Thursday, March 31, 2016

Check out Saving Marina by Lauri Robinson. FREE COPY TO COMMENTER #historical

My latest release isn’t a western—it’s set during the Salem Witch Trials. Saving Marina was released on February 1st.

Seduced in Salem 
Sea captain Richard Tarr must claim his child after the death of his estranged wife. Arriving in Salem, he's shocked to discover his daughter is in the care of Marina Lindqvist—a rumored witch!  

This beautiful, gentle woman awakens unfamiliar feelings in Richard. And as the threat from the Salem witch hunters grows, he knows he must protect misunderstood Marina at all costs. Little does he know that with Marina helping him bond with his little girl, she might just be saving him right back…

‘Bewitched’ was one of my favorite shows growing up, and I’d heard my grandmother mention there were witches in our family way back when, but hadn’t thought about it for years, until my son was exploring Ancestry.com and told me that my eight times great grandmother was arrested as a witch during the Salem Witch Trials. When I mentioned that to my editor, she asked if I was interested in writing a story based then and I instantly agreed.

There are many theories behind the witch trials. Some I read amazed me, others were staggering, and then there are those that, although incredulous, seem understandable considering the time period and the beliefs and ways of life back then. 

My ancestor’s name was Elizabeth Dicer, and though I dug up as much material on her as I could, there isn’t much. It seems she was arrested after accusing several others of being a witch—which wasn’t uncommon. From my understanding, it was late in the year when she was imprisoned, and cold. Her son-in-law, whose name was Richard Tarr, (my paternal grandmother’s maiden name was Tarr, and Richard would have been her several times great grandfather) petitioned the courts to release not only Elizabeth, but several others because they would never survive the cold winter in the jail which had no heat. Just the previous month, The Court of Oyer and Terminer, which had been specifically created to try accused witches, had been overturned, or dissolved, by the Superior Court of Judicature which specifically outlawed the use of spectral evidence in any of the hearings. Richard obtained Elizabeth’s release by paying her bail and promising to return her to the courts for a set upon hearing date the following spring. Between the date of her release and trail date, additional changes and orders came about which led to the end of the accusations and trails, therefore Elizabeth, as well as several others, never needed to return. A few years later, monetary reparations and public apologies were granted to some families for false proof and wrongful deaths.

Although I used my family history and Richard Tarr’s name in my story, I did not use Elizabeth’s premise. Marina, my heroine, has her own reason for believing she is a witch. 

I certainly enjoyed writing a story set during the Salem Witch Trial, and had lots of fun writing a series set during the Roaring Twenties, but westerns will always remain my favorites. Both to read and write. I’m excited to share I’ll have three of those released in 2016. April will bring Western Spring Weddings, and anthology including my story, When a Cowboy Says I Do. June will bring Her Cheyenne Warrior. My November title is yet to be determined, but is a Christmas tale set in Colorado.

So…is there an old wives tale in your family that has proven true?

Note from Ginger:  Lauri has graciously offered a free PDF or EPub version of her book to one lucky person drawn from those who leave comments.  I will draw a name on Wednesday of next week.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Masculine Behavior for Believable Heroes (Part 1) by Connie Vines

I am reposting my my two-part series from March for your enjoyment

“Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” Professor Henry Higgins asked plaintively in My Fair Lady. He was dealing with a much different time and social system, but the question is still being asked, along with its counterpart: Why can’t a man be more like a woman?



The question itself is enlightening. Henry Higgins was correct; there are differences between men and women. And he fell into the same trap most humans do – we expect members of the opposite sex to react in the same way we would. Our way feels like the natural way –the right way.  Most of the time we don’t even realize that there’s another way to react, totally different but equally valid.

This is why writers sometime get into trouble when we create characters of the opposite sex.  We show them talking, thinking and behaving the way we would when faced with the same situation.
If a female writer’s male characters think, act, and talk in a feminine way, her audience will be turned off—even if they don’t understand why they’re dissatisfied.  The same is true if a male writer’s female characters don’t think or act or talk like real; women.

Of course, gender-different behaviors are tendencies rather than firm laws.  Also, each individual’s actions are influenced by upbringing, profession, life experience and interests.

However, there are certain traits, which most men and most women show.

In other words, if you understand the reason why most men hesitate to ask for directions, then you can make your male character much more convincing when he does.

Men see life in Competitive Terms; Woman see in Cooperative Terms.

Men tend to see life as a competition where every action puts them in either a one-up or one-down position.  Since they want to win, they will try to avoid ending up in the one-down position.

Women tend to see life as a cooperation.
The idea of one-up or one-down is much less likely to occur to a woman.

Men systematically try to figure things out on their own, or they adapt a wait-and-see policy, rather than ask for assistance.  They don’t want to admit they can ‘t figure out.

Even when they ask for assistance, it’s usually not a clear request.  He invites the other person to offer advice or assistance without really asking for it. A man will often state something as fact, even if he’s not absolutely sure, rather than appear uncertain or ignorant.

Men Focus on Action; Women Focus on Emotion.

Men’s relationships are held together by activities.  Men get together to do something (play cards, golf, go to a game).

Women’s relationships are held together by talk.  Women get together to chat (even if they have an agenda, the main reason for the gathering is to talk).

Women like to ‘just talk’. They see conversation as way to develop harmony and get to know someone.

Men do not like to ‘just talk’. They see conversation as a way to relay information, to show independence, and to illustrate status.  Their conversations ten to brief, and focused on concrete issues and events.

Drop by next Thursday—or on Monday, if I complete my article over the weekend.  Body language, feelings, and a character check list.

Remember to visit my website, too, for Twitter feeds, Pinterest, and guest blog appearances.

Connie








Monday, March 28, 2016

Constant Reader


 
 
As a kid, I read to escape a less than ideal reality. I read behind sofas, in closets with a flashlight, under the covers with flashlight, in tents at the summer camps to which I was sent. I wasn't choosy as I am now. I read everything--even the otherwise  forbidden comic books on rainy days at camp. I was amused and thrilled, too, when I discovered how much Marvel had ripped off from Greek mythology and from the thousand page book called Fairy Tales of All Lands which I had plowed my way through during my bout with the German Measles. Later,  my parents assured me that I had "ruined my eyes" by doing so--along with all that "reading in the dark"--although, the fact was my father couldn't see his hand in front of his face without his glasses. Heredity probably had more to do with my nearsightedness.
 
 


I read in corners of bars, out of the way of the staff and the feet of patrons, in the West Indies, where my mother went for her health during the winter. I fished books out of wastebaskets in the sitting room of the Hotel St. Lawrence, which has probably fallen into the sea by now, or been replaced by a mega-story Sheraton. That was how I found The Tales of Hoffmann, The Daughter of Time, and many books by Georgette Heyer, mother of the fan fic Jane Austen, and Jean Plaidy, who wrote many, many historicals, which even at thirteen I found rather dull, but read because they were historical. There were also books which scared me to death, like Something of Value, full of race hatred, murder and torture. (Don’t think ETA Hoffmann didn’t scare me, too. I was as frightened by the idea of a young woman who would die if she sang, as I was by the real-life Mau-Mau.)

 
We had one used book store in my small home town with a grumpy old proprietor and his even grumpier fat old gray cat, who mauled me every time I tried to pet him. Despite the efforts of both owner and his cat to discourage me, I haunted the place, poking through the shelves, sitting on the bare boards and reading. I found Victorian and Edwardian novels. Their slow pace, elegant descriptive paragraphs and carefully crafted world creation drew me down like quick sand.
 
 
 
My parents both brought their childhood libraries with them, and I read Tom Swift and An Indian Boyhood by Charles Eastman which belonged to my father. The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley and Kidnapped  and all those Twin books (Colonial Twins, Scotch Twins, Cave Twins ad infinitum) which had belonged to my mother.

 
I still read in the bathtub. Did you know you can take an e-reader into the tub if you plastic bag and seal it? A long time ago, I had a Rocket with a back light, so I've continued the practice of reading while others sleep. I like to read at night, which I do more and more as I grow older. It's a perfect time, quiet, and with no interruptions except for the cats, who can still drop their fannies unerringly upon the one paragraph I'm trying to get through. Still, a cat in lap, a cup of chamomile tea and a good book in hand are just about perfection.


In the '90's, with my sweet Hammie

Thanks so much, Ginger, for hosting me on Dishin' It Out, and, from my Possum Tracks blog,  on your Sunday Snippets & Stuff blog.  Maybe we'll all work together again, us BWL writers. In the meantime:

Onward, Into the Fog!


~~Juliet Waldron

https://www.facebook.com/jwhistfic
http://yesterrdayrevisitedhere.blogspot.com/


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Sunday Snips & Stuff #sundaysnips

Today, I'm doing a cover reveal for my upcoming novel, Sarah's Hope.  The manuscript is currently with editors, and I'm hoping they don't find much since I had my beta reader, Diane Scott Lewis go through it.  She made some wonderful suggestions and I believe I'm officially the queen of missing closed quotes.  *lol*

I'm currently working on another historical western, and I'm really excited about it.  Desperation's Bride is due to be finished sometime this year.

In the meantime, check out Sarah's Hope and Passion.  Although Sarah's Hope is a stand alone novel, it always helps to know backstory and there's a lot to read in the preceding book.

So...here are two beautiful covers.  I'm just sorry the girls don't look one and the same, because they are...at least in my mind.

TA DA!!!!!


Now, if you don't mind....hop on over to the following blogs and see what's being offered up this week.  Don't forget to come back next week.




http://connievines.blogspot.com (Connie Vines)
http://yesterrdayrevisitedhere.blogspot.com/ (Juliet Waldron) 
 http://triciamg.blogspot.com (Tricia McGill)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

How Plotting and Pedicures Can Work for You by Connie Vines

We've all heard it said that writing is a solitary art.  Is that why we find ourselves creating such deep bonds with other writers who share our passion/obsession?  For whatever the reason, my closest friends are fellow writers.  In fact, we're not so much friends as soul mates caught up on a similar life journey.

While many of my writing friends are cyber friends, conference friends, and RWA Chapters friends, I am fortunate to have several local friends.  One of which I have know since my salad-days when I served on the board of the Pomona Valley Writers' Association.

Several years ago the three of us decided to take a brain-storming retreat in order to take our writing and careers a step further.  We also wanted to reward ourselves for hard-won accomplishments, to to celebrate our successes.

I kept a journal of what went on.  I can't say the structure (or lack there of) will work for every critique group, or circle of writing friends, but it worked for us.

Creating your own Writing Getaway.

  • Divide up the duties.  The location, schedule, food, and spa, All  require planning.  There were three of us.  We each emailed each other with update and choices.
  • Secure the location.  The room needs to be large enough but must also fit everyone's budget.
  • Rough-out a schedule.  One person should be a time keeper.  We worked in two-hour increments with breaks in between.  That way we could focus on one person's story.  This helped because discussions can become rather tense and we needed a break.
  • Parameters and Goals. Everyone should state what she/he needs to come away with.  There will be homework.  I plot using The Writer's Journey, Pam is a GMC devotee, and Bev is a seat-of -your-pants writer.  Of course there were empty spaces in our plots but we all had the Beginning, Middle, and End sort-of figured out.
  • Be honest--not brutal.  
  • Enjoy.  Life is all about the journey.
So were did we meet up?  Since we all live in southern California, we took a discount flight to San Francisco (an hour away) and stayed in a quaint little hotel down town.  We were able to walk a couple of miles to a cafe with great local fair (minus the tourist prices).  The next morning, hopped a cable car to the Fisherman's Wharf to gain some some plotting time while view the bay. 











Our weekend was the most rewarding getaway I've done for myself since I sold my first novel.  I recommend a retreat to anyone who can find the time.  You don't need to fly to get there.  Though I am not an enthusiastic camper, I can pitch a tent and unwillingly sleep on the ground.  Or, book a room at a local bed and breakfast during off season.



End result?  We each finished the plotting out our novels and had a good working knowledge of our characters quirks and goals.  And a deeper friendship too.

Happy Writing & Reading!

Connie  

The Franciscan--our final night in town.
Remember, I'm not a 'camping' kinda girl :-).








Monday, March 21, 2016

THE GOOD OLD DAYS ~~ NOT SO MUCH



One thing I’ve learned through my study of history is that times were tough in the past. We’re such softies, us 21st century Americans! (Maybe that’s why all these “reality” shows are so popular.)  We really don't have a lot of contact with our environment—unless we are campers or hunters—and maybe, with our 4 season camping equipment and our RVs, not even then. There have been so many improvements in textiles—from Polartec© to Cordura© and Kevlar© -- as new methods of fabric production arrive and are marketed to the out-of-door minded—that it takes someone who has lived through the transition to remember.
 Personally, I remember wet wool and frozen fingers inside frozen mittens, and so many stiff heavy garments in snow season, that, like Ralphie’s little brother in A Christmas Story, I could fall down and then be darn near unable to get back on my feet again because I couldn't bend. Plastic pants to be worn over diapers--before disposables--arrived during my childhood, but I still remember holding a friend's little brother on my lap who wasn't wearing those "new-fangled" things and the inevitable which soon followed. Oh, and nobody offered me a clean pair of jeans, either. It was summer, after all, and I'd soon dry out playing  in their yard.  As an only child, this "anointing" was a new experience, but hey, when in Rome...I didn't complain.
 
