boxwood came the meticulous snip of Tony's shears. “You’ve had days to think about it." One more snip, then he poked his head over the leafy top. "Weeks.”

    Jace met her neighbor's confident gaze. He was right. Other women didn't think twice about an invitation from a man like him.

    But she wasn't other women. She tackled the hedge with her shears again.

    “So? If I make the wrong decision, I’ll have the rest of my life to regret it.”



    Put me in for the drawing, please!

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  39. Welcome back, Linette! And Happy Anniversary!

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  40. DEEEEELIGHTFUL, Jan! Love it! It sparkles!

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  41. Hi Linnette:

    That was great! You packed a whole chapter’s worth of emotion in that short segment. Body langage can really ramp up the emotion. Wonderful job.

    Vince

    P.S. A first graded and a 20th Anniversary. You’re going to have to be young for a long time to come! Congrats!

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  42. Welcome Back KC

    I’d love to see how you would do the dialog between May and another dog.

    “Should she take the assignment?”

    Vince

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  43. GREAT post, Glynna -- to me action makes all the difference, writing it more like a movie than a book, seeing it in the old brain, you know??

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  44. Wonderful post. I learn so much here. Below is my meager action attempt.

    “I don’t like making snap decisions, that’s all.” Corrie ducked her head into the refrigerator, hoping to find refuge and something filling to eat.

    “You’ve had days to think about it.” Her roommate, Abby, pulled the fridge door from Corrie’s hand, exposing her, “Weeks.”

    “So?” Corrie grabbed a soda and retreated, leaving the refrigerator wide open. “If I make the wrong decision, I’ll have the rest of my life to regret it.”

    She beat a quick path out of the kitchen and towards the living room, a peeved Abby on her heels.


    Thanks for the writing exercise. Put me in the drawing please...

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  45. Hi, Glynna!! Perfect timing on your post!!! I was struggling with this just yesterday. Here's my attempt:

    Haydn didn't look at his secretary as he shut the desk drawer with his hip. "I don't like making snap decisions, that's all." He opened his briefcase and reached for the evidence that condemned his wife.

    Lara slammed her hand onto the photos and leaned her curvy figure over the desk. "You've had days to think about it," her eyes narrowed, "weeks."

    Haydn's jaw clenched. His temple throbbed. "So?" He jerked the stack from beneath her hand. Hoped she got a paper cut. "If I make the wrong decision, I'll have the rest of my life to regret it." He stalked out and banged the door in her rouged face. He hated being entangled. Like he was in a spider's web and he didn't know which woman was the black widow.

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  46. Linnette,

    Congrats on your celebrations.

    btw, Todd sounds like a WONDERFUL hero. Loved your piece.

    Vince,
    I wouldn't want to get on Mary's bad side.

    Melissa,
    I cannot relate to six-inch spiked heels, but can SOOOOOOOOOOO relate to the frustration of that last sentence. Laughed out loud reading that.

    Apologies to anyone who wrote something I missed. Gotta run, my work break is up. *durn the bad luck*

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  47. Y'all are having way too much fun this morning. I couldn't resist adding my $.02. ; )

    “I don’t like making snap decisions, that’s all.” Laura Grace put the picnic basket on the shelf.
    “You’ve had days to think about it. Weeks.” Mack's body moved into the storage closet blocking the door.
    Chills ran up her back. He wasn't going to wait for an answer much longer. “So? If I make the wrong decision, I’ll have the rest of my life to regret it.”
    As his rough hand caressed her shoulder, the chills turned warm and settled lower down. "But I can't go to the prom with you. We've both been out of school for decades! What would the students think?"
    His laugh boomed out rattling the dishes. "That Mr. Singer finally got lucky!"

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  48. Glynna,

    Great post! And so very true! I struggle with this very thing sometimes - especially with my historical stories where the rich are sitting in the parlor. What do they do there?!! LOL.

    Much better to be doing something - a task (like cleaning fish!)

    Great examples everyone! Enjoying them very much!

    Must go meet friends for lunch!

    Please put me in the draw. I love the cover of your book, btw!

