Themed Thursday: Pantser or Plotter? Which kind of writer are you?

For those who may not know what I’m talking about here, a plotter is a writer who outlines. A pantser is a writer who flies by the seat of their pants.

Faran Fagen

Faran: I’m a little of both, outliner and panster. I plan ahead when it comes to key points (inciting event, binding point, turning point, etc.). But when it comes to writing each chapter, I easily get lost in each scene and I think that adds to the excitement and suspense of the story. Because of this spontaneity, I often have to go over each chapter when I’m finished to make sure there are no inconsistencies (sports stats, details out of order, etc.). One thing I find really helpful is to make a list of major plot points and powerful moments I know I want to include in each chapter. That way, I make sure to include those but also give myself the freedom to add in new exciting scenes as well.

Jonathan Rosen

Jonathan: Pantser or plotter? Well, I’d like to think that, for once, I would get an easy question for Thursday, but noooooo! Truth is, I’ve done both. All my novels, I’ve insanely plotted, but for my last one, I just went with an idea and how I wanted it to end, and went with it. It was fun and freeing, but I still had the basis of the plot in my mind. I do like both methods and don’t say one is better than the other, but I will say, if you are a pantser, you better, at least, have a very good idea of how the plot should go, or you risk muddying everything up. So, my answer is both!

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: I was a pantser, and I got pretty lucky that things seemed to fall into place where they were supposed to plot-wise. I have taken to outlining some of the story, but right now the re-write I’m in the middle of, in spite of the outline, is taking its own twists and turns.  What can you do? Go with it!

Melody Maysonet

Melody: I am definitely a planner, but you know what they say: “The best-laid plans of mice and men…” My plans often go awry, so I end up writing completely different, very detailed outlines for the same book.

Stacie Ramey

Stacie: The answer to the age-old writing question, Do I outline or do I write by the seat of my pants? It’s not that simple. I sort of do a hybrid approach. I write a synopsis, blurb, and sketch out key scenes. Then I fill in the blanks as I write. Except when I write without a plan, whatsoever, just a vague feeling propelling me along. Like the one I’m working on now. Which I’m totally pants-ing. Sooo that makes me a poutliner, I guess.

Themed Thursday: Our recommended beach reads

Melody Maysonet

Melody: I just finished The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies. This isn’t a book I’d normally pick up to read (the synopsis made it seem like a historical romance), but a dear friend of mine recommended it, so I gave it a try. I didn’t want to put it down!

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: My beach read is: A Gentleman in Moscow by A. Towles. This book unfolds shortly after the Russian Revolution in a period of violent upheaval. A striking count named Alexander Rostov has been summoned and accused of writing a counter-revolutionary poem. His trial offers an indication of the count’s casual resistance to the spirit of the times. Asked to state his occupation, he answers, “It is not the business of a gentleman to have occupations.” Friends in high places keep him from being shot on the spot. He’s declared a “Former Person” and sentenced to life imprisonment in Moscow’s Hotel Metropol. The novel has more time for tea than high adventure, but it makes you appreciate what you’ve got, and those with which you can share it.

Jonathan Rosen

Jonathan: To me, any book that I’m reading is a good beach read. I love reading by the pool or beach. Fresh air and seeing the water in the background puts you in another place, mentally. But, since we’re picking one, and I have a feeling that this will be on more than one person’s list, I’ll say Jaws. Jaws is a fun read, and what better place to read it than the beach? You’ll be peeking into the ocean every other paragraph and then be too scared to even go in! What’s more fun than that?

Faran Fagen

Faran: When I worked full-time at night in the Palm Beach Post sports department, I used to bike to Palm Beach almost every day (I didn’t report to work til 4 p.m.) Often, if I wasn’t making another lame attempt at surfing, I would take the latest Sports Illustrated magazine and read while I listened to the waves. A writer’s magazine, SI was full of colorful features, detailed profiles, and witty commentary. Some beautiful memories of reading those articles in the sand.

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: A beach read for me needs to be a Janet Evanovich novel. Her Stephanie Plum series–funny mishaps of an ill-suited bounty hunter with a scintillating love triangle. Team Ranger.

E-reader or Book? What’s Your Preference?

Faran Fagen

Faran: I just love to sit in a comfortable chair and flip through the pages of a book. I love the smell of a book, the feel of the pages on my fingers, and the authentic look of the cover. Nothing’s better than rain patting the roof, a comfy chair, a cup of coffee in one hand, and a good book in the other. Not having to worry about charging the thing or other technical glitches is also a plus.

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: My current favorite method is audiobooks. I download them from Broward County Library on Overdrive and listen in the car. I was in Dania for a workshop yesterday. It took me an hour to get home, but I didn’t mind. I had a great book! I also will read from an e reader on occasion, but normally, if I’m reading, it’s an actual book.

