Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tuesday's Inspiration F. Scott Fitzgerald

 "Begin with an individual, and before you know it you have created a type: begin with a type, and you find you have created - nothing." F. Scott Fitzgerald.

This is all about creating characters who leap off the pages and pull the readers into the story. We've all read books where the characters become friends or enemies. And we've all read stories where there's nothing to like about the characters. There are types and types. Think about the "serial killer." Now this can be a type but there are many kninds of serial killers and some stick in your head. What about "Hannibal," Now he's not a type he's an individual who became a type. I've seen him repeated time and time again, not always done well and sometimes he leaps off the pages. What Mr. Fitzgerald is talking about is making each character into an individual rather than just being a type. Just what makes your character different.

There are times when you use a stock character in a story. This is a character you don't want the reader to remember but what they may have to say will put a spin on the story. The witness in a murder mystery who has something to say that the main characters need to know. Maybe this character is a taxi driver or a nurse in the story. I've done this in stories particularly since I often write nurse romances.  But you must remember this character doesn't need to glow.

So listen to the advice above and make your main characters individuals who become involved in the story. Let them shine on the paper and perhaps someday one of your characters will be a type other writers want to imitate. Look back to your favorite characters in books you have enjoyed and see how they were first individuals before becoming a type.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday - 30 July Week Behind and Ahead

A fellow writer once said "If you sell one book at a signing, it's been a successful one." On Saturday I went with three friends to sign books at the Kingston Farmer's Market. We set up under a tent and had just had everything in order when the rain began. I hurriedly began packing my books since the thunder made me realize this wouldn't be a short rain. Boy was I right. Rained so hard the tent began to collapse. Fortunately in this lovely town the sidewalks are covered. As we were talking to people I mentioned to a woman about my YA stories. Her daughter was with her. The woman mentioned she only read books on line these days. Told her about my books on Kindle and Nook and opened the case pocket to find pens that show my blog and mention the books I've written. Pulled out a copy of my YA fantasy and showed her. She opened the book and handed it to her daughter. "There's only one word I don't know." The little girl then read the back and said she wanted the book. So I had a sale. The ride home was a torture with torrential downpours. I would gladly send all this rain to places where it's needed.

The above gives a clue about last week but I am progressing on the Plot draft of Lines of Fire. Am about a quarter of the way through that draft and am finding some of the things I thought I might have to change will remain. Others won't. Sent another email to one of my publishers about the mss I sent several weeks ago. Will wait and send again in several weeks.

This week I'll be working on Lines - Plot Draft and hope to be nearing the halfway point. This is the draft that takes the most time since one has to be sure all the ducks are in a row. The good thing is that I'm still able to keep from wanting to rush with the story.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Saturday's Chapter - Jude Pittman - Deadly Secrets

This is from one of my favorite books. I've read it three times.

Excerpt from

Deadly Secrets

Kelly McWinter PI – Book 1


Jude Pittman

Kelly stretched out in his recliner and dozed. At one-thirty, when the alarm buzzed for his two o'clock rounds at the flea market, he awoke to find that a storm had rolled in while he slept.

Kelly swiped the steaming window and squinted at the steady stream of rain that poured off the eaves. "Looks like a real gully washer." He told the dog.

Jake, who hated storms, paced anxiously back and forth from the front door to the kitchen.

"You might as well settle down. We aren't going out in that stuff. Kelly picked up the coffee pot and flicked the switch for brew then pulled a chair up to the kitchen table. When the coffee finished, he poured a cup and watched as a faint glimmer of light broke through the clouds. Giant maples thick with darkening leaves leaned across the path to the flea market. But by two o'clock the winds had receded. "Looks like it's about blown itself out." Kelly told Jake. He pulled on his boots and then grabbed a slicker out of the closet.

Jake raced across the room and stood expectantly in front of the door.

"Okay, I get it," Kelly chuckled. "Let's get on down there and get it over with."

Inside the barn that housed the flea market, the beam from Kelly's flashlight danced over sheet-covered tables. These tables were for the short-term vendors who rented from Friday to Sunday and covered their goods with sheets when they left for the night.

Permanent dealers had their own shops—enclosed three-sided cubicles with curtained entrances—where they sold everything from cultural standbys like hats, boots, jeans and t-shirts to gaudy jewelry and swirling salsa dresses. Then there were the new and used shops, like Anna's, where treasure hunters could browse through boxes of ornamental plates, old glasses and beer steins and baskets overflowing with everything from spoon collections to buttons and badges dating back to the civil war.

Kelly and Jake walked along the aisles. Gusts of wind whipped across the shrouded tables buffeting the sheets into dancing ghosts. The barn steamed with moisture left by the storm and Kelly itched to complete his rounds. He had an edgy feeling that made him anxious to get out of the barn. Jake seemed to feel it too. He paced the concrete, ears perked and alert, as if listening for something half expected.

When they finally turned into the last aisle, Kelly breathed a sigh of relief and quickened his pace. The refreshment stand, dimly lit by a Budweiser neon guitar cut in the shape of the state of Texas, loomed ahead in the shadows.

Jake had trotted ahead and he now stopped and lifted his nose, then he pulled back his lips and let out a menacing growl. Startled, Kelly clicked the flashlight on high and shone it into the refreshment stand. Inside, an old refrigerator leaned against the wall and a silver coffee urn glinted on the counter.

Kelly moved the light across the stand and shone it on the ground in front of the door. The light picked out a dark bundle that looked like rags. Kelly focused the light and started forward, moving fast. He reached a spot where the light sharpened the shadows into images, the bundle became a body and a sharp odor—the kind you never forgot—stung his nostrils.

"My God," he cried out and sprinted the distance to the booth with Jake hard on his heels.

Kelly had recognized the old, black poncho and instinct told him what to expect. Dropping to his knees, he reached out and pulled back the poncho. Jake stiffened and growled.

Anna Davis' pupils had rolled back under swollen lids and her blood-gorged tongue filled her mouth. Fighting waves of nausea, Kelly gulped air and clenched his hands into fists. After a couple minutes, he pulled himself together and got to his feet.

"Let's go boy." He cleared his throat with a kind of strangled cough. "We've got some calls to make."

Jake fell into step and they crossed to the box in front of the refreshment stand where Kelly flipped the master switch. Bright light flooded the barn and spilled across Anna. Jake growled and Kelly stroked his head. "Easy now." He settled his hand on Jake's back. "I need to call the county." Kelly pulled the phone out of his pocket and dialed the Tarrant County Sheriff's Department.

Seconds later, a crisp efficient voice said hello. Kelly identified himself, and the voice requested a report. Kelly complied. "My cabin's up at the entrance," he said, when asked to keep himself available. "I'll open the gates and wait out front for their arrival". That settled, Kelly pocketed his phone and turned to Jake. "Come on boy, let's get up the hill."

At thirty-eight Kelly still had the smooth, well-paced gait of an athlete and only a practiced eye would notice the stiffness in his left leg—a souvenir from a stray bullet.

The clouds had been swirled away by the storm's wind and now moonlight bathed the cabin in an eerie gray and orange glow that seemed to fit the night. As promised, Kelly opened the main gates, and then he and Jake headed for the cabin. On the porch he settled into an old rocker and Jake flopped at his feet. Silence, like a blanket, covered the flea market. Even the crickets were still. Mechanically, Kelly set the chair to rocking. Pictures of Anna flashed through his mind—a kaleidoscope of memories tracing the years he'd spent at Indian Creek.

Time passed and in the distance a siren sounded. Squinting northward, Kelly spotted flashes of red and blue lights. Minutes later, a patrol car turned into the yard and pulled up to the cabin.

A young deputy jumped from the car and strode to the porch. "Are you Kelly McWinter?" He was just a kid with short blonde hair trimmed close to his ears and wearing an immaculate brown-and-tan uniform. "I'm Deputy Johnson," he said without waiting for an answer. "I understand you've got a body here."

"That's right." Kelly rose and crossed the porch to meet the officer. "She's down by the refreshment stand. I checked to make sure she was dead."

Johnson narrowed his eyes. His right hand, which had been resting comfortably on the butt of his holstered gun, stiffened.

"Nobody ever tell you not to touch a corpse?"

