Thursday, October 31, 2013

Writing as a Pantser by Ginger Simpson

Many readers don't know the difference between a plotter and a pantser, so let me explain.  The term "pantser" evolved from "seat of the pants" which is how people describe those of us who don't plan out our storyline in advance. 

When I  sat down in 2000 to write my first novel, I listened to the character's voice in my head, eager to hear what she had to say.  Cecile Palmer came to me, already named, with a book title in mind, and a story to tell.  I simply provided the fingers to do the typing.  I loved the process  and still do to this day.  Transcribing her every movement and thought made me feel as though I'd become a child again, having my mother read me a bedtime story. But...when Cecile stopped talking, I stopped writing and hungered for more.  Each day brought me to the keyboard, filled with excitement to discover new territory, meet her new husband, and learn how she would fare once she married and moved to the prairie.  Boy was I surprised.

I love being a pantser, and it's a good thing because plotting never works for me.  Over the years, I've had a myriad of voices in my head, and the one who screams loudest is the one to get my attention.  There have been many times I have more than work-in-progress because my stars are so insistent.  The only problem I've come across:  when the character is done, so is the book, and if they decide to turn mute in the process, that's when I get what's called "writer's block."

The silence is often welcome or a hint that I need to find a more sedate place to reconnect with my character(s).  If one doesn't want to talk to me, I usually have others who will.  Being a pantser is a unique style that I share with many other authors, but plotters and pantsers usually aren't interchangeable.  You're either one or the other, and we don't see eye-to-eye on how to write.

 While plotters outline their stories, name their characters and struggle with titles, I've been fortunate to have leading stars who come to me with all that information already in mind.  I've gone with their choices, and I've been lucky to have a collection of full-length novels, novellas and short stories available.  Right now, I have three WIPS.  One started with a quiet character who only speaks when she's in the mood.  A second starring a young woman who hasn't yet decided what's going to happen in her time-travel to modern day, and a sequel to a relationship book I've already written.  Thanks to my blogging buddy's praise and yearning to read more, Cassie Fremont has returned with a new story to relate.  I'm excited and I was up at five because Cassie wanted to introduce me to her cast and let me know her title.  She showed up at the best possible time.

Oh...just so you know...here's how the then Cecile Palmer began her story in Silver City on my first day of writing in the year 2000:

Dakota Plains, 1867

Cecile’s gaze froze on the striking man leaning against the hitching post. Her heart seized with a gasp as she nearly stepped off the edge of the wooden walkway. She turned her attention back to delivering her father’s mid-day meal, but fixed a smile on her face and slowed her pace, hoping to catch the stranger’s eye.

He’d never been in Silver City before; she would have remembered his rugged good looks. Tight, dark denims clung to his masculine thighs, and beneath a black leather vest, open shirt buttons revealed a well-muscled chest. Her gaze slid boldly down his body, thoroughly enjoying the sight until the reflection of the sun off his silver belt buckle blinded her. She swallowed and averted her eyes. What had come over her? Such brazen leering. Goodness, she wasn’t a harlot.

At almost the exact moment that she walked past, he stepped onto the sidewalk and made eye contact. He touched the wide brim of his hat and smiled. For a second, his blue eyes held her captive.
Suddenly, the weight of the tray tripled, and her breathing quickened. Her cheeks warmed at the crooked smile that told her he knew she’d been staring at him. In her haste to escape embarrassment behind the bank’s doors, just a few steps away, she caught her heel in a large knothole in the wooden sidewalk. She tried to recover gracefully but fell flat on her bottom with a resounding plop, hitting the wood so hard it jarred her teeth. Her dignity suffered as she realized how pitiful she looked, with her father’s lunch spilled all over her. Luckily, most of the mashed potatoes and gravy landed on the ground, but the vegetables and ham slices filled her lap.

 Before she could stand, he knelt at her side, plucking green beans from her dress. “Are you all right, ma’am?” His quivering lips failed at masking his desire to laugh.

She’d just made a fool of herself in front of the most handsome man she’d ever seen. Of course she wasn’t all right. What must he think?

Managing a weak smile and struggling for some semblance of composure, she accepted his proffered hand. While avoiding his gaze, she nervously smoothed wet wrinkles from her dress.“Yes, I’m fine,” she croaked. “Thank you for your help.” Her voice trembled in unison with her insides.
“Name’s Walt Williams,” he said, when she finally made eye contact. “I’m visiting my Aunt May. She owns the boarding house here.”

Lost in his azure eyes, Cecile heard very little of what he said. Aware of her bold stare she glanced down, trying not to be so obvious. The evidence of her accident jolted her memory.

“Oh, my gosh…Father’s expecting me!” Although reluctant to leave, she dared not dawdle. “It’s very nice to meet you, Mr. Williams, and I’m sorry to be rude, but I have to hurry home to replace my father’s lunch. He must be wondering where I am.”

Again the stranger touched the brim of his hat. “Mighty nice meeting you, too, Miss...”

“Cecile, Cecile Palmer.” She offered a brief introduction while stooping to retrieve the tray, utensils and her mother’s good china plate that somehow remained intact.

Before taking her leave, she flashed a warm smile, hoping the memory of this incident would fade from Mr. Witman’s mind. She gave a little wave and started for home, tutting in disgust and pulling at the dampened material that insisted on clinging to her legs. The cloying gingham and the glob of potatoes on her shoe served as grim reminder of a ruined opportunity.

 Why couldn’t she have met Walt after delivering Father’s lunch? Her thoughts refused to focus on anything else other than Walt Williams. What a grand name. Repeating it over and over again in her mind, she wondered if she’d ever see him again.

She kicked a splintered piece of wood and sent it flying. Why hadn’t she asked him more about himself? Where was he from or had he ever visited before? Had he come to town and she just didn’t recall? No way! She’d certainly remember someone with his good looks. With any luck, maybe he’d stay in town long enough to come to the upcoming Spring Fling. Her heart quickened again.


She had never actually met his Aunt May, but knew her by sight. She was a short, rather plump woman with silver gray hair usually pulled back into a bun. They had exchanged smiles and pleasantries across the aisles of the mercantile on several occasions, but Cecile’s father referred to the woman’s boarding house as being on the “wrong side of the tracks.” He forbade Cecile to step foot into that area; warned over and over again it was no place for a respectable young woman to venture. Cowpokes and drifters traveling through Silver City frequented the saloons nearby. Sometimes her father was far too judgmental.

*****

If you'd like to read more....Destiny's Bride (Previously Prairie Peace) is offered on my Amazon page with all my other work.

HALLOWEEN

     
   Hal·low·een - noun: Hallowe'en -the night of October 31, the eve of All Saints' Day, commonly          celebrated by children who dress in costume and solicit candy or other treats door-to-door.

On Hallowe'en (All Hallows' Eve), in Poland, believers are taught to pray out loud as they walk through the forests in order that the souls of the dead might find comfort; in Spain, Christian priests toll their church bells in order to allow their congregants to remember the dead on All Hallows' Eve. The Christian Church traditionally observed Hallowe'en through a vigil "when worshipers would prepare themselves with prayers and fasting prior to the feast day itself." This church service is known as the Vigil of All Hallows or the Vigil of All Saints; an initiative known as Night of Light seeks to further spread the Vigil of All Hallows throughout Christendom. After the service, "suitable festivities and entertainments" often follow, as well as a visit to the graveyard or cemetery, where flowers and candles are often placed in preparation for All Hallows' Day.

The traditions and importance of Halloween vary greatly among countries that observe it. In Scotland and Ireland, traditional Halloween customs include children dressing up in costume going "guising", holding parties, while other practices in Ireland include lighting bonfires, and having firework displays. Mass transatlantic immigration in the 19th century popularized Halloween in North America, and celebration in the United States and Canada has had a significant impact on how the event is observed in other nations. This larger North American influence, particularly in iconic and commercial elements, has extended to places such as South America, Australia, New Zealand, (most) continental Europe, Japan, and other parts of East Asia

Halloween Superstitions - Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. It began as a Celtic end-of-summer festival during which people felt especially close to deceased relatives and friends. For these friendly spirits, they set places at the dinner table, left treats on
doorsteps and along the side of the road and lit candles to help loved ones find their way back to the spirit world. Today's Halloween ghosts are often depicted as more fearsome and malevolent, and our customs and superstitions are scarier too. We avoid crossing paths with black cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luck. This idea has its roots in the Middle Ages, when many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into cats. We try not to walk under ladders for the same reason. This superstition may have come from the ancient Egyptians, who believed that triangles were sacred; it also may have something to do with the fact that walking under a leaning ladder tends to be fairly unsafe. And around Halloween, especially, we try to avoid breaking mirrors, stepping on cracks in the road or spilling salt.

But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today's trick-or-treaters have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead. In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday—with luck, by next Halloween—be married.
In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it. In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl's future husband. (In some versions of this legend, confusingly, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.)
Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night she would dream about her future husband. Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands' initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands' faces.

Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Page Straight From... #apagestraightfrom


Double or Nothing by Meg Mims

I trudged toward the shack. The foreman held a large piece of blueprint paper between his hands while my uncle pointed at various sections. Two other men argued with them, their heated words carrying over the whooshing of hoses and creaks and jolts of skeleton wagons over the rutted ground. Most of their argument was peppered with technical jargon that didn’t make any sense. Even Chinese sounded more familiar.

“We haven’t made enough headway,” said a man in a tailored suit, whose gold watch chain glinted in the sun. “I say we dig out the ridge all the way.”

“You take that ridge down any more than we have and we’ll never get equipment to the furthest point of the claim, over here,” my uncle said and prodded the map. “That was Alvarez’s advice. He knows this land better than you, Williamson.”

“I agree, it’s too dangerous,” the foreman said.

 “I’m the engineer! Are you implying I don’t know my business?”

“I’m saying it’s stupid to undermine that ridge. You’re being a stubborn coot.”

“You’re a fine one to call me stubborn—”

Good heavens. I reversed direction and headed back toward the sluice. They were sure to argue for another few hours. I wanted to ride that horse, even if it meant hiking my skirts to my knees and baring my ankles. The poor animal looked like it a good run, or at least a trot over the rough ground. I had to do something productive or I’d go mad.

Steering around the same boggy patch of mud, I cut close to the sluice. A blood-curdling yell halted everyone. I whirled to see the entire bank of earth, a huge avalanche of mud, rocks and two large trees root-first, rushing straight for me. Someone grabbed me by the waist from behind. I found myself sprawling head-first in the wooden trough. Other men shouted. The mine whistle screeched in my ears, so loud my head throbbed.

Spitting mud and gravel, I struggled to my knees. The tidal wave of mud and rocks hit the trough, rocking me backwards, and then pushed it off its moorings. I screamed when the miner was swept off his feet. Reaching out, I grabbed for his hand—he lost his grip and vanished. A large boulder slammed into the trough and almost tipped me off my perch. I fought to keep my grip on the wooden edge...




Tuesday, October 29, 2013

People, stop washing your chicken! Ben Popken NBC News

I know this is a bit unusual to be blogging … but I felt it worth sharing … and it’s a nice change of pace.  I believe I’ll stop washing my chicken!  J  Rita
People, stop washing your chicken!Gross video may finally convince you
Ben PopkenNBC News
YouTube
Researchers developed an animation to show how washing chicken can unnecessarily cause food-borne pathogens to mist and spread.
     Stop washing your chicken. Not only is rinsing your poultry before you cook ineffective at killing germs, it can actually spread them, Drexel University researchers say.
     Via an animated "Germ-Vision" YouTube clip, the researchers show how the bacteria can ride on the misting water droplets, splattering the food-prep area in a 2-3 foot radius.
     "Washing doesn't sanitize," said Dr. Jennifer Quinlan, an associate professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences at Drexel University. She spearheaded the public awareness project on a grant from the USDA, which has for years advised against rinsing or soaking chicken prior to cooking.
     The water molecules carrying salmonella or campylobacter bacteria, two of the leading causes of food-borne illness, aren't visible to the naked eye. Even a trickle of water can give the pathogens a means of locomotion through a process known as "aerosolization."
     Instead, said Quinlan, just unwrap the chicken and stick it in the oven or on the grill. The only way to kill the bacteria is to cook the chicken thoroughly until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Health official advise following traditional procedures for avoiding cross-contamination as well.
     Despite the risk, 90 percent of the population washes their chicken before cooking it, according to a survey Quinlan conducted. The practice appears to have been passed down from generation to generation. During the study's focus groups, the most common reason for why consumers chose to douse their poultry was, "that's how I was taught to do it."
     Even Julia Child, and other big name cooks, have recommended it for years. "Just run the water right through it inside and out," said Child in an a clip from her old TV program 'The French Chef.' "I just think it's the safer thing to do."
     Sorry, Julia, it's just the opposite.
     "Once you introduce water, you start to give bacteria a way to move around," said Quinlan.
But the habit may be hard to break for cooks who firmly belief in the power giving their chicken a bath before the barbecue.
     "My response: try it once," said Quinlan. "Make your chicken without washing it once. If it doesn't taste any different, ask yourself, why are you washing it?"


