Commentary #98: “Backstory: Relevant Information or an Inconsequential Event?”

Found on A Writer’s Path

I’ve been following A Writer’s Path for a while now. There are many guest posts, and I learn something from every one I read.

Here’s the link to the Backstory post:

Backstory: Relevant Information or an Inconsequential Event?

As I ease into the first round of editing of the first draft of my first novel, this post struck a chord with me. I’m grateful for my friends who have already provided feedback on the first draft, and I’m eagerly awaiting a few more to chime in with their thoughts. Thank you, Melissa, Amanda, Janaye, Hannah, and Mike.

It’s also gotten me think about my characters’ backstories in my three other novels.

What is important?

What may not be important?

Did I leave anything out?

I really liked the example the author gave with a character’s fear of spiders. On the surface, it could be a minor detail. But, that fear can also be developed into something significant, involving the main story and potential conflict. It changes from something minor to something major.

And, as I prepare to start my fifth novel during NaNoWriMo next month, I’m keeping this post in my back pocket.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #244: Fall Fridays, Number 5

Image Credit: Unsplash

As the wonderful season of autumn / fall has started, I wanted to create an original writing prompt series to celebrate!

I invite everyone who sees this to participate, if you choose.

The idea is to look at the prompt, take at least five minutes on the Fridays during October 2019, and come up with a story/poem/scene, or whatever strikes your fancy with those words.

This has been extended from September! You can use the image at the top of this post – Just please make sure to credit it.

Ready?

Here we go!


  • October 4th: Corn Maze
  • October 11th: Hay Ride
  • October 18th: Football
  • October 25th: Halloween

As a child, Scotty always looked forward to the annual trip to the farm in the fall. Among the pumpkins, petting zoo, and scarecrows, his favorite thing was the hay ride.

He wasn’t alone. The hay ride was fun for many. The farmer climbed on his lumbering tractor. Scotty loved the sounds it made. The hay was itchy, but everyone had fun. They were supposed to sit on the bales and stay still while the tractor was moving. But, inevitably, a hay fight would break out. The boys loved stuffing the loose hay down each other’s shirts, and it would tangle in all the girls’ hair. The teachers were always annoyed, but the farmer always chuckled. He loved kids.

And Scotty loved someone. Kelly was a girl in the other kindergarten class, but their classes usually ended up on the same field trips.

In kindergarten, Scotty was brave enough to walk over to Kelly, sit next to her, and compliment her overalls.

In first grade, Kelly threw hay right in Scotty’s face. But then she giggled, apologized, and kissed him on the cheek.

In second grade, Scotty held her hand during the “haunted” section when she got scared.

In third grade, Scotty was hurt. Kelly ignored him the whole time.

In fourth grade, Kelly apologized, and they shared their first kiss. Everyone was agog.

As fifth grade started, Scotty was sad. Kelly had told him over the summer that she was moving away. Her dad, who was in the Coast Guard, was getting stationed across the country. She left the week before school started. Scotty kissed her cheek, and she held his hand before she climbed in the giant moving van.

The week the field trip happened, Scotty was really down. Going to the farm just wasn’t the same anymore. 

The day before the trip, Scotty’s eyes brightened when he got home from school. Another letter had arrived from Kelly. She talked about how beautiful it was in Washington state, but she missed school, her friends, Scotty, and the farm.

Scotty felt tears in his eyes as photos fell out of the envelope. Someone had taken photos at the farm every year, and there was a photo of them, together, during every hay ride.

He smiled, and asked his mom to frame them. She smiled, nodded, and Scotty had them in his room for years.

He never forgot about Kelly.

Those photos faded a bit over the years. But, they were still framed as they headed toward Scotty’s rehearsal dinner. Everyone oohed and aahed over childhood photos of the bride and groom.

Scotty smiled at his bride-to-be, looking gorgeous. He couldn’t wait to soak up every minute with her tonight, and then party the night away tomorrow.

There were hay bales everywhere. His bride smiled, and playfully threw a handful of loose hay in his face after the rehearsal dinner.

“I love you, Scotty.”

He dipped his head and kissed her. There was hay tangled in her hair. She was thrilled – She could hardly believe it. She still wore overalls, and was more in love with Scotty than ever.

“I love you, too, Kelly. Let’s get married!”


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #186: Twelfth TBR Recap

Welcome back!


Here’s what I’ve read since my last TBR update:

  1. Arnold, David, Mosquitoland
  2. Hillenbrand, Laura, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
  3. Sanchez, Alex, Rainbow Boys
  4. Scattergood, Augusta, Glory Be
  5. Yep, Laurence, Mia
  6. Yep, Laurence, Bravo, Mia!
  7. Rowling, J.K., Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets *Re-Read* (In Progress) 

Removing from Laura Beth’s TBR

  1. Anderson, Laurie Halse, Shout
  2. Duncan, Lois, Who Killed My Daughter?: The True Story of a Mother’s Search for Her Daughter’s Murderer
  3. Kubica, Mary, Good Girl
  4. Martin, Kristen, The Alpha Drive
  5. Spinney, Caroll, The Wisdom of Big Bird (and the Dark Genius of Oscar the Grouch): Lessons from a Life in Feathers
  6. Vaughan, Brian K., Paper Girls Volume 1

Removal Rate: 6/11 = 55%


Keep & Re-Classify – Laura Beth’s Updated TBR

  1. Conley, Garrard, Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family
  2. Goldstein, Amy, Janesville: An American Story
  3. King, Stephen, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft *Re-Read*
  4. Oviatt, Didi, Search for Maylee
  5. Ware, Ruth, In A Dark, Dark Wood

Keep Rate: 5/11 = 45%


Adding to the TBR

  1. Brunt, Carol Rifka, Tell The Wolves I’m Home
  2. Hupfield, Stanley F., Political Malpractice: How the Politicians Made a Mess of Health Reform
  3. MacNeal, Elizabeth, The Doll Factory
  4. Polacco, Patricia, Thank You, Mr. Falker
  5. Reid, Taylor Jenkins, Daisy Jones & The Six
  6. Rowling, J.K., Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban *Re-Read*
  7. Rowling, J.K., Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire *Re-Read*
  8. Sanchez, Alex, Rainbow High
  9. Welteroth, Elaine, More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say)

So, my current TBR is 14 books.

Do you have a TBR?

What book are you looking forward to reading next?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #97: Thoughts on “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

When Al was on a recent business trip, I made a list of movies I wanted to watch after getting home from work. Having little success in locating many of them through Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, I found Won’t You Be My Neighbor? through Amazon Prime Video.

I’d heard this documentary made you cry, and it’s definitely true. I learned a lot about Mr. Rogers, both the man and the genesis of the television show.

Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom, Best of Enemies: Buckley vs. Vidal) is masterful storyteller.

I was a bit worried about the length – A little more than 90 minutes. I wasn’t sure if the “whole story” would be captured in that time frame. Neville, however, proved me wrong.

The interviews were amazing. Neville captured everyone he possibly could – Joanne Rogers, John Rogers, Jim Rogers, Elaine Rogers, Yo-Yo Ma, Francois Clemmons. And Fred Rogers and Koko the gorilla in archival recordings.

The show originally debuted in Canada in 1962. It began in the U.S. in 1966 on the regional Eastern Education Network. Its national debut was on February 19, 1968.

One of the interesting things about the documentary was seeing the origin story. I knew the show covered topics that most children’s programming avoided, but it was fascinating to see archival footage from 1967 and 1968, discussing the Vietnam War and Robert Kennedy’s assassination, among other things.

I started watching Mister Rogers before I could talk. New episodes aired on PBS until 2001, so I remember the “modern era” of the show. I learned about things from how Crayola crayons are made, factories, jobs, books, conflict, death, friendship, family, and more.

This documentary is filled with nostalgia, and one of the best things I’ve seen in 2019. I’m very happy Morgan Neville decided to do this – I hope it was as rewarding for him as it was for me.

Watching this now is the perfect lead-up to the upcoming film, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, starring Tom Hanks. I can hardly wait for Thanksgiving week. You’ll find me first in line for tickets.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #185: Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today is my mom’s birthday!

I’m so happy to have been able to celebrate with her. Today was our regularly scheduled blood drive, and she ran it like a champ. Everyone sang to her, and I bought a fun rainbow birthday cake! We had a good time. She was going to take a nap later.

Hoping to take her out to eat sometime tomorrow.

Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #243: Fall Fridays, Number 4

Autumn Images

Image Credit: Unsplash

As the wonderful season of autumn / fall has started, I wanted to create an original writing prompt series to celebrate!

I invite everyone who sees this to participate, if you choose.

The idea is to look at the prompt, take at least five minutes on the Fridays during October 2019, and come up with a story/poem/scene, or whatever strikes your fancy with those words.

This has been extended from September! You can use the image at the top of this post – Just please make sure to credit it.

Ready?

Here we go!


  • October 4th: Corn Maze
  • October 11th: Hay Ride
  • October 18th: Football
  • October 25th: Halloween

Elisa felt so lost. There were signs everywhere, and she couldn’t tell which ones were real.

Jonathan was going in a different direction.

“Elisa! Over here!”

“Where are you? I can’t see you!”

She felt the panic rising.

The sun was setting. The farm was closing in 20 minutes.

“Elisa?”

“Jonathan!”

Even Jonathan was getting worried. This was a good corn maze – Tough to navigate, but still entertaining.

However, hearing his fiancee panic was not fun.

A low growl made the hairs stand up on the back of his neck.

“ELISA!! RUN!!”

“What?”

“Run, Elisa. Now!”

“Why?”

“JUST DO IT!”

Her Nikes flew.

The fastest she ran, the darkness caught up with her.

“Jonathan!”

“Elisa!”

“HELP!”

The darkness overtook her. The last thing Jonathan heard were her screams.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #79: “Rainbow Boys”

Rainbow Boys

Image Credit: Amazon

I remember devouring Alex Sanchez’s books from Russell Memorial Library toward the end of high school, beginning of college. I was able to pick up the whole trilogy, plus some other books by him, at 2nd and Charles back in August.

It took me a while to read it, but I’m glad I took my time. This is a good one, for many people to read. Through the fictional world set in New York, Sanchez creates three unique characters – Jason, Kyle, and Nelson. They all have something in common – Coming of age, and trying to figure out their own ways with being gay.

I think my favorite character was Kyle. I kept thinking he would be a friend of mine in high school, and college. Jason and Nelson are good in their own way, and I appreciated how Sanchez makes them different. I liked how he broke up the chapters by character.

I had to remind myself multiple times that this book was published in 2003. I marveled at how far our country, and the world, has come with acceptance and strides with the LGBTQ+ community. It’s been 16 years since this book was published. While the community is still fighting for certain rights, it’s a very different world between 2003 and 2019.

I appreciated Sanchez making this book as “real” as possible. It has its flaws – It feels over-dramatic in several places. But, then again, it’s a high school setting. High school always has drama!

I give him props for introducing other serious situations into the book other than the characters finding their true identities. A lot of the feelings I felt when I first read this resurfaced – Happiness, sadness, and anger.

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy! Look for those reviews soon.

4 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