Category Archives: On Writing

Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again?

WHO SAYS YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN?

I recently had the pleasure of visiting central (rural) Idaho, the setting for The Imperfect Series. We drove down through Montana to Salmon, Idaho, on to Challis, and past the fictional location of Hastings Bluff.

{Hastings Bluff is named not for a water feature, but for a savvy card shark😊)

Route 93 followed the Salmon River, sometimes a burbling brook, while other times it broached a Class III rapids river. Whatever form it took. The River was stunning as it wound through the wide valleys and canyons in sweeping “S” curves.

The pictures I took garnered tons of comments from my readers: “Wow, it looks exactly like I pictured it,” and “You nailed the description. I recognized the landscape right away!”

Words an author never tires of hearing.

As we drove through the Lost River Mountain Range, I relived scene after scene from each of my books. Even my honey got into the zone with questions and 

comments like, “Is this where Cassie hog tied Derek by the

side of the road?” and “This looks like it might be the entrance to the ranch, where Lucy had to make the crazy turn to escape the stalker shooting at her,” and “I can picture the little town square, the diner, and the sheriff’s office right there.”

Writers are the luckiest people in the world. We have extended families and can visit with them anytime, anywhere.

I thoroughly enjoyed my “family reunion.”

Get IMPERFECT WINGS here:

 

As a reader, do you skim? Why?

Authors, newbies in particular, are repeatedly cautioned about certain basic writing requirements:

Write tight.  Trim the fat.  Cut word count.  Eliminate unnecessary words.
Does it advance the story?

As a reader, I find I’m prone to skim. For me, it’s the invasion of dirty words into our literary culture. Oh, and gratuitous sex.

couple-love-people-romanticDon’t get me wrong. I like a sexy romance as much as the next person, but it’s enough to leave the action at the door. I know the mechanics of the act. My imagination works fine, thank you very much. I don’t need step-by-step instruction.

So, let’s apply the list from above to the prolific sex scenes romping through our books today:

Write tight. fail  Trim the fat. fail  Cut word count. fail  Eliminate unnecessary words. fail
Does it advance the story? double fail

Now, let’s talk about profanity. Um, er, uh … Wow. Just wow.

ProfanityFour-letter bombs and worse fill almost every page these days. I get that language can aid in establishing a character’s quirks and personality, but please. A little moderation would go a long way. 

So, once again, let’s apply the test:

Write tight. fail  Trim the fat. fail  Cut word count. fail  Eliminate unnecessary words. fail
Does it advance the story? triple fail

Exclamation markIt is commonly understood in the writing world that an exclamation mark is a lazy writer’s shortcut. A good writer relies on words to convey the excitement of the scene, the fear, happiness, anger, etc. – not punctuation.

This same concept can be applied to the overuse of gratuitous sex scenes and abundant profanity. True skill is hidden by these “unnecessary words,” and like me, your reader may not  be able to get past them to finish the book.

Data rules.

With the ease of self-publishing today, not all authors bother with the basics, opting for quantity over quality. Sales are up, but profits are down because the content has been cheapened and purchase prices degraded.

eReadersBeware. Digital readers tell the tale.

According to emerging statistics, readers finish less than 50% of eBooks purchased in certain genres. There’s even talk of online retailers creating a new category for “eBooks Actually Finished.”

My advice? Let’s get back to the basics. Perfect the art of good writing. The author’s self-esteem will soar, and readers will thank you.

Exciting news about a fantastic sale and a new release!

I have 3 very exciting announcements to share with you today!

*  The kindle edition of Imperfect Wings, the first book in my Imperfect Series, is on sale for a limited time for only 99¢!      What a steal!

* Book 2 of the series, Imperfect Trust, has also been discounted and is now available for only $2.99.

and ….. (can I get a drum roll please!!!”

* Book 3, Imperfect Bonds, is on schedule for an early August release! Yay!3-book collage

Bonus: Here’s a YouTube link to a short video trailer with a sneak peek for what to expect in the latest book: http://ow.ly/Xphw302kCEJ

Help me spread the word! Share this information with all your friends, neighbors, co-workers … all book lovers.

