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NOVEMBER 3, 1997:  PAPERBACK TIGER: In the piles of books that come through our offices, the least coveted are the how-to manuals, especially those for writers. Writers learn by doing, and by reading, but rarely, it seems, by reading books that tell them what to do. So it was with trepidation and some chagrin that we admitted to local writer Jacqueline Raphael that we did remember her book, Writing Together: How To Transform Your Writing in a Writing Group, but only by its cover. We refrained from admitting that its daunting title, coupled with cover hits referring to "the stimulation of a creative environment," a "comprehensive guide" and "shar(ing) the creative journey" were all we needed to toss it in the donation box for the Humane Society's book sale. We hope somebody gave it a good home.

We only admit this now because, having perused the second copy graciously sent by Raphael, we wouldn't want other like-minded writers to make the same mistake. Writing Together (Perigree Books, $12.95) is indeed unique, a multi-faceted project that's a palatable balance between the practical, the theoretical and the confessional. It's more narrative than instruction manual; a story about eight professional women writers (Tucsonans all) who began a weekly group "with hope, fear, and car keys nearby."

"We were women in our thirties and forties; five of us had partners, four of us had children. We shared a lifetime commitment to language and writing, but we wanted something more in the everyday practice of our craft," they write in the introduction.

The 220-page book, the culmination of three years of writing together, not only offers insightful commentary, engaging exercises, and a rare honesty about the process of committing words to paper, it's a good read, to boot. Authors Raphael, Dawn Denham Haines and Susan Newcomer use examples of their own group's writing, and offer an informed and comprehensive list of recommended reading for the academically minded.

In the authors' own words, this book is for those who write to make sense of life, who stay up late reading and get up early to write in their journals; "if you relish the sound of words, if you feel you must write or wither."

For such individuals, they promise a "transformation that is available to everyone who writes seriously." Meet the authors and see for yourself at a free discussion at 7 p.m. Friday, November 7, at Antigone Books, 411 N. Fourth Ave. Call 792-3715 for information.

BORGASM: Star Trek: Voyager's new Borg crewmember Seven of Nine (that's her name), played by Jeri Ryan, has shown that Borg breast-enhancement technology has advanced well beyond earthly capabilities. In order to show off this technological marvel, the costume department managed to come up with an outfit for Seven that, while covering almost her entire body, leaves nothing to the imagination. The seam work necessary to get this suit molded around each of her oddly inflated mammaries would have driven Edith Head to distraction, and the rest of the outfit was carefully fitted into every imaginable indentation, from armpit to anklebone. We're sure it'll pay off in an increase of young male viewers.

EARN $109 WHILE WATCHING TV IN YOUR OWN HOME! Local broadcast news has hit a shabby new low, as evidenced by KGUN-TV, Channel 9's latest marketing scheme. The full-color direct mailer isn't so much a scheme, really, as a plea: With its ratings in the toilet, the struggling news-gathering organization is now outright paying people to watch its crummy broadcast. Now that's truth in advertising.

How to win? Fill out the postage-paid reply card and then tune in at 5 and 10 p.m. to see if your lucky number appears on screen. Weekdays are worth $109, and a month of Thursdays are worth a whopping $9,000 each (thus proving once again that you don't have to be smart to get rich here in the land of opportunity).

As if a bad idea weren't bad enough, you have to wonder about KGUN's timing: With all the new faces on staff, including a news director who's barely had time to climatize himself to the station's bizarre commitment to late-breaking weather reports, KGUN's management seems hell-bent on showing viewers just how bad local news can get. And they're even willing to put money on it.

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