Saturday, July 21, 2018

How Do You Handle Violence/ Danger in a Story? By Connie Vines #RR #07/21/18

How do you handle/use violence, or any type of danger, in your stories?

Rhobin thank you, once again, for this month’s Round Robin topic.

The definition of Violence (
  • ·         swift and intense force:
  • ·         the violence of a storm.
  • ·         rough or injurious physical force, action, or treatment: to die by violence.
  • ·         an unjust or unwarranted exertion of force or power, as against rights or laws: to take over a government by violence.

The definition of Danger (
  • ·         liability or exposure to harm or injury; risk; peril.
  • ·         an instance or cause of peril; menace.
  • ·         Obsolete. power; jurisdiction; domain.

Since I view reading in a way to relax, to solve a mystery, or learn what motivates people/humanity/etc., I am always selective in how, to what degree, I insert danger/or any degree of violence into my stories.

I am more inclined to have suspenseful elements in a story.  However, in a historical novel, including YA, there is a certain amount of violence which was part of life during any given time period.  I do not go into graphic detail but I can’t erase or change historical facts.  In my current release, Tanayia—Whisper upon the Water, set in 1880s Indian Territory, my heroine’s band is murdered and she in the only survivor (historical fact).  She is taken hostage and escapes (historical fact) only to be taken to a Native American Boarding School.  

My heroine is resourceful and a survivor.  My readers travel with her.  They clear for her; cry for her; and learn from her.  In the epilogue, Tanayia receives her hard-won happy-ending.

I strive to given my hero and heroines an upbeat ending, or at the very least, hope for a brighter future.

Please stop by and see what the other member of this month’s members of Round Robin have to say:

Dr. Bob Rich

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Why I compelled to Write by Connie Vines #RR 06/23/2018

This month’s topic: Why do you write or feel compelled to write even through the difficult parts?

Thank you, Robin, for this compelling topic!

Before I sat down at the keyboard, I conducted research (via on line studies) on why writes say they write. 

15% stated it was for expression while 13% stated she/he was driven.  2% (tied) wrote for fame or to entertain. 8% of Writers Write because of their imagination.

So where do I fall in this survey?  My first impulse was to state I was driven to write.  However, that is not entirely accurate.  Once I have determined the plot, characterization, completed my research and begin the story, I am driven to write.  My motivation is split between Imagination and to Help Others.

Imagination because I have whole worlds going on inside my head.  I want to share these stories with readers.  I’ve been living inside by head since I was a child.  Introverted and shy, my childhood was nomadic because of my father military career.  The norm (until high school) was to change school 3 times per academic year.  Long-term friendships were not possible, so I read, wrote, and fortunately, had miniature poodle for a pet.

I Write to Help Others.  My characters defy the odds, my YA/Tween heroines/heroes are not the popular kids, but they are spunky survivors.  My adult characters have strong personalities, are compassionate and no matter the hardship—they give my readers hope, direction in life, and belief in better future.

I write to entertain and to be a positive influence. 

My current release Tanayia – Whisper upon the Water, deals with a topic similar to what is splashed across today’s Internet, Television, and the cover of Time Magazine.

Native American children removed from families and housed in boarding schools. 

Told in the 1st person, the reviews repeatedly state to story is: ‘raw and real”.

My story is not political.  I find it interesting that the topic is timely and still relevant in today’s America.

Tanayia is a Nde/Apache girl living in the 1880s.  This is a story I was compelled to write. 

Stop by and see what the other wonderful writers in today’s Round Robin Blog Hop have to say!

Happy Reading,
Connie Vines

Dr. Bob Rich
Marie Laval
Beverley Bateman
Marci Baun
Aimee) A.J. Maguire
Helena Fairfax
Anne Stenhouse
Diane Bator
Fiona McGier
Skye Taylor
Margaret Fieland
Rhobin L Courtright
Victoria Chatham

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Gluten-Free Writing by Connie Vines #gluten-free, #Celiac Disease

Perhaps a more accurate title of today’s blog post would be a Gluten-Free Writer.

More than 55 diseases have been linked to gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It's estimated that 99% of the people who have either gluten intolerance or Celiac disease are never diagnosed.

It is also estimated that as much as 15% of the US population is gluten intolerant. Could you be one of them?

Could I be one of them?

I had been on thyroid replacement for most of my adult life.  And, gluten intolerance, is a possibility. 

A co-worker has celiac disease.  One day I was complaining about joint pain, especially in my left shoulder.  She asked my if I been checked for gluten-intolerance.

I enjoy baking for my family—especially gingerbread cookies, cakes, and the like.  I had just purchased two specialty rolling-pins; one cut-out Disney characters and castles, the second mid-evil dragons.  I saw my baking activities going up in smoke!

Clicking on the Mayo Clinic website I read:

1. Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and even constipation.

2. Keratosis Pilaris, (also known as 'chicken skin' on the back of your arms). This tends be as a result of a fatty acid deficiency and vitamin A deficiency secondary to fat-malabsorption caused by gluten damaging the gut.

3. Fatigue, brain fog or feeling tired after eating a meal that contains gluten.

4. Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Lupus, Psoriasis, Scleroderma or Multiple sclerosis.

5. Neurologic symptoms such as dizziness or feeling of being off balance.

6. Hormone imbalances such as PMS, PCOS or unexplained infertility.

7. Migraine headaches.

8. Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia. These diagnoses simply indicate your conventional doctor cannot pin point the cause of your fatigue or pain.

