Monday, September 30, 2013


20. Evoking Emotion
Hemingway spoke of a story’s “sequence of motion and fact.” James M. Cain discussed “the algebra of storytelling: a + b + c + d = x.” What they meant was a sequence of incidents in a story that, if arranged correctly and dramatized vividly, will create a stimulus that compels the reader to feel the emotion the author is trying to create. Talking about emotions won’t compel a reader to feel them. “He felt sad” won’t make a reader feel sad. Instead, the reader must be made to feel the situations in the story, to experience what the characters experience; as a result, just as a sequence creates emotion in the characters, it will do the same in the reader. This is a case of stimulus-response.
Writers can achieve this effect if they take the sense of sight for granted and emphasize the other senses, thus crafting multidimensional descriptions and scenes. Details of sight alone almost always create a flat effect, so when revising, take a few minutes to make sure that each scene has at least one other sense detail. In this way, the reader becomes immersed in the story, feeling it rather than being told about it.
21. Figurative Language
Figurative language can enrich our writing, adding nuance and depth, like the addition of a harmony line to a melody. The right metaphor can enlarge our subject and offer our readers new ways of perceiving it. The risk involved, like adding a heavy sauce to your delicately flavored meal, is that the language can distract the reader and obscure your meaning rather than developing it. Figurative language calls attention to itself, can easily descend to cliché, and asks for the reader’s complicity, all of which could break your reader’s focus.
My advice, therefore, is to use figurative language sparingly, strive to make it fresh, and understand the implications of the comparisons you’re making (directly or indirectly). Make sure it’s serving the piece. In creating an effective metaphor, trust your subconscious, which makes connections our conscious minds cannot readily make. Don’t reach for the quick, easy one. Instead, take the time to plumb the depths of your imagination. Risk a reach toward an unlikely comparison rather than a safe one. You might be surprised at one you find, and your reader will be delighted.
22. Objectivity
The perils of subjectivity arise largely from overidentifying with a subject, narrator or character in a narrative, and making it (or him or her) the vehicle for a thematic point in which the author himself is overly invested. The antidote is at least as old as the New Testament, specifically Matthew 5:43–48, where Christ instructs his followers to love their enemies. If what I have to say seems old hat, therefore, I’ll be neither disappointed nor surprised.
If you find yourself overidentifying with a topic or character, try to identify within the sympathetic subject, narrator or even oneself a trait or belief or habit that is repellent or inexcusable or just plain odd. In doing so, you’ll enhance the psychological or moral distance between yourself and the object of familiarity
or allegiance.
Another possible strategy is to rewrite the scene or section from the point of view of someone other than the object of sympathy. This forced disconnect can achieve a similar effect.
23. Revision
There are two good reasons for revising what you’ve written: Either you want to change something, or your editor, agent or client does. If the revision is your idea, that’s good. It means you know what you want, or what you suspect won’t fly. If the revision is by request, remember: The customer may not always be right, but she has the money and the medium—as well as the experience of buying for it. (You can fight for what you believe, of course, but choose your battles carefully. Races are won or lost in the final minutes.)
I knew a writer who would write a first draft and submit it without even reading it over. Others, myself included, substitute and trim and pinch and juggle until the work pours like melted butter.
With that in mind, here’s your 30-minute assignment:
Reduce by a third the word count of one of your recent efforts without losing its essence. (I did this myself, in fact, with my contributions to this article.) Note: Don’t constantly reread what you’ve written; if you memorize it, self-editing will be tougher. Put it away for a few days. Then read it fresh.
24. Language
Think of your writing as a windshield. Ill-suited words can streak and cloud your reader’s view, and just-right language can be as clarifying as a high-powered carwash. Once you have a solid draft, it’s time to consider:
·         Could a different word bring even more energy or resonance to a poignant moment through sound, subtleties of meaning, or syllabic rhythm?
·         Could the setting be conveyed more vividly? Is the natural world palpable?
·         Is the emotional tone consistently resonant? Are there neutral words or passages that could be more charged?
·         Does the language powerfully enact the action?
As you polish and prune, each piece of writing will teach you something new about what is possible. Let yourself be surprised.
25. Style
Writers sometimes speak of style as if it were an ingredient to be added to their story or poem or memoir. Instead, style is the thing itself. E.B. White said it best, writing, “Style takes its final shape more from attitudes of mind than from principles of composition, for, as an elderly practitioner once remarked, ‘Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.’” The key, then, to developing one’s style is to write, as White states, “in a way that comes naturally.”

