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Archive for November, 2009

>My Review of Stephen King and Donald Maass


Can Learning How Novels Work Help You Write A Great Hub?

Photos of Tabitha and Stephen King above and Author Literary Agent Donald Maass
I’m going to review one book – Writing The Breakout Novel by Donald Maass – and mention Stephen King and his marvelous book On Writing.
Much of the material I’ll review, while oriented toward fiction, also applies to writers of Hubs.
I took some writing courses in college. You don’t have to go to college to learn to write, just read and write a lot, that’s all.
Funny though, the only English professor I remember vividly was David Crabtree. Why did I remember his face and name when most others are lost in a deep memory sea that goes way back? Because he looked like a crab tree. His voice was old and grumpy but carried a sense of love for his students and his craft. His face looked worn, bumpy, and lined – like a crab tree – and his teaching skills were the best.
Neither King’s or Maass’ book is better than the other – they are merely different.
Both riveted my attention and made me a better writer. Without you being familiar with these two authors, it will be difficult for me to transfer their skills and passion to you, but I’ll try.
King drew me into him, as he wrote On Writing as a memoir with personal anecdotes and memories. Maass gave me what I needed, a structured course on how to write a breakout novel.
Maass is author of seventeen novels and has twenty years as a literary agent. He travels the country, speaking at writers conferences, and has served as president of his guild. He lives in New York.
Stephen King? What can I say? The man’s a legend, a literary genius, an icon. He authored more than thirty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. He lives in Bangor, Maine with his wife Tabitha King, also a writer

What I know of King

King has a nasty habit of exercising – walking outdoors in his neighborhood – while reading. One day he became so absorbed that he stepped in front of a car and that cripled him for life. He spent months recuperating and still can’t walk without help. Even so, he feeds his passion, traveling down to Fenway Park to enjoy one of his joys, the Boston Red Sox.
One advantage I probably have over many of you is my love for baseball. I watch MLB on TV and am not the same if I miss important games. I live in Florida and also watch spring training games. Many celebs sit in box seats behind the dugouts and I’m constantly seeing King.
TV jockeys always scan those seats and point out who’s there. Since I’m mostly a Yankee fan, I see people like Spike Lee and Rudy Giuliani a lot. But there are more. Movie stars, politicians, foreign diplomats, racecar drivers, boxers, and stars of opera and Broadway when in New York will attend a Yankee game. Now, you may think I’m too old to enjoy seeing these star studs and phillies, but I’m not.

What Else Drives Me

Additionally, I like live events, like going out to the parks here in Florida. On Friday the thirteenth (lucky day), my son Marcus and I are going to a PGA event at Disney, Children’s Miracle Network Classic where there is a $4.7 million purse. We’ll see such golf luminaries as reigning champion Davis Love III and Phil Mickelson, (and, I hope, Tiger Woods, who used to live in Windermere a few miles from our house).
I enjoy the excitement. I’ve seen some of the greatest players in history – people like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Billy Casper, Johnny Miller, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Michael Jordan, Julius Erving, Carl Malone, John Stockton and many others. These kinds of events build wonderful memories and create passion for life, keeping us young. And as you know, we Hubbers must write with passion or forget it.
My son Marcus was a member of a Minnesota high school tennis team, Wayzata. That year he and I drove to New York and took in the USTA tournament for four days. Wow! What a great time we had. He’s so good in tennis that at age 12 he wiped me. Patrick and Michael were better baseball and basketball players than me. Our daughter, Jennifer is a college professor. She’s the greatest dancer I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot of her choreography and dancing from the West to the East of America.

Why is the above important to you?

It isn’t. Except it teaches one great lesson of life. If you want to be a successful writer – or happy in any field – you must be passionate about it. Baseball fans are nothing if they’re not passionate, especially Yankee and Phillie fans the past while. Life is great, be grateful, happy, and passionate. Give thanks to God constantly. He owns it all.
As I review Maass, see if many of the points he makes fit your needs as a Hub Page writer.
If your writing isn’t inspired, or doesn’t show that you really care about the subject matter, forget it! All you’re doing is mass-producing someone else’s content.

