Friday, March 29, 2013

EASTER THOUGHTS

Hi, Everyone!

First, I can't begin this post without acknowledging that this is Good Friday.  I'm sharply aware of the holiness of this day, the enormity of the sacrifice made for us, and the love and service to which it commits us every day.  The Alleluia! victory of Easter Sunday owes everything to the terrible grief of the day we remember today.

That said, I want to share my happy memories of Easter, 1954, when I was nine.  My father was Portuguese and looked a little like The Godfather.  He was very swarthy, had a beautiful beakey nose, and was a foreman in a handbag factory.  My mother was French Canadian, a brilliant seamstress who probably could have been a designer had women had more options in her day.  But she was happy to raise my older sister and me in a small apartment over a corset and dress shop in downtown New Bedford, Mass.

Across the street from us was a candy store whose window was resplendent with chocolate bunnies, eggs, crosses, and flowers.  (This was a predominantly Catholic community, hence the chocolate crosses.)  The Portuguese bakery had magnificent mounds of bread with beautifully colored boiled eggs in them, and Marvel's, the bridal shop on the corner, had mannequins in the windows in bridesmaids dresses in pink, blue, yellow, and mint green.

In those days, Easter meant new clothes for the children in the family.  I had a 'Shortie' coat that was something like a swing coat would be today.  It was powder blue and I wore it over a blue and gray plaid pleated skirt.  I had patent leather shoes and purse and a blue wool derby.  I felt very chic.

After Mass, we visited relatives - a holiday custom.  We had breakfast at Aunt Mamie's, lunch with Aunt Louise and Uncle Joe, and everyone came to our house for ham and the trimmings.  I remember feeling happy and secure in our family and loving everything about our very urban neighborhood and our lives in general.

By the following Easter, my sister had joined the Convent, my family was making plans to move to California, and I started my menstrual cycle.  Everything in my world dialed up from childhood to preadolescence.  Life was happy and good in California, but my sister had her own life now, and I had to learn to act like a lady (very important in those days.  Now, happily, we graduate girls to acting like women rather than ladies.)

I promise not to end this with "Good night, John Boy," "Good night, Elizabeth."   But I feel the nostalgia of that time like a pain today.  After our wonderful blog about love lasting forever, I've thought all day about how much I loved my family and how much I miss them all the time, but some days I want to pound the doors of heaven and demand to see them!  And it seems as though you ought to be able to do such a thing on Easter Sunday.

Wish all of you a wonderful holiday!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Love Isn't Terminal by Karen Rock


Celine Dion said it best when she sang, ‘Near- far- wherever you are- I believe that- the heart will- go on-' And it does. Bodies are temporary, yet love is eternal. A life may end, but emotions never stop. A character in my upcoming novel, WISH ME TOMORROW, said, "I love you more than I can say. My body might quit, but this,” he tapped his chest, “is yours. Forever.”We love those we’ve lost in the PRESENT TENSE. Love is an unstoppable force, and like energy, it can never be destroyed.
 
My very first experience with loving someone after they’d passed happened in middle school. My cat, Courtney, gave birth to three perfect kittens. I washed and held them before she so much as got a tongue on them. Best of all, my parents let me choose one for my own- Oreo- whom I named for her black fur and white belly. I adored her for all of her irreverent ways, like the collection of couch fluff she hoarded and snacked on under my bed, her insatiable need to lick anything shiny, and the joy she took from leaping into paper grocery bags then rearing up to scare us when we reached for another item. Yet it was her preference for snoozing on warm asphalt that was the death of her. Despite my shouts, my mother backed her car out of the driveway and killed a napping Oreo instantly. I couldn’t accept her death. For weeks, I followed my routine of waking in the middle of the night and opening the back door to call for her. Yet I knew she rested under our willow tree, her shoebox coffin packed with couch fluff. My love for Oreo has never stopped. Yet, like all hearts, mine’s expanded to love several more, unforgettable pets.

