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A Writer’s Best Friend

So, I’ve found my best writing friend, again.

And it’s my writing group.

My group comprises around a dozen women who represent different genres, different approaches, different histories, different states… even different countries. One is a college professor, the bulk of whose writing is academic in nature; the rest of us, moms and job-holders by day, fiction writers by night, write mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, erotica, and amazing combinations of the above.

Each of us – and our writing – is celebrated for who she is and what she does. Each of us receives support in spirit and in craft. Each of us is encouraged and critiqued and emerges from our annual retreat knowing that there are people invested in making sure her story is as good as it can possibly be.

Each of us is treasured.

This has been 2013’s Retreat Week. We’ve come together by the shores of Lake Michigan to laugh, sing, and embrace. To cook and to dine. To read and to write.

And on Friday, when we reluctantly return to our lives, we’ll do so renewed and ready to press forward with our writing. At home, with our families, our jobs, and all the distractions of everyday life, we’ll also carry in our hearts this lovely space that’s filled with words and laughter and acceptance.

And we’ll return here, every time we sit down to write.

Already, I can’t wait until next year!


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Prince SPaGhetti Day – Independence Day Edition

I’m back after a long absence… My family’s issues appear to be resolving, freeing me to focus on my own goals and passions.

Today, I’m celebrating two men in American history – men whose lives became intertwined and who were alternately friends, enemies, and colleagues for more than fifty years.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were, in many ways, differentiated by geography.  They were from different parts of the Colonies; Adams was a Boston lawyer and Jefferson a lawyer, landowner, and Burgess in Virginia.  Each was a man of great intellectual curiosity.  Each believed passionately in the Rights of Man. 

Together with Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston, Jefferson and Adams were appointed to a Committee by the Continental Congress on June 11, 1776 to draft a Declaration to explain  the reasons for the Colonies’ separation from the King and Parliament.  Adams lobbied within the committee for Jefferson to write the first draft, which he subsequently produced.  There were some changes made by the committee as a whole, and then the document was submitted to the Congress on June 28,1776.  Congress debated Jefferson’s Declaration and made many alterations, striking entire sections and heavily editing others.

What they agreed upon became, as Jeffersonian biographer John Ferling called it, the “majestic document that inspired both contemporaries and posterity.”

The vote for Independence was taken and carried on July 2, 1776.  The document proclaiming and explaining this radical move was first read to the assembled crowds in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776.  And the world changed forever.

This document came to life under the pen of Thomas Jefferson, but it owes every bit as much to Adams, Franklin, and the others.  These are the founding fathers, the men who transformed the ideals of the Enlightenment into a nation.

In the ensuing thirty years, the two men’s conflicting views and ways of life made them adversaries.  Jefferson unseated Adams to become the third President of the United States.  However, as they aged, they found fewer and fewer minds to match their own, and they began a long correspondence.  The men whose shared ideals and conflicts had formed a nation became friends once more, brothers in experience and purpose.

On the morning of July 4, 1826, Thomas Jefferson breathed his last at Monticello.  That afternoon, as the Nation celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the first reading of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams died in Quincy, Massachusetts.  His last words, fittingly, were “Thomas Jefferson survives.”

He does, indeed.  They both do.

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Red Pencil Thursday Critique

I submitted the first 500 words of my WIP to Mia Marlowe’s Red Pencil Thursday Critique Group, and it was posted today!

The feedback I’ve received is really, really helpful.  I have plenty of notes in my Revisions notebook, so when the first draft is finished, I’ll have them to refer to.

Head on over and take a look!

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Book Review – The Witness, by Nora Roberts

When I buy a Nora Roberts book, I have certain expectations.  I know her heroes and heroines.  I know the basic plotlines.

Basically, I’m looking for a comfortable read from a master storyteller.  And that’s not exactly what I got this time.

The masterful storytelling was still there.  And yet, her characters weren’t variations on the same (awesome) theme.  The heroine reads a bit like Temperance Brennan in Bones sounds.  Brilliant, literal, a bit beyond socially awkward.

Her growth in this, from frightened girl to ever-vigilant fugitive to, finally, secure and loving woman, is deftly shown and entirely believable.  The hero, a bit lower-key than the normal Roberts hero, but definitely as strong, is the perfect mate for her.

The writing in this one wasn’t quite as smooth as always, but Roberts was trying something new.  And she succeeded very well. (My one criticism – as is often the case – is that the editing is not wonderful.  I really wish that publishers would take spelling as seriously as they do their bottom lines.)

All in all, I heartily recommend the book, and I commend Nora Roberts for taking the risk of deviating from a proven formula.  She did it very well, indeed.

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So, who is this Annie Talbot, anyway?

My parents tell me I was born knowing how to read.  While that is clearly a fond fiction, it’s true that I was reading ahead of my mother at storytime.  She figured it out, eventually.  Reading remains one of my great loves to this day.  (Many decades later!)

My dream, as a child and teenager, was to be a writer.  Even when I ran into the English teachers from hell, who despised my writing and gave my essays and stories low marks… even when that pesky streak of realism demanded that I train for a career in a field with a guaranteed income, I yearned to tell my stories.

But, as is often the case in life, I outgrew my dreams.  Or so I thought…

And then the internet came around.  And I picked up my metaphorical pen and began to tell my stories to people who loved them.  In so doing, I rediscovered my passion for my own words, not just the words of others.  I began to edit other people’s stories and renewed my love of grammar, syntax, spelling, punctuation.

My favorite item of punctuation is the semicolon, if you were wondering.  Well, actually, it’s my favorite piece of punctuation, whether you were wondering or not.

So now, here I am.  Poised to begin a new career.  Not just a job, but that thing that I believe is my true vocation.

My name is Annie Talbot.  I write stories.  And when I publish them, which I surely will, I hope you’ll read them and enjoy them.

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