Tuesday, March 31, 2015

BOY, DO MY CHARACTERS GUIDE ME - GINGER SIMPSON

Cover by Michelle Lee
Author's don't always have an ending in mind...especially when you don't plot. As a "pantser," (commonly known as writing by the seat of one's pants,) my characters drive the story and when it's over, it's over.  I'm often shocked at how my books end, but they always make sense...at least to me.

 In the case of one, I received some bad reviews because there wasn't an obvious HEA.  If you're a history buff, you would most certainly realize that a woman and a half breed could not possibily find that happily ever after in the 1800s since neither would be accepted by their own race...and a half breed didn't actually belong to one.  Doesn't that make sense?  Obviously it didn't to some.
Cover by Michelle Lee

Sarah ended her story with the possibility of the love continuing in modern day, but that wasn't enough...so I combined the second story, Sarah's Passion,  with the first, Sarah's Heart, and hopefully created an ending that fulfilled what most readers want in Sarah's Heart and Passion.


Fiction still requires a degree of reality, especially when it comes to the heart.  Readers read to escape and find the fantasies missing from their own lives, and if the endings are less than satisfactory, you'll hear about it, trust me.  Funny thought, I felt like a traitor to Sarah when I changed her ending.  It was what I pictured for her, but not how she told the story.  Oh well...we must please our audience.

Cover by Michelle Lee
 Being a pantser is like having someone tell you a story.  I never know where it's headed until I get there.  I have faith in my characters, as Rita does, so much so that I rely on them to make the story interesting.   I've been pleased with each and every one of them.

 My primary job  is to add in the smells, tastes and emotions.   In other words...take the story I'm being TOLD and SHOW it to the reader.  If you want to be a good author, you have to do that.  Involving the reader in the story is critical.  They have to be able to step into the character's shoes and be part of the action.

How often have you read a book that makes your heart hurt?  You cry for the heroine/hero or inhale the smell of that apple pie baking in the oven?  Those traits are the sign of great writing.  You've become the lead character in the book and you "feel" what the story is about.  If I can't connect with the characters or don't get a sense of inclusion, I usually don't finish the book.  Too much back story or description can make the reader think, "who cares?" and you don't want that to happen.

I just had to add my two cents worth since I don't "plot."  Yesterday, Rita talked about letting your characters guide you, and boy do I.  In some ways being a "pantser" is a good thing, but it definitely limits you to how your story ends...and in most cases, word count.  My stories star's don't give a hoot about how long or short a book is.

If you'd like to judge for yourself about Sarah's story and the questionnable ending, Sarah's Heart, Sarah's Passion, and Sarah's Heart and Passion are all available on my amazon page.  I'd love to know what you think.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Let your characters guide you - by Rita Karnopp

Before we begin typing that first word - we always (or most times) have the ending in mind.  There are a couple books I had an idea of what I wanted my end result to be – how I got there was something of a mystery.  My point – we don’t always end up where we think we will.
You must be willing to adapt . . . make changes, be aware of the flow of your story.  Never . . . never . . . never . . . cling to your synopsis because it was how the ‘story was supposed to go.’  Really???  I believe a story never goes the way I planned – I have to be open for my characters to surprise me.  And boy – do they surprise me!
Make your really good story idea great by a willingness to adapt as the story unfolds.  Each character develops as he/she unfolds in your story.  You can’t force a character’s behavior.  Always allow him/her the ability to act/react in a natural way.

Be open minded while writing - Keep in mind – what works for one book won’t always work for the next.  Characters in each book are different and you must always let them lead you through each scene.  Listen to them  . . . and give them free rein!

How exciting when your character demands something different – something you never thought of!  Allow your characters to add atmosphere and excitement.  Think of it this way – as your characters develop . . . the story unfolds into places you never imagined. 

Release the control. You know you’re a talented writer. That doesn’t mean you’re instantly good at letting go – giving your character permission to be him/herself.

Never start writing a book with ideas set in stone.  Guidelines will keep you from writing yourself into a corner, but don’t be so controlling you won’t allow something unexpected to happen. 

Allow your characters to laugh, cry, have highs and definitely lows.  Make them feel . . . and the reader will respond.  By allowing your character a ‘voice’  - the dialog will flow with ease and belief.  Step in because you don’t like the direction and your reader will be jerked out of the scene – maybe forever.

