Saturday, February 28, 2009
Hopefully I have brought a bit of Bath’s great history and charm to you.
I found I like doing travel blogs, it takes me back to places I have loved and memories I cherish.
So, surprise, surprise, I will be doing a few blogs about Paris. In reality, I should have started with Paris, because of the first book, as in A Hotel in Paris.
Somehow Bath took over, since my protagonists are currently living in Bath and I have to finish their tale.
But Paris must get its due, so starting next week we’re going to visit Paris, we’ll start- not with the Louvre-if you have read my book you’ll know where we’ll go first. If not, well stay tuned…and maybe pick up the book and read it. We’ll go on the journey together.
Just thought I’d mention the novella proposal was sold to Echelon Press, coming out February 2010. Amy Alessio and Mary Welk are my partners in crime. I set my story right here in Chicago, so most likely there will be a few blogs about my favorite big city in Northeastern, Illinois. The only big city in Northeastern, Illinois…
Till next Time,
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
Heat of the Moment ISBN 978-1-59080-596-1
available on amazon.com
Friday, February 27, 2009
After writing a story in first person, sit down and rewrite the entire thing in third person. It’s a great, freeing exercise. Conversely, rewrite a story you did in third person to first!
After writing a story from one point of view, take another entirely different tact by rewriting it from another character’s point of view.
After writing a story in single point of view, rewrite it to multiple point of view. Or visa versa.
Take a multiple viewpoint story and rewrite it to a single POV.
After writing a story set in a safe, comfy place you know only too well, rewrite it to have a far more exotic setting—challenging yourself to create a setting that requires some research and digging.
After writing a story from your own gender’s point of view and voice, rewrite it to the voice and point of view of the opposite gender.
Challenge yourself to write a story from your opposite—whatever that may be. A man, woman, black soldier, female nurse—creating roles/characters far different from yourself.
Write a story from inside the mind of a child.
Write a story from inside the mind of an abused child, or a misunderstood Downs Syndrome patient.
Write a story from inside the mind of someone considered the lowest form of humanity on the street.
Write a story in imitation and admiration of one (or more) of your favorite authors, doing all you can to mirror his/her style and voice. See if you can craft the “lost” pages of Alexander Dumas or Mark Twain or John Steinbeck, Hemmingway or Stephen King.
Any one of these “finger” exercises will make you a better writer overnight, and like any art form or communication skill, writing is learned. I ought to know. I taught myself.
Robert W. Walker
Visit me at www.robertwalkerbooks.com - get your FREE pdf download, an eBook ARC of DEAD ON.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
We had just put in new carpet leading down to the basement through our office and family room, and on into the laundry room. I was thrilled. My feet were cushioned and the kids would enjoy the family room so much more with this new luxury of comfort. I started the wash, whites, hot with bleach. We had three athletes and grimy socks were a constant issue at our house. With that done, I went back up my newly carpeted stairs and started supper.
An unusual banging and knocking came from downstairs and I rushed down to find steaming bleach water spreading across the laundry room floor, turning my light beige carpet to soapy white. By the time I turned everything off, gallons had spilled out. I didn't know which was hotter, my temper, my tears or the wash water.
One of my kids had gone for Dad and he barged down the stairs and stood cursing, repeating what I had already muttered. But I appreciated his enthusiasm to describe the nasty scene. We mopped the water, knowing the carpet was ruined, and upon further inspection a gasket or some such mechanical part had puked spraying motor fluid in a dozen directions after it was through with the water.
Being a farmer has many advantages and having a cart on wheels in the tool shed came in handy that day. My husband stopped the leaky oil stuff as best he could and I draped the stairs with towels which didn't work too well when hauling a heavy washer up from the depths of the basement, but it caught most of the drips. The kids cheerd when Daddy wheeled the ungangly beast out the door and pushed it out by the garage. I returned to the laundry room trying to make the best of a horrible day. My husband came stomping back down the stairs and went behind the laundry room where he stored seasonal stuff and came out with his 12 gauge shotgun.
Now my husband is well known for his Boy Scout tactics and overall great guy standing. But I followed him out the door. The kids stared at him and voluntarily stepped back as he approached the garage. He stood a moment, took aim, and ... Boom. Boom! Boom! He shot my washer.
For a week, folks from church, friends and family came to see the washer with the three bullet holes through it. So you see, I had grave concerns when this washer started galloping about, grinding and growling like an old dog woke from sleep. I'd learned to listen to these unsavory noises and recognized approaching death when I heard it. I visited Sears in a timely fashion.
I also made sure they would take away my old machines. No sense tempting fate. We just had the kitchen ceiling painted from when the washer had its first heart attack and water leaked through to our kitchen light.
So as my new washer and dryer say, Life is Good! The first load is finished with no fuss, no grinding either. I tip-toed up to my laundry room just to make sure everything was working. Yep! All is well! Clean clothes are ready and waiting for the dryer. This transformation is almost too easy. No tempers flaring, no ruined carpets, no hot water to hop through. No bullet holes, either.
Guess I'll go wash the whites. Hot, with bleach!
Til next time ~
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
When someone is too bossy or nosy, have you ever said, "Get a life?"
Why? Because that person is concentrating on yours, instead of his or her own?
As a writer, when crafting your characters, make sure they get a life. To keep them from being cardboard cutouts, they need to be stand out in their own right. How do you achieve this?
Here are some ways:
GMC - goal, motivation and conflict. Give your characters real wants and needs, reasons for wanting them, then throw in roadblocks to thwart them from achieving their goals.
Give your characters certain speech patterns. You might not expect a church-going old lady to swear, but you could expect that language from a teenager. That said, if that same little old lady gets boxed into a corner, to dramatize a situation, you could have her break down and let loose with a string of profanities she's never dreamed she'd ever use. Afterwards, she'd be just as shocked as the reader. You could also give characters favorite words they like to use.
