Saturday, November 29, 2014

Snippets from 100for100: Week Eleven

     “The second day is easier,” I told myself, shifting my backpack and lifting my chin confidently.  I knew where my locker was.  I knew where my classes were.  I should be fine.
     April caught my eye when I reached my locker.  I smiled at her.  She turned away and whispered to the girl next to her.  I looked from April’s straight strawberry blonde hair to the black, cascading curls of her friend.  While I watched, the new girl surveyed me with a stony gaze that was anything but friendly.

     “Stubborn girl,” Brant scolded, swinging around in front of me to study my face.  “I’m coming with you.  No getting out of it.”  He dropped into step next to me.  “There’s something strange going on here, and I’d like to figure it out.”

     A flicker of white and then red flickered across her face.  “As you wish,” she said tersely. 

     He reached for my hand, pulling it out of the pocket and grasping it firmly.  “There’s an ice cream palor in town,” he said.
     “Parlor,” I corrected.


     Wham!  A large shoulder collided into my own, spinning me away from the parlor window.  I looked up to see a man in a trench coat pushing past me.  His hat was pulled low over his ears.
     “Hey,” I shouted, more from surprise than anything.
     He strode on without so much as a “beg your pardon.”
     “Watch where you’re going, mister,” I shouted after him.


     Brant stepped forward until he was eye to eye with me.  “I don’t want you running off with him anymore,” he said, flatly.  His eyes dared me to defy him until I felt myself shrinking under them as much as Mason had.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday Deals

      In my country, the day after Thanksgiving is a day for lower prices on goods in various stores.  It is called "Black Friday" because stores whose profits have been "in the red" (losses) finally make enough sales to be "in the black" (gains).

     There are a couple Black Friday deals that I thought you may be interested in.  Here they are:

Rachel Heffington's book, Anon, Sir, Anon, will be 25% off in paperback form on Black Friday.  Here is the link to her post that tells about it: My Sister Gets to Keep Her Cat

Elizabeth Ender's book, Ransomed, will be about 30% off on createspace on Black Friday, if you use her special code.  Here is the link to a post telling more about it: In Which I Try to Sell You Cool Stuff.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Pretty Thanksgiving Pilgrim Lady Image! - The Graphics Fairy
     Tomorrow, I will not be posting -- I will be celebrating Thanksgiving.
     Thanksgiving is a holiday in my country.  It is inspired by a feast held by the pilgrims who came to this land long ago.  They set aside a day to rejoice and to thank God for what He had done for them.  Centuries later, President Lincoln set it up as a yearly national holiday.
     Thanksgiving is celebrated in my family with a meal together -- with as much of the family as possible (and sometimes, a few extra people).  Turkey is typically served, and, thanks to my in-laws, so is cranberry sauce.  Pie, also, is sort of expected. J  And there are numerous other delicious dishes that vary from year to year.
     Before the meal is a bustle of women in the kitchen (the men go in the other room to talk or play guitar or they go outside to do stuff with my dad).  It always amazes my dad how we can fit so many ladies in our little kitchen without crashing into each other.
     After the meal, we split again.  The cleanup is less of a bustle and more of a fun party of dishwashing.  Dishwashing is not my favorite task, but there is something about a group of women determined to make the mundane chores exciting.  It's so much better in a group like that.  :)
     Some time during the day, I will play with my nieces and nephews.  There will be more music through the day.  There might be something that has to do with target practice.  And there will be time set aside to thank God for what He has done for us.
     I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving this year!

Monday, November 24, 2014

14 Weeks To Go

via Pinterest

     So I haven't heard much about the Rooglewood contest lately (it is occasionally mentioned on Anne E. Stengl's blog and, of course, it is mentioned on Rooglewood Press's contest page).  But from what I have heard, there are a lot of great stories being submitted.  A couple of them in particular, I would be very interested to read -- and those are ones that I know about -- I'm sure there are many more.  I am looking forward to this collection's release next summer.
     Earlier this year, Rooglewood released the book from last year's contest.  Have any of you read it?  It's called Five Glass Slippers, and it is a collection of Cinderella stories.  Here is the blurb for that book:
One Beloved Story - Five Exciting Writers - a Collection to Cherish!