Believe in your characters. As I said at the beginning, we don’t always end up where we think we will.  That’s the good news!  When your character surprises you while you’re writing – it surprises the reader.  Some of my greatest scenes were created by my characters; their personality, reaction, and drive or direction leading them to places only they can imagine.  Trust them – you’ll love where it takes you!

Thunder by Rita Karnopp

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FM1IO0U

The world of professional wresting is a volatile, exciting, and action-packed world and even more so behind the scenes. Keme (Thunder), a Blackfeet fan favorite wrestler at the top of his game, is found hanging from the rafters of his training facility.  Is it murder . . . or suicide?

Find Rita at:   ritakarnopp@bresnan.net

Saturday, March 28, 2015

HIT THE ROAD JACK...DANIELS!

Well, if there is anything you don't know about me...this will solve that.  The following is a true, but sad, story of my earlier life:
Taken from Pinterest

My fingers gripped the steeling wheel like a vise.  I glanced in the side mirror at my red-ringed eyes and wondered what I’d done.  Did I make the right decision?  I prayed I had, but inside my stomach knotted and I felt sick.  I’d just walked out of the only home I knew, with very few of my possessions, after telling my husband I was through.  I don’t think he heard or cared what I said.  He was still too drunk.  If I wasn’t so upset, I might have laughed at his surprise when I threw his glass of whiskey at him.  Liquid dripped from his nose and face while ice cubes gathered in his lap—his naked lap.  Maybe that was what took things to far.  I’d come home to find him passed out before, cigarettes burning in the carpet and chair, but this time…this time he was naked.

Damn it, it wasn’t just his house.  It was mine and my son’s, too.  After I flung the drink at him, I screamed how unfair he was to make us scared to turn the doorknob when we came home.  I didn’t dare bring anyone with me, and I noticed my son had stopped having friends over, too.  Whiskey dictated our entire life, and it pained me to see that black label that had ruined my marriage whenever I walked down the alcohol aisle in the grocery.  I wanted to smash the bottles just like the amber-colored contents had smashed my dreams.

Turning fifty was supposed be the start of new and exciting ventures in our lives:  Retirement, travel, freedom.  Who was I kidding?  He’d already retired, but not by choice.  His weight gain from drinking made it impossible for him to fit into his uniform anymore, and he certainly wasn’t in physical condition enough to engage in a foot chase with those he called “perps.”  I’d always heard that a huge percentage of policemen became alcoholics, but I never believed my husband would be among those statistics. I used to love him so much my heart hurt, but now the hurt was totally different.  I felt betrayed, and worst of all, guilty.  Had I done something to make him turn to booze?   

Don’t get me wrong.  I didn’t just snap at the first sign of his drinking and leave.  I’d tried everything I knew to salvage our thirty-two years together.  He was my high school sweetheart, and I thought we’d spend the rest of our lives together.  The only good thing I could find about the situation was that our kids were pretty much grown.  The oldest had married and had his own life, but the youngest still lived at home. His dad wasn’t being much of a role-model and I feared what the future would hold for my boys.

The first time I found a bottle in the refrigerator, I was confused.  We never bought booze, aside from maybe a six-pack of beer when we had our friends over to play cards.  I mentioned my find to him, but he assured me he’d only bought the bottle because it helped take the edge off his stressful days—helped him unwind.  I understood, so I let it go, but when that bottle disappeared and another took its place, I asked again. 

“I can stop anytime I want,” he said. “You’re worrying about nothing.” 

Then why did I find bottles in the laundry room, over the refrigerator, and even in the garage? How much booze was it taking to help him unwind?  He worked graveyard and I worked days so I had no idea how long he’d been drinking in secret.  What made him put the bottle in the refrigerator so I could find it?

He assured me he didn’t have a drinking problem and his sudden interest in Jack Daniels had nothing to do with me.  Bullshit!  His drinking had everything to do with me.  It worried me, consumed me, hurt me, and stressed me.  According to him, he didn’t need help, so I went to Al-anon a few times.  I heard my own story told by other women, but I found no solace in hearing how long they put up with their drinking spouses.  I refused to be an enabler. 

In my mind, if I threatened to leave, he’d snap out of it.  If he loved me as much as said, he wouldn’t want to lose me.  That plan didn’t work.  I even spent three days away from home, expecting him to call and beg me to come back, but he didn’t.  I reluctantly returned, thinking we might talk about it one more time and resolve the problem.  He still insisted his drinking was just “recreational” and not caused by anything I’d done or said.  Why didn’t I feel better?