Writing The Breakout Novel

  • Premise
  • Stakes
  • Time and Place
  • Characters
  • Plot
  • Contemporary Plot Techniques
  • Multiple Viewpoints, Subplots, Pace, Voice, Endings
  • Theme
“Book publishing is full of surprises, not the least of which is an unexpected leap in an author’s sales. When novelists whose previous work merely has been admired suddenly have books vault onto the best-seller lists or even achieve a large jump in sales, publishing people say they have ‘broken out.’ The book in question is a ‘breakout novel.” Donald Maass
Maass’ Review of Writing
  • Premise: Whatever it is it must grip the imagination of readers. For example, “I wanted to win the race. Problem: I was in a wheel chair.” That’s premise with an imagination and a problem, necessary elements to keep readers turning pages.
Favorite books sweep us away, have unforgettable characters and involve dramatic and meaningful events. The premise must be plausible, with inherent conflict, originality and gut appeal.
Plausibility means the story could happen to any of us. Originality can be new angles on old stories, the opposite of what we expect, or story elements in unexpected combinations.
Gut emotional appeal involves emotional situations that grab us in our life. Even an unlikely starting point can be built into a breakout premise.
  • Stakes: Stakes say what could be lost. High stakes yield high success. To test stakes, ask “So what?” High stakes start with high human worth and with fiction you must start with at lest a grain of truth. Combining public stakes with private stakes makes for interesting writing.
  • Time and Place: Every story has context, whether it is emphasized or not. Creating breakout time and place involves more than just describing setting.
Using psychology of place means capturing how a place makes a point-of-view-character feel. For example, if you start the story by having the protagonist looking up into the sky on a dark winter night at the Milky Way, your readers see millions of stars and other heavenly bodies, allowing them to feel that our place here on earth is small compared to the infinite numbers of stars and planets seen so far away.
Here is how one writer conveyed a sense of time in describing New York and portrayed historical forces and social trends through characters:
“Hester was fascinated. It was unlike any city she had previously seen: new, teeming with life, a multitude of tongues spoken, laughter, shouting, and already the hand of war shadowing over it, a brittleness in the air. There were recruitment posters on the walls and soldiers in a wide array of uniforms in the streets.
“Business seemed poor and the snatches of talk she overheard were of prize fights, food prices, local gossip and scandal, politics, and secession. She was startled to hear that even New York might secede from the Union, or New Jersey.”
Detail is the secret ingredient of breakout settings, and unexpected tragedy or grace adds a sense of destiny at work.
  • Characters: All stories are character driven. Readers’ sympathy for characters comes from character strengths. Engrossing characters are out of the ordinary. Larger-than-life characters say what we cannot say, do what we cannot do, and change in ways that we cannot change. They have conflicting sides and are conscious of self.
Dark protagonists appeal only when they have sympathetic sides, e.g., they struggle to change or have hidden sensitivity. Build a cast for contrast, realizing the highest character qualities are self-sacrifice and forgiveness.
Build complex character relationships by combining roles. For example, the life-long friend who is also your doctor; the ex-spouse who is also your tennis partner. Combining roles will bring a measure of richness and complexity of real relationships, and at the same time strengthen and deepen its hold on the reader.

Allow Characters To Measure Each Other

Let them voice to themselves or to others their opinions of the other characters in

The story. Not every character will see the protagonist in the same way. But this allows readers to view characters from a different angle and builds richness.

Building Conflict

Allow characters to step into problems and situations you would never go near in real life. Think, “What is the worst thing that can happen?” And allow that to happen to your characters. As authors we like our protagonists. We tend to protect them from trouble. The temptation must be resisted. It is better to drive full speed into danger, laughing as you do it.
Maass says “The breakout novelist is somewhat maniacal, possibly even sadistic (where her characters are concerned, I mean). She will discover what is the worst that can happen, then make matters worse still.”
From chapter one to the book’s end, the author should be bridging the conflict, making it as deep and as bad as it possibly can be. She will employ high moments, plot turns, and death to change characters or to set them free. Breakout novels need high stakes, complex characters and layered conflicts.
Simple plot structures produce tight stories; expansive stories come more easily from open-ended or complex plot structures, such as a hero’s journey.
I invite you to get the book and discover what you can about contemporary plot structures, multiple viewpoints, subplots, pace, voice, and the endings.


