Saturday, January 31, 2015

Title first…or last? by Kathryn Freeman

Usually when I write a book the last thing I do is dream up the title. My mind automatically skips to the hero first and I spend many blissful hours imagining how he will look, what he will be like (it’s a tough job…). Once he’s embedded in my mind, my heart and, most importantly, a word document, I conjure up a heroine who will knock him off his manly feet. Following that I work out how they will meet, and the plot forms from there. Only when I’ve written The End do I start to think what the book will be called.

With Life After, my whole writing process was knocked on its head. I was jogging one morning – I spend most of the day on my backside so I like to begin doing something active – and my mind was running faster than my legs (as usual). Instead of working through the plot of the book I was writing, it started to drift and I recall these words suddenly bouncing through my brain: He saw his life in two parts. Life Before and Life After.

I had no idea who he was, but the words wouldn’t go away. It seemed I had come up with the title of a book, but with no content to back it up. A totally foreign experience for me. By the time I made it to the computer my mind was buzzing with possibilities for the plot, but I still had no idea who he was, which frustrated me. Could I think of a plot without having met my hero? Whoever he was, he had to have experienced a life-changing event, so I started from there. My idea for this incident, as my hero refers to it as, led me down a certain path…and sorry, I can’t say more than that here. I can tell you that by now this hero was shouting at me. I could see him. Jake, with the dark hair and somber grey eyes. I knew who he’d been, what he’d lived through and who he was now. And knowing all this I could imagine the woman he’d fall in love with. Kat, with the curly hair and bubbly personality, who would shake up his life all over again.

I’ve written several books since Life After but always with the hero first, and the title last. I would love to experience writing it the other way round again. Maybe I need to go jogging more ☺

Kathryn Freeman
Twitter: @kathrynfreeman1

Friday, January 30, 2015

Courtship futility...

Cory's courtship
Laura Freeman

In Impending Love & War published by The Wild Rose Press

Cory Beecher is hoping for a proposal of marriage from Douglas Raymond, who is leaving after calling on her.

Cory followed him into the hallway. She had placed the flowers he had brought in a vase on the sideboard. “The flowers are lovely. Thank you.” She handed him his hat. “I’ll see you at the celebration on the square on Wednesday.” She stepped outside onto the porch and led the way toward his horse, swishing her wide skirt side to side. For a few minutes, they would be alone.

She had worn her best-looking frock, an emerald and blue plaid made with a gathered skirt, wide shoulder straps and a tightly cinched waist to create an hour-glass figure. The bodice was altered for evening wear and cut perilously low in the front. Adelaide had threatened to tell her mother if she didn’t sew some modest lace inserts above the bodice, but she had postponed the work until after Douglas called. Now it appeared to have been a futile attempt to attract his attention.

…The visit should have been more successful with a delicious dessert, a daring outfit, and flattering conversation. What did a girl have to do to get married?

Laura Freeman

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

It doesn't take a village. It takes....a library by Peggy Jaeger

There’s an old adage in surgery that goes “you see one, you do, you teach one.” Hey, why do you think they call it the “Practice of medicine?” Why am I telling you this medical saying when I usually blog about writing? I’m glad you asked.

No one can actually teach you how to write. You either have the innate, God-give talent, the desire to create pictures with words on the page, the all consuming need to tell your stories, intrinsically. It must be a part of your makeup, your creative DNA, so to speak. No, the talent of writing can’t be taught.

But you can learn the mechanics.

I’m a much better writer today than I was even yesterday ( and the years before) because of books and manuals I’ve studied which have helped and foster my ability to write.

I’ll admit I’m not the best speller in the world, sometimes my tenses get mixed up and I often tell you more than I show you in my stories.


All those things can be taught, improved upon, and ultimately make you a better conveyor of the stories you need to tell.

I’ve listed some of my all time favorite manuals/books here; the ones that I’ve devoured and have helped me become a better writer, and which have helped me find the road to publication a little easier. If publication is your goal, you will not get past the very first reader/agent/editor, if your craft is shoddy and unpolished. Your work must be clean, mistake-free, and tell the reader/agent/editor that you are a writing force to be reckoned with.

Even the best and most prolific writers in the world need a refresher course every now and again.

Here’s my list. See if some of yours are on it. And let me now your favorites if you don’t them listed here.

G.G.C. Goal, Motivation and Conflict by Debra Dixon

The Emotion Thesaurus, by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

Writing the Synopsis by Pam McCutcheon

Show, Don't Tell by William Noble

"Writing is my Oxygen"
Skater's Waltz - Coming in March 2015!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Creating Setting by Louise Lyndon

Many years ago, when I first started learning the craft of writing, someone said to me, ‘treat your setting like you would any other character in your story’. At first, I didn’t exactly understand what was meant by that. After all, is setting really that important? Do we really need to give it as much attention as our hero and heroine’s character? Yes, and yes. We do.

