Tuesday, June 29, 2010
So far he's washed his cell phone twice, left countless coins, combs and even his wallet in his pockets. You'd think one time might teach him a lesson, but nooooo.
Last night while watching TV, I remarked that it looked as though headlights were shining through our front blinds. He glanced over, shrugged and went back to watching the program. At the commercial break, he got up to get something to drink and looked out the window. "Hey, those were headlights. Mine!"
Well, he'd been home for hours, so why were the headlights just now showing up? "How can your lights be on," I asked.
He opened the front door and peered outside, and the car's engine was running. "Oh great," he mumbled, and headed for the laundry room. "Hey guess what," he yelled. "I washed my car keys."
That wouldn't be so bad, but he has an automatic start button on his keychain and the spin cycle activated it. I'm not sure there's much else he could wash that he hasn't, but I'm just afraid he might find something he's missed. Thankfully, we have no pets. What a guy!
I guess I shouldn't talk. I washed and dried my son's pet hamster many years ago. Fluffy lived up to his name, but I was haunted by visions of him trying to tread water, then being stuck to the tub sides by centrifugal force during the spin cycle. I'm pretty sure he was goner by the time I dried him... But, I learned from my mistake.
Monday, June 28, 2010
I'm sorry for the inconvenience, and I'm terribly disappointed to lose the beautiful cover created by Dawne Dominique.
I'll be back tomorrow, hopefully less stiff and decrepit to dazzle you with more tips and savvy stuff.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I know she won't mind if I share my favorite point of contention with you. I've written several novels, but no editor has actually pointed out how I'm jerking the reader out of the character's head by using phrases like:
her thoughts wandered to
he thought to himself (who else would he think to?)
or if you use excessive italics or underlining.
Cheryl pointed out that huge passages of italics can be irritating and can easily be just as effective as text. Another publishing house I worked with restricted to your internal thoughts for this very reason. I now find them irritating and try to avoid using them at all.
As far as using the "jerking" phrases, I'll share two examples Cheryl so expertly used to demonstrate the difference:
He wondered where she'd hidden the deed to the house. He believed it was probably hidden in that old trunk upstairs. Travis saw several photographs on the table as he passed through the kitchen, and he picked one up. It was a picture of the two of them, taken the summer they'd rented the house on the lake. She was smiling at him the way she used to.
See the problems? If you are telling the story from the characters POV, then we know who is wondering, believing, and seeing. The new rule that seems to be popular in eliminating as many instances of "was" as it is considered passive. Here's an improved version.
Where the hell had she stashed the deed? Lydia's predictability was one of the things he'd always loved about her. She kept everything from old canceled checks to her birth certificate in that trunk upstairs. On his way through the dining room, a scattered pile of photos captured his attention. He recognized the one on top before he even picked it up and held it to the late afternoon light slanting through the blinds. That summer they'd spent at the lake had been one of the best times of his life. Back then, they'd still smiled at each other like silly teenagers, still held hands on the beach...still had dreams.
In the second paragraph, it's clear that the author became Travis and experienced the scene through his eyes.Without even using backstory, you can tell that Travis and Linda aren't getting along as well as they used to.
Cheryl also reminded us to make our character's thoughts match their speech, intellect, upbringing, ethnicity, and personality. For instance, if you're writing from a child's POV think like a child. An uneducated person will think like one. Get into the character's head and write from that perspective.
And if you are like me and wondered what about Deep Point of View, I can finally explain it. As a writer, you want to be invisible. Stay deep in the POV of the character by avoiding any words or flowery phrases that remind the reader that someone wrote the story and they aren't experiencing it firsthand.
Kudos to Cheryl St. John for helping me to continue to grow as a writer and for not suing me for using her material on my blog. She's an awesome instructer, friend and author. (Is that enough sucking up?) *lol*
To find out more about Cheryl's vast backlist and her newest releases, visit her website.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
I write western historical novels because I love that time period. The old west was raw, hard, and character building. To survive, the people had to have exemplary strength and determination. But, my fascination doesn’t end with the pioneers; I’ve always had an unexplained interest in the history of American Indians, so much so that I wonder if I lived a previous life as one. By writing about them, I can help alter the perception that TV westerns have fostered—that the red man was always the bad guy. In two previous novels, I focused on the customs and traditions of the Lakota Sioux. I tried to portray them as the proud people they were.
I often wonder if readers realize that writing an historical is much more time consuming than say writing a contemporary or suspense. Although the story is fictional, the facts to support history have to be accurate and true. The language has to fit the period as does the dress, and the gadgets available at the time. Back in the 1800s, which is the era of my choice, kids were goats, mothers were Ma, not Mom, and fathers were Pa, not Dad. The idea is not to overwhelm the reader with a history lesson, but pepper the story with facts that relate to the scenes and characters.
In writing my first novel, I had my hero delivering his bride to in a shack in the middle of the prairie. I described her reaction to a rundown house, grass growing through the wooden shutters, a few pieces of splintered furniture. When I described the rooms, I also described a heavy iron stove. My editor was quick to point out that a deserted shack was more likely to have a fireplace and hearth where cooking was performed, and that the abode wasn’t likely to be more than one big room. Thank God, for editors who help us learn our craft. Now, when I write about a room, I put myself back in the time period and see through the hero or heroines eyes what should be there. If there is a question in my mind, I research the object and see exactly when it was invented.
There’s no faster way to lose your credibility as an historical author than to yank your reader out of the story by having written about something that doesn’t fit the time. Imagine my Sarah, dressed in gingham, with her bonnet securely tied under her chin, coming in from the barn, carrying a pail of fresh milk. She sets the heavy container on the floor, and deciding to have some more coffee, pops a cup in the microwave to heat it. WAIT a minute. Something is wrong with this picture, and although I’ve used a very obvious discrepancy in time, you’d be surprised how quickly some historical readers are to pick up on even the slightest faux pas.
Still, despite the extra time and effort required, historical writing is my preference. My heroine in Sarah’s Journey is the kind of person I strive to be. I want her survival strength, determination, and her ability to stand up to people when others are mistreated. I want to right the wrongs of humanity, and if only through becoming Sarah for a brief time, I can show my readers how badly people of half blood were treated and how hard life was in the old west. I can hold up my head, trudge along the
I asked a fellow author at Eternal Press to do a review of Sarah's Journey for me. He said the only western-type book he'd read was Shane, but he would give it a try. I picked this part from his lovely summary to share with you. Robert Appleton made my day when he posted:
I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Simpson’s recreation of Western life. The word that kept coming to mind as I read this story was uncompromising. Little is omitted, whether it be gruesome wounds, the preparation of herbs and food, Sarah’s body language, or the precise terms for the different noises made by a horse. I loved seeing all this research come to life. The author’s passion for the period and particularly for her characters shone throughout. This was clearly a labour of love.
And he's right. Every book I've written is a favorite for different reasons, but I have a very soft spot in my heart for Sarah and Wolf and I think it showed. *smile*
Monday, June 21, 2010
Time to Live Again
Fifty-eight year old, Rose Asbury knows people think she’s a recluse, but she doesn’t care. She just wants to be left alone. She doesn’t need anyone, and no one needs her and that’s just fine. At least she didn’t until this year. For some reason this year is different. Suddenly she’s melancholy and discontent with her life.
And the man next door doesn’t help matters. Every time he sees her, he insists on speaking to her. Not to mention the little girl next door and her friends who begin harassing Rose. Rose knows she couldn’t be the man’s daughter. He’s much too old. Of course in this day and age who knows? But something tells her he isn’t her father. More like her grandfather.
To make matters worse, Rose's sister comes back. Back to haunt her that is.