Other ways to give your characters lives would be to emphasize unique ways of dressing, particular hobbies, or identifying habits. A character who enjoys black coffee seems more straightforward and down to earth than one who takes cream and sugar, or maybe a latte'.
Can you think of other ways to give life to characters? Or, examples of how you've achieved this in one of your novels? Or, maybe how someone else has done it? Please share.
If you liked this post, you may want to wander over to Double M at http://morganmandel.blogspot.com to learn how we follow the leader.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
This isn't the only evidence of cost saving moves at publishing houses. Even the big guys are starting to use Print-On-Demand (POD) something that was considered tabu not that long ago. Truth is that POD is a very cost-effective way of producing books and printing only those books that readers want to purchase. Blend this with the availability of electronic books and the green effect is dramatic.
As the major publishers began to use POD it was mostly refered to as short press runs, but the processes were effectively the same. The quality of POD has increased dramatically over the years and given the current economic strife POD is finding a much broader audience. Ironic isn't it? Ironic that it took a financial crisis for elitist attitudes to be humbled into accepting such a process. But this isn't the first and only time. I often say that money makes the world go round and it's amazing what changes will take place when money does the talking.
When I first started reading romance novels, most people looked down on the books as well as the readers. Granted, some of the novels were wanting of substance but so are lots of other passtimes or other forms of escapism. But enough of them were well worth the read and hey they brought lots of happiness to lots of people. Fast forward to today and more romance novels are sold than any other genre and business is booming. So, not so many editors at the publishing houses with this genre seem to be getting pink slips.
Message to publishers - keep those happy endings coming and readers will help you keep you bottom line healthy, even in tough times.
Monday, February 23, 2009
It was a no brainer. Something to distract me from my going absolutely nowhere book. It was a godsend.
She wanted a couple sample chapters and synopsis in a few months. I went to work on it right away. I was totally pumped. It was something new and fresh. The story practically wrote itself, but I was hesitant to send my idea off to her to soon. What if I hit the same snag and found myself stuck and a deadline looming overhead? So I waited until I had almost the whole story down before I sent off the chapters and synopsis. In two days she wrote back and said she liked the idea; send the rest as soon as I had it ready.
Since I was almost done with the story it didn’t take me long to complete it. I had my usually proofreaders give it the once over, (thanks Mike, Lynn and Maureen!) and off it went to my editor. Within a month she responded with a contract offer which I happily accepted.
Here’s a blurb on Just Perfect, my short story due out this summer as part of the YA anthology, Summer Lovin’:
Caroline Jane Edmonds, CJ to her friends and family, has the perfect summer planned. She calls it the TSL summer: tanning, swimming and love, and not necessarily in that order. As a matter of fact, she’ll take it in any order, just as long as it comesWhen the first day of summer rolls around, CJ’s on top of the world. But that world gets pulled out from beneath her feet when her father decides, without consulting CJ at all, that she needs a summer job. He even picks out the job: -- working at the miniature golf course and driving range for the park district where he is the director.Now all she has to do is combine her ideal summer plans into her new job and she’ll have a hole in one, otherwise her whole summer will be way below par.Perfect, just perfect!
As soon as I get the release date I’ll post it.
Have a great week!
Sunday, February 22, 2009
I've been doing the Happy Dance this week! It's been great.
My first dance of celebration came when I finished my additions to "Wild Wedding Weekend" and sent them off to my editor at Wild Rose.
The next came when I realized I was totally motivated to keep writing, so I pulled out my WIP that's been on hold while I'd been working on edits and additions for "Wedding", and I've been making some progress on that this week. (Okay, so that's not really a dance-worthy moment, but more of an I am really proud of myself moment.)
The really big Happy Dance moment came when I was checking e-mail around midday on Tuesday and came across an e-mail titled "Final cover for Wild Wedding Weekend". My much anticipated cover was here! My heart began to pound. I reminded myself to breathe. And I clicked open the file to bring the image onto my screen.
And I fell in love with my beautiful cover. It's so fabulous I simply can't stop looking at it. It fits the story perfectly and is all I was hoping it would be. The wonderful people at Wild Rose came through again!
Here it is! What do you think?! (For a blurb and to read an excerpt, visit my website.)
So, until next time, I hope you find lots of things to dance about!
Saturday, February 21, 2009
What makes this anthology exciting is sampling the various genres, seventeen tales to delight; providing something for everyone. And the best part, the participating authors donated their stories to benefit others, all the royalties are going to missing and exploited children.
The idea for the collection came from Amy Alessio a YA Librarian and author, when presented with the proposal, Karen Syed of Echelon Press jumped at the opportunity to do something very rewarding.
Please support Missing, you’ll enjoy the stories and you’ll be making a difference and supporting a very worthwhile cause. Kudos to the participating writers, the titles and authors are listed below:
Missing Andy by Amy Alessio
Gemini by Barbara Annino
Dream Works by Regan Black
Harry’s Fall from Grace by Luisa Buehler
Coffee by Rebecca Cantrell
Cleaning up at the Franks by Gayle Carline
Mis-adventures of Guy by Norm Cowie
Riley Come Home by Evelyn David
Signature Required by Susan Gibberman
A Call from Rockford by Robert Goldsborough
An Art Fair in Chicago by Margot Justes
Floaters by J.A. Konrath and Henry Perez
The Cotton Candy Man by Susan Muira
The Right Choice by Tom Schreck
Dog Gone Dog by Michele Scott
Knight Child by J.R. Turner
Caroline Rhodes and the Case of the Fugitive Farmer by Mary Welk.
Till next Time,
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
Heat of the Moment ISBN 978-1-59080-596-1
available on amazon.com
Friday, February 20, 2009
If I could have it to do over again, sitting here today and looking back on high school and my time at the university, I would have done a few things differently, as might anyone and not just academically! But at the time, I hadn’t the maturity and emotional stability and psychological cool and “moxie” to learn say Paradise Lost or the nuances of Physical Geography or Interpersonal Dynamics or whatever. From Hamlet to anthropological and sociological truths, I was lost (but it did help tremendously to discover that you check out a book on the subject written by an expert on the subject and you crack it).
As a teacher now, I see so very many students who are not prepared—and I don’t mean simply missing books or note-taking skills, No, I am speaking of their not having yet arrived at that mental station necessary. You know, the station wherein the “master” might actually be of use to him or her? The old Chinese proverb is what I am talking about, the one I suspect comes from Confucius that says: “The master will appear when the student is ready.”
Prior to the student being ready, the mentor or teacher or master is pretty much an idiot who is going about blathering to himself -- most of the time. It puts me in memory of Mark Twain’s remarks about his parents. To paraphrase: “When I was seventeen, my parents were the worst sort of backwater simpletons and fools, and yet how amazed I was when he turned twenty-four to discover how very much they had learned!” The parents had in fact miraculously become geniuses.
When the student is ready (mentally, emotionally, physically), the master appears. It’s so true. Currently, I am teaching writing classes at West Virginia State University, and perhaps seventy-five percent or more of my students are not prepared for college, let alone truly “ready” to drink of the trough. This for whatever reason has them unable or unwilling to pick up the “pearls” cast before them. Some are too young, too naïve; some are jaded from years of school and school rules; others are busy raising children of their own, and holding down jobs, and showing up at class without being ready in the sense I am speaking of here.
This holds true for writers and finding a mentor writer as well, and when I edit the works of others some are so, so, so very prepared and ready, and these drink it in and soak it up and move on to remarkable accomplishments, whereas others pout, scream, shout, and call me a butcher. These are not students prepared and ready.
Just an observation, and sorry if I sound pedantic, professorial, or worse—a pontificating old man, but then that’s who I am. If you are as ready as ready can be and are looking for a mentor to guide you through the turbulent writing waters, contact me via my website, via my Knife Services but only if you are ready to be sliced and diced—and to extrapolate and learn from the “butcher”.
Fast Writing is confident writing! Move it along!
-- come for your free ebook ARC of Dead On; only a keystroke away!
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Writers have been pondering these questions since the concept of publishing the written word. If only the answers were a step by step process to success. And so, in our discussion we discovered or perhaps re-discovered there are many ways to accomplish the task of becoming published.
We chatted about a few basic guidelines we have used, I've included a few of my own; perhaps they will help you:
~ FINISH YOUR BOOK
Completing your manuscript is a must!
~ IN ORDER TO FINISH YOUR BOOK:
Put your butt in the chair and write.
This means creating a routine for writing.
Stick to your schedule.
Make personal goals and reward yourself when you reach them.
Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder was mentioned as a great resource to help you through the writing process. Search your local bookstore for others.
~ BE AWARE OF THE PUBLISHING WORLD
Read, read, read.
Read what other writers in your genre are publishing.
Keep up with what is happening in the publishing market.
Subscribe to a writer's magazine, or ask your library to subscribe to a few.
Join a writer's group; WindyCity RWA is always open to new members.
~ FINE TUNE YOUR WORK
Having your friends read your manuscript is great.
Hiring a professional editor is better.
Or submit your work to a critique group; listen to their feedback.
Consider what all have said, then polish your work in a way that is best for YOU
and your book.
~ SEARCH FOR AN AGENT/PUBLISHER
This step is best done when you have completed your book! (or it's nearly done)
Search online for Literary Agencies. There are many Agency Directories, listing their expertise and wants.
Go through the Writer's Market Book - this book specifies agents or publishers into categories and what type of book they are looking for. Be aware people move from place to place and may have moved on from the copydate of the book.
Always best to address a particular agent or publisher.
~ KEEP TRACK OF YOUR QUERIES
Make a spreadsheet to tabulate your progress of queries sent.
A simple spreadsheet could include:
name, address of Agent/publisher (include email address)
list what you sent, when you sent it and a space for agent's response
There are great On-line programs to help you keep track of queries, check agents profiles, etc.
Send out what you can keep track of: 2 a week? 10 in a month? Sending out 40 at a time becomes very confusing, and as you work through this process, you may want to adjust your query or proposal.
Evaluate the feedback and decide which direction your next step should be.
~ KEEP TRYING!!
In other words, don't give up!
Don't worry about the many rejections!
You are a work in progress! (emphasis on progress!!)
I enjoyed visiting with the group of writers at the Lisle Library and sharing what I could in the time we had. It's times like this when I regard my own writing career by measuring stick standards and I realize how far I've traveled on the journey of writing. Giving advice and encouragement is especially sweet, recalling the many writers who extended the same gracious understanding to me. Just a few days ago I received an email from a friend of a friend's acquaintance. Meaning I had no idea who this person was, but he was searching for help on getting his wife's work published. Encouragement is sometimes the balm folks are looking for. A road map would be fantastic, but then I wouldn't have stumbled into so many wonderful writers bumbling along like me. Who needs a road map when I'm in such good company!
As an author, I may not know where I'm going, but I know I'm headed in the right direction as long as I keep striving, stretching to write the best work I can. None of us know what tomorrow will bring, except the weatherman of course! But as a writer I find it exciting to be a little bit lost, the winds whipping up from unexpected directions to toss me about, and I scramble to stay afloat.