Baby wearing knit "soakers" 1945

Get into those old B&W movies and you’ll have another sort of glimpse into the past. For instance, I’ve always wanted to sit down and spend time with a class room full of kids while watching something ancient, like the Our Gang comedies, especially the silent ones, made in the early twenties. Here, you’ll see kids in cut down, rolled up adult clothing because “children’s clothing” was only for the rich.  These movies also show old time remedies—goose grease for a sore throat--and a world in which kids could jump up on a handy mule and ride downtown along dirt streets. It's a place where for comic effect, you can wipe whipped cream from a pie on a dog's face and then have a laugh while the adults run because they think the poor creature's got rabies. Some of the kid’s escapades are likely, others not so much, but those broken down sheds and holes-in-the-plaster walls of run-down houses with no screens and open windows, those wash tubs in the back yard and chases that involve chickens, show us a world that our shiny suburbs with their manicured lawns have replaced.
And here's the saddest part of the past, in the days before women had competent health care and the ability to get their health back before embarking upon another pregnancy--this is something you can find in any old cemetery. The adult gravestones that went with these three "infant" graves had been broken down, eroded by time, but the mother is usually right beside them. The little lamb, is quite old. Again, the names and those on the tombstones nearby, too, are washed away, but the innocent figure remains.

I wonder what melancholy tales are attached to these, all found in the oldest part of a local cemetery, in a place/time where English was not yet widely spoken, and where "born and died" was still "geboren und gestorben." Frau Mozart in Mozart's Wife, buried four of her six babies before they were a year old. When I wrote that story, I found myself thinking long and hard about what she must have suffered. 
 


 
~~Juliet Waldron
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B004HIX4GS
 

 

I failed miserably - Ginger Simpson



I admit it....I failed at staying off FB.  I actually deactivated my first page, started a new one, being more selective in my friends, and promised not to be political..I lied.  So, I deactivated my second page and tried to wile away my time doing other things  With two other people in the house on FB, asking me if I saw such and such, I pirated my mother's FB and masqueraded as her in order to spy on the posts.  I actually even left a few comments in my mother's name...until my brother mentioned that whoever hacked his mother's page should find her own.  Can you spell G-U-I-L-T?

So...I miss interacting with my friends and being me,  so I'm back.  I've decided I will comment only on posts that are non-political, and even when I share political posts or Memes from others, I won't comment.  I've decided that's the best I can do to avoid arguing my viewpoint.  I'm saving POV issues for my current work-in-progress.

All in all, it's my page and the opinions I express are my own, and I'm not looking for agreement, so if I tick you off....see ya.  :)


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Sunday Snips & Stuff #snipsandstuff



Today, I'm confessing.  It took a lot of courage, but I removed myself from Facebook. I was starting to feel like I needed a twelve-step program.  Why you ask?  You probably didn't, because you already know I can't keep my political opinions to myself.

  When I was younger, I didn't really pay much attention to politics, and I'm sure someone like Bernie would've grabbed my attention with all his claims of free stuff.  As one grows older, political viewpoints become important, especially if you aren't satisfied with the manner in which the future of our country is headed.  See...I told you.  Even in my disclaimer, I still managed to insert my viewpoint.  Sorry about that.  It's an illness I'm trying to overcome.

So...to cut to the chase, as the saying goes, I've decided to find another way to occupy my days and nights.  FB has become a giant time-suck that lured me into unintended squabbles, ,made my blood pressure rise when I couldn't get someone I continued misguided to see the light, and was my only excuse for lots of time wasted.

Maybe after the election is over, I will return as a more contented person, or I'll come back to keep from committing suicide over the choice of the POTUS.  Anyhow...I'm still out here, but you just won't find me on FB.  I'm wasting time doing something else because I'm retired and I can.

Now....please visit my friends and see if they have better self-control than I do.  *lol*





If Tricia isn't participating, it's because she has an ailing sister at the moment.  Prayers welcome!

Hope to see you again next week.
 , 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Important Tips to Writing a Good Novel #writingtips

There are certain ingredients a writer should use in order the achieve the elements of good writing.  Here, through the grace of Cheryl St. John, I'm sharing  few:


  • CONFLICT - INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL


Use internal narrative to trigger emotions that make your character memorable, but know that some people prefer  text instead of italics.  If using internal thoughts, limit your italics.  What your character contemplates defines him/her as a person, making him/her either sympathetic or not.  Think carefully before you decide because everything in your character's brain will determine how your reader perceives him/her to be.  If you prefer, you can demonstrate conflict by personality.  Does he/she like to fight, argue, is the person fair in dealing, honest, dishonest.  You decide, but remember, most leopards don't change their spots.


  • CARING


The reader has to care about your story in order to make it past the first chapters.  Remember, perfect and uneventful lives are boring.

How do you make the reader care:  Begin your story with a hook, and spoon feed the character's backstory a little at a time.  DON'T cram too much backstory into the beginning of the book and bore your reader to death. UNRAVEL the backstory an inch at a time.   Make your reader want to know more about your character by hinting at things...in other words, taunt, tease and tantalize.


  • DEFINE YOUR CHARACTERS


Make your characters real and believable.  Insecurities are part of life, and most readers appreciate being able to identify with your hero/heroine.


  • USE EMOTIONS


Tigger emotions.  No one sees an Amber Alert and doesn't wonder how the parents must be feeling.
Cheryl uses Method Writing, which puts her readers in the leads shoes.  She gives her characters goals, fleshes out the people about whom she writes, and makes them real.  She becomes them to know how they feel or react.

********************************************

Next installment, we'll talk about the middle of the book and the importance of keeping up the pace, writing style, and fulfilling your goals.

Don't forget, if you can't take a class, Cheryl has made all her knowledge on writing with Conflict, Tension and Emotion available in her book.
 http://amzn.com/B00G8OIFYU








Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day! By Connie Vines

"The first recorded St. Patrick's Day parade was held not in Ireland but in New York City in 1762, and with the dramatic increase of Irish immigrants to the United States in the mid-19th century, the March 17th celebration became widespread."

Since everyone visiting ' Dishin' it Out' today, has general knowledge of the celebration, I thought I'd share my often baked soda bread recipe.  I serve the bread warm and search slice is smeared with Irish butter and a dollop of orange marmalade.

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons caraway seeds
1teaspoon baking soda
1teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Directions:

1.Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit
2. Mix flour, caraway seeds, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
3. Mix buttermilk and stir until large minister clumps form.
4. Gather dough into a large ball and lightly flour outside.  Place dough into a ball and kneed until dough becomes smooth and hold a together.
5. Roll into a large ball and lightly flour the outside.  
6.Place the dough ball in a non-stick baking sheet and shape into a 6-inch diameter ny 2-inch tall mound.
7.Cut a 1-inch deep X across the top, extending the edges.
8. Bake approximately 35 minutes, until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
9.Remove from the baking sheet and allow to cool completely.
10.Cut into 8 wedges.



Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Deep Point of View as taught by Cheryl St. John #writingtips

Today, I'm continuing with more information I gleaned from an on-line class I took from Cheryl St. John.

The term "Deep POV" confuses many writers..I know it did me.  First of all, when you write, you don't want to intrude into the story with words that remind the reader they aren't experiencing everything first hand.  If you are deep into a point of view, the person engaged in your work, will know who is thinking, seeing, feeling, etc.

A few terms that jerk the reader out of the narrative are:

He/she thought

She/he wondered

He/she believed

He/she realized

He/she remembered

His/her thoughts wandered to...

He/she thought to himself (who else would your character think to?)


Another thing that many find distracting is he use of italics which indicates internal narrative.  Often these can be done as plain text and the general rule is to use them sparingly, if at all.

Cheryl St. John provided her class with a great example of how a paragraph can be improved.  What do you think?

He wondered where she'd hidden the deed to the house.  He believed it was probably hidden in that old trunk upstairs.  Travis saw several photographs on the table as he passed through the kitchen and he picked one up.  It was a picture of the two of them, taken the summer they'd rented the house on the lake.  She was smiling at him the way she used to.

Better?

Where the hell had she stashed the deed?  Lydia's predicability was one of the things he'd always loved about her.  She kept everything from old cancelled checks to her birth certificate in that trunk upstairs.  On his way through the dining room, a scattered pile of photos captured his attention.  The one on top was most recognizable, even as he held it to the late afternoon light slanting through the blinds.  That summer they'd spent at the lake had been one of the best times of his life.  Back then they'd still smiled at each other like silly teenagers, still held hands on the beach...still had dreams.

(Notice writing the paragraph like this also increased you word count?)

Note from me:  I'm annoyed by the use of "it" because I often have to read back in the story to discover again what "it" is supposed to be.  I prefer hard nouns rather than the pronoun, but that's just me.

I would have written He believed it was probably hidden...as The paper was probably hidden in that old trunk upstairs, and It was a picture, would become:  He picked up one of him and Lydia, taken in the summer they'd rented the house on the lake.

More to come from Cheryl St. John's awesome book:

 http://amzn.com/1599637588












Monday, March 14, 2016

Girl Scout Cookies


(Dishin’ It Out—Ginger’s title for this blog—keeps me talking about food. You’d think I was on a diet or something, the number of times I’ve blogged about food lately. While it's past time for a diet, I’m too much in the “Garfield” frame of mind. The chubby cartoon cat explained that “'Diet' is just
'Die' with a T.” For this story, though, the cookies are just the lead in.)
 

Riding my clunky step-through “Granny” bike the other day I crossed town, the first cycle ride of the year to the grocery store, 4+ miles away. It’s usually an odds and ends journey for obvious reasons, but it’s an errand I can run without firing up the car. On a bright spring day, it makes sense.   I pulled up, locked the bike, collected my stuff and headed in.

At the door, I was met by a brightly smiling young lady carrying a sign announcing that it was the cookie time of year!   And there they were, boxes and boxes of cookies stacked on a table just inside the door, surrounded by cute kids and tired-looking moms tending their display. I promised to purchase some on the way out, but the sight of those girls, badges on display, made me remember my own cookie seller days.



My Scout cookie sales were few because I lived in the country. We had exactly three families nearby, one of whom was just so stone weird we mostly ignored them.   This left me the kindly dairy farmers across Route 20 and the pleasant couple who ran the little motel which lay two alfalfa fields beyond our house. Of course, my mom bought a few boxes and some of her bridge friends also purchased a few from me, but we didn’t have any local relatives, and most of the people we knew had girl scouts of their own.  Still, I always made the effort, and effort, sometimes, it truly was.

Cookie Time is traditionally March. Here in South Central Pa we had a single humdinger of a snow storm closely followed by 80 degree weather—in short, not at all like my childhood experience of winter.  Back then, in the fifties, in Skaneateles, New York, we could literally have feet of the fatal white piled all over us straight through March. Route 20, which my parents jokingly said they could tell time by – the grumble and grind of the snow plow’s passage, every hour on the hour during winter -- was a narrow twilight corridor hedged in by mountains of ice-glazed accretion.




I remember going out to deliver my cookies, lugging the big brown box that held them, and hoping I’d get to where I was going before a truck or yet another snow plow came along. I’d see the headlights approaching and have to struggle up and onto the snow bank to get off the road. Some years those banks were frozen so hard that I'd skin my knee right through the leggings if I fell while trying to get out of the way. Some years, the banks had begun to melt, like a Pleistocene glacier, filling the road with melt water torrents and my boots with grungy snow if I broke through during a climb to safety.



Either way, the plows were fearsome, about as big as machines got in those days, with huge upswept blades, blinding lights, and a driver peering out a small window high overhead. If they caught sight of me in the twilight, a small figure perched on the nearby bank, they usually appeared surprised.  Eventually, I’d arrive in one or the other family’s warm kitchen with snow and gravel inside my boots, make the delivery and then trudge back home again, always alert for the clink-clink-clank of tire chains, ready to escape up the bank again.  

 

Juliet Waldron
See all my historical novels @

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Sunday Snips and Stuff #snipsand stuff

I apologize for missing last week.  I ended up with my mother at the ER and spent a good part of the day there.  She's still recuperating.  At 91, it takes a while.  :)

Today I'm sharing a portion of my upcoming "Mail Order" bride story, Desperation's Bride.  I'm really excited to have a new project and I hope you enjoy today's offering.  Remember, this is a first draft and not perfect by any means:


Clara sat at the splintery kitchen table, her bare toes curled against the hard-swept dirt floor while she peeled potatoes for dinner's stew. Two weeks had passed since she’d made an excuse to mail her last response to Jason, and now time spun a web around her, making her anxious.  “Ma, have you ever seen the train station in Marysville?”