Maass asks if anyone has ever been disappointed by the end? Then he admits that he, too, has. Endings that disappoint are sometimes written in haste, fail to tie up all the sub plots, don’t make sense, don’t answer the main questions and are not very satisfying.
Climaxes are both inner and outer – both plot-specific and emotionally charged. “The payoff needs to plumb the depths in both ways if it is to satisfy,” says Maass.
“Milking the ending with an endless series of confrontations, plot turnabouts, emotional peaks and so on is not a good idea, either.”
When narrative momentum is at its height,
that is not the time to slam on the brakes. Do you remember the James Bond movies taken from Ian Flemming’s great novels? He prevails in the end, but the show is not over. He must win over the girl and be seen sailing away on a boat somewhere with her in the Ocean on an extended love-filled trip, punctuated with plenty of witty and humorous comments which make the audience, as well as the pretty girl, say: “Oh, James…”
Maass actually finds fault with such genre novels, category stories and romances, where the outcome is not seriously in doubt. “A great story teller leaves us in suspense right up to the final moments,” he says. Success should never be sure. In fact, failure seems the more likely outcome. You must allow your protagonist the possibility of failure. “Why should fiction be any safer than reality ?” he asks.
The resolution needs to tie up loose ends, then allow the reader to relax and come to the end in as little space as possible.

>Let’s Get Serious About Schools


Date: Sun, 1 Nov 2009 08:10:46 +0000

After being interviewed by the school administration, the prospective teacher said:   
‘Let me see if I’ve got this right. 
‘You want me to go into that room with all those kids, correct their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dress habits, censor their T-shirt messages, and instill in them a love for learning. 

‘You want me to check their backpacks for weapons, wage war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, and raise their sense of self esteem and personal pride. 

‘You want me to teach them patriotism and good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, and how to register to vote, balance a checkbook, and apply for a job. 

‘You want me to check their heads for lice, recognize signs of antisocial behavior, and make sure that they all pass the final exams. 

‘You also want me to provide them with an equal education regardless of their handicaps, and communicate regularly with their parents in English, Spanish or any other language, by letter, telephone, newsletter, and report card.   

‘You want me to do all this with a piece of chalk, a blackboard, a bulletin board, a few books, a big smile, and a starting salary that qualifies me for food stamps. ‘You want me to do all this and then you tell me. . . I CAN’T PRAY? 

Windows 7: It works the way you want. Learn more.

~Cindy Gordon
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>Richfield High School 50 Year Reunions

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High School
Alumni Page
RHS 50 Year Anniversary RHS 50 Year
October 2004
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RHS ca 1955, 1973 and 2004

The RHS 50th Anniversary Celebration was awesome!

Richfield High School 1973 About 150 people attended the Prom on Saturday, October 9th. Several alumni went to the school on Monday, October 11th to speak to the current students.

Alumni at RHS on Oct 11

Scores of alumni were in attendance at the Homecoming Game on Friday, October 15th to watch the Spartans trounce St. Paul Harding 42-14.

RHS Football Team 1955-1973-2003

About 5,000 people attended the celebration at the school on Saturday, October 16th and about 1,500 people attended the reception at the VFW later on that evening.

Crowded halls at the school

Celebration at the VFW followed

All classes had a room in the school for mini reunions, displaying their memorabilia, playing music from their era and whatever else they wanted to do with it.

1974 class room at the celebration

The program in the auditorium on the 16th was highlighted by the surprise appearance of Mr. Miles Lundahl, retired band director who was at RHS from day one until the mid-1980’s. The ovation that he received will echo in the memories of those of us who were there for years to come. The program was aired on Richfield Time Warner Cable, Channel 17

Miles Lundahl speaks at the program in the auditorium

Much needed dollars were raised for the RPS Fund and the Spartan Foundation from the sale of school lunches in the cafeteria, t-shirts, magnets, hats, buttons, and lapel pins commemorating the occasion.

Crowds around the memorabilia booths

Pizza burgers and hamburger gravy in the cafeteria

Thousands of alumni signed the “birthday card” that we made for the school.

Alumni birthday card presented to the school

Thanks to everyone who helped to put the event together and to the thousands who attended. See you again at the 75th!

Lucy (Reiter) Kender at the end of the day

NOTE: Some of the items (t-shirts, cups, pins, lapel pins, hats, magnets and other things) that were for sale at the 50th Anniversary celebration are still available for purchase at the DECA office at RHS. Contact RHS at 612-798-6106 for more info.