Sound easy? It’s not. In fact, finding the “way that comes naturally” can take a lifetime, and the way can change with each piece you begin. One key to beginning that journey is to think about style not so much as a matter of addition, but subtraction—casting off feelings of awkwardness and self-consciousness, affectation and pretension. Focus on presenting your piece clearly, in a way that connects with readers. For practice, imagine a single reader sitting across a table from you. Spend a half-hour relating your piece to that reader, as clearly and honestly as possible. Spend another half-hour striving to make the piece more clear, more honest, more affecting. Then spend another half-hour making the piece more clear, more …

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Reviews to Cry Over - Shortcomings #YA

In this day of snarky comments and reviewers expecting more than the author delivers, this review was a welcome respite from those that require a thick-skin.  Honestly, I've been writing since 2002, so I've learned a thing or two, and the increase in nasty, spiteful reviews is saddening.  I'm very proud to share this review of my young adult novel from a reader who totally GOT the story.  Thank you Charlie, whoever you are.  That's another thing...for some reason people seem to think the only 5-star reviews authors receive are from friends and family.  And how dare someone with my same name review on of my books.  Before you jump to conclusions....know how high to jump.  :) 
Although this is a YA, it delivers a message we can all benefit from.  My publisher is Muse It Up and you can find my book by clicking on the link.

5.0 out of 5 stars Shortcomings

This review is from: Shortcomings (Kindle Edition)
The first sentence of Ms. Simpson's blurb for Shortcomings says it all...Our shortcomings don't define us... But it's the last part of her first sentence that should scream out at each and every one of us...UNLESS WE LET THEM.

Ms. Simpson's book, Shortcomings, is a story of personal growth and building our own strengths as Cindy accepts and loves the person she is. We all have our own shortcomings; something we don't like about ourselves, whether it is weight, hair, looks, or like Cindy, one leg shorter than the other. But it is how we accept ourselves that defines our lives. Cindy struggled with it--immensely. Ms. Simpson does a great job allowing the reader to see the depth of Cindy's struggles. We can empathize and understand. Most of us have been there at one point or another.

Cindy, 17 and a senior in high school, has recently moved to a new town. Not only does she have to deal with being the new kid in school, but she must endure the stares, whispers and taunts of her `limp' that make her self-conscious and embarrassed. When the star quarterback (her secret crush) asks her for help with his math, she ignores her desires thinking he only wants help because he needs to pass the class to remain on the team. When he asks her to a dance, she believes she is the butt of a cruel joke. Why would he ask her to a dance when she obviously can't `dance!'

To ease her loneliness, Cindy applies for a job at a local salon and becomes the new go-for for the quirky, but confident, owner. Finally, Cindy makes a friend at school, only to witness her friend humiliated by the same antagonist that taunts her. Cindy jumps at the chance to help her friend grow, not even realizing her friend is helping her grow as well. Strength can be found in even the smallest of motives.

In this light romantic and compelling story Cindy triumphs over her shortcomings to become a positive role model for teens and adults alike; to express what it took for this one girl to overcome her own limitations and find happiness and acceptance. Ms. Simpson weaves a great story. It's not an easy fix for Cindy. She doesn't always make the right choices. And sometimes she is her own worst enemy. It's a very true-to-life story which I found almost too coincidental with how I feel about my own self at times. But it's a story I can use as a tool to manage my own self-esteem and grow in loving myself.

I enjoyed Shortcomings and give it five stars and hope all teens and pre-teens will read it and apply it to their own lives. For those that see their own shortcomings in themselves, I hope they will find the courage and strength to love themselves and not let those that would persecute them take their self-esteem away. And for those that are on the bullying side, may the see just what those cruel words and jokes do to the image of another

