Just a note:

This blog isn't meant to teach you anything, but I hope you'll have some fun reading it; I think I'll have fun writing it. I'll be posting bits of writing, like short stories and articles. Maybe some help for aspiring writers, a few tips and such. Also there will be journal entries and clips of conversation from the various characters in my books. So if you like the characters in my book, Cherished Preserver, stop by to get the inside scoop on their lives. Above all, enjoy!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fun Stuff to go With Cherished Preserver

If you've read my book, Cherished Preserver, you know that the heroine, Sarah Scott, has an interesting time in tomb KV38 in the Valley of the Kings.  If you'd like to have a better look at her tomb, try this link to the Theban Mapping Project sight.http://www.thebanmappingproject.com/sites/browse_tomb_852.html

Sarahs Journal November 26, 1910

         I don’t know why I need to write about this, for I’m certain sure that I’ll never in my life forget it.  My jaw still drops when I think of the sight my eyes beheld today on the deck of the steamer:  Professor Ross in his shirtsleeves AND NO TIE!!  For three long years I’ve never seen the man in anything but a tidy suit. Even on field study he wore a dressy, many-pocketed coat, but not today.  What a handsome figure he cut.  The girls back home would have fainted dead away, especially because his hair too was soft and free.  It wasn’t slicked back as usual.  AND IT’S WAVY!  With curls on his forehead.  I almost fainted myself.  I at the very least stared for longer than was proper.  My, but he looked younger.  If I didn’t know he was ten years my senior, I would have thought him twenty-five, but for his eyes.  They may be brown and kind, but they’ve seen many things: grand and evil.  I can tell.  And if I ever found it difficult to focus before, well, the difficulty has magnified a hundred fold.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Writer's Block, What's Up With That?

We've all heard about it, that dreaded condition that affects even the best of writers: the evil and terrifying writer's block.  I for one don't believe in it.

I just don't see the point in frightening a writer by stating that their creativity is "blocked" just because they haven't written for a while.  Every writer has gone through dry patches where nothing seems to be transferred from brain to paper, but I take this for more of a break, not a block.

To craft any story, a certain amount of percolation must occur and anyone who's tried percolated coffee as opposed to the auto drip variety knows that a little extra time amounts to a much more robust brew.

I have a dear friend in my writer's group who is also a working mother.  We laugh together about how we seem to take turns writing.  It seems that when she is hot on a new idea, I'm dry, and vice versa.  But we both get so excited about the other's writing that it seems that we are writing ourselves.  My other friend in our group takes a different approach.  She reads stories she loves, and writes short stories, fan fiction or funny commercials when a new story or new characters are being stubborn about showing themselves.

So don't fret, dear writing friends, when you find yourself not writing for a bit.  Stress and deadlines can make our creativity take a nosedive.  And sometimes other aspects of our lives need our attention more at the moment.  So just relax and let that new idea brew.  Go for a day trip and see new places.  Also you could think about finding a few writer friends to share your life and creativity with.  Whatever you do, don't worry about the term "writer's block," because you are a writer, and no silly trumped up term can change that.

Have fun!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sarah's Journal: Nov. 25, 1910

My, what a day!  This first afternoon on the steamer was quite an eventful one.  But then the first day on an expedition usually is.  We arrived at the dock a bit later than Professor Ross had intended.  There seemed to be road blockages on every street possible on the way to the dock.  If our taxi driver had not been so adroit we would have missed our ship all together. 
         Then, just before we boarded, Gene arrived.  Honestly, the boy surprised me.  I truly didn’t think he cared anymore.  I would have written him from Egypt anyway, even if he did not see me off.  He is my childhood friend, and that at least should count for something even though he has become a bit of a dandy and drunkard.  I never thought it would happen knowing him the way I do.  My greatest hope is that he will find a better path to take.  His kiss goodbye was quite startling, but on further consideration, I do not think it meant anything and am convinced Gene will find another lady to call his “girl” when I’m gone.  I only hope she will lead him down that right path. 
         Enough of my old friend.  Mrs. Billings and I have settled quite nicely into our rooms.  They are adjoined to my professor’s cabin by a well-appointed sitting room.  This whole arrangement is far more than I had bargained for.  Very posh way for a girl to travel on expedition I’d say.  But I suppose Mrs. Billings likes her comforts.  I just hope she didn’t have to shell out a pile of extra money to take me with her.  I like to make my own way.
         Tonight at dinner Professor Ross was very protective for some reason.  He appeared to be scanning the other passengers with intense interest and such a set expression of annoyance on his face that I thought it would surely stay that way.  I thought he’d kill the young man who asked me to dance.  Honestly, he must have been a brave one just to approach the table.  Poor fellow, his friends all laughed at him when he went back to his own table defeated. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sarah's Journal: Nov. 24, 1910