Another inspiring example of enduring love occurred when I moved into my neighborhood twelve years ago. At a welcome party, a lovely eight-year-old introduced herself by saying, “Hi, I’m Meghan and my best friend lives in heaven.” I returned her smile, shocked but touched, and asked her more about her friend. Her friend, Chelsea, had died of cancer a few months ago. Despite the loss, Meghan said she felt lucky that she was best friends with an angel and told me that she talked to her every night in her prayers. It melted my heart. For someone so young, this beautiful child had learned what we adults know, that our feelings don’t change when the one we love has passed from this world. I've watched with admiration and pride over the years as Meghan's worked tirelessly to raise thousands of dollars for Chelsea's Rainbow, a charity created by her family. 

My neighbors, Marty and Kathy, however, are the ultimate example of love conquering all and the inspiration for WISH ME TOMORROW. They met as RN candidates in an anatomy and physiology class. Marty was the strong one, who took charge of a pig dissection while Kathy filled in lab sheets and peaked between her fingers. Yet soon it would be Kathy’s turn to make a courageous choice. Marty was diagnosed with Leukemia and expected that he and Kathy would break up when he shared the news. To his surprise, not only did Kathy stay with him, she cared for him during his treatments, helped him keep up with school work, and lifted his spirits by rarely leaving his side. Since they’d only dated two months before his diagnosis, it was more than Marty had dreamed possible. By their graduation, they’d fallen deeply in love and married soon thereafter. Twenty years later, Marty is cancer free and they have three beautiful children and a loving marriage that’s an inspiration to all that know them. Marty says that Kathy is the strongest woman he knows and I agree.

Thank goodness for Kathy, and brave people like her, who give their hearts freely to those who need love the most. Staying with someone who is ill, caring for them regardless of the future, loving them long after they’re gone, doesn’t give you a medal for bravery, but it should.  If I could design it, the badge would read THE HEART WILL GO ON. It would be a testimony to the strength and willing sacrifice we make to stand by those we love, in good times and bad- knowing that no loss is final as long as love endures.

Please share your thoughts, stories, or a dedication to someone who is gone but always with you. Comment below and be entered for this week’s giveaway, a copy of Margot Early’s beautiful Heartwarming A LITTLE LEARNING about a widower who learns to share his heart again, friendship bracelets from me to you, and an autographed bookmark for my Young Adult romance CAMP BOYFRIEND with a scan code on the back to download the series prequel CAMP KISS for free.  I will announce the winner here and on my facebook page www.facebook.com/JKRockwriters . Thank you for your courage in sharing your stories!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My favorite part of writing is the naps, walks and meditation

The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes. -Agatha Christie

Every writer I know has said time and again that their best ideas come to them at the oddest times, for example-while doing the dishes...or in the shower...or that blissful moment when you're finally drifting off to sleep...
I'm sure we've all been there. Reaching for a paper towel and a pen from above the fridge to jot down the wonderful book concept or scene idea or line of dialogue before it escapes us completely. Or jumping out of bed to run for our laptop to finish that scene that has been plaguing us. I'm actually guilty of waking my husband up to give him a few trigger words to say to me the next morning so I'll remember the idea floating around in my semi-conscience state:)
So, as it turns out-most of our 'writing' is not writing at all, therefore I have a hard time recording my progress on a novel based on daily word count. Ultimately, the words need to fill the pages, but what about the other stages?
In Rosanne Bane's, Around The Writer's Block, she describes six stages of the creative process. The first is that wonderful moment when a new idea for a storyline comes to you. She calls it 'First Insight'. If you're a plotter, this is where you sit down and start brainstorming, freewriting, outlining the bigger picture, while recognizing the holes that still need to be developed.
Next, is the stage she calls 'Saturation', the research behind the novel. If you still love libraries, like me, you dash off to lose yourself among the aisles of books, setting up camp on the floor between the shelves, soaking up all the knowledge you can. Others prefer the internet for their research and have their favorite go-to sites. Right now, I am currently writing book two of my Brookhollow series and my hero is a firefighter. My 'research' of course consists of visiting as many fire halls in Edmonton as I can. I want to be thorough right?:)
The next stage is my favorite-'Incubation'. This is where we do everything but write. We nap, we walk, we do busy work to keep our hands occupied. All the while letting the ideas mingle with what we've learned through our researching, until scenes begin to form. Which leads to stage four-Illumination. The 'aha' moment we all love more than chocolate and wine. The moment when we have to stop talking about our book and just savor it. This stage is exhilarating, but also, for me, a little scary because now that I know what to write, I start to doubt my ability to do justice to this idea on paper. Can I bring it to life?
Next stage-Verfication. Yes, I can bring it to life and this is the stage to do it. This is the time to write the first draft, no editing or revising-just writing. Spelling mistakes, grammatically errors-who cares? This is the creative time. Everything else can be fixed in the final stage six-Hibernation. In this stage, we let the work 'cool off' and sit for awhile. Nothing new is created now, we just relax and regroup before the revisions and edits begin.
Therefore, in this outline of the stages of writing-there's really only one stage where we actually 'write', but we have to account for all the time spent dreaming and fantasizing and creating. To me, that's the real job of a writer. And of course, who doesn't love calling nap time-'working'?
Anyway, that's it for me. I'd love to know what everyone's favorite stage is!