What happens when Cinderella is so painfully shy that she cannot bear the idea of attending the royal ball? Or when the slipper fits . . . but on the wrong girl? What happens when Cinderella is determined to oust an imposter prince from her rightful throne? Or when she is a cendrillon miner working from a space station orbiting a cthonian planet? What happens when Cinderella, a humble housemaid, is sent with a message for a prisoner trapped in a frightening fairy circus?

Here is Cinderella as you have never met her before, wearing glass slippers and off on unforgettable adventures!
     With such delightful twists as this contest obviously produces, you can't help but wonder what they will come up with for Beauty and the Beast!

     For those of you who, like me, don't care for magic and fairy godmothers: in the Cinderella collection, two stories had magic and three did not.  I expect the editors purposefully choose some of each.  My own story that I am submitting this year for the Beauty and the Beast contest does not have magic in it.  Just read the ones you like!

     Writers who enter this contest must announce their intention to do so (in other words, submit an entry form to Rooglewood) by December 16.  Stories have to be submitted by December 31st.  And the winners are announced March 1st.  For those who win, the publishing process (with its editing and so forth) begins so that the book can be released to the public in the summer of 2015.
     For me, this breaks down into the following translation: 5 weeks 2 days until all the stories are in and 14 weeks until the winners are announced.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Snippets from 100for100: Week Ten

Today, instead of sharing a bunch of smaller snippets, I am posting one large snippet.  Enjoy!

“I put pictures up in my room,” Mason said, waving his hand at the walls.  They were covered in crayon drawings and posters of cars and trucks.  He turned to look at me.  There was a furrow in his brow, and I could tell something was on his mind.  “Brant puts pictures on his walls, too.  And Mama puts pictures on the refrigerator.”  His brow crinkled even more as he looked at me.  “Why don’t you put pictures on your walls?”

I stared at Mason.  I wasn’t quite sure what to say.

It was true.  My mind immediately flew to my suitcase and the place where I hid my treasured pictures.  I would never have dreamed of posting them on the wall in my bedroom.

Why not? 

I licked my lips.  “Sometimes I like to put very special things in a safe place,” I said slowly.

Mason gazed up at his wall, his mouth hanging carelessly open.  “Buuuuutt…my walls are safe.”

Innocent child!

“Sure,” I said with a shrug, pretending to agree.  Nowhere was safe.  In fact, nowhere was mine.  But Mason didn’t need to know that.

He slid closer to me, his little warm body pressing against mine, and grasped my sleeve with both of his chubby hands.  “And nobody can SEE your pictures,” he said, his lower lip almost in a pout.

“That’s the point,” I said.  If the girls from the other foster homes would have laughed at my pink room, they would have laughed even harder over my other treasures.  I was not one to wear my heart on my sleeve…although it felt like Mason held it as firmly in his chubby fingers as he held my sleeve at that moment.

His face fell as I spoke, and my heart wrenched.  I bent forward and looked into his face.  I can see them,” I said, with the sincerity of making a promise.  “Always…all the time…wherever I am.”

He rolled this around in his mind as the pout faded from his face.  “Like super-vision-man,” he said, apparently starting to like this idea.

“No…inside,” I said, shaking my head.  “You can, too.”

His quizzical face stared into mine.

“Close your eyes,” I said.

He obediently shut them.  How he trusted me!

“Now think about your favorite picture,” I said.  “Think about the colors and the shapes and the things in the picture.  Think about what you like about the picture.”

For a moment, all was silent.  I could see the motion of his eyes behind the lids and I waited.  His little expression went from studious to earnest to awed.

“I can see it, Kelsey," he whispered.  "I can see my pictures in my special place.”

I wrapped my arms around him and gave him a hug.  His eyes were still shut as he stared, amazed, into his imagination.

“You’re in my special place, Mason,” I murmured.

