Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Reprise: Fabulous First Lines

The first line of your novel or story can make it or break it. Are your words intriguing? Compelling? Do they make the reader hungry for more? Consider these first lines written by well-known authors. How do they make you feel? What images come into your head? Do you want to read more?

1. “Sometimes Sonny felt like he was the only human creature in the town.” Larry McMurtry, The Last Picture Show

2. “It was about eleven o’clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills.” Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep

3. “When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him.” Cormac McCarthy, The Road

4. “The alchemist picked up a book that someone in the caravan had brought.” Paul Coelho, The Alchemist

5. “Renowned curator Jacques Sauniere staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum’s Grand Gallery.” Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code

6. “When a traveller in north central Massachusetts takes the wrong fork at the junction of the Aylesbury pike just beyond Dean’s Corners he comes upon a lonely and curious country.” H.P. Lovecraft, The Dunwich Horror

7. “On these cloudy days, Robert Neville was never sure when sunset came, and sometimes they were in the streets before he could get back.” Richard Matheson, I Am Legend

8. “The cat had a party to attend, and went to the baboon to get herself groomed.” David Sedaris, squirrel seeks chipmunk

9. “‘To be born again,’ sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, ‘first you have to die.'” Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

10. “The witnesses standing at the edge of the field were staring in horrified silence, too stunned to speak.” Sidney Sheldon, The Doomsday Conspiracy

11. “I had this story from one who had no business to tell it to me, or to any other.” Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes

12. “Amerigo Bonasera sat in New York Criminal Court Number 3 and waited for justice; vengeance on the men who had so cruelly hurt his daughter, who had tried to dishonor her.” Mario Puzo, The Godfather 

13. “I see . . .” said the vampire thoughtfully, and slowly he walked across the room towards the window.” Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire

14. “Almost everyone thought the man and the boy were father and son.” Stephen King, ‘Salem’s Lot

15. “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.” Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind

And the list goes on, ad infinitum. But you get the idea.

Dawn Pisturino

April 24, 2012; June 15, 2022

Copyright 2012-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

27 Comments »

Reprise: A Writer 24/7

(Turn of the 20th century writer’s corner – Bonelli House Museum, Kingman, Arizona. Photo by Dawn Pisturino.)

Adopting the writer’s mantle places us instantly in the spotlight. Everything we say, write, and do is being evaluated and judged by people we don’t even know.

With this in mind, it’s important to display our best writing at every opportunity.

I recently read a blog post by an English writer that was poorly formatted, riddled with errors, and unprofessional-looking. The purpose of the blog was to dispense writing advice to budding young authors. But what can a young author learn from run-on sentences and words that blend into one another with no punctuation or spaces? Needless to say, I no longer follow that blog.

Many self-proclaimed authors haunt Facebook and other social media sites. They promote their books with quickly-composed, ungrammatical sales pitches that reflect poorly on their abilities as writers. My thought is this: if they can’t write a simple post on Facebook, how can they write the next Great American novel? The answer is obvious.

E-mail tends to be a casual form of communication, but some people take it for granted that it’s okay to write in texting jargon and incomplete sentences. Clear, concise communication should be even more important when writing e-mails. I check my grammar and spelling every time I send out an e-mail because I want my readers to see me as a real writer.

My elderly aunt fills her hand-written letters with poetic descriptions of the seasons and countryside where she lives. She’s not a writer, but she knows how to write. She knows how to turn a phrase and color a description so that it sticks in my head. She makes me imagine that once upon a time she wrote poetry in some dark garret. That reminds me–I need to ask her!

Writing is a 24/7 job. And everything we compose should reflect our abilities as a writer. Our readers expect it. Our profession demands it.

Published in the July-August 2012 issue of Working Writer.

Dawn Pisturino

June 13, 2022

Copyright 2012-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

26 Comments »

Children’s Story: “Caitlin II”

(Photo by Vitolda Klein, Unsplash)

The next part of the assignment for my children’s literature writing class was to write a children’s story based on the child I had observed. (See previous post.)

Children’s Story: “Caitlin II”

by Dawn Pisturino

I wasn’t surprised when Jenny told me that her parents are getting a divorce. It seems like every kid I know comes from a broken home. Jenny’s parents fight a lot, and I’ve seen her break down and cry in the girls’ restroom because of it. Don’t parents understand how unhappy they make their kids?

She hopes they’ll make it up and stay together, and I hope they do, too. Jenny is a nice girl with a bright future, and I hate to see her so unhappy.

Why do families have to split up? Why can’t they just love each other and stay together?