Better yet, help them complete their summer reading list by gifting a copy direct to their Kindle device. Amazon makes it so easy. (Here’s a link to my website explaining how: http://ow.ly/ttcU302kBMT)

Thanks so much for supporting me through this journey. Happy reading!

Novels, “Brexit,” and the Bible

One of the keys to good novel writing is to plunge your main character into a pressure cooker of trouble and keep piling it on until they think they can’t take anymore.

Overwhelm characters memeThis might come in the form of physical danger, mental pressure, or emotional turmoil. Whatever, you really lay it on. Of course, you also throw your hero or heroine a rope once they’ve reached their darkest point, when they’re about to lose all hope and give up. But then they escape and, oh the sweet relief! Maybe they don’t get away unscathed. Most likely they’re changed forever, definitely scarred, humbled, and much wiser, but they get to go home.

Great Britain’s recent vote to withdraw from the European Union (EU), popularly called “Brexit” (or Britain’s exit), seems to provide such an example. Once a man tastes freedom, he will fight tooth and nail to keep it. Keep nibbling at his sovereign rights, and the pressure builds.

This vote was an historic event, a mandate issued by an unheard of 78% voter turnout. The powers that be—those who deem themselves the leaders and governors of the world today, whether in public positions or behind the scenes—don’t get it. They can’t believe what happened. They’re still spluttering. “How can this be? It’s not according to our plan.”

(I have to interject a funny here. It always amazes me how creative and witty people can be, regardless of the gravity of circumstances. While I would love to take credit for this ingenious meme, I can’t. I’m just not that imaginative. There’s a ton more out there, too. It does, however, prove yet again how much truth there is in humor.)

Brexit

Chuckles aside, the bottom line is the people of England are in rebellion, plain and simple. They’ve had enough. This same sentiment is rising in the United States. By the people and for the people seems to have been lost somewhere along the line. The new mantra is by the politicians and for the politicians. I suspect we’ll see a similar adventure in our November presidential election.

No one knows what repercussions will stem from this momentous event, but if you take a good, hard look at the greatest novel of all time – the Bible – well, I think the pressure is just beginning.

Yes, I likened the Holy Bible to a novel. It’s the PRE-historic story—meaning a history of the world before the world had history. Which leads to a conundrum. If history is written before it actually occurs, does that make it fiction until the events happen?

Too deep for me.

Prophecy defined by Merriam-Webster:  a statement that something will happen in the future; or the power or ability to know something will happen in the future.

Prophecy defined by me as a Christian: Belief in the Bible as God’s promise of what has happened, what is happening now before our eyes, and what will happen.

Belief is very comforting for Christians. Years ago, my old grandma lay dying in the hospital. She said, “I’m going home today … or I’m going home. Either way, I’m going home.”

Love your neighbor as yourself. Really?

Have you seen some of my neighbors?

Worse, the word “neighbor” used in scripture includes anyone and everyone that touches your sphere of existence—neighborhood, workplace, community, grocery store—anybody you come in contact with, and maybe even some you don’t.

Impossible.

What if I’m standing in a check-out line behind a serial killer? Or a pedophile? I mean, we all know what these people look like. Right?

What if I go to enter a building and I’m jostled aside by a young thug in Saggin pantsbutt crack-revealing pants? Someone who roams the streets looking for an opportunity to intimidate? Looking to prove himself to his fellow butt-crackers? I mean, what if he has a gun? Or a knife?

Tattooed thugWhat about the burly dude with ink covering every visible scrap of skin? Or the depraved-looking punk who’s mutilated his face and body with terrible piercings? Or the young woman dressed in skimpy clothes with a cigarette dangling from her lips and a toddler dangling from her hip?