We are leaving tomorrow!  I'm so excited I just know I won't sleep a wink tonight.  The fellows from the shipping company collected my trunk just this morning, and poor Aunt had to hold me back so I wouldn't jump into their truck with it.


Professor Ross picked Aunt and me up and took us to stay in New York City for the night so we could just take a taxi to the docks in the morning.  Aunt came to see us off.  She also wanted to say her good buys to Mrs. Billings for she has no idea when she will see her again.

I'm actually writing this journal entry from the balcony of my room at the hotel.  It's very late and, as I predicted, I can not sleep!  It's quite cold out here too but I'm comfortable in my warmest cloak.

Oops, I've been found out!  Professor Ross just appeared on the balcony next to mine and told me in no uncertain terms to go to bed!!  He also vowed I'd catch my death if I remained on the balcony in this weather.  Silly, he knows I never get sick.  I haven't missed a day of school in the last three years.  Oh, dear now he's scowling at me and I'd better hop to it.  But not without informing him that he'd best go to bed and not stay out in the weather and catch his death.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My Latest Book

For those of you who have read my novel, Cherished Preserver, you'll know that Sarah's Aunt Tilly has a bit of an interesting past.  If you'd like to know just how interesting, pick up a copy of my novella, Aunt's Story.  Here is the back cover copy.

Matilda Scott wanted nothing to do with the suitors in her small home town on the Outer Banks. Especially the persistent local teacher, Mr. Taylor.

Since her parents died all she hoped for in life was a quiet existence of raising her little brother and keeping the light in the tall lighthouse tower burning.

However, when a storm blows in a group of pirates, Matilda's life is permanently altered as her heart is pilfered and now resides in the breast of the dashing Captain Tempest who defends it, and their right to love, with his sword and with his life.

It also has an excerpt of Cherished Preserver in the back, so buy one for a friend.  They might like both stories.  
You can find it on Amazon.com or at my Createspace e-store.  Here is the link.  https://www.createspace.com/3668701

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sarah's Journal: Nov. 20, 1910

         My time for departure is quickly approaching, and I’m quite glad for it.  Perhaps my troubles will not follow me to Egypt.  I’d really like to know who all these tattooed thugs are working for and why they follow me everywhere.  I suppose it will wait until I return home in the spring.  Aunt will be safe I know, because she will be traveling to Arizona to stay at Erik’s ranch for a while.  It will be good for her, and if she is with Erik I will not worry about her.  So far these villains have not hurt anyone else around me, but I don’t put any trust in that never happening.
         They seem to be coming after me more often now.  Just yesterday I spotted two in the park while I was sledding with some of the town’s children.  Professor Ross was there too.  He had surprised me by picking me up in a bright red sleigh.  We rode to the park and gave the children rides, then the children kindly let us take turns on their sleds.  We had a great time.  But I can’t believe those fellows are after me in broad daylight now.  Apparently they will not do anything with my professor there.  I sincerely hope this does not put him in danger.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Sarah's Journal: Nov. 16, 1910