Thursday, September 26, 2013


13. Clarity
You have to lead your audience through a tapestry of facts, ideas and events. No matter what you’re trying to get across, you have to get it across, so keep it simple—unless complexity improves it.
In 30 minutes, examine your work for the following:
·         A Stake in the Action: Readers need one. Drop the first shoe early to get them listening for the second, and give them something to care about.
·         Logic: It’s the most important element of clarity. If you’ve written something that doesn’t quite connect, try saying, out loud, “What I’m really trying to say is …” and then finish the thought. Sounds crazy, but it usually works.
·         Bumps in the Road: Check your work for brilliant phrases that you’d love to use somewhere, anywhere—but that interrupt the momentum. I used to cut and paste my elegant gems into a “futures” file; it rightfully became a cemetery.
·         Verbosity: Avoid longish, meandering quotations by paraphrasing. Save the quotation marks for particularly revealing or quotable statements.
·         Jargon: Save it for cocktail parties—unless it’s the everyday language of your audience.
14. Effective Details
The key to effective description is to realize the importance of contradictions. The telling detail is almost always one that at first glance doesn’t seem to fit, but by its being there creates the unique whole that the object or action or person represents.
Go to a good people-watching spot or a place you want to describe. What’s the thing that doesn’t quite belong? Pair one or two more typical attributes of the thing/person/scene with this anomaly, and judge the impression. If it differs from what you meant to describe, figure out what’s missing. Add as few details as possible.
A related point: Often, we read a description and think, If this is there, then that has to be there as well. Many writers then think that both details must be included, but usually the opposite is true. Provide the stronger, more typical of the two, and the other is implied; the reader’s mind supplies it automatically.
15. Creativity
Creativity is the secret sauce of the writing life. Its ingredients are different for everyone, and may change over time, which can make it difficult to keep the cupboards stocked. When you get stuck, take 30 minutes and try one of these:
·         Switch genres. Write a poem before diving into a narrative piece.
·         Review incomplete writing for a scrap of idea or language; let it lead you in.
·         Burn kindling. Keep a file of art, poems, quotes, pressed flowers—whatever ignites your imagination. Sift through it when you need a spark.
·         Grow your own list of triggers. Repeat what works until it doesn’t; then try something new.
16. Simplicity
The great film director Billy Wilder was once asked if he liked subtlety in a story. He answered along the lines of, “Yes. Subtlety is good—as long as it’s obvious.” The same can be said about complexity and simplicity. Some stories are so complex that it’s frustratingly impossible to understand them. But others (like Wuthering Heights or Bleak House) are complex in a way that we don’t find difficult to understand, and actually find enjoyable because of the complexity. Conversely, Hemingway’s famous simple style is in fact very complex.
What really matters is whether or not something is clear. Each day, as you revise the pages from your prior writing session, take a few minutes to ask yourself, “Is this clear? Will the reader understand it?” If you’re not sure, revise until the answer is yes. Don’t be afraid to deal with a complex topic in a complex way, but always keep in mind that clarity will make you the reader’s friend.
17. Avoiding Clichés
Everyone “gets” clichés. That’s why they show up virtually everywhere. Clichés may be thought of as overused and predictable, but few people complain about movie car chases. For every person who doesn’t want “same old,” hundreds continue to enjoy stereotypical hard-boiled dicks helping dames in distress. Depending on your audience, a well-placed cliché can be more effective than an explanation.
Nevertheless, we need folks like you to buck the trend. So here are some ways to spend a half-hour:
1.     Create a cliché-free protagonist: you. Choose a career you once contemplated. Change your age, gender, race. Investigate something that intrigues you. Invent a situation that boosts your heart rate. Send your character to a place you’d like to visit. Now write.
2.     Remove from a work unnecessary parts of speech—such as replacements for the perfectly acceptable said, and words like angrily to reveal how someone slams a door. Say no more than readers need to know; let their imaginations work.
3.     I’ve intentionally loaded my five contributions to this article with more than my usual share of clichés. Circle them. Do it now. The early bird gets the worm.
18. Communication
Good writing connects with readers. For each piece you write, ask yourself:

1.     Who is my audience? Imagine the people you’d most like to reach.
2.     What do I want the experience and result of this piece to be? What do I want readers to know or believe? How do I want them to feel? What do I want them to do when they’re finished reading?
3.     How will I measure my ability to deliver on these goals? Workshop it in a writing group? Post it on my blog? Submit it to a publication?
Pay attention to feedback. You’ll start to see the types of people and publications that are attracted to what you write, how you’re meeting their needs (or not), and opportunities for becoming more effective.
19. Tension
Tension results from two factors: resistance and ambiguity. In nearly every piece of narrative writing, fiction or otherwise, someone is trying to achieve something. Tension results from external or internal opposition to achievement of the goal (resistance), or uncertainty as to the narrator or character’s understanding of the situation in which she finds herself (ambiguity), specifically its perils (psychological, emotional, physical).
Tension is essential because it keeps readers reading. Thus, in every scene you write, strive to heighten tension by doing one of two things: Enhancing the forces impeding achievement of the goal, or confusing/complicating the narrator or character’s understanding of the situation.