xo
Jen

Monday, March 25, 2013

Fish Tales

Above you see the new addition to my little family.  If you squint, use a magnifying glass, or just guess... you'll see three fish.  They are my son's.  They've been with us since Tuesday night. 

They're names are Fox, Rex, and Cody.

If you are a Star Wars fan, these names mean something.  If you're not, then they're just names.

Notice the yellow can on your left.  That's the fish food.  We poked a little hole in the top and emphasized that little fish only eat a little food.  Too much food: fish die.

Not enough food came out.  So, Mike, problem solver that he is at age eight, made a bigger hole.  Wednesday, at 10:00 p.m. well after he should have been asleep and at exactly the time I wanted to be asleep, he remembered he needed to feed them. 

Half a can.

Grumpy Mommy who'd gotten out of bed at his wail told him, "We'll that's why we made a little hole."
Grumpy Mommy went back to bed.

Guilt.

Fox, Rex, and Cody were going to eat too much and die.

Back to Mike's room I go.  First, I try to scoop food out with the fish net. 

Yeah, right.

So, at 10:30, I'm cleaning the bowl.  It's a time-consuming thing.  I have to clean it and then put the drops in and leave it for 20 minutes.  Then, after 20 minutes I can scoop out one cup and pour that cup into the bowl holding the terrified fish who are thinking, "How did I get into this ugly Big Gulp cup.  I can't see!  What is that giant netty thing that's coming at me."

Once I've combined water, I get to wait another ten minutes before I move the fish to their bowl.  Which I then carry back to Mike's room.

Me, I'm in bed at 11:00.  The alarm will ring at 5:00.  I wanted to go to bed at nine.

So often, my storyline takes a twist of it's own.

Not a black moment, exactly.  More like a fish tale.

Friday, March 22, 2013

What Traits Make For A Good Romance Heroine---By Roz Denny Fox



First and foremost a romance heroine needs to be someone any other woman would like to be. And it’s a given that she has to be someone a hero can love.
She’s a woman who isn’t afraid to go after something she wants.
This woman succeeds because she’s the person she is.
Here are some traits romance heroines have in common:
a.    A capacity to love
b.    A degree of practicality
c.    A sense of humor
d.    Is a caring human being
e.    Can admit her fallibility
f.     Can apologize when she’s wrong
g.    She is loyal and likes loyalty in others
h.    She is passionate---about many things
A heroine doesn’t have to be beautiful, but she needs to be comfortable in her own skin and because of that other people see her as beautiful.
A heroine needs to be an interesting person who is multi-dimensional
At this point you might ask—if this woman is such a paragon, why doesn’t the hero instantly love her?
Because the very nature of a romance story that keeps readers reading romance books is that romance heroines operate from a premise that faith in the human heart can overcome the harshest reality. Romance heroes operate in reality, but from a standpoint of cold facts such as a fear of intimacy, suspicion of people’s motives, or even scoffing at blind faith in the beginning. They do come around, because underneath the strongest of heroines lies a component of a nurturer. It’s a trait that tugs at the core of the most flawed hero. Heroines nurture from the strength of love which makes them so appealing to alpha or beta heroes.
Once, Jude Devereaux said something in a talk that stuck with me. She said of romance heroines and heroes--beauty and virility doesn’t last for twenty or thirty years. By the time readers close our books we must have shown them that our characters possess traits that will keep them together for a lifetime. It’s their inner characteristics and personalities that let them ultimately work together and work things out, leaving readers with the understanding this couple has what it takes to truly live happily ever after.  I’m sure you all have lists of traits you work with. I’d love to hear what some of them are.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Small Towns by Tara Randel


Tara RandelWhat is it about small towns that appeal to readers? Is it the sense of community? Safety? Knowing all your neighbors and your neighbors knowing you?