Foolish? Perhaps. Fun? Oh, definitely! Writing is an uncertain profession, always searching for the right words, the best agent and a super contract. Both sides play I SPY. Agents search for a great hook, an intriguing query, a thought provoking storyline. Writers dig around for the best word, agonize over sentence structure and then use fine-tooth combs to pick out the best and most polished to represent them. And we all grow old in the process.
Maybe we do need a road map.
Til next time ~
PS: If you have any helpful hints to offer aspiring writers, feel free to share with us.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Known as “Spunk On A Stick”, L. Diane Wolfe conducts seminars on promoting, leadership and goal setting.
Wolfe’s title, “Overcoming Obstacles With SPUNK! The Keys to Leadership & Goal-Setting”, ties all of her goal-setting and leadership seminar’s information together into one complete, enthusiastic package!
Available: March 17, 2009
Barnes & Noble
The author’s young adult series, The Circle of Friends, features morally grounded, positive stories that appeal to both teens and concerned parents. Ten years associating with a motivation training system and her experience as a foster parent gave her the in-depth knowledge of relationships, personality traits and success principals.
The author offers her seminars through community colleges, organizations and clubs. Wolfe travels the East Coast extensively for media interviews and speaking engagements. She averages over one hundred appearances each year, maintains a dozen websites & blogs, manages an online writer’s group, and contribute articles for several other sites. She also does characterization sessions for schools and speaks to writer’s groups.
Get ready to write after this sample of L. Diane Wolfe's inspirational abilities:
Is it Worth the Price We Pay? by L. Diane Wolfe
A four-state book signing tour. A month-long virtual tour. Deadlines looming on the horizon. And a checklist that sprouts two new items for every one we eliminate. Between all the headaches, hassles and constant running, we often wonder if it’s worth the price we pay as authors.
The general public rarely glimpses the unglamorous side of writing. Most people are unaware of the long hours spent creating our storylines, staring at the computer screen until dawn. They can’t conceive of the marketing efforts required of all but the best-selling authors. Our fans don’t realize that we often spend the entire day establishing contacts and composing letter and emails to websites, bookstores, and the media.
The repetitive and occasionally boring tasks required of us really wears on our enthusiasm as well. What began as a passion for writing now feels like work. Our personal lives take a backseat as we attempt to stay ahead of the game. In our profession, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the many details and daily grind.
Besides the time-consuming duties, there are negative aspects as well. The book signing without books when the store forgets to place an order. The speaking engagements cancelled due to lack of funds. The reviewer experiencing a bad life who takes it out on our novel. The pre-taped interview that is cut due to time constraints. These situations can really place a damper on our spirits, causing us to feel even more discouraged.
Is it honestly worth the trouble? This really struck me one day while returning from a book signing. As I crossed a long and lonely stretch of road, Twisted Sister’s “The Price” began to play on my satellite radio. The lyrics echoed my thoughts at the time, and I began to ponder my current path of choice.
Why do we pay such a high price, making so many thankless sacrifices? Certainly not simply for financial gain. I can think of less complicated ways to make money! We don’t do it solely for personal satisfaction. Perhaps that’s the thought initially, but the glow eventually fades. Recognition is pleasant, but we must continue producing if we expect more. None of these factors will motivate us forever.
So why do we pay the price required of an author? The reason is simple – for our readers and those we touch with our words.
How many young writers do we inspire? How many individuals are entertained, their imaginations envisioning the worlds and characters we’ve created? What of those who were without hope until they read our book or heard us speak? We cannot begin to fathom the lives transformed by our mere words. Consider the websites and communities who follow our work, the emails and letters from excited readers, and the fans who drive hours out of their way to meet us in person. These people feel passion and an emotional attachment to our creations. What if our visions had remained locked away in our minds forever because we felt it wasn’t worth the price?
True success is achieved when we affect others in a positive manner, leaving the world a little better than when we found it. There will always be disappointments and stress, but if we can focus on the pleasure and satisfaction our work brings to others, we will persevere. Their joy will fuel our enthusiasm, providing us with a sense of genuine self-worth and happiness. If we lose sight of this purpose, our author experience will be a shallow victory at best.
So, is it worth the price we pay? For the many new friends we make during our journey, our eager fans, and those lives we touch, you betcha!
- Author & Professional Speaker, L. Diane Wolfe
Please leave your comments for our guest. Do you sometimes get discouraged? Is it worth it to you? Please share.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
We embrace many of the writers that other Cons don't. We don't discriminate against authors who have published outside the traditional venues, something we cherish and want to preserve. We've often attracted stellar headliners, agents and editors and provide an incredible opportunity for everyone to network. So, save your pennies, write that great American Novel - or not, and start to prepare for the 2011 Love is Murder Con.
Hope to see you there.
Monday, February 16, 2009
For me, I start with a full blown scene and I like to jump right in. In Ordinary Me, it was two girls sitting in the high school cafeteria talking about something they read in the school’s newspaper. At first I didn’t know exactly what they were discussing, I just knew they were talking like most teenage girls do. And I find that most teenage girls talk about, well, teenage boys, so there was my beginning.
After I wrote the scene, and most of the book, I changed the beginning. I wondered if it seemed more like I was dumping the reader right into the story and instead I thought I should explain my main characters more and bring the reader into the story gradually. After two rewrites, I decided I was wrong. I wasn’t dumping the reader into the story at all. Hopefully I was making the reader feel as if they were there the whole time right along with the characters. Have a look at the beginning of the book:
“I wish I could give Allison 100 endless summer nights.” —Brad Stevens
“I’m gagging here!”
Leave it to my best friend, Jodi, to announce
what everyone else was actually thinking.
I stopped reading the Wish List from the Senior
Edition of Wainscott North’s high school newspaper,
Northern Lights, and pushed it across the table to
“Yeah,” I said, only I didn’t really think it. I
thought it was kind of, you know, romantic. Not that romance was the top thing on my mind. Currently the top thing on my mind was trying to finish my
sandwich without choking, while Jodi cut down
certain members of the student body who were sitting
at the jock table less than three feet away.