At the end of every writing session, take time to find and stress those elements within the narrative that serve these purposes. Trim away elements that do not, unless they add necessary color.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Page Straight From... #apagestraightfrom

                                                     LORD ESTERLEIGH’S DAUGHTER 
(Book 1 of “The Serpent’s Tooth” trilogy
 by Kathy Fischer-Brown

From the moment her father announced his plans to be gone for a few days on business, she anticipated his departure and the prospect of a long awaited tryst. The day and the time had been mutually arranged. But now the rain threatened to be her undoing.
“If ’ee had need of it,” Hetty Powell said, sliding the bench to the table, “I’d give ’ee a penny for thy thoughts.” She laughed softly when Anne looked up from her musing.
“I wish it would stop raining!” She struck the table with her fist and rose in the same motion to resume her fitful pacing before the window.
“Wishing won’t make it so. Come, or the tea will grow cold.”
Anne drew aside the tattered, dusty curtains and peered out into the gloom. The rain continued unabated. She closed her eyes and held her breath. I will count slowly to ten, and when I open my eyes, he’ll be there. If he’s not there, then I’ll…. She would not permit herself to finish the thought. He simply had to be there!
She counted slowly. Even more slowly, she opened her eyes and focused through the downpour where the lane joined the footpath running along the edge of the wood. Nothing moved save the wind through the tall grass and the clusters of wild flowers bending under the rain.
But you didn’t count slowly enough! she admonished herself. Once more she prepared herself for the ritual, and began to count. Before she had reached five, a rapid knock on the door shattered the hush that had fallen over the room.
Anne opened her eyes in surprise. Spinning around, she bumped into the cupboard, sending a shower of cutlery falling to the floor from the open shelf.
Smiling broadly, Hetty stood. “‘Knife falls, gentleman calls.’” She winked. “He’s come, My Lady!”
Suddenly, Anne could not force herself to budge. Thoughts racing, pulses quickening, she felt suddenly lightheaded with exhilaration and, oddly, with fear.
“Hadn’t ’ee best open the door?”
“Open the…? Oh, no!” She moved in a daze to the table. “I couldn’t. I can’t!”
The knock sounded with renewed urgency, shaking the flimsy door on its hinges. “Hetty!” It was Peter’s voice. “Are you in there?”
Anne swallowed hard and stared at Hetty, who took her gently by the hands and led her to the chair. “Sit ’ee down and calm thyself. I’ll let the poor soul in afore he drowns out there!” Laughing softly, she padded to the door over the sweet herbs strewn on the earthen floor.
Her head down, her gaze centered on the tea in her cup, Anne listened as Hetty lifted the latch and threw open the door. Rain beat the roof with a steady cadence and whistling wind. The door closed and the latch dropped back into place, and Hetty, with padding footsteps, made her way to the hearth, a dripping cloak and hat in her arms.
“And thy shoes and stockin’s, too,” Hetty said. “Bring ’em here. There’s a dear!”
He stood over her. Warmed by the unseen smile radiating from his eyes, still she could not look up. After so long living with her dreams and memories, the thought of confronting him at last gave her pause.
“I’m sorry,” he said quietly. “I’ve kept My Lady waiting.”

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013


6. Pace
Much of screenwriter William Goldman’s wonderful Adventures in the Screen Trade can be applied to other types of writing. Goldman advises getting into each scene as late as possible, and out of it as early as possible. Faulty pacing in almost any work can be corrected with this advice.