Small towns can run the gamut. Picture a quaint town with historical buildings, on coastal beaches, or nestled in the mountains. Even a busy city block can be a small town. We certainly don’t have a shortage of beautiful places to set our books. 

When looking at popular series, you find the setting is an important part of the story. Think about your favorite books. You probably know as much about the town where the story is set as the characters who live there. 

I live on the west coast of Florida. The Gulf waters are warm and inviting. The sandy beaches can be commercial or very picturesque. Life is a little laid back as we enjoy the year round warm weather. Outdoor sporting, like boating and golfing, isn’t seasonal, but daily. How could I not set my book in such a beautiful place?


For my August release, Orange Blossom Brides, I created Cypress Pointe, an amalgamation of my favorite coastal towns located near my home. Each town has something special to offer, so instead of settling for one place, I drew a bit of inspiration from them all. In my case, Cypress Pointe has a tropical feel to it. I have a must-have central point, Main Street, where the action happens. A public beach, of course. Love those bonfires at sunset! A large majestic hotel that has seen better days, currently being remolded to draw tourists. There are plenty of stories waiting to happen here. 

Our Heartwarming books not only have special characters that touch our hearts, but the setting plays an important part of the story. 

Let me know some of your favorite small town stories and why you love books set there.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

It's the first day of Spring!!!!

 

 
 
It's Spring! It's Spring! It's.... still snowing?
 
Here in Michigan, the calendar might say that it's the first day of Spring. But the view out of the window is much more bleak.
 
I don't know about you, but I've had the worst case of Spring fever this year. I'm burning up with the desire to see my tulips shoot up from the earth and bloom. I'm sick with wanting blue skies and puffy white clouds. I yearn for warm evenings that invite walks around the neighborhood after dinner. I want to smell the grass after it's been cut and the dirt as I plant my garden.
 
Of course, I'll be halfway through Spring and looking forward to summer's delights. Ice cream cones. Grilling outside. Sitting on our covered porch in the evenings with the crickets and katydids providing the soundtrack.
 
And then by the end of the July, I'll be wishing for turning leaves. Cooler nights. And trick or treaters begging for candy.
 
November brings a longing for the first snow. For sweaters and hot chocolate. For the tinkle of bells and songs of carolers.
 
SIGH.
 
For now, I'll stick to wishing for daffodils. Happy Spring!
 
 
 
What's your favorite part of Spring? What do you look forward to most?
 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Little One

Last night I had a feel good moment.  See, I got home from work at 6:00.  Helped make dinner.  Cleaned up.  Did homework with my eight-year-old.  At 7:30, he asked me to take him to the skateboard park. 

"It's dark," I decided.
"It's a school night," I explained.

There's not enough time and I'm tired, I thought.

"Please," he said in that voice that is still squeaky and young.

Ten minutes later I'm sitting on a cement wall watching my son scooter (he doesn't have a skateboard) around the cement ramps and curves and jumps.  I had a book in my purse, but I didn't get it out.  I watched him instead.

My little guy is usually a diva.  He cries when he falls; he gets mad when he fails; he complains if things don't go his way.

Last night he made friends with three older boys on scooters.  They called him Little One.  They showed him how to spin the bottom of his scooter while standing still.  They let him join them albeit at a slower pace. 

He thought he was 'really' something.  He fell but got back up.  If they did something he couldn't do, he willingly went off by himself.  He didn't insist (only child syndrome) on giving orders.

Sniff.

He's growing up.  

And I want him to stay my Little One.

I've already told him we'll go back tonight even though I know I'm opening the door to change.  I have to open the door wide enough for his wings to spread, even though those wings will take him away from me.

Friday, March 15, 2013

In collecting tax information and making notes for your novel - SAVE EVERYTHING!



I have yellow pads all over the house in which I make notes for my next proposal.  There's even one in the basement on the chance inspiration will strike while I'm doing laundry.  My sophisticated process is to rip out all pages that pertain to the book, collect them into a folder, then try to make sense of all of it when it's time.