“I mean,” Jodi continued, apparently not noticing
I didn’t agree with her 110%, which was good because
she is my best friend, and I really wouldn’t want her to think I was weird or anything. Just because I disagree with her doesn’t necessarily make me weird.
It just means she needs to know who, what, where,
and especially, why I disagree. Since I really wasn’t
in the mood for her third degree, I kept quiet.
“If you have an endless night, doesn’t that mean
it doesn’t end? So why would you need one hundred of
them? Hello!” She did the eye rolling thing.
“Really, how dumb!” I didn’t really mean it, you
know, because of the whole best-friend-who-I-want to-avoid-confrontation-with thing.
I had no opinion on the subject. Yes, I know, I,
Kate Sterns have an opinion on everything, which of
course, I always keep to myself, unless provoked to
express it that is.
But not this time.
No, this time I was opinion less.
I mean, I didn’t have a boyfriend, never have had
a boyfriend, and at this rate, probably never will have
a boyfriend. I didn’t have anyone who wanted to
spend a night with me, let alone an endless one! Of
course Jodi hadn’t had a boyfriend either, but she is
prettier than me so she has a way better chance.
Looking at the jock table, I could tell they didn’t
hear anything we were talking about, which was a
good thing, not that they would listen to us anyway.
We were just the ordinaries.
Thanks for reading. Have a great President’s Day!
Sunday, February 15, 2009
I know, I know. There is a history behind Valentine's Day. But ask your average person on the street, and they'll have no idea. Most simply know it as the time when the stores dec out in red, put hearts everywhere, and entice shoppers to buy things to show their love for that special someone.
I guess for me, telling my husband I love him isn't reserved for one day a year, and vice versa. My husband tells me everyday (several times a day, in fact) that he loves me. And I do the same. We love spending time together. We love being together, no matter what we're doing. Expressing our feelings doesn't depend on the calendar date. I guess you could say that everyday is our Valentine's Day.
But yesterday, we celebrated Valentine's Day in a very special way. We renewed our wedding vows.
Since Valentine's Day fell on a Saturday this year, our church designated its evening service last night as a marriage vow renewal celebration. It was one of the most amazing things we've ever done.
The entire service had a wedding theme about it, from pre-service music from Jesu to Canon in D, to the words of meaning ("We are gathered here today...") to the lighting of the unity candle to the presentation of the couples, I felt like I was at a wedding.
It was very romantic.
We, along with about 50 other couples, got to process in to Trumpet Voluntary in D Major, speak our vows again, and recess out to Hornpipe.
I had tears in my eyes as I once again vowed to love my husband until death us do part. And I wasn't the only one. He was teary, too. In fact, there weren't many dry eyes in the church.
It wasn't the date on the calendar that mattered. It didn't matter that some of the couples wore jeans. It didn't matter that each couple received a carnation on the way out, or that we drank punch at a reception in the narthex afterwards. It was the recommitting of so many hearts to one another and to God that made this so very meaningful.
And that's what love is all about. Don't you think?
Until next time,
Saturday, February 14, 2009
But there was a dream. Oliver King, the Bishop of Bath dreamt about angels on a ladder ascending and descending amid heaven and earth, and the rebuilding began the same year.
By 1539, life interfered with the completion, amidst battles and Henry VIII dissolution of churches it was not until 1617 that the church and Oliver King’s dream was fully realized. It is now the church of Bath, but the name Abbey still remains. The Bath Abbey Heritage Vaults contain among other things, Norman and Saxon stonework; the history is simply astounding and the structure is a marvel.
The style of the architecture has been called Restrained Perpendicular-in short a style of English Gothic architecture circa the 14th and 15th centuries. It is more flamboyant with elaborate carvings, arches, towers and fan vaulting-the ceiling has large carved vaulted fans, the effect is simply stunning and you get a creek in your neck just from gazing up.
I stood next to a couple of tourists complaining about their necks as they gazed upward, I felt no such pain, and I had my fill, well almost, ready for more…but just thought I’d mention it and emphasize the beauty of the ceiling.
To further define the ornate aspect of the style, the two towers at the entrance have deeply carved ladders and angels going up and down, along with other greatly defined carvings and statues. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Bath, take the time and ponder the entrance to the Abbey and pay attention to all that is in front of you. What a site, what an entrance.
Till next Time,
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
Heat of the Moment ISBN 978-1-59080-596-1
available on amazon.com
Friday, February 13, 2009
But such advice is typically directed at the first chapter or prologue, when in fact every chapter needs be opening with a great and enticing "opening" or "establishing shot." From my work in progress take a look at these three openings for prologue, chapter one, scene two, chapter one – three all told. See how each is made to "crackle" with life. The prologue opens with dialogue—in the middle of conversation, and I think enticing conversation between conspirators, one of whom is our hero, whereas Chapter One places the reader inside the mind of a practicing witch (her point of view), and all her conversation is with herself and a doll stuck with pins. Chapter Two returns to our hero who is journeying to his dark destination to bring down a man of power, the same man of power the witch wants to harm. In Two, our hero only has his horse to talk to but again there is dialogue and movement. Something happening on every page. Finally, Chapter Three opens in the mind (POV) of our hero's object—his nemesis, the minister at Salem Village. These are the establishing shots and I hope they demonstrate how important each opening is and not simply that of your first chapter or prologue. Four examples follow:
Boston, March 5, 1692
“You want me to go into Salem Village Parish disguised as a man of the cloth and that doesn’t offend you or your father?” Jeremiah Wakely asked, shock written across his handsome features.
“Not in the least!” Reverend Cotton Mather fired back.