What about the unshaven, overgrown hick in the jacked up truck, with theRedneck truck sleeves torn out of his tee shirt, ball cap on backward, and sucking on a beer can? The customer service rep on the phone who speaks with an accent so thick I can’t understand a word he says? The man on the street corner in a North Face jacket who holds a sign up claiming homeless and hungry?

What about the group of young people who had a few too many–drinks/tokes/pills/sniffs? You know them, they’re noisy, obnoxious, beyond rude, and use profanity like it’s on sale. Or the obese woman in the motorized scooter who will run over you if you don’t get out of her way? Or the overly loud man who always has something to say, inane as it may be? Or the jerk who cuts you off in traffic?

Am I really supposed to love all these losers?

Wow, God. I don’t see how even You could love them. Or for that matter, why you care about me.

A character I created for one of my early (unpublished) books came to mind, one I haven’t thought of in a long time. Raymond Bessemer (totally fictional name) is a bad guy, the antagonist, the one everybody loves to hate, including Raymond himself. And I made him that way.

I knew the things Raymond suffered as a child, the terrible consequences Bad guyforced on him by the actions of others, and the impossible circumstances that led to impossible choices. I knew his innermost thoughts, felt his despair in the darkness, and understood his regrets and remorse. I also knew of the hope he protected from the world, that eternal spark of light that cries from the soul. You see, hope, like a weed, is impossible to completely extinguish.

I wrote Raymond into existence full of hurt, anger, and feelings of helplessness. I let him make his own choices, even when they were bad. And I still cherished him, despite all the reprehensible things he thought and said and did. I still love him. You see, he’s mine.

Writers call the characters we create “our darlings” and “our children.” Even though they represent evil, we hate when others hate them. That’s because we see past their flaws and terrible deeds, we know their innermost thoughts and dreams. In fact, I loved Raymond so much that I created another character who saw past his darkness and showed him a better way. I wrote a better future for him. All he had to do was choose it.

All he had to do was choose it. Wow.

Aren’t we all Raymonds? Just in a bigger theater? Look at me. Look at you. Look at the next person you see. There’s a soul inside each of us, a spirit that hopes and hungers for light, and waits for someone to reach out.

You don’t have to like someone to care about them. You just have to care.LoveIf Jesus could forgive his betrayers, love a thief on the cross, and give His life to save people who despised Him … why is it so difficult for us to follow his example? To at least try?

FINDING PEACE

 

Is there a “peace that passes all understanding?

I don’t know if I’m normal … or even what normal is. I just know that every morning, from the moment I wake, my head buzzes with thousands of thoughts, ideas, regrets, wishes, hopes, plans, uh-ohs, reworked conversations, edits of everything I read, lists, and prayers. Lots of prayers. You see, I’m a writer. And writers write. All the time. Especially in our mind.

Some days I find this buzz overwhelming. Some days I need an escape, to shut down, and reboot. I need a refuge. My journey has taken years, decades even, but I’ve found that by seeking my refuge first thing upon awakening, that my days go much smoother.

Like many others, I start my mornings with quiet time. Some people fill their quiet time with prayers and Bible study, communing with Jesus, ordering their day and balance. I do all of the above … and then some. But the journey hasn’t been smooth.

PeaceAt first I visualized an idyllic mountain meadow. Picture if you can a narrow path through dark woods. Just when you think you’re lost forever, a light ahead beckons. The trail opens onto a clearing where golden sunlight spills down. You lift your face and feel the warmth as you make your way to the center of the glen. Green grass and knee-high wildflowers abound. You drop to the ground and watch a caravan of puffy clouds sail across the sky. A gentle breeze stirs an earthy mix of verdant soil, sweet blossoms, and clean, rarified air. You’ve found it. Tranquility. Peace. Contentment … and an itch. Something digs into your back. You scratch. Brush away dirt. And remember the overflowing laundry hamper. The dermatology appointment you still need to make. The meal you promised to a sick friend. Your mind is off to the races.