Melody Maysonet

Melody: I started reading ebooks when I ran out of space on my bookshelves. Now I’m hooked. I usually read while I’m eating or drinking coffee, and with an ebook, you can just prop up the device (in my case, i use the Kindle app on my iPad) to easily turn the pages. I also read in bed at night–which means I can turn off all the lights and still see my book. That’s not to say I don’t love the feel and smell and look of paper books. I do! And I’ll still buy my favorite books in hard copy so I can display them on my shelf.

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: I am definitely a book person. I don’t even own an e-reader. I love the texture of the cover in my hands, the smell of the pages, and the available reference should I want to revisit the book for a discussion. I keep most of my books in case I want to reread them, reference a writing technique, or share them with others. Some of my books have been passed down from my parents and grandparents who loved to read. I hope to pass along those favorites to my children and grandchildren.

Jonathan Rosen

Jonathan: You’d think there’d finally be an easy question for our Themed Thursdays, but as always, it’s never that simple. There are times when I prefer reading via electronic device, but to me, there’s nothing better than holding a new book and flipping through the pages. It’s a thrill to open a book and get that feeling that an electronic device just can’t match.

Themed Thursday: What We’re Reading Now

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: I’m working through the 2017-2018 Florida Teens Read list. I just started The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. From the title, I expected a fantasy novel, and there is a fantasy aspect to it. However it’s really about growing up in the Bible Belt and coming to terms with his parents’ sins and whether or not that will define his life.

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: I’m reading Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie. Two strangers meet and form a band. One of them has a magical guitar. Their struggles with the rise and fall of the band reflect Native American life. I’m reading it to learn more about the writing technique of magical realism.

Melody Maysonet

Melody: My sister recommened The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, and I’m absolutely loving it! (Thanks, Eva!) This book is smart, funny, sweet, heart-breaking, and optimistic all at the same. This is a must-read for anyone who loves books and literature (the main character is a bookstore owner) and for anyone who enjoys stories about redemption. If you liked A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, or The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, you’ll love this book.

Faran Fagen

Faran: At this moment, I’m actually reading a tiny book called You Know You’re a Writer When… by Adair Lara. It’s full of little snippets any writer would appreciate, like seeing the keyboard through tears, and viewing our friends as characters in our latest novel. My favorite quip so far: “Your heartbeat quickens whenever you enter a bookstore.”

Jonathan Rosen

Jonathan: I thought for sure this would be an easy one, but the problem is, I read several books at once. But, since we have to pick only one, I’m going to go with Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood. It’s part of Nathan Hale’s, Hazardous Tales series, which covers different historical periods in comic form. This particular one, is about World War I, which was a fascinating time, for all that the results that the outcome led to.

 

Stacie: Right now I’m reading Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor. It’s a collection of short stories and I’m loving it. Laini Taylor’s book, Daughter of Smoke and Bone was one of my favorites so I thought I’d give this collection a try.

I’m not sorry I did. It’s gorgeous, other-worldly. Wonderful.

 

 

 

 

 

Themed Thursday: What’s your favorite John Hughes film?

Faran: I’ve probably seen The Breakfast Club the most times, but I have to give it to a John Hughes movie you may not know, Some Kind of Wonderful. I just love the purity of this movie. And it’s got one of the best ending lines of all time. Eric Stoltz gives his girlfriend expensive diamond earrings and says, “You look good wearing my future.” Gets me every time.

Cathy: This took awhile. How to choose between The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, or Sixteen Candles? Ultimately, I have to choose the one I find most clever–Ferris Bueller. The way he breaks the third wall and talks right to us–loved that. I think all of the films were Illinois based, but lots of Chicago landmarks are shown, which warms this midwestern girl’s heart.

JoanneFerris Beuller’s Day Off is my favorite John Hughes movie. It’s a quirky comedy about a teenager skipping school that was like a joyride for all teens and twenty-somethings in the 1980s. My favorite scene was when the principle, Mr. Rooney, thinks he’s talking to Ferris on the telephone. He’s fed up with Ferris’s antics and says, “You can smooch my big white butt.” The secretary comes in frantic and says Ferris is on the other line.

Melody: My favorite John Hughes film has to be Planes, Trains and Automobiles, starring Steve Martin and John Candy. It’s one of the few movies I’ve seen where I laugh out loud every time I see it. It’s also a bit of a tear jerker, thanks to John Candy’s incredible performance.

Jonathan: John Hughes has written a lot of movies that I like, but I think we’re supposed to keep this to the movies that he directed. So, if that’s the case, it’s a tough one. I like most of them, but I’m going to go with Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I watch it every holiday season. It has the perfect mix of laugh-out-loud humor and sentimentality, which gets me every time I watch it. Can’t wait to see it again this year!

