Wednesday, July 31, 2013

MAKE YOUR CHARACTER'S LIFE HARD by Rita Karnopp

I am determined not to be easy on my characters.  I want them to struggle, be challenged, hurt, feel rewarded, and to become better people in the end.  I don’t want them to face just one problem or situation . . . is life ever that easy?  Well, then – toss the frying pan at them!  Not only the pan – but the hot grease that was in it!

Know your genre and what you can or cannot do within its parameters.  Know what problems your characters can have in that genre and don’t make it easy.  I’m of the belief you should never make your story similar to one you read years ago – with a couple of new twists.  Be strong and independent and develop a plot that is fresh and new.  Create serious problems and goals that will be vital even imperative in propelling your story forward.  Make it dynamic and page turning.

CHARACTER MOTIVATION – We all know it’s our characters internal and external conflicts and struggles that moves them toward success and satisfaction and away from failure, so ask yourself:

• Are my main characters moving toward success or away from failure? Or both?
• What is the reward for success?
• What is the driving motivation for success?

I will tell you this – it’s more than just saving ducks from an oil spill.  You must dig deep . . . really deep and create a character that your reader will care about.  What are the hero’s core beliefs, his purpose, and his goals in life?  What are his flaws, failures, fears, and what impedes him from reaching success?

Once we understand our character . . . we can help him move toward his goals at a much deeper level.  Share with the reader what is going on inside for internal conflict and develop strong external conflict that will take us with him . . . root for him . . . cry and laugh with him . . . and in the end cheer for him.

INSERT VICISSITUDES – Say what?  Yep … cool word . . . meaning changes, variations, vagaries, fluctuations, and deviations!  In other words cliffhangers.  They really spice up a sagging story by adding something surprising, startling, astonishing, or sudden.  This will keep the reader interested?

Be sure to create an incident that the reader truly isn’t sure whether or not things will work out.  Leave the reader asking, “what will happen.”  You want them saying, “I didn’t expect that.  Now how will he ever escape that . . . or make her fall in love with him now?”

Some classic cliffhangers include:

• a deadline or else
• jumping to conclusions

• the interruption – side-tracking the truth

• loose ends

There should never be a place in your book that a reader might say, “Well, this is a good place to stop.”  You must keep your reader wonder what could possibly happen next, so that he/she won’t be able to put the book down.

It has to naturally flow with the plot and not be manipulated – the reader will pick up on it and toss the book across the room.  You are generating expectations and even hope in the reader. You will have to satisfy this expectation or anticipation at some point.

Be prepared to resolve the story plot and show resolution.  There must  be a gradual – satisfying ending for the book.  Never get there too quickly or the plot will come to a screeching halt.  It’s all about pacing and bringing your reader to the end feeling happy, surprised, and satisfied.

INTENSIFY THE MAIN EXTERNAL CONFLICT – Although your story will have many twists and turns – starting your story with a gripping predicament is only the first step.  You have to give your reader many incidents, conflicts, and surprises.  Each new crisis must bring you closer and closer to the main conflict – the underlying plot – and reason your character is on this quest.  Each minor struggle must in a way develop the story and enhance the resolution of the main external conflict.

Don’t feel bad about making your character’s life hard.  I’ll agree it’s arduous to put your characters through pain, heartache, loss, and even suffering.  You know it has to happen . . . the story is screaming for it to happen – and you must give it what it wants.  Allow your characters to feel . . . react . . . and resolve the main story plot – or conflict.  It will be a deep injustice to you and your reader if you don’t.

A Page Straight From...


Yellowstone Redemption by Peggy L. Henderson (Book 2)


Chase woke from dozing. He groaned at the pain in his shoulders. The sky was still gray, and an eerie mist hovered over the river. It must be early morning. He’d drifted in and out of sleep all night, wondering what was happening with Sarah. She hadn’t come out of that tipi, as far as he could tell. Dammit! If anything happened to her because of his stupidity.

The village came alive, as men and women milled about. His stomach growled loudly in response to the smell of food in the air when women set to work preparing their morning meals. Some of the warriors began to crowd closer around him. He stared up at them unflinching. Let them do what they wanted to him, as long as they didn’t harm Sarah. Several women stepped forward and began beating him with sticks. The men all laughed. He ground his teeth. Hell would freeze over before they'd see him cower. This was no worse than a fraternity hazing during pledge week.

