Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wednesday's Writer's Tip _Choosing Words #MFRWauthor #words #writing

Words are important you you as a writer. How do you choose the right ones? Let me count the ways. Actually I won't, just add a few things to be aware of.

Words are used in many ways by a writer and finding the ones that suit can be difficult. What the reader reads will be how he pictures your words, so you need to be selective. One thing you must consider is among your characters - Who is being viewed. You will need to know much about your character. What's his career? Choosing the right words to build a picture of a doctor, a lawyer or a car mechanic will be different.

Next you have to find the words to describe when he is. Different people react in many ways to the weather. Another is how old are they when your story takes place. A child reacts and needs different words from an adult.

Where do you find your characters. Are they at home, on the job or pursuing some other place. You need to find the right words to let the reacer know.

What are they doing? A sleeper is different from someone taking part in a sport. What are they feeling at this time? Emotions need the right words to make the reader believe.

What is the focus character noticing?  How is he or she reacting? This is important and the wrong words will either mislead the reader or turn the reader off.

Once you know these things you need to arrange them so they make sense. This may take time, particularly with your first story but should become easier with practice.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tuesday's Inspiration - Words #MFRWauthor #aminspired #words

 In Techniques of the Selling Writer, Dwight Swain wrote "A story is words strung onto pages."

Absolutely true. To be a writer, you need to love words and to consume their origins and their meanings. The English language has words spelled the same but mean very different things. Would and wound. On meaning to harm and the other to wrap something tightly. The good thing is that if we're tuned into language we will pronounce those spelled the same words according to what the writer means.

Having a love of words means, not using unfamiliar words scattered through the mss. When a reader has to stop and find a dictionary to understand what the writer means, the reader will lose interest.

I really enjoy words and I know many I wouldn't use in my fiction since I would have to find a way to show the meaning so the reader would continue reading. Another thing I love about words is looking them up in an Entomology book I have and use very often. Another way of finding words is to find a dictionary that tells you when the word was first used and also what a word meant and changed its meaning over the years.

So study words. Have a love affair with them. You will find writing becomes easier. After all a story consists of words that paint a picture of the world you've created.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Meandering on Monday with Janet Lane Walters #MFRWauthor #Poetry #Punctuation

Meander 1 - Poem - Conflicts

I feel I am torn
Between the land and the sun
And don't know where to turn.
The son is bright
And fills me full of grace
And peace and gleaming dreams.
The land is rich and growing full
With security and safety.
Which way do I turn?
Where do I go?
The son calls me to the way
but the land has it's way, too.
Can they be reconciled?
I don't know.

Meander 2 - ? Marks - I've been getting edits back in rapid succession. I've found I don't use question marks when they should end a sentence. Is this carelessness? I'm not sure. I wonder if there are other authors who have the same failing. If I could put the question marks where they belong, the edits would be few and I would hardly ever have to face those lines on one side and comments on the other. Sometimes getting the things to erase is nearly impossible.

Meander 3 - Writing. I have begun the sixth Katherine Miller mystery, Murder and Sweet Tea. So far it's moving along. Of course this is the rough draft where sometimes what's written doesn't make sense. Being back to writing new material is wonderful. Of course there are still three mss to correct before sending them to the editor and four to edit when they each come back.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday's Book - Murder and Tainted Tea #MFRWauthor #mystery #cozy

Murder and Tainted Tea (Mrs. Miller Mysteries Book 3)

Katherine heads to Santa Fe, New Mexico along with a Maine Coon Cat kitten to spend New Year’s Eve with Lars. Her guilty feelings over the organist’s death has her needing an escape. When she reaches Santa Fe, she discovers Lars is missing. She seeks and finds him and steps into another mystery. 

Lars’ daughter dislikes Katherine but when the young woman is kidnapped, they are puzzled. The murder of Lars’ daughter and one of his employees makes solving the mysteries necessary. Can she learn before Lars becomes a victim.

