Sunday, June 30, 2013


My first thriller, Atonement, opens with a serial killer with his victim . . . letting the reader into his world and mind.

 He bent her finger back . . . all the way back. It cracked loud and final. He shuddered with excitement and anticipation. She cried for forgiveness, but the duct tape muddled her words and screams. He hated tears. How useless.

He slid the sharp, long, Bowie knife from the sheath on his belt. A jolt of excitement shot through him. He preferred using a larger knife on bigger fingers. How could he not enjoy the feel of the heavy righteous blade in his hand? The worn leather handle fit his palm. It was meant to be his. Happiness filled him for the first time in weeks.

Who is this killer? What reasoning drives him to cut his victims fingers off? What has happened in his past that would give him fulfillment from such an act?  I won’t answer those questions in my opening pages. Why not? Because I want to reveal the answers in the backstory.

Backstory has been described as a set of events created for a plot, offered as preceding and leading up to that plot. It is a literary device of a narrative history all chronologically earlier than the narrative of primary interest.

I think what they mean is it’s the ‘baggage’ of our life up to this point.  A backstory shares key elements— that may be depicted and revealed in a novel —affecting timing, reaction, input, support, and even shock value.

Backstory helps to corroborate the setting as well as events and makes the reader care about what happens to the characters.

But be careful: Backstory by definition takes the story backward and when you think about it – then it halt forward action.  No matter how careful you are – when that story screeches to a stop . . . you reader my decide to stop reading.

Too Much, Too Soon -  Too much backstory in the opening pages can be the kiss of death.  I always resort to the comment, “No one waits for the action to begin.”  Writing  page after page of backstory at the beginning to set-up the story is not a good idea.  I know you’ve read them - you have to force yourself to keep reading – because you are convinced the information must be important.  I will actually start skimming – waiting for the story to begin.  This is not a good thing to have happen in your story.

Then there are the books that get off to an exciting start and just when I’m totally invested . . . the story stops to feed me backstory.  What??  I’m frustrated and anxious to find out what happens…and you’re making me wait???  No!

Guess what, there is plenty of time throughout the book to feed in information the reader needs to know about your characters.  Keep that story moving forward – make the reader turn those pages.

If you find yourself typing backstory and it seems to be going slow . . . guess what . . . it feel the same way to your reader.  A good rule is sneak background in a little at a time without halting the flow of the story. 

Tomorrow – let’s discuss timing and managing the backstory.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sneak-Peek-Sunday with Ginger

How fun.  Someone has created a promo opp for authors to showcase a portion of their work.  People, can hop back to the main site and click on the other participants' links to find more that might interest them.  It's sort of a "free sample Sunday."

Set up:  Cecile Palmer and Walt Williams have just married after a very short courtship and she's accompanying him to the ranch he's bragged about endlessly.  Purchasing the land was the reason he came to Silver City in the first place. She's extra anxious because of their pending wedding night and seeing her new home. This spoiled, only child is not at all prepared for what lays ahead...oh and the last paragraph...her mind has wandered which is why he snaps his fingers.  Without further stalling, here my six paragraphs from Destiny's Bride:

The soothing sound of running water beckoned her, and she knelt in the grass and dipped her fingers into it. Beyond her fading reflection she gazed at the myriad of stones and pebbles long ago polished smooth by deeper and faster running water. While fingering one, she thought of all the things for which she was thankful, the primary being water to wash up for her wedding night. She rose and joined Walt and the horses in the walk back to the wagon.

While he searched the perimeter of the camp for fuel to build the evening fire, Cecile spread the checkered cloth from Aunt May’s basket on the ground and laid out the food she had provided. The newlyweds sat next to the blossoming fire and enjoyed their first meal as husband and wife.

Impending ‘bedtime’ was all Cecile thought about. She had mixed feelings. Her stomach twisted in a knot. What would lovemaking be like? Would it hurt? She’d heard it did.

Intimacy wasn’t something people openly discussed, so she really had no idea what to expect. Bits and pieces of conversations she’d overheard between married women at various socials sounded conflicting. Some liked sleeping with a man, some didn’t. Anything remotely close to intimacy was not something her mother talked about, so what little Cecile knew, or thought she knew about the mating ritual, she learned from gossip.

