The McManual

Blogging my little heart out in poetry and prose.

Month: August, 2011


I have been inspired to find that the hashtags on twitter are useful!  Previously, I just thought they were annoying – I never understood what the heck lines like “@soandso #whatever #this #that #theotherthing lol bx63al.he”  were supposed to mean.  It took me a little while to realize that I could click on the “shortlink” and see – or that you could click on a hashtag and see posts about the same topic.

So that exposes my newbieness to twitter – I’ve been active for all of a month, so maybe this a bit green of me, but my two greatest discoveries have been #amwriting and online literary magazines.

When you click on or search for #amwriting, you get a timeline of tweets that are mostly writers talking about what they are writing, or posts of writing tips.  I have found several articles that I think are helpful through this hashline (? term), and I have started to connect to other writers, too.

It turns out that there is also a #amwriting website, but I don’t have much to report – I have signed up for it but haven’t checked it out at all.  I’m saving it for when I have a little time to actually read some of the posts.

As far as literary magazines, I have barely started looking at those, either, but I think it’s going to be fun.  It’s really easy to submit to some of them.  I’ve done one so far, a short story that I wrote a while ago – in fact there’s a link at the top of this page – it’s Tabulate This.

If you want to take advantage of my list of literary magazines list, feel free to check it out!  I’m on twitter as TheMcManual.

🙂 Sheila


Someotherville, a Novel

To Whom it May Concern:

What if you married a gifted, young, unpublished writer?  You wait for your spouse to finish a novel, you hope, encourage and support.  Years pass and still, a piece isn’t finished.  It frustrates you that when you ask how it’s going, your spouse has moved on and has something new in the works.  You grow attached to characters, but you never know the conclusion of the books.  How patiently would you be able to wait? Joan Bridges’ husband is such a writer.

In my first 50,000 word completed literary novel, Someotherville, Joan, married for eight years to a man who suffers from literary wanderlust, awakes one day to find him dead.

At the funeral, she impulsively tells her friends and family that he had finished a novel, but hadn’t sent it for consideration.  She maintains the lie, and, although not a writer herself, she goes through his unfinished works hoping to find something that she can finish rather than allow his memory to be reduced to a legacy of failed plots, characters, and dreams.

Joan struggles with the process, but settles on a piece her husband had titled Arlen the Quitter, in which the characters are able to speak to their author and question him as another character.  Through the process of bringing her husband’s novel to completion, she explores her own discomfort with teaching, writing narrative fiction, being atheist, and life itself.


Well, that’s the query letter that I have used (I left off the last paragraph) for my novel, Someotherville.  I think I will end up publishing it independently, maybe next summer.  I am starting back to school next week, teaching high school English again, and I won’t have time to go crazy with publishing…

I do, however, plan to keep working on my next novel, tentatively titled Art is for Other People.  🙂

If you have comments about my query letter, or if you’re just dying to read the book, let me know.  I recently read an advance copy of Julian Gough’s next book on my computer, and it was rewarding.  Exciting, actually, to read it before it’s out in book form.  I think if he can send perfect strangers a copy, I might be persuaded to send my blog reader(s?) a copy if I get a request…

Let me know if you are interested and we’ll talk.


Balancing Twitter and Life

I think I’ve been using the internet all wrong.  In the past couple of years, my time online has increased significantly, mostly due to the wireless thinger that I have hooked up to my dsl.

I now wake up in the morning and the first thing I do, other than bodily functions, is check my facebook.  When I’m done looking at the recent posts and answering anyone who has sent me a message, I check three email accounts and my bank account.  That used to be it – but now  I have signed up for Twitter, and I have gotten sucked in completely.

The first time I had Twitter, I didn’t even know how to use it.  I only followed about three people, and none of them ever tweeted anything.  I didn’t understand what all the excitement was about, and I eventually closed the account.

Recently I tried to sign up for my friend’s website, “Least Dangerous Game,” but you have to have a twtter account, so I made one.  And that’s when I discovered that there are 100s of accounts that I want to follow.  Almost none of them are my friends.  They are mostly libraries, literary magazines, and authors.

Through this process, I have been at once overwhelmed and inspired.  I sometimes get the feeling that everyone else is writing, so I should join in and write more too.  The dark side of seeing all of this writing is the odd pang of insecurity that makes me feel like not writing and just reading all the time.  In fact, I almost didn’t write this blog because I was feeling intimidated.

It’s a bit like being at a big party where everyone is talking loud and fast and you can’t get a word in edgewise, but then if you go into a side room you might find someone delightful to have a deeper conversation with.  I guess Twitter is the big party and blogs and articles are the side rooms.

So for me, to use the internet in a way that will be better for me, I need to check in at the big party, but I also need to be off in the side rooms doing my own thing.



McManual Labor of Love

Hey there. So I have been mentioning this book I’m writing, and I wanted to talk about the process just a little bit. So here goes.

I started it about 2 years ago, and back then it was just me rambling about how I would like to write a book. Then, I started thinking that it was really time to get started. When I reviewed my notes, I found that there was a lot of material that I will probably end up using, even though I didn’t have any specific characters in mind yet. It’s a little weird to me, but I guess it’s not too surprising that what I wrote at the beginning of this process would fit in with what I am now thinking… it’s just funny that it seems like I can set this aside for months at a time and it’s still there.

I think that phenomena is what is inspiring me the most to write. Well, that and the fact that I have now developed a lot more of the storyline and I know my characters much better.

I have also been adding a lot of research to this process. With my first novel, I barely researched anything. It was pretty much off the top of my head, and I only spent one afternoon out observing a specific place that I was writing about. (the sculpture garden.)

This is much different – Jay and I went to Duluth and we kicked around a lot – went to Fitgers for an hour or so, went to the Tweed Museum and Glensheen, walked along Point Park, along the boardwalk, all the while thinking of my two characters that will meet and fall in love there, but in the 19-teens. So different being in a place when you are thinking of how the character would have seen it. I think Duluth is probably forever changed for me.

Anyway, thanks for reading.


Hey there. So, I’ve been working on this novel, and I can’t believe how moody I have been about writing it. I had staked out this three weeks as time that I would make some significant progress, and I haven’t done so, so far, any way. I think I’ve written about 3,000 words this week.

That might sound like a lot, but it’s just a drop in the bucket compared to how much I still need to write. I haven’t found myself writing because I have found myself watching old stupid tv. I’m done with the series I was watching – and no, I won’t tell you what it was because it’s so stupid, but suffice it to say that it wasn’t really worth the time. Well, maybe a little because I did enjoy it, but now it’s over and I have to knuckle down!!

So enough with sidetracks and back on to the main track! 🙂 Ok, I’m off to write. See ya.

xox sheila

Researching Ojibwa History

So for the past few weeks I have been on a quest to find out as much as I can about Ojibwa history in Minnesota. I have learned a lot, but I need to learn more.

All of this is for research on a character in the novel I am writing. I like researching, but it’s really new to me. The novel that I wrote before didn’t have much research at all – it was mostly off the top of my head. I just spent some time at the sculpture garden to make observations, other than that it was all make believe.

So it’s a new world for me… the world of the historical novel. And I love it. I’d like to hear from others who have incorporated history into their creative writing. What have been your ‘highs and lows’ in the process?

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