In that moment, I opened my heart for the first time since Jeremy, and I knew I would do anything to protect Mason…or die trying.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

That Thing is a Character?

via Pinterest

     I'm going to play with our concepts of characters.

     Typically, we think of a character as an interactive being in the story.  They have thoughts and feelings, motives and a backstory, personality traits and quirks.

     But there is another side to the characters, not seen by the reader, and that is the handling of a character.  It is the author's responsibility to make sure that characters are introduced, given an appropriate amount of "screen time", and never lost. 
     Let's say that you are reading a story about Jack and Jill.  Everything up until now is built by these 2 characters alone.  Now let's say that Jack and Jill are having a conversation and suddenly...
"I agree," said Freddy, rubbing the end of his nose thoughtfully.
     What?!? You, as the reader, are reeling.  Who is Freddy?  Where did he come from?  Why is he here?  You eagerly look to the next line, hoping for an explanation from the author.
      But, no, the author merely continues the three-way conversation as if nothing unusual had happened.
      You feel a bit betrayed by the author, but you are a generous sort of person.  You decide to accept the fact that Freddy has suddenly appeared.  You read on.
"What a beautiful sunset," Jill said.
"We should take a picture," Freddy said.  "I have a camera."  He pulled a small black camera from his bag and handed it to Jack.
Jack balanced the camera on his knee, snapping several shots of the crimson sky.
Jill leaned close, wrapping her arm around Jack's elbow.  For several moments, the two of them were silent.  Then Jill sighed contentedly.  "It's nice to be here with only you."
Jack smiled.  "There's not another soul in sight."
     Wait a minute!!!  You grab the page and yell loudly, hoping the author can hear you.  "Where did Freddy go????"  You read on for some explanation of Freddy's disappearance, but there is none.  It's as if Freddy never existed, and you put down the book in disgust.

     As authors, we all know you can't do this with characters.  It's not fair to the reader and it doesn't make sense.

     So I want to talk about giving your props and scene backdrops the same courtesy.  Of course, they are not characters in the sense of having personality and motives, but they still deserve handling as much as the interactive beings.  Let's talk about examples:
     April dragged her homework off the dresser like a prisoner would drag his chains.  Flipping a light on, she squinted at the page of Algebra problems.  Fifteen questions were all that stood between her and the vacation of her dreams.
     "This is a miserable little hole for homework." Valerie's voice startled her, and April looked up to see her friend standing in the doorway.
     "I have to get them right, Val, or my parents are going to ship me off to summer boot camp for dummies." April sighed, crossing her arms and squinting at the sunlight glinting off the water.
     "Boy, you sound stressed.  You need to cool off!"  Without further warning, Val lunged toward April and both girls went flying headlong into the pool. the first paragraph was fine.  We are setting up a bedroom scene.  The second paragraph introduced Val...that was okay.  Then we hit the third paragraph and the...sunlight?...glinting off the water?  That doesn't make sense.  Where are we?  By the fourth paragraph, we are falling in a pool.  Are we still in her bedroom?  Where did the pool come from?  Ahhh, I'm so lost!!!

     Let's try again:
April dragged her homework off the dresser like a prisoner would drag his chains. Flipping a light on, she squinted at the page of Algebra problems. Fifteen questions were all that stood between her and the vacation of her dreams.
"This is a miserable little hole for homework." Valerie's voice startled her, and April looked up to see her friend standing in the doorway.
Valerie bounced across the room and grabbed April's arm.  "Come on.  Let's go outside by the pool.  You'll thank me - I promise."
April permitted herself to be dragged out the door and onto the smooth concrete slab by the pool.  She dropped her homework papers into a nearby lawn chair and shook her arm free from her friend's grasp. 
 "Why such a long face?" Val asked, kicking her shoes off and shoving them under a neighboring lawn chair.
"I have to get them right, Val, or my parents are going to ship me off to summer boot camp for dummies." April sighed, crossing her arms and squinting at the sunlight glinting off the water.
"Boy, you sound stressed. You need to cool off!" Without further warning, Val lunged toward April and both girls went flying headlong into the pool.
     Hopefully, you did not feel so lost that time.  The author took care to say goodbye to old scenes (April permitted herself to be dragged out the door) and introduce new ones (and onto the smooth concrete slab by the pool).