Editorial Review
With every book, I think the Katherine Miller Mysteries can't get any better. I'm always wrong, because they always do. ~ Writer Gail Roughton

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Saturday's Blurbs featuring Books by Renee Duke #MFRWauthor #YA #fantasy

SIDE TRIP BOOK 1: RING OF BEOM

Earth-born adolescents Meda Brent and Kirsty MacGregor are eager to explore the Zaidus system. They just don’t want to explore it as members of an organized tour group. The chaperone’s a harridan, and most of the places they’re forced to visit are really, really boring. Striking out on their own holds far more appeal, and despite limited funds and unexpected mishaps, they manage quite well – at first. But thanks to a bratty little brother, a dimension-travelling alien girl, a handsome alien prince, and assorted people who, for some unknown reason, seem to be following them, an independent tour of the Zaidus planets is not without its complications.




TIME ROSE BOOK 1: THE DISAPPEARING ROSE

No one knows what happened to the two little princes who vanished from the Tower of London in 1483. Leastways, that’s what Dane, Paige, and Jack are told when they start working on a medieval documentary for Dane and Paige’s filmmaker father. But then an ancient medallion transports them back to the 15th century and gives them a chance to discover the truth about the mysterious disappearance of young King Edward the Fifth and his brother Richard, Duke of York. But they’d better be careful. The princes are definitely in danger, and the person responsible for their disappearance just might decide that their new friends should disappear as well.




TIME ROSE BOOK 2: THE MUD ROSE

Another journey into the past takes Paige, Dane, and Jack to Victorian London, where they meet two young mudlarks named Hetty and Pip. Even though life is very hard for them, Hetty doesn’t want to seek help from Dr. Barnardo or other social reformers who might separate her from her little brother. The Time Rose Travellers have an idea for getting around that problem, but they’re about to have another. Jack the Ripper’s grisly attacks on women in the East End have the whole city on edge, and the blood- splattered man Hetty and Pip happened across late one night isn’t about to leave witnesses on the loose.





Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday's Guest - featuring Renee Duke Who She Was Before #MFRWauthor

1. What were you in your life before you became a writer? Did this influence your writing?

I’ve been writing stories ever since I first became capable of doing so (round about age seven) and ‘self-published’ several tales. (Translation: hand wrote them, drew pictures for them, and had my mother sew them into little ‘books’, which, regrettably, I no longer have, as I binned them during a fit of adolescent ‘What silly, baby stuff’’ pique.) I started part-time professional writing in the late1970s, early 80s, working as a stringer for a local newspaper and penning articles and short stories for magazines in the UK, Canada, and the U.S.A. I didn’t really start in on books until I retired from teaching. I was a preschool teacher for forty years, and also worked with older children in Out-Of-School Care programmes and on World Peace & Development projects. Having worked so long with children, it seemed only sensible to write for and about children, whose ideas and opinions I still seek out and use.

2 Are you genre specific or general? Why? I don't mean genres like romance, mystery, fantasy etc. There are many subgenres of the above.

Most of my short stories had contemporary settings and subjects, but my books are mostly set in the past or future, or in current times but with a fantasy aspect.

3. Did your reading choices have anything to do with your choice of a genre or genres?

My own reading choices also tend to mostly be set in the past, future, or current times with a fantasy aspect.

4. What's your latest release?

Time Rose Book 4: The Tangled Rose, which came out in October, 2016. It’s set in Pre-WW II / WW II Germany, and deals with Gypsies, mentally and physically challenged people, and other lesser known victims of the Holocaust.

5. What are you working on now?

Time Rose Book 5, tentatively entitled The Volcanic Rose. It’s set in Herculaneum in 79 AD, but the eruption of Vesuvius is secondary to my characters’ set-to with their sorcerer nemesis as this is the final book in the Time Rose series. I’m about halfway through the first draft, and once it’s finished and gone to press, I plan to write a sequel to my YA Sci-Fi book.