50th Anniversary Commemorative books are available at the high school’s Paying and Receiving area. Contact Marie Abele at 612-798-6289 for more info.

Copies of the 50th Anniversary Program (video) are also available. Contact Ross Solomonson, RHS Media Specialist, at 612-798-6335.

RHS Buttons (click for larger image)50 Year Anniversary Links

Sea of Red and White

4th of July Parade Photos

RHS Alumni participate in the Richfield 4th of July Parade to get the word out

NOTE: Captions for album do not function properly in Netscape 7.X.

Class of 1962 50 Year Reunion Pix

Class of 1962 Room Photos

Class of ’62 Room at the 50th Anniversary Celebration

1976 Room at the 50th

Class of 1976 Room Photos

Bicentennial Class Room at the 50th Anniversary Celebration

RHS Mosaic (click for larger image)


RHS Plaque (click for larger image)

Richfield Visitor's Guide

[Main RHS Alumni Page] [Spotlite Spinoff Alumni Newsletter] [Alumni Message Board]
[Upcoming Reunions] [Reunion Resources] [Get Yourself On Here] [Get Your Class On Here]

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Copyright © 2009 Martha Decker
1974 Richfield grad and creator of The Woodshed and The MINNESOTA Page
Last modified on Friday, June 19, 2009

>Doppledanger and Dreams

>Dreams And Doppleganger
By Don White
A few years ago in the middle of the night I had a dream that startled me so much that I suddenly sat upright in bed. It was so real.

Years ago Carolyn and I lost a child in a miscarriage, but I had not been thinking on it when I had this dream. What I was thinking about was my father, mother, and oldest brother who had passed away not too long before.

My faith in God and in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ informs me that there is life after death. I had prayed constantly to confirm my faith, which is that we come to this earth to gain a body and to prove whether we will be obedient to God’s commandments. We don’t know everything about life after death, and for most of us it is not a simple thing to understand.

Fortunately, to those who read the Book of Mormon and/or the Bible each day, gospel principles become clear and evident from the words of the prophets. A subject shrouded in mystery gives way to the light of Christ, the Holy Ghost, and light of the gospel.

In my dream I was wondering about my loved ones. I was walking through this broad hallway, and briefly stopping to talk to friends and family members who had passed away. I had left the main group when suddenly there was a tap on my shoulder. I beheld a person who looked quite a bit like my three sons, particularly my youngest son, only slightly taller, and that startled me.

“His only comment was a question: “What about me?”

The dream ended and I rose up in bed shocked.

It was so real I couldn’t sleep the remainder of the night. I told my wife, Carolyn, and other family members that I know the gender of the long-departed unborn life that Carolyn lost in the mid-sixties. They seemed somewhat skeptical – and I can’t blame them.

We believe that children who either died after birth without attaining their majority, and others such as the unborn or still-born, will have a place during the Millennium, a thousand-year time of peace when Christ will rule on earth and Satan will be bound. Only the most worthy people will rise in the first resurrection and be partakers of Millennial life with Jesus. Our faith tells us that others will be resurrected after the Millennium and be assigned that dominion equal to their faithfulness.

It is only natural for parents of deceased children to be reunited with them. To one day be in their constant company would be a blessing, an opportunity to love them as you had loved your other offspring, attending to their needs and training and bringing them up in righteousness as with your other children until they are changed in the twinkling of an eye and given resurrected bodies.

This would be an indescribable joy.

Hub readers may question: Is this man mad? How can he expect us to believe him? But my answer is simple. I testify that though the above may seem unusual to those who are not of our faith, every bit of it is true. I would not lie about this. I have had other dreams about what we call the Spirit World (a realm of life after death and before resurrection). They are probably too sacred for me to repeat in a general article. In fact, I questioned whether I should publish this Hub, based on the personal and sacred nature of the information.

The reason I am doing so is that last night while watching the World Series, game six, someone mentioned the word Doppelganger. Between Andy Pettitte’s near peerless pitching performance and Hedeki Matsui’s tremendous hitting, we engaged in a brief discussion on that word and concept that shows up sometimes in science fiction and the word stayed with me all night.

Let me be clear, I draw a vivid distinction between Doppleganger and spiritual manifestations. The former I consider fiction, the latter, to me, are generally true.

Doppleganger is a German word for seeing yourself or your double.

And as far as I know, that’s all Doppleganger is – similar to parallel universes, worm holes, alien kingdoms, and other science fiction worlds. Most of us believe they could be out there, but who knows for sure? To me they are interesting unproven concepts of movie and novel fiction.

Doppleganger is a second likeness of you seen by yourself or others.

The following are found in Wickepedia:

* Poet Percy Shelly saw himself and then his wife did likewise and in each case more than once. Was the poet insane? I don’t think so, but then I’ve never seen myself coming and going and know of no living person who has.

Shelley’s drama Prometheus Unbound (1820) contains the following passage in Act I: “Ere Babylon was dust, / The Magus Zoroaster, my dear child, / Met his own image walking in the garden. / That apparition, sole of men, he saw. / For know there are two worlds of life and death: / One that which thou beholdest; but the other / Is underneath the grave, where do inhabit / The shadows of all forms that think and live / Till death unite them and they part no more….”

· Izaak Walton claimed that John Donne, the English metaphysical poet, saw his wife’s doppelgänger in 1612 in Paris, on the same night as the stillbirth of their daughter.

· Carl Sandburg’s biography contains Lincoln’s doppelganger experiences:

A dream or illusion had haunted Lincoln at times at seeing images of himself. Google the word Dobleganger and look in Wickepedia. This is a most interesting account.

I would like to know if anyone has had such experiences or knows of other dreams or doppelganger accounts they would share.

THIRTEEN CLONES/TWINS/DOPPLEGANGER MOVIES A Listmania! list by Brian Markowski (Cedar Rapids, IA)

1. Dave DVD ~ Kevin Kline
“Dave Kovic looks just like President William Harrison Mitchell, so much so that he’s hired by the White House to impersonate him for certain public appearances. All goes well ’till the real President has a stroke and Dave finds himself as his replacement.”

2. Dead Ringers DVD ~ Jeremy Irons
“Twin gynecologists share office space and the woman that do business with them in this very creepy film.”

3. Adaptation (Superbit Collection) DVD ~ Jim Beaver
“Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman is stuggling trying to write a movie adaptation of the non-fiction book called “The Orchid Thief”; but when twin Donald get’s a crack at the script things go from bad to worst.”

4. The Prince and the Pauper DVD ~ Errol Flynn
“After they discover they could be twins, a Prince of England and a poor paoper from the streets of London ex-change roles in an attempt to understand how the other one lives.”

5. The Parent Trap (Vault Disney Collection) DVD ~ Hayley Mills
“Two twin girls seperated at birth discover each other at summer camp. Once the pieces come together, they vow to bring their parents back together.”

6. The Krays [Region 2] DVD ~ Gary Kemp
“”The true life story of twin crime bosses in 1960’s London.””

7. Moon Over Parador DVD ~ Edward Asner
“Actor Jack Noah looks alot like the Paradorian, president-for-life, Alphonse Simms. So much so that when Simms dies the scheaming Roberto Strausmann and right hand man to Simms hires Jack to play the President with unpredicted results.”

8. The Prisoner of Zenda (1937 and 1952 Versions) DVD ~ Ronald Colman
“Rudolph Rassendyll, Rudolf V’s identical distant cousin, is asked to risk his life and impersonate the would-be king when his relative is kidnapped before his impending coronation.”

9. The Man in the Iron Mask DVD ~ Leonardo DiCaprio
“King Louis XIV of France has a secret twin brother who he has hidden to protect his throne; but will his carless ways force the hand of the royal court to seek out his replacement?”

10. Multiplicity DVD ~ Michael Keaton
“In order to find more time Doug Kinney opts to have a clone made of himself, and then another and a another, but all clones do not think alike.”

11. The 6th Day DVD ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger
“Adam Gibson is secretly cloned and replaced after he sees something that he wasn’t suppose to.”

12. Twins DVD ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger
“Created in a lab, twins Julius and Vincent Benedict are prepared for society…well Julius is. He’s perefct, but the smaller Vincent is sent to an orphanage. Years later the twins unite to find their mother.”

13. Big Business DVD ~ Bette Midler
“In the small town of Jupiter Hollow, two sets of identcal twins are born on the same night at the same hospital of course they get mixed up. 40 years later the twins are forced to meet due to the closing of the Jupiter Hollow factory.”