Suddenly, the beatings stopped and the men and women stepped back, parting a path to one of the tipis. Sarah crawled from the opening and hurried towards him. Chase let out a sigh of relief. Thank God she was alright. She approached him, and the anguished look in her eyes alarmed him. What had they done to her?

She looked into his eyes when she stood before him. Hesitantly, she cupped his face between her hands and kissed him lightly on the mouth. Her lips lingered. The unexpected gesture sent a shock of adrenaline through him, and he leaned into her as far as his restraints allowed. At that moment, he knew he would give his life for her. The intensity of his feelings overwhelmed him.

She broke the kiss, and he leaned forward, touching his forehead to hers, not wanting the contact to end. He cursed the binding that prevented him from reaching out to her, aching to hold her in his arms. His breathing came fast, still basking in the sensation of her soft lips pressed to his.

“Now what did I do to deserve that?” he whispered. His raspy voice had gone husky.

“How fast can you run?” she asked, still holding his face between her hands, her eyes shimmering with unshed tears.

He gave a short laugh. “Angel, I’m not in any position to run anywhere right now. I’m kinda tied up at the moment.” He hoped his grin belied the cold fear that swept over him. She wasn’t planning an escape, was she? “How did the pow wow go in there?” He gestured with his head towards the tipi she’d come from.

“They are willing to let me go,” Sarah said softly, her lips trembling. Her fingers caressed his stubbly jaw. “They know who I am, and don’t want to jeopardize trading with my father.”

“Then go,” Chase implored without hesitation. “What are you waiting for?” He knew there was no hope for him.

“How fast can you run?” she asked again.

Chase’s brows furrowed. “I can hold my own. Why?”

“You will be given a chance to run for your freedom,” she answered. “The Blackfoot enjoy making sport of white men.”

“And exactly how is this game going to work?” Hell, if he was given a chance to run for his life, he’d take it.

Sarah inhaled deeply. “You will be stripped of all your clothing and your shoes. They will give you a knife, nothing else. You will be told to run, and the young warriors will then hunt you down.”

Chase shrugged. “Sounds like fun.” He flashed her a cocky smile.

“Why do you make jokes?” Sarah stepped away from him, her eyes blazing in sudden anger. “You will die. This is not a game they will let you win.”

“Have a little faith in me, Angel. I know I’ve screwed up, but maybe I can prove that I’m not completely incompetent.” He hoped his voice projected confidence. His insides certainly didn’t feel it. His face grew serious. The blue pools in Sarah’s eyes threatened to spill over.

“Kiss me again, Angel, and I’ll run to hell and back,” he growled and leaned his face toward hers. She hesitated before stepping up to him, and she pressed her lips to his again. He strained against the leather bindings, feeling them slice through his wrists. He pulled harder, deepening the kiss, claiming Sarah’s lips with an intensity of a condemned man savoring his last meal. She didn’t back away. Slowly, he felt her arms creep up and around his neck, and she stepped closer to him, molding her body to his. He groaned.

A sudden hard yank brought him back to his senses. He panted, even as two Indians pulled him away from Sarah. She tried to reach for him, but another set of arms prevented her. Their eyes met. Tears spilled down her face. He’d give anything at that moment to take away the pain in her eyes.

“Run north from here, across the river and meadow. The forest leads over a mountain to a valley. You will see steam rising in the distance, coming from a place my mother calls a geyser basin. Once you reach that basin, and cross the Firehole River there, you will be safe. I will wait for you.” The warrior holding Sarah’s arms shoved her roughly back the way she’d come from. Chase watched her stumble along. Her head kept turning back towards him.

“I’ll be there, Angel,” he yelled out to her.

Sarah disappeared inside the tipi again. As long as she was unharmed, he didn’t give a damn what happened to him. He eyed the warriors who now circled him, most leering with contempt. One man, who wore a fox fur over his head, stepped forward. He spoke directly to him. Chase didn’t have a clue what he said.

Foxhead motioned to one of the other warriors, who pulled a knife from his belt and approached him. Chase didn’t move. He wasn’t going to cower in front of them. If they were going to kill him right now, at least he’d have the satisfaction that he wouldn’t die begging for mercy.

The warrior sliced the ropes that bound him with one quick jerk of the knife, then held the sharp blade to Chase’s throat with a cold smile on his face. Chase held the Indian’s stare, while rubbing circulation back into his raw and tingling wrists.