I can't believe my luck!  Things certainly are changing for the better for me.  I just returned from a wonderful trip to the big city with Aunt and Professor Ross.  We shopped like crazy for our upcoming expedition to Egypt.  When he asked me to be his assistant this year on the dig I very nearly passed out straight away. I was so excited I almost kissed him!  I don't think that would have been such a bad thing, but I don't know how the  poor man would have taken it.  He looked shaken enough when I threw my arms around him.  I suppose I'll have to reign my emotions in, but I couldn't help it.  I would have popped had I not done something.  I had to leave before I did anything else that would have embarrassed Aunt, so I went to Gene's home to share the good news with him.  Enormous mistake!  I truly thought he would be happy for me to have such a wonderful opportunity placed into my hands, but alas, no.  He tried to make me stay by asking me to be his wife!  I just can't see it.  I don't think I could ever feel the proper emotions for him that a wife should.  Not what my own parents shared at any rate.  It wouldn't be fair to either of us. And having to live under the same roof with Gene's mother would be a daily misery for me.  She never liked me and has shown it in more ways than I can describe.  Gene's father, however, I could live with.  He's always been warm and kind, though I think he would have me practicing my cello from morn to eve.  I guess I wouldn't mind if that is all I loved to do. But i would never be allowed to be seen leaving his grand house in my grubby field study clothes.  I would never be allowed to re-enter it covered with mud with my arms full of all the beautiful things I've collected.  Nor would I be allowed to accidentally blow up a bit of the cellar with an experiment gone awry.  No, I could never marry Gene.  I hated to hurt him.  He is my old friend, and I love him.  I suppose I was cruel, but in the end, I would have injured him more had my answer caused us to have to live together for the rest of our lives. I surely would have killed him at some point.
     Anyway, I would have entered this interesting information into my journal sooner had I been home to do so.  After visiting Gene I was so angry and confused I had to speak to someone, so I found myself at Professor Ross's home.  What a lovely home it is.  Warm, inviting and mysterious.  There's even a secret passage!  Honestly, I don't know about my professor.  What sort of man actually has a secret passage in his study?  And I thought he was quite interesting enough before.  Not interesting in the way the silly girls at school think of him, but there is just something especially good and wonderful way down inside that he doesn't share with anyone.  I can tell.  I can see it in his eyes sometimes, more lately than before.  Not that he was not good or wonderful before.  He has always been so, though rather cranky.  One has to see past that sort of thing.  But I can see more in his eyes now.  Things that are hiding.
     He was very kind to me on our shopping trip.  Patient in the extreme.  I can't believe how many shops we had to visit to find work boot that actually fit my silly little feet.  I told him I would just wear Mother's old boots as I always do when working, but he didn't like the thin soles or the hole forming in the right toe.  "I won't have my assistant looking like a ragamuffin!" he said.  I know he just wanted me to have something nice.  It was an odd feeling to be taken care of like that.  I'm not saying that Aunt doesn't take care of me.  She never lets me go without anything that she knows I need, but I don't go about making her spent money on frivolous nonsense when she could put her money to better use in her charities.  She always tells me that my Uncle Tempest would have doted upon me and purchased ten times more than I let her buy for me.  I tell her that I don't need a lot and that I must get used to living on a limited budget so that when I go to make my own way I won't feel slighted.
     Here I am rattling on when I should be sleeping.  I need to stay on my toes with Professor Ross as my  superior.  Not only to be the best helper I can possibly be for him because he is my friend and mentor, but he said if I did well that I would have many more offers of work for next season.  Even better ones, he says.  I can't think of anything better than being able to work even for a little longer with Professor Ross.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Characters: Tip #2 The Villain

So, you think you're ready to write your new novel.  You've crafted the best of heros.  You've come up with the most spectacular man-vs-man conflict.  Your setting is in a local that everyone will love.  But what about the other "man" in the conflict?  What about your villain?

Sorry to burst your bubble, but your new great novel goes exactly nowhere without a well-crafted bad guy.  Just like your hero, the villain needs backstory.  Backstory, if you don't already know, is what has occurred in the life of your character before your novel's timeline takes place.  You may never even reveal any of these juicy tidbits to your reader, but all this info helps to sculpt and fashion the man.  It gives him reason for who and what he is.  Here's where it helps to know a little about psychology.  Bet you never thought you'd use anything you learned from that class, right?  But really, to craft a villain it helps. Because face it, to be so bad, this guy must have a physiological twitch.

Also, be prepared to pull from your dark side.  Poor yourself a cup of coffee, pull on your villain's boots and take a walk in them for a time.  You man not like what you see, but you'll take home some valuable information for your story.  It really is terrible when your bad guy is so bad that you have to close your eyes when you type out a scene. But if it really bothers you to have that awful of a fellow lurking inside you imagination, you can pretend that your villain is really a great guy playing the part of a wretched beast.  Like an actor.  Some of the worst characters in movies are played by the absolutely nicest people you ever met.