Email Ben Popken ben.popken@nbcuni.com, or follow @bpopken or benpopkenwrites.com.

Monday, October 28, 2013

7 MUST-READ QUOTES ABOUT WRITING BY BRIAN KLEMS

November 30, 2011 | Brian A. Klems | Comments: 1
By now – you all know I’m an avid Brian Klems fan!  I love his writing … his blogging… and his vivid personality on the page!  In a November 30, 2011 blog he shared the 7 must-read quotes about writing.  I kept them – have hi-jacked them … and now wish to share them with you. (Of course I will always give the props to Mr. Klems!) J  Rita

I love quotes, especially ones about writing. They inspire me, invigorate me and, sometimes, put writing in perspective for me. Recently we posted The 90 Top Secrets of Bestselling Authors, filled with quotes from Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Nora Roberts, John Updike and more. All are amazing and worth a look. If you don’t have too much time to spare today, though, have no fear–I weeded through and pulled out the 7 best quotes that you should absolutely read. Here they are.
1. “Oftentimes an originator of new language forms is called ‘pretentious’ by jealous talents. But it ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it.”
—Jack Kerouac
2. “[The writer] has to be the kind of man who turns the world upside down and says, look, it looks different, doesn’t it?”
—Morris West
3.“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.”
—Harper Lee
4. “The only obligation any artist can have is to himself. His work means nothing, otherwise. It has no meaning.”
—Truman Capote
5.“In truth, I never consider the audience for whom I’m writing. I just write what I want to write.”
—J.K. Rowling
6.“Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.”
—Larry L. King
7.“I think I succeeded as a writer because I did not come out of an English department. I used to write in the chemistry department. And I wrote some good stuff. If I had been in the English department, the prof would have looked at my short stories, congratulated me on my talent, and then showed me how Joyce or Hemingway handled the same elements of the short story. The prof would have placed me in competition with the greatest writers of all time, and that would have ended my writing career.”
—Kurt Vonnegut
If you have some free time, I recommend checking out the full list of 90 quotes. They definitely will inspire you—and they also serve as excellent Facebook status updates.


Follow me on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Read my Dad blog:
TheLifeOfDad.com

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Just a Taste - Ginger Simpson

At forty-two and facing middle age, Olivia Wilson gets shocking news from her physician.
The extra fifty pounds she’s gained since her divorce has brought on sleep apnea, and now she
needs to wear some ugly apparatus at night to help her breathe. The clerk at the medical supply
store takes her breath completely away, but why in the world would someone as handsome as

Austin Reed date a fat, lonely woman who looks like Jacques Cousteau at night?

Excerpt:

“You want me to what?” Olivia Wilson stared at Doctor Ray. The paper on the examining
table crinkled with her shocked movement.

“A lot of people wear one and eventually get used to it.”

“But what if I don’t want to?” She eyed the contraption he dangled in the air that looked like
something he’d snatched from a scuba diver.

“If you’ll recall, when you agreed to the overnight study, we discussed sleep apnea which I
suspected causes your constant fatigue, and the tests prove me right. People who suffer from the
disorder often stop breathing for ten seconds or longer during sleep. The problem can be mild to
severe, based on the number of times each hour that you stop breathing or how often your lungs
don't get enough air. This may happen from five to fifty times an hour and can be fatal. Your
results fall within these parameters.”

“You mean I could die?” She swallowed hard.

“Possibly, unless you use the CPAP machine and wear this mask.” He extended his arm.
“Here, try it on.”

Olivia rolled her eyes. “Oh please, say it isn’t so. Aren’t I suffering enough by battling a
weight problem and facing middle age? Now you want me to don something that makes me look
alien.”

He chuckled. “I’m not asking you to wear it twenty-four hours a day—only at night.”

“Great!” She clenched her teeth. “I’m forty-two, single, trying to find a man without any
help from Victoria’s Secret because nothing she makes fits me, and now I’m supposed to wear a
snorkel at night and be connected to a little machine that blows air up my nose. Grand, just
grand.”

Doctor Ray grasped her shoulder. “Livie, I’ve known you most of your life. I wouldn’t
suggest something unless I really believed you needed it. As long as you carry that extra fifty
pounds around, you’re going to have to use this machine at night, and that’s a fact.”

She’d been coming to this same office for years. Despite the archaic colors on the walls and
floor tile and the outdated equipment, her implicit faith in Doctor Ray hadn’t dimmed.

Masked Love and my other short stories are available at Muse It Up Publishing in assorted downloadable formats and a reduced price.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Round Robin Blog with Ginger #RndRobn1013

Welcome to October.  Rhobin Courtright provides us with the fodder and we provide the blog, and this month's, of course, has to do with the more mystifying side of life...or the side some of us consider just plain "scary."

This month's topic:  Paranormal themes run rampant through fiction across many genres.
Are you a believer in the paranormal or a skeptic? Have you ever experienced (or known someone who had) a paranormal experience?

 Funny she should ask, because I have.  Although I haven't really crossed into the genre, per se, I have a couple of time-travels that hints at things paranormal.  Now that I think of it, both of my novels play with people from the old west era who get caught in some type of time-travel warp that brings them to the modern day and all the wonders we take for granted.

 In my first time-travel, "Time Tantrums," my pioneer wife exchanges places with a modern-day attorney (female) who is just as stunned to find herself without all her appliances and make-up, and can't fathom why the man who believes her to be his wife doesn't understand simple terms like "Lexus, Cell Phone, taxi, and mascara." 

Although I haven't been swept into a different time period, I have had a few experiences I can't explain.  After my grandmother passed, I was staying with my Mom and went from upstairs to down and walked through a cloud of Bengay, which was Granny's favorite cologne. *smile*.  I called up to my mother and asked her what she was putting the pain cream on and she didn't understand what the heck I meant.  I decided sharing the "cloud"was Granny's way of letting us know she was still with us and was okay.

After my father passed away in the home he and my mother shared, my mother eventually sold the home and moved.  The woman who purchased the home knew in great detail despite never being told in which room Dad passed, where he sat and ate breakfast, even which side of the bed he slept on in the bedroom.  She claimed he was still in the house and the places she sensed him were always ice cold.  She was always accurate.  I just can't believe after so many years of being married to my mom that Dad would live with another woman.  I'm not sure how long he stayed, but it would be just
 like him to be stubborn enough to remain in a home he warned my mom never to sell.

My sister has recently been in touch with a 'medium' and through her, my sis learned that Dad is no longer with Wanda, the homeowner, and now he seems to keep a good eye on what's happening in my sister's life.  He sure has been a busy guy since he left us.

Well, that's enough of my paranormal experiences....let me share an excerpt from Time-Tantrums and see what you think:

Taylor’s head pounded with pain. Trying to focus, she opened her eyes and blinked a few times, then propped herself up on her elbows. Everything looked foreign. The room was bright and cheery, but things appeared very old fashioned. She fingered the patchwork quilt covering the bed, and puzzled over the antique mirror hanging above an old-time washbowl and pitcher across the room. An incessant ache throbbed in her temple. 

Where was she? What’d happened to her? A zillion questions raced through her mind. 

“David!” Her call for her husband resonated pain in her head. “Where are you?” 

She slid off the bed. Her legs wavered beneath her, and she clung to the bedpost for a time. After regaining her equilibrium, she weaved across the room and peered into the mirror. A massive bandage covered the top her head; black circles ringed her swollen eyes. She didn’t recognize herself. 

“Boy, I look like hell,” she muttered

As she raised her hand to touch the bandage, the door behind her opened, and she spied the reflection of an unknown man. 

“Mariah, sweetheart. You’re finally awake.” He crossed the room with open arms. 

Taylor spun and faced him. Feeling disoriented, she shook her head. “You have the wrong room, sir.” 

His brows arched. “Mariah, what are you talking about? What wrong room?” 

“Look fella, I’m not Mariah. Evidently you’re in the wrong place if you are looking for someone by that name.” 

The stranger rushed over and took her in his arms. “Oh my sweet angel, the bump on your head is worse than Doc Samuels thought.” 

Taylor shoved him away. “Take your hands off me. Who is Doc Samuels, and who in the hell are you?” 

Suddenly, the room spun. Her stomach turned queasy. Needing to sit, she staggered back to the bed, her gaze still assessing the stranger. 

“I’m Frank… your husband.” He followed her, his head cocked, his eyes clouded in confusion. 
She swallowed. “Excuse me? My husband’s name is David... David Morgan. I don’t know who you are, mister, but you must be the one who bumped your head if you think I’m your wife.” 

“Well, if you aren’t, then just who might you be?” 

“Taylor Morgan. I live in Denver. Can you please tell me where I am?” 

“You’re in Colorado, about two hours from Denver City. Don’t you remember?” 

“Two hours? How in the hell did I get here?” 

Frank’s eyes widened. “When did you start cussin'?” 

“Don’t worry about it, just answer me. How did I get here?” Her last nerve frayed, and he plucked at it. 

“Don’t you recall? We were going to town in the wagon—”  

“Wagon? What the hell would I be doing in a station wagon?” 

Frank took a deep breath. “I ain't got a clue 'bout no station wagon, but we were going to town, and Jacob needed to pee. I think he disturbed some rattlesnakes and they spooked the horses... Sound familiar?” 

Taylor’s mind raced. Who was this loony? “Who is Jacob? Wagon? What horses? I don’t know what you’re talking about. Frank... is it? Look, Frank, I have an idea. Why don’t you just call me a cab and I’ll get out of your way.” 


She looked down at the tacky nightgown she wore and wondered who had removed her clothing. 

Tugging at the sack-like shift, she let out an exasperated huff. “If you’ll just retrieve my things, I’ll get dressed and be ready to go when the taxi gets here.”

******

For your next stop...hop on over to Beverley Bateman's blog and see what she has to say about the paranormal experience.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

YOU DEFINE YOUR SUCCESS? BY RITA KARNOPP

Ask yourself this question; is someone who has written one book a success?  Do you judge a one-book author the same as say someone who has written ten or more books?  Why? 

You see, each of us defines success a bit differently.  Some pre-judge and insist an author is only successful if they hit the ‘New York Best Selling List.’  Others feel that a one book release, with their name on it, solidifies them a success.  They reached their goal in life, and are proud and happy.

Others look at the dollar value.  If you don’t make triple digits, you’re not very successful.  Well, who is to say?  What gives us the right to even press our values on others?

There are countless ways to define or measure success.  The only important one is how you define ‘your’ success.  This isn’t always easy because writers know once they finish a book, they have another to write.  We don’t just say I’m writing five books and then I’m done.  You could – but would you?  I know I can’t. 

Let me be honest – I’ve considered giving up writing.  Yep.  No more self-imposed deadlines.  No more missing the sunny day on the deck because I’m in my office writing.  No more pressure to become witty or clever.  I could take my life back and just relax every evening in front of the TV or with a book in my hands.

Yep – that would be something.  Or would it?  I’ve told my husband, a time or two, I plan to quit writing and he always comes back with the comment, “You’re happiest when you’re writing.”  As annoyed as I am that he isn’t supporting my new way of thinking – freedom from the rigors and demands of writing while working full-time - I know he’s right.  No woman likes her husband to be ‘right.’

Personally, we writers don’t have a choice to stop.  Even when we convince ourselves we’ve written our last book, those stories still keep hunting our minds.  We try pushing them away – but they won’t listen.  We get re-inspired and we decide, okay, just one more book.

So, does this scenario say I’m a success . . . or just not yet?  It’s up to me!  I feel very successful.  I’ve just finished book fifteen.  My original goal was to see my name on the cover of ‘a’ book!  Book after book I feel the pride of reaching new goals and whether I make ten dollars or ten thousand, for me it’s about telling the story.  Money doesn’t define me – my stories do.



That doesn’t mean I’ll quit any time soon.  I have more ideas than time to write.  I’m looking forward to retiring and writing full-time.  More goals – new levels of success.  It boils down to feeling proud and successful with my choices.  I know I’ve worked hard to get where I’m at in my writing career.  Am I successful?  Hell yes!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Page Straight From... #apagestraightfrom


Royalist Rebel by Anita Seymour

 ‘The Collector has soldiers with him.’ Cousin Henderson's voice halts me. 
I can hardly breathe as my gaze darts to the corridor from which come purposeful male voices, followed by heavy footsteps. Doors open and close, accompanied by shouts.
Her eyes bore into mine, and I know I must not appear weak. ‘Come with me?’ I ask through a dry throat.
Her skin flushes, but at her nod, I sweep from the room before I can summon a reason not to. 
The man in the hall paces from the front door to the marble mantel and back again, tapping his thigh in an irregular rhythm with his whip. He looks impatient. Does he have other families to terrorise today? Or am I keeping him from a good meal? Not that he appears to need it. His black coat is stretched to its limits across bulky shoulders, and drops to massive knees encased in brown stockings that resemble tree trunks. 
The face below sandy-coloured and thinning hair is exactly what I would expect on such a bloated frame, its features obscured by too much flesh. A misshapen nose above flabby bee-stung lips that sit clumsily above triple chins. 
His eyes narrow when he sees me, almost disappearing into the folds of his cheeks, but his comical appearance does nothing to lessen the rapid beating of my heart. He may be a travesty of a man, but he could hold my future in his hands.
‘Mistress Catherine Murray?’ His voice is scratchy and uncertain. More folds of skin appear on his forehead as he looks Cousin Henderson over, only to dismiss her and settle his gaze on me. He is still not satisfied.
‘I am Mistress Elizabeth Murray.’ I fold my hands before me, my gaze steady, though my voice is higher than I wish. ‘My mother will be with you shortly.’ Heavy footsteps traverse the ceiling and I clench my jaw. ‘May I ask why your men wander at will around my house?’
‘Your house?’ He wipes his bulbous nose on the turned back cuff of his coat, and then clears his throat with a wet cough. ‘Not for much longer, Mistress.’ 
Cousin Henderson gives a sharp gasp, and I swing round in time to see her wrest a silver candlestick from the hands of a soldier who stands behind us. 
The miscreant looks to be no more than a boy. Cousin Henderson’s hard look cows him enough to make him scurry, shame-faced, behind his comrade. My cousin returns the candlestick to the table with measured calm as if she had simply been dusting it.
There is still no sign of Mother. 
‘You have documents to justify your insolence?’ I say, and hold out a hand that trembles, so I drop it again.
His brows lift into a low hairline, which gives him a moronic look. How does such a man elevate to a position of trust and responsibility? I would not employ him to feed my sows. He looks positively dull-witted. 
At last, the Collector withdraws a sheaf of documents from his coat and hands them to me. To what avail I do not know, but I play for time, reading the words slowly. My hands shake so much, I cannot hold the page still, and the words jump and blur against the white paper.
‘You have ten days’ notice of possession,’ the Collector says, growing impatient. 
He has yet to give me his name. 
My head jerks upwards in shock. ‘Ten days?’ The parchment slips from my fingers and Cousin Henderson rescues it from falling to the floor. ‘We cannot pack our things and be away from here in so short a time. You cannot do this!’ Panic lends urgency to my voice. 
A flash of uncertainty enters the Collector’s face, but is instantly gone. ‘I only deliver the orders, Mistress. I do not make them.’ He reverts to the adage of all dullards who excuse their outrages as the orders of another.
Cousin Henderson’s lips move as she scans the page. ‘No, wait, Elizabeth.’ Her hand closes on my forearm. ‘It says here their final decision to sequester the entire estate will be made in ten days. Not seized.’
Relief floods through me, followed by fury, and I whip round to face the Collector.
‘Is this a joke, you imbecile? Have you been sent here to torment us?’ I snatch the paper from my cousin’s grasp and wave it under his porcine face. ‘You bring your rabble of soldiers to rampage through my house with no more authority than that a decision is yet to be made?’
The man steps back in alarm, and behind him, the boy-soldier sniggers.
Contempt escalates my rage, though I am aware this is only a reprieve. How can I tell Mother she must pack her belongings and seek shelter amongst our friends? And what friends? Ten days! It is not long enough. What can we do in so short a time?
The Collector’s face twists in contempt. ‘I do not write the orders, Madam. I merely serve them. And you have been served.’
Anger seethes beneath my skin like a fever, and untouched by this implied threat, I turn to face the Collector again. ‘You have done your duty and delivered your document, now you and your men may leave. Immediately.’



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I COULD LEARN SOMETHING FROM THAT by Rita Karnopp

After I finish a riveting read I’ve often found myself asking, “Why didn’t I write that book.”  Or after watching an extremely different and exciting movie I’ve asked, “Why didn’t I write that?” (The Hunger Games)  What was so special that this book/movie grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let me go?
I don’t know what took me so long, but the truth is – I could learn something from this.  What, you say?

A writer is only as good as his/her last book.  We all agree with that.  I even read an article where Dean Koontz said, “I’m always learning, trying to perfect my craft.”  Whoa . . . his writing is sooooo good!  I think he’s right.  We should constantly ask ourselves, “How could I have made that book better?”

I’m not really envious of all the great stuff out there, but I do want to believe my books are every bit as good – or better.  We must have confidence and believe in our books.  Example; I was at a training with fellow employees and of course during the lunch hour we mingled with the attendees.  One of those attendees mentioned she loved one of my books and we started discussing writing, etc.  My fellow employee also had a book on the market, and I mentioned he was published.  The first words out of his mouth were, “I self-published and the subject matter is dark – so don’t read my book.”

I’m in shock here!  Say what?  Don’t read my book???  Dang, why write it if you don’t want anyone to read it?  Come to find out he wants to re-work the book and republish it.  Say what?  Again . . . I’m so lost here.  He’s now working on a prequel to this first book – that will make people want to read the book.  Is anyone as confused as me?

I mention this because we first of all should be proud of our work.  Never . . . never . . . never submit or publish a book you know is not your best work.  Period. 

Second, have a plan and goals, and be professional.  It would be like writing a trilogy, but giving you book three first.  It just doesn’t work.  The expression ‘shooting yourself in the foot’ truly applies.


We need to learn the market of writing.  Study successful authors.  Make a plan and set goals.  Be aware what is working on the marketplace and what isn’t.  Study. . . study . . . study the craft of writing.  If a particular book has you gripped in suspense, study it . . . why is it working so well?  Never stop asking yourself how can my book be better?  Always be willing to say, “I could learn something from that.”


Monday, October 21, 2013

ATONEMENT - free at Amazon.com today

Atonement 

Murder and revenge collide as a vicious serial killer stalks and escalates in the preparation of one sinner at a time for atonement. His routine takes an unexpected turn when he falls in love with the last woman on his list.

When a string of women turn up dead, all incriminating evidence points to Carter Thompson, a pathologist with a reputation for solving crimes, that is until his wife is brutally murdered. For years his life revolves around making sense of the serial killer’s deranged plan. Carter is determined to uncover who and why he has become linked to this killer’s gruesome handiwork. He teams up with the one woman he hurt and still loves. Through it all he manages to uncover a convoluted plot of jealousy and delusion.

Native American Studies Professor, Angelene Jensen's orderly life is shattered when her sister is brutally murdered. Determined to make the killer pay, she makes decisions that propel her closer to the man who left her standing at the altar, and a chilling killer. Are they the same person? Had her sister uncovered evidence revealing this killer? Did it get her killed?
"I love a jolting suspense and Atonement is a nail-biting, air-gasping page-turner. An avid reader of thrilling suspense, I found Rita Karnopp's ability to take me into the mind of the serial killer totally suspended my disbelief. I struggled to put the book down. She's turned it up a notch with this one and it's my favorite of her books – so far." ~ Diane Davis ~ Davis Creative Media


http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008DL2R22

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