The day after I finished my revision for the August book, I began collecting our tax documents and other information to deliver to our accountant - my old boss.  I noticed a strange parallel to putting together a proposal.  So I offer this advice.

Make notes on your receipts.  No matter how memorable a split transaction seems at the time, come next April, you'll have forgotten that you banked a $1,000 signing check, took out $200 of it, spent $100 on paper, toner cartridges, and other supplies, and the other $100 on wild  partying because you're solvent again!  Make sure to note all deductible expenses because a good accountant will meticulously record every postage stamp and ream of paper.

Weirdly, this reminded me of following my hero's and heroine's conflict process down to the very last "Why?" I write it all down sitting in a corner of the sofa with a yellow pad. The slow work of cursive letters helps me think it through . . .  The heroine is tough because her father left her and her mother when she was a young teen.  She became tougher because her mother couldn't cope and she had to make decisions.  She grew up assuming all responsibility.  Now she's too tough.  She's sealed off from the world.  Where does she go from here?  How does she connect to the hero?

Your younger brains may prefer to take notes on the computer, or you might not even have to take down every thought, but standing right in the way of my creativity is worry about Ron's health, about my children's and grandchildren's issues, about meeting expenses, about the state of the world, etc.  I'm sure you all have your own distracting concerns.   I have to make notes of every thought relating to my proposal or it'll get lost behind everything else in my head.

Another good argument for my yellow pads is that when I dismiss an idea as no good and scratch it out, I can still read it when I decide the new idea is no better and I want to go back to the old one.  The delete key on the computer doesn't allow that.

Just as good records allow me a complete financial picture of the last year, thorough notes help me build a solid structure under and through my story so that character and plot wind together well.  (I'm imagining Victoria reading this and thinking, "What?!  Does she really think she does that?"  Maybe I don't, but that's always the plan.

Other strange, random thoughts on the yellow pad - I take notes at an angle so that I'm not restricted by the lines.  I often have trouble feeling really artful and creative, so I do everything I can to encourage those things.  I save every scrap I ever made a note on because there might be some nugget there I can use.  I circle and underline and doodle because when I go back to a note, sometimes that odd mark beside it helps me remember what I was thinking when I made the note and that goes more deeply into my brain than the simple words, helping me recapture the feeling. 

The worlds of accounting and writing romance have more in common than you'd think.  They're both about profit and loss.  Make notes so that you don't lose anything, and there's such profit in writing that we're all emotional millionaires.  Right?





Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Ex-Factor: Ten Steps to Rekindling the Flame by Karen Rock


You’ve survived a bad break-up. Barely. And even though you’ve rented every Sandra Bullock and Meg Ryan movie you can find, hidden all of your old photos and Valentine’s cards, thrown away his favorite snacks and washed your hands of him… washed him right out of your hair… his memory still lingers. Or maybe it’s his t-shirt in your laundry basket- the one you can’t bring yourself to wash. Either way, you’re wondering if you’ve both made a mistake and you want another shot. You want a do-over and here’s how.
 

1.     Accept. There’s a reason why you are not together now. Emphasis on the NOW. LATER is still up for grabs! Accepting the reality of the situation doesn’t mean you’ve shut him out of your life. If anything, it shows that you accept the need for the change, showing a level of maturity that will be respected and appreciated. Showing yourself in a positive, strong light will help you reach your end goal: Happily-ever-after.

2.    Wait. I know. I know. That’s not what you want to hear. But it’s tough love time. Time heals and you both need a chance to get over the hurt. Calling too soon and begging for another chance will only chase your ex further away. You both need time to gain perspective. To understand what went wrong. Informing yourself of what worked and didn’t work will keep you from making the same mistakes and help make a second chance at love permanent. And- don’t forget- absence makes the heart grow fonder.

3.    Silence. Seriously. Recently I saw a fictional App created by a character on HBO’s Girls. It’s called FORBID and it’s genius. The App forbids you from calling an ex’s number unless you pay ten dollars. I LOVE that idea and I hope an entrepreneur actually invents it. Breaking up is hard enough. Not calling or texting… even harder. No matter how many times you hang up, he will know it’s you. And what are you calling to say? You need him, miss him, want him back… ? You need to look strong, not needy. Mature, not rash. Most of all, you need to behave that way for your own sake. The opinion of you that matters the most, is yours.

4.    Be the One He Loved This time around, there is no question mark. You know you have what it takes for him to fall in love with you. You just need to remind him of that. Think about how you have changed and what might have caused the change. Work on coming back to the person he or she fell for. Once you are that person again, you’ll be irresistible… you were the first time!   

5.    Plan Now that you’ve done the leg work, it’s time to strategize. Where can you meet in a casual, no-pressure way? Is there a coffee shop he frequents, a park he jogs in… you know your ex better than most, so use that knowledge and make yourself visible. It will remind him of what he’s missing. And don’t forget to look stunning!

6.    Prepare Know what you will say when you first talk. These first few words are critical- no pressure J But seriously, steer clear of topics that are bound to stir up past arguments. Instead, focus on the kinds of conversations and topics you used to enjoy. Remind him of that, and he’ll want to keep talking. Lines of communication… restored!

7.    Take Action Now that things are on a friendly level, suggest a casual, no-strings attached, get-together… emphasis on the fun. After weeks or months of feeling low, isn’t it time you laughed and had a good time? Enjoy being together and try not to think about a commitment, the future, or what it means.

8.    Reach Out Send him an occasional, light-hearted email. It will keep you in his mind and establish a connection again in a non-threatening way. Best of all, it will increase the chances that your ex will start reaching out to you in return.

9.    Listen As you begin to spend more time together, invite your ex to talk about how his feelings and why the break-up occurred. Instead of being defensive, learn from what says. You can either win this person back in your life, or win an argument by disagreeing with everything. My vote’s on winning back your partner since an argument won’t give you a back rub.

10. Next Level You’re already good at being a couple. What you weren’t so great at was being apart. Remind him of that by getting romantic again. If he’s receptive, then all systems go.  Some great advice from my friend, Zee Monodee, is to, on the flip side, treat the situation like it’s a “new” romance with a stranger. “That person,” she advised, “is no longer the one you remember knowing.” It’s a great way to begin anew.
 
I would love to hear your stories and thoughts about the dos and don’ts of rekindling an old flame. Please post your comments below and enter to win a copy of New York Times bestselling author, and fellow Harlequin Heartwarming author, Roz Denny Fox’s amazing romance, THE BOSS NEXT DOOR, friendship bracelets, and an autographed bookmark of my upcoming Young Adult romance, CAMP BOYFRIEND, 7/2/13. On the back of the bookmark is a scan mark to download a free eBook of the prequel to the series, CAMP KISS.


 
To learn more about me, and my upcoming Harlequin Heartwarming, WISH ME TOMORROW, and Young Adult novels, please visit www.karenrock.com. I will post the prize winner on my author facebook page www.facebook.com/JKRockwriters tomorrow. Thanks so much J
 
 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I'd type a little faster...

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster. -Isaac Asimov

Hi Everyone! Today I am simply introducing myself and the above quote is me in a nutshell:) But, since I should probably elaborate...

Last night my two and a half year old son made me a bookshelf. Aside from the heavy lifting, (which my husband offered his muscles for) he did everything himself-hammered in the nails, screwed in the screws, secured the shelves. When he asked me why I needed it, I told him it was because I am addicted to reference books and I no longer had enough space to actually write.

I love reference books. Do I use everything in each one? No, but I've learned some great things from each and every one. (More of this to come in future blog posts) However, I realized the books I use the most, the ones with the most dog eared pages and post-it note flags coming from inside were the ones that were written for inspiration. The ones that tell of the quirky, unique habits of other writers. The ones that reaffirm how joyful and dreadful this writing world can be at times. The ones that always make me feel like I belong and I truly am a writer.

And that's exactly how writing for Harlequin Heartwarming feels. In the few weeks since signing my contract, I've been fortunate enough to become involved with this blogpost with a warm welcome, I've already spoken to my editor-Victoria Curran, who has provided me with some great insight into my manuscript, and I've been invited to an author's training webinar. Already I feel like I belong.

This is my first time blogging, so I promise to try to keep them relevant and interesting (going forward, I mean lol:)). I will always start with a quote because I love quotes about writing and no one else in my life cares about writing quotes, so I'm going to share them with my writing family lol. The topics I'd like to talk about are-using reference books successfully, the psychology behind developing three dimensional characters, and overcoming roadblocks to creation.