9. Inflammation, swelling or pain in your joints such as fingers, knees or hips.

10. Mood issues such as anxiety, depression, mood swings and ADD.

Except for: 6, 8, and 10, I was looking like poster-person for the condition.

I know I could have a larger problem (aside from having to forage for gluten-free products and prepare 2-types of meals each day).  However, having listened to my co-worker’s challenges while trying to stay gluten-free and raise her family, I knew this was going to require a time-consuming adjustment.

How to test for gluten intolerance?

I was advised the single best way to determine if you have an issue with gluten is to do an elimination diet and take it out of your diet for at least 2 to 3 weeks and then reintroduce it. The longer you can eliminate it from your diet before reintroducing it, the better

Since I was almost-certain I was dealing with an intolerance, (confirmed by my doctor) I started with the elimination of gluten from my daily diet.  Did I feel better? Yes.  Did I notice immediately when I cheated?  Yes.  Though I didn’t realize I had consumed gluten many times.

How can you not know?  Bread is bread.  Wheat is. . .well, wheat is in almost every processed food you toss into your grocery cart.

Gluten is in soy-sauce. In soy-sauce? 

My co-worker sent me over to the mini-Walmart for a gluten-free version.  Surprisingly, this mini-Walmart has a well-stocked selection of gluten-free foods! Reasonably priced, too.
I did drive over to Sprouts for bullion-cubes (gluten is an ingredient in most soups).

1. Lifestyle change:  Not only am I watching for soy (thyroid condition)  I must check for obvious ingredients signaling gluten.

o Wheat
o Barley
o Rye
o Malt
o Brewer’s yeast
o Oats (unless specifically labeled gluten-free)

Link to recipes to make your life less-challenging (for meal-prep anyway).

If you have a sweet-tooth, Sugar Babies and the small size Hershey Chocolate and Almond Joy bars are gluten-free. 

Gum and vitamins are another story. . .

I must report that I am feeling significantly better as I progress on my gluten-free journey. 

Please feel free to share any recipes, shopping hints in the comments section.

Happy Reading!


For more information visit these links.  Always contact your physician/medical provider if you before embarking on any diet plan.

Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. Gluten can be found in many types of foods, even ones that would not be expected.


Janelle Smith, MS, RD,specializes in gastrointestinal symptom management through appropriate nutrition and food choices, helping you adapt to living on a gluten-free diet.


Saturday, April 21, 2018

How do you establish a story? What is your most unusual story? by Connie Vines #Round Robin

 How do you establish a story?  What is your most unusual story?

Thank you Rhobin for this month’s Round Robin Topic.

I, like most of the writers I know, are involved in workshops, plotting groups, and or online classes.  Many of these are workshops sponsored by my local Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers, (past and present) are excellent in content and easy of application.

Christopher Vogler’s workshop “The Writer’s Journey” was a 2-day event which was designed for screen writers.  While I have ghost-written a screenplay, which was adapted for the small screen oversees, this is not main focus.  I have, however, applied what I leaned in this workshop to plot/outline my novels, novellas and expanded the W-plotting guide for my short-stories and anthologies.

And, of course, no writer’s library would be complete without out a physical copy and video version of Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”.  His work goes into detail about the art of storytelling and why we, as humans are hardwired accept and expect the ‘myth’.

Having be active in The International Chapter of Romances Writers, I taught online classes on character development and plotting.  I, as I’ve blogged about in the past, plot my stores in 3-chapter clusters due to story flow, pivotal-points, dark-moment, etc.  Revisions are simpler for me this way because I can to insure my story’s pacing remain even.

After my basic story is plotted, my character sketched out and motivation defined, I need to add depth to my character and strength my conflict.  I fine the series of writer’s reference books by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, of Writers Helping Writers fame, a must-have reference.  However, I also rely on ‘unconventional’ conflict generation.  Astrological signs are great form of conflict.  (Remember I have always worked odd-jobs—some jobs more ‘odd’ than others, to support my writing habit.)  One of my ‘temp’ assignments was for a local (and semi-well known) astrologer.  I already had knowledge of astrology but he explained charting/predictions/ and conflict due to…well, you get the general idea.  I have found this immensely helpful when my characters come from a similar background which can make ‘conflict’ a stretch.

I applied astrology (though it is never an element in the novel itself) to “Lynx” Rodeo Romance, Book 1 (BWL Publishing, Inc. print and e-book).  Rachel is an Aquarius and Lynx is a Leo.  Opposites in the Zodiac, but like all opposites there is attraction/conflict/ and a heart-felt story line.
If a reader is looking for the ‘astrological elements of my character development’ she will find them.

What is my most unusual story?

Meaning: not habitually or commonly occurring or done.
synonyms:  uncommon, abnormal, atypical, unexpected, surprising, unfamiliar, different;
remarkable or interesting because different from or better than others.

All of my stories fall under this umbrella.  My current release “Tanayia—Whisper upon the Water” is a historical YA novel with a Native American heroine and a setting in a boarding school in the 1880s.  The story reads like a young girls’ diary but is written in the 1st person, narrative.

My novella series, would be truly ‘unusual’ because my 1st heroine is a Zombie.  The second novella is titled “Bell, Book, & Gargoyle”.

Thank you for following my blog today.
Please stop by next month, too.


For more takes on the month’s topic visit:

Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

Manic Readers

Manic Readers

She Writes

Historical Fiction Books

Readers and Writers of Distinctive Fiction