From Scraps to (manu)Scripts:
Conquering the Murky MiddlesRescue those stalled-out novel manuscripts from your computer boneyard and bring them to this new, innovative, paddling-through-the-murky-middles workshop. This is a workshop for our faithful writers who have polished two or three beginning chapters in a WIFYR workshop in the past, or who have made those first few chapters top notch at other conferences (or on their own), but who need help getting the rest of their novel on paper and submission-worthy.
"Finish, Polish, and Submit" is the mantra of this workshop. For five days, you will work harder than you have ever worked before (and so will Cheri), you will work smarter than you have ever worked before, and you will experience writing success like you have never experienced before.
Preparing for the Murky Middles Workshop:
Prior to the conference, students will submit a murky-middles portion of their work (two to three of their murkiest chapters), a brief description of the problems of those two-to-three middle chapters, and a chapter-by-chapter synopsis (two sentences per chapter) of the entire novel, from the first chapter to the last. This is the material you will work with for the five days of WIFYR, so choose wisely.
Each day, Cheri will share a different solution to novel-writing problems including Plot, Conflict, and Pacing; Character Development and Voice; Setting and Description; Scene, Summary, and Dialog; Developing Themes and Introducing Backstory.
Participants will write and workshop specific scenes that emphasize plot, pacing, character development, moral conflicts, and so forth, in addition to revising their middle chapters and, in some cases, writing new ones.
Participants will present two to three completely revised and murk-free middle chapters on the last day of the workshop, a revised and annotated plot outline, a plan for finishing their novel, and . . . they will confess their love for writing, each other, and above all, their workshop teacher.
One of my earliest memories is me chasing David Berigree around his yard with a stick because I liked him. I think I was three years old at the time. Years later, I barely recognized David when he matriculated into the public junior high from his Catholic Parochial school. Ironic.
Another of my early memories is less violent but still has great tension. I had climbed up on a kitchen chair set against our gas stove so I could help dry dishes. Mom was on the wall phone, the one with a long, long cord (longer than this bio). She stood at the sink and washed dishes with the handset cradled between her chin and her shoulder. While I dried a plate, I guess I leaned back against the stove and turned one of the front knobs with my bottom because the burner came on and caught my shirt on fire. Mom dropped the phone, grabbed me and patted the fire out with her bare hands. Then she slathered butter on my back, her home remedy for burns. I don't remember even having a blister from the flames, but my shirt had a big burned out place on the back. My life is sort of a string of miraculous events like that . . . when I choose to see it that way.
I had my tonsils out when I was four.
My elementary school report cards often included a note written by the teacher that said something like "Cheri is a good student but she talks too much." Plus I don't believe I was that good of a student because counting money and telling time and fractions were always hard subjects for me. They are all still hard for me . . .
I come from a big, storytelling family in Kansas, which is why I'm a writer I suppose. The Adventures of Silly Squirrel is the first book I actually wrote and it came from a story I used to tell my younger brothers and sisters at bedtime. My older brother, Mike, illustrated it with a pencil and Mom crocheted a long orange string to bind it with. I think I was in junior high when I wrote it.
I love dogs and I have two--Darcy and Lizzy Bennett.
I won the Future Farmers of America Talent Show Contest when I was in eighth grade with a dramatic reading of Louise Plummer's short story, "The Wallflower," from the 1972 Era. The prize was fifteen dollars. Years later, when she was my thesis chair in graduate school, Louise told me I made more money on that story than she ever did.
In high school, in between band practice--I played the clarinet--and dating boys I didn't like much, I took every English class I could and did well but never had to work hard to get a good grade. Then in my senior year, this brand new English teacher from Oklahoma wrote at the bottom of my first essay for his class--next to the red "B"--"I'm waiting for the paper I know you can write." Paradigm shift. So now when I revise a chapter or write a new scene, I sometimes hear a voice with an almost-Southern accent tell me I can do better. Sometimes the voice is Carol Lynch Williams . . .
Big water, like lakes and oceans and most swimming pools, scares me.
I've written five novels and several essays for publication, but none of my novels have been published because I am so slow at revising and because, well, I'm a teacher. I also have a bone yard of stories and essays I've begun but then abandoned. The good news is that two of my novels are revised and with my agent now and two others--co-written with Carol--are with a new Utah-based publisher. Such good news and rare for me.
To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book and has been a huge influence in shaping my writing voice and on the way I tell stories. Isn't TKM everyone's favorite book? Harper Lee is also my favorite kind of writer: reclusive.
I am married and have five children and five grandchildren--the best and greatest story of my life.