“Not in the least,” parroted Jeremiah, pushing aside a shock of raven-black hair.
“Not so long as it provides us with what we need, Brother Wakley.” The two men had walked the length of the public area of the great North Church of Boston from rear pew to altar. “Look here, Jeremiah, my friend, you’ll have no problem ingratiating yourself with this Reverend Samuel Parris.”
“I am not so sure, sir? Not from what I’ve read in the court records your father provided.”
Chapter One's Opener)
Swampscott, Essex County, Massachusetts, March 6, 1692 at the midnight hour
At two-score-ten and four, the woman in tattered clothes chewed tobacco, lit a candle, shakily stood alone in the abandoned McTeagh cabin, then waddled straight for her hidden magic needles and the doll.
The doll she’d paid dearly for was fashioned by Sam Wardwell, both blacksmith and cunning man, some openly called the Wizard of Andover. Sarah had made several trips to make payments, and each time Wardwell would display the doll in its progress from wood to realism. Sarah Goode believed the man a magician.
Further, Wardwell asked no questions beyond her specifications. He kept mum, too, and never knew that his creation was in the image of Betty Parris; that it was a doll that’d do harm to Reverend Samuel Parris’ eleven-year-old, little Elizabeth Junior, named for her mother.
The doll, once stuck full with pins—as Parris’s Barbados servant, Tituba Indian, had instructed—would thereby inflict pain on the minister’s daughter; thereby inflicting suffering on the minister himself. But only if Sarah used a lock of the child’s real hair, pinned to a swath of cloth belonging to the child made into a pouch harboring the child’s nail clippings. All items Sarah had bartered from the hands of Tituba, the Barbados witch and servant to the Reverend Samuel Parris. Aside from a few pretty shells and a green bottle, all that Tituba had wanted from the bargain was that Sarah Goode eventually destroy Reverend Parris.
Chapter Two Opener:
Watch Hill, outside Salem Village, same time
Jeremiah Wakely in black riding cape reined in his pale horse and brought the gray-speckled mare to a soft trot. They rounded the base of the gravelly hill that he recognized as Watch Hill. Must be careful . . . discreet. He urged the horse now up the gentle slope beneath the moonlight. Must arrive in Salem Village without notice. “Perhaps an impossibility?” he asked the horse, leaning in to pat the animal.
As Jeremiah and his horse Dancer scaled the ancient hill, he wondered if it had not been a mistake to make this pact with Mather. Wondered if he shouldn’t ‘ve told both ministers the previous night—and in no uncertain terms that he was…what? Uncertain? “Hardly strong enough language for what ails ye tonight, eh, Wakely?” he spoke aloud to himself in the cold night air. Any moment now, he expected to see Higginson coming up the other side of this wretched hill, but so far no sign of the man.
In a pace that stirred so much emotion in Jeremy, he wondered if the Mathers, and now Higginson, had not placed their confidence in his ability to remain neutral and above the fray possible. An attitude necessary to accomplish what amounted to a conspiracy against Reverend Parris. Am I the right man for this affair? Suppose the others wrong? Suppose I’m the worst possible choice for this grim and complicated undertaking? Am I up to it?
Then there was the fear that had welled up and engorged his heart with every hoof beat bringing him closer to Salem and Serena. His mind played over this fear…played over the moment that he’d most assuredly again lay eyes on her.
Chapter Three Opener:
At the parsonage door in Salem Village, 1:20AM, March 7, 1692
Broad shouldered, a tall man, Reverend Samuel Parris felt the walls of the small parish home—his property by way of contractual agreement with his flock—closing in on him. The stairwell proved so tight that Parris could hardly make it up the narrow passage to his daughter’s room, where he looked in on little Betty, who’d been battling the a fever—symptoms of the auge so often seen in little ones. Betty slept fitfully, as if assailed by nightmares, but at least she slept. Her cousin, the Reverend’s niece, slept too but in a separate bed in the corner.
Every inch of space was accounted for and filled.
Parris slammed a balled fist into his palm and muttered, “Damn my bloody dissenting brethren.” He referred to a faction within his flock. People who resented him and begrudged him this ordinary place with its modest yard and orchard, hardly large enough for his family, hardly more than a common Barbados army barracks. Yet many– too many–begrudged him. Nearly half the village parishioners in fact, and they’d taken to withholding tithes and fees and his rate. As a result, he’d had to find other means of support.
And so it goes. I strive especially hard and do many, many, many rewrites for each opening. It behooves the author to reach out an easily reached hand to guide the reader from one place to the next, from one point of view to the next, from one time period or moment to the next, and in those "major shifts" between scenes or chapters, you have to be extra, extra careful to not lose the reader's interest and not to lose the reader himself!
Happy Writing One and All 'til next time –
Thursday, February 12, 2009
The storyline is simple, yet tangled with Jamal being tortured for the suspicion of cheating on the TV Show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, with his past as a street kid, to his ultimate goal of finding his true love Latika. This young man could so easily have become corrupt and hardened as his brother Salim did, but he maintains his big heart throughout the movie, simply wanting Latika to be safe and with him. He knows she watches the popular TV show and if he can get on it, they might have a chance of finding each other again. He doesn't care if he wins or not, yet each question posed has him remembering a time in his life and the correct answer tumbles out. All of India is cheering him on to win, but time runs out and the game has to be continued the next day. He spends the night being tortured by the police as they quiz him how he knew answers a slum dog would never know.
The book's title is Q&A, by Vikas Swarup, and is quite different from the movie, but Jamal's big heartedness threads through it. Both have dark spots with an Oliver Twist feel to it.