Available from Red Rose Publishing
Meet the Characters from the Autumn Rose 40+ Paranormal:
Rose Asbury – she knows she’s a grouch, but she doesn’t care. All she wants is for everyone to leave her alone. Is that too much to ask?
Stephen Daniels – the man next door. Rose puzzles him. All he wants to do is make friends with her, but she rejects his every attempt.
Sarah Daniels – Stephen’s eight year old granddaughter. She doesn’t like that Mrs. Asbury is rude to her grandfather. But she has a plan.
Mary – Rose’s sister who died two years earlier. She’s here to help Rose learn to live again.
Louise Jordan – Rose’s best and only friend. Louise has been trying to get Rose out of her self-imposed reclusion.You can find out more about Roseanne on her website!
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Let us not forget the career choices we make in our lives. My most outstanding choice was becoming a school bus driver. Mind you, my first son was only two, so I had no idea what I was getting into. Can you say "clueless"?
It was a perfect job for a working mom...morning rounds, a kindergarten pick-up at noon, and then afternoon rounds. I would dash home, clean house, grocery shop, and then run back and finish my schedule. I actually got to spend time with my son.
The bummer part was learning. All the seasoned drivers had the big, fancy crown diesels with dual wheels in the back...the buses that held ninety-one screaming children. The new people had to drive the old conventional buses...the ones with power steering in only one direction, and holes in the seats. I guess I should also mention the one with the spring that fell off the accelerator and stuck full throttle. Luckily, I was alone at the time so no one saw me panic. Did you know that even if the engine is running full boar you can still stop by using the brakes. You don't have to run off into a ditch.
When you're a newbie, you have to be a substitute for others when they're out. Boy, that was fun. You found out who had rules and who didn't. Somehow I always got stuck driving for the same driver...the one who evidently wore ear plugs and blinders.
We drivers had just been instructed by the Highway Patrol to make sure we pulled as far to the right as possible when we stopped to cross children. Of course, you have to put on your flashing reds and take you little stop sign and walk the little dears across the street. The high school kids really love that!
The first time I subbed for good ol' twenty-one, I had no idea what I had gotten into. On the first stop, I pulled just as far over as I could, turned on the lights and opened the door. I got up to lead the departees out the door. Ever stood dominos in a line and pushed the tear on forward? Well, to make a long story shorter, everyone was in a hurry. The back of the bus was in the front long before I stopped. So, add in the domino effect, and I went out the door, but not of my own accord. I probably would have been hurt much more if I hadn't pulled close enough to the right, thus allowing me to fall into an irrigation ditch where the water cushioned my landing. I seem to have a thing for ditches. Thank goodness, I had traffic backed up in both directions so I didn't have to share my most embarassing moment alone. So, no one can say I didn't do the hard knocks to earn my own bus.
Friday, June 18, 2010
They met at a USO dance, and although there probably is a distinct difference in the facts between reality and my somewhat spicy novel, I pictured them when I described the characters. I have a photo of my Dad in his uniform and one of my mom in a floral dress and thick soled heels. Her hair was perfectly styled like the movie starlettes of the time, and she was every bit as beautiful.I don't know about you, but some of those old movies set in the 40s were so romantic even without the steamy love scenes we see in movies today. If you enjoy romance set during the World War II Era, then, I hope you'll purchase a download of Tender Returnby clicking here.
Here's an excerpt for your enjoyment:
Meagan bolted upright. She strained to hear what woke her, but the room remained silent. "Maybe I imagined it," she muttered.
She squinted until her eyes adjusted to the muted rays from the streetlight below her window. Shadowed movement of tree limbs danced across the wall. Everything took on an eerie form. Her heart seized at the appearance of someone sitting at her desk, but she recalled draping her sweater over the back of the chair and released a pent up breath. "God, you're such a coward." She sagged back onto her pillow, her heart thudding.
