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Cheryl Anne Gardner, one of the many talented authors I’m fortunate to call a friend, posted a link on Facebook to the movie “Vanilla Sky” and observed that despite her well-considered disdain for Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz, she finds the creepy surrealism of the film to be utterly enchanting.

I have different thoughts about “Vanilla Sky.”

I saw it in San Jose, Calif., where I used to live, with a woman I met online, as that was my predominant mode of dating back then. (You see, friends, I’m a swing-shift worker — 3 p.m. to midnight — and I daresay that the kind of woman you meet after midnight is not, in many cases, the kind with whom you want to share the other hours of the day.)

Anyway, I’ve written before about the follies of online dating, but this woman was a cut above. We had great fun, laughed, talked easily and widely and generally had a fine time, so much so that I wrote to her the next day and said I’d love to see her again.

While not word-perfect, this was the gist of her reply:

“Craig, I had such a good time last night. You’re a great guy, a real gentleman. In fact, I called my ex-boyfriend after I got home and told him I wished he were more like you. He said he would try, and so we’re getting back together. Thanks again!”

I resolved soon after to become an unrepentant bastard, a stance that continues to this day.

Last night at Parmly Billings Library, I presented a workshop called “Igniting the Novel Inside,” geared toward folks who’ve always wanted to write a novel but haven’t quite started or finished.

It’s a big topic. Any of the areas we briefly touched on — cultivating an idea, preparing to write, writing, staying on track, rewriting — would be worth a workshop unto itself. We had about 15 hardy participants who were generous with their enthusiasm. I thank them for forgoing “Survivor” and the Country Music Awards, and special thanks to assistant library director Dee Ann Redman for inviting me to do the session.

Here’s the slideshow that accompanied my talk.

As we’re knee-deep into National Novel Writing Month, I have to ask: What are you working on? How’s it going?

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