Stacie: It’s impossible to pick just one John Hughes movie as my favorite. So many wonderful movies. But if I have to pick just one, I’m going to say Sixteen Candles. It was sweet, funny, and very real. I loved everything about it, including Jake with the red Porsche. 

 

Themed Thursday: The First Books We Wrote

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: The first book I wrote was a children’s book about a fish that got lost. I did not pursue a publisher for it. I wrote it in the early 1990s, when my children were small and I read to them daily. I was also taking classes at Broward College at the time and took a class from Joyce Sweeney. Here’s what she wrote when she read it.

I’m still working on plotting, haha! That was my first introduction to working with Joyce. Many years later when I started writing a novel I contacted her just as she was getting together a new critique group that came to be known as The Tuesdays.

Melody Maysonet

Melody: As a child, I started writing several books, but it wasn’t until I was 16 that I finished my first novel. It was called The Inseparables and it was kind of a rip-off of The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. By the time I finished high school, I had turned that standalone book into a trilogy. I know they’re bad, but, man, they were great fun to write. I haven’t felt that unfettered in my writing since.

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: In seventh grade a classmate and I started writing a book in a spiral notebook we passed back and forth. It was really about this new boy in eighth grade we were both crushing on. I think the main story was all about getting a kiss from him. Oh, if the nuns had found that notebook!

Faran Fagen

Faran: When I was a freshman in high school, we read Dante´s Inferno. Our teacher, Mrs. Vincent, assigned us a project to create our own Dante´s Inferno. I wrote my own book with each canto-chapter about a baseball player I either liked or disliked. Like the book, the toils in my project got progressively more intense for the player. The final canto was about Paul O´ Neill of the Reds, known for his aggressive and sometimes dirty tactics.

Themed Thursday: What’s the movie you’ve seen the most times?

Faran Fagen

Faran: This is a tie for me because I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen Shawshank Redemption and The Princess Bride. Both are very different, but have the same message of hope. They both have epic scenes–the final sword fight and final prison break. I will leave you with this combined quote: “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father. Prepare to hope.”

Stacie Ramey

Stacie: Wow, I gotta tell you, Tuesday Readers, this is a tough one for me. You see, when I love a movie….I loooooove a movie. And at different times in my life I’ve watched the same movie over and over again. Usually day after day. I’ve done this with Hitchcock movies. With silly movies. With sad movies. Definitely when I write, I like to have a movie on in the background. One that I’ve seen before and loved. But I guess The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner would win, simply because I watched it every year with Mom when she was still alive. She loved Charlton Heston. I loved Yul Brynner. We both loved John Derek. But mostly I loved watching this movie with her.

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: The movies I’ve seen the most are children’s movies because my kids wanted to watch them over and over again. I’ve seen The Sound of Music and the Disney movies from the early 90s time and time again. The one that sticks in my mind the most is Clifford the Big Red Dog and the songs associated with it. You know when you get a phrase from a song stuck in your head and it replays non-stop? The song B-I-N-G-O from Clifford was one of those things that really stuck in my brain. I found myself singing the song around the house and in the car. When my children grew older, I gave it to a friend who was a heart-lung perfusionist. He said the song stuck in his head so much he found himself singing it in the middle of an open heart surgery. The surgeon and the operating room staff laughed and teased him for months afterward.

Jonathan Rosen

Jonathan: I really and honestly don’t know what movie I’ve seen the most. Some of my favorites, I’ve seen so many times, I’ve lost count. It always depends what mood I’m in. If I had to guess, I’d say Back to the Future. It’s funny to me, because when I first saw it, you got to feel the fond nostalgia that the filmmakers had for the 50s and their childhoods. But, watching it now gives me that same feeling for the 80s. A couple of years ago, on the 30th anniversary, I took my kids to see the trilogy in the theaters, and I had that same sense of wonder that I had back when I originally saw it.

Melody Maysonet

Melody: I’d have to say it’s Jaws (my favorite movie), or Ladyhawke (starring Rutger Hauer, who I once had a major crush on). Ladyhawke is fantasy at its best, and if you haven’t seen it, get thee to a streaming service. (Bonus: Matthew Broderick and Michelle Pfeiffer are in it too.)

Themed Thursday: What would you name your band if you had one?

Faran Fagen

Faran: I would name my band “Release the Kraken.” Everyone has heard of this phrase from Clash of the Titans (underrated movie), and the Kraken has gained much popularity over the years (just look at Disney). The Kraken itself exudes strength and overwhelming power, so what better name for a band?