She tried to concentrate on eating, but her nervous stomach churned each time she swallowed a bite of bread. She pushed on her tummy and took a deep, calming breath as Walt hungrily devoured his sandwich. If he was nervous, he certainly didn’t show it. Tonight would either prove or disprove the questions in her mind, and she really hoped the love she felt for her new husband along with his patient demeanor would sustain her.

 “Cece, wait till you see the place.” Walt broke the silence. “You’ll love it. I can’t wait to get started fixing it up. I’ll bet you’re as excited as I am, aren’t you? Well, aren’t you? Cecile…!” He snapped his fingers.

If you like what you read, the western historical romance is available on Amazon.  Now hop on over to the hosting site and enjoy:

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Friday's A Few Lines From

Magic of the Chimes by Pat Dale

What is it with this guy and my chest?

His focus remained at that point when she set the food before him, random thoughts flitting through her mind.
“Here’s your breakfast, Mr. Williams. Howie. I hope everything is done to your satisfaction.” She knew instantly her choice of words was wrong again when he leered up at her.

“Oh, yes. Very much so.” Returning his focus to her chest, he added, “Full and firm, and very nicely formed.” He grinned and winked.

That did it. She’d begun to pour more coffee into his cup when her arm slipped. The hot brown liquid scored a bulls-eye in his lap.

Please stop back next week for a few lines from Shirley Martin.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

7 Steps to Become Instantly Average by Jason M. Gracia

  One of my favorite people – and someone who inspires me is Jason M. Gracia/ Founder,, Author of The Motivated Mind.    His seven 7 Steps to become instantly average is one of those articles I’ve kept to remind myself  - I want more than average.  How about you?  Don’t miss your opportunity to connect with him -
By now you know I love anything that inspires and is positive.

Who wants to be authentic or successful or outstanding or passionate or evolving when it's so much easier to be average?

Just in case you struggle with lowering your sites and settling for less, here's 7 tips to get you started down the path of mediocrity.

1. Worry About What Others Think - Live for the approval of others. Do what you think they want--or won't notice. Check each of your decisions by the benchmark of group acceptance.

2. See the Finished Product - Be overwhelmed by success. See only the clean and shiny after-pictures instead of the small steps that made it possible.

3. Do Safe - Don't take risks. Small, medium, or large. Instead, live safely in the cocoon of seeming comfort. If you've done it before, keep doing it. And only it.

4. Think 'Forever' - Treat each opportunity--or life overall—as infinite. Put things off today because, hey, you can always do it tomorrow. Don't rush. Don't hustle. Wait. Wait until it feels  just right. Then keep waiting.

5. Compare Down - Compare yourself with people who have less, give less, do less. This will make you instantly feel better. It will also keep the pressure off. As long as you're not drowning, there's no need to kick hard.

6. Keep It Fuzzy - Don't mess with your fears. Keep them just how they are: fuzzy and heavy. Let that vague feeling hold you back and scare you. Let those unclear doubts make your stomach
twist and legs freeze. Don't reduce your fears to their facts. Keep 'em fuzzy.

7. Make Failure Permanent - Always, always, always see failing as a final fall. If you mess up--game over. You can't get back up, you can't brush yourself off. You are done, and you look like a fool for trying.

Follow these simple tips and you too can be average! (Or do their opposites and start to live a better, more exciting life.)

Jason M. Gracia/ Founder,
Author, The Motivated Mind

A Page Straight From...