There’s no need to begin scenes by laboriously explaining how characters arrived there, or to open an article or essay with excessive setup or introduction. If you find you’ve done this, chances are a more interesting way to begin follows just after what you’ve written. Similarly, many writers put an empty paragraph at the end of a scene or section. When revising my novels, I experiment by cutting the first and last paragraph of each scene. Suddenly, a sequence that dragged can become speedy. Arrive late in a scene and leave early. The reader will fill the gaps.
7. Unity
One method for creating a sense of unity in a piece of writing is the use of selective repetition. A detail or remark or even just a unique word mentioned early in your piece can be echoed later, creating a sense of wholeness through the reader’s recognition of the previous mention. That recognition also imbues the repeated element with a resonance, not unlike a coda in a musical composition. The reader enjoys a satisfying sense of progression, of having moved from one literary moment to another.
Reread a piece you’re working on with an eye toward finding that element you could repeat in a subtle way, and then look for a place later in the piece where you could drop it in. If you’re unsure which one would be most affective, experiment by trying several. Ask yourself: If you had to cut all the details or images and retain only one, which one would you keep? That’s the one you want.
8. Sentence Structure
Well. I don’t know that any writer in the 21st century worries about subjects and predicates. Or believes that one shouldn’t begin a sentence with and or but or or. Or thinks contractions are slang. So I don’t have much to say on this matter.
But this is important.
Generally, I don’t like rules for writers. The First Amendment doesn’t, either. But the English language is democracy in action. It responds to its users. If it didn’t, we’d still be saying “prithee” and calling taxis “hacks.” Hence, my 30-minute recommendation is to sit down and write whatever moves you, following only one rule:
Don’t bore anybody.
9. Word Choice
The poet Frank O’Hara is rumored to have given this advice: “If you think in pictures, write. If you think in words, paint.”
This turns out to provide some guidance on word choice. If you’re stuck on a word, sketch what it is you’re trying to describe. It doesn’t matter how good you are at drawing. What matters is the employment of a different skill set, a portion of the brain distinct from the one that has been searching for the mot juste.
Or consider a soundtrack for the scene. Let the scene play out in time along with the music, or read it aloud with the music as background. When you employ a different depictive medium than mere words, different associative threads (or synaptic connections) can be brought to bear on the task.
10. Rhythm is the subliminal soundtrack in writing. To explore options for moving a reader along, choose a dramatic passage from a published piece you admire. How do you feel when you read it? (Notice your breathing, heart rate, posture and emotions.) How did the writer provoke this response? How do word pairings and sentence and paragraph structures contribute to its momentum? How do these rhythmic choices serve the piece’s meaning?
Now, write a passage that echoes the patterns you’ve discovered. If the first sentence is three short words, yours should be, too. Where a descriptive image blossoms for a paragraph, let yours do the same. Communicate emotion through your rhythm. You might let rage stutter through the syncopation of words and halting punctuation, or stream through run-on sentences. Notice how these choices support or squelch the surrounding narrative. Just as a musician practices scales until they become second nature, your attention to the mechanics of rhythm will help you improvise over time.
11. Inspiration
In my
writing classes, I devote a session to daydreams, which are spontaneous messages from our subconscious. After one of my presentations, a puzzled member of the audience raised his hand and asked what a daydream was. Others were surprised, but I wasn’t. Not everyone has a daydream-friendly mind. In fact, some people have been taught to repress daydreams as mere distractions.

As writers, however, we should not only welcome daydreams, but train ourselves to be aware of them. In fact, the cores of most of my novels have come from daydreams. Daydreams are our primal storyteller at work, sending us scenes and topics that our imagination or subconscious wants us to investigate. Each day, we should devote time (I usually do this before sleeping) to reviewing our daydreams and determining which of them insists on being turned into a story. Don’t push away those daydreams that make you uncomfortable: The more shocking the daydream, the more truthful about us it is. Embrace that truth.
12. Balance
Creating a sense of balance in your piece is similar to creating unity (see the opposite page), but the repeated element is even more obviously connected to its earlier use. A classic example: In The Great Gatsby, as F. Scott Fitzgerald introduces us to the Buchanans in early summer, he emphasizes the breeze blowing through the room, billowing the curtains and the women’s dresses. Later, the same characters seated in the same place are shown in the heat of summer as weighted down, dispirited, languid. The connection between these descriptions creates balance and gives the reader a keen (if not necessarily conscious) sense of progression. It also implies that the characters are no longer free and airy, but encumbered by the circumstances that have arisen.
Set aside 30 minutes to reread your work, looking for a description, scene or metaphor that you can repeat later with some aspect changed to serve as a counterweight to the first usage.

Monday, September 23, 2013


As you all know, one of my favorite ‘blog heists’ come from Brian A. Klems and the following article posted August 23, 2011 is no exception.  I’ll share it in four installments.  This information is worth sharing and keeping.  J  Rita Karnopp
The best writers never stop striving for ways to write better. Here, five masters of the craft share their secrets for honing the essentials, one technique at a time.
1. Flow

A piece of writing is a living thing. Our goal should be to serve it and do what it wants, to be its instrument. The flow of words from our mind to the page is impeded in two main ways—if we try to make the story do something that it doesn’t want to do, or if something in us isn’t ready to face the full implications of the work’s theme and emotions.

Avoiding those blocks requires developing a relationship with the piece we’re working on, as if it were a person. At the start of each writing session, especially if you’re having trouble moving forward, literally ask your work-in-progress, “What do you want to do? Where do you want me to go with you? Why are you stalling?” This is a psychological trick that almost always creates an imagined response, along the lines of, “This scene is boring. Why are you making me do it?” Or, “This section is full of gimmicks. Why aren’t you being true to the subject?” The device takes only one minute, not 30, and over the years, it’s saved me from writing a lot of passages that would have been either unnecessary or else dishonest.
—David Morrell
2. Precision
In the study of traditional Chinese painting, the term hua long dian jing speaks to the need for precision. It translates roughly to mean, “Dot the dragon’s eye, and it comes to life.” In other words, your subject remains inert until you add the precise detail that brings it, in the reader’s mind, to life. Often when we finish a draft, we feel the piece somehow isn’t working. Our writing group says they found it dull in places, or just “didn’t get it.” The culprit is often a lack of precision—the key, specific details that bring the world of the piece alive.
Develop the habit of dedicating time to reviewing your work with precision in mind. How would that scene change if you add a sweet tang of honeysuckle to the breeze? How might this character change if you fasten the top button of his shirt? Henry James told us that writers are people “on whom nothing is lost.” The key to successfully creating or conveying worlds for our readers is painstakingly observing those worlds, and then scribbling down the precise details that tell the story.
—Jack Heffron
3. Voice
Your voice is how you write, the way you handle language, your style—if you have one. Do I? I write like I think. I like spontaneity. I push and pull, change speed and rhythm, balance short and long sentences. I compare it to jazz riffs and drumrolls. I’m economical with words, but I won’t interrupt a nice solo.
I never have to think about this. It’s me.
But does it rise to the level of “voice”—and does it even matter? I’ve known excellent writers who don’t have a recognizable voice, but have earned awards and attracted readers through their work. Your voice, ultimately, will be what comes out of you. And you’re entitled to it. But how you use it will also depend upon the audience at which it’s aimed and/or the market to which it’s sold.
The desire to develop a voice of your own may make you wish you could write like some others you’ve read. Feel no guilt; all artists stand on the shoulders of those they admire. Thus, for 30 minutes: Rewrite a page of your writing in the style of someone you admire. Don’t worry about losing yourself in the process—you’ll be doing just the opposite.
—Art Spikol
4. Originality
It is perhaps ironic that the exercise I consider most useful to spur originality is one I borrowed from another writer (William S. Burroughs). Then again, the best advice I ever received on writing in general was Oakley Hall’s two-word bromide: Steal Wisely.
In truth, originality is like voice, an elusive quality that cannot be created; it exists or it doesn’t, all you can do is hone it. But we can also strive to look at our own world and work in a fresh way. If you’re in a rut, change something in your routine. Write in a different place; write longhand; dictate into a recorder; switch point of view; remove every modifier in your text and start over—something.
Or, try this: Print out a page of your writing, cut it into quarters and rearrange them. Retype the text in this quasi-jumbled state. Where before your logical brain laid things out in an orderly fashion, you’ll now see them in jump cuts and inexplicable juxtapositions. Return to your work and revise with the best of these angularities intact, to the point they serve the piece, without reordering them back into comfortable reasonableness. Honor the deeper, inherent logic of your work by allowing its quirks and hard edges to show.
—David Corbett
5. Imagery
A successful image can plug right into your reader’s nervous system at times when explanation falls flat. Consider, “Donna felt weak,” versus, “Donna was unable to bring the spoon to her mouth.” Which one makes you want to know what happens next?

To see how images give your writing a boost, rewrite each of the following statements in a way that shows instead of explains:
·         Her hair was a mess.
·         The garden was ready for picking.
·         I hate broccoli.
·         You always change your mind.
·         The moon is full.

Now, revisit a draft of your writing. Try making vague moments more vivid by replacing explanation with imagery. This won’t always be an appropriate solution—sometimes a simple, unembellished statement will be the most powerful choice. But you won’t know until you try.
—Sage Cohen

Sunday, September 22, 2013


I once thought that finishing book five would distinguish me as an established author.  People would say, “Wow … that’s great.”  And they did, don’t get me wrong.  When I finished book ten, “WOW, that’s incredible,” came the response. 