The man wearing the fox on his head spoke sharply to the other Indian, who backed off. Chase guessed he must be some kind of chief or leader. Foxhead motioned with his hands as he spoke again to Chase. The other warriors around him laughed. The message became clear. He was being told to strip. Slowly, Chase pulled his shirt over his head, then waited. The chief motioned to his britches and moccasins.

Chase shot him a cocky grin. Yeah. If they wanted a peep show, they’d get one. He eyed the women standing around the periphery of the circle. Leisurely, like a practiced male stripper, he pulled first one, then the other moccasin off his feet. Then he released the thongs loose at his waist, and unhurriedly slid the britches over his hips and down his legs. He raised himself to his full height, and held his arms out at his sides, like Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man. The chief actually flashed him a smile. Chase was suddenly glad that Sarah wasn’t here to witness his humiliation. She’d be mortified, anyways. He glanced in the direction of the tipi.

He counted about twenty young men who now stepped forward and began yelling and whooping, punching the air, holding spears and knives, or tomahawks. So, this must be the opposing team. Okay, Russell. Scorpions against Blackfeet. The odds were not good, he realized, but he’d brought his team back to victory after things looked dismal on more than one occasion. All you have to do now is think of your game plan. You’re the quarterback. It’s your responsibility to lead your team to victory.

The trouble was, he didn’t know his opposing team’s tactics. This game would have to play itself out on the fly. You weren’t all star for nothing, Russell. Prove that you haven’t lost your touch.


The chief thrust a hunting knife in Chase’s hand, and pointed in the direction across the river. The shouting and hollering of every Indians in the tribe grew deafening. Chase glared at Foxhead, and tipped his index and middle fingers to his temple in a mock salute. He inhaled deeply, then expelled the air quickly through an open mouth. With a war cry of his own, he took off running. 

Here is my Amazon author page link: http://www.amazon.com/Peggy-Henderson/e/B006T2R5UG



Monday, July 29, 2013

Motivate Your Characters and Plot by Rita Karnopp

As with each of us . . . characters in our books change as the story progresses.  And you know what, growth of a character is very important.  I think this aspect of writing is sometimes overlooked or even forgotten.  We focus so much on what is happening externally that we forget what is happening internally.

We need to learn what motivates our character as the story progresses.  They must have reasons why they do the things they do.  They must have reasons why they resist the right decision.  They also must have reasons why they react the way they do.  Each of these ‘reasons’ is what motivates our characters as well as drives the plot of the book.

Confused? Don't be; it's simpler than it may seem. Characters can be broken down into four groups:


1.    The never changing character – they refuse to change in personality and motivation.  You get what you see.
2.  The no-personality changer – they don’t change or grow during the story –but they want to. 
3. The changing character – they change but their motivation does not.
4.  Finally we have the characters who changes throughout the story - as their motivation also progresses.
 
While plotting out the story we must decide what is the key motivation for each main character. 
 
This will add incredible depth to the story.  Always be aware that character and plot are entwined. 
The never changing character – I’ve often heard that a character must change – even if in a small way.  Why?  Think about James Bond – he’s smart, debonair’, unstoppable, and he gets the girl.  His character has a single direct motivation the entire length of the story.  At the end, Bond is still smart, debonair’, unstoppable, and he gets the girl.

And when you think about it - his motivation doesn’t change either. He accepts a mission, and he doesn’t stop until it’s accomplished.  There are always the ‘mini’ motivation interruptions such as saving a woman from drowning or escaping a death trap.

We can apply this never changing character with a direct motivation to any genre’.  Our responsibility is to present the reader with a character and goal clearly and powerfully obvious from the start.  There will be no doubt who this character is and why he’s doing what he's doing.   This then gives us (the writer) ‘license’ to obfuscate the story plot.

Be aware – an unchanging character with a direct goal still can react or respond to more than one emotion at any given moment. Our Mr. Bond might feel attraction to a knock-out blonde and at the same time distrust her.  If your character feels two conflicting things toward another character, bring this to life in the scene in which it happens. Then—and this is the important part—return to the main goal in the next scene.

This tells us that his motivation is unchanged. Although Bond, for instance, has just made love with a woman, she hasn’t fundamentally changed him. He is not changed in either his behavior or mission as a result of her attractions.
The no-personality changer – This type of story focuses on a character who doesn’t change in persona or attitude, but what he/she wants acclimates as a result of story aftermaths.

These characters are often the heroes or villains. The heroes are admirable characters from the beginning. They don’t change because the writer has created a character that is supporting an ideal/situation that he/she clearly represents and embodies.  Say for instance saving an endangered species or leading a group to keep oil from being drilled in sacred Native ground.
The fact is your character starts-out heroic, you don’t want him to change.

The changing character – Then there are the stories where the major character changes notably. The character has a single cause/motivation due to their backstory.  Consider Pollyanna’s aunt.  She refused to show kindness and love – because as a young woman she’d been hurt by the man she loved.  A lot had to happen for her to see it was okay to reach out and love.  The point here – she had to change for the story/plot to have resolution.
Keep in mind when you write the changing character:

·         His/her character change must result in response to story consequences or results. Develop the story so your character changes the way you want.

·         Your character must have emotional responses to these events.

·         Make sure the character change is emphasized. The ‘change’ must be shown. This is called validation, and it is crucial for all changing characters.

·         You must add validation at the end of the story so the reader knows this character’s change is not temporary. Usually this ending validation is on a larger scale than what has gone before.

Readers enjoy and are satisfied at the end of a book when there is a changing character/single motivation.
Characters who changes throughout the story - as their motivation also progresses -  Of the four characters, this is the most complex fictional pattern. A character’s personality as well as their goals change throughout the story.

Simplifying this character – change him/her from a self-centered model to a caring – putting life in danger to save the child-type.  
With this type of character your hero/heroine’s changes must be dramatic and prove they are a result of the horrendous events, be supported by believably portrayed emotions, and be confirmed by ensuing actions on his/her part.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Let your characters guide you - by Rita Karnopp

Before we begin typing that first word - we always (or most times) have the ending in mind.  There are a couple books I had an idea of what I wanted my end result to be – how I got there was something of a mystery.  My point – we don’t always end up where we think we will.

You must be willing to adapt . . . make changes, be aware of the flow of your story.  Never . . . never . . . never . . . cling to your synopsis because it was how the ‘story was supposed to go.’  Really???  I believe a story never goes the way I planned – I have to be open for my characters to surprise me.  And boy – do they surprise me!

Make your really good story idea great by a willingness to adapt as the story unfolds.  Each character develops as he/she unfolds in your story.  You can’t force a character’s behavior.  Always allow him/her the ability to act/react in a natural way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sneak-Peek-Sunday with Ginger


Welcome to Sneak Peek Sunday. The rules are simple and anyone can join in.

1. Sign up in the Linky List on the host's site.  The Linky List will go live 12:01AM Monday and will close at 11:59PM Saturday night every week.
2. Post 6 paragraphs (no more, no less) from either a WIP or a published work. The post must be live by 9:00AM Sunday.
3. Open to both un-published and published authors.
4. Post the link back to Sneak Peek Sunday so that others can hop along.
5. HAVE FUN!!

Today, I'm giving you a peek at the sequel to Destiny's Bride, White Heart, Lakota Spirit.  This is the day Grace is brought to the Lakota Camp.  Cecile, from the previous novel, has become Green Eyes and is now married to Chief Lone Eagle.  Her ties to her white heart kick in when she sees a poor, scared girl being dragged into the masses:


Green Eyes stood outside her lodge and spread three large rabbit pelts across her drying rack. A commotion caught her attention, and she crossed the compound to where a crowd gathered. She stood on tiptoes, looking over shoulders to see what caused the excitement.
 Little Elk stepped aside, and the reason for the fervor became evident. Black Crow towered over a terrified young white girl who looked to be around sixteen. Her sobbing had no affect on him, and with eyes wide with fright, she cowered in the dirt at her captor’s feet.
Intent on helping the poor child, Green Eyes pushed through the crowd. She tapped Little Elk on the shoulder. “Who is this girl?  Where did she come from?”
“Black Crow captured her. She will be his prisoner.” The young brave standing before Green Eyes hardly compared to the twelve-year-old orphan left behind by Spotted Doe. His body was no longer that of a child, and his voice boomed with authority.
His attitude angered Green Eyes. “What were you thinking? You cannot keep her against her will.”

Black Crow grabbed the white girl by her wrist and yanked her to her feet. He pushed Little Elk aside and glared at Green Eyes. “You have no say in the matter. It is not your place to question the actions of a warrior. Go away from me.”

