Quick #ROW80 update

I know I said that I wouldn’t be updating today, but since everyone else is…

Writing: I received my invite to join the Fast Draft group today, and am ready to start this Saturday. In preparation, I managed to write eleven pages on a story that’s been rattling around in my head for a while. It might be the story that I start again for FD, because I got a few good ideas from Blake Snyder’s Save The Cat! Strikes Back that I started reading today. When I finish this update, I have tomorrow’s “Thursday Ten” post to finish. That will make one week out of twelve where I did the two promised posts. So far, so good.

Reading: I finished Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer, a book recommended by Kristen Lamb, today as my non-craft book, and, as mentioned, started Save The Cat! Strikes Back the other day. It’s already been helpful.

And that’s all I have to report.

RIP Andy Griffith

I couldn’t think of a better way to honor Andy Griffith than to share part of my favorite episode of The Andy Griffith Show, “Opie the Birdman.” This was the episode in which Opie, played by a young Ron Howard, accidentally kills a mother bird with his slingshot, and feels so guilty that he raises the baby birds left behind. (The whole episode is posted to YouTube; this is the third part.)

This is how I felt when I heard that Andy had died. The roles he played in the movies and on television have stayed with me all this time, from his role as Private Will Stockdale in No Time For Sergeants to Sheriff Andy Taylor, to the evil John Wallace in the made-for-TV movie Murder in Coweta County (which also starred Johnny Cash as the lawman that brought him down), to the cantankerous but generous Old Joe in the magnificent movie Waitress with Keri Russell.

Yes, the world seems awful empty now, but don’t heaven feel full.

Godspeed, Andy Griffith.

Two for Tuesday: Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops

Tomorrow is Independence Day here in the United States, and what could be more American than Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra playing two marches by John Philip Sousa?

The song many people (including me) associate the most with Fiedler is Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” Fiedler started the tradition of a Fourth of July Concert with fireworks on the Charles River Esplanade, and always ended the concert with it. After his death in 1979, John Williams, who took over as director of the Boston Pops, ended his first concert with the tune, vacating the conductor’s podium in his honor.

John Philip Sousa was the director of the United States Marine Corps band, and wrote “Semper Fidelis” as their official march. I include it here because “Semper Fidelis” (Always Faithful) is not only the motto of the Marines, but of the Holton family.

Happy Independence Day to my fellow countrymen, and Happy 4th of July to everyone else!

My Official #ROW80 Round 3 Goals Post

Compared to the last time, when I didn’t know what to expect, this will be easy. Most of what I say I’m going to do has been laid out for me elsewhere.


  • Successfully complete Fast Draft. It starts this Saturday and I’m waiting until then to see what the requirements are.
  • Successsfully complete Camp NaNoWriMo during August. The rules are the same as for the big one in November, a 50K-word novel written entirely during the month.
  • Post to the blog twice a week, not counting my Wednesday check-in. You might have noticed last week that I picked themes for Tuesday (Two For Tuesday) and Thursday (The Thursday Ten). I’m going to continue with those two themes. I might add a third day (either Free-Form Friday or Facts on Friday) in September.


  • Read one craft book a week. I have a whole shelf of them, and that doesn’t include the Kindle. It’s been a few years since I read the books, so it’s time for a review.
  • Read one non-craft book a week. I have tons on my Kindle and half a dozen paperbacks that I keep saying I’ll read. Now would be the time to do that.

I want to make sure that the goals are simple and measurable, because, well, them’s the rules.

Good luck to everyone doing the challenge! I’ll be around to check on you…

The Thursday Ten: Georgia authors not named Margaret Mitchell or Flannery O’Connor

1. Joel Chandler Harris: Born in Eatonton, GA in 1848, he was an associate editor of the Atlanta Constitution, and is best remembered for writing the “Uncle Remus” stories that formed the basis for the movie Song of the South.

2. James Dickey: Poet and novelist, Dickey was born in Atlanta in 1923. Probably best known for Deliverance, his 1970 novel that was made into a movie starring Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox and featuring the tune “Dueling Banjos,” making banjo music popular and giving Martin Mull the idea for “Dueling Tubas.” He died in 1997.

3. Iris Johansen: like me, a “damn Yankee” who moved to Georgia from St. Louis and hasn’t gone back. From what I understand, we’re practically neighbors in the northwest suburbs of Atlanta. She started with contemporary romance, switched to historical romance, from which she moved to suspense and crime fiction. Didn’t start writing until her kids left for college.

4. Margaret Johnson-Hodge: Author of African American romance novels who also lives in the suburbs of Atlanta. I had the good fortune to meet her and asked her about rewrites. She pointed to a table with her books and said “Each one of those books has been written and rewritten eight times.” A really lovely person.

5. Terry Kay: From Royston, Georgia. He’s probably best known for his book To Dance With The White Dog, which was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie starring Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. His most recent book is The Mirror Man.

6. Anne Rivers Siddons: Currently lives in Charleston, SC, but born in Atlanta and raised in Fairburn. You can’t get any more Atlanta than Peachtree Road, her 1988 novel which Pat Conroy calls “the Southern novel for our generation.” Her first book, Heartbreak Hotel, was made into the movie Heart of Dixie, with Ally Sheedy, Virginia Madsen, and Phoebe Cates. Stephen King considers her The House Next Door as one of the finest horror novels of the 20th Century.

7. Diana Palmer: One of Mary’s favorite authors, Diana was born Susan Eloise Spaeth in Cuthbert, Georgia. A romance author, she’s written numerous novels as Diana Palmer, Susan S. Kyle, and Diana Blayne. She has a number of series, many of which are set in the West. (Those are Mary’s favorites.)

8. Karin Slaughter: Born in a small town in south Georgia, she lives in Atlanta. She became an international sensation with Blindsighted, one of her Grant County Mysteries that feature pediatrician/coroner Sara Linton. A more recent series features FBI agent Will Trent and his partner, Faith Mitchell. She brought both series together in 2009’s Undone (called Genesis internationally). Widely known as the person who invented the term “investigoogling,” meaning “to research something deeper than just a quick search.” I started reading her books when I was recovering from the stroke. If you haven’t read her, you should.

9. Stuart Woods: I was surprised to find out that Stuart was born in Manchester, Georgia, and graduated from the University of Georgia. He started out as an adman in New York City before moving to England. After three years there, he moved to Ireland and started writing. He has numerous series, including the Stone Barrington, Will Lee, Holly Barker, Ed Eagle, and Rick Barron novels. He is a yachtsman and an instrument-rated pilot.

10. Mary Schmich: A columnist for the Chicago Tribune and author of the comic strip Brenda Starr, which she wrote from 1985 through its end in 2011. It came as a surprise that she was born in Savannah, Georgia. in 1997, she wrote a column called “Advice, like youth, probably wasted on the young,” which started with the advice, “Wear sunscreen.” It was widely and erroneously reported as being the MIT commencement speech delivered by Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut himself enjoyed the column, saying “What she wrote was funny, wise and charming, so I would have been proud had the words been mine.”

(Thanks, as always, to Wikipedia, and more than a little investigoogling.)