                                         The Silk Romance by Helena Fairfax 

Jean-Luc smiled.  “I tell you what,” he said, his head tilted to one side as he eyed her pleasantly.  “You answer one more question of mine, and then I’ll answer any questions of yours you want.  No holds barred.”
Maybe if Sophie hadn’t drunk the wine, she wouldn’t have been so relaxed.  Maybe her wits would have been sharper.  As it was, her answer came totally unguarded.
“Okay, I agree.” She sank back into her chair, brows lifted.  “What’s your question?”
Jean-Luc leaned forward slowly, the smile gone from his face.  With a shock, Sophie saw all trace of amiability leave him.  His eyes were hard as sapphires.
“I’ve asked you this question once,” he said, the words travelling low and swift over the table between them.  “And you didn’t answer.  Four years ago you left me alone in a hotel room.  Why?”
Sophie gasped.  “That’s not a fair question.” 
The vehemence in her voice caused the waiter to jump and the coffee cups to rattle in his hands.  He cast a quick, startled glance in Sophie’s direction before pushing the coffee hurriedly into place.  Sophie sat up straight in her chair. 
“And, actually, I prefer not to talk about the past,” she said.  The tone of her voice held a glacial iciness.  Her brother Jack would have known straight away it was pointless continuing the conversation.  Jean-Luc, as she was fast coming to realise, was not so easy to manipulate.
“I think my question is perfectly fair.”  He spoke mildly, but there was no escaping the steel in his voice.   “And more than that, I think you owe me an explanation.”
“I don’t owe you anything.”  Sophie picked up her cognac and took a gulp that left her spluttering.  Her undignified choking failed to move him.  He waited until she had finished and then continued implacably, his eyes never wavering from hers.
“I don’t agree.  That night you seduced me.  You pretended to be experienced, a groupie even, and all the time you were a virgin.”
“Keep your voice down,” Sophie hissed, looking round anxiously at the nearby diners.  Her face flamed scarlet, the bright blush a dead giveaway.  “And anyway, I did not seduce you.”
“I’m right, aren’t I?  You were a virgin.”  His eyes narrowed to dazzling slits.  “Do you think it’s a nice feeling, to be made use of?”
“I wasn’t making use of you,” Sophie protested. 
And then it finally hit her.  With a shock of belated realisation, she finally understood how Jean-Luc must have construed the events of that night.  She stared horror-struck into his piercing gaze.  Then her cheeks began a slow burn of mortification.  He must have thought she’d had a one night stand to lose her virginity with a celebrity.  When she remembered that she’d told him afterwards she was engaged, too, she hung her head.  What must he have thought of her?
“That’s not how it was,” she whispered.  She twisted her napkin in her lap.  She hadn’t thought he would find their night together important.  His previous girlfriends were so glamorous, she thought she’d be one on the list, soon to be forgotten.
She lifted her eyes to his.   “It wasn’t how it seemed.  I didn’t think…”
The coldness in his expression brought her to a halt.
“You didn’t think,” he echoed, with an icy quiet.  “You didn’t think that I might actually have a heart.  That I might care.”
Sophie looked down at the creased napkin, a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach.  There was nothing she could say.  It was true. She hadn’t thought he’d care.  In fact, she’d assumed him incapable of feeling.  She’d thought he was as heartless as the hangers-on who surrounded him.  When she dared to raise her eyes again, she found Jean-Luc hadn’t moved an inch.  His eyes had never left her, their hardness unyielding.
She pushed her untouched coffee away. 
“I’d like to go home now,” she said quietly.  Her request sounded childish, even to her own ears, but she could no longer endure his justified anger. He continued to look at her for several long seconds.  Then he shrugged.
“Very well.  I will call for my car.  But understand this: I’m not asking you for an apology. I’m asking you for an explanation. And you still haven’t answered my questionso we will continue this discussion on the way home.”
“Oh no, I…” Sophie half rose out of her seat, but her protest came too late.  Jean-Luc had pushed back his chair and was already striding to the lobby, mobile phone in hand, to make his call.  The waiters hurried to the table and began silently clearing away.  Sophie looked so miserable that, for once, they forgot all attempts at discretion and were staring at her with open sympathy.  Her bent head was still fixed on the napkin in her lap.  How to tell Jean-Luc that she had run away because otherwise she would have felt bound to him, caught up in his iron will with no chance of escape?  She had made a sacred promise to her mother to look after her father and brother.  She had to leave him; there was no other choice.  There was no way she could ever combine her world with his.  The looks the waiters threw her were full of compassion, but it was no use.  Sophie had guessed how it would be if she came to Lyon to work for him.  For the first couple of weeks he had left her alone, lulled her into a false sense of security with his distance.  But now he had removed the mask of indifferent charm to reveal the iron purpose she should have known all along lay underneath.  This time there would be no getting away.  Sophie put her head in her hands and wished the ground would open wide.