I tried.  Honestly, I did.  For three more years before that fateful day when I gave him that alcohol bath.  I was done by then.  Tired of being treated like I was an idiot—like I couldn’t tell when he had been drinking.  His speech immediately became thick and slurred.  Sort of like he had a fur-coated tongue.  He’d lied about the ten-day rehab he attended, making me believe he entered for us.  You can’t imagine the heartache I felt when I received a phone call from his Lieutenant that revealed enrollment in the program was an ultimatum, not a choice. Oh, he learned something in rehab—how to cry.  Now he was a slobbering drunk.   Was this how I really wanted to spend my life?  No, it wasn’t.

A friend at work had left a note on my desk, along with a key to her home.  She offered a bedroom for my use and said we could discuss rental options later.  With that key in my pocket, I drove to her house and unpacked my few things.  I sat and cried because nothing there belonged to me. But, I had nowhere else to go nor the finances to get my own place.  I pulled myself together and called my sons.  I told them what I’d done, and they both understood, but I couldn’t leave my baby there…and I couldn’t bring him to share my lone bedroom.  I wrung my hands until they were raw, but no solutions came to mind.

The first thing I had to do was get rid of the bills.  I’d never even been late on one, but now I contemplated bankruptcy.  Lawyers cost money, so I sought the help of a paralegal.  With paperwork in hand, I forced myself to return “home” and have my husband sign on the dotted line.  I hadn’t even thought of divorce; I still clung to the hope that he’d decide I was worth more than his bottle.  He signed and I stopped paying the bills.  I felt like a loser—a flake.  So much for the thirty-plus year credit history I’d worked so hard to protect.  I had no choice.

My sister came to visit and was appalled at my living conditions.  She insisted that we look at apartments, even though I couldn’t afford the deposits at this point.  By the end of the weekend, she’d put down the first and last month’s rent for me, rented a U-haul, and along with my best gal pal, Carrie, drove to the house “he” and I shared and took all the furniture he wasn’t using.  I had no desire to make his life miserable.  I kept reminding myself that alcoholism is an illness.  At day’s end, my new apartment was fully arranged, decorated and everything unpacked.  Now I had a place for my son, and for the first time in my life, I faced living on my own.  I’d gone directly from my parent’s house to being married, so the thought of having my own space was a little exciting.

I could go on for pages and pages, telling the entire story…how he sold the house then moved into my neighborhood and still pursued me.  Of course he hadn’t quit drinking.  I finally had to tell him that I couldn’t be the person in his life to help him move on…he’d have to handle that on his own.  He had choices and he made a poor one.  I could tell you how I immersed myself in living the single life, enjoying freedoms I’d never had, but I fear that would paint a pretty awful picture for those who know me.  I became someone even I didn’t know.  I think the bulb came on over my head when my son suggested I make my own friends instead of hanging out with his. I was having a second childhood and doing all the things I never had a chance to do.  I’m not really proud of most of them, but if you learn something in the process, “they”, whoever they are, say you haven’t wasted your time.

It didn’t take long until I realized I missed my life.  Not the life I shared with a drunk, but all those years before when I was married to a handsome, loving man who always made me feel like the prettiest woman in the room no matter where we went.  I missed that guy.

Reality hit me hard when I was scheduled for an emergency hysterectomy.  My seventeen-year-old son wasn’t home enough to count on, and for once I felt truly alone. The night following the doctor’s appointment where the physician shared his worry that I might have ovarian cancer, sent a myriad of fearful thoughts spinning through my mind.   I still had a lot to do.  I didn’t want to die, and I felt certain that would be the outcome…especially when the doc had said he never had a patient survive the disease.

Now that I’d settled down for the night, the panic I’d fought all day seized my heart like a steel glove.  I had no one to comfort me…at least not anyone made of skin and bones.  Feeling lost and alone, I turned to God, as I always did when I had a crisis.  I prayed.  “Dear Lord, I’m so frightened.  I don’t want my life to end.  My youngest son still needs me to give him guidance, and I’d leave him in your hands Heavenly Father, but I think you probably have bigger fish to fry than the problems of one rebellious boy.  I often ask myself why he can’t be more self-reliant, like his older brother.  I don’t think my first-born needs me, but I need him.