I just finished book fifteen and I’m telling you the, “WOW – that’s fantastic,” is getting louder and more energetic than ever!  Yep . . . book sixteen is around the corner.

Have you often said, “Someday I’m going to write a book?”  Or maybe you said, “When I retire I’m going to write my novel.”  Others have told me, “I’m jotting down story ideas for when I have time to write.”  I’ve even heard comments like, “Every time I read ‘the end’ I know I could write a better story than that.”

Well – folks – here’s what I have to say – “DO IT!”  Yep, I smile and actually say, “I’m so happy for you.  To have the drive and know what direction you want to go, that’s fabulous.  I wish you all the best in writing your book.”

Why do I say that?  Because I mean it.  When I first decided to write a book I had so many people laugh at me.  Really!  One of my sisters said, “You really think you’re going to get a book published?  Don’t count on it.”  Another sister said, “That’s fantastic.  If I can do anything to help make your dream come true – let me know.”

Now you see it – don’t you?  It was the ‘encouraging’ comment that gave me the drive and determination to write that first book.  It was far from perfect – actually that first book still is in a box in the back of my closet.  But the point is – I finished a book.  I could do it.  And if I could do it once – I could do it again … and again … and again!

If people are dreaming and striving to write a book – encourage them to write it and achieve their dream.  They will remember you because you were there for them.  I would rather be remembered for being the ‘positive influence’ than the ‘negative knee-jerk.’

Years ago I met a young lady in a writer’s group who had survived a horrendous abusive relationship.  She wanted to write about it – but lingering fear of who would want to read her book haunted her.  She wanted that ‘push’ that ‘encouragement’ that what she had to share was important – interesting – and that someone would care enough to read about it. 

We had endless chats about how she would start – then finish this part of her life that nearly killed her.  She told me she wasn’t all that educated.  She didn’t even have a high school diploma. I told her some of the most educated people never use what they’ve learned.  She pointed out she didn’t have a degree in writing.  And I told her she had a degree in living, which is more important.  Write about how you broke free of this relationship.  Show the reader your struggles.  Share your feelings and what kept you focused on freedom.  Put you heart on the page and the reader will care.  The reader will root for you and they will cry for you.  At the end they will be happy for you.  She moved away from my home town and we lost that connection  . . .

Why am I telling you this?  Because I was at a book signing years later and there she was – one of the many authors lined up in a row.  Her book, three inches thick was a story of courage.  She beamed with pride.  I couldn’t help breaking down –choke with emotion – and tears streaming down my face while telling her how proud I was of her. 

We hugged, I bought her book and she signed it.  “You gave me the courage and the inspiration to share my story.  I never forgot you – and never will.”

The next time someone says they are going to write a book, tell them, “I hope you do.  There is nothing more meaningful, exciting, or satisfying than seeing your name on the cover of a book!”

Video Contest

I  don't usually enter contests because they become "let's who see who has the most friends and family," races, but I've generally found that the Video and Cover contests at You Gotta Read are two of the most fair, where even if friends and family vote, they have a big enough following, that other people get involved.  This month, until September 27th, voting is open for the Video contest, and I entered mine for Culture Shock.

I hope you'll stop by You Gotta Read and vote...if not for mine,  for you favorite.  This is a fun way to recognize the efforts of authors, cover artists, and videographers.  Just in case you like's #14.

Remember you have until September 27th, so mosey on over and make someone's day.

Here's my video for your perusal:

Friday, September 20, 2013

Round-Robin Blog with Ginger Simpson #RndRb0913

This month' topics has to do with new beginnings in honor of September being a restart of school, a return from most vacations to assume regular life again, or maybe something you've decided to embark on...there are so many ways to keep your mind occupied: Linkedkin, Pinterest, name just a few.  Of course, none of them provide exercise, so perhaps you'll use this time to begin a new regiment to get fit. 

I've known about my fiftieth reunion for some time, and I had plenty of time to get myself into better shape...perhaps shock some of my old classmates...make them say, "Good Grief, she looks wonderful," but I didn't.  Time sort of slipped away and I considered not going because I've gained weight, don't much like how I look and I want my husband to be proud of me. BUT...we are going.

After watching a video on Facebook (another time gobbler), I was encouraged to live for today...make this a new start and enjoy my life because tomorrow is no guarantee.  That's really scary when you view the list of those graduates already deceased.  At least, Thank God, I'm still mobile and breathing...age is inevitable if you don't prefer the alternative, and I don't.