Buy links:  

Amazon US 

Amazon UK



MuseItUp Publishing

Monday, June 24, 2013


I just finished an adult CPR training class Friday and wow things have changed since I took a CPR refresher course.   (Yes - that is me to the left!)   Mind you that was only four years ago.  So what has changed?

·         No longer do mouth-to-mouth on adults.

·         No longer look for a pulse.

·         Drop to knees alongside the victim – knees at chest area.

·         Tap or shake person – make sure they aren’t just sleeping.

If not sleeping:

·    Immediately direct someone to call 911

o   If you are alone – call 911 yourself – then start compressions immediately.

§  Do not hang up from 911 until they tell you to.

§  Remember – an adult only has eight (8) minutes of oxygenated blood in their body.

·         Start compressions  (Take a CPR course to learn how to perform this properly)

o   Lock fingers and begin compressions

§  Between nipple level

§  Pressing 2” down

§   – fast – to the tempo of “Stayin’ Alive.’  Run it through your head – that is fast. (Faster than our 1001…1002 … 1003 … in the past.)

·         Continue compressions until medical help arrives. 

Did you notice you don’t stop to take a pulse – before continuing?

No mouth-to-mouth between compressions.

They’ve learned this hurts the victim more than helps.


Ø  350,000-400,000 people suffer sudden cardiac arrest each year nationally.

Ø  For every minute compressions are delayed, chances of survival decrease 10-15%.

Ø  Only 6-8% survive on average nationally.

Ø  Montanans are PAR with the national average, no better.

Ø  Detroit’s average survival rate is 0-1%

Ø  Chicago is 3%, NY & and LA about 5%.

Ø  King County Washington, the Seattle area has a 52% survival rate because they have been teaching CPR in some way for over 30 years and claim 70% of their population is trained.

Check out this great site regarding ‘How to learn CPR and Save a Life.  It’s worth your time– you just might be able to save the life of someone you love.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

I Blog-jacked Lisabet Sarai's Post...

“Independent Body Parts”: A Defense

A few days ago I reviewed the second round of edits – what my publisher calls final line edits – for my upcoming release Challenge to Him. In general, I had no problem accepting the suggested changes to wording and punctuation. I didn't necessarily agree that the one POV problem the editor highlighted really was a problem, but if she thought it would be clearer if modified, I was ready to go along. For the most part I don't view my words as sacred, so I rarely object to reasonable changes.

I've noticed, though, that each editor has pet issues she tends to focus on. I had one editor who insisted on striking every instance of the word “that” introducing a dependent clause after a verb of sensation or thought. For example, if I wrote:

Henrietta thought that she'd never recover from Harold's treachery. 

This editor would revise the sentence as: 

Henrietta thought she'd never recover from Harold's treachery. 

I agree the two sentence are equivalent in meaning, and the second is more concise than the first. However, sometimes the rhythm of a sentence requires the additional beat of that extra word. Furthermore, I like some variety in my sentence structures. So I accepted most of her edits, but retained a few “thats” where they seemed to fit.

Anyway, my most recent line editor really had a bee in her bonnet concerning “independent body parts”, often abbreviated as IBP. 

In case you've never met the dreaded IBP, this term refers to sentences where some part of a character's body becomes the subject of an action verb. For example:

Her eyes followed him as he strode across the room.

His fingers crept up her thigh and under her skirt.

His tongue poked rudely into her mouth. 

Some novice authors overuse this kind of sentence, often to the point of silliness. Because of this tendency, editors have become hypersensitive to these constructions, brandishing their red pen whenever one appears.

However, there is nothing a priori wrong with using a body part as a sentence subject in this way. This is an accepted category of  figurative language. It even has a name:synecdoche.  Synecdoche is the practice of referring to a part when you mean the whole, or vice versa.

Sentences that are labeled as IBP are not intended to be construed literally. Of course her eyes stayed in her head as he walked across the room – no reasonable reader would think otherwise. Yes, most likely he was in control of those fingers – they weren't acting on their own -  but the synecdoche focuses the readers' attention on the stealthy progress of those digits, perhaps even as their owner continues to converse in a normal way.