If you want to read more, you can purchase all my books via Amazon on my author page.  Now, scroll back to the top and click the logo to return to visit the sites of other participants for Sneak-Peek-Sunday.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Editing and More Editing - Guest - Paula Martin

I borrowed this blog through the graciousness of Paula Martin who authored it.  I thought it very valuable for those who want to get their manuscript as ready as it can be.  This is a great way to surprise your editor, if you have one.  Thanks to Paula Martin for great advice.  You can follow her progress on her website

Author, Paula Martin
I’m about half way through revising and editing ‘Irish Inheritance’. Each chapter is taking me about 8 or 9 hours to get through – almost as long as writing the chapter in the first place! With 27 chapters (averaging about 3,500 words each), that’s a lot of hours!

I tend to do some basic editing as I write the first draft, but once the whole story is written, here’s my usual process with each chapter:

1. Read through the chapter, and adjust the elements of the story where necessary – add, delete, amend etc, and check for repeated/unnecessary explanations, and also for continuity. This can also involve going back to earlier chapters to check, add, or delete there too, or making a note to remind myself for later chapters.

2. Go through again, and fine-tune words and phrasing. A thesaurus can come in useful here to find the exact word I want, instead of being content with a word or phrase that now seems inadequate. I also try to spot very basic errors e.g.in my current chapter, I found I’d written ‘small pinpricks of excitement’ and thought, ‘Hmm, pinpricks ARE small’ so I deleted the unnecessary word.

3. Use the ‘find’ facility on Word to find and change the words I know I tend to overuse. Yes, we all have them! Only, really, just, then, so, maybe, look, ‘ly’words – my list seems to be getting longer, not shorter.

4. Put the chapter through Autocrit Wizard (yes, you knew I’d mention that again, didn’t you?) – and groan at the overused or repeated words and phrases I missed. This is probably the longest part of the whole process, as Autocrit highlights other errors, or at least areas that can be improved. For example, in my latest chapter, the heroine nodded so much, it’s a wonder her head didn’t fall off. It can take me a long time to sort out the style problems and find some way to rephrase them.

5. Once I’ve been through all the different categories on Autocrit, I read the chapter out loud. This helps me to spot any typos, missed words or missed punctuation. It also tells me if the ‘flow’ of my writing sounds right, or if I need to adjust any phrasing, or use pronouns instead of names (and vice versa).

6. When I think the chapter is ‘perfect’ (ha!), I put it through Autocrit again, preen myself at losing the errors, and then cringe at the final ‘combination report’ which can still highlight the things I’ve missed! How did I miss the word ‘about’ three times in one paragraph?

7. Having done all this, I send the chapter to my two critique partners. And yes, they come up with queries and suggestions, so I open up the chapter again, and take their advice on board.

8. Once I’ve gone through this process with every chapter, I put them all together, and do a ‘Find’ on the whole document for those repeat words and phrases. Even though there may only be one in each chapter, a reader will notice if the same phrase keeps appearing chapter after chapter. I know this from my own reading.

9. I then read through the story backwards, page by page. This takes you away from the story line, and makes you concentrate on the words, sentences, paragraphs, and on any punctuation errors too.

10. Last but not least, I put the story away for about a week, do something else, and then come back to it, and read it through from start to finish. And yes, I can still find something I want to tweak!

The Architect of Destruction by Maureen Scott

Maureen Scott is an ardent American patriot who was born in Pittsburgh, PA, and retired to Richmond, VA, in 2000. Free from the nine-to-five grind of writing for employers and clients, she began writing political commentary to please herself and express her convictions.  Our Pledge of Allegiance, a military band playing the National Anthem, and the wisdom of our Founding Fathers, inspire her passion and views. Her life is guided by a firm belief that truth is the most important virtue, and that God knows what He is doing with her.   Please take the time to read and listen to this good American woman.


The Architect of Destruction




 By Maureen Scott

Barack Obama appears to be a tormented man filled with resentment, anger, and disdain for anyone of an opinion or view other than his. He acts in the most hateful, spiteful, malevolent, vindictive ways in order to manipulate and maintain power and control over others. Perhaps, because, as a child, he grew up harboring an abiding bitterness toward the U.S. that was instilled in him by his family and mentors…it seems to have never left him.

It is not the color of his skin that is a problem in America .

Rather it is the blackness that fills his soul and the hollowness in his heart where there should be abiding pride and love for this country.

Think: Have we ever heard Obama speak lovingly of the U.S. or its people, with deep appreciation and genuine respect for our history, our customs, our sufferings and our blessings? Has he ever revealed that, like most patriotic Americans, he gets "goose bumps" when a band plays "The Star Spangled Banner," or sheds a tear when he hears a beautiful rendition of " America the Beautiful?" Does his heart burst with pride when millions of American flags wave on a National holiday - or someone plays "taps" on a trumpet? Has he ever shared the admiration of the military, as we as lovers of those who keep us free, feel when soldiers march by? It is doubtful because Obama did not grow up sharing our experiences or our values. He did not sit at the knee of a Grandfather or Uncle who showed us his medals and told us about the bravery of his fellow troops as they tramped through foreign lands to keep us free. He didn't have grandparents who told stories of suffering and then coming to America, penniless, and the opportunities they had for building a business and life for their children.



Away from this country as a young child, Obama didn't delight in being part of America and its greatness. He wasn't singing our patriotic songs in kindergarten, or standing on the roadside for a holiday parade and eating a hot dog, or lighting sparklers around a campfire on July 4th as fireworks exploded over head, or placing flags on the grave sites of fallen and beloved American heroes.

Rather he was separated from all of these experiences and doesn't really understand us and what it means to be an American. He is void of the basic emotions that most feel regarding this country and insensitive to the instinctive pride we have in our national heritage. His opinions were formed by those who either envied us or wanted him to devalue the United States and the traditions and patriotism that unites us.

He has never given a speech that is filled with calm, reassuring, complimentary, heartfelt statements about all the people in the U.S. Or one that inspires us to be better and grateful and proud that in a short time our country became a leader, and a protector of many. Quite the contrary, his speeches always degenerate into mocking, ridiculing tirades as he faults our achievements as well as any critics or opposition for the sake of a laugh, or to bolster his ego. He uses his Office to threaten and create fear while demeaning and degrading any American who opposes his policies and actions. A secure leader, who has noble self-esteem and not false confidence, refrains from showing such dread of critics and displaying a cocky, haughty attitude.

Mostly, his time seems to be spent causing dissension, unrest, and anxiety among the people of America, rather than uniting us (even though he was presented to us as the "Great Uniter"). He creates chaos for the sake of keeping people separated, envious, aggrieved and ready to argue. Under his leadership Americans have been kept on edge, rather than in a state of comfort and security. He incites people to be aggressive toward, and disrespectful of, those of differing opinions. And through such behavior, Obama has lowered the standards for self-control and mature restraint to the level of street-fighting gangs, when he should be raising the bar for people to strive toward becoming more considerate, tolerant, self-disciplined, self-sustaining, and self-assured.

Not a day goes by that he is not attempting to defy our laws, remove our rights, over-ride established procedures, install controversial appointees, enact divisive mandates, and assert a dictatorial form of power.



 Never has there been a leader of this great land who used such tactics to harm and hurt the people and this country.

Never have we had a President who spoke with a caustic, evil tongue against the citizenry rather than present himself as a soothing, calming and trustworthy force.

Never, in this country, have we experienced how much stress one man can cause a nation of people - on a daily basis!

Obama has promoted the degeneration of peace, civility, and quality of cooperation between us. He thrives on tearing us down, rather than building us up. He is the Architect of the decline of America , and the epitome of a Demagogue.

© Maureen Scott

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

THE 4 GOLDEN RULES OF BEING A WRITER by Anne Fortier

The following article was blogged by Anne Fortier in 2010 – A saved article by me – one worth sharing with you. -  Rita

Here are four lessons about writing and finding an agent that I have learned the hard way. I hope you will read them and save yourself a lot of time and trouble. It is hard to calculate writing time, but I would estimate that, over the past ten years, I have wasted up to eighteen months by not figuring all this out earlier.
1. Start at square one.
The world is full of people who know people who know an agent … but you can save yourself a lot of time and disappointment by ignoring them. Because the truth is, no one really
knows anyone, and even if they did, it is probably not going to help your chances one bit. So, instead of chasing after those elusive people and waiting in vain for introductory e-mails and phone-calls, simply tell yourself that there are no shortcuts in this race; if you run around looking for them, chances are you will still end up back at square one, wondering why you just wasted six months on hearsay.
2. Do your homework. Yes, I’m afraid so. Just as there are no shortcuts when it comes to finding an agent, there are no shortcuts when it comes to your manuscript and query letter. I hardly need mention that your manuscript needs to be 1) finished, 2) brilliant, 3) formatted correctly, and 4) edited to near-perfection, but allow me to emphasize that the same goes for the query letter. You can save yourself a lot of time and unnecessary rejections by following the established rules about query letters. So, go ahead and buy that annoying book about how to compose and format query letters … and follow its recommendations. Don’t rush. Don’t try to squeeze through loopholes in your smarty pants. Invest the time and do a proper job; this is the most important page of your entire manuscript.
3. Pitch your book before you write it. What I mean by this is that you can save yourself a lot of time and headaches by thinking ahead to your query letter as early as possible in the writing process. Once you’ve done your homework and know what a query letter needs to accomplish, you are very likely to look at your finished manuscript and groan. Because how do you pitch that rambling, pointless, dead-boring excuse for a book? Hey, it looked so good while you were writing it, but now that you have to pitch it to someone else, you realize just how un-pitchable it really is. There are no murders, no explosions, no secret society … Well, too late. So, make a point of thinking through the story early on, with the pitch in mind.
4. Don’t jump the gun.  Or, perhaps more to the point: Don’t foul your nest. The book world looks pretty darn big from your office chair, but it actually isn’t. So, once you have compiled that beautiful list of desirable and reliable agents (once again: by doing your homework), make sure you don’t waste it. Don’t send query letters to more than one agent at a time. Don’t say you’ve finished a book if you haven`t. And above all: Don’t test the water by sending your second-best. Be patient. Finish the book. Write the most attractive query letter ever. And then sleep on it. And sleep on it again. Remember: an agent is not some opponent you need to blitz; an agent is someone who would like nothing more than to be your ally. All she/he needs is a good reason.


Anne Fortier, author of the New York Times bestseller Juliet, a novel about a young woman who discovers that she is descended from Shakespeare’s Juliet. The novel has sold to 32 countries worldwide, and came out in the US on August 24, 2010.  She is originally from Denmark.

A Page Straight From...

Fiery Passion by Margaret Tanner


Luke Campton entered the barn and his gaze homed in on Jo. His breath caught in his throat and his heart beat quickened. He could never remember feeling this way before. With her flaming hair rippling about her shoulders and her shining, vivid green eyes, she made a stunning picture. God, what a beautiful woman. Like liquid fire, heat surged through the whole of his body before pooling at his groin. He compressed his lips, fighting to get himself under control. He shouldn’t have come here. Shouldn’t come within a bull’s roar of Jo Saunders.

Damn Tim for defying his orders to stay away from the dance. He couldn’t trust the boy with pretty, gullible farm girls.

Maneuvering people with great energy, Jo made sure no girl remained a wallflower. Once their first bout of shyness abated, the young men joined in the dancing with gusto.

She was being swung around by a suntanned timber cutter when she overbalanced. He made a gallant attempt to catch her, but missed. Another pair of arms clamped liked steel talons around her, saving her from sprawling in an undignified heap on the floor. Glancing up into the face of her rescuer, Jo wished she hadn’t.

Luke Campton.

Blood rushed to her head, heat sizzled along her nerve endings.

“Good evening, Miss Saunders.”

“Good evening, Mr. Campton.” Even to her own ears, her reply sounded husky, and she fervently hoped he didn’t notice.

“Must be my turn to dance with you.”

Before she could refuse, he led her back out amongst the other dancers. For a big man he moved well, executing the various steps with surprising expertise. Yet he didn’t seem the type of man who would indulge in dancing.

His dark jacket and matching trousers appeared immaculate. A white silk cravat held in place by a ruby stud enhanced his piratical good looks.

“You’re beautiful.” His warm breath stirred the loose ringlets at the side her throat. “We make a striking couple.”

The subdued light thrown out from the lanterns softened the harsh planes of his face. The bitter twist to his mouth almost disappeared when he smiled; even the scar seemed less prominent. He was as dangerous as a rattlesnake. She knew this, yet like a moth drawn to a flame that would devour it, she couldn’t resist him, couldn’t stop her body from softening against him, becoming pliant in his arms.
He must have felt her softening, and his next words confirmed it.