     Do you see what I mean?  Props as well as people deserve careful handling...for the reader's sake as well as your own.  Try pretending that the "things" in your story are characters, too.

     And have fun with it!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Outlandish But Beautiful

A journey to the center of the Earth by be*curious, via Flickr - France / Languedoc-Roussillon / GROTTE DE LIMOUSIS The largest developed cave in Aude. It is made up of eight chambers and a series of five stalagmite barriers and a large number of concretions. The last chamber houses an exceptional mass of aragonite crystals, known as the Chandelier, 4 metres in height and 10 metres round.
     A friend gave me a writing prompt the other day (a simple, "he opened the door and saw..."), and through it I stumbled into another world beneath our own.  It was beautiful but boldly different from any place I have gone before.  That's a new thing for me -- my books have mostly traveled the realm of places you might see every day -- or you would see if you traveled back in time.  This, however...while believable...was fearless in its uniqueness. 
     And it was a delight for me to roam around and explore.

Buy Journey to the Center of the Earth at and then visit for free stories, artwork and blog.

How about you?  Have you ever written a place that was both outlandish and beautiful?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Snippets from 100for100: Week Nine

     The bell rang for dismissal at the end of the day, and moments later I was trotting down the front steps of the school – trotting away from the great altar. 

     She looked disappointed by my short answers but I didn’t care.  My world was crazy enough as it was and it felt oddly satisfying to have control over the length of my replies. 

     Then the dark-haired boy plunked down in his newly acquired seat, propping his elbow over the back of it so he could grin at me.

     In the end, he smiled again.  “I own the bus,” he said.
     Bluff, I thought.

     Mason didn’t think my life was hard.

     Whatever my face expressed, it delighted Charlie even more.  He winked at me and headed back to his own seat.

     In my room, I plopped onto the floor by my bed and dug Mason’s picture out of the backpack.  With my finger, I traced the little paradise he had made under the great, hulking rock.  If only it were as beautiful as he imagined...

Friday, November 14, 2014

Setting the Stage

         My daddy challenged me to think about the props used in a play to create a scene, and to incorporate that into my writing.  Let me demonstrate what I mean:

      April pulled the cord of the lamp on her nightstand and flopped across her bed. Her homework lay neglected on the top of her dresser, but April was too tired to care.

      Can you tell where she is? Why?

      The wind blew cold across Dylan's skin, and he shivered. Snow was starting to fall. In another two hundred yards, he would climb above the treeline and leave the sheltering pines behind him.  He hoped the camp was waiting for him and that his captain had a fire going.

     Can your imagination build the scene?  How?

     Plays can't actually transport you to different locations.  Instead, they put props on the stage so that the audience understands where they are supposed to be.

     For Tevye's bedroom, you might have a bed, a nightstand, and a dresser. Golde and Tevye night shirts and hats for Dream scene
     For Maria's escape over the alps, you should have a backdrop of mountains.
The final scene from the Sound of Music
     Use this in your writing.  Create the scene by including the necessary props.  In this way, you provide the essence of location without a minute description.  In the scenes above, you could picture a bedroom in one and a wintry mountain in the other.  Why?  I included a few items that your mind associated with certain locations.
     Try it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

One Man's Junk is Another Man's Treasure

Come preparare il tesoro
via Pinterest
     The old adage, often used in defense of yardsales, occasionally applies to critique groups.  On receiving criticism from multiple people, you may find a scene or phrase hated by one person and loved by another.  Personally, this is why I like to have my work critiqued by multiple readers -- I feel it gives you a more balanced response.
     Speaking of critique group's, I have joined one for the first time ever this month, and I am super-excited.  I can't wait to see what we come up with!

Have you ever been part of a critique group?  What tips or suggestions would you give to such a group?

