Saturday, November 22, 2014

In the Spotlight: SWEPT AWAY by Cindy Loven

Today's spotlight is on another new friend in ACFW: Cindy Loven, and her new book, SWEPT AWAY.

He survived a life-altering event. She is facing one.

Sara Jane Morgan is trying to balance teaching with caring for her grandmother who doesn't want to be cared for. When school lets out for the summer, the plans are for Grandma to teach Sara Jane to quilt as they finish up the Appalachian Ballad quilt Grandma started as a teenager. But things don’t always go as planned.

Andrew Stevenson is hiding from his past -- and his future. He works
as a handyman to pay the bills, but also as an artisan, designing homemade brooms. When Sara Jane’s grandmother hires him to renovate her home, sparks fly between him and his new employer’s granddaughter.
It doesn't take Sara Jane long to see Drew isn't what he seems. Questions arise, and she starts online researching him. What she discovers could change her life -- and her heart -- forever.

Cindy Loven, an avid reader all her life, is seeing her dreams fulfilled, with the publication of her first novel, Swept Away Quilt of Love.  She co-authored this novel with Laura V. Hilton.  Born and raised in Arkansas, she loves her home state and is happy to live there with her husband of nearly twenty-nine years and her adult son. She and her family are very active in their local church, serving in many volunteer
positions. She and her husband are very serious about informing parents about the dangers of the choking, after loosing their youngest son to this dreadful 'game' in 2009.  When not busy with church or her job as a “pr gal” for another author, you can find Cindy in her craft room, sewing, crocheting or making cards.

Find her on the web:
Twitter handle: @cndloven

Buy Links:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Letters to Kel: RECYCLE!

There's a lot to be said for never throwing away anything you've written, no matter how incomplete or lame or full of logic holes it is.

Why?

Well, as a tie-in to NaNoWriMo ... you can take something you started years ago, revise it, and use it as a launching point for a new book. I'm talking about changing the names, even the genre, straightening out the plot that just wouldn't cooperate two, five, ten years ago, but now suddenly you know what went wrong.

For NaNo this year, I took a book I started writing more than eight years ago, originally titled "Hero Blues," and changed the title to "Hoax, Inc.," the next Neighborlee, Ohio novel.

(Blatant self-promotion: My newest Neighborlee, Ohio novel, LONDON HOLIDAY, was just released this past weekend from Uncial Press. Check out my publisher, or go to Amazon or iBooks or Kobo for an excerpt or to buy. Guaranteed fun!)

The first thing I did was change the major situation: A semi-pseudo-superhero is sick and tired of being taken advantage of by the mental midgets in the backwater town she has to protect. They've gotten so lazy, they don't pay attention to their gas gauges or obey the traffic lights, and complain loudly, to the point of threatening to sue her, when she doesn't rescue them from their own stupidity. So, she resigns and leaves town. And the story -- originally -- detailed how the superhero council tried to force her to come back to work.

Well, BIG changes when I turned it into a Neighborlee story. I wrote maybe 20 pages of new beginning before I get to the original start, and I added lots to that. Right now, I'm at 78,000 words on day 19 of 30 (the goal is 50,000 words) and I've almost quadrupled the original file, which was a lot of outline and notes to myself.

But I wouldn't have made as much incredible progress so far this month if I hadn't had that chunk of story that essentially fizzled once my heroine stopped grumbling and left the town. Yeah, there was a lot of funny stuff, silly stuff, grumbling ... and a lot of whining. Superheroes shouldn't whine, y'know?

Anyway -- NEVER throw away anything, no matter how bad it is. One of these days, you'll figure out why that rotten little chapter or 20 pages or outline that won't cooperate didn't work, you'll know how to fix it, and you'll be sailing along into a story that's FUN to write.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Off the Bookshelf: HOW TO DEVELOP STORY TENSION by Amy Deardon

Wanna keep readers turning the page, but can't figure out how to make the insertion of tension feel natural and work for your story?

Amy Deardon lays out simple techniques, with examples, in this short, useful book. This is her newest writing book -- at least, it was when I got it! -- and just came out this year.