An occasional “IBP” sentence is not a flaw, in my opinion. When I construct my paragraphs, I do so deliberately, with an eye to diversity and flow. The alternative to using IBP is often to have every sentence beginning with a name or pronoun. This gets boring after a while. 

The so-called rule about avoiding IBPs may be helpful to novice authors. The trouble is, it's really not a rule, anymore than the guidelines about avoiding passive voice are rules. English is a gloriously rich language with an enormous repertoire of sentence structures and rhetorical devices. An accomplished author should not shy away from using the ones that she believes her story needs.

Note from Ginger:  I shared this on my FB already, and my comment was go ahead and throw your hands in the air if you want.  If readers can't surmise they remain attached to your character's arms, then Houston isn't the only place where problems linger.  *smile*  I, like Lisabet, believe too many editors are focused on what they perceive as problems and forget that  sometimes an extra "that" here and there does improve the flow and make the reading more melodic than flat.  This is a great post, in my humble opinion.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Ginger's Round-Robin Blog Entry - Why I Read (genre) and Why

I'm honored to have been invited to participate in a round-robin blog, and this picture is a big reason why I love my favorite genre:

Why I Love Westerns by Ginger Simpson

I truly think I was a pioneer woman or an Indian wife in another life...that's my best guess as to why my passion for writing and reading always lands me in the old west.  If I have to come up with another reason, the time I spent in the grammar school library checking out anything and everything written by Laura Ingalls Wilder influenced my passion.  I was the oldest of four kids in my family, and younger siblings can really get on your nerves.  With the Little House series, I was whisked away to a different time and place that I developed a kinship with and learned to love.  Although I've written cross genres, I always seem to migrate back to westerns, and even in my time-travel, I managed to use a modern-day heroine who changed places with a pioneer wife.

Of course, when I write in the romance genre, it's understandable why I wouldn't mention the fact that Cowboys rarely bathed or changed their clothes, and they must certainly have worked up a sweat with all the hard work they did.  I doubt very many of them look as polished as the picture I've provided.  Still, in my mind's eye, he's what I conjure up when I write about my cowboy heroes.

Two of my books focus on Indians, specifically the Lakota Sioux.  Why that particular tribe?  I have no idea, except that I have a real fascination for their history and learning more about them.  I find the lives they lived, dependent totally upon nature and its bounty to be fascinating.  I'm amazed at how much one buffalo provided for a family, their rituals, and reverence for  their God, Wakan Takan.

One of my latest releases is a re-release of my debut novel.  I published with a small company long before Kindles and Nooks came along, and I didn't feel the story got the attention it deserved despite receiving a four-star review from Romantic Times at a time when ebooks were treated like a "red-headed stepchild."  No offense to red-heads...I have no idea where that saying originated, but it does fit at times. *smile*  Destiny's Bride is available now, and like all other historical authors, I've researched my facts and woven history into my story.  Here's a sample to whet your appetite:

Lone Eagle heard sobbing coming from inside the lodge as he approached. He quickened his steps, his heart pounding in panic. His first thought was of the child… was it time for the birth?  “Green Eyes, are you okay?” He called out as he came closer.

He ducked inside, his eyes widening at what he saw. Everything was in total disarray, and a sickening odor assaulted his nose. He scanned the tepee for the source, but it was difficult in the dim light.
When he was satisfied Green Eyes was physically okay, he hurried to build a fire. The tepee lacked warmth, but he needed to see the carnage more clearly. Surely she didn’t destroy her own belongings. Only moments before, she was full of happiness and glad to be home. His mind spun with questions.
When the fire flickered to life, he knelt and took his new wife in his arms. “Green Eyes, what happened? Did you do this?”

“Why would I do this?” Her voice broke into sobs. “I loved these things. Who hates me this much?”
  He knew the answer immediately, and suspected Green Eyes knew, too.  Despite the warm homecoming they received, only one person would do something so horrible.

“Spotted Doe!” Lone Eagle yelled her name and stormed out of the lodge, his jaw tensed.
His strides across the compound quickened as his anger grew. How dare Spotted Doe destroy their homecoming and cause such sadness on this special day. Racing toward her tepee, he spied her returning from the stream, carrying a basket of laundry. He stopped directly in her path, arms folded across his chest.

She looked up at him and smiled. “Lone Eagle, it is nice to see you,” she purred.

He knocked the basket from her hands and grabbed her by the shoulders, shaking her. “I know you were in our lodge. I know you destroyed our gifts. Understand this, I will not tolerate anymore of this craziness. I am married to the woman I love, and you will accept this. I forbid you to come near Green Eyes or me, or you will suffer my wrath. Do you understand?”

Spotted Doe took hold of one of his hands and held it to her breast. “I know you don’t mean that. I can make you happier than the one with the fiery hair. Can you compare her pale skin to mine? Come, sample my love and decide who is best.”

Had she not heard a word he said? He jerked his hand away. “Listen well, Spotted Doe. I do not love you. I do not want you, and you will honor my words.”

Spotted Doe’s eyes narrowed, her lips quivered as she angrily picked up pieces of clothing and threw them back into her basket. “How dare you treat me like that,” she muttered. “You will regret this day.”
Despite her threat, Lone Eagle spun on his heel and strode away.

If you want to know how my white heroine ended up with a handsome Lakota Brave, you'll need to read the blurb.  Conveniently, it's located with the buy link on Amazon.

If you, like me, enjoy reading this genre, please visit where I'm part of a large group of authors who provide awesome research information and links to outstanding books.

  To keep the interest going in this round-robin, please make sure and hop over to the next participant's blog at to continue reading on the topic, "Why I Like to Read ____ and Why."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Friday's A Few Lines From...

Kissing Maggie Silver by Sheila Claydon

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean that to happen.”

Her face was flushed, her lips still slightly parted as she looked up at him. “I know you didn’t,” she said, her voice and her gaze steady. “I know you are going away again Ruairi, and I know there won’t be a place for me in your life when you do but…but can’t we pretend it’s not like that, just for today.”

At a complete loss for words, he stared down at her. She was keeping whatever was going on inside her head to herself. All he could see reflected in her wide grey eyes were his own feelings of desire and frustration. It brought him to his senses and, his heart heavy, he shook his head.

“You know it doesn’t work like that Maggie. If we take today, then we’ll want tomorrow too, and the day after that.”

“And would that really be so terrible,” she whispered, her face pale now, her body rigid in the circle of his arms.

"Yes, because then I'd break your heart."

The buy
link is:

Next week it's a few lines from…Pat Dale


Once again I’m finding a great blog by Brian Klems to share and ‘hijack’ for our Dishin’ It Out readers. It’s something else to have a ‘great idea’ - but taking that great idea and turning it into a fabulous page-turning publishable book is another thing.  Before you type the first word of your novel – know what type of book you want to write.   Rita 

By Brian Klems:  Like many writers, I’d always dreamed of writing a book—a super power all of us have. And, like many writers, I put it off indefinitely to tend to other things, like softball and raising kids and watching reruns of “Friends.” I had been honing my craft for years while writing a parenting blog, strengthening my voice and, slowly but surely, developing an audience for my writing. It took two major events life-changing events happening within the span of six months (the death of my dad and my sister-in-law) to kick me into gear. These events got me thinking, What if I die before I can live out my dream?

So I sat down and forced myself to develop an idea that I could turn into a book. That idea eventually turned into the recently released, OH BOY, YOU’RE HAVING A GIRL: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters (great gift for Father’s Day, I might add!). It took considerable time to come up with the right hook. That’s why I’m offering up these tips that I learned along the way. I hope to save you a few headaches and a little time as you develop your idea.

1. Force Yourself to Sit Down and Think - Like most writers, I come up with ideas for books daily. Could be from a magazine article that caught my eye. Could be from a conversation I overheard. Could be from a dream I had. One idea came from a joke written on a popsicle stick! But were any of these ideas actually any good? Thanks to the success of my parenting blog, I knew that the book I wanted to write needed to be about parenting, so it helped me weed out the most ridiculous ideas and focus on the ones that were most likely built to suit my writing.