Although I felt a good connection with God, I felt guilty asking him for so much.  I couldn’t brag like most televangelists who claimed the Lord spoke to them, but this time was different.  I finished my prayer, sobbing and hoping God heard me.  Questioning, actually, if he even existed though I believed…need to believe with my whole heart that he did.  Loud and clear, in the darkness of my room, a booming voice responded.  Nothing eloquent, not a lengthy conversation, just “You’ll be fine.”

The words were so clear. I turned the light on and glanced around the room. As I suspected, there was no one else there…at least that I could see.  I switched off the lamp, puzzled by the experience, yet realizing my tension, fear, and concern had all melted away.  I believed those assuring words and found the sleep that earlier evaded me.  The next morning at the hospital, an unusual calm surrounded me like comforting arms.  I went into surgery knowing I wasn’t alone.

God told the truth.  The biopsy results of my removed ovaries were benign.  And although I have no witness to bear testimony to my claim, I know I heard God that fateful night…I know I did.  I’m not sure if he spoke in a voice others could hear or if he spoke to my heart.  Nonetheless, he strengthened my faith and taught me you don’t always have to see or touch something to know it truly exists.  We never walk along as long as we have our belief.  I knew getting a divorce and starting over would somehow be a lot easier now.

My friend, Lisa, came and took care of me while I healed.  When I’d made a full recovery and went back to work, I vowed to change my life.  No more being the party girl—a century old woman acting half her age. I really needed a partner in my life. I investigated Internet dating, met a few men with whom I had no attraction or commonality, and then I went to a single’s dance that changed my life. 

For month’s, I had asked my single friend to go with me, but she always had an excuse.  One Sunday night, I decided I was going come hell or high water.  I recall sitting in the car, working up the nerve to walk into the dance, and when I finally went inside, the hostesses made what might have been a difficult moment, not so daunting at all.  It was there I found the other shoe I’d been missing—the man who proved what I thought had been such a wonderful marriage really hadn’t been.  We talked the evening away, sharing stories like we were best friends.  When he walked me to my car and kissed me goodnight, I really thought he’d never call me, but he did.  One month after I met him, I moved in with him, and shortly after that I filed for divorce.  My new love encouraged me by saying it was time because he didn’t want to live with another man’s wife. As soon as my divorce was final, we married, and that was fifteen years ago.  Life is so fleeting.  At sixty-six, I’m taking one day at a time and living it as though it might be my last.  We never know, do we?

For the longest time, my ex still stayed in touch. Of course he generally phoned when he’d had enough liquid courage to dial my number, but I must admit, I never asked him to stop calling.  That saying I heard so often from divorcing friends now made sense.  “I love him, but I’m not in love with him.”  Now, I’m married to my best friend, and I discovered that even at fifty you can find love again. You just have to look in the right places.

 Sadly, my ex-husband passed away a few years ago in May.  Although we were apart for years, his death left a hole in my heart.  He was my high-school sweetheart, the father of my children, and my real first love.  What died with him are answers about why he drank…why he threw us away for alcohol. I’ll never know, I guess.  I wish I could tell you that I’ve found some sort of peace in my life, but now I’m doomed to watch my sons repeat the past. I’m happy in my marriage, but not with my questionable tract record as a parent.  I’m not a prude.  I see nothing wrong with a beer now and then, but to have to know my boys can’t face life without their fists wrapped around a can pains me more than I can say.  I always thought I was a good mother, but now I wonder.  If living with one person dependent upon booze taught me anything, it’s you can’t change people, they have to do that for themselves.  As much as I love my sons, they have to man up, remember what alcohol did to their dad, and cast it aside.  Why don’t I see that happening?


Luckily, God is there for me…God and Kelly, my hubby, who loves me warts and all.

Friday, March 27, 2015

FRIDAY FREEBITS WITH GINGER #frifreebits


















Invigorated by the fresh air and the sun's warmth on her face and body, Harlee's eyes finally adjusted to the brightness and the face of her hero.

"I suppose we should introduce ourselves."  She kept her fingers locked around the back of his neck and enjoyed the feel of his silken dark hair.

"I'm Logan Carruthers...live about five miles east of here."  His sweet tobacco breath assailed her face.

"I'm Harlee Wagner.  This here's my home."

"Harlee?"  That's a strange nae for a girl."

"My pa's name is Harl, so my ma just tacked on the lee."