Monday, November 10, 2014

New Books, Excited Jitters, Cold Winds, and New Friends

This post is a collection of randomness.

     First of all, Plenilune by Freitag was amazing.  Honestly, I wouldn't recommend it for everyone...and that's just how it is.  But the writing was superb.  There were maybe two places where I remembered it was written by a young human...for the rest of it, I was as deeply submersed in Plenilune as Miss Coventry.  Earth?  Where is that?  I am sorely tempted to go live on Plenilune now.
     Like I said, I wouldn't recommend it for everyone -- there were a couple things I thought should have been left out -- but my brain very quickly forgets those things.  And I loved the way Jenny sucked me into the story, weaving my heart through the changes until it was almost a shock to look back and see how far we had come.  Plus, I loved the adventure and action...and the BIGNESS of the story.  There was no timidity in the writing and it beckoned you to greatness.  Awesome piece of work.

     Second of all, I have started reading Anon, Sir, Anon (you know, that book I have been advertising for Rachel).  And, wow, is it good!  Cozy, little mystery novel is a perfect name for it.  And I fell in love with it from the first sentence.  (Rachel, you extracted a laugh from me in the first dozen words!  How do you do that?)  The characters are vivid and absolutely adorable, and she is weaving this story with the skill of a master.  It also feels more "real" to me than ordinary mysteries.  I haven't finished it yet so I can't speak for the entirety, but, right now, this book tops my list of mystery novels.  It is very good.

     Third of all, I am still excited over the fact that I submitted a story to Rooglewood.  March 1st seems a long way away, but I like the fact that winning is just the beginning.  It's not a "we'll print your name in a magazine this once and give you $$$."  It is the start of editing and publishing with a traditional publisher.  That's worth hoping for.

     Fourth of all, I am enjoying the weather as it starts to turn crisp and cold.  Joy, it blows my mind that things are getting warmer now in your part of the world.  What a crazy, awesome design of our Creator!

     Fifth of all, I am super-excited that I have 11 followers now.  Thanks, guys!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Interview at Whistecraig

Hi, Rachel!  Welcome to my blog!  I am so excited to have you here today to talk with my readers about your new book, Anon, Sir, Anon.

Readers, I hereby introduce to you Rachel Heffington.  To learn more about her and her book, you can read my earlier post here or you can go to her blog.

Rachel kindly permitted me to interview her today.  Below you will find my questions in bold and her answers in regular print.

Ready, Rachel?

When did the idea for Anon, Sir, Anon occur to you?  Did you start writing immediately? The idea occurred to me rather randomly after reading a book on Classic British Detective Fiction. I love mysteries, in theory, and wanted to write one of my own. And I did begin writing fairly quickly. The whole thing worked up very easily the first draft. It was the second draft that bit my tail.

Looking back on your finished product, name one thing (an element, technique, or scene) that you are extremely pleased with. I am very pleased with how I managed to describe things. I was taught that description ought to be used sparingly. It’s not true. It can be used, but it must be used in a clever way so the reader isn’t conscious of being described at. I worked for my “verbal painting” in Anon, Sir, Anon and I am happy with it.

In writing this story, were you a pantser (writing as you go without foreplanning) or plotter? It began as a “pansty” effort but of course you can’t possibly write an effective mystery without a plan. To be plain, it quickly became a plot when I realized that the author had to know what was going on if the reader would be able to.

What time period is Anon, Sir, Anon set in? The early 1930’s in England. November of 1932, to be exact.

Who is your target audience? I should not say “anyone,” for that sounds like bad form. I will say that, due to the nature of certain topics addressed, it should please readers of both genders, age sixteen and above.

Pick a side character and tell us a little bit about him/her. One of my favorite side-characters who came out of the second and third edits is Old Mr. Fields, the father of Vivi’s friend, Jimmy Fields. He is an old farmer whom some describe as “senile” and has dementia, but for all that he’s a dear. My grandmother has dementia and so the social awkwardness such a thing can supply was natural to write. I spent very little time with him this round, but I still enjoyed the scene we had with him.