6. Where can we find you?

In addition to being on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/renee.duke.author/, I have a website http://www.reneeduke.ca/, and a blog Time Travelling With Kids: https://reneeduke.wordpress.com/author/irduke/, which suggests way to get young people turned on to history.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thursday's First and Second Scenes - Murder and Poisoned Tea #MFRWauthor #cozy mystery #music


Chapter 1

On Groundhog Day when Robespierre, my Maine Coon cat, jumped from his place on the window seat, one thought popped into my head. Company. Who? After following him to the kitchen, I watched him push his bulky, brown and black body through the hinged opening at the bottom of the door. Moments later I peered down the dimly lit stairwell. Robespierre had sprawled in the center of the third step and blocked my visitor’s progress.
“Good grief, Katherine, I hope he’s not planning to bite me again.” Edward Potter, pastor of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, glared at the cat. His voice had risen from tenor to soprano. “Whatever do you feed him? He’s ever so much bigger than Bitsy.”
The temptation to say my pet fed on pastors was strong. I refrained and fought to control a grin that threatened to blossom. Teasing Edward usually results in a lecture delivered in an indignant voice.
With an air of disdain, Robiesperre stretched. His back rippled in a way I envy. Then he slithered around my guest.
When Edward reached the top of the steps, he turned and peered at the cat. “He’s becoming more brazen.”
“Only toward selected guests. He ignores most people.” I turned my head and Edward brushed my cheek with his lips.
My pastor is a dapper little man with an ear for gossip and a penchant for turning even the slightest event into a fiesta or a disaster. He’s astute about church politics. The coffers at St. Stephen’s are filled through his ability to cosset and cajole the elderly population of the church, mainly wealthy women. I partially fit the category, being sixty-five, and while not rich, I’m at least comfortable.
When he entered the sunlit kitchen, the expression on his face announced a problem. He walked into the living room. Unlike most of my guests, he considered chats at the kitchen table for commoners. In the living room, he perched on the edge of a Queen Anne chair, purchased years ago before antiques became the rage. In the past twenty years, stores selling every manner of old things have spread plague-like in the business district of the Hudson River village where I live.
“You’re tense. How about a cup of mint tea?”
“Not all the tranquilizers in the world will calm me. It’s a disaster, a complete and utter tragedy.” His hands fluttered. The words rolled out like a sermon promising hell and damnation. “How will we maintain the quality of the services? Easter will be a disaster.”
My forehead wrinkled. What in the world had stirred him into this state? The last time had been when one of the altar boys had spilled the communion wine. Had there been a fire at the church? A flood? A plague? The strident fire whistles of town had been silent for days. What had occurred? Knowing a full and dramatic scene would develop, I wanted mint tea.
“I’ll heat the water. Then you can tell me about this tragedy.” The blend I chose is my all-purpose remedy, calming nerves and stimulating the mind, bringing alertness or sleep.
After a retreat to the kitchen, I filled the kettle and stuffed a silver ball with an assortment of dried mint leaves. While the water boiled, I assembled the pottery mugs, sugar and spoons on a wooden tray.
“Why will Easter be a problem?” I set the tray on a Duncan Phyfe table.
“We may have to cancel the season.” He patted his thinning light brown hair.
I swallowed a laugh. “How can we cancel one of the main reasons for St. Stephen’s existence?”
“Are you making fun of me?” His voice rose in pitch. “I’m absolutely serious.” He accepted a mug. “Mary’s husband has been transferred. It’s a disaster.”
I mentally sorted through all the Marys in the congregation and tried to decide which one’s leaving would cause Edward to fall apart. Who had triggered the word of the day? On another level, the need to giggle soared. Perched on the edge of the chair and holding a tea cup with both hands, Edward looked like a child.
“There are about twenty Marys at St. Stephen’s. Which one do you mean?”
“Mary Hobbs, our organist. What will our services be like without the organ and the choir? Katherine, you have to help us until we find a replacement.”
Twenty years ago I resigned my position as organist at St. Stephen’s. My husband’s sudden death had left me with a son to raise and enough money to cover three years of expenses. Once I finished my nursing course, my Sunday schedule had passed out of my control.
“Don’t you think I’m a bit old for the job?”
Edward sighed. “I knew you would say that. I have a list of people who are willing to play, but none of them want to direct the choir. Could you at least try?”
“What have you done about finding Mary’s replacement?”
“I’ve called the Organists’ Guild. They’ll list us in their newsletter. I’ve sent notices to several colleges within commuting distance, but I really don’t want a student. Our music program is something to be proud of and I dread losing our reputation.”
Pride, I thought. “Perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned from this.”
“Perhaps, perhaps, but we must have music.” He put the mug on the tray. “I’d like you to head the search committee. People respect your musical judgment.”
“And the other members?” I’ve reached an age where I don’t have to like everyone and avoiding those who annoy me has become a game. “A search committee is like a family. I won’t spend time with people I dislike.”
“Beth Logan. Judith and Martin Hanson. Ralph Greene. I believe that’s a good balance.”
Beth is a neighbor who is becoming a friend. For several years, we had worked together at the hospital. Last winter when I broke my leg, we had renewed our acquaintance. She volunteered to be my chauffeur on Sundays for church. I liked the young widow and found her six-year-old son charming.
The Hansons are also neighbors. There’s something strange about their relationship but their fifteen-year-old daughter, Marcie, had been my piano student until she’d grown beyond my ability to teach. With a sigh, I thought of Judith’s frenetic energy and wondered how much I could tolerate.
The fourth member, Ralph Greene, was a man with a superb baritone voice. Though he took music seriously, he wouldn’t cause any problems unless the committee decided on someone musically incompetent.
“Well?” Edward asked.
“You have a committee head.”
“Splendid. We shall rise from the ashes.”