You see, setting isn’t just about where the story takes place. Setting, and its characteristics, can really add dimension to your scene and story as a whole. What do I mean by this?

Well, take a forest for example. Yes, it’s full of trees, and you could easily leave it at that. But, a forest is so much more than that. Let’s use the five scenes to create a character for our forest.

Think about what you would see in a forest. There are wild mushrooms, sap crusts, spider webs, and thick underbrush, to name but a few.

What would you hear in a forest? Squawking birds, groaning trees, animal screeches, or the scrabbling of lizards on tree bark. Think back to the last time you were in the forest. What did you hear?

Personally, I love the smell of a forest. It’s richly scented with wild flowers, and the minty, pine, honey scent of eucalyptus trees. But, the forest can also smell unpleasant. There are stagnant pools of water, dead animals, and the foul smell of animal dung.

What about the taste of a forest? Now, before you run off into the forest, in the name of research, to find out the tastes of a forest, just be careful not to pop random berries or leaves into your mouth for obvious reasons! Think about what can be found in the forest? What does a mushroom taste like? Are berries sweet or sour? And what would pine needle tea taste like?

Have you ever ran through a forest? What did the leaves feel like as they brushed against your sleeveless arms, or as you brushed up against the rough bark of a tree? How does the soft forest breeze feel against your heated skin, or the hot, muggy, thick unmoving air, that makes your clothes stick to your body?

Of course, the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches of a forest in winter will be greatly different to a forest in summer, or spring, or autumn. They will even be different between morning, noon and evening. And do not get me started on a forest in the dead of night. SPOOKY!

Do you see, just by really thinking about each of the senses, our forest that is just full of trees, really takes on a life of its own? It comes alive and your readers will feel as if they are there in the forest with your characters.

One last point. As a rule of thumb, I tend to use at least two (three if possible) of the five senses in every scene.

Here is an example from my own writing. This piece is taken from my latest release, Of Love and Vengeance.

The sun was warm on Laila’s back, and she closed her eyes and sighed as the cool, clean crisp water slipped over her bare feet. The mud, sticky and thick, squished between her curled toes. The low hum of insects and trill of birds filled the otherwise quiet clearing.

She stood poised in the middle of the stream, her skirts hitched up around her thighs and her bow and arrow at the ready, as she waited for tonight’s evening meal to swim by. She winced as the sharp edge of a rock bit into the fleshy under sole of her foot. But she did not dare move.

Now, I could have very easily written the scene as:

She stood poised in the middle of the stream, her bow and arrow at the ready, as she waited for tonight’s evening meal to swim by.

See the difference, aside from the increased word count!

Why not pick out a scene you’re currently working on and think about the setting. How many of the five senses have you used? Can you add more depth to your scene by getting to know your setting?

If you’re feeling brave, why not share a paragraph or two that clearly shows the characteristics of your setting by using at least three of the five senses?

Happy writing!

Louise Lyndon

Monday, January 26, 2015

How not to propose...

Laura Freeman
Impending Love and War

In Impending Love and War heroine Courtney Beecher wants Douglas Raymond to propose so she can turn him down. It doesn't go as easily as planned.

"When other men have proposed to me, they at least compliment me. You didn't even do that." She fanned herself with quick, agitated strokes.

Douglas looked stunned. "I'm sorry."

"Oh, don't apologize!" she snapped. Douglas cowered as if she'd struck him. He looked so scared that Cory had to fight the urge to soften her words. She closed her fan and smacked it against her palm. "It's too late. Why no self-respecting woman would say yes to such a proposal. A woman expects flowers, flattery, and a declaration of love from the man she marries. In fact, I don't believe you love me at all. I believe you're still in love with someone else."

Douglas shook his head. "No, that isn't true."

Cory raised her voice not only in volume but to an annoyingly high pitch. "Don't lie to me, Mr. Raymond. I won't be trifled with. I saw how you looked at Beth Davis when we were having supper the other night," Cory accused. "You couldn't take your eyes off of her. You still have feelings for her, don't you?"

"I have the highest regard for Miss Davis but..."

"Don't say another word." Cory emphasized the words with a slap of her closed fan on his shoulder. "I could never take second place in a man's heart."

"But she turned me down when I proposed."

"Proposed?" she gasped. "If you asked Beth to marry you the way you proposed to me, it's no wonder she turned you down."

Read more in Impending Love & War published by The Wild Rose Press