Is there something you like to do simultaneously with writing?  Drink tea?  Eat chocolate?  Listen to music? I like to drink tea when I remember I have brewed it. Often, I become engrossed with my work and forget my cup. I am never too busy for chocolate. And it is only when my mind is in its toppest of forms that I can bear listening to music while I write. I prefer a quiet room.

If people fall in love with the characters of Anon, Sir, Anon (as I'm sure they will), have they a hope of seeing them again in future stories? They most certainly shall! I intend for this to be a series of some books, each generally independent of the others, but all working together with Vivi and Farnham as the detective pair. I have begun Book Two, Scotch’d The Snakes, and am excited to see where it might go.

Thanks for the fun questions, Esther! I am so glad you chose to host me on your blog today. It has been a pleasure.

Likewise, Rachel! Thank you so much for coming!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

One Small Move of the (Computer) Mouse

     It's so easy to do.  With one small move of the computer mouse and a click on the button, I submitted my story to Rooglewood Press.  There.  It's done.
     And yet, the torrent of emotions made the movement anything but small.  You might as well say that jumping off a cliff is but a tiny flick of the ankles.  Everything from terror to relief to excitement to hope blew through my mind so quickly that they were all a blur.
     God, give me favor.
     It was a whirlwind of emotion that came and passed, leaving me almost numb and breathless in its wake.  Now that my story is on its way to the judges, I can sit in semi-peace and process my thoughts.
     The terror comes from that perfectionist desire to read it through one more time, hoping that I can somehow make it better.  I know my story was not perfect -- I have met writers with considerable more polish than I have yet acquired.  Maybe...if I took a little bit more time...I could make my diamond-of-a-tale shine.
     The relief comes from letting go of that.  My story is good.  I know it is.  No more will I wrestle over it (at least, not until I win the right to work with their editors).  It is done.  It is gone.
     The excitement comes from trying something new -- something that smacks of the good kind of scary.
     The hope comes from a dream...a daydream...that my story will win.  More and more, I had to sit back from a reread and smile and say "this could actually win."  And I know that any chances it has comes from my Father.
     And now?  The feeling in my chest is an achy, pleased feeling.  It has no name, but I imagine it akin to the feelings of a mother sending a grown child off to his future.  It is time for him to go.  You do not doubt it.  You hope you gave him all he needs to succeed.  You expect he will do great things.  And, regardless of what anybody says, a little piece of your heart goes with him.
     God, give it favor.

Snippets from 100for100: Week Eight

     “Here comes Miss Young.  Make sure you tell her we answered all your questions,” April murmured hastily.
     Do you have any questions?” Renee asked.  An amused look flickered across my face.  Somehow I think Miss Young, if she had overheard, would have been more impressed with Renee’s approach than April’s.
     My head jerked to the right, and I saw the skinny blonde-haired boy lurking in the empty hallway.  Discretion prompted me to walk on.
     "Get back here!  I'm talking to you!" he hissed.
      My steps slowed to a stop and I looked back over my shoulder.
     He jammed his hands in his pockets.  "I have a message for you," he said.
      "From who?" I asked.
      He looked as nervous as a cat on a waterslide.  "From the guys in the alley."  He rocked one foot back and forth as if the rhythm would help him recite.  "If you even think about causing trouble, you are gonna wish you never set eyes on them."
      "I already wish I had never set eyes on them.  What's new?"
      His eyes narrowed.  "That guy won't always be there, and when he's not they are gonna cream you."  His chin dropped to his chest and he shrugged.  "And so on...I forget the whole message."
     I stepped closer and lifted my chin defiantly.  "That's where they are wrong.  'That guy' will always be there.  Even if they can't see him, he is forever watching.  And if they even think about attacking me, they will regret it till the day they die."  Boy, it felt good to say that.  And, as impossible as it sounded, I sort of believed it.
       The boy's eyes widened in fear.  "I can't repeat that!  They'll smash my face in!"
     "Then don't," I said.  "Walk away.  Don't go back."
      His fists balled up, crumpling the edge of his shirt.  "I have to go back," he said.
      It made me mad, watching him grovel on the inside to a bunch of punks.  "No.  You don't.  Walk away.  Get real help."
     He shook his head and fixed his eyes on me.  Something inside of me shrunk back under that stare.  There was hunger and desperation in it, running deeper than I had ever imagined, and it terrified me.
     "I'm not strong enough," he said, his voice shaky.
     "Talk to your parents," I said.
      He gave a sort of panicked laugh.  "If they knew I was..."  He let the end of his sentence dangle.
     "You want them to find out now while there's hope?  Or later, when...?"  I let the end of my sentence dangle as well.  We both had sufficient imagination to fill in the blanks.
      His eyes looked sad and empty now.  "There's already no hope," he said.  He turned to go, pulling his collar up to his ears.  "Just watch your back, okay?"
     "Stop it, you idiot," I shouted.
      He pushed open the door at the end of the hall and disappeared.  I spun and hit the wall with my fist.  I hated it.  Hated that hunger and emptiness.  Hated to see people looking for fullness in a place that would only make them emptier.  It made me want to scream.  I slammed my fist into the wall again.  I hated it.