Kelly smiled, remembering the first time he'd been called out on a homicide. "Hey, it's all right." He kept his voice low and friendly. "I used to be on the force myself. I know the drill."

Johnson relaxed a bit but kept his hand on the holster. "Okay, just so's you didn't contaminate anything."

A squeal of tires announced the county ambulance. Two men in white overalls jumped out. A veteran with stooped shoulders and a mop of thick gray hair climbed into the back of the van and handed a large black case to a well-muscled, young Mexican.

Johnson walked over to the van, said a few words then signaled Kelly to lead the way down the hill.

Taking them through the double doors, Kelly approached the refreshr there." He pointed.

The younger medic stepped into the circle of light that beamed from the ceiling, set his case beside Anna's feet and started unpacking.

"Watch what the hell you're doing." The harsh voice boomed through the silent barn startling the young medic and causing him to stumble into Anna's cash box sending it skidding across the cement.

In the wake of the voice, a stocky cop with short legs and long arms stomped onto the scene. "Can't you see this is a friggin' crime scene?" The cop's thick, bulbous nose quivered and his cheeks puffed out as he let loose on the young medic. The red-faced medic bent to retrieve his case and the cop turned to Kelly.

"I'm Sergeant Adams," he said. "You the guy that reported this?"

"That's right. I'm the security guard here. I found her when I made my two o'clock rounds."

"Okay, I'll get to you in a minute."

Adams was a hard ass but Kelly sympathized. If there was any chance Anna was still alive, the medics would have priority at the scene. However, plenty of vital evidence could be destroyed in the first few minutes of an investigation. It was a standing joke with cops that an over-anxious medic was the defense attorney's best friend. They'd been known to smear fingerprints, brush off hair and fibers and wipe away any sign of bodily fluids.

Kelly had seen it all and a vivid memory of one of his own cases where an over-anxious medic had started CPR on a cold corpse popped readily to mind.

Adams and Johnson stood over the body, talking in low voices. Kelly watched as Adams bent down, lifted the poncho then dropped it back in place.

"Only an idiot would think there was any life left in that," he snapped and turned back to Johnson. "Go call the CID, then wait out front to show the lab boys where to bring their stuff."

Done with that, he turned to the medics. "You might as well get your shit out of here," he growled. "You can stick around out front until the coroner arrives, then shove off."

The senior medic, an old-timer who looked like he'd been through this before, shrugged and motioned to his partner to step away from the body. Johnson pulled his cell out of his pocket and pressed a button. His call would bring the criminal investigations division, a team of forensic experts and the county coroner.

Kelly walked over to where Adams stood frowning at Anna's body.

"Suppose you tell me what you know about this," he growled at Kelly. "Let's sit down over there." He turned and marched over to one of the picnic tables. Kelly rolled his eyes and followed him. Adams slid onto one of the benches and Kelly eased his long frame onto the other one.

Adams took out a notebook.

Kelly propped his arm on the table and turned his mind back to the start of his rounds. Jake, who'd stood back from the group of strangers, padded over, sank down and rested his nose on Kelly's boot.

"I was doing last rounds," Kelly said. "That'd make it about two o'clock when Jake here raised his hackles and started growling."

Jake, hearing his name, lifted his eyes to the sergeant.

"You don't know Jake." Kelly reached down and stroked the dog's head. "He doesn't make a fuss without a reason, so I was edgy. There's not much goes on around here after the barn's closed up but sometimes we get kids messing around. This wasn't like that though. Jake knows the difference between kids and trouble and something was damn sure setting him off."

"Whereabouts were you when this happened?"

"About half way down that aisle." Kelly pointed toward the last row of tables. "At first I couldn't see anything but when I trained my flashlight on the refreshment stand, I spotted what looked like a bundle of rags dropped in the aisle. I clicked the beam on high and that's when I recognized Anna's poncho."

"Did you hear anything?"

"Nope, not a sound, except Jake here. He was riled something fierce."

"Okay, then what?"

"Well, like I said, I recognized that old, black poncho of Anna's. She wore it all the time. So I took off down the aisle like a bat out of hell. The poncho was wrapped around her face and I pulled it off. That was tough." Kelly squeezed his eyes shut for a moment. Then he continued. "There was a red scarf sunk so deep in her neck, I thought she'd been slashed."

"Did you touch the scarf?"

"Just the edge. I pulled her skin back a bit, to make sure but there wasn't a chance." Kelly shook his head and shuddered. "After that, I headed for the phone, got the county dispatcher and gave her the details, then Jake and I went to the cabin to wait for your deputy."

"You got any ideas who did this?"

Kelly shook his head. "Just the obvious one that comes to mind from seeing her cash box broken open and coins scattered around the ground." Kelly leaned across the table and fixed his eyes on Adams' face. "It don't make a lot of sense, y'know? If all he wanted was money, why kill her? For that matter, what was she doing prowling around down here at that time of night?"

"He?" Adams questioned.

"He…her…whatever. I guess strangling's kind of fixed in my mind as something a man would do."

"Do you know of anybody who might've had it in for Ms. Davis?"

"Hell, no. Anna was kind of an eccentric. She drank like a fish, ate like a bird and God only knows how old she was. I liked her a lot but she was a bit of a tartar—especially when she'd been hitting the bottle. Still, I can't see any of the Indian Creek folks having it in for her. They pretty much took Anna in their stride."

"We'll be wanting a list of her friends and associates from you. Deputy Johnson will attend to that. In the meantime, it'd help if you could think of someone who might know about anything out of the ordinary happening around here."

"Well, these folks are pretty closed-mouthed with strangers but you might talk to Frank Perkins — you'll find him either up at the Hideaway or down at the bait house. If anybody so much as farts on the creek, Frank knows all the details."

Adams looked up from his notebook and nodded. "We'll talk to him. What about strangers? Was there anybody who paid particular attention to Anna or asked a lot of questions about her?"

"Anna had a bit of a ruckus with one of the shoppers over at her stall this afternoon."

Adams lifted his head and fixed his eyes on Kelly. "Suppose you tell me about it."

"There was a young woman showed up here about four o'clock. She was a real looker." Kelly gave Adams a teasing grin but the officer kept his eyes on his notepad. Kelly shrugged and continued. "For some reason, this woman rushed into Anna's shop and flung herself right on top of Anna's chair. I don't know whether it was deliberate or not. All I know is when I got there, both Anna and the woman were tangled up on the floor and the woman was out cold."

"Did you recognize her?"

"Nope. She wasn't from around here—not the flea market type. I figured she might've been an antique collector. Anna had a lot of collectibles in her stall."

"Can you give me a description?"

Kelly nodded. "She was around twenty-five, about five-six, around a hundred and ten pounds I'd say with plenty of curves in all the right places. Her hair was something long and silky and so blonde it was almost white. She wore it straight down her back, held in place with one of those silk scarves."

Adams scribbled in his book. Finished, he looked up and nodded. "Go ahead."

"I spotted her soon after she came through the front entrance. She was a knockout—that's what drew my eye—but then I noticed the way she acted. It was kind of funny."

"What do you mean by funny? Did you get the impression she might be intoxicated?"

"No, nothing like that. It was more like she was trying to hide from somebody. She kept looking back over her shoulder and when she realized I had my eye on her, she scooted into the crowd like a flushed quail. Her whole manner was suspicious. That's why I followed her down to Anna's."

"Did you happen to notice if anybody was paying any special attention to this woman? Is it possible she was being followed?"

"Nope. Nobody paid her any more attention than what she'd normally get, given her looks and figure."

Adams jotted a few more lines in the book then twirled his pen again.

Kelly grinned.

"The woman?" Adams nudged.

"I was keeping my eye on her but I wasn't making it obvious. When she got next to the refreshment stand, she stopped for a bit and stood there looking kind of nervous. She'd pulled the scarf out of her hair and was kneading it with her fingers."

"What color was that scarf?"

Kelly nodded. "I know where you're going with that," he said. "It was red and yes, it could've been the one that's wrapped around Anna's neck. I'd have a hard time swearing to it though. I didn't give it more than a casual glance at the time."

Kelly paused and Adams tapped his pen on the table. "What happened next?"