    Cheers,
    Sue
    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

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  49. If Melissa can play in contemp sandboxes, Ruthy can go back in time!


    “I don’t like making snap decisions, that’s all.” Becka stabbed the needle into her forty-seventh piece of embroidered nonsense that year, and William was fairly certain his mother hadn’t made forty-seven bits of needlework in her lifetime. But then she was the mother of six raucous boys, and needles were better put to darning socks and mending little boy knees on a regular basis.

    And Becka didn’t make snap decisions? Really?

    Like she’d put a pile of thought into stringing buckets of green beans into leather britches he couldn’t eat because they tasted like spoiled shoe leather, tromped through swamps and jungle. Of course, he’d snuck the bulk of them off to the swine pen last month, and prayed she wouldn’t notice that even the piggiest sow turned her nose up at them. He tried reason, with little hope for success. “You’ve had days to think about it. Weeks. Months, Beck.”

    “So?” She didn’t look up. Didn’t look down. The only physical reaction came in a tiny quirk of left brow, as if shrugging him off with her shoulders wasn’t worth the effort. “If I make the wrong decision, I’ll have the rest of my life to regret it.”

    “Well, woman.” He set aside her needlework, paid not one lick of attention to her squeal, maybe even liking it just a little, and hauled her up, over his shoulder. He headed for the stairs, determined.

    “William! Put me down! It’s not considered polite to carry women in this fashion where I come from, and we agreed to talk about having a family. Some day.” She beat small hands on his upper back, but he had the good sense to know she didn’t really mean it, because if she wanted to beat on him, she’d be thumpin him harder.

    This time, this night, he was ready to stake his claim on the cute little wife his older brother sent out from Cincinnatti. With a little time and more than a few kisses, Becka Johnson would begin to understand that womanly crafts don’t always involve needles.
    Sometimes it’s all about love.

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  50. Okay, Ruthy. When's the book coming out?

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  51. These examples are fantabulous. You are really showing us how to make those characters COME ALIVE!!!

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  52. Hi Ruth:

    I thought you were doing Penelope from the Odyssey. You know, how she kept her suitors at bay by weaving a shroud during the day and then unweaving it at night. What would Penelope have done of one of those Greeks just picked her up, threw her over his shoulder and took her up to the bedroom?

    Of course, I’d be a little leery of throwing a woman over my shoulder who was skilled with large needles.

    I’m trying to pinpoint the year. Was is 1872 or was it 1873?

    Vince

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  53. Okay, here is Susan Codone's turn. And for context, you must understand my name is pronounced Codon-ee, like macaroni, rigatoni, minestrone, baloney. Actually, this may be baloney.

    Here goes.
    -----------------------------------

    The kind lady left the room, leaving the couple to think. Jennie reached with her free hand and squeezed her husband’s. She always marveled at the sheer size of his former fullback hands. “Marble, just make up your mind. I can’t stand waiting around like this. My mother will be here soon.”
    Cries rose plaintively from Jennie’s chest. Marble consulted his phone once more, using the app he had downloaded for this occasion. He filled his chest with air and exploded in a loud sigh. “I don’t like making snap decisions, that’s all.” He tapped his phone. “I don’t like any of these suggestions – they don’t sound right for what we’ve made.” He shifted his eyes toward the bed and tossed the phone onto the covers near Jennie’s feet.

    Jennie tried to sit up but found it impossible. She shifted her weight. Something slipped and an alarm began shrieking. “Marble! You’ve had days to think about it. Weeks. Months, actually. Make a choice – it’s your call this time.”

    The clinical scent of the room made Marble nervous. He peeked down the hall, thinking about bolting. Turning back to Jennie, he looked at what she was holding with bewildered eyes. “So? If I make the wrong decision, I’ll have the rest of my life to regret it.”

    “Wrong, Marble. You won’t be the one stuck with it for the rest of your life.” The crying plateaued, then trailed off.

    “Fine, then. Name him after me. Anthony Louigi Codone. Now all the kids will call him Tony Codone for the rest of his life and beat him up, just like they did to me. Can we at least call him Marble Jr, after my nickname?”

    Jennie smiled and the baby hushed, grateful to sense the tension lessening between his parents.

    “Let’s call him Chip. Like a chip off of you, blockhead.”

    Marble grabbed the pen proffered by Jennie, confidently snagged his newborn son, nestled him close, and carefully wrote Anthony Luigi Codone,Jr. in the blank on the social services form. “There you go, Chip. If anyone calls you Tony Codone, they’ll have to deal with me.”

    “How do you think his brother, Chunk, will take this?” They both laughed, and Jennie’s mother walked into the room squealing at the sight of Chip.
    -----------------------------------

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  54. Great post, Glynna! It will definitely to into my Seekerville binder.

    I don't think I can compete with the others, but I'll try.

    Gertrude beat the cookie dough with the strength of a powerlifter. "I don't like making snap decisions, that's all."

    Reaching into the bowl, only to get his hand smacked with the wooden spoon, Henry licked the sugary mixture from his finger tips. "You've had days to think about it. Weeks!"

    Rubbing the flour from her 99 year old eyes, she continued to guard the bowl. "So? If I make the wrong decision, I'll have the rest of my life to regret it."

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  55. Glynna, excellent way to show the importance of action/beats within dialogue. You've provided clear examples that drive home the differences between ho-hum exchanges and snappy, satisfying dialogue. Thank you!

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  56. Excellent post, Glynna! I really work at using beats to show my characters in action during dialogue. What they do often says a lot more about their emotions than the words they use.

    Prayers appreciated as I get through this "mourning" period now that my kids have left for their missions assignment in Ethiopia. It's been an intensely emotional few days, and so far I haven't been holding up very well.

    Thank goodness I'm a writer, because all these feelings will definitely help develop a book character's emotions one day.

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  57. Here we go, just for fun: (some of them are supposed to be in italic):
    Hannah clutched the door, her knuckles white.“I don’t like making snap decisions, that’s all.”
    “You’ve had days to think about it. Weeks.” Len's figure was propped against the wall, as casual as the tone he used with her.
    Why couldn't he understand? Why couldn't any of them understand?
    Hannah gritted her teeth. Thinking of the life growing inside of her was the only source of sanity in this.
    She needed calm.
    Cool, rational thoughts.
    One. Two. Three.“So? If I make the wrong decision, I’ll have the rest of my life to regret it.”

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  58. Great post, Glynna--and helpful for me right now. I need to read over my WIP and make sure I've written enough movement! ~ The examples everyone gave in the comments have been great too. Blessings, Patti Jo
    p.s. Please enter me in your drawing, and Congrats on another book! :)

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  59. p.s. Myra, praying for you.... Hugs, Patti Jo

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  60. Missed that one:

    Myra Hugs and prayers, sweet lady! God will see you and your family through.

    Congrats Linette!


    Ganise

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  61. “I don’t like making snap decisions, that’s all.” Of course Mel had decided what they were doing instantly, but he’d been married a while now and he knew woman liked to think they were helping. “What do you want to do?”
    Tugging on his buckskin gloves, he was already mentally stringing the horses into a line and picking which one Missy oughta ride. He sure hoped she agreed because the saddle bags were packed with all they needed, everything else was being left behind. And he wasn’t changing his mind, She could like it or spend time fussing, either they, they were leaving this place in the next ten minutes and never coming back. Texas was calling his name.
    “Well,” Missy said, knitting her brow, “I guess it’s just as well to head out.” She stood and gave him a firm nod. “I think we should do it.”
    He dragged her hard against him and kissed the living daylights out of her just to reward her for being so blasted smart. “If you think we should go, we’ll go.”

    [POV Break]

    Finally!
    Missy kissed him again just to keep him from thinking. She’d learned early on how to get her way and make him think it was his own idea. She’d been working on the stubborn man to head for Texas from the minute they’d gotten married.

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  62. Ah, your post was just what I needed. My characters regularly suffer from immobility.

    Can't wait to read the new book. Please enter me in the drawing.

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  63. RUTHY!!!!


    Holy Smokes! Is that how you got six kids???

    And we all know it's never good to give a woman weeks to mull an idea like that. Sneak attack is always best.

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  64. Ruthy's scene reminded me of Rhett and Scarlet. Except different place, different time. :)

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  65. Wow! Busy, fun day while I've been a the day job!!

    JULIE L - you're so right that action on a page converts to moving images in your mind, like a movie!

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  66. DebH -- Great scene movement! So much more effective than having them stand there by the fridge just chatting!

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  67. Hi, NATALIE! Oooh, I like that! Very vivid! AND ingtriguing! I think some of you should go ahead and flesh your passages into a REAL story! :)

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  68. ZAN MARIE -- I can visualize this very clearly! This is so much fun to see how all of you took just a few bare-bones lines of dialogue and fleshed them out so cleverly. And so differently!

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  69. SUSAN--I'm sure that's so very true about trying to write historical parlor chats. Of course, our dear Mary would just have her heroine shoot someone, but that might be overkill in some situations! :)

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  70. P.S. SUSAN -- I thought they really did a nice job on the cover, too!

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  71. Cute, RUTHY! Think LIH will go for it?? :)

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  72. HELLO, SUSAN C! Thanks for jumping in there to join in the fun! Clever twist! Are the stories you're writing all humorous as well?

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  73. HI, JILLIAN! The humor in great in this one, too! Love that spunky 99-year-old who doesn't want to regret something for the rest of her life! And I can just see her guarding that cookie dough!

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  74. MYRA--I've noticed in your books that you do weave in the action so well. And you use such vivid, unique ways of describing thing so that I'm left wonder "Now why didn't I think of that first???"

    I know your house has to feel so empty and lonely now. Praying that the pain will ease.

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  75. GANISE -- Thanks for coming back to give it a shot! Saying Hannah clutched the door, her knuckles white, describes how she's feeling so much more vividly than if you'd merely have named the emotion.

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  76. Thanks, Patti Jo! Remember a week or two ago when Barbara McMahon was here talking about how she revises? She reads her WIP through from the hero's POV, then the heroine's. Maybe we should add a THIRD read-through, looking for ways to enhance the movement?

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  77. LOVE IT, MARY C! I think for sure you have to put that scene into your next book!

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  78. Hi, ANNIE! Glad you found something useful in today's post! Every time I turn around, it seems there's something else I need to be learning and incorporating in my WIPs!

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  79. Thanks, everyone, for coming out to play today! I've really, really enjoyed seeing the depth and breadth of creativity among our Seeker Villagers! Awesome job!

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  80. Glynna, please enter me for #4....I read the other 3 and loved them! Thanks!
    Jackie S.


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  81. Great examples. I appreciate the before and after ... it helps me better understand good placement of action so it doesn't just sound like stage directions. Thank you!

    Looking forward to reading comments to see what folks came up with :-)

    Nancy C

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  82. Great post, I find it funny that some people think you're supposed to get rid of all the tags and beats and just make your characters talk back and forth. that's okay for a short time, but if it goes on too long I get lost. Maybe because I didn't see the characters.

    There are some great scenes, everyone.

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  83. A fabulous post & I love the comments.

    I would love to read “Look-Alike Lawman” thank you.

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  84. Zan Marie, LOL!!!!

    I spewed my coffee, you brat!

    That's hysterical!

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  85. Jan: hahahahaha!

    :)

    Vince, 1872... But if you're rounding up we could say the cusp of '73.

    (laughing out loud, you big lug)

    These were so stinkin' fun to read!

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  86. Co-don-eee, that's wonderful! Just marvelous, LOL! I wanna hold that kid!

    And Jillian, oh my stars, perfect spin! It's all in the perspective, LOL!

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  87. I love that I called Glynna Teenster, and do not ask why....

    I was clearly asleep.

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  88. Connealy....

    And isn't that just the way of it?????

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  89. would love to win your book! Sounds like a great book!

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  90. Thanks for all the congrats and welcoming me back! I've missed being here.

    Yes, I am old enough to have a senior. Thanks for the compliment!

    Also glad you all enjoyed my piece. I LOVE making a scene come alive! I watch it play out in my head and the start typing. :D

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