First, a huge thanks to novelist pal Nancy Moser, who created this REAL plot skeleton to go along with my outline! I don’t know how she did it, but this little guy is just great. Thanks, Nancy!

Am back home today, recovering from the cold, and cleared the desk. The revisions for MAGDALENE are done and today I printed out my work calendar for the next several months, x-ing out my out-of-town dates and sabbaths. What’s left are the work days, and I jotted down exactly what I had to do on each of those days . . . and it all fits perfectly. Whew.

Now . . . in today’s mail I found a copy of a book I’d ordered–THE TROUBLE WITH POETRY, by Billy Collins. Wow. I sat down to read a couple of poems and was instantly swept away to afternoons when I used to sit on my front porch swing in Virginia and read poetry. I love poetry, I really do, but I haven’t read it in a long time. Haven’t written it in a long time, either, because, frankly, it doesn’t pay to write poetry these days. I write for a living, and I don’t know how poets manage to pay the mortgage.

But there’s something about the elegant simplicity of poetry . . . the snapshots of clean images evoked in only a few words. Made me want to take my book out onto my current front porch and rock a while, just readin’ and thinkin’ . . .

Poetry is good discipline for a writer’s soul. I’m sorry I’ve gotten out of the habit of reading and writing it. So thanks, Billy Collins, for reminding me.

Tomorrow: I begin work on THE ELEVATOR.



  1. Ruth

    Billy Collins is my brother’s favorite poet. I’ve read some of his work and have really enjoyed it. Can’t wait to hear more about THE ELEVATOR. 😉

  2. Betsy

    A question regarding the skeleton do you frame you story after you have a first draft, or do you outline first?

  3. Angie

    Frame first. Otherwise, how will you know where you’re heading?


  4. Helen

    I love the three books by Robert Pinsky and Maggie Dietz where readers open every poem with why it means something to them personally.


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