Friday, November 7, 2014

What I Like in a Story

Jo Seated on the Old Sofa by                                                       ....Norman Rockwell
I like fearless authors.  Not that they are writing things that they shouldn't ("fools rush in where angels fear to tread") but they are fearless in what they do write.  They write because they believe.

I like things to feel real.

I like villains who you hate but wish that you could have been there earlier to keep them from becoming a villain.  The author Alfred Ollivant introduced me to that in Bob, Son of Battle.  I was pretty young when I read that novel, and most of the stories intended for my age had a simply evil villain that you never understood or tried to understand.  How different were the villains of Bob, Son of Battle!  You understood why everyone hated them, and yet a small part of your heart cried for the villain.

I like a good mix of action, philosophy, dialogue, and description.

I like a writer that will make me laugh.  I don't mean a comedy novel but something that will, somewhere in its pages, pull a laugh out of me.  Sometimes it is a funny scene, sometimes it is a bit of wit, and sometimes it is an unexpected comparison.

I like a writer that makes me feel clever.  When a writer trusts my intellect to understand him or to understand a reference he makes, that makes me feel clever...unless, of course, I don't understand which case I might dismiss him as stupid for not being able to explain himself better.  Readers can be so unmerciful at times.

...which leads me to my next point: I like a story that is easy to read.  Some writers have a flow with their words that is nearly profound in its simplicity.  A book does not have to be difficult in order to be great.

I like a description that is so unique and yet vivid that I can instantly see the picture and feel its heartbeat.

I like a story that will inspire me, that will make me think, and that will thrust me toward action.  I like stories with good morals and good points to make. 

I like an author who can capture my deepest feelings and put them into words with such an eloquence that matches my inmost thoughts.  It's not easy to convert an inmost thought into eloquent words, but there is a place in my core that sings -- almost like a violin string vibrating under a bow -- when it meets its essence in print. 

What do you like in a story?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Remember, Remember...It's Today!

Announcement Blurb:
Whodunnit? Rachel did! At least, she did as long as the "it" refers to writing a cozy little mystery novel. Ladies and gentlemen, you have heard me predict this day for some time now, and it is finally here: Rachel is releasing her new book, titled Anon, Sir, Anon. Round of applause, please!

Thank you, thank you.

In honor of this auspicious day, Rachel has typed up some information on the book and its author and has permitted me to post them. You will see those below. She is also hosting a giveaway -- there is more about that to come. And today's release date is a kick-off for a whole week of festivities (some of them here on my blog) so be sure to check out her blog for more information. Enjoy!