Her introduction says it all:
"You can write your novel with perfect sentences, and deliver heartbreakingly beautiful descriptions containing profound metaphors, but if you don't have tension in your story your reader is likely at any moment to put it down.
"There are three fundamental reasons your story may not have tension:
"1. The narrative does not have an Outer Story
"2. The narrative's story arrow from the Outer Story is not clearly articulated.
"3. The narrative's story arrow is not moving forward.
"This ebook explores practical methods, including an amazing five minute trick that you can use to automatically develop tension in your writing."

Get it, read it, and start applying the exercises and tips. At the very least, you'll start looking at your scenes and the sagging middle of your book a little differently. Who knows? While you're reading, you might start getting brainstorms about the story you're working on right now ...


Saturday, November 15, 2014

In the Spotlight: A PERFECT VICTIM, by Patrica Dusenbury

Today's spotlight is on fellow Uncial Press author Patricia Dusenbury with her new book, A PERFECT VICTIM.

Claire Marshall’s world crumbled when her husband died in a fire. She’s trying to build a new life - and a business restoring historic houses in New Orleans. When one of her clients is found dead in a burned building, the police suspect her of arson or murder, maybe both. No one believes that her relationship with the late Frank Palmer was strictly business. Frank spent his last days telling the world they were planning to marry.

Some of the mess is her own fault. Finding the charred ruin of Frank’s cabin in a remote corner of Louisiana’s bayou country revived horrible memories of her husband's death. She suffered a panic attack. Calling the sheriff hours later wasn't good enough.

Claire's quest to prove her innocence becomes an investigation into Frank’s life. Why did he lie about their relationship? Why would someone want to kill him? She travels from New Orleans to rural Alabama, to the high desert of New Mexico, and along the way, learns that helping another is the way to help herself. But if she can't escape the killer, she can’t help anyone.

In her previous career, Patricia Dusenbury was an economist and the author of numerous dry publications. She is hoping to atone by writing mystery stories that people read for pleasure. Uncial Press e-published A Perfect Victim, Book 1 of her Claire Marshall trilogy, in 2013 and Book 2, Secrets, Lies & Homicide, in September 2014. Book 3 is a work in progress. When she isn’t writing, Pat is reading, gardening, babysitting for the grandkids or exploring San Francisco, her new home, with her husband. In late April/early May, you can find her in New Orleans, soaking up the sounds of Jazz Fest.

Her website:  patriciadusenbury.com
A Perfect Victim is available at most e-book outlets, including:
The publisher:  Uncial Press 
For iPads, Go to books in the iTunes store and search for Patricia Dusenbury

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Letters to Kel: SHOW, DON'T TELL ... THROUGH SCREENWRITING

Have you heard "Show, Don't Tell" so many times you want to scream?

Especially if you can't quite get the hang of showing what's going on in your characters' heads without simply saying (telling) what they're feeling, as in "Fred was furious"?

Write a screenplay.

It's not really that hard. And there are lots of places where you can get samples of screenplays to see the format (not that important, unless you decide you like the technique so much you want to try to write to sell ... which ain't that easy! First rule is to ALWAYS understand the formats, the mechanics, the rules for whatever genre or form of literature you are working in, like a cook needs to understand the tools and ingredients she uses.).

To write a screenplay, you need directions, you need minimal setting descriptions, and you need dialog. (Doing this will also solve a problem a lot of newer writers have: Setting the stage. They forget to say WHERE a scene takes place. All they give you is dialogue, until suddenly a character walks across the room, revealing they're indoors, and picks up a pan or a letter opener or a file or a pillow, giving some small clue where they are. Or worse, two people are talking, and suddenly a third person joins the conversation, and there was NO indication whatsoever a third person was there. When did he arrive? How many other people are there? Or suddenly it starts raining -- no indication of the weather. Etc. Etc. Ad nauseum. SET THE STAGE! Okay, mini snit fit over. On with the lesson ...)

A standard screenplay will tell you time of day (Day, Night, Noon, Dawn, etc.), if it is an exterior or interior scene, and the location. Then it will set the stage -- who is there, what does it look like. "Fred and Lisa walk through the door into an office that has been trashed."