Dev Patal, the actor portrays the young man Jamal, and his innocent look and demeanor pulled me into the movie quickly. Even the little children who played the parts of a young Jamal and Salim were so engaging, I wanted to know more about their lives, how they survived in such harsh surroundings. In two short hours I watched Jamal grow into a street wise young man with a good heart. His brother chose another path yet the family bond stuck tight to both. The glimpses of India also changed in those few hours, showing the progress of a third world country.
If Slum Dog Millionaire is in your area, I hope you take the time to see this enthralling movie of young love withstanding numerous obstacles as the characters develop in ways society forced them into. Be sure to stay for the credits, the actors perform a dance at the train station that is high energy and pulls on your heart.
Slum Dog Millionaire is Oscar worthy!
Til next time ~
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
This is a time of change, not only in our nation, but also at Acme Authors Link. As we say goodbye to our good buddy, Norm, we wish him much success in his new aspirations. He will be sorely missed.
To continue our tradition of presenting fresh blogs every day, we've done a bit of rearranging and augmenting. June Sproat, who previously held the special guest appearance position when a regular blogger was unavailable, will now be a permanent blogger. Taking over her prior position are two great guys, Austin S. Camacho and Tony Burton.
We invite you to follow a favorite blogger and/or all of us. We're a diverse group specializing in various genres. Not only do our topics include what we write about, but we also offer tips on networking and glimpses into our everyday lives. If a thought strikes you when reading one of our blogs, by all means feel free to leave a comment. No matter how short, it will still be appreciated.
And now, presenting our new lineup:
Sunday - Debra St. John - Romance
Monday - June Sproat - Young Adult
Tuesday - Terri Stone - Romance
Wednesday - Morgan Mandel - Romance, Mystery, Children's Books, Marketing
Thursday - DL Larson - Romance
Friday - Robert W. (Rob) Walker - Mystery
Saturday - Margot Justes - Romantic Suspense
Surprise Days - Austin S. Camacho, Tony Burton - Mystery, Marketing & More
I don't want to leave off without some opportunity for you to participate, so I'm asking What's your favorite genre? What do you like to read? Please share.
Monday, February 9, 2009
There have been a few attempts to write from the vampire's POV - I don't like to research, so feel free to log in and give us some specifics - but of the books I've read, nobody really got it right.
I mean, if you're a vampire, there are some things that would be important to you, like ...
* clean necks - Really, who'd want to bite a dirty neck? Do people wash their necks before going to bed? You brush your teeth, right? So why not be considerate to your vampire?
* the whole heart not beating thing? Wouldn't that make you cold? You never hear about vampires being cold. And they hang out (heh, bat joke) in drafty castles when they aren't snugged in their coffins.
* blood type. Does type A taste better than O? Who knows? There's no research on this little tidbit.
Oh, well, some things to think about. I'll do more on all this later. Or you can wait for Fang Face to come out.
Fangs, and see ya,
follow the fang:
I had a blast at LIM ... other than chasing Joe Konrath's ass...er, butt around for half an evening.
Going to a mystery writer's convention should have been like a fish swimming the desert for me, a humor writer-turned humor YA writer; but I never felt awkward there. At least, not any more awkward than normal. I mean, sure, my books would never be up for any of the awards (unless they had 'best awkward comedy'), but I never felt out of place.
And do you know why? It's the people. Awesome, friendly people who always had time for me, whether it was pre-published, after my first book, or now when my books are starting to take up some room on a bookcase ... a little bookcase.
ACME is much the same. When Morgan came to me and asked me to be a part of this new group she was starting, I was thrilled and excited to be included as part of the bunch. I met Rob Walker - with his forty something books - before I was published and he gladly took the time to have lunch together a couple times to shoot the sh...aving cream.
At LIM, more of the same. Barb D'Amato blurbed my first book. Two best selling authors agreed to blurb my upcoming YA book Fang Face, and others welcomed me into their drinking, er, social events.
I'm leaving Acme mostly to concentrate on marketing, to put more emphasis on writing for the younger generation, and those who supply them with money and books (parents and librarians).
But the friends I made will always be my friends. I'll still go to LIM, I'll subscribe to ACME, and I hope you follow me around too, as I embark on a crazy quest through immaturity. Fortunately, I am armed with my own vast reservoir of immaturity, so I consider myself girded.
I hope some of you will follow my blog, http://fangplace.blogspot.com, and keep in touch with me there. I promise I'll continue to write some pretty crazy stuff.
See you around, asquare, atriangle and other shapes,
Sunday, February 8, 2009
What, you ask, would a book on writing teach you about marketing?
Well, it was really very subliminal. As he talked about writing and techniques he would give examples. This is to be expected, I mean after all how can we learn if you don’t show us? And sure he used other author’s works as examples, but mostly he used his own books. He would read small parts, a paragraph or two, of his books to demonstrate his point. By the end of the book, disc 7, I didn’t want it to end. I wanted him to go on and on and tell me more, but I guess that was all he had to say. But when all was said and done, I realized the man was a genius! Not only did I pick up a few tips I thought I could use in my own writing, but more than that, I wanted to go out and buy a Stephen King book and read it to see all the things he talked about. I didn’t want just one, I wanted at least three: Carrie, Misery, and a collection of his short stories if there was one.
So why, you ask, is he a genius?
Because his book On Writing, which is on writing of course, made me, a major coward, want to run out and read all his scary, bone chilling, creepy books. Now that’s talent, and a good marketing strategy.
I might have convinced you to want to get his book, and if I did, then that means what I learned worked. The only problem is that I want you to buy my book, not Stephen’s, but that’s a topic for another blog.
Have a great week!
Thursday, February 5, 2009
What am I talking about? None other than the opening sentence in a novel. If you have spent countless hours on your opening page, you are in good company. Every word has to sizzle, intrigue and motivate the reader to move further down the page. The task is daunting and exhausting, and oh, so fulfilling when it actually works.
If you're searching to spiff up your opening, here are a few options that may set you on the road to the attention grabber you want. Mix and match to build your opening:
- Get to the point
- use shock or awe
- lead into something
- have attitude, good or bad
- be controversial
The point is to plop your reader right down into the middle of things, whether it was a dark and stormy night, or you startle your reader by using second person and say, "call me Ishmael," the words need to convey intrigue to the reader.
Without some style or type of intrigue, the reader won't be pulled into the next sentence. Every writer wants the reader to ask a few questions on their own. Who is this? What's going on? Why is this happening? If the writer has done a good job, the reader will want to know more and the eyes will scan the next sentence.
Louisa May Alcott has the perfect second sentence in Little Women, for me anyway. Jo has just confessed Christmas won't be Christmas without presents, but Meg pulls me into the story with her simple line, "It's so dreadful being poor!" As a reader I want to know why there will be no presents and how did they end up so poor? I'm already invested in this little scene. I already care and want to know more.
Ernest Hemingway, who I'm not overly fond of, still captured my attention with, He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. Hemingway conveys the determination of his character the old man, the stubbornness and I wonder if I would be so determined in his place, and I read more of The Old Man and the Sea.
Jane Austin used naivite of her character in Pride and Prejudice. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. I smile every time I read that line, and I'm soon reading more.
Shakespeare begins his prologue in Romeo and Juliet by setting the scene and then declaring horror about to unfold. Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona, where we lay our scene, from ancient grudge break to new mutiny, where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. Talk about setting the reader down in the middle of things! I know the story and still want to read on to see what happens next.
Great opening sentences take work! The point is to not settle for mediocrity. When I'm teaching chess to my students, I remind them constantly to look for a good move, then find a better one. The same applies for opening sentences. Find one you can be happy with in order to move on and finish your chapter. Then later, give your full attention to creating a platform of words that beckons the reader to step a little closer, sink deeper into the action unfolding.
What is one of your favorite opening sentence(s)? It can be your own or another authors!
I'll share with you my work in progress: (I'm still tweaking it)
Ruf hated sitting in church, hated it even more today, 'cause all he could do was stare.
Now it's your turn to share your thougts on opening sentences with us! What words have you used to pull the reader in?
Til next time ~
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
- Register for the conference - try to get on one or more of the panels and to be included in one or more book signings. You still have time if you want to go to Love is Murder.
- If you have food allergies or preferences, arrange for substitutes
- Finish your book
- Scope out the editors and agents and learn their preferences
- If you haven't already, start and maintain a presence on the web - website, blog, listservs, social marketing networks
- Check your wardrobe for suitable clothing that will reflect the image you wish to project. If necessary, save up and purchase new outfits
- Publicize the event and the fact that you'll be there
- Make plane, train or bus reservations if necessary
- Get directions ahead of time
- Make hotel reservations if you're staying overnight
- Get a copy of the schedule beforehand, if you can, so you can pick your panels and events
- Get to the conference early to get the lay of the land
- Network and make friends
- Pitch to the editors and agents
- Learn a few things and have lots of fun!
I'm not ready yet. I still have some items to finish on the checklist, so I better get cracking. What about you? How do you prepare for a conference? Have I missed anything? Anyone else coming to Love is Murder?
For more Morgan, check out my daily blog at http://morganmandel.blogspot.com - today's topic is Preditors and Editors Poll Results
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Monday, February 2, 2009
Even worse, the cuckoo grows more rapidly than other birds and the baby cuckoo pushes all of the parent bird's real fledglings out of the nest so they get all of the food and attention.
Mebbe cuckoos aren't all that cuckoo.
The funny thing is the baby cuckoo is often larger than the parent birds, who must be thinking they're raising baby Shaq's or something.
Imagine them trying to push the cuckoo out of the nest for that first flight.
Anyway, I don't need to be pushed.
We all have demands on our time, and to better optimize mine, I've decided as a YA author I need to go out and work on a blog more directly aimed at my target audience.
So I've started my own blog, http://www.fangplace.blogspot.com.
I appreciate the Acme Authors letting me be their Monday blogger for so long - we supported each others stuff and enjoyed the varying styles and POVs. Thanks to everyone who occasionally commented on my weirdness and stuff.
I'll blog one more time next week, so it's just farewell for now.
Meanwhile, get yourselves over to FangPlace and subscribe!
The Adventures of Guy series
Fang Face (coming in Aug)
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Don't get me wrong. It was awesome having a white Christmas for a change.
But we haven't had any fresh snow in ages, so the stuff that's lying around is dirty and yucky and in the way. It messes up my house, it hides the landscape lights in the backyard, and when there's ice underneath it's just plain dangerous.
We seem to have layers and layers of it this year. (And as tired of it as I am, we could use a new layer to make it look white again.) All covering up and making me forget about the beautiful flowers in my garden. Or even what my patio looks like.
But there is beauty under there. And the snow itself has it's own beauty. The flowers beneath need the snow and the cold in order to become what they are meant to be in the spring.
All of this snow got me to thinking. As I've mentioned before, I am in the process of adding words to my latest contracted work, Wild Wedding Weekend. Those words are a lot like the snow. I keep adding layers to my story, not to hide what's underneath it all, but to create a story that has depth, and character, and real emotion. Without the layers, my story would be flat, and probably unappealing. Maybe even a little boring.
I know that eventually it will spring forth and become a completed book, and within (and because of) all of those layers, a beautiful love story will unfold.
Just as I know that come spring, when the snow has melted, my flowers will spring forth and beautiful new blossoms will unfold in all their glory.
In the meantime...I'm heading off to Florida at the end of the week to visit Mickey. (Because I really do need a break from all of this snow.) The lovely June Sproat will be filling in for me next week.
Until next time,