“That's better, pretty Jo. With the right clothes and jewels, you could be the most beautiful woman in the colony. Let me buy them for you,” he offered in a silky soft voice.

The moisture in her mouth dried up, making it difficult to swallow. Was he proposing marriage? They hardly new each other and yet she was drawn to him, and instinctively knew he was drawn to her. From the moment they had first met there had been a strong attraction between them. She admired powerful men, but they had to have a tender side and she had not as yet seen this with Luke. Her senses reeled as she desperately fought to get her feelings under control. “Wh…what do you mean?”

“I want you, Jo. More than any other woman I’ve ever known.”

“Want! No thank you.” The magic spell shattered into a million pieces. His offer had reduced her to the status of a common whore.

Surprise registered on his face. “You’re the first woman in years to refuse me.”

“Am I?”

Her spine stiffened, her head tilted at a proud angle. Wrenching free, she minced across the barn, leaving him standing in the middle of the floor. Several people snickered. She did not need to glance around to know he would be fuming at this public snub.

All pleasure from the evening disappeared now. Why did he have to come along to spoil things?  Surely nothing worse could happen.

Tim Campton stepped in front of her.

“Dance, Miss Saunders?”

“No thank you.”

“I asked you to dance.” Intense color flooded his cheeks.

“I'm not deaf. I said no, thank you.”

“I'm Tim Campton.” Anger threaded his tone. Obviously this young man didn’t like having his advances rejected.

“All the more reason why I don't wish to dance with you.”

A dangerous mistake, as soon as the words were uttered she realized this. His strange, colorless eyes narrowed to slits and his face contorted. His evil laugh sent shivers down her spine.
“So be it.” He swung away and stalked off.

Nervous tension twanged through her body, her legs trembled and her hands felt sweaty.  As she accepted an invitation to dance from another young man, she fought a desperate battle not to let him see her turmoil. As they returned to the floor, Luke had disappeared, but Tim started dancing with Amy Kirkman. For the next little while, she forgot the ugly incident. Thank goodness it would be supper time soon, dancing could certainly be fatiguing. I’ll be glad to have a rest and something to eat.

Everyone gathered around the front of the barn to listen to William explaining what they would do with the money they had raised. Jo glanced up just in time to see Amy, followed by Tim Campton, heading outside. A sudden feeling of dread surged through her. Quickly, but hoping not to attract attention, she sidled across the barn until she made it to the door.

In the few moments it took for her to become accustomed to the darkness, the pair had disappeared. Hurrying first in one direction, then the other, she found herself near the carriages. Instinctively she went over to their buggy and picked up Ian's rifle.

A short, sharp cry rent the air and she charged in its direction.

“Amy!” Fear raised her voice. “Amy!”

Another scream came from near the stables, and Jo ran. The night was not pitch black because of the star-filled sky and filtered light thrown out by the lanterns strung out along the wall of the barn. Horror temporarily froze her feet to the ground as she saw Amy desperately struggling with that monster Tim Campton.
With strength dredged from God alone knew where, she screamed out. “Let her go.”

Tim dragged Amy towards the stables. Jo rushed at him, hitting his back with the butt of Ian’s rifle.
“Bitch,” he snarled, letting Amy go as he swung towards Jo in a maddened frenzy. One hand contacted with the side of her neck, the other hand grabbed the front of her gown and the sound of the material ripping mingled with Amy’s screams. She tried to wrench herself free, but fell to the ground.

Rising groggily, she saw Tim holding the rifle. He advanced towards her. He was going to shoot her. No sound came out of her paralyzed throat. Like a maddened beast he lunged forwards, tripped over something, and in the split second it took before he hit the ground, a shot echoed on the still night air.

Luke arrived on the scene first, followed by Ian and the Kirkmans. Tim thrashed around in his death throes, blood spurting out everywhere. Ian helped her stand up. Someone threw a shawl or blanket about her shoulders. Luke knelt on the ground, cradling his dying brother's head, running his fingers across Tim’s forehead, brushing away a tendril of hair.

Tears were beyond Jo. Horror struck her dumb. Ian and Fiona tried to comfort her while the Kirkmans consoled Amy. The terrified girl’s hysterical screams became louder, reverberating through the darkness.

As Ian helped her away, Luke raised his head. His eyes stared straight into hers. He did not speak. The sheer savagery of his expression registered with her even though she was on the verge of collapse.




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