The Well is available on Amazon.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

JUMPSTART AND GET WRITING BY RITA KARNOPP

“So you have such a positive attitude, how do you give yourself a jumpstart to get your butt in the chair and get writing?”  The other day I was asked this question, and I decided it would be a great blogging subject.  How do we push ourselves into our offices to write?  Heaven forbid there are enough distractions and other things you could be doing – besides sitting in your quiet office, all alone, with your thoughts and a white screen staring back at you.  Exactly how do we give ourselves the strength to say it’s time to write?
I truly believe writers are special people.  Yep we truly are!  I think the hardest things for us are our other responsibilities.  We have family, friends, housework, the JOB, yard, cooking, shopping, and of course church (in my case) and the hubby.  The list goes on and on.  In between all those responsibilities and distractions we must ‘make’ the time to write. 
I don’t know if you’re like me – BUT – the other ‘stuff’ must  be done in order for me to concentrate on what I really want to do, write.  It’s not a hobby or what I do for fun.  Let’s face it, we love to write – but it is work.
So I need the house clean, the dishes done, the bills paid, and even my office must be clean before I can sit in front of my computer.  Now that’s a bit easier these days since my kids are out of the nest.  J   But I started writing when my kids were three and five+ so there you have it, I understand it both ways.
I don’t recommend three cups of coffee so you feel awake – that will just give you the jitters and make you feel unsettled.  A nice glass of ice water (or flavored – no calorie water) is what I recommend.  Get it right away so you don’t have an excuse to ‘leave’ your office and get side-tracked.  Yep, I know all the tricks … or mistakes.  You might even fix yourself a plate of celery sticks, carrot sticks, or even pea pods so you don’t get those chocolate cravings.
If you tell yourself you ‘should’ be writing, yet you’re sitting on the couch trying to muster up the energy and drive to go write – ask yourself one thing – “What is my deadline date?”  What?  You don’t have a deadline date?  That is not good!  You MUST have goals and deadline dates or you’ll never accomplish what you want in life.  That doesn’t just apply to writing, but in this case it does.
You need to sit down and look at your work in progress and answer these questions:
·         What genre am I writing?
·         World count for this work?
·         How many chapters will I have?
·         Now- how long will it take me to write a chapter?
·         Add a month in for unexpected distractions/responsibilities.
·         What is my writing schedule?
·         Finally – what is the deadline date to finish my book?
You do this one thing and I guarantee you’ll get more books written than you’ve ever done before.  I always correlate it to this.  If you’re planning to go on a trip to Montana, you know you’d get maps and plot it out, you’d look at places to stop along the way to enjoy, there are hotels, costs to estimate, car to get in shape for the trip, etc.  If you just jumped in your car you might end up in Alaska!   Well, planning to write your next book is pretty much the same thing. 
Don’t treat your writing like a ‘hobby.’  I hate it when people say, “that’s such a nice hobby.” I stop them and say, “This isn’t a hobby - it’s too much work for that.  Writing is my passion and I do it because it’s something I love and it gives me a feeling of accomplishment.  Don’t accept negativity – it’ll start making you feel negative – and you’ll start treating your writing like a hobby.  Once you start doing that, you won’t have the drive and excitement to go to your office and write at all.
Think about your story while making breakfast, working at the office, going for your daily walks (or like me up Sander’s Hill twice a day during my breaks – it’s a humdinger).  Work out ideas, plots, and twists before you even get to your home office.  By the time your ‘scheduled’ writing time approaches – you’ll be raring to go and you’ll be itching to sit down and start typing.
Get your background music going and you’re READY!  One thing I always do, to get myself back into my story, is to read the last two pages I’d finished from the day/night before.  This helps me get into the characters; where are they, who are they talking to, and what is their current situation?  That way I can continue without missing a beat from where I left off.  Next thing you know – two hours have passed and you’re shocked how many pages you’ve just finished.   When you push away from the computer you’ll have a feeling of satisfaction and pride.  You’re suddenly anxious and excited to write again tomorrow!  You can do this . . . day after day.  Oh – and book after book!  J
You can find Rita Karnopp at:
             (email)       ritakarnopp@bresnan.net
             (publisher) http://bookswelove.net

Check out Rita's Whispers of the Native Soul Series
     
Whispering Sun ~ Whispering Wind ~ Whispering Spirits
        

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