Author Archives: Terry Misfeldt

Getting Noticed

By Jean Baxter


Someone asked the question on our writer’s Facebook page if anyone has tried donating their book to one of the neighborhood “Free Libraries”?

I hadn’t, but I have gone to several of those little libraries and put my bookmarks in the books already there. I also put my bookmark in every book I check out at the public library—I don’t know if they just throw them away, but it’s worth a try.

And I have donated my book to two of the public libraries and also to two high school libraries. Has any of this done any good? I don’t know.


So, today when I went on my daily walk, I brought along one of my books. I put a note on the inside cover stating I was a local author and would appreciate it if my book could be circulated around the neighborhood. I mentioned this book and the others I have written are set in northeast Wisconsin. And, of course, the plea for a review if they read it.


As I approached my targeted neighborhood free library, I saw a man shoveling the driveway right near the box. As I went to add my book to the collection, he said, “It’s getting so full I’m going to have to sort through and throw some out.”


“Oh, please don’t throw this one out,” I pleaded, “I wrote it!” He came right over and took it from me.


“My wife and I are always looking for something to read, I’ll bring it right in!” We chatted a little more and I left feeling really good. Who knows, maybe I will get a review out of it yet!


Jean Baxter
Author of: Salvageable
Unfathomable
That Forgiveness Thing

Winter Isolation & Writing

By Terry C. Misfeldt

What do you do when a blizzard hits and you are isolated from the rest of the world?

When a recent snowstorm dumped more than one foot of snow on our community, I could not get my front door open. Sure, I had other means of egress but the first thing that came of mind–after removing the snow, of course–was that it was a perfect time to do more writing.

Winter in Wisconsin has a tendency to isolate us. It’s either too cold to go out or the snow and ice makes driving hazardous. And there’s only so much television you can watch before going stir crazy!

Whether you grab a pen and spiral notebook to make notes or plop yourself at the keyboard and type away at breakneck speed, winter is a great time to write. Personally, I have set a goal of once again writing 1,000 words a day during 2024. Just keeping a daily journal piles up that many words on average.

Working on a draft of a novel or jotting down memories for a memoir, writing can give you a sense of purpose during the long winter months. It’s also a time to organize files, go through your library and get your affairs in order. Once warmer weather comes back, your mind and body will tell you it’s time to get outside again.

Weather, while seclusion can be productive for writing, should not keep you from getting outdoors and enjoying the cleansing nature of snow or the briskness of chill winds. Exercise is good for writers despite the adage about seats in seats.

Wrapping this up, I just noticed something about the first word in each of these paragraphs. What word works with winter weather? Did you get the clue?

Frog Wisdom #3

Playing With Words

Frog Wisdom

By Dorothy Seehausen

“The horse raced past the barn fell.” Sound familiar? This is a classic example of what’s known as a garden path sentence, in which the initial interpretation of the sentence’s meaning is wrong because it contains syntactic ambiguity in the first half of the sentence, creating syntactic inconsistency with the rest of the sentence. Thus, multiple possible interpretations. “The horse that raced past the barn fell.” Better?

          Garden path sentences often pop up in our first drafts. Not very many writers can coordinate the right brain’s creativity with the left brain’s editing tasks at the same time. Wouldn’t that be sweet – your first draft would come out completely edited, putting thousands of professional editors out of work!

          In the real world, our goal as writers is to get the story from inside our head to inside the reader’s head. Being able to recognize your own garden path sentences is an excellent editing tool when you’re down into the weeds of line editing.

          Here are some more examples from Effectiviology, which is actually a website about psychology and philosophy:

          The old man the boat.

          The girl told the story cried.

          The complex houses married and single soldiers and their families.

          We painted the wall with cracks.

Happy Writing from the Frog!

Check out my latest short story “Trace” in the October issue of The Mantelpiece Magazine at themantelpiece.org.

Frog Wisdom #2

The ABC’s of Editing

Frog Wisdom

By Dorothy Seehausen

        Remember the saying, “Those who can write, write; those who can’t, edit.”? As an English teacher and long time wielder of the dreaded red editing pen, I have found both with characteristic challenges. I would hope, however, that whoever is critiquing my work knows a little something about what makes a good story.

            Why, then, does editing one’s work seem so daunting? I believe it is because the creative aspect that we enjoy so much with our first drafts is missing when we start to edit, and we are faced with the application of a plethora of rules, directions, best practices, and….worst of all….the impending death of passages of some of our best work. These are the unkindest cuts of all.

To ease the task, I am finding critiques and feedback from writer friends an immense aid. To have objective eyes of a beta reader or colleague or even a supportive family member reading your final draft creates objective responses your first draft eye often misses.

Keep in mind the three kinds of editing: developmental (story structure); line editing (I call this wordsmything, finding the right word for the right job); and the final proofreading edit even your spell checker misses. They are all different tasks with different goals.      

The most important consideration I have found is to develop a system you can adhere to. Read editing blogs. Find out how the pros edit. Use checklists. And take those feedback notes seriously, clicking off what you the author agree with, and what you don’t. There is no greater feeling than having a polished piece all your own ready to submit to the world eagerly awaiting your prose!

Happy Writing from the Frog!

Check out my latest short story “Trace” in the October issue of The Mantelpiece Magazine at themantelpiece.org.

Frog Wisdom – Tadpole

Submitting to Literary Magazines

Frog Wisdom

By Dorothy Seehausen

Seeking submissions to literary magazines is an endless chore of searching databases for current submission listings. Your first task is to read what the magazine publishes to understand if your story fits with its genre, theme, tone and word count. Additionally, the document to be submitted has to be in a specific format, resulting in a number of copies of your story with different tags, such as doc., docx., and pdf., as well as different line spacing – double, one and a half, or single. With two stories published and a third coming out in January, I’m happy to say the effort is well worth it.

In addition to links to current submissions, these various websites, newsletters and blogs also offer craft talks, videos, workshops and articles on all aspects of writing. Much of the info is free, in-depth workshops are offered for a fee. It’s the best of both worlds.

I have discovered no one season is better than the other for submitting. However, because most magazines take three to six months to respond, it’s best to submit one or two seasons ahead, such as winter for spring and summer, etc.

Below are three links to regular posts of literary magazines seeking submissions.

1. https://authorspublish.com/submit-to-authors-publish-magazine/

2. Write.com

3. kmweiland@kmweiland.com 

 Weiland is wonderful! You won’t find more inspiring authors to follow than her total inclusion of all things writing.

Happy Writing from the Frog!

Check out my latest short story “Trace” in the October issue of The Mantelpiece Magazine at themantelpiece.org.

Character Mannerisms: Walking

By Terry C. Misfeldt

Writers often overlook an important aspect of developing their characters. Playwrights have a certain description of their actors in mind when they craft their play. One might have a limp or be blind in one eye and the people who portray those characters may not be lame or blind but they can imitate those characteristics.

In a novel, however, authors forget to describe how their protagonist or antagonists walk. An individual I remember distinctly from my hometown had a distinctive hop step with one leg that was unforgettable. Writers can create an interesting experience for their readers in describing how their characters walk.

Someone who has been overweight most of their lives might have a bow-legged waddle to help their bear the excess weight. Likewise, if the character has lost most of that weight, they may still exhibit a modified waddle when they walk.

If you observe someone who walks a lot, they often have muscular but skinny legs and stride with an air of confidence. Maybe they have a bounce in their step or seem to be someone who could burst into a run at any moment.

Does the character have a bad knee? Weak ankle? Do they favor one leg over the other? Do they shuffle their feet? Walk erect or slumped over? Does someone wearing high heels seem comfortable walking in them, or awkward?

There are numerous variables in describing how a character walks. A hunter may use stealthy techniques to move through the woods. Stalking steps might also describe a predatory human. Short, sure steps may be used by an individual trying to navigate icy conditions. Tip toeing through the house to avoid detection when coming home late is another way of describing a teenager or cheating spouse.

Suggestion: Pay attention to how people you meet or see in your daily activities walk. Make some notes and adapt those mannerisms to your characters.

Character Enhancement

By Terry C. Misfeldt

Far too often writers forget about giving readers a better vision of their characters. What I mean is that we humans touch our faces — sources say — roughly 1,000 times each day. Do writers share any information about how their characters do that?

For instance, imagine a grizzly old man with a scraggly beard. What kind of impression does he make when he tugs on that beard or picks some scrap of food out of it? Is it gnarled and matted or neatly groomed? Gray or brown with streaks of white? Does he stroke the beard when he’s contemplating some advice he’s given or is planning some devious activity? Could you shock your reader by having him shave the beard and appear as a much younger, more vibrant member of society?

Think about the various ways people touch their faces and how you can envelop those touches into your character profiles.

What does it say if your protagonist tugs on his or her ear lobe?

Can you describe how a younger woman applies her make-up versus an older woman?

If tragedy strikes, how does your character weep and wipe away the tears of anguish?

Does your professor contemplate a question by placing their chin in their palm?

Could you divulge a clue about a criminal by whether they use left or right hand?

Take a few minutes and review your manuscript for subtle nuances you could make that bring your character closer to readers. Do you wash your hands after sneezing?

Writing Resources: Old Letters

By Terry C. Misfeldt

If you are writing a memoir, whether it is your personal history or that of a family member, a great resource can be found in correspondence from that individual.

I always wondered where my father was stationed in the U.S. Navy during World War II. I remember hearing him say something about Norfolk and Brooklyn but never knew when he was there. When one of my daughters told me to look through some recycling, I was shocked to find letters my dad had written to my mom during the war years.

They were rather mundane but provided insight to his military service as an Electrician’s Mate, 2nd Class. What I also found in that box of letters were letters from my uncle who was also in the U.S. Navy but saw combat in the Pacific theater. He was assigned to a minesweeper and provided a snapshot of his service in letters home.

In a letter dated February 13, 1945, my uncle wrote: “Censorship rules have been made more lax and we can tell anything that’s happened up to the last 30 days. The biggest event was the invasion of Saipan. I’ve been to Guam, Tinian, Makin, Eniwetok, and most of the Hawaiian Islands.” Earlier in that same letter he opened with: “I’m in the sick bay under observation for acute appendicitis. They don’t know whether they’re going to operate or not. I sure hope they do because I’d hate to have it act up while on patrol.”

His letter was not postmarked until February 16th. It was received by one of his older sisters in Chicago on February 22nd, 1945. I share this because it is precious information for my uncle’s five daughters who never heard about his war exploits until I have been able to share these letters with them.

Correspondence can be valuable in preserving history and sharing life’s lessons.

Writing Resolutions

By Terry C. Misfeldt

As 2022 kicks into high gear, writers often think about and consider establishing resolutions regarding their writing for the year ahead. Here are a few worth taking a look at setting for yourself.

  1. I commit to writing 500 words a day.
  2. I sustain the ability to write 1,000 words every day.
  3. I complete my novel by August 1st.
  4. I compile my memoir and publish it by September 15th.
  5. I develop a character arc for my novel by April 10th.
  6. I edit my work within 60 days of “completing” whatever I write.
  7. I send 10 query letters to publishers every week.
  8. I set aside two hours to write every other day.

You will notice in each of these suggested goals for your writing that three are no “can” or “will” or “might” words. There are, however, action verbs since action is a major element of establishing any resolution.

The second element of resolutions is will power. If you set a goal and fail to act on it, or do not follow through on the commitment you made to yourself, learn from that and apply corrective behavior. You can do it!

Be realistic. Avoid resolutions you know in your heart you lack the fortitude to stick to. Yes, goals are a good thing but they require honesty and commitment. Saying you “want to” quit smoking does not commit you to quitting. Quitting does.

Think about what you need to accomplish as a writer. Be honest and then apply yourself to you. Write that goal down and post it where you can see it. After sticking to it for seven or more days, you have it made.

When my father told me how I could quit smoking, his advice was that if I could make it one day, I could make it two days. If I could make two days, I could make it four days. If I could make it four days, I could make it a week. If I could make one week, I could make two weeks…and so on. I followed his advice and more than 46 years later am still making it!

Do it!

A Thousand Words A Day

By Terry Misfeldt

Considering participating in the effort to write a novel in the month of November?

It is a monumental task if you think of a 90,000 word novel. That’s 3,000 words a day during the 30 days of November!

Doable? Yes!

The first step, in my opinion, is to get an early start during October. Sit at your keyboard and time how long it takes you to craft 1,000 words. If that takes 1/2 hour, you need to dedicate an hour and a half each day to crank out 3,000 words. Allowing for creative thinking time, if 1,000 words takes an hour to generate, now you are up to three hours a day.

When is the best time of day for you to write? Early morning after that 1st cup of coffee and before the day kicks into high gear? Later in the evening as you start winding down?

Think about when you will have the time to best dedicate to get the words out. Set the goal and stick to it, allowing some down time to refresh and renew the commitment.

Generating 1,000 words a day is a good objective for us as writers. It can be done!