* * *

On Thursday evening Beth arrived to drive me to choir practice. Though I drive during the day, at night the lights of the oncoming cars blur and moth-like, I head toward them.
“Ready?” Beth asked. “You’ve got guts.”
“What makes you say that?”
“Taking on the committee and the choir. Last Thursday, when Mary made her announcement, seven people expressed seven ideas of what the next Minister of Music should do.”
“Good thing I’m temporary.” I closed the door and followed her to a small green car.
Tonight a pair of cloisonné combs held her blonde hair from her face. Her jeans fit perfectly. Women in jeans that reveal more than they hide remind me of the past summer and my tenant’s murder. Rachel had nearly destroyed my friends and my family. My discovery of her body in the garden had triggered my protective instincts and had forced me to find the killer.
Beth’s blue ski jacket made her pastel coloring glow. I seldom wear blue. Earth tones compliment the autumn shades the beautician adds to my hair.
When we reached the church, Beth held the door for me. Judith Hanson popped out of the reception room. “Tell her about the meeting, Beth. I’ll head upstairs and catch a deep breath.”
In the choir room, I ran my fingers over the keys of the Steinway and listened to mellow tones as perfect as the day I donated the piano to the church. A music folder lay on the bench with my name pasted on the cover. None of the pieces seemed particularly complex. Mary had also listed the hymns for the rest of the year.
At eight the choir members drifted to seats set in a semi-circle in front of the piano. By eight fifteen they were ready to begin. We ran through Sunday’s offerings and several of the anthems for the weeks to follow.
Mary had chosen a group of Bach motets for the Passion Sunday Evensong, but since I’d no knowledge of the substitute organist’s ability, the music remained on the table at the back of the choir room. There was no reason to push a person beyond their ability.
When we left to go to the church, Ralph Greene pulled me aside. He scowled. “You didn’t start the Bach. We’ll never be ready if we don’t start the pieces soon.” His deep voice filled the stairwell and the sound bounced off the stone walls of the hall between the church and the addition that had been added long after the church had been built.
“I’m not prepared to attempt the Bach unless the organist is competent. In the morning, I’ll speak to Edward about hiring a group for Evensong.”
“That won’t do. The choir always does Passion Sunday. Our honor depends on keeping traditions.”
The demand in his voice amazed me. “There have been exceptions in the past.”
“It’s not right.”
“Then the committee has to act posthaste. Do you really think we can find a new organist in less than two months? Did Beth tell you about the meeting?”
“What’s the sense of meeting when there’s no one to discuss. Who needs to make a list of qualifications? We need an organist who can maintain the high standards of St. Stephen’s program. I can’t attend the meeting. It’s tax time and I don’t have room in my schedule.” He opened the door into the sanctuary.
“Then you’ll accept what we decide?” I ducked past him and slid into one of the pews while he headed down the side aisle to the choir loft.
The rest of the choir moved into place and the organist turned to wait for my signal. She played the opening notes for each part and the group hummed on cue. The blended voices filled the sanctuary and reverberated from the stone walls. The choir sounded strong; the organist tentative. She had no trouble with the hymns but fumbled through the anthems. Each wrong note she played caused me to grip the back of the pew. Could Edward be persuaded to hire another temporary accompanist?
After rehearsal we adjourned to the reception room for coffee and heart-shaped cookies in honor of St. Valentine, my temporary position, and the choir’s monthly refreshment night.
I moved from group to group to chat with old friends and new acquaintances. The choir had divided into several cliques who acted like rivals for my attention. The new choir director would need better than average skills in meshing the dissenting factions.
