The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Pat Wahler's Journey... and a Giveaway

I'm still on a blog break (I'm at 29,000 words on my WIP) but I have a post on the Muffin today, and I'm offering a giveaway. I'd love if you checked it out.

Pat Wahler has a new novel coming out on August 28, and she was gracious enough to grant me an interview about her journey to publication.

You can read the interview here.


Friday, July 20, 2018

"Going Dark"... and Back-of-the-Book Blurb # 108

Well, I have less than a month before school starts. During that month, a lot is getting packed in: a trip to Tulsa (for research), a 3-day workshop (robotics--yikes!), and getting my classroom ready... along with the normal faculty meetings and student get-togethers.

Also, I have several books I want to read so I can change things up in my classroom. Can I skim or read fast enough to digest what I need? I'm not so sure.

My blogging has been sporadic at best. What was once two or three posts per week has dwindled to once a week--sometimes not even that.

In February I joined a writing accountability group. That lead to some marvelous (and daunting) things, such as: 


  • I hired an editor (Margo Dill) who gave me spot-on advice and a couple of pages of suggestions. 
  • I began to completely revise my manuscript--a new beginning, lots of scenes put into a separate file (in case I need them later), a new ending, and lots of scenes in need of being written.
  • Every week I've set small goals (as a part of my accountability group) and most weeks, I've achieved my goal.
  • While doing my research, I've found a map of the area, along with a timeline of the event. This is helping me tell my story. (It's historical fiction.)
I like my new beginning better than the old one, and the new ending excites me. However, what began as a (finished, I thought) 30,000-word story is now at 18,000. To be completely accurate, some of my scenes in the old version are going to be able to be woven into the new draft, but a lot of new words need to be put down as well.

More than half the year--my "accountability" year, that is--is gone... which is why I've decided to take a break from blogging for a while. 

That doesn't mean I won't be dropping by and reading blogs... but I might not comment very often. If you (my 1.3 readers) are itchin' to read something from me on the blogosphere, I'll still be posting once or twice a month on The Muffin.

So here is the last book blurb for a while...


Hondo and Bambito

It was friendship at first sight. The moment Hondo saw Bambito skitter across his back yard, he knew the fawn was going to be a barrel of fun.

Bambito was petrified at first, and froze when the leggy hound dog came galloping up but it was soon clear--these two were destined to be best friends.

They romped across the grass. They leaped up in joy. They chased each other. They raced across the field. Hondo yipped and Bambito twitched her tail.

And even though the hound was twice as big as the tiny fawn, he was always careful to not play too roughly. After all, Bambito's legs were thin as pencils. She was just a baby.

But in a few months the tables would be turned. Hondo was not going to grow any more, but Bambito was soon going to be huge. Will they remain friends? (147 words)

Hey, who knows? Perhaps when I return to posting, perhaps my manuscript will be a finished 2nd draft...

Saturday, July 14, 2018

A Change of Scenery and Back-of-the-Book Blurb # 107

         I'm working on revising a novel-length manuscript. I wrote what I knew was the perfect story. It was ready for publication as soon as I typed the last word. I mean, I'd edited as I wrote, it was a compelling story (historical fiction--don't think I'm so full of myself that I think I can write an engaging novel that's purely made up--that ain't me)... what more did I need?

      Well, I needed the eye of a skilled editor. And I got it. For a very affordable price, Margo Dill gave me two pages of praise (specific praise) along with suggestions on how to improve the manuscript--and ways to implement those suggestions.

      I realized that my subject is compelling, I've done a fairly decent job of creating a narrator, but I need a plan. I need some planned tension or excitement (Is that really a necessary component? I'm just kidding.). I need to rewrite the manuscript and keep some of it, but scrap a lot of it.

      The last couple of weeks I've been a slacker. My summer job was keeping me busy, which I used as an excuse. I belong to a writing accountability group, and I wasn't always achieving my small, weekly goals. What was going to nudge me into getting back into a writing groove?

       A change of scenery did it. I had a couple of hours between the end of a workshop and the beginning of an evening writing critique group meeting. I went into a fast-food place, saw they had a counter with an electrical outlet (my laptop was in need of juice) and had a bite to eat... after which I wrote. I met my weekly goal while I was sitting at that high counter, and the change of scenery was responsible for the success, I think.

      Sometimes heading to a restaurant or coffee shop and sitting there for an entire morning or a whole afternoon is a good thing. For me, there is enough distraction, allowing me to occasionally take a momentary break from my writing, but not so much to prevent me from writing anything. I've done this at Starbucks, but I prefer the funky, neighborhood places.

     What unusual places do you like to use for your writing? And now onto book blurb stuff...
          
           Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your bookYou choose the genre. Is it a coffee table book on candid pool pics? Is it a photo collection of crazy kids doing crazy things? You decide.

        Write an enticing blurb--150 words or less. (The title doesn't count in the word count.) Blurbs are those enticing bits that prod you into buying the book. Sometimes they're on the back cover of the book. Sometimes they're on the inside front cover. What they always try to do is lure you into purchasing the book. 