So, my new beginning was sort of a bust despite good intentions..  We made plans to use our 2001 Yukon Denali to pull our RV and take time to smell the roses.  The only thing we smelled was the stench of rising gas pries and knowing our vehicle got about 13 miles to the gallon when towing, we decided to scrap the RV idea.  There went my comfort zone of pulling my own toilet.  *lol*  You might laugh too, but just wait, the day will come when you understand my disappointment.

So, hubby packed everything into the Denali sans the trailers, including the dog, and off we went.  My son and his wife are taking care of things at home, and I'm told it isn't wise to publicize your absence, but we left a trio of Pitt Bulls to keep watch. we went. 

With plans to visit my Internet Sis, Rita in Montana, we feel a tad short when we broke down in Missouri.  With it being a holiday weekend, they couldn't get to our repairs until Tuesday and this was Friday.  No motels in the area that were pet friendly, so the vehicle was drivable enough to decide to head home.

Back home, we sat for a few days and bemoaned our rotten luck...overlooking the fact that we made it back safe and sound, but $160.00 poorer to find out we had some major problem that would require a lot more to fix.  Determined to travel and smell the roses, hubby took our 2012 Optima to have the tires rotated and checked.  Yeah, you guessed it.  The tires that come on most new cars are rated for about 20,000 miles before they start to balloon on the sides.  We should have remembered that from a few years back when we tried to make a trip to California in a 2011 Kia and made it to Arkanasas before we had to turn back.  Sometimes, I feel like a boomerang.

Anyhow....a new net of tires, and of course the chrome wheels my husband has wanted, and now we've invested another $1200.00 in the trip and we aren't even gone yet.  Of course in the interim, my new glasses came..$260.00, and we had to find a homeowners insurance that didn't consider us high risk since Erie dropped us for filing a claim on a burst pipe last year.  I was definitely in need of a vacation by now.

I'd already been through the dilemma of what to pack, as the reunion announcement said the attire was party casual.  What is that?  Jeans with no holes....shirts with sleeves. My suitcase bulged with options, none of which I like.

With the Optima crammed to the ceiling with dog bed, dog, treats, cooler with water and snacks, we were off like the proverbial herd of turtles. We spent two nights with hubby's brother in Broken Bow, OK...the first spent in a room where someone forgot to open the AC vent.  Two big adults and a dog in a full size bed on flannel sheets with no air was not a new beginning.  :)  The discomfort was worth the visit.  We had a good time, plenty of good food and company.  Hope we an do it again soon, but this time with AC.  *lol*

We departed and hubby drove until he couldn't see anymore.  I refuse to drive anymore, so if they asked for my license back, I'd gladly surrender it.  We found a pet friendly motel at La Quinta Inns and spent a wonderful night with AC, a king-sized bed.  Live was good.

The next morning, we made the breakfast bar in time to get lukewarm coffee and be on our way again.  First stop, Show Low, Arizona where my mom has just relocated.  She and my sister are moving back to the house my mom vacated two years ago because we didn't like her living alone at her age.  Now 88, she's decided she needs to live in a town where she knows no one and doesn't drive.  Since my sister can't yet make the move, I'm staying for a while to handle the repair and installation people who are coming because my mom is almost totally deaf and refuses to wear hearing aids.  Sometimes we talk and have totally different conversations.  Yesterday, I asked about her car and she told me all about Matlock.  Gotta love her spunk, though.

The altitude here is killing me.  I forgot how it took me two weeks to acclimate the last time.  I have headaches everyday, I'm out of breath, and reminded that I'm no spring chicken anymore.  But, I plan to walk into that reunion on October 5th come hell or high water.  After all, I paid $188 for the experience, so it had better be great one.  :)  Okay, so I'll waddle into the reunion, hold my head high and hope to hell my former classmates have more than a few extra pounds and a lot more wrinkles.  This actually isn't a new beginning, but a continuation of something I completed fifty years ago.  1963...seems like just yesterday, but maybe seeing old friends and reliving some memories will provide a new outlook and give me a beginning to knock my socks off.  (of course, at my age, I'll still have imprints of them on my vein-riddled legs.)

I hope any new beginnings your make go a lot more smoothly than mine have.  I might grumble and gripe, but I'm thankful for every day the Lord lets me stick around.

Now, jump over to Lynn Crain's blog and see what she has to say about new beginnings.

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