"Not much. I got there right after she and Anna went down. The fall knocked her out and after I got Anna back in her chair, I turned my attention to the young woman. She'd gotten to her feet by then."

"Did you get her name?"

Kelly shook his head. "She took off before I had a chance."

"You let her go without asking any questions?"

"I wasn't thinking about questions at that point. I needed to check Anna out and make sure she was okay. Besides, she hadn't done anything except fall into a chair."

"What did Anna have to say?"

"Not a damn thing. I picked her up, brushed off her dress and asked her what happened. She wouldn't say a word, just looked up at me with those big brown eyes of hers, set her teeth on her lip and tuned me out."

"Did you get the impression Ms. Davis knew the young woman?"

"I don't know. There was something going on between them but as to whether it was recognition or just plain shock, I couldn't say." Kelly stood up and shook down his pant legs. "That's all I can tell you. I'd never seen the woman before and I don't expect you'll find anybody around here who had. Now, if you're through with me I'd like to get back to my cabin. I need to call the owner and let him know what's been going on."

Adams closed his notebook. "Okay, go ahead but keep yourself available."

Kelly nodded, signaled Jake and they headed up the hill.

Kelly's first priority was a pot of coffee. That done, he picked up the phone and dialed Shorty.

"I've got one hell of a mess out here," he said when Shorty's voice came on the line.

"Wad'ya mean, mess?"

"Someone's murdered Anna."

"Murdered. What're you talking about? I thought you were supposed to be down at the barn making rounds?"

"Where the hell do you think I've been? I found Anna's body in there about two hours ago. Some son of a bitch had taken a scarf and damn near squeezed her head off."

Kelly's hands tightened on the phone. The events of the night had taken their toll. He moved the receiver away from his mouth took a deep breath, flexed his shoulders then put the phone back to his ear. "Sorry, Shorty. I guess I'm stretched too tight."

The anger in Shorty's voice had been replaced with concern. "Not a problem, Kelly. Sounds like you've had one hell of a night. Do you want me to come over and give you a hand?"

"No. There's nothing you can do now. The place is crawling with cops. I've already told them everything I know. I'll just grab a coffee and wait until they've finished up down below."

"You'll make sure they lock up once they get done in there?"

"Don't worry about that. They'll seal the place up tight. I'll make sure though."

Hanging up the phone, Kelly eased out of his chair and stretched. His hands grazed the ceiling and he flexed his fingers against the tile.

"It doesn't look like we'll get much sleep tonight," he muttered to Jake. "Guess we might as well make ourselves comfortable while those boys take care of business."

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday's How She Does It - Jude Pittman

We all know there are six elements in writing fiction and often fact. Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. I believe the first five lead to the sixth which for me is the plot. What's your take on this?

I agree. As you know I write mysteries, and answering those five questions is mandatory. If your plot doesn’t include the 5 W’s it’s not going to satisfy your reader. Every mystery must answer these questions: Who did it happen to (victim)? What happened to them (were they robbed, murdered, attacked – what was the crime)? When did it happen (was it in the morning, afternoon, night, weekday, weekend-when was the crime committed)? Where did it happen (in the victim’s home, on the street, in a park, where was the crime committed)? Why did it happen (motive – who had a reason for committing this crime, who wanted the victim dead, who wanted their property, who inherits?) and How was it done (method of the crime – shot, stabbed, poisoned – how did the killer commit their crime).

1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process?

My characters just seem to show up – I think of them as composites of people I’ve seen, known, observed, For instance, in Deadly Secrets I was living in Fort Worth, Texas and one day I was at a flea market where I saw an old woman, partially blind selling pencils and matches. At the time adoption laws were being adjusted to make some concessions for people searching for their birth mothers, and there were a lot of stories in the newspapers about the subject. There were also several stories about a wealthy Texas family and their estranged daughter – heiress. From there my mind went to the idea of what about a daughter discovering she was adopted and hiring a detective to find her birth mother and having the detective find the heiress’ real mother selling pencils and matches in a flea market, but before the daughter can find out what happened to her mother and why she was in this situation the mother was murdered. Of course, Kelly McWinter, my main character and a kind of Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, everybody’s hero type was already in my head. The rest of the story just kind of grew from those characters.

2. Do your characters come before the plot? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end?

They kind of develop together. As you can see from the answer to the first question, there’s an idea for one character, and then a set of circumstances gives rise to the other characters, who then give rise to still others, so really it’s a blending of the two – sketching the plot, adding the characters who need to be there, and then fleshing them out until the story is there.

3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?

No, but I usually have a pretty good idea of the type of ending I’m going to have. I may not know exactly how it will end – in fact, in Deadly Secrets I did not have any idea how the ending that I felt the book needed was actually going to develop until I was pretty well through three-fourths of the book. The ending came out of the characters and the way the story was going, and when it came together it was just definitely the right ending for that story.

4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?

Usually the settings are places that I have either been to or I have a knowledge of. There’s a real tendency on my part to write a kind of fact/fiction – in other words, the setting and minor characters and events are very likely to be true, they are developed from places I know and things I have seen or situations I have encountered. Since I write fiction, of course all of these things are adapted to my story, but the bones, the building blocks of the stories, come out of those experiences and observations.

5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?

I do almost everything online. Since I’m a publisher as well as an author, it seems like I spend a very large portion of my life online, and I’m the curious type. If there’s a question I can’t answer, I will always head for my computer.

6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why?

I write a basic freehand of every chapter, letting it flow as it does, and then I go back and revise, refine and work in details I’ve missed, get it into a kind of structural order, and then I go on and work a few more chapters, and then go back and prune and whittle some more, until finally I have what I feel is a pretty complete first draft. Then, of course, the fun begins and I have to do it all over again.

Thanks for having me Janet. I love talking about Kelly and the gang at Indian Creek, and I hope my answers have been informative and at least a little bit fun to read.

Jude Pittman

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thursday - Who I'm Reading - Rita Karnopp

If you like stories with native American characters, you'll enjoy these books. Rita writes both historical books featuring the Blackfeet culture and contemporary stories with the same feature. Even in her modern stories you'll learn facts about the culture. The suspense stories are chilling. You can find her books here. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=Rita+Karnopp

Right now I'm reading one of her historicals Kidnapped and am interested in the twists and turns. There is a great villainess and a fascinating heroine as well as a good hero. Just finished Revenge and the twists and turns of the plot kept me guessing until thevery end. There's also a mystical feel to many of her stories. Haven't read them all but I will.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Dialogue - Eileen Charbonneau - Elements of the Novel

What's a story without dialogue? Dialogue is one of the elements that keep a novel moving forward. In Elements of the Novel, Eileen Charbonneau gives some hints for writing dialogue. Good dialogue does many things. Insite is one. Have you ever listened to strangers talking and formed judgments about their nature, the importance of what they are talking about? Do you sometimes use this to create a story?

Dialogue should move the story forward. One can't use dialogue in an idle fashion. There must be a  reason for the characters to talk to each other. Good dialogue can bring about change. One of the problems is to write in prose about what the characters will say in a later bit of dialogue. Redundancy doesn't work but leaves the reader saying, "I already know that."

Dialogue should show the characters relationship to the other characters and their reactions to the events that are happening. Dialogue should show the differences between characters, who they are, where they have come from and what their chosen direction in life happens to be. Men talk differently than women. A nurse will speak differently than a college professor. These things should be kept in mind when writing dialogue.

One little thing I find when the dialogue seems off is to take out all the background elements and write out the dialogue as if it were a play. Then read it aloud. This lets you hear if people sound the same or if one character is speaking out of character. Try it and see if your dialogue becomes more vital. As Eileen says, "Dialogue is the spine of the story giving your characters the chance to speak in their own voice."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tuesday's Inspiration - Mark Twain

As Mark Twain once wrote, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and lightning bug."

When I read this, I thought how true but I learned one thing here. Since I'm a draft writer I move through a draft in a fairly fast move. When I'm trying to get the bones of the story down I sort of speed write. When I began I used to spend time searching for the right word and often stopped the flow of the story during this search. I used the Thesarus, dictionaries and an etymology book but I lost the flow of the story and had to set it aside. I really believe finding the right word is essential to making a story sing. These days when I come to a place where I can't find the right word I leave a blank space or put the first one that comes to mind with a little note saying find a better word in the body of the story. This note may remain through several drafts until I get to the point of setting through the final draft where I check each scene, each line for the meaning I want.