Thanks again to the amazing ladies already posting on this blog for including me!

XO,
Jennifer


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Let's Hope This Works by Carolyn McSparron

Whew! I hope and pray this post makes it onto the heartwarming blog. If it does, I may never be able to post another. Thanks to all the heartwarming authors who have tried to hang in there with me when I found myself in a series of endless loops.
 I know I am supposed to be doing this on a certain date, but believe me, just getting on even if it's the wrong date is a miracle. Whoever's toes I am stepping on, please forgive me. I'll try top get it right next time.
I am in the midst of doing revisions for my upcoming Heartwarming currently called Taking the Reins. It's about a group of wounded veterans at a draft horse farm learning to drive carriages.  There really is a highly successful program like this in northern Virginia. You won't get rich driving draft horses, but it's amazing the number of jobs there are out there. All those people who drive carriages downtown in large cities (New Orleans, Atlanta, Memphis) had to learn somewhere. And don't worry about the horses. They are the most pampered creatures you can imagine. Most of them work a week on and two weeks off. They are fat, sassy and sleek. And their drivers adore them.
When eventually they retire to the owner's big farm, the only problem is that they want to go back to work. They get lonesome for the lights and the people and will try to sneak onto the trailer going back downtown. How on earth they think an eighteen-hand Percheron or Clydesdale can sneak, I have no idea.
My driving mare is a sixteen-hundred black half-Shire. She hates to be ridden and has dumped me more times than I can count. But when she discovered driving, she loved it. Me too.

Please hang in there with me until I get my revisions done.  If you can actually read this, Hallallujah!
Carolyn

Friday, March 8, 2013

What Is Your Writing Voice and How Do You Make It New and Fresh? By: Roz Denny Fox



In short, your writing voice is you. It’s an intangible quality that makes a reader want to read more of your work. You can’t learn it. You can’t copy from anyone else. But a big problem is--if you ask 5 writers to describe “voice”, you’ll get 15 answers.
Voice may be easier to define by pointing out what it’s not. Some people describe voice as tone, character mood, or style, but it’s none of those things.
Voice is not tone  The tone of something you write depends more on content. It’s more about where your work will be published. For instance, if you choose the topic “How much makeup is appropriate for a teen to wear?” the tone will be vastly different than if you write about “Teenagers popping their parents’ anxiety meds.” The tone may also vary, say if you write the article for a parent magazine, versus publishing in a medical journal.
Voice is not Characterization  Say you read a scene in a book and think to yourself: I wouldn’t have let the main character do that if I’d written this book. Even if you rewrite the scene making your heroine sweet, not bold, smart, not subdued, or sassy instead of polite—how the character acts doesn’t depict your voice.
Voice is not Style  Writing style most often appears in the similarities a writer chooses to structure sentences, or common rendering of a single item from different points of view. Is the moon always cold and bright, or big and yellow? That’s style.
Then what is Voice? It’s you, the writer’s unique way of expressing emotions, situations or life events. It shows and reflects your spirit.
Strunk and White in The Elements of Style says voice is the expression of self.
Christie Craig and Faye Hughes in Your Writer’s Voice say your voice makes you stand out from other writers. Your voice could be described as poetic, gritty, dark, quirky, humorous, or sensual. But something about the way you create images speaks to individual likes or dislikes of your readers, who will say they like or hate your voice.
Rebecca Vinyard’s article: Have You Found Your Voice? believes you can’t create voice, rather it’s something that just “is”. Voice should flow naturally from your thoughts. And she says writers must take care not to edit out your voice as you attempt to emulate a writer whose work you admire. Trying to imitate another writer can stifle your rhythm, your attitude, your personal outlook that sets your work apart.
Mary Reed McCall says successful voice is like tuning a piano. Keep honing your words and phrases until they sing for you, and until they sound right to your inner ear.
So while describing voice is elusive and hard to pin down, the more you put yourself into the pages you write, the more of your emotional mountains and valleys will shine through, and the more the writing is in your voice.
In Lisa Annis’ article Finding Your Voice, she thinks once you determine your story’s course, “along the way it picks up particles of you. Like a river picking up bits of particles as it flows, so your story carries your voice out to the ocean of readers. That, she says, is voice. Voice is you.”