Stacie Ramey

Stacie: If I had a band I would name it Foolish Wit as an homage to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, which is one of my favorite of his plays. My band would play 90s-style music and we’d dress in 90s clothes as homage to Mark Fetterly, who directed my daughter in his 90s version of this play last fall. Or maybe I’m just dying to pull out my Madonna fingerless gloves and black leather jacket? Whatever the reason, we’d only play in small venues like cool coffee clubs or small theaters. I would play the tambourine, of course.

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: Hot Head. It would be a thrasher band and Heat Miser would be our mascot. 

Melody Maysonet

Melody: I always thought Rec and the Tangles would be a great name for my rock band, but since I’m stealing the name from my older sister, Dawn, I’d let her be “Rec” and I’d be one of the Tangles.

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: Having a rock band would be a blast. Travelling with a bunch of friends and exploring a lot of new cities would be great, although I think the travel would become tiresome after the initial excitement of wider recognition wore off. If I have a band, I’d name it Quantum.

Jonathan Rosen

Jonathan: I can honestly say, I have NEVER put any thought into this question, since the only one who ever wanted to hear me sing more was my mom, and even she took that in small doses. But, for the sake of the task, I’m going to go with PSS, or Please Stop Singing. I’m sure there are far better answers, but it was either this, or MTISLAA, whuch means, Mom Thinks I Sing Like An Angel, but it’s too difficult to say.

 

Themed Thursday: Something People Would Be Surprised to Learn About You

Melody Maysonet

Melody: I enjoy sketching, and at one time I wanted to be an artist. This was back in high school. Even back then, I was fascinated by World War II—as you can see from my sketches. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faran Fagen

Faran: During the great home run race of 1998, I caught a batting practice home run off the bat of Mark McGwire before a Marlins game. A picture of me cradling the ball wound up on the front page of the Palm Beach Post, which I happened to work for at the time as a sports copy editor. The caption identified me as “a fan,” and the paper didn’t realize it was me until the next day when I showed up for work. McGwire, of course, went on to break Roger Maris’ single-season home run record.

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: When I’m working on something, book or not, I am more focused on the process and enjoying it rather than obsessing about the finished product. You might think it means I never finish, but that’s not true. My other characteristic is tenacity – I’m a finisher. So the two work together.

Jonathan Rosen

Jonathan: I’m not sure there’s anything that people would be really surprised to learn about me. Well, other than the years I spent as an enforcer for a secret government cabal. But, besides that, I’d have to say that maybe, the fact that I’m half-Mexican and used to live there. Nobody EVER seems to be able to reconcile that one. They always say, “But, your last name is Rosen?” They don’t seem to be able to separate nationality with religion. Oh, well, it always came in handy when I wanted to hear what the Spanish-speaking students were saying about me.

Themed Thursday: What’s Your Favorite Sport?

Jonathan: Favorite sport? It’s baseball, and nothing else comes even close for me. Baseball has the most strategy of any sport. You can’t run out a clock on an opponent, so both teams must get the same number of chances to win. It’s a sport where you play as a team, yet it’s also about the individual. I don’t get as engrossed in any other sport as I do in baseball. Unfortunately, the team I root for is terrible, but that’s another matter…

Cathy Castelli

Cathy: When I was growing up I played tennis three times a day all summer long. Although my parents hadn’t seen me play, they thought I must be on my way to Wimbledon. Not even close.

Faran Fagen

Faran: Just keep striking out trying to think of a sport I like the best. This one’s going to be hard to hit on the sweet spot. Nothing seems to hit home. I need a sign. Or some relief. Not a single thing comes to mind. This is driving me batty. Can you help me think of a sport I might like?

Melody Maysonet

Melody: My favorite sport is baseball, mainly because my brother Harrison and my nephew Peyton are so good at it. My brother was on a traveling team when he was young, and his son Peyton has now picked up the torch. I swear this kid is going to be in the major leagues some day. I am in awe of how good he is. At ten years old, his talent is extraordinary.

Joanne Butcher

Joanne: My favorite sport is snow skiing. I learned to ski going down the hill to the river in my backyard when I was ten years old. I didn’t have my own skis, but I really wanted to learn so I strapped my snow boots into an old pair that my dad used to use. The old pair was wooden, with no edges (just like the turn of the century kind you see on the walls of ski chalets). There were two metal pieces you put the toe of your boot into and a large strip of leather with a buckle that held the boot in place more or less. I skied down the hill and sidestepped back up for hours learning to control the skis. Good thing it was soft powder, not hard-packed snow, because I never would have been able to stop if I was going fast.  When I got my own pair for Christmas, they were so much easier to control. They came with a pair of ski boots made to fit the snap-down bindings, they were about two feet shorter than what I had been using, and they had edges. I was in heaven.