Truly frightening. . .  the female villain! To me, they are far more terrifying than a male villain. . .  I don't think I have the strength to say everything that needs to be said here.  What I do know is this, it goes against the natural make up of a woman to be a villain.  Women are natural to the art of nourishing, nurturing, comforting, patching up boo-boos, organizing.  All the things a villain is not!  Yes, a woman villain has something definitely wrong with her to be so bad.  Or perhaps something very bad has happened in her past. (again the backstory)

For more on villains, check out Hazel West's blog, Character Purgatory, listed in my favorite sights.  She'll probably have some posts soon on good craftsmanship of bad guys.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Think Twice Before Axing a Good Bad Guy

Ah, villains, we all love them.  We all love to hate them.  The big question is: Do we kill them off at the end of the story or not???

Well, the answer is:  You can if you want to, but you don't exactly have to.  I know that is rather vague, but it's true.  According to many of the writing books and articles I've read, even certain genres, such as mystery, don't actually require the demise of the villain you so artfully crafted.  The rules of the mystery genre only state that their needs to be closure between your hero and your villain.  So you can have your main character do him or her in if it suits your story, or you can simply have the bad guy brought to justice. After all, there may be some redeeming quality in the fellow.

So, just write what comes naturally for your particular story and characters, and don't forget that sequel!!  You just spent oodles of time making up the best of villains, and if you off the guy how can he come back stronger than ever in your next book??

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Great New Book

Hello again!  Today I wanted to share a great new book on the market.  It's called Freedom Come All Ye: A Tale of William Wallace by the up and coming author, Hazel West. Hazel and I are in the same writer's support group so I've known her for a long time.  She really loves Scottish history and writing historical novels.  This one would be a good story for the middle-schooler up to adult.  It is set in a time of turmoil in Scotland when it was ruled by the tyrant, Edward Longshanks, king of England.

Now, while you may have heard of the freedom fighter, William Wallace, or have read books about his heroism, or even seen a movie or two, you have probably never read much about him as a teenager, or learned about what drove him to be the national hero he was.

This book is unique in that fact.  You get to meet Will as a young man with a heart full of love for his family, friends, and his country: Scotland.  We get to see him learn what it takes to be a leader, and what it costs.  It is a book you'll never forget.

Here is a preview link so you can take a look for yourself. www.createspace.com/Preview/3605405
Or, your own copy is now available at: www.createspace.com/3605405

Happy Reading!!  

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Characters: Tip #1

Don't you love coming up with a new idea for a story?  It can be sparked by anything: the ripples of water swirling from a small, trickling waterfall could bring on the beginnings of a great setting or interesting situation.  But what always surprises me is when I'm coming up with a new setting and,  BAM!  suddenly there is a character, or maybe two or three standing about just. . . becoming.  It usually happens without much thought at first, and this character seems to create itself.  It's especially interesting when this character gets in your face and tells you, the writer, in no uncertain terms what sort of person they are.

Character:  "I like it right here, so don't you dare move me from this spot!"
Writer:       "Whoa, take it easy, little lady, I'm your friend here."
Character:  "Don't call me that!  I hate that!"
Writer:       "Okay, but your adversary in this story will probably call you, little lady."
Character:  "Swell.  Whatever, just bring it on!"

Believe it or not, this sort of thing happens, usually in the middle of the night. So just get your paper and pencil and write it down because, if you're like me, when morning comes and the coffee starts flowing, you won't remember a thing about what you were coming up with the night before.

Happy writing!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My New Book

If you're looking for a good old-fasioned adventure with a little romance to boot, then you will like my new novel, Cherished Preserver.

While the story begins in Sarah Scott's home town in New York, most of it is centered around her exciting experiences while she works as a geological assistant on an archaeological teaching expedition in Egypt's famous Valley of the Kings, circa 1910.

Now, you may ask how a young woman acquire such a position in the Edwardian period?  Luck, I suppose and an incredible, natural ability and quick mind.  You see, Sarah Scott is no uppity female pushing for a man's position, she simply wants to have a chance to do what she loves and is really good at.  This passion is realized by her mentor, friend and geology professor, Joseph T. Ross.  (Enter the handsome hero)  Ross offers Sarah the chance of a lifetime.  To be his assistant on a dig in Egypt where they will teach archaeological students about the geological aspects of archaeology and act a advisors to the dig.  Of course love will blossom between them.  It is a romance after all.

I chose this time period because it was an interesting time in the USA with many changes occuring, but it wasn't as crazy as the 20's.  Also, the clothes were better (this matters to we women, doesn't it?).  And the time between the mid to late 1800's and up to and including Howard Carter's discovery of King Tut's tomb was really the golden period of Egyptology.  I've always been drawn to the exciting aspect of those old expeditions in the deserts of Egypt. Beautiful vistas, mosquito netting, canvas tents, dust, water-shortage, the ever-present cliché of the deadly Egyptian cobra poised to strike, (honestly I couldn't help it.  How could I write an Egyptian adventure novel without a cobra?) evil tattooed villains attacking at every turn.  Well, at least this is what Sarah experiences.  Only, she brought the villains with her from New York and they are led by an enemy from Sarah's past, or rather her parents' past. A gold-hungry narcissist out to get Sarah for reasons of his own.

It really is a fun book that I enjoyed writing.  If it sounds like something you would enjoy reading, visit my e-store at  www.createspace.com/3467694  to order a copy of your own.

You can also get it on Amazon where you will pay the same price, only my royalty check will be much smaller because Amazon will take most of it.  So if you want to help out a self-published author, buy it from my e-store.

If you would like to preview it, you can go to www.createspace.com/Preview/3467694
Thanks and enjoy!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Finding Time To Write

This is just a little article that I entered in a contest a few years ago. . . it didn't win.  But, hey, rejection is all in a day's work for a writer.  Anyway, this little ditty gets to be published here, because this is my blog, and on my blog. . . I always win.  Ha, ha!

It’s 2:00 a.m. and you still can’t sleep.  Yet again, great lines of dialogue are running through your head and you’ll never remember them in the morning if you don’t jot them down right NOW.  You click on your bedside lamp for the umpteenth time, causing your husband to groan softly and roll away from the light—again.  As you scribble down your mental treasures, you can’t help but wonder how you’ll possibly function the next day on what little sleep you’re likely to have.
            Ah, the life of a writer.  Glamorous eh?  More like borderline psychotic.  If only you could sleep-in the next day, but mothers don’t have that luxury.  Even stay-at-home mothers, like me, have to pack lunches, send husbands off to work and get children ready for school, and in our home, school starts at 8:15 sharp with yours truly as the teacher for three children of varying ages. 
No joke, we homeschool, so time is a very valuable commodity.  While home- schooling has taught me the value of a schedule, writing has taught me the value of multitasking and making every minute count. Though my real children come first, it’s difficult to tear myself completely away from the world of my fictional imagination. So between laundry, dishes, and coherently answering the many questions two young boys and a teenage girl can come up with, my children have become accustomed to my mad scribbling and promises of undivided attention as soon as I get a great plot twist out of my head and onto paper. As a result, in the five-minute space between teaching fractions and phonics, my subconscious mind is fantasizing about the next inextricable predicament in which to throw my heroin.  Between history and science, I may have ten minutes to decide on the perfect moment for said heroin to finally confess her undying devotion to “Joe Hero."  Sometimes on a glorious school-free Saturday, if I’m really lucky, my wonderful husband will watch the kids so I can steal an hour or two conferring over new story ideas with my best girlfriend--who is also a writing mom--over a well deserved latte at our favorite java joint.
 I don’t know if my time management technique would work for everyone, but taking a few moments here and there to write has allowed me to finish my first novel, the first three chapters of which are being perused by an agent as I write this essay. One thing I do know for sure is that writing is an inextinguishable passion that burns inside every writer—mother or not-- compelling us to pen and paper or our chosen writing apparatus.  I can’t stop being a writer any more than I can stop being a mother.  So…
It’s 2:00 a.m. I reach over to click my lamp on.  My husband chuckles softly knowing that the light bulb is gone.  Blast the man.