A screenplay will NOT tell you, "Lisa looks around in horror, remembering how she used to come here with her father as a child and learned ..." whatever. A screenplay will say, essentially, "Lisa reacts." Then, it will give dialogue to reveal what she is thinking/feeling:

LISA:
This is awful! I can't believe what they did to this place! I remember when Daddy would bring me here, I was maybe eight. He would let me set up my own office in the corner and I would pretend to fill out invoices and answer the phone.

Why do I say write a screenplay to learn better how to show versus tell?
In screenwriting, you have to give the actors hints to how they feel, how they should act, through their ACTIONS and their WORDS, as in the above bit of dialogue. You have to leave the interpretation to the actors and the directions to the director.

If Lisa walked in, looked around, shrugged, and said, "Good riddance," would you think she is upset at the desecration of her last memories of her father? Uh .... no!

Just type "Screenplays" into your search engine, and you'll find a good assortment of places to get FREE copies of screenplays of your favorite movies. Download them, read them, STUDY them to see how it's done. Then apply those principles when you write a scene. Later, you can go back and insert  things like memories, feelings, thoughts, to flesh out what your characters are SHOWING through their actions and words.

In future posts, I'll talk about two screenplays I wrote a long time ago, that I am turning into books now. It's not as easy as it sounds -- but since I wrote them, easier than someone adapting someone else's screenplay into a novel. I know what I wanted the characters to think and feel as I was writing them. Inside knowledge is always a good thing!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Off the Bookshelf: THE WITNESS by Nora Roberts

Half Price Books is a great place. Because, yes, you get books cheap -- and because I can take books I know I won't read again and turn them in for some cash and to "set them free" so someone else can enjoy them.

Last week, I treated myself to THE WITNESS, by Nora Roberts. Elizabeth is the brilliant daughter of a controlling, brilliant, emotionless mother. She had Elizabeth's life planned for her before she chose a sperm donor. At sixteen going on seventeen, Elizabeth has finally tasted freedom and realizes she doesn't want her mother's life -- instead of being a surgeon, she wants to work for the CIA or FBI. When she stands her ground, her mother simply leaves on her business trip instead of arguing -- leaving Elizabeth alone in the house for a few days, certain her daughter will follow the schedule planned for her and report for advanced summer classes.

Elizabeth packs years of rebellion into one day, starting with cutting and dying her hair, going shopping, trying makeup for the first time, forging I.D.s for herself and a girl from school, and going to a nightclub -- a nightclub owned by members of the Russian Mob. That night she witnesses a murder and her entire life changes from that moment.

As always, Nora creates "real" characters you have to care about, nasty side characters you want to see squashed oh, so badly, along with testing and trials that help her characters grow and triumph. I was so glad to find this book at Half Price Books. I've wanted to read this one, and hey, I can justify a new book at such a great price -- even if my to-be-read bookshelf isn't clearing off as quickly as I'd like it ...

Saturday, November 8, 2014

In the Spotlight: SWEET DECEPTION, by Nancy Kay

Today's spotlight is focused on a fellow author at Desert Breeze Publishing: NANCY Kay

SWEET DECEPTION
Ten years ago their lives took separate paths.

Delilah sought a career in New York City; Kevin entered the state police academy, but when Delilah Wyeth inherits Cocoa Treats Chocolate, danger trails the cool city ad exec back to their hometown and draws State Police Corporal Kevin McClain into her unraveling life.

Kevin admires the cool, professional woman she's become, and misses the feisty girl he once knew. Though he vows to uncover why fear lurks in Lilah's stunning eyes, his less than stellar ancestry haunts Kevin, and he struggles to keep his hands off her tempting body.


Lilah faces life-altering choices. Precious memories pull her to stay and convince Kevin he deserves more in his life than a badge and a gun, but if she abandons her smooth-talking, manipulative New York supervisor, will she trigger a deadly reaction?

Her decision turns Lilah's fear to reality, and more than duty drives Kevin as he races to save her life.

Buy links:

Also in Paperback at Grape Country Marketplace in North East, Pa. – Romolos Chocolate 8th St. in Erie, Pa. – A la Carte in Shops at Colony 8th St. Erie, Pa. or your local Barnes and Noble.