The largest and loudest of the groups clustered around Judith Hanson. She sat on one of the brocade-covered chairs near the front windows and looked like a queen on her throne. The majority of the group was male. No real surprise. At one time or another, every male in the congregation, married or not, had flirted with Judith. Each had held her attention until she decided to blow them off with cruel remarks.
Her brown eyes slant, giving her an almost Oriental look. Straight dark hair cut to shoulder length added to the image. As she spoke, her hands moved in exaggerated gestures. A constant flow of kinetic energy crackled as she stroked the new tenor’s arm. He smiled.
Martin ended the moment of seduction by handing her a cup of coffee. Bearded, balding and overweight, he appeared to be a weak man, but beneath the surface lay a nurturing kind of strength. Did he mother his daughter as well as he did his wife?
Judith looked up at him. From across the room, I saw resentment on her face and in her body language. Her shoulders stiffened. Her mouth pulled into a tight line. Martin whispered in her ear. She nodded.
“Beth, Beth, darling,” Judith called. “Are you coming to the Pub with us?” Her shouted invitation rose over the hum of conversation.
“I’m taking Mrs. Miller home,” Beth said.
Judith waved at me. “Come with us and get away from this stuffy crowd. I need a drink before I perish. The well’s been dry too long.” Brittle laughter followed her words.
“Another time.”
“Beth?” Judith asked.
“It’s late. Marcie has school tomorrow. Your daughter’s so conscientious she won’t nap while she’s watching Robby. I’ll send her home.”
Judith rose. “Spoilsport. Don’t worry about Marcie. She’d welcome an excuse to cut school. No music classes on Friday. If it weren’t for them, she’d be a drop-out.” She put a hand on Beth’s shoulders. “Take Mrs. Miller home and join us.”
Beth stiffened. “Maybe.”
“I’ll have a drink waiting for you. Maybe you’ll find a man.” She rubbed against Martin. “Three years since your husband’s death. I don’t know how you’ve survived. Men are so...so...”
Beth’s face flamed. She reached for her jacket. I put on my coat. Judith, Martin and several other people strolled from the room.
Beth shook her head. “I don’t know why I let her get to me.”
“She likes to watch people squirm. Don’t let her hurt you.”
“It’s not fair.” Beth grabbed her music folder. “She has a string of men. Maybe I hope some of her allure will rub off.”
“Have you ever watched a cat play with a mouse? That’s what she does. You don’t need her friendship.”
Beth sighed. “I’ve watched her drive people out of the choir with sneers and gossip. I couldn’t handle that.”
“You’re stronger than you think.”
“Not if I lose my sitter by making her angry. Marcie’s at my house as much as she’s at home. Judith’s wrong. Marcie’s making A’s and B’s in all her classes.”
Does even her own daughter bear the brunt of her vicious tongue? I pushed open the heavy oak door. I began to regret my decision to head the search committee. Who would be Judith’s next victim?
“Judith, are you coming?” Martin’s shout startled me.
“I’m feeding the cat. I want to catch him and bring him home.”
Beth and I paused at the head of the walk. Judith had crouched beside the privet hedge that surrounded the garden between the church and the parish house that once served as the manse. A gray cat hid in the bushes.
“You’re allergic,” Martin said. “Come on. Everyone’s waiting.”
Judith dangled something above the cat’s head. As he stretched, she raised her hand. “The party won’t start until I arrive.” The cat snatched the food and vanished. Judith rose.
“Your good deed.” Sarcasm tinged my voice.
“I’ve named him Shadow and I’m determined to catch him. Maybe a bit of catnip will do the trick.” She smiled. “Beth, I will see you at the Pub.” A note of command filled her voice.
During the ride home, I thought about Judith and the cat. If Beth and I hadn’t appeared, would she have teased the animal into a frenzy? Beth, Marcie, Martin, the cat. Who next? How was Marcie handling her mother’s behavior?
“Do me a favor.”
“Sure,” Beth said.
“Tell Marcie to stop by. I haven’t heard her play since Christmas.”
“I’ll tell her when I get home.”
“Thanks.” If Judith’s attitude had tainted her daughter, Martin should be told