2. Force Yourself to Do Some Research - Every genre and market already has many books associated with it. In order to find success, you have to find a way to make your book stand out. When I was considering ideas for OH BOY, I searched on Amazon and spent time at Barnes & Noble, browsing all the books in the parenting section. There were plenty of how-to books and “what to expect” books and sentimental books, so I had to figure out where my niche would be. One of my favorite books of all time is W. Bruce Cameron’s, 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter. This got me thinking: I have three daughters all under the age of five, so What if I wrote a humorous guide for the early years of raising a daughter? And that’s how the idea of OH BOY was born.

3. Force Yourself to Write - Having a good idea is only half the battle. Executing that idea into a book takes time, patience and plenty of caffeine. I started with an introduction, setting a goal of 1,500 words. If I couldn’t come up with 1,500 words that opened the doorway to a book on the topic, then I shouldn’t write it. Thankfully, I did write an introduction—and a reasonably solid one at that. It took me a couple of tries and a lot of editing, but once I cleared that hurdle I was confident I could write a full book on the topic.

4. Force Yourself to Form a Gameplan -
How many chapters should the book have? What should the topics be? Should my book be straight humor or humor mixed with actual advice? Forming a game plan is much like developing a book proposal that you’d ship off to an agent or editor. It’s helpful to answer these questions before you start writing your book and querying agents. If you’re writing nonfiction (like me), you need a full outline when querying. If you’re writing a novel, you’ll need to write the entire book first before making your pitches. Either way, the earlier in the process you can make decisions, the better—it’ll help keep you glued to the task at hand, which is write your book.

5. Force Yourself to Have Fun and Believe in Your Writing - Every writer goes through moments of self-doubt. We’re in a business that is designed to reject people over and over again, even the brilliant ones who go on to sell millions of copies. (Did you know Kathryn Socket’s The Help was turned down 60 times before finally landing an agent and going on to be a bestseller—and a movie?) Keep in mind that you love writing and, no matter how hard it seems at times, you’re doing it because you enjoy it. The more you do that and the more you believe in what you’re trying to accomplish, the harder you’ll work at it and the better your idea and your writing will be for it.

Follow me on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Check out my humor book,
Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl.
Sign up for my free weekly eNewsletter:
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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Rita Karnopp's - Sacred Ground - ARe Staff Top Pick

Rita Karnopp's suspense, Sacred Ground has been chosen as an ARe Staff Top Pick!  Check it out for yourself.

Sacred Ground - Someone wants Brett Turner’s land badly enough to sabotage him, and he knows just who the culprit is: his neighbor, Willow Howling Moon.

They don’t see eye-to-eye on anything. When their sons, who are best friends, run away into the mountains just before a blizzard hits, Willow and Brett have no choice but to go after them—together. In the course of the rescue, they discover an unexpected and unwelcome mutual love. The realization that both their lives are in danger finally convinces him she’s not his enemy.   This heartwarming love story is set in Montana.

Chapter One

"Keep your damn buffalo on your side of the fence," Brett Turner shouted.

Willow Howling Moon watched the most irritating man she knew stand in the stirrups and stare down the fence line, his glare unmistakably fueled by his anger. If she could get past his arrogance and narrow-mindedness, she might admit he bordered on handsome, with that curly wheat-colored hair edging his collar beneath a worn Stetson hat. Ranch work rendered him lean and muscular and in better shape than most men who worked out.

"My damn buffalo haven't crossed onto your property since 1890! As usual, your mouth is speaking before you've had a chance to think, if you think at all," she snapped, gritting her teeth.

"You think twenty head of my prized cows died from brucellosis without one or more of your ancient beasts giving it to them?" He wiped his brow on the back of his leather glove. 
The gesture didn't fit the spoiled, rich-boy image she had of him. Uncomfortable under his steady gaze, she swung into the saddle. This cowboy had a way of unraveling her nerves. She raised her chin and stiffened her back.

"My buffalo have been tested for brucellosis," she informed him, looking directly into baby blue eyes flanked by too-long dark lashes. They gave him a look of innocence she knew didn't exist. "Your sickly cattle didn't die from any buffalo of mine." She gave his herd a glaring once-over. "Find someone else to blame for your misfortunes." She reined her mount away from the barbed fence, then into a slow trot away from Brett Turner.

"I catch one of those ugly horned beasts on my property, and I'll shoot it!" Brett shouted.

"You'd better think long and hard about firing a gun at my stock." She reined and turned in the saddle to face him. "You can't afford to spend any time in jail now, can you?" Noticing his clenched jaw, Willow Howling Moon paused. She caught a glimpse of a faraway gaze, an almost sad expression, before he quickly covered it with a look of defiance.

"Keep them on your side of the fence and you won't have to worry about it. I suggest you keep that wild kid of yours on your property, too!" A smug smile tipped the corners of his mouth.

She brought her horse to a complete turnaround and raced back toward him, moving as one with her mount. Her hair had escaped from the leather tie and flew behind her like the mane of her horse. She didn’t care how it looked at this point. She glared at him. If he had any smarts he'd read the fury and back down.

"Listen, Brett, I can take your accusations and insults with a grain. But, I won't tolerate them when it comes to my son. Lance hasn't been on your property―"

"Since 1890? I've heard that one," Brett interrupted. "I thought I'd remind you, again. I don't like Sean associating with any―"

"Indians?" she spewed the word out with an inflection of disgust. "I know how you feel about Indians. Bear in mind, I don't have control over your son. He comes over to play, and I'm not about to make him feel unwanted. He's welcome; it's more than I can say for you."

Lifting the reins, she moved her mount closer. "Sean doesn't seem to notice Lance is Indian. Prejudice is a learned behavior. I'm sure, given time, you'll have him hating us too."

"I don't hate you, Willow, but I do hate drunken Indians as a whole. Always have their hands out, expecting to be paid for the injustices done their ancestors. Hell, we've all had life kick us in the ass. We all could be waiting for a handout. You have this great ranch, and you're still out there fighting for Native American rights. Makes me sick."

Willow took a deep breath. "You’re so narrow-minded, you wouldn't know the right and wrongs of it if I spent hours explaining. I don't expect you to change nor to understand. You have no idea what we face today."

"They face large handouts and do squat with the money."

"Shows how much you know," she snapped. "The average Indian lives in poverty. The reservations are nothing but a place to hide from the rest of society. Many are still waiting for forgotten promises."

"They should close those damn reservations and make the Indians mix with society. This Indian revival thing is crazy. Learning the language of their ancestors . . . how stupid. Who are they going to talk to?" Brett snickered.

"Somewhere in that ignorant persona you must feel a certain respect for other cultures. Native Americans were forced to forget their belief in Napi, the Great Spirit. They were forced to speak English and punished if they spoke their native language. They weren’t allowed to dress or practice the old ways. Their code of ethics would put today’s society to shame." She wondered why she bothered explaining anything to this man.

"Native Americans should be a thing of the past, like Vikings and knights in shining armor. Indians have to learn to blend with society. You're wasting your time trying to convince me otherwise. Nothing would, or could, change my mind." Brett adjusted his hat. "And I repeat; I don't want Sean playing at your place. Indians don't supervise their kids. They just let them run wild."

"That's a crock and you know it!" Willow exploded. "We don't raise our children any different from the typical American. Where do you get these warped ideas?" She shook her head in disgust. "Sean’s a nice kid. He and Lance love feeding the ponies and―"

"I don't want him at your place," Brett interrupted. "It's as simple as that! Nine-year-olds don't think about consequences. If Sean gets hurt, I'm holding you personally responsible."

"It's surprising he doesn't have that spoiled little rich kid syndrome like his father."

"You may have a cute little ass and a face that puts most women to shame, but once you open your mouth, a man forgets all the rest. I don't want Sean playing with Lance. That's all there is to say. Remember it!" He whirled his chestnut around and pushed the animal into a hard, full run away from her.

Willow couldn't remember them ever talking without arguing. It always ended with one or the other running in the opposite direction.

Amidst her anger, his comment about her cute behind and a face that put most women to shame came to mind. Did he really think that? She refused to allow his semi-compliment to soften her anger . . . she told herself, even though it already had.

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I'm honored and humbled . . . thank you ARe Staff.  Rita

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