Her mother looked up from the cupboard where she rolled out dough for a dried apple pie. “Why would you ask such a strange question?”

Continuing with her peeling, Clara calmed her breathing.  “Just curious, that’s all.  I’ve not been in that part of town since the railroad began operating.  I’ve always wanted to take a trip in one of those fancy windowed cars.”

“Don’t see that will ever happen.”  Ma floured the dough and rolled it flat with her wooden cylinder. “This is our home and we have no plans to leave.”  

“Do you have any idea how far it is to Beatrice, NE?”  Clara tried to make her query sound casual.

“Why ever would you ask that?  I’m not sure I understand all these questions.”

“I…I saw a flyer in the mercantile the other day and it made me wonder…no particular reason.”  The lie tasted bitter on her tongue.

Ma shrugged.  “I’ve not traveled except from Independence to here with your father, but I did hear women at Church discussing that the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad now runs from Lincoln to Beatrice. Not sure when that happened.”  She plopped her dough into a round tin.  “We should be proud to be witness to such advances in travel.  I suffered coming here on a wagon train with your Pa, and it was definitely not as comfortable as I imagine a train would be.”

“Oh, tell me about it, Ma, you’ve never shared that story.”  Clara put down a potato and her knife and leaned on her palms.

Ma sighed. “It was a long and tiring ride.  We had to leave many of our things behind because the oxen couldn’t stand the strain of pulling a big wagon and all the other weight. The days were long, hot, and filled with work from sun-up to sundown.”  Her gaze lowered.  “A lot of good folks died on that trip in the short distance we came…drownings, illness, even a few run over by their own conveyances.”

“What do you mean by short distance?”  Clara cocked her head.

“Your Pa and I joined up in Independence, which is where most wagon trains depart for Oregon and California.  In fact, the trail has been named the Oregon Trail for the many people seeking new lives out west.”  Her eyes brightened.  “Luckily, you’re father had researched Kansas and knew we would pass right through this place.  We dropped off here because your father believed the Overland Stage and the Pony express would put Marysville on the map, and they have.   I’m just sorry he didn’t live long enough to see and do all he wanted.”  She turned her attention back to the pie, placing cross pieces of dough over the dried apples.  “Oh well,” she said.  “That was another lifetime, and I’m just thankful to have a home and family again.”


Clara stifled an inward gasp.  Now was not the time to share her intentions.  Ma would be very upset at the prospect of her daughter leaving.  The silence begged for words.  “I’m glad you made the trip safely, Ma, and I’m certain Pa would be very proud of you today.  You’re a strong woman and a good wife.  I love you very much.”

******
I'm making good progress on this one and look forward to announcing a release date soon.  Stay tuned...and in the meantime, jump on over to the following blogs and see what's up today:


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Using Emotion, Conflict and Tension in your writing.

A while back, I took a course offered by Cheryl St. John, a very talented and multi-published author. I learned so much, I asked her permission to share some of the material with you and she graciously agreed.

I can't explain the need for emotion much better than Cheryl.  "A story without strong emotions is a not story brought to life."

It's true.  Readers want to feel, and unless you add emotions for them to share, they aren't going to remember your work.  By using words that trigger emotions, you can engage continued purchases.  Find words that evoke mental pictures and feelings.

I'm a big fan of my Thesaurus, because I get annoyed when writer's use the same word over and over within a few paragraphs.  Sometimes, duplication is used for emphasis, but to me, the constant use of one word indicates laziness.

There are many words that share the same meaning, for example, if you want to show interest and want words that emphasize the meaning, try:

Alert
Betwitched
Captivated
Concerned
Devoted
Eager
Fascinated
Impressed
Turned On
Yearning
Zealous

There are tons to show someone feeling threatened or insecure:
Abused
Aching
Agonized
Bitter
Burdened
Cheated
Cheerless
Cold
Condemned
Crushed
Dark
Deceived
Dejected
Depressed
Deprived
Despondent
Destructive
the list goes on and on.  To give you an example of how a few simple words can change your story, let's see which your like best:

Jane, threatned against someone breaking into her house, locked the door.

Now again...with more emotion and showing the reader Jane's insecurities:

Given the rash of burglaries in the neighborhood, Jane agonized over someone breaking into her home.  Jittery fingers manipulated the deadbolt until a distinctive click sounded.

In the second example, can't you feel Jane's apprehension and get a better sense of her concern? Remember...don't be repetitive.

I'll be sharing more examples from Ms. St. John's awesome class in future posts, but since she may not offer personal instruction again soon, I highly recommend her book,

My opinion:  One of the problems I see today:  a lot of people who self-publish believe they were born knowing how to write a book.  That's so untrue.  There is a right of passage to becoming a seasoned author, and people like Cheryl are who we can turn to to learn.  Thanks, pal, for letting me look smarter than I am.

Monday, March 7, 2016

You Don't Know Beans



http://www.julietwaldron.com
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But you probably do know a little about them, even if it’s just those sad cans of beans and franks at the supermarket, or the kidney beans that show up in chili, or the tomato-sauced ones that appear at summer picnics.
Beans taste best cooked from scratch, but when Mom and Pop both work, this appears to take too much time. I used to be in this boat, but I was also in the boat with the folks who don’t get paid much for their 40 hours a week, so I couldn’t easily leave beans out of my weekly grocery equation. They were and are cheap food that is good for you and your kiddies.   (Way back, when I first learned about bean cookery, we lived in the back of beyond, so there was no fast food temptation around—not that there was anywhere the amount of what foodie Michael Pollen calls “corporate food” in supermarkets and beside the highways to expand everyone’s waistline.)  

I’d make a big pot on Sunday, using bones and drippings from our once a week chicken. In the fridge, those beans would last for days to be reheated and served in various combinations. They might be curried, dressed with sunflower seeds, chopped apples and raisins and poured over rice, or chili-peppered and served, with a little ground meat and cheese, over spagetti. 

Nowadays, I start my beans with a good wash in a strainer, followed by a hand sort—back in the good old days there was sometimes rat poo as well as stones and dirt in among the beans.  (Blessedly, it’s been several decades since I’ve found this unsavory additive.) Then, put them to soak overnight.  You may add bay leaves now, onion flakes, pepper, dried celery and other aromatics. Originally, back in my wood stove days, I’d just put them straight away onto the back where it was warm, not hot, and leave overnight.  
If you want to hurry the process, you can boil for five minutes, then cover and let them stand for an hour. After, you discard the water and begin again—especially if you are feeding someone who complains that beans make them gassy. This parboiling will hasten the cooking process.  (BTW the more frequently you eat beans, the easier they digest, as your body learns the trick.)

But all that basic advice may be found on the back of the bag or in your "big fat" cookbook. There are many kinds of beans, and they'll give you a world tour of eating—and that’s the interesting part to me. Currently, I’m working my way through several different kinds, because each lends itself to different recipes.
 
Kidney beans, big and red, can be cooked and used cold in green salads. If cooked with onion, garlic, oregano, and chili powder, and mixed with browned ground meat and onions to make chili. Red beans cook faster than pintos, but likewise can be used for refritos—mashed with a wooden spoon and cooked again in oil in a heavy pan, you’ll end with a basic south-of-the-border taco stuffing.  
Limas, a.k.a. “butter beans” in this neck of the woods, fresh or dried, are delicious when cooked slowly in chicken stock, with celery, onion and parsley. They make their own creamy sauce.   
Split peas and lentils cook fast. The former are made to be cooked with a ham bone, a pig’s foot, or just lots of carrots, potatoes and onion.  The yellow and red varieties are delicate and will cook to a mushy nothing if you aren’t careful.  Yellow lentils, mixed with yogurt and curry powder, approximate Dal, an Indian favorite. 

Black beans lend themselves to cooking with a Spanish or Portuguese flare. Cook them with tomatoes, garlic, onions, and a big squeeze of fresh orange juice.  Serve over rice and alongside more of those cooked greens--only this supper time you'll be dining in Brazil instead of the Deep South.

Black-eyed peas and white beans are still the darlings of the south, especially good cooked with pork odds and ends and accompanied with dishes of greens and cornbread.  Cooked white beans (or pintos) can go into the bottom of a well-oiled iron skillet, covered with a cornbread mixture and then baked into that original hand-held American take-out food, the venerable cornpone.  

 
 
I think you'll be surprised if you give some of these recipes a try at how good the humble bean can taste. You can make them over the weekend, freeze what you don't use, and/or just dip into the pot for a couple of days as we used to do until they are gone. Your budget will benefit, too.
 
 

~~~
 
Juliet Waldron
See all my historical novels @
 

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