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wednesday's Writing Tips -- Other things that can go wrong. #MFRWauthor #Monotony #meaning #repetition

Now that you've discovered other ways to enhance your writing, you may believe you're set. Wrong! other things can go wrong.

Think about those Dick and Jane books. They were great for learning how to read but frankly if you were to read them today, you would be bored. Why? All of the sentences fall into a pattern. This can happen when you're writing and some how all your sentences are the same. There's a need to vary the length. Mix simple with complex. Throw in a phrase of a clause. Add some description. Make sure the sentences don't fall into a pattern that brings yawns.

Another thing is the repetition ow words and phrases. This is all right in a rough draft but as you continue to push your story forward make sure the same word doesn't occur with a pattern. This is something I must be on the look out for. I'm writing a story that has a church for the focus. The minister called for a hymn. The congregation rose. Their voices blended in singing the hymn. You can get the picture.

Make sure your words convey the meaning you meant the words to show. Don't muddy the prose unless it's done with a purpose. Perhaps a character's trait is never making themselves understood. Then this can work in small pieces. But you want the reader to grasp what you intend to say, not what they think you mean.

So know your words and use them with expertise.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tuesday's Inspiration - Paint Bright Pictures #MFRWauthor #Aminspired

John D. MacDonald made this statement in an essay. "The writer must provide the materials with which the reader will construct bright pictures in his head."

When I thought about what this meant I realized those words meant the sights, sounds, taste, smell and touch of things. Describing those give the reader a way to associate with the story and build a picture of what the world you've created is all about. Think of writing about a house. Sure you can describe it as a rectangular box but then add the little details and you can make the house any house you wish. Let's give it a try.

The house next door is a Victorian. This does bring a hazy picture to the reader. But add something like this. The "Painted Lady" next door wore her coat of pale lavender with purple touches. Brings the house in clearer. Perhaps this house is different. The purple shutters on the Victorian house next door hung like limp fingers. Gives a different picture.

In other inspirations we'll look at the other senses. Sight is one used often by writers but the use is more like "She saw a tall man. Or she saw three children. Or he saw a car." I could go on forever but you get the picture. Without the little picture the reader will glaze over what the characters see and forget. He saw a sleek red convertible and envy filled his heart. She saw broad shoulders and wondered how his shirt remained intact. Of the three children, one caught her eye. The little girl's yellow curls resembled a dandelion making her wish to run her hand across the child's head.

Try sound for a change. The wind blew. The wind rustled the trees and moaned like someone in pain.

Play with the other senses and see how you can change your story and paint those bright pictures for the reader. Words are all a writer has.

Hopefully you get the picture. But using sight beyond the mundane helps the reader form a bright picture in his head.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Meandering On Monday with Janet Lane Walters #MFRWauthor #amwriting #time #Poem

 Meander 1 - Poem

What will I do when you're gone?
Who will I call to share my soul?
Like a cactus on the desert
I'll be surrounded by space.
Emptiness and papered lines
It's all I'll have left.

Meander 2 - Time.-- I've been wondering where all the time has gone and how to fit all the things i need to do into the time I have each day. Time to finish getting two mss ready to go to the publisher and one to head to an editor. Sometimes I feel as though i'm over-achieving and sometimes I'm a sluggard. I'll continue to plod along one thing at a time.

Meander 3 - Writing still on the editing, typing and formatting mss. Three of the 10 are done and out. Two are ready for me to proof the edits. That means there are five still to go. Then I can write again. Can't wait.