          
          Lisa Ricard Claro was the original creator of this writing challenge. She moved to Florida, she's gone through three sixteen cabana boys (they don't have the energy to keep the pool clean enough, constantly falling behind and are always falling short when compared to Lisa's word count) and Lisa's too busy to host a weekly book blurb. Check out her blog, along with her books. She's a wonderful writer and a wonderful friend.
     
          Include your blurb in a blog post. Include a link to this post. Also, link your post to Mr. Linky. Mr. Linky is easy. If you've never done it, you'll be impressed with how simple he is. And then, check out the other blurb(s). It's interesting to see the different directions writers take, given the same photo.

           Here's the book cover, along with my blurb:





Not Very Good At Breaking Bad


Byron had seen every episode of Breaking Bad at least seven times. He loved the power that Walter White had amassed by the time the series was almost finished.

Byron started trying to live just like Walter White. He ordered a children's chemistry kit, and started dabbling in mixing things up. This Walter-wannabe had enough college classes under his belt, and got hired as a substitute teacher. Not quite ready for working with the high school kids, Byron filled in for the kindergarten and first grade teachers.

And when he was home, Byron paraded around in nothing but his tighty-whities.

But then things started spiraling out of control. Byron’s wife refused to dye her hair blonde, she refused to change her name to Skyler... and then she left him.

Can Byron win his wife back? Or will he have to shave his head and go 100% Walter White? (146 words)




And for anyone who'd like to play along, here is the picture for next week:






Friday, July 6, 2018

I Was Feelin' HotHotHot and Back-of-the-Book Blurb # 106

Last week I was muy caliente. Not my body. Not my physical appearance. Not some chili I was eating. No, I was hot. Every square inch of me was glistening with the sheen of sweat.

Last Thursday a severe storm hit. Crazy things were happening in our neighborhood with the trees and the trashcans. The tornado siren went off. I headed to the basement, after trying (with no success) to get Radar downstairs. (An old woman + a 78-pound dog + steep, open stairs = no luck)

While I was in the basement I heard a loud boom, then the electricity was out. That is not an unusual thing. Many times the transformers are blown, and we're powerless for a while.

After hearing that noise, I thought I'd brave the rain and wind to get my houseplants that were outside. The crazy wind might have blown them over. I stepped out onto the carport to see if my plants were topsy-turvy... and I couldn't even see my plants...

... because my plants were buried under a whole yard of huge tree branches that had been downed. A large dead branch from one of our neighbor's tree' was propped up against the house. There were mountains of branches all over our yard. 


Radar looking cool--before the lights went out (not in
Georgia)

Here's how the story ended: We were without power for five days. I started and finished a new Stephen King book (The Outsider) by flashlight, as I lay in a pool of sweat. (The story was so compelling, it made me forget--sometimes--my discomfort.) Luckily, I had a mini work retreat already scheduled, so for a day and half of those five sweltering days, I was sucking up the AC. (And suck up I did. As soon as I got into my motel room, I turned the AC down to 66 degrees and shivered with delight.) The electric guys came and secured the live line, so Radar could go into our backyard to drop a deuce. (Peeing was fine in the front yard, on a leash, but he refused to poop in the front yard.) My husband wrestled with the part of the electric line that connected to the roof (because that is not the electric company's problem, apparently) and then reconnected it. The electric guys came back and electricity was restored. The tree guys came and got rid of the mountains of branches (which had become Radar's obstacle course and playland).

Thankfully, life is back to normal here, which means it's time for back-of-the-book blurb business.

Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your bookYou choose the genre. Is it a coffee table book on candid pool pics? Is it a photo collection of crazy kids doing crazy things? You decide.

        Write an enticing blurb--150 words or less. (The title doesn't count in the word count.) Blurbs are those enticing bits that prod you into buying the book. Sometimes they're on the back cover of the book. Sometimes they're on the inside front cover. What they always try to do is lure you into purchasing the book. 

          
          Lisa Ricard Claro was the original creator of this writing challenge. She moved to Florida, she's gone through three cabana boys (they don't have the energy to keep the pool clean enough, constantly falling behind and are always falling short when compared to Lisa's word count) and Lisa's too busy to host a weekly book blurb. Check out her blog, along with her books. She's a wonderful writer and a wonderful friend.
     
          Include your blurb in a blog post. Include a link to this post. Also, link your post to Mr. Linky. Mr. Linky is easy. If you've never done it, you'll be impressed with how simple he is. And then, check out the other blurb(s). It's interesting to see the different directions writers take, given the same photo.

           Here's the book cover, along with my blurb:




Cast Envy

Susie had always wanted a broken leg, ever since her friend Bridget had gotten one. Bridget got pushed around in a wheelchair. People carried things for her. Everybody signed her cast. Bridget was the center of attention... 

A couple of summers later, Susie was at the pool across the street--like she was every day. Over and over she jumped off the high diving board, slice like a knife through the water and emerge sputtering and dripping.

But then something happened. Susie fell. She didn't make it to the end of the diving board. Somehow, she slipped under the handrails, like a thread through the eye of the needle.

Splat! Most of Susie landed in the diving tank, but her arm landed on the cement. 

Would a broken limb be all that Susie dreamed it would be? Or, would it be simply be a pain in the neck--um, arm?



And for those clamoring to write a book blurb and would like to work ahead, here is the photo for next week:








Monday, June 25, 2018

The Power of Words

       I recently wrote an essay that focuses on the real-life experiences of a friend. It's a tragic story. I didn't have any plans of writing it, but something happened that made the storytelling unavoidable.

       I had my writing critique group give me feedback on it, along with the teachers I'm working with this summer. (It's a graduate class on how to become more confident as a writer so they can teach writing with more self-confidence.)

      A couple of writers asked, "What did your friend say about the piece?" and I let them know I hadn't shared it with her yet. 

      I admit it. I was nervous. I wasn't worried she'd be angry--she's been very public about her family tragedy. She's been on the radio and she and her husband have been interviewed--all in the hopes that greater awareness results in preventing more deaths.



      No, I was nervous about the emotional reaction. She's cried so much. I didn't want to make her cry even more.

      Yesterday my husband and I met her for coffee. I let her read the story, and she was fierce. If I was dealing with the same loss, I don't think I would be as brave and strong as she is. In fact, I know I wouldn't.

      My friend suggested a couple of additions--wonderful suggestions--so I'm going to revise the essay and then submit it.

      She and I have the same goal: we want the story to get out to a wider audience, so hopefully women will understand they're not alone.

     We all need a little help now and then. Why is it so hard to ask? 

Friday, June 22, 2018

A Funny Movie, Our Beloved Dogs... and Back-of-the-Book Blurb # 105

Earlier this week I went to the theater to see the movie Book Club. I'd seen the trailers, and thought the film only focused on the women in the group (portrayed by Candice Bergen, Jane Fonda, Mary Steenbergen and Diane Keaton). My writing group decided to leave the critique table for an entertaining evening (not that our writing isn't entertaining). I was pleasantly surprised.

There were lots of laughs as all the women struggled with either finding love or rekindling a relationship. Yes, there were a couple of scenes that didn't ring quite true, and I imagine that a 30- or 40-year-old woman wouldn't laugh as much as a woman in her 50s or 60s would (and did, on Wednesday)... However, if you're looking for a humor-filled afternoon or evening, along with the chance to see some marvelously "preserved" women, go see Book Club

After the movie, a few of us gathered at Linda O'Connell's house. Linda and her husband have a rescued a kitty as part of their family. For most of the time that we sat on Linda's patio, enjoying the cool breezes (so rare during the summer), Kitty sat or walked around the kitchen, trying to get as close to "mom" as Kitty could. It got me thinking.


Radar--the most handsome golden retriever around
(He's smart, too.)

Dog owners all have their favorite breed, which is good. Some people love poodles. Some people are crazy about terriers. My daughter-in-law loves pugs. Thank goodness there's homes for even those hairless dogs. Something in our make-up/personality makes us gravitate to certain sizes and certain types of pets.

Me? I cannot deal with a small dog (I'd step on them or trip over them), and I guess I like 'em big and hairy since I've had goldens and golden mixes all of my adult life.

And now onto book blurb stuff.

Look at the photo below. That is the cover of your bookYou choose the genre. Is it a coffee table book on women who use too much hairspray? Is it a photo collection of ladies who look like real characters? You decide.

        Write an enticing blurb--150 words or less. (The title doesn't count in the word count.) Blurbs are those enticing bits that prod you into buying the book. Sometimes they're on the back cover of the book. Sometimes they're on the inside front cover. What they always try to do is lure you into purchasing the book. 
          
          Lisa Ricard Claro was the original creator of this writing challenge. She moved to Florida, and is too busy to host a weekly book blurb. Check out her blog, along with her books. She's a wonderful writer and a wonderful friend.
     
          Include your blurb in a blog post. Include a link to this post. Also, link your post to Mr. Linky. Mr. Linky is easy. If you've never done it, you'll be impressed with how simple he is. And then, check out the other blurb(s). It's interesting to see the different directions writers take, given the same photo.

           Here's the book cover, along with my blurb:


  
Eat This: The True Story of Maxine Messner


Maxine retired after too many years of bossing people around. Being
pushy helped her out as lead waitress at the Eat Rite Diner… but
now she was testing her family’s patience.
Getting back to work was the perfect solution, and Max could
make use of her bossy skills again. She began her own business.


“Do you go out to eat, and can’t make up your mind? Do you
spend 15 minutes poring over the menu? Let Maxine decide…”


For just $10, Max will sample all the dishes offered at the restaurant
where the client’s eating, and then she’ll tell that what they should
order.


“Oh sweetie, get the liver and onions. It’s divine.”
“But I hate liver. It’s gross.”
“Oh, you’ll order what Max tells you to, and you’ll like it.”


How long with Max be her own boss? Or will her pushy ways
push the customers away? (148 words)


Do you want to participate and write a book blurb next week? It's fun and it truly does hone one's ability to write blurb (for your future book). Here is the photo for next week: