Monday, November 23, 2020
from Elliott Baker
|Image by akos147 from Pixabay|
A member of the Authors Guild and the Dramatists Guild, Elliott lives in New Hampshire with his beautiful wife Sally Ann.
Learn more about Elliot Baker on his website. Stay connected on Twitter and Facebook. Like Elliott's Author Page on Facebook to learn all his latest news.
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Monday, November 16, 2020
The holidays are nearly on us, and with them come extra work decorating the house, the lawn, the trees, baking all those Christmas cookies and goodies, shopping, cleaning, holiday parties to attend and give, and scads of other things that can take you away from your WIP. This year give yourself a head start with a little motivation to sit down at the computer and keep writing. Start planning now for a successful holiday writing season.
Here are a few tips on how to motivate yourself to write during the holidays.
1. Start your holiday motivation by spending part of one day each week doing some holiday activity that fuels your creativity. If you celebrate Halloween get those decorations made and put up. When that’s accomplished start making Thanksgiving decorations for your table, bake those pies and fruitcakes, begin making Christmas cards, build a gingerbread house, plan what Christmas cookies you’re going to bake, build a snowman with the kids (use snow or craft paper or pillows), or begin your shopping. You’re only limited by your own imagination.
2. Plan a couple of writers’ plotting and cookie exchange parties for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Have each participant bring 2 dozen home baked cookies (which you mixed up while writing with your tape recorder – more later on this) and exchange cookies and plotting ideas. And yes, this can count toward one of the writing goals.
3. Make a holiday advent writing calendar. Choose a series of 25 clear writing goals for the holiday season and write them down on holiday themed paper. It doesn’t matter if it’s a chapter a day, 100 or 1000 words a day, perfecting that blurb or synopsis, or looking up a new editor or agent to submit to in January. Drop the goals into a bowl and pick one each day. Not knowing what you are going to do will keep the excitement alive, much like opening the doors on the Advent calendar does for children. If your family already has an advent calendar when you set it up add your goals to the calendar. Let the family number your advent goal papers so you will be surprised when you open them. This way the family can see what you need to accomplish and help keep you on track.
4. Let Santa’s “writing elf” reward you with a little gift under the tree, or holiday snack set next to your easy chair, for each goal or week of goals you complete. Shop for your own rewards in advance, involve the family and let them choose or make the gifts for you, or do both.
5. Head to Panera’s (or some other location that has a fireplace), grab a seat next to the fire and write until the heat overtakes you. If you work on your steamy love scenes it might not take long for you to get overheated. Then call it a day and have a Chai Latte while you watch the flames flicker.
6. Leave the decorations off of the Christmas tree and put a few ornaments on every time you write 100, 200, 300, or 400 words—you choose the limit. Store the decorations in a pretty basket by the tree to make them easily accessible. If you plan a Christmas party and need the tree decorated quickly this could spur your word count to grow rapidly.
7. Do a fun holiday related activity with the family with the understanding that the next day, or hours, are yours for writing.
8. Write a Christmas story during your holidays. Inspiration is all around you during the season, from music to snow, if you’re lucky enough to get it. Writing holiday themed stories now beats putting the tree up in July, like Dolly Parton does for inspiration when she creates Christmas songs in the summer.
9. Work hard in the time you’ve allotted and stay focused. This means no email, no web surfing, and shutting the office door.
10. Use your crockpot … often. Winter’s a great time for simple soup, chili or stew meals topped off with crusty loaf of bread. Make double batches and you’ll have leftovers for another day. Some soups are better reheated.
11. Write with a tape recorder and transcribe it after the holidays are over. A mini tape recorder fits in your pocket and is easy to use. Some cell phones even have to ability to record voice notes. All those times you have while you wait for the kids’ Christmas concerts to start (because we all know you have to be there hours in advance), waiting in line for thirty minutes at the checkout counter while holiday shopping, or mixing dough for Christmas cookies can count as writing time.
12. At the end of the holiday season, if you met all your goals give yourself a BIG reward. You deserve it!
Share with us in the comments what ideas you have to motivate you through the holidays to keep writing.
Here's a brief intro to our romantic shapeshifter series. We hope you'll click the link to read the blurbs.
The Promised One (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 1)
Blood Brothers (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 2)
Son of the Moonless Night (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 3)
The Mercenary and the Shifters (The Turning Stone Chronicles Book 4)
Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after.
They have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven other authors.
They are looking forward to many years of co-authoring and book sales, and a lifetime of happily-ever-after endings on the page and in real life.
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Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Monday, November 09, 2020
from Tina Griffith
1 spice cake mix box
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp. pumpkin spice
Raising, walnuts, or blueberry jam, optional
Follow package instructions for egg, oil, and water amounts along with baking temps and time.
½ cup butter, room temperature
3 cups icing sugar – Confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Cool cake completely before frosting. This helps stop crumbs from mysteriously appearing all over your frosting.
The chill is in the air and all things that go bump in the night are about to happen. Time to curl up with a good romantic thriller while you enjoy a piece of your yummy treat.
On Hallow’s Eve, as the veil between the two worlds was thinning, the face of the full moon was lit up like a Christmas tree. The dead would soon come alive, the alive would dress up as the dead, and witchcraft had a way of piggybacking off other spells. This was the ideal night to be a witch, for the effectiveness of all incantations, divinations, and other avenues of magic, was perfect.
Jayla is a clever witch, who had been cursed in her teens by her friend, Ophelia. Since then, she has had to retrieve dark souls from shrewd men in order to survive. While she has taken hundreds of souls in her lifetime, this story is about her trying to take the one which belongs to Roger Casem – the man she accidentally fell in love with.
Could she kill him, as she had done with the others? If she wanted to continue living, she must. But today, when his eyes skimmed her body with unbelievable passion, she began to recognize her own needs. As she blushed and turned her face away from him, Jayla did the only thing she could.
Tina Griffith, who also wrote twenty-seven children's books as Tina Ruiz, was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school.
After her husband of 25 years passed away, she wrote romance novels to keep the love inside her heart. Tina now has eleven romance novels on Amazon, and while all of them have undertones of a love story, they are different genres; murder, mystery, whimsical, witches, ghosts, suspense, adventure, and her sister's scary biography.
Tina has worked in television and radio as well as being a professional clown at the Children's Hospital. She lives in Calgary with her second husband who encourages her to write her passion be it high-quality children's books or intriguing romance.
Stay connected with Tina (Griffith) Ruiz on her Facebook group Tina Speaks Out.
Wednesday, November 04, 2020
What is your full name? Technically it’s Jennifer Ashby, but don’t call me Jennifer. I prefer Jenna (most of the time) and my middle name is Crossland, which is my mother’s maiden name, bleh, however, I have a feeling that's not really what my middle name is…
What is your greatest regret? Not spending more time with my dad before he died. I’ve really struggled to deal with him being gone, too. Rayna wants me to forget about him and focus on being perfect, but I’m not perfect. I’ve made bad choices. I keep making mistakes because of other traumatic events that keep sending me whirling. I regret the mistakes, but that’s what being a teenager is all about. Being sixteen means making mistakes. No one’s perfect. We all have regrets and maybe other kids can learn from my mistakes.
Who is the most important person in your life? My dad was the most important, but since I’ve arrived in Koush Hollow, I’ve met someone who makes me question what’s going on in the world that Rayna wants to paint as perfect. His name is Hayden and he’s more like me than any of the Pearls. He irritates me most of the time, but he’s smart and cares about Lake Pontchartrain and the bayous around us, which aren’t as healthy as they used to be. He blames the nuclear power plant where Rayna works, but she’s a former marine biologist. There’s no way she would do anything to hurt the environment, right?
Who are your friends? I had the coolest friends back in Atlanta. We would cosplay together and have the best times. I even had a long-distance boyfriend who I detest now. In Koush Hollow, I hang out with Lauren and Abigail. They’re Pearls and on Rayna’s approved list, but they are starting to grow on me. They want me to become a Pearl, too, so I can meet with the mysterious Marais sisters and have access to their stupid beauty treatments. What they don’t know is that I’ve already met them. Lauren keeps hinting at the price I’ll have to pay to be a Pearl. We’ll see what happens.
What is your favorite food? The one thing I love about being back in New Orleans is the food! It’s all freaking amazing. A perfect day would begin with beignets for breakfast, a Muffuletta for lunch, shrimp and grits for dinner, bread pudding with bourbon sauce for dessert, and Zapp’s Voodoo chips to snack on while I binge on Netflix shows.
Yes, and they’ve got all kinds of mystical stuff going on at their place on the bayou. I’ve seen them painted as skeletons, dancing, chanting, and tossing fish into a bonfire. There’s Mama Ismay, she’s the oldest, although they all look so young, it’s hard to tell. Lisette is sexy, Destine is into health food, and they all tell me I remind them of their late sister Chelsea. I don’t know how that’s possible, but they’re so beautiful beyond their appearance, I like the comparison.
Here's a favorite appetizer or snack straight from the bayou. The unique flavor of Zapp's Voodoo potato chips, which are made in Louisiana, features salt and vinegar with a smoky BBQ sweetness and spicy, jalapeno kick. These chips are so good, they’ll taste even better on an oven-fried pickle.
Voodoo Chip Fried Pickles
2 cups sliced dill pickles drained and patted dry
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
1½ cups crushed Zapp’s Voodoo potato chips
Cajun sauce for dipping
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp. horseradish
4 tsp. ketchup
½ tsp. Cajun seasoningPreheat oven to broil on high. Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside. Whisk the eggs together in a bowl and then whisk in the flour.
Place crushed Zapp’s Voodoo potato chips in a shallow dish. Dip each pickle slice in the egg mixture, then dredge in the crushed potato chips.
Place coated pickles on a rack set above a baking sheet and sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Place baking sheet in the middle rack of the oven. Broil for 3 minutes on each side until golden brown.
Serve right out of the oven with Cajun sauce.
As the sixteen-year-old eco-warrior is introduced to the Diamonds & Pearls, her mother’s exclusive social club, she comes to the troubling realization that secrets are a way of life in Koush Hollow.
How do the Diamonds & Pearls look so young, where does their money come from, and why is life along the bayou disappearing?
As Jenna is drawn into their seductive world, her curiosity and concerns beg her to uncover the truth. However, in this town where mysticism abounds and secrets are deadly, the truth is not what Jenna could have ever imagined.
Leigh Goff is a young adult author with type 1 diabetes who is inspired by caffeine, enchanted spells, and unforgettable, star-crossed fates.
Although she’s terrible at casting any magic of her own, she is descended from the accused witch, Elizabeth Duncan of Virginia, who went to trial in 1695 for charges including bewitching livestock and causing birds to fall from the sky.Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.
Monday, November 02, 2020
by Carol Browne
Christianna Cassisa, an artist friend, recently posted some of her paintings on Facebook. I love her art because she has a unique style and her work seems to have a life of its own that I can only describe as magical. Some creatives really do have a special gift for breathing life into their artistic concepts. Here are three of my favorites.
usual, I remarked upon how much I love her paintings and how perfect and
brilliant they are. Her response was that I hadn’t seen her failures, and I
never would. Nobody would, because they are mediocre and fall short of her
vision. She couldn’t make them work on paper.
She said, didn’t I as a writer experience the same phenomenon, where no matter what you do, you can’t make the medium you work with reflect the ideas in your mind? The similarity between our two art forms struck me very forcibly then, yet it had never occurred to me before. One of the major frustrations of creative work is when a great idea takes root in your mind but you can’t do it justice in the physical expression of it.
For some months now I have been struggling with one of those great ideas. It is dark and unsettling and the perfect premise for an intelligent thriller. It’s an idea that won’t leave me. To discard it is unthinkable.
I wrote three different versions of chapter one and binned them. Likewise, characters have been introduced and quickly shown the door. Backgrounds changed colour and setting. Dramatic conflict between faceless characters led to long verbal exchanges that had no mouths to speak them. Only the idea, the central premise, remains, both egregious and ingenious, demanding manifestation.
And I can’t make it work on paper.
This idea is like a seed that is full of potential but in the hands of an indifferent gardener may never reach for the sun and bear fruit. It is too good an idea not to run with it, and yet it has no legs. I could wish this idea had been given to someone else. Let them sit and stare at the wall, trying to work out a plot! I have been infected with the germ of an idea for a great story, but so far it is peopled by phantoms and written on water.
At some point, I might have to tell myself to let it go. If that happens it will mean having to face the possibility that I’m not up to the job. I was given a good idea but it surpassed my abilities as a writer. I’m not prepared to give up just yet because this idea is bold and brave. It is a commentary on our times. It has important topics to explore, essential truths to impart, observations to set down and questions to pose. But without a structure these themes float around like rudderless boats, seeking anchorage in a shared harbour. The harbour they are searching for is the book I have called Now You Don’t. It has a title so it should exist. But it doesn’t. It’s a non-book.
Because I can’t make it work on paper.
Here’s a little from my book that did work on paper.
But Gillian has one extraordinary problem.
Her house is full of other people… people who don’t exist. Or do they?
As her surreal home life spirals out of control, Gillian determines to find out the truth and undertakes an investigation into the nature of reality itself.
Will this provide an answer to her dilemma, or will the escalating situation push her over the edge before she has worked out what is really going on?
“Everything is energy,” I said, and swallowed down a lump in my throat. A lump composed of both unease and excitement in equal measure.
“Indeed. Just energy vibrating at different frequencies,” he said. “So while you think about that, here’s another interesting phenomenon that has been recorded many times, and it seems to me it has something in common with imaginary friends. Have you heard of the third man syndrome, Gill?”
I had to admit this meant nothing to me.
“Here’s an example of it,” he went on. “A mountaineer called Frank Smyth attempted to climb Mount Everest but had to turn back before he reached the summit. He reported that although he was completely alone during his descent, the feeling that someone was with him was so powerful he tried to share his Kendal mint cake with this person.
“The phenomenon is said to originate with Shackleton in 1916. While he was exploring Antarctica, Shackleton saw the apparition of a person alongside his two companions. There are countless reports of this from people who have survived terrorist attacks or extreme trauma. Some sort of threat to existence or even severe social isolation” — at this point the Professor gave me a knowing look — “can trigger this phenomenon. Some people might try to explain it with terms such as guardian angel or spirit guide, but could it be a hallucination or defence mechanism that switches on to help the brain deal with trauma and stress? It frequently happens that these apparitions offer comfort and support, and yet what of those cases where the third man not only gives advice but even leads people to safety when they find themselves in a life-threatening situation? That goes beyond mere imagination surely?” He raised his eyebrows, as if inviting a response, but his information had overwhelmed me. “I see I’ve given you something to think about. My advice is you go and do some research on this yourself.”
For a moment my mind slipped, stumbled, staggered about looking for something to grab on to. What was going on here? I looked at the Professor and he stared back, innocent as a kitten, waiting for me to speak. If I didn’t speak, would our exchange stop now? I was really talking to myself, for God’s sake. He can’t have done any research. He didn’t exist. I must have done it and either forgotten I had, or pretended to forget so it would all seem like new information.
Was I so needy I had to resort to these ludicrous mind games?
“You’re not real,” I said.
I stood and marched out of the room, my jaw clenched so hard it ached, my hands balled into fists. If there was no gin in the fridge, there’d be hell to pay, but, thank God, there was nearly a full bottle. Two stiff drinks were all I’d need for now, just to take the edge off.
Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter.