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Month: June 2013

Quick Fix: Nothing Better Than a Good Story

By: Jennifer Gregson

Lola turned the street corner, her heart racing.

“Yes!” she yelled, dropping to her knees. She wiped her hands on her blue and white Monroe High School cheerleader sweater. “I found it, I finally found it.”

Practice that morning had started as usual, but then she heard the laughing. And the pointing – how could she forget the pointing. It’s hard to keep secrets in high school, especially when your parents get arrested for embezzlement. Nothing better at Monroe than a good story.

That’s why she took off after the stupid rainbow in the first place. She was just trying to get away from the cacophony of squeals, but then she realized there was real money to be had if she could just run fast enough. As the bright colors faded in the sky, Lola realized there was no pot of gold.

She knocked down trash cans, searched behind trees, and looked under shrubs. She only stopped once she saw him. The little man dressed in green with the knife sticking out of his back.


“Murder.” The tiny voice seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere. Lola spun around, but didn’t see anyone.

“Excuse me?” she asked.

“He was murdered.”

“I can see that, but what I can’t see is you.”

“Down here.” Standing directly in front of her was another little man, this time dressed in brown with a diminutive detective’s hat on.

“Oh, hi.”

“Don’t hi me missy. You are under arrest.”


All of a sudden, with a wave of his tiny hand, a large brown sack came out of nowhere and covered Lola head to toe. It closed up and lifted her.

“Please, can’t we talk about this? I just got here. I didn’t kill him, I swear.”

“Then who did?” he squealed.

“How should I know? The tooth fairy?”

The bag dropped and opened.

“Do you really think so?” he asked, his tiny face touching hers.

“Uhm…sure, I mean, she’s gotta be running out of money, right?”

Lola could relate.

The small man helped Lola out of the bag. He studied her for a few minutes, nodded in agreement, and shoved his hand into his pocket.

“Here.”  He handed her a tiny green bag with a small rainbow on it. She pulled the strings open and shook out the contents into her hand. Five gold pieces glinted in the late afternoon sun.

“Shiny,” she said, “thanks!”

“No problem. They’ll turn into real money as soon as you leave. Not much, but enough to say thank you for helping us and to help you forget what you saw here.”


“We can’t have you talking about this now can we?”

All of sudden Lola realized she didn’t want the money. She put the gold pieces into the bag and handed it to the leprechaun.

“What’s this?” he demanded.

“Once upon a time,” she said with a smile, as she turned to walk away, “a leprechaun was murdered and the tooth fairy was on the loose.”

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My First Draft Sucks! Now What?

Now what?  Well, I eat chocolate.  Of course, I do that on most days so nothing really helpful there…
No, no….come back.  I have a solution.  It’s this magical thing called REVISION.  Ooohhh, see how it sparkles?!?!  OK, it doesn’t sparkle, but it is magical.  It can turn your shitty first draft into something wonderful – at least, it can with a lot of hard work.
Luckily, I found a course (and a teacher) that’s just short of a miracle: Holly Lisle’s “How to Revise Your Novel.”  Holly teaches you how to go from the wrecked imperfect novel you have to the shining beautiful novel you want to have.  It’s a big course (she has a few big courses and a few smaller ones, all worth looking into) – right now I’m on Lesson 12, and I think I’m about half-way through the course.  It hasn’t been easy, it hasn’t always been fun, but it has been interesting to see things I would never have seen.  Mostly, to realize that my novel isn’t that bad and I can make it even better.  I can make it great!
Right now I’m working on characters.  Who stays, who gets better, who goes, who gets blended with another guy to make an even better guy, etc.  I did okay in this regard with my first draft.  Most of my characters stay and most have minimal work to get better.  I didn’t blend (nor did I have to) and only two (very minor) characters got the boot.  This is not to say I won’t have any rewriting to do.  No, no….I already figured out that I have about 10 new scenes to write (from scratch) and at least 10 more have to be completely rewritten.  See….hard work.
I’m using index cards to keep track of how much rewriting (or totally new writing) each scene needs and it’s quite colorful – and I’m not even using as bright of colors as Holly suggests I use.   On these cards I’m also listing characters by scene to see the players all laid out in front of me.
Now, I have a theatre background.  I have a BFA in Theatre Performance so it’s easier for me to call my characters players and places to be called Sets and Scenery.  She also had us list all the props – again, terminology that makes complete sense.  This is not to say that I don’t get confused sometimes and lose my way.  At least twice now (maybe three times) I have thrown my hands up in the air and admitted defeat.  “I quit!”  I’ve said to my husband, “The book is too bad, I’m going to give up.”   He kisses me and tells me it’s not as bad as I think.  I call my Mom and tell her the same thing.  She tells me to take a few days, take a break, then come back.  They are both right.  Damn!

So, I trudge along with my index cards, my binder full of worksheets, my colored pens, and my Muse sitting next to me – waiting for me to need her again (thank you Muse).  I’m not sure what comes next because I haven’t read ahead (truth time – I usually do) so I do the work one week, sometimes two, at a time and keep going as best as I can.
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Hello Again, Internet!

Good Morning, Internet!  Sorry, was that too loud?  I’ll try to use my indoor voice from now on.  (Also, it’s afternoon – I should really look at a clock now and then.)
See, I bought this domain name a few years ago while I was working on my solo cabaret show.  It had promo pics of me, the postcard for my show “The Facts of Life”, and I kept a blog about the whole process.  Since then it’s sat idle while my life has completely changed.
I’m now a Stay-at-home Mom with a 20 month old son.  I’m revising my coming of age Young Adult novel currently titled The Art of Lying (this might change).  We moved out of Manhattan and into Queens, and I haven’t taken a music or singing class since I was 5 months pregnant – although I still sing around the apartment, much to the amusement of my Little Man.
I’m hoping this revamped blog can be a record as I work through the revision process and into the submission process, a place to showcase my short stories – in a segment I like to call Quick Fix, and somewhere I can talk about music, television, movies, books, kids, family, travel, Disney, chocolate – you know, the other stuff in my life.

Come along, if you dare, on a crazy adventure with me for although my life and to-do list are jam packed my muddled (but organized) mind has many things to share.
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