I tried for a long time to make the remote glen idea work but finally gave up. Thinking a more familiar place might work better, I traveled in my mind to the beach—a remote, Caribbean island. Barefoot under the blazing sun, but the sugar-white sand doesn’t burn. (Imagination always trumps reality!) Turquoise water that sparkles with cool promises. Peace - 2Frothy waves lapping at the shore. A sea breeze stirs the air, redolent with the scents of coconut, lush vegetation and the briny smell that only comes from the ocean. A small slice of heaven. And then a crab crawls by. Clumps of dead seaweed wash up on the beach. An alert lifeguard stands from his ten-foot-tall white watchtower to peer out at the expanse. He raises binoculars to his eyes. Blue paste coats his nose. He wears a whistle around his neck. Alert. Diligent. Protective. Because there are riptides. Undertows. Dangerous sea creatures. And predators hiding in the deep. No calm here.

I tried another place. Somewhere remote. Somewhere pure and free from Peace - 3the world. A winter wonderland decked out in a blanket of pristine snow. Cold no germ could survive. But I could—in a warm parka with a hood trimmed in fur. Gloved and booted, I revel in the beauty of an untouched paradise. Until I fell through the snow. Buried. With no sense of direction. And no one to save me.

I’ve stored a whole library of such reveries, all lessons learned over the years until I finally found the real refuge. The only refuge. You see, our world is beautiful—just look around you. But sin afflicted all of mankind, all of the earth, including the animals and vegetation. Just as Esau forfeited his birthright, so too did Adam trade away our heritage in a moment of rebellion. Satan now holds dominion over an earth God bequeathed to man. There is no refuge for us here. Especially not in our minds.

I looked in all the wrong places for the peace that passes understanding only to realize at long last that it doesn’t exist here on earth. Now, I go to Jesus—to His throne room in heaven where His glory spreads a Peace - 4warmth and light so much greater than anything the sun can produce. Where multitudes crowd around Him singing praises. I creep into my niche at the rear of the throng, grateful to just be allowed in. It’s where I feel Him. And then He seeks me out in my little corner, takes my hand, and raises me up. I’m filled with His indescribable and unexplainable peace. Restored. Refreshed. Strengthened. For a little while, all is calm and perfect. When I leave His perfect presence, all I have to do to get through the rest of the day is remember my time with Him, remember His words, and call upon His name.

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you  …” ~John 14:27

Authors – Check out this great opportunity to find new readers for free!

Find New Readers For Free #amwriting #amediting

Posted by on September 8, 2015  and copied here on September 23, 2015.

Blog: Rainy of the Dark

Recruiting for First Quarter 2016.

 Every few months, I run a “Winner Takes All” giveaway. Authors donate one ebook copy of their book, and the whole pool of donations is put up as a prize. To enter, readers have to perform tasks that include following the authors who donated to the giveaway.

Interested?

Donate A Copy

I’m gathering ebook contributions for FIRST quarter “winner takes all” giveaway for 2016. Here’s how it works:

1. If you want to include your book, fill out the form below. Note: You can donate more than one ebook but you must fill out the form for each ebook. Please note this will be for Kindle formats only.

2. I will organize the Rafflecopter and create the HTML code. Entries on this will include following you (if you provide your social network profiles on the form).

3. Before the giveaway goes live, I will email you the HTML code to share on your own blog.

4. The giveaway will run for three months. During that time, the giveaway is repeatedly tweeted to my 32,000+ followers, shared with my 3k+ Facebook friends, pinned to my 900+ Pinterest followers, and posted to my 13,000+ followers on Google Plus. It is also advertised on my blog sidebar. My blog receives around 120,000 page views per month. This is on top of all contributing authors sharing the giveaway with their audience as well.

5. At the end, I will close the Rafflecopter and choose a random winner. I will send the winner’s email address to all contributing authors, who are then responsible for delivering their participating ebook(s) to the winner.

Visit Rainy’s blog and Complete this form to enter.

You Want Me To Do A Book Signing?

Congratulations!  Your book is now in print and your publisher wants you to do what? A book signing? Okay. I mean, how hard can it be?

New authors — don’t go into a book signing event unprepared. Here are a few simple, but oh so important, points I learned the hard way:

Too many is better than not enough. If you’re taking your own books to the signing, take a lot. Set out a small supply on the work table and replenish as necessary. (And if a miracle occurs and you do sell out, be sure you have order forms and extra pens available.)

You need a comfortable working space. Arrive early to check out and set up your ‘stage.’ You’ll want a comfortable chair, lots of elbow room, and a clear tabletop space to lay out your books for signing.

One loyal friend is worth their weight in gold. Have someone with you who can direct traffic,
help collect payment, restock supplies, and chat up the fans while they wait their turn for some one-on-one time with the author. And take photos. Always capture your events in pictures.

Everyone likes free stuff. Readers are no different. Encourage them to share your information by having little extras on hand, things like bookmarks, business cards, flyers, brochures, pieces of wrapped candies, or other simple giveaways. Getting your name and your book’s name out there is critical. Some authors even hold drawings or contests and offer prizes for the winners.

A reliable pen may save your life. Have several reliable pens on hand. Colored ink is great, IW Front Coverbut reliable is more important. There’s nothing uglier than when your pen runs dry in the middle of an inscription or in the middle of your signature, and then you try to match the ink and overwrite. Did I say reliable? I personally prefer a ballpoint pen, one with a heavier stroke rather than a fine line. And blue ink, so it stands out from the black print.

Decide where to sign. Some authors like to write on the title page since that’s where their name appears in print. This is great if you’re penning a “To ___” and leaving a signature. Most books published today offer a blank page near this front. I find this to be a perfect place for longer inscriptions.

(Imperfect Wings, Book 1 in The Imperfect Series, now available on Amazon.com http://ow.ly/JJLsI . Look for Book 2, Imperfect Trust, coming Summer 2015.)

A person’s name to him or her is the sweetest and most important sound in any language. Dale Carnegie has it right. Many readers expect you to personalize an inscription in the book they purchase. Even if you are 100% positive how to spell a name, have them to confirm the spelling. And then use their name when you thank them.

The all important inscription.  What you pen on a book flap is as important as what appears between the pages. Your impromptu handwritten message is a reflection of you and deserves the same professional attention you gave your book.

I like to take short lines from my book being purchased. I might change them a little, personalize them for the reader. I also keep two or three signature phrases available. These come in handy when someone purchases multiple books and want different inscriptions for each one. Here are a few of my favorite short inscriptions: All my best, Thanks much for reading my book, I wish you peace and joy, All my best, and May God’s blessings be upon you.

I recommend you write out these messages a time or two before the event. Longhand isn’t common anymore, so we have to think about forming a word on paper. In typing, the brain visualizes whole words. Not so when the hand holds a pen. We actually have to think through the spelling and formation of letters when we write. Practicing your inscriptions ahead of time will develop familiarity, muscle memory, and that all important hand/brain connection. And help you avoid bungling the message—or (akkk!) misspelling a word.

Also, make sure your signature is legible because, believe it or not, some readers like to show off their autographed copy. Make sure they can tie what you sign to the name printed on the book cover.

Capitalize on connections.  Just as readers connect with the characters in a book, they also get a kick out of acknowledging a connection with the author. Make your inscriptions personal whenever possible. To my good friend and neighbor, Shirley. To my sweet co-worker, Donna. Thank you to my dear fan, Barry.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Interact with your fans. Have fun with them. Chat with them so they can see you’re a real person. And be sure to thank them – for buying your book and reading it. Ask them to consider leaving a review on Amazon (or Goodreads, etc.) if they liked it. Make sure they pick up one of your handouts with your contact information (Facebook Twitter, email, website, etc.), and ask them to let you know what they thought of the book. Encourage them to share the book with others, or recommend it for purchase. The more buzz you can manufacture the most interest in your book you’ll create, and we all know how powerful word of mouth can be.