How do you know when it's the right word? For me it's one of those "Oh, yes" moments and sometimes I voice my opinion aloud. This is fine when I'm alone in the house, but when there are people around, someone always asks what I'm yelling about. "Words," I say. I'm not sure those who don't write understand the idea of the right word at the right time.

I do. How about you? Do you spend time finding the right word to describe what you mean without producing a whole paragraph to find the lightning rather than the lightning bug.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday July 23 - Week Behind and Week Ahead

I have an interview up here. http://tbrtheblog.blogspot.com/2012/07/tbr-welcomes-janet-lane-walters.html
Last week I finished the rough draft of Lines of Fire a paranormal romance. The story has plot holes larg enough to drive an ocean liner through. Today I'll start the plot draft to fill in those holes. I do plan and organize my stories but in the writing things change as the story evolves. Doing the plot draft is the times when I discover that those "this is not exactly how it happened" moments arrive. Sometimes the changes are minor and sometimes major but they all lead to the end I envisioned when I began. So now it's time to look at what really happened in the story, especially when I know this is part of a trilogy and some of the events will point to what will happen in other books.

What about you? Are you one of those writers who can't move forward until you plug the holes from the beginning? Do you need to get the entire story down and then think about what those new twists mean?

Last week I recieved a really nice compliment from two former critique partners. Makes what I like to do worthwhile. That's helping new writers move ahead with their careers. Both have gone on to hit the NY Times best seller lists and I couldn't be prouder of them and that I had a small bit to do with their careers.

What's up for this week? All the usual blog posts. Working on the plot draft of Lines of Fire. Wondering where my imagination will take me next. A bit of reading. Doing a book signing at the Kingston Farmer's Market. That should be a different venue but I get to buy produce, too. Sounds like a win-win day.

Each week brings something new and interesting. So let the games begin.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Saturday's Chapter - Nancy Henderson - Four Winds

July, 1757

Cade broke into a hard run.


Panic tripped reflexes, stretched muscle, drove beyond limits. Briars grabbed her clothes, ripped her face, but she felt no pain. Felt nothing but blood pounding in her ears, breath burning her lungs.


Bolting through a sea of knee-high ferns, she leapt over a rotted log, landed in a stream and soaked her breeches clean through. She skidded over moss-covered rock, hurried up the opposite bank, and cut around a wall of yellow birch.


For over a year, it had been the symbol of sweet relief, an end to unjustified suffering. Now the possibility of death brought a stubborn will to live, an inexcusable mask over her immediate fear.


Blackflies clouded around her face. What seemed like a mile passed before she allowed herself to stop and listen. Her breath escaped her as heavy as a plow horse’s, yet she heard nothing else. No birds, no wind. No sign of him.


She waited, watched. Nightfall clawed at the forest; dancing shadows which promised only fear.


Relief did not come directly. It never did. She had to coax it, convince herself it was all right, that she had survived.


And fear, of course, was inexcusable. She would have to go back. She had no other solution, no choice. Grey could not possibly be allowed to live, though death was too good for him. Hell was too good for him.


And Grey would be dead by dawn.


Cade heard the shot before she felt the pain. The sound cracked her skull, rattled her ribcage. Smoke immediately blinded her as pungent, acidic sulfur stung her nose.


One of Grey’s men. Well over six feet tall. His red British jacket was stark contrast against the shadowed forest.


Panic rushed into her ears, through her brain, fast, faster, clouding the veil between wake and unconscious.


Sharp, searing pain cut her arm and down into her hand, the opposite one with which she gripped the knife. Her lungs burned, not just from running. This was liquid fire melting her from the inside out. Slicing open her heart and lying it bare.


Cade stared: black eyes, black hair just grazing his shoulders. He wore buckskin leggings, a string of beads and a gold medallion against his bare chest.


Shock became victory mixed with the overwhelming sense of loss. She had failed at killing Grey, but Grey’s men had not been able to catch her, at least. No, instead she had stumbled upon the path of an Indian who would finish her off.


She tried to run, stumbled, fought to stand. Blood soaked her coat, ran off her fingers. It spotted the ferns at her feet.


Then all went black.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday - How She Does It Nancy Henderson

How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process?

Sometimes I'm not really sure, even after all these years. LOL! Sometimes they just come to me. I'll be somewhere driving or doing housework or be in the shower and a voice will whisper a certain line of dialogue, and I'll think, “Oh, hello. Who are you, and what timeline are you from​​? Other times, characters come with a bit more prodding. Sometimes I have to do outlines, character interviews, and lots and lots of brainstorming.

2. Do your characters come before the plot? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end?

Usually the characters come before the plot. Almost always. I used to let the characters sketch out my plot. I’d literally begin a story having no idea where it would go. That was exciting but also scary. There was always that fear that maybe I’d write myself in a corner and not be able to figure out the happily ever after. Nowadays, I plot a good deal of the story before I begin. Sometimes I only have a shady idea of how the happily ever after will come, but that’s ok. That’s part of the fun of writing.

3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?

Actually, I just answered that in the above question…sorry. But yes, I love a story I’m writing where I know how it will end. I will write a story where I only have a shady idea of the ending, and sometimes I do sweat those plots when writing.

4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?

I have books EVERYWHERE much to my husband’s discouragement. LOL! I love, love, love New York state’s rich colonial history. I’m not sure why. I think perhaps I lived a former life in the 18th century, I’m not sure. I always say, hey I’m going to write a western, or I’m going to set this book in a different time ­period, but I rarely do.

5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?


6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why?

 I’m a draft writer. I write the whole thing first then go back. At least this way I have the gratification of knowing the book is written in its entirety. It may not be done but the whole thing is written. It’s out there and waiting to be edited.

Thanks for having me! Please visit my website at: http://www.nancyhendersonauthor.com and my blog at http://nancyhenderson.blogspot.com

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Who I'm Reading - Jennifer Probst

This week I've been reading Jennifer Probst, a writer I'm so very proud of. Jen has been a friend and was a former critique partner for a number of years. She's a multi-published writer who is reaching for the start and I'm so happy to see her soar. I must admit I haven't read all her stories but I have heard most of them. She writes alpha heroes you'd love to know and sometimes would love to smack.  You can check her stories here. http://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Probst/e/B004V56P04/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1342699410&sr=1-2-ent Jen even asked me to do a bit for her children's story Buffy and the Carrot. A story one of my granddaughter's thought was perfectly silly. Heart of Steel is one of my favorites. There's that alpha hero matched with a strong heroine. Of course The Marriage Bargain is another where the hero gets exactly what he deserves. So if you're a fan of alpha heros and their strong alpha heroines, read the stories.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Transitions - Eileen Charbonneau - Elements of the Novel

When I think of transitions, I think of "How do we get from here to there." This can mean going fromone location to another in a story, sort of Meanwhile, back at the ranch. This is only one part of the use of transition. You may be going from one character to another or from one chapter to another. In Elements of the Novel, Eileen Charbonneau gives some ways to do this.

Extra white spaces or the *** can give the reader a hint that something is going to change. One thing I've found useful here is to locate the reader in character or setting when there's a change. Show the new character doing something and let the reader know who this character is. Setting changes should quickly show the reader where they are.

The most important of the transitions is the chapter break. Eileen suggests finding a point in your chapter where making the break holds a moment of suspense. I've often used one of the characters asking or thinking a question that may or may not be answered at the start of a new chapter. The question could be something simple like Where's Johnny? And the next chapter could start Johnny lay in the trunk of the sedan. Though this is a bit simplistic, if the reader cares about the character they're going to end the chapter wondering and start reading the next chapter to find more about the characters.

So choose your transitions with care and hone them. The reader will be hooked and keep reading.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tuesday's Inspiration - Toni Morrison

While reading a book on writing, I came across this quote by Toni Morrison. She's a brilliant writer and her stories take the reader into the world fueled by her life and imagination. Though I've never met her, she lives in the next town over on the Hudson River from where I live.  Here's the quote.

"If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." Toni Morrison.

When I began writing, there were stories I wanted to tell and I wrote them, but they were short stories. Then I was ill and my sister-in-law, knowing I loved to read, sent a shopping bag of nurse romances. I started reading them and realized they weren't the books I wanted to read. That book hadn't been written yet. So my quest began. I wrote and wrote. The first novel, a "sweet nurse" romance was written and re-written, while I read books on writing and took a few courses. With help from editors, and multiple revisions, the book was accepted for publication. If it had found the book I wanted to read, I wouldn't have begun writing novels. I would have perhaps continued to write short stories for markets that had begun to dry up.

Taking that first step led to many more writers but all have begun with that thought, this is a story that hasn't been written yet, and I'd really love to read it.

How about you? Are your stories born because you wanted to read a book that hadn't been written yet?

Monday, July 16, 2012

16 July = Week ahead and behind

Tomorrow, I'll be a day older than yesterday but also a year older than that. Tomorrow is number 76. While the body ages, the mind remains rather sharp. At least I hope so. Enough about that but it's interesting to think about what one has done and not done. Do I have a bucket list, NO. I just follow life day by day.

Last week I went over the halfway mark in the rough draft of Lines of Fire and the story lines for the next two are falling into place. It's wonderful when that happens. The villains are being exposed but there seems to be one somewhere in the background who hasn't appeared yet. Who is responsible for sullying the lines of fire? I'm sure I'll learn in time. Last week was hot and humid and this week promises to be the same. My critique group had an impromptu early birthday. I now have a new dragon on my shelf. This one is a clock and that's so cool. Even keeps accurate time.

What's on the agenda for this week. Of course the blog posts as usual. Tomorrow Inspiration, Wednesday Elements of the Novel, Thursday Who I'm reading and I'll decide what and who then. Friday and Saturday an new guest on my blog and Sunday finding interesting blogs to visit. Might look at the tribe members for that. Will see. As far as the story, I'll at least rough out three more chapters and that will mean only 2 or 3 to reach the end and then the fun begins. For me revision and re-writing are among my favorite parts of writing.

So here's to another year to find what adventures are on the horizon.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Saturday's Chapter - Annette Snyder - Respectable Affair

Respectable Affair

Annette Snyder

Chapter 1

John didn’t so much hate flying as he did the turbulence. In an effort to distract from the rise and fall of the airplane, he looked out the window to the area below, a patchwork of brown, green and gold squares, lines of muddied water river ways intertwined. A few antlike cars and homestead farms dotted the grid pattern of the roads. “I wonder why we had to come up this way in the middle of the year.” He didn’t like turbulence in his life either and that was exactly what the trip to Nebraska caused.

“Probably has something to do with closing the firm. Or maybe she missed us.” Ruth took a deep breath and looked back to the book she held.

John tried to remember the last time he saw Rebecca Seidle. Was it last Christmas? Rebecca called nearly every week but the distance between Nebraska and Florida and the cost of travel was a barrier for visits. Adjusting his work schedule during the summer months, the busiest time of the year for a handyman, wasn’t a picnic either.

Ruth reached up and pushed the call light for the stewardess. “I hope she’s got some coffee.”

When John pulled up his sleeve to check the time on his dad’s watch, he remembered the day the mortician handed him and Virgie the brown envelope of personal items that weren’t buried. That occurred in an attorney’s office too. “We can’t have that much of a flight left.”

The stewardess stopped at Ruth and smiled. “Can I help you?”

“Do you have any coffee left?”

“I’m sorry but we’re out and we’re almost to our destination. The Captain will begin announcing…”

“Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking.” The Captain’s voice sounded tinny as if beamed from miles away instead of feet.

Head tilted to one side, the stewardess smiled. “I’m sorry. There is coffee in the terminal right up the stairs to the right and you’ll be able to purchase a cup when you deplane.”

* * * *

Just as promised, there was fresh coffee inside the airport terminal and John bought two cups. “Your mom sent a car. It’ll be here in half an hour.” He adjusted the sleeve of his jacket.

“It still seems so strange that we had to fly all the way here. What couldn’t Mom say in a phone call? You don’t sup-pose she’s ill?”

“It probably business. She’s selling the firm and maybe there’s more about Dad’s estate. Now that Virgie’s gone…you know as well as I do that your mom handled all their affairs.” He hated the use of the word once he said it. His father and Virgie had an affair for years and even using the word when speaking about them almost seemed like he let loose a terrible secret, though, in reality, everyone in Eureka Springs knew but said nothing.

What did it matter? Dad passed years ago and Virgie was gone more than two. The rumors of undesirable behavior by the pair faded soon after Virgie’s funeral as if everyone in town wanted to brush away a bad memory.

Not that the memories John had of his extended family were bad. He grew up in a home where love was prevalent even though his real mother was absent and his nanny and father kept a secret relationship. He knew his dad loved Virginia Seidle just in the way he looked at her, his eyes locked in a tender gaze. When he spoke of her, the kindness in his voice held only admiration. Those few times when John caught a glimpse of the pair when they thought they were alone, Nolan Vickers held Virgie the same way John, as an adult, held his wife Ruth. Nolan Vickers and Virgie were in love, probably always had been, even though his mother was living, though incoherent, in the asylum.

Had his mother been in the picture, Virgie and his dad would have lived more normal lives apart but people got thrown into strange situations all the time.

When his dad married his real mom, he had no idea that she’d go insane and he’d need to institutionalize her and hire a nanny. When he hired Virginia Seidle, Nolan Vickers didn’t know he’d fall in love with her or she with him. They dealt with it the best they could and, John was sure, raised him in that degree as well. John grew up feeling loved. What else mattered?

* * * *

The building that housed the firm looked almost the same as it had the last time John and Ruth visited except that a new awning stretched above and shaded the front windows. The door to the foyer still had that familiar squeak when John pulled on the metal handle. The corridor to the section of the building devoted to Rebecca’s firm had a floor so polished that John thought he’d slip around if he wore only socks. Once inside Seidle Law, Rebecca’s name stood in shiny gold letters as greeting above the receptionist’s desk.

“Mr. and Mrs. Vickers, nice to see you again. They’re waiting for you in Mrs. Seidle’s office.” She stood and walked around the desk. “I’ll show you in.”

“They?” He questioned the receptionist only to have a blank stare returned. “That’s fine. We know the way.” John gave her hand a squeeze before he followed Ruth down the hall to Rebecca’s office.

The door was closed.

Ruth knocked and opened the door before anyone answered. “Mom? We’re here.”

John wasn’t quite to the door when he heard Rebecca’s reply, “Hello, honey. Did you have a nice flight? I missed you.”

“It was fine. A little turbulence but…Audrey? Barbara? What are you doing here?”

John was equally as shocked when he entered the office and found Audrey and Barbara Vecchi already seated.

After hugging her daughter and John, Rebecca motioned to two empty chairs. “Please have a seat.”

Her professionalism almost scared John as he took the seat on the farthest end. It brought back those painful memories from when he was eighteen at his father’s passing which led to a formal meeting with an attorney. “Audrey, I didn’t know you and Barb were visiting. Have you been here long?”

“We came on a flight yesterday,” Audrey replied as if her being in Rebecca’s office, so far from Florida and at the same time as John and Ruth, was a regular occurrence.

“You flew in yesterday? Mom, what’s going on?”

With Ruth’s concern, John was even more curious than when he got the formal letter from Rebecca’s law firm summoning their presence. “Did Rebecca send you a letter too?”

Audrey didn’t reply. Instead she looked at Rebecca who sat behind her desk, hands folded together, fingers entwined.

“Audrey and I asked you three here together for a reason.”

Normally quiet Barbara Vecchi shot an uncertain stare to her mother and then sent a question to Rebecca. “What reason? You knew John and Ruth were coming and didn’t say anything?”

“Rebecca? Audrey? What is going on?” John looked at the two women. He’d known them all his life. They were Virgie’s best friends. They’d gone to college together and remained constant in each other’s lives.

Audrey lived and worked in Eureka Springs and their family gatherings were always intertwined.

Rebecca married Virgie’s brother Truman and, though she lived in Nebraska, weekly phone calls closed the distance.

It seemed so strange that neither woman mentioned the reason he and Ruth had to fly in for a formal visit and even stranger that Barbara was present and Audrey said nothing about a trip. The most bizarre? The way the two friends seemed to fumble about as if no one knew what to say next. “Okay, ladies. What in the world did you call us up here for? I’m sure it wasn’t to let us sit around and stare at each other.”

Rebecca put her hands in her lap and glanced from Audrey to the other three. “Audrey and I have something to tell you. A story.”

Audrey took a deep breath and reached to stroke Barbara’s arm before resting her hands on the arms of the chair. “We thought the best thing was to have you all together and say it just once.”

Rebecca bit her lip before she spoke. “What we did was the right thing to do. We did it for Virgie. We did it for Elizabeth and Nolan. We did it for all of you.”

“We knew the only way to protect you was to keep the secret but now we feel it’s time to tell the truth.”

To John, when Audrey spoke, it looked as if she’d rehearsed her words a thousand times. “What truth?” he asked.

And Rebecca began. “Our dear friend Virgie was always so full of love and life and she loved without reason. Follow where your heart leads…that’s what she always said.”

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday - How She Does It - Annette Snyder

We all know there are six elements in writing fiction and often fact. Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. I believe the first five lead to the sixth which for me is the plot. What's your take on this?

If I think of the elements while I’m writing, I don’t do as well as if I just let the story take form. I start with an idea or characters--who and what, add an inspired setting--where and when and do the basic outline--why. All that good stuff in between is the how. I took a memoir writing class last year taught by a major published author. He said the setting should come first and everything else follows but that doesn’t always work for me.

1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process?

Once I was in a museum with my kids. There was an exhibit on orphan trains and I was enthralled reading the stories displayed. Someone tapped me on the shoulder and said, “My name’s Sally. Write about me.” When I turned around, no one was there…no one was even in the vicinity. Before I got home and wrote Sally Murphy, my very first release, I knew what Sally looked like and that she liked wearing blue. Most of my characters come to me in one version of that or another so, if they show up and bug me enough, I’ve got a story.

2. Do your characters come before the plot? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end?

Sometimes, like with the book I’m writing now, I have the characters first. I wanted to write about a strong female auctioneer and pair her with an equally minded man. I wanted her to have a past that cut deep into her values. I wanted him to be independent and sarcastic. That’s about all I started with until I reread my first book in my contemporary series and knew those two characters had to fit into that format. Going Twice, the third novel in my Packard Family series, should be finished by the end of this summer.

3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?

I know I want my two mains to get together—or that’s what I thought until I wrote Viveka’s War. I really had no idea what would happen once the leading man was out of the picture and his brother stepped in. I remember writing and thinking, “What the….! Now what?” But it worked out just fine in the end.

4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?

My 1800’s series is based on an era. My WWII series started because of a specific house style and my contemporary romance started because of one man’s occupation. My favorite books are the ones that I’m inspired to write.

5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?

The internet makes research so easy but I also go to books and I ask people in the know. I have a friend who I go to with horse questions. When I wrote my WWII series, I asked my grandmothers who lived through all that. There’s a scene in Respectable Affair where my characters are on a boat. I know nothing about boats but a friend of mine does so I called him. In my current work, the main character is a trap shooter. One of my friend’s sons is a trap shooter and he helps me with all those questions. I also visit museums and places as needed to help with proper setting.

6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why?

I revise as I go and add and subtract what doesn’t work. When I’m all finished, I let the story rest and go back a month or so later and fix what I think needs fixing—mostly that’s POV and, as I’m learning the writing craft better, too much telling.

Visit me at http://annettesnyder.atspace.com or my blog at http://annettesnyder.blogspot.com

Respectable Affair, third in my WWII series, released in May.

Here’s a blurb:

Between Virginia Seidle’s terrible jaunt with men and Nolan Vickers’s upheld honor toward his institutionalized wife, no one in town openly faulted the pair for banding together to raise Nolan’s son, John. When love blossoms, would people be as accepting?

Can Nolan and Virgie put their clouded pasts behind and keep their affair respectable?
Pick up your copy at www.whiskeycreekpress.com
Annette Snyder
2011 Epic Finalist
Available Now: Drive Thru
Fifty Authors From Fifty States Blog

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thursday - Who I'm Reading - Jane Toombs

Today I'm talking about Jane Toombs and her books. While I've been reading her since I first discovered her books, I will admit I haven't read them all. As you will see if you go to her page on Amazon, she's nearing or may be over the 100 book list. What triggered this reading spree was going through the books on my keeper shelf and trying to down-size there. I had nearly a shelf of her books, some bought and put aside to read later. So later came and I read them.

Jane doesn't stick to one genre, she writes fantasy both dark and light, historical and contemporary romances. She aslo has a number of other writing names. In her career she's won awards. Here's her page on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Jane-Toombs/e/B004B35EX0/ref=sr_tc_2_rm?qid=1342099929&sr=1-2-ent

Just the other day I found one of her books I hadn't read  Thirteen West, about a psych hospital gone wrong and was  drawn into the story and the characters. So If you like to read a list of books by a true craftswoman, pick up one of Jane's books and enjoy. Of course, you must realize Jane's also my friend and sometimes writing partner.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - Drafts - Eileen Charbonneau - Elements of the Novel

In this chapter Eileen Charbonneau talks about doing drafts. Now here is someone who approaches writing in almost the manner I do. I have a feeling her first draft is much longer than mine usually end up. But for me this is the way I write. Other people write differently since they revise each scene or chapter before they continue. What she's addressing here is what happens after a writer has found all the elements of their story and have begun the real thing.

In the Elements of the Novel, Eileen talks about three drafts. The first is getting down the story going where the characters and the idea takes the writer. Essentially this is getting the story down on paper no matter if you write it out by hand or type it into the computer. Here is where everything and anything goes. I often call this the draft only the writer can love. This is the Sound Draft.

The second of the Drafts is the Sense draft. What that really means is looking at all the elements of the story and seeing if they are what you want to show the reader. Are the characters developed? Is the setting there? Do you have holes in the plot that need to be filled in? Sometimes I find holes big enough to drive a Sherman tank through. For me, this means doing each element separately. I do wish I could do it all in one but that's not the way I work.

The third draft she speaks about is named Sing. Here attention is paid to the word use, to taking out the boring parts and making them come alive. Getting rid of those tell passages and showing, drawing the reader in. Read your story aloud. This will show you parts that don't fit what you've written. Once you've done all this, you're done. Except for me there's a final look through to find those missing question marks and those words that are real words but aren't the ones you meant to type.

But the journey isn't finished. There are a few more chapters to finish in this well-written little book.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tuesday's Inspiration - Music to write by

Many writers use music to help them concentrate when they write. What kind of music inspires you? Today I was inspired by the music I hear but also by a question in an interview that I recently completed.

For me, there can be no lyrics. I find I am diverted by the lyrics and somehow the words end up in my prose. I am prebably not the average writer. For me there classical music does it for me. No opera though for even here I become diverted by the words and the voices of the singers. Could this be because I'm eternally curious about people? Not sure. So what kind of music helps me when I write?

If I'm writing an action scene I choose a stormy kind of music like the 1812 Overture or some stormy Beethoven or Mahler. Ther planets is another favorite choice. For love scenes I turn to waltzes. Who can not imagine a couple moving in harmony, or some ballet music especially ones where I've seen a pair moving across the stage. Then there are those moments in writing when poignancy is needed. There I turn to things like Swan Lake, some of the nocturns and other bitter sweet pieces. I also find overtures from the operas to help establish the mood in my head for writing a particular scene.

I do envy those who can choose music with words and voices when they write. How about you? What kind of music inspires you?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Monday July 9 - Week Ahead and Week Behind

Yesterday I managed to join a new group. Now there will be more digests to read. Why did I do this? Because a chat was arranged, but nothing happened the way it was supposed to.Not that I'm complaining.  Probably because of the "old timers syndrome." Vaguely remember this being scheduled months ago. Jane and I were going to talk about being co- authors. Didn't happen, but that's all right. Answered questions and talked a bit about the books we were going to talk about and posted a few excerpts. Threw my schedule off but I'll get back on track soon.

Last week saw the release of Confrontations, the final book in the Affinities Series. What a rush it is to see that happen. Will ask when print books will be available since I'll need them to send the grandchildren for Christmas. After all they are the reason these books began in the first place. Work on Lines of Fire is back on track. Tossed out a good bit of the writing done since I'd ended in a sort of eddy where several chapters made no sense in the scheme of the book.

This week I'll continue with the rough draft.  14 Chapters to go. Actually one is half done.This may be the most complete rough draft I've ever done but this story stops cold when I get too far off track. The characters seem to be in control. Every story told is a new experience and that's the fun about writing.

 I do believe as the characters change so do the writers. The more stories one puts on paper the better the writing becomes. How about you? Do you find with each story told the telling becomes easier?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Saturday's Chapter - Teresa Carpenter - The Sheriff's Doorstep Baby

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Hands braced on his hips, Sheriff Nate Connor stood looking down at the strange beauty sleeping on his couch. Rolled up in his fleece throw, purple-and-pink-striped socks peeked out from one end and sunshine-yellow hair cascaded from the other.

With a muffled curse he holstered the nine millimeter he'd palmed when he found his front door unlocked. Not that he'd really expected to need it, but a soldier was always prepared. Even in River Run, where the population was less than five thousand.

Luck and skill had kept him from shooting himself when he tripped over the guitar case negligently left in the entry hall.

He considered reaching for his handcuffs, but the woman wasn't a complete stranger. He'd seen sufficient pictures here in this house and on his predecessor's desk to recognize the pretty flow of hair. He was enough of a lawman to figure out she was his new landlord.

And they'd met briefly at her father's funeral seven months ago.

Yeah, he knew who sleeping beauty was. The question was why?

Why was she here and why did she think she could make herself at home on his couch?

He'd had his own plans for that couch. Today was supposed to have been his first day off in over a month. The storm changed that. An overnight delivery truck had skidded on ice and ended up on its side in the pass, blocking traffic in both directions. By the time they got it cleared up, they were in the middle of a full-blown blizzard, and he'd given up any hope of regaining his day off.

A surge of wind knocking branches against the house punctuated the thought.

After a ten-hour day, he'd planned to come home, heat up a frozen dinner and watch the game he'd recorded earlier.

Plans delayed by his uninvited guest's possession of said couch.

A soft snore came from the fleece-wrapped bundle. Nate's dark brows slammed together in a scowl. Now that was irritating. Not because the sound annoyed him, but because it didn't. It had been cute.

He had no room in his life for soft and cute, no patience for trespassing blondes interrupting the last of his day off.

In the past seven months he'd heard nothing from Michelle Ross. Now she slept tucked up on his couch. She may own the place but he had a contract stating it was his for the next four months. He didn't know what brought her to town, but she wasn't staying here.

A matter he meant to take up with her right now.

"Ms. Ross."

No response.

"Ms. Ross." Advancing on the couch, he repeated the demand for her attention, and then again, louder each time. She stirred and then settled against the cushions, sighing as she pulled the throw tighter around herself.

Finally he leaned down and shook her shoulder. "Come on, beauty, wake up." she stirred and mumbled something.

Instinctively, he leaned closer to hear what she said.

But suddenly she turned and her lips brushed his. That's when her eyes opened. Lovely eyes that brought the green of spring to a late-winter's storm. And that thought distracted him long enough for her to wrap her arms around his neck and draw him down for a deeper kiss.

Questions of who and why and what disappeared in a rush of sensation. She felt warm and soft, and tasted oh, so sweet. This was what home should feel like, what a welcome should taste like.

Nate threaded his hands in all that hair and sank into the moment. After the day he'd had, he let the heat of the kiss sweep him away.

Michelle dreamed of a man on a white horse riding through the forest. Tall and strong, he carried a sword and sought a beautiful princess, ready to save her from all her woes. Michelle was both the princess and not. She liked the safety the knight represented, but it never came free and she wanted to save herself.

Only fools and optimists believed in love. Which left her out. She was nobody's fool. And she'd given up on optimism early in life. She preferred to control her own destiny than hope for the best.

Now the knight was on top of her, holding her gently, his hands fisted in her hair, broad shoulders blocking out the world. He smelled like the fleece that held her in warmth and comfort, of the woods and man. But he was heat and power and his lips were on hers and she didn't care if there was a price. Safe had never felt so good.

She arched into the kiss, opening her lips at the demand of his, welcoming him in, savoring the spicy taste of the man who held her so securely.

His hand moved in a sweeping caress from her head to her waist, where skin met skin. The shock of his cold fingers reached beyond Michelle's lethargy.

Her eyes flew open and she realized this was no dream, no Prince Charming of childish imaginings, but a flesh-and-blood man with a bold kiss and cold hands.

She broke off the kiss, planted both palms flat against his chest and pushed. "Back up, buddy!"

For a moment, just a heartbeat, he held the embrace, and then he released her and surged to his feet.

"Hell. I must be more tired than I thought." He scrubbed both hands over a face a shade too ordinary to be considered handsome. Straight dark eyebrows topped fierce gray eyes. Cut military-short, his hair was a tawny blend of brown, blond and red. Temper, or maybe it was passion, brought a ruddy hue to his cheeks.

The khaki uniform so like her father's had her narrowing her eyes on him as she swung her feet to the floor and sat up. Pain throbbed in her ankle, but she ignored it.

"Who are you and what are you doing in my house?" she demanded. "Besides accosting me?"

"You mean my home?" His hands went to his hips, and he met her glare for glare. "And you kissed me."

She raised brows at him. "A neat trick for someone asleep. I inherited this house from my father."

"And I rented it from him."

That surprised her. "He didn't tell me anything about renting the house. When did that happen?"

"Ben rented me a room when I first moved to town and I continued to rent the place when he moved in with his lady friend almost a year ago."

"Dad had a girlfriend?" She'd been dreaming of princesses and white knights, but clearly she'd fallen down the rabbit hole. As far as she knew, Dad had never had a lady friend.

"I remember you now, from my father's funeral." Usually great with names, she reached for his and came up short. The funeral had been hard for her. She took a stab. "Gabe?"

"Nate." He corrected. "Nate Connor."

"Well, Nate, it seems you took over Dad's job, and you took over his house."

His expression frosted over. "What are you implying?"

"Nothing nefarious." She waved off his paranoia. "I'm just saying this is my house."

She'd only come back to River Run to sell the house so she could move to Los Angeles and pursue her song-writing career.

She'd escaped this town when she graduated from high school—couldn't leave the little burg fast enough—and nothing had changed since. With her dad's passing the small town had even less going for it now than it had when she was a kid.

So no, she hadn't crept through Dead Man's Pass praying to a deity she hadn't spoken to in way too long to be kicked out of her own home.

"It's your house, but it's rented to me. I have a contract if you'd like to see it." Nate crossed his arms over his chest, causing his biceps to pop. "You didn't talk to your dad much, did you?"

The truth she'd come to acknowledge since her dad's passing hit her hard. Hearing the censure from the current sheriff didn't help.

"You don't know anything about my relationship with my father." Anger had her pushing to her feet. The ankle she'd injured walking up the snow-covered path from the car to the front door protested at the sudden motion, at the sudden weight, and gave out on her.

He caught her before she could fall, putting those impressive biceps to work, his grip under her elbows easily holding her weight off the sore foot.

"Are you okay?" Exasperation sat alongside concern in the question.

"Fine." She attempted to shrug off his touch, but he held firm until she was seated once again. "I tripped on something on the way up the walk."

He frowned. "I'll check it out tomorrow. Do you need ice for your ankle?"

It irked to hear him playing host in her house. She shook her head. "I'm fine. How long did you know my dad?"

"Three years," he said as he shrugged out of his jacket and hung it on the newel post.

She waited, hearing the cry of a kitten in the lull, but that was all he shared. Great. Her father had been the same all her life, bound by duty, determined to steal all the joy from her life. Now it seemed there'd been more to him than she remembered, but the bearer of the news was no more talkative than her father had been.

"Not very long," she challenged.

"Not compared to twenty-five years, no. But I talked to him, worked with him, spent time with him. You let a complete stranger make funeral arrangements."

Shame burned in her. That had been the lowest time in her life. A bad week capped off by the loss of her father. Yeah, she should have come home and taken care of the details of Dad's funeral, but she'd been trying to save her job, trying to hold together the fraying edges of her life.

In the end she'd only been delaying the inevitable.

"I thanked you for your help." She tried to find a smile and a little of her patented charm to ease the way with him. She'd learned early in life that a pretty girl had power, and she wielded the tool of her looks like any other talent.

But she was too weary, too annoyed with him and the crying of his cat, to bother. Or maybe she was too unsettled by the taste of him still in her mouth to summon a smile.

And what had that been about anyway? She was supposed to have kissed him in her sleep? Right.

So okay, she'd been k...

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday - How She Does It - Teresa Carpenter

We all know there are six elements in writing fiction and often fact. Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. I believe the first five lead to the sixth which for me is the plot. What's your take on this?

I''ve never heard it put that way before, but I like it. I'm a plotter so it speaks to me.

1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process?

As I mentioned, I'm a plotter so I'll often get an idea for a plot and people it with characters who will benefit most from the plot. Once I’ve done that it becomes very real for me and it’s hard if the editor wants me to shift motivations. My heroine in Her Baby, His Proposal did argue with me about her name. She started out as Michelle, but she just fought me so I had to change her to Jesse. Michelle finally found her story in my new story The Sheriff’s Doorstep Baby.

2. Do your characters come before the plot? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end?

Oops, I’m out of order. The idea comes first, which is usually the plot, but I do have a process I follow. I have a critique group that has evolved into a plotting group. I bring my idea and we brainstorm and I basically build my character and plot at the same time. Then I go home let it all percolate and start writing. Once I’ve started putting fingers to keys, the characters take over and they drive the story from there.

3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?

I know how my story will end but I don’t always know the exact scene for the end. I actually prefer it when I do know how it’ll end. I have a road map from my plotting session, and it’s fun to take side trips but it keeps me focused if I have that end scene in mind. In Flirting With Fireworks I absolutely knew Jared was going to take Cherry to the top of the Ferris wheel. Loved that scene. And then there is the diamond moment of writing when the perfect scene comes to you. Which happened with the tree house scene in The Sheriff’s Doorstep Baby.

4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?

Don’t you know? A writer is also a travel agent, an architect, a history teacher, a doctor. Anything you’ve ever wanted to be, here’s your chance. And yes, I do draw house plans and occasionally city plans when I’ve made up a town. Mostly I write about places I know, but I live in San Diego county which stretches from the mountains to the sea and offers many different locales, so I’m lucky that way. It’s easiest to write about what and where you know, but with the internet, and a good map, you can make any place familiar. In the Boss’s Surprise Son I took Rick and Savannah to London. I really worried about the authenticity of that because my editors are in London, but they didn’t change a thing. Whew. And now, I really want to go to England!

5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?

I keep getting ahead of myself. Most of my research is done online. I rarely delve into books for research. But do like a good map. Usually one geared toward tourists because it includes points of interest. And I have great resources in my critique partners, a registered nurse, a history teacher, a caterer with a psych major, and a woman who has done everything from drive a lunch truck, to policewoman, to film reviewer. I’ve got banking and real estate covered, so we’re a well-rounded crowd.

6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why?

I revise as I go along. And then do a final draft. I still work full time and I write at lunch, so part of my routine is to rework what I write at lunch before dropping it into the current work and then I read back over what I wrote the day before and what I reworked before moving forward. I have a specific number of pages I need to write each day and I stick to that pretty religiously. Writing is a very personal experience and we all have to find our own rhythm and this is working for me.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Thursday - Who I'm Reading - Kat Attalla and Kathryn Taylor

If you like snappy dialogue and heroines with an attitude that matches those of the heroes try books by Kat Attalla also writing as Kathryn Taylor. I must admit I've watched her career bloom from her first published book Homeward Bound, not the one about the cats and dogs but a romance with heart, poignant and funny at the same time. While I have this book in every format possible and I've re-read it numerout times, it's not my favorite of favorites. Murphy's Law wins that honor for me. I like the scruffy hero and the heroine who is on the run. And they do run from country to country in Europe finally reaching the States. Sex and Key Lime Pie is another of her books that has a serious touch beneath the humor. Who doesn't like a "secret child" story.

So if you're looking for a fun read visit her Amazon pages and select one of the books listed here. Kst is a friend and critique partner and a great writer.



Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Wednesday's Writer's Tip - POV - Eileen Charbonneau

Once again, I'm looking at  Elements of the Novel by Eileen Charbonneau. This time she's talking about POV or to make this simple, who's telling the story. A point of view can make or break a story. I usually write in third person with two or more eyes to view the story's events. What Eileen points out here is that if a number of people view the same event they will all have different versions of the same happening.

So there's First person and that's told from the eyes of one character. Useful for mysteries and often seen in YA. The problem here means that the character can only relate what they see, hear, taste, smell, touch. If something happens off stage, someone must tell them what has happened.

Second person is you and often results in stiffness or a lecture. I've never read much in this POV. This is You being the addressee.

Third person finds most of the fiction. There can be one story teller, two, or multiple plus the teller looking down on the action. This is Omniscent and sees, hears and knows all. I've used all but the omniscent POV. I like seeing actions shown through several people's eyes. In romance, two is usually what's used but I've used three when there's something that needs to be shown that neither hero or heroine has seen. I've also used many characters telling part of the story. The problem here is sticking to the chosen character for the scene or the chapter and not being in one of the other character's head.

Now this brings us to head-hopping. I once read a story where in one paragraph there were 4 POVs including the dog. Perhaps a feat but left me shaking my head and feeling lost. So an easy thing to remember is to show a scene through one character's view and switch to another for the next. If one decides to switch in the middle of the scene, make sure there's a transition allowing the reader to shift gears.

How about you? How do you choose whose eyes a story is seen?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tuesday's Inspiration - Edits from Publisher

How do you feel when your manuscript comes back from the editor and you have to make the changes suggested with all those red and gren boxes? Do you cringe, take headache medication or look on this as a game?

Some people may thing I'm crazy but I really love it when I get the edits back from the publisher and have to go nearly blind looking at all the little green and red changes made. Why does this inspire me?

To me it's a game. How did I do this time? The last round of changes were made mostly for the  house's style. I breathed a sigh of relief. Then I saw those little glitches, mostly occurring when I must put a ? mark. Sometimes there was a period, sometimes a comma and sometimes a / line. I swear I go over the mss with a ruler to separate the lines so I only read one. There are also those little mispellings that are words, just not the words I wanted to use. This time three not even words got past the spell checker and also my ruler  trick.

Am I discouraged. Actually no, I feel in this game of revisions I'm the winner. Will a mss ever come back perfect. Doubtful but I'll keep playing the game.

What really inspires me about getting the edits back for the final time means there'll soom be another book out there to share with readers. Makes me inspired to move on to the story I'm currently spinning. What about you?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Monday - July 2 - Behind and Ahead

I will admit that I usually have to persuade myself that the rough draft is fun but this time it really is. I often rough draft a book that in the end will be sixty to eighty thousand worda at about 10 to 20 thousand. Why? Many of the scenes I plan to write end up with just a few words., suck as "They make love." Fight scene goes here." Not happening this time. I'm aiming for a 60 thousand story and am prologue plus two chapters in and have 8 thousand words. Hope this doesn't mean the book will be a real epic adventure. Guess I'll have to wait and see what happens.

Sent off The Micro-manager Murder to the publisher and am waiting to hear. Have a tendency to become a bit impatient but I''ll wait for several weeks before jogging publisher's mind. The one thing I will not do is wait nearly a year to discover nothing was going on. I'm sure that's because this time I chose the wrong house to put the book out. But that's another story.

This week I will continue with the rough draft. Won't finish it until perhaps next week but so far I'm having fun. Called Lines of Fire and is part of a trilogy. If I manage to complete this there will be a 12 book cycle featuring the Guilds of a Guild House. Working on the Defender's Guild and there are problems within and possibly without. Complications are what makes a story and handing problems to the characters drive a story forward.

So how about you? Do rough drafts go smoothly or with ruts in the road? Do you have trouble waiting to hear from a publisher?