Back Cover Blurb:
The 12:55 out of Darlington brought more than Orville Farnham's niece; murder was passenger.In coming to Whistlecreig, Genevieve Langley expected to find an ailing uncle in need of gentle care. In reality, her charge is a cantankerous Shakespearean actor with a penchant for fencing and an affinity for placing impossible bets.When a body shows up in a field near Whistlecreig Manor and Vivi is the only one to recognize the victim, she is unceremoniously baptized into the art of crime-solving: a field in which first impressions are seldom lasting and personal interest knocks at the front door.Set against the russet backdrop of a Northamptonshire fog, Anon, Sir, Anon cuts a cozy path to a chilling crime. 

Author Bio:
Rachel Heffington is a novelist, a nanny, and a people-lover living in rural Virginia with her family and black cat, Cricket. Her first novel, Fly Away Home, was independently published in February of 2014, while her novella, The Windy Side of Care, was published by Rooglewood Press in the Five Glass Slippers anthology in June of 2014. Visit Rachel online at

Giveaway: Cozy Quagmire Party Pack
Enter to win a complete party in a box! The Cozy Quagmire Party Pack includes everything you’ll need to have an evening worthy of guests such as Vivi, Farnham, and Dr. Breen. Prize includes P.G. Tips (my favorite British black tea), a $5 Panera Bread gift-card for toasting-bread, a Yankee candle, matchbook, and a paperback copy of Anon, Sir, Anon.

You can go to this page to enter the giveaway or go to Rachel's announcement post and enter there.  Have fun!

Where to Buy the Books:
     Amazon (Paperback)
     Amazon (Kindle)
     If you are a Barnes & Noble shopper, stay tuned because it should be on there soon.
     If you are an autograph collector, make sure you follow The Inkpen Authoressblog because there may be news about autographed copies coming up.


Rachel Heffington will be here on The Pen of a Ready Writer on November 9th for an interview.  I am so excited about this.  Be sure to check back then to see what she has to say about her delightful mystery!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

About that Cycle

I just realized how closely I have been following this cycle in my Rooglewood Contest project.
Here's to hoping it wins after all!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Contest Update

Last week, I was a little bit frustrated with my story for the Rooglewood Contest.  People had given me suggestions, I decided the suggestions were merited, I wrote some new scenes based on their feedback...and the new scenes were horrible.

I was ready to scrap the whole project.

But I didn't think I had time for a complete rewrite.

And quitting the contest entirely was not an option.  Quitting is worse than failing.

I set aside some time today to work on it.  It's not as bad as I thought it was...which is always a comfort.  I reworked the new scenes to make them fit better.  It's funny how at some places during the story I am so disatisfied with my work...and yet when I finish reading it, I have this little budding hope that it might actually win.

By now, you are probably tired of reading about my emotional roller coasters.  So, as a reward for putting up with me, here are some snippets:

     He thrilled at the feeling of force in each parry and the flashing of sunlight off the swords.

     At last, a servant knocked on his door and delivered the message on a silver platter.  William snatched it up, unfurling the tightly curled paper, and held it to the light.

     “Soon music will be playing, people will be cheering, and the most delightful smells will be drifting up from the kitchens.  The whole country rejoices at his return.”  She turned keen eyes toward him.  “Will you?”

     William popped a grape into his mouth and slowly crushed it between his teeth, feeling its sweet juices spraying across his tongue. 

     Then, without changing any further, he climbed into his bed, reveling in the smell of horse sweat and leather than still clung to his clothes.
     She blew a little puff of air that was almost like a laugh.  “You can’t be serious,” she said, her eyes wavering between disbelief and mockery.

     A laugh rose in William’s throat but stopped halfway up, turning into a lump that would not be swallowed. 

     “You poor thing!  Manual labor?”

       “Open the door, you beast, or we shall burn you out!”

      Her face was still angry and she lifted her chin defiantly.  “I do not care if you are the king of Leramay and the handsomest man alive,” she said. 

      These thoughts flitted rapidly through William’s head, even as the deer in the field startled at Grace’s appearance and leapt into the forest.  And then, just as the deer, the thoughts were gone, replaced by the sound of thundering hooves.

     “God save us, sir!  You’re bleeding!”