My Aunt Lucy and Uncle Tommy got a divorce. I never see Uncle Tommy anymore. He moved to the East Coast and got a new job. Aunt Lucy cried a lot, and my cousin Jeremy got into trouble for stealing money from the neighbor next door. After his father left, he was angry for a long time. I haven’t seen him since last Christmas, but Mom told me that he ran away from home one night and got beat up by a local gang. I’m afraid that someday something really bad will happen to him, and I’ll never see him again.

I love my father, and if he ever left, I think I would die. Just the thought makes me want to cry.

It scared me when my little brother got real sick. His face was red, and his skin was hot, and he slept a lot. Mom rushed him to the emergency room, and he had to stay in the hospital until he got better. I didn’t see Mom for a few days because she stayed in the hospital with him.

Dad and I took care of each other, though. We made dinner together every night, and one night, we went out for pizza. I told him all about my classes in school, the new girl who moved in down the street, and the cute boy I met at the library. I was embarrassed to talk about the cute boy, but Dad just laughed and didn’t tease me at all. I really loved him for that.

~

Sunday, May 8, 2022, is Mother’s Day. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Dawn Pisturino

July 8, 2008; May 6, 2022

Copyright 2008-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

18 Comments »

Child Observation Notes: “Caitlin I”

(Photo by Vitolda Klein, Unsplash)

The assignment for my children’s literature writing class was to find a child that I did not personally know, observe the child, and to take notes. Trying not to look like some kind of pervert, I sat in the children’s section at Barnes & Noble, chose a little girl who was about 12 years old, and took notes on her appearance, body language, behavior, interactions with others, and anything else that seemed important.

Child Observation Notes

by Dawn Pisturino

There was nothing extraordinary about the young girl sitting on the carpeted floor with her knees bent, an open storybook in her lap. She looked like a typical American teenage girl with her slinky blond hair swept back into a high ponytail, a short-sleeved green tee clinging tightly to small, firm breasts, and white sneakers protruding from the legs of crisp blue jeans.

A small boy with sandy hair who looked about three years old sat on the floor to her right, eagerly listening to the story she was reading. A girl about five years old with light brown curls stood impatiently to her left, energetically bouncing up and down with one finger in her mouth as the girl turned the pages of the book.

The girl, who could have been named Caitlin, smiled brightly as she read to her younger brother and sister. An aura of simple goodness radiated like the points of a shiny white star from her smooth, unblemished face. Her small, impish nose wrinkled up with laughter, and her hazel eyes sparkled with mischief as she pointed her finger at a silly picture. She held up the book so both siblings could get a clearer view.

When the younger boy and girl grew tired of the book, they scampered off. Their mother turned from her conversation with the sales clerk and said something sharp, but Caitlin answered lightly, ” Don’t worry, I’ll take care of them. Nothing will happen.” She followed them around the colorful racks of children’s books, unhurried and untroubled, showing no signs of resentment or frustration at being held responsible for her younger brother and sister.

She was slim and light on her feet, her posture fully erect. She could have been a young dancer or gymnast. With graceful movements, she picked up her younger brother and whirled him around in the air, making him squeal with delight, while his curly-headed sister danced around and begged for a turn.

It was a touching glimpse of family bonding and a rare reminder that happy families do, indeed, exist.

~

The next part of the assignment was to write a short story based on this profile, which I will present in the next post.

Thanks for reading! Writing for children can be fun and rewarding.

Dawn Pisturino

July 8, 2008; May 5, 2022

Copyright 2008-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

28 Comments »

Two-Word Story: All Gone

All gone. (Photo from Reuters)

All gone. (Photo from Bright Hope)
All gone. (Photo from Shutterstock)

Two-word story:

All gone.

I’ll let you decide which photo fits best.

Dawn Pisturino

April 28, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

13 Comments »

Short Poems

(Mini Me from Austin Powers)

Short Poems by Dawn Pisturino

Love Your Man

Love your man and love him well;

Give all you can and time will tell

The consequences, good or ill.

But love him still.

September 8, 1985

~

Attack on Libya

All around the terrorist camp

The monkey chased the weasel;

The monkey thought ’twas all in fun:

Pop! Goes the weasel.

A billion for the air raid,

A million for the missile;

That’s the way the money goes:

Pop! Goes the weasel.

April 16, 1986

(Based on the nursery song)

~

Sorrows

Sorrows come and sorrows go,

Pleasures last a day;

I know not why He made it so:

I wish it were the other way!

May 3, 1986

~

The Airplane

I looked into the big, big sky

And watched an airplane passing by;

I was too small for him to see,

And so he never noticed me.

May 3, 1986

~

Thanks for visiting and reading my poems!

Dawn Pisturino

April 27, 2022

Copyright 1985-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

18 Comments »

Here Comes the Sun

(Photo from Unsplash)

As the sun grows brighter and the days grow longer, I plan to spend more time outdoors. So, I will only be blogging Monday through Friday. I’m taking weekends off!

I will still be responding to comments and visiting people’s blogs. The extra time also allows me to work on my own writing projects, which I have been neglecting. Time to get back to work!

Here’s The Beatles singing “Here Comes the Sun” from my favorite album, Abbey Road. Enjoy!

(Official Beatles video from Universal Music Group)

Spring is coming!

And, Happy President’s Day!

Dawn Pisturino

February 21, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

20 Comments »

Books I’m Reading Right Now

For 2022, I vowed to take the time to read more books. I read a lot anyways, but I want to spend less time watching TV and more time reading. I have five bookcases full of books, and many of them I haven’t read yet. What’s that saying? “Too many books, too little time.” Time to catch up!

Books I’m reading right now:

“I want to bury myself in a den of books. I want to saturate myself with the elements of which they are made and breathe their atmosphere until I am of it.” ~ General Lew Wallace, 1885, author of Ben Hur.

To converse with the greats

by Vera Pavlova

To converse with the greats

by trying their blindfolds on;

to correspond with books

by rewriting them;

to edit holy edicts,

and at the midnight hour

to talk with the clock by tapping a wall

in the solitary confinement of the universe.

Dawn Pisturino

January 5, 2022

15 Comments »

Where have I been Published?

Historic Bonelli House Museum, Kingman, Arizona. Photo by Dawn Pisturino.

Where have I been published?

Poetry Anthologies:

World Poetry Anthology, 1987

Best New Poems of 1988

Great Poems of Today, 1987

New American Poetry Anthology, 1988

 National Poetry Anthology, 1988

American Poetry Anthology, 1988

Newspaper Articles:

Kingman Daily Miner – I had my own Health & Wellness Column in 2007

The Standard

Bullhead City Bee

Websites:

Masticadores USA

Iowa Life Blog

SelfGrowth.com

Committee for Direct Democracy

Scribd.com

F-Documents

ISSUU.com

 Underneath the Juniper Tree

 Smash Fascism

Cosmic Health Blog

Summer Eden Poetry Center

WordPress

Digital Ezines:

Underneath the Juniper Tree

Brooklyn Voice

Helmet Hair Motorcycle News

Danse Macabre du Jour

Psychic Magic Ezine

Working Writer

Print Publications:

Discussion Bulletin

New Unionist

Committee for Direct Democracy Information Packet

I appreciate every single one of my followers. I enjoy reading your comments and the posts on all of your blogs.

Thank you!

Dawn Pisturino

November 1, 2021

Copyright 2011-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

27 Comments »

My First Author Interview

My Very First Author Interview was with Underneath the Juniper Tree on March 9, 2012. I wrote poems, limericks, and short stories for their publication until the online ezine finally folded due to internal conflicts.

The Interview:

Dawn Pisturino has been a staple in our dark little pages since before I can remember. We had a chance to dig through her delightfully warped mind and find out more about her fantastic writing. Please, meet Dawn Pisturino.

1. Stephen King once said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” Which books do you find yourself always going back and reading over again?

I’ve read Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights fifteen times. I love its Gothic elements. Most recently, I’ve been reading Mary Downing Hahn’s middle-grade books. She writes creepy ghost stories and historical fiction for children.

2. How do you start a story? Do you start at the beginning, or do you dive right in the middle?

I start with a vision in my head and try to capture it on paper. Cutting out the fluff and getting right into the story engages the reader. Since I get bored easily, it keeps my interest, too.

3. Do you have any rituals before you start writing? Do you need to warm up? Or do you go right into it?

I must have my morning cup of tea before I do anything! If I want to establish a particular mood, I play music, read poetry, watch a movie or TV program, and read passages from Lovecraft or Poe.

4. What is your dream project?

My dream project is to finish the adult literary horror novel that I started, make it a best-seller, and sell the movie rights. Isn’t that every author’s dream?

And for all you budding writers out there, here’s some advice from Dawn:

Read, read, read. Not just popular fiction, but classic fiction and nonfiction. Everything you read stimulates your imagination and expands your point of view.

Check out Dawn’s interpretation of darling little Lizzie Borden in our February 2012 issue of Underneath the Juniper Tree.

Excerpt from “Miss Lizzie’s Tea Party,” by Dawn Pisturino.

Miss Lizzie tackled me to the ground and held me there while the cook bound her bloody hand with a towel and telephoned the police. My chest heaved with great, gulping sobs as Miss Lizzie’s face drew closer and closer until her lips brushed against my ear.

“You see how easy it is,” she whispered.

Dawn Pisturino

http://www.dawnpisturino.org

Copyright 2012-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

21 Comments »

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