She closed her eyes and waited for her pulse to slow. Just as she was about to doze, a tinkling against the window brought her straight up in bed again. Her gaze locked on the glass in time to see the pane shiver from contact with a pebble. Meagan threw off her blanket and leapt to her feet. Embracing herself against the chill, she tiptoed across the room. The clock on her nightstand showed a few minutes after midnight.
Ryan stood on the front lawn, looking entirely delicious in his uniform. With his garrison cap tucked beneath his arm, his cropped dark hair glistened beneath the street lamp. The army cut he shared with his peers made him look years younger than his actual twenty-three.
She eased the window up and leaned out. Goosebumps peppered her skin, and she shivered. "What are you doing out there at this hour?"
She kept her voice low, hoping her parents wouldn't hear. As long as she lived under their roof, there were rules to follow. Having a young man throw rocks at her window in the middle of the night certainly fit the "don't do" list for a proper young lady.
Ryan cupped his hand alongside his mouth. "I had to see you."
She peered over her shoulder and chewed her bottom lip. Her door remained closed. The last thing she wanted to see was her father's face. His burning stare singed her more often than she cared to recall. As the oldest child, she served as his chance to prove to the world what a great parent he was. She loved him, but at times he could be overbearing.
She gazed back down at her boyfriend. "Couldn't you wait until morning?"
Although mid-March, the Texas air still held a stinging chill. She rubbed her arms, certain she'd hear footsteps in the hallway at any minute. Reaching for the sweater on the chair, she pulled the cashmere warmth around her shoulders.
"We got our orders tonight. The 36th is shipping out at long last." His shoulders widened, and he stood straighter.
"When?" Her breath hitched. "Where?" She dreaded this moment ever since they started dating. "Wait right there, I'm coming down."
Thursday, June 17, 2010
The complexity of emotions and the need to use them is one of the basic differences between men and women. By way of example, when composing a document, have you ever used the font color icon to create a different color of text? If you click on that letter 'A' with the black line under it, a bar appears that says 'standard colors' and displays about ten basic colors. These represent a man's emotional range. Now if you go beyond the 'standard colors' and click 'more colors', there are two pages upon which you can create an infinite variety of tints and shades that vary from the most faint and delicate to the most intense and vivid. These represent a woman's emotional range. It is not my intention to besmirch either men or women, it is just an attempt to explain hormonal biology. Those obvious differences will stand out at front and center when a man writes romance versus when a woman writes romance.
Let me set up a scenario where a hero and a heroine are riding horses across the wide open plains. A woman writer will climb into the hero's head to find that he is intensely attracted to the heroine, finds her to be the only woman in whom he will ever be interested, and that he is mentally planning how he can spirit her away so that together they can build a house by a stream, plant acres of crops, raise herds of livestock, nurture children, and live happily ever after in their little house on the prairie. A male writer, by contrast, will enter the hero's brain and discover that he's thirsty, his ass hurts, and that he thinks she has nice tits. Hardly heroic. So the challenge to the male writer is to put on his 'true love' cap in order to endow our miscreant hero with an uncontrollable passion for our heroine; no small task given the male's internal programming to avoid, at all costs, uncontrollable passion for anything but sports. We must grab our hero and whisk him away from his world of pizza, Monday Night Football, and burping out loud, and deliver him to be 'reconditioned'. As a reward for his attendance at our 'hero boot camp', our hero-in-training will be transformed from an average guy with bad habits, a receding hairline, and limited mating prospects into a tall, handsome, muscular, alpha warrior chick magnet with a deep voice, a full head of flowing wavy hair, and the ability to remove an enemy's head with a broadsword while galloping at full speed on a large white horse. Not a bad deal. The catch is that he must learn that any resistance toward the heroine is futile. He must become completely enchanted by her to the point where her face fills his thoughts and dreams. He must dedicate himself to remembering her eye color, the first place where they kissed, and he must unfailingly remember her and her Mother's birthdays. He must be willing to battle all enemies and to freely surrender his life, should that become necessary, to protect her. Even more importantly, he must give up watching football. She is to become the focal point of his life and his reason for existing. THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is our romance hero from a man's perspective.
Now, if I may pull my tongue from its position deep within my cheek, let me tell you how I wrote MY hero. My book is called Magnificent Man, and my hero is named Coyote. He has most of the usual hero attributes (handsome, muscular, brave, etc.), but he's not really an alpha. In fact, he's a damaged man with a number of limitations. His heroism is not on a grand, world-changing scale, but rather it is the many, many good deeds that he performs on a daily basis that define him. He works quietly below the radar assisting forgotten people in a desolate land and it is those people who acknowledge his heroism and greatness. When my heroine, Cassandra, encounters him, she is confused and uncertain about this very unusual man who bursts into her life. As she comes to know Coyote as a noble and gentle man, she finds herself inescapably drawn to him. Just as he changes Cassandra's life, Coyote increasingly finds himself bound to Cassandra and the fulfillment that she brings to him.
I have regularly used a line to describe Magnificent Man as my attempt to prove that a straight man can write a touching and deeply emotional romance story without turning it into a Chuck Norris movie. I do feel an obligation to inform you, Dear Reader, that there IS a caveat. No matter how hard I struggled, cajoled, begged, pleaded, and threatened, Coyote steadfastly refused to wear a kilt. Sorry.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Randall’s erotic works include the five volume Trailer Park Nights series and three books of erotic short stories. These are available at http://shop.renebooks.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat-120. His newest release, Magnificent Man, is available from Midnight Showcase. You can watch the book trailer by clicking here. Visit Randall’s website or his blog. Randall now lives historically on an historical island in historic Wheeling, West Virginia.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
If you are a "pantser," how do you concentrate on one story at a time?
My stories are character driven, which means I can't take credit for the storyline because I have a revolving door on my brain through which characters pass at any given moment.
The problem: I have far too many noisy people in my head, all trying to scream the loudest to gain my attention. Most come equipped with an idea they are anxious for me to transform into a novel, and when I begin typing, I feel like I'm telling myself a story and I can't wait to see what unfolds next. In other words, as strange as it may seem, my characters talk to me. I type, they provide the fodder.
I start one story with great intentions of completing it, but here comes someone else with something just a little more interesting that snares me away. I cannot believe how many unfinished stories I have in my WIP folder and how many pissed off heroes and heroines are in my head.
I haven't found the secret for tuning out the masses while I concentrate on completing one novel while the others wait their turn. Does anyone else encounter this obstacle, or is it only me?
I've tried plotting stories myself, but that's where I run into trouble. I can't plot for the life of me. I have to have a character right here at the keyboard with me so I can progress. I never know how a story is going to end until I get there. Okay, I take that back. I dreamed the ending of Sarah's Journey, but I know it was induced by Sarah, who'd been bugging me for days with questions about how I planned to tie up her story. That is the one and only time I ever got a peek at the ending before I got to that point in the story, and you know what...I didn't like knowing. I prefer being surprised. *lol*
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I looked up the origin of the word and found this:
From the latin Vacare, which means "be free or empty", also the same origin for the word, vain.
I sort of understand now. I vacated the house (empty), when I got home after seven days, the fridge, from which I removed food to take with me was empty, I felt free to do laundry or go without underwear, and I almost cried when I saw how bad my hair looked (vain) after seven days of camping, washing it, but not having the proper tools to style it. Is it me, or is the the term, vacation, misleading?
After thinking about, I realized I do fit the profile.
I made reservations at a campground from Thursday through the following Sunday. The idea was to "free" myself from the Internet so I could accomplish more writing. I pictured myself enjoying nature, sitting in my comfortable new Captain's chair beneath a huge shade tree. Well, when you reserve something sight unseen, you sometimes don't get what you bargained for.
Because of availability, the only site left was horrid--probably the worst in the campground. There was not one tree shading the area, and even with the awning out on the trailer, the relentless sun beat down on me and my laptop if I tried working outside...you know that "trying to enjoy nature" moment I talked about?
Across from me, the scenic lake was beautiful, until the huge diesel pusher arrived and totally blocked the view. Oh, I loved their little colored lights, the sign bearing their name that they put out next to the roadway,and of course, the American flag they flew, but...
I had no cell service, which was good in some ways, but stole my secure feeling that If I needed help, I couldn't reach anyone. You see, I was there alone. My husband worked most of the week, but did come and join me for a few days. He brought our "cornhole" boards, which is a popular game back here...and get your mind out of the gutter. It's a game like horseshoes, except you throw bags filled with corn at holes in the boards. It was fun, until I pulled a muscle in my back and had to stop.
The next morning, I hobbled around like an old woman...OH wait, I am one...okay a much older woman, and found it hurt to sit for long periods of time. I guess from placing all my weight on one knee in my "professional throwing stance," I also wrenched my knee, so my knee hurt, and my ankle...not sure what I did there, swelled up until I developed a severe case of "cankle." I believe that term means that their is no point of differentiation between calf and ankle.
The second day, the sky clouded and thunder began. Before retreating inside (I sat in the shade of someone else's tree), I folded up the mats so they were beneath the awning. I gave no thought to the fact that the picnic table for our site was on a raised altar (hill) and, of course, when it poured all night, the water ran down from the altar and soaked my new mats.Of course with a temperature of 90, after a hearty rain, you have the "heat you can wear" people talk about back here. Needless to say, I sought relief from the AC inside our RV.
For all intents and purposes, I looked like a seasoned camper, but I am so not. BBQ on table, chairs beneath awning, nice mats (at least until they got soaked and needed to dry, cornhole boards propped against the neighbors tree, and solitude...all the solitude you ever wanted but learned to hate while you watched everyone else having fun. A handsome young man in an adjacent camp kept glancing my way, and deep down I knew he wasn't looking at me...but my cornhole boards. So, I loaned them to him and his friends, and then watched them enjoy. My good deed did earn me a bowl of homemade ice cream. Yum!
I did speak with a few people, but most were couples, had bikes, or were with a group. I never felt so alone or so glad to see my husband when he came.
I didn't rest much at night because it hurt to turn over and the rain sounded like someone pouring marbles atop the trailer. To top it all, the camper radio kept coming on all by itself, despite being off, and not at the low setting, but at the highest. Even when we started to leave, had everything put away, locked up, hooked up, we had to go back in and turn off the radio one last time. I think we have a ghost who likes country music. :)
So, I'm home. Am I rested? Nope. Did I feel free? Perhaps...I went braless most of the time since I was indoors. Was it a true vacation? Not sure. I came home to unpaid bills, grocery shopping to do, over 600 email (even though I went digest on all my groups), and several missed phone calls to answer. I think I need a vacation to recover from this vacation, but I'm afraid of what might happen next time.
Maybe next time I'll go to the Bahamas. *yeah right*. We're going camping again the end of the month, but this time, I'm not going alone. :)
Monday, June 14, 2010
Monday, June 7, 2010
See you on the 14th when I return. Stay safe and well. I've actually been gone for two days now and scheduled this to appear. Our AC took a dive and I can't stand the heat. Retreating to my son's house until it's time to leave for Defeated Creek. How appropriate...the name!
Saturday, June 5, 2010
The Forget-Me-Nots - A contemporary romance with an historical element
Hurricane Warning - A contemporary romance
A Wing and a Prayer - Another short romance
I'm holding my breath to hear about Masked Love.
Come on over to Publishing Trove where the authors are gathering today.
Check out Muse It Up Publishing. There's tons of progress going on for the December 1 launch.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
I've been pleased with most of my covers and recently added them to the "rate my cover site. I've been amazed to find that the covers I thought were the most attractive and depicted the story to a tee received the lower ratings. Evidently, I have no idea what makes a cover appealing. :)