Saturday, June 14, 2014

Have Lipstick, will travel!

IMG_0628Choosing a blog topic is complicated. At one time I used to promote fellow authors on my blog. It kept it live and made the featured writer happy but it ate into my writing time in a big way, so now I mainly tweet their book links instead.
I sometimes blog about my own books of course but there is only so much I can say about them before self-aggrandizement sets in, so for a while I’ve been stuck for a topic. Then, yesterday, I had an inspiration.  My website strapline is ‘A ticket to Romance’ because so many of my books are loosely based on the  countries and places I’ve visited. For example Cabin Fever is set on the cruise ship that took me from Auckland in the North of New Zealand right down to Sydney in Australia, whereas Reluctant Date takes place in a small town in Florida where I had one of the best holidays of my life.
As well as being hugely enjoyable, travelling, meeting new people and experiencing new cultures has changed my perspective on life. To quote Mary Anne RadmacherI am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.’
I’m not, however, going to turn my blog into a travelogue. Anyone who is interested in the places I write about in my books can find out about them on the Internet. Instead, I’m going to talk about the flip side of travellings - the many things that went wrong, or made me laugh, or cry, or both, because ‘Travel is glamorous only in retrospect’ ― Paul Theroux.
This means that I have no choice but to start with India and the two weeks I spent travelling between Delhi and Amritsar with no luggage, not even a change of underwear. It was New Year so the shops were closed - well the shops that sold western clothes were - and I would have looked ridiculous in a shalmar kameeze or a sari because I am so obviously from northern Europe. I worried too about offending the Indian families I was going to visit, some of whom lived in remote villages where many of the inhabitants had never seen a white face. I might upset them by choosing a wrong colour or an inappropriate style.
Fortunately, because it was winter I was travelling in layers, so my solution was to wash the sweater while I wore the blouse, and vice versa, while the jeans, boots, woollen jacket and cape were easy to dress up with scarves and cheap jewelry, things that I was able to acquire. At night I festooned our various hotel bathrooms with drying lingerie while I went to sleep in a pair of my husband’s pajamas.  I also borrowed his socks.
The experience had a profound effect on me. Once I’d accepted that the airline really had lost my luggage I was able to enjoy the trip in a way I’ve never experienced before or since. While others were busy unpacking or repacking their suitcases, I went sightseeing or talked to strangers. While they prepared for each formal visit or outing, I could only brush down my jeans, shrug on my jacket and think about the day ahead. In those two weeks I saw more, heard more, learned more, and worried less. It was totally liberating and I also learned that in the wider scheme of things, a suitcase full of clothes, a hairdryer and a change of shoes is neither important nor necessary. I learned that it really is possible to travel light.
Oh, I forgot to say...my lipstick was in my handbag. Now if that had gone missing it might have been different story!

In the coming weeks there will be more traveller's tale from the flip side on my website at sheilaclaydon.com and next month there will be another one on the Books We Love blog.  In the meantime, what would keep you sane if your luggage went missing? I'd love to know.



Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday The 13th by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey


Friday The 13th
By Joan Donaldson-Yarmey
Friday the 13th. Ah, that dreaded unlucky day when everyone treads carefully, avoiding ladders and black cats. All I can say about the day is that so far in my life I've been lucky-- nothing bad has ever happened to me on a Friday the 13th (knock on wood). Neither has anything good. So today should be like any other day. What does this have to do with writing? you ask. Well, sometimes in order to find the right publisher, a great deal of luck is involved.
 The Luck of Getting Published
I took a few writing courses and began my published, writing career (as opposed to my unpublished writing career) with a short story titled  A Hawk's Reluctant Flight, in a small magazine called Western People. With that as my resume, I had travel and historical articles accepted by other magazines, one of which didn't pay anything to the author. Then I took another writing course and one of the speakers was Grant Kennedy owner of Lone Pine Publishing in Edmonton, Alberta.
      At the time Alberta was divided into tourist zones and I had been thinking about doing a book on what there was to see and do in each zone. I sent a query letter to Lone Pine Publishing and the senior editor responded with a phone call. We set up a time for me to go to the city and meet with her and Grant Kennedy.
      I outlined my idea and Grant said yes it was a good one but he thought that the books should be more on the people and culture of each zone. He liked his idea and I liked mine so we decided we couldn't work together. As I stood to leave I said. "Well, at least as I research the zones I will see all the backroads of Alberta." He replied. "I've always want to do a book on the backroads of Alberta." I sat back down and that was how I began my backroads series. Over the next ten years I travelled through and wrote two books on Alberta, four books on British Columbia, and one on the Yukon and Alaska.
      My favourite books to read have always been mystery novels and after much thought I decided to write one. Since one of the mantras of writing is to write what you know I made my main character a travel writer. She was headed to southern Alberta to do research for a magazine and was drawn into the mystery of a skeleton found in a septic tank. When I was finished I sent it out to a few publishers. One wrote back that they liked it but my travel background was coming out and I had too much travel information in it. I was asked to remove some. So I did and resent my manuscript. Again, I was asked to cut back on the travel info. Again I did. The third time I was told that this was a mystery and I should stick with the mystery and leave out the travel stuff. I wrote back and said that the main character is a travel writer and is working on an article. She is not going to drop that and concentrate on solving the murder. So needless to say we parted ways.
      I sent out the manuscript again and another publisher said they were interested in publishing it. They had one stipulation and that was that I should add in more travel information.
       I sent the second novel of what I was calling my Travelling Detective Series to the same publisher. After about a five month wait I received a letter that told me the publishing house had been bought out by another one and that my manuscript and all my information had been sent to them. I waited a few  months the emailed the new publisher to find out what was happening. A couple of days later I received an email stating that they had no record of my manuscript. My heart sunk. But a few days after that I received an email from another editor at the publishing house stating that they had found my manuscript and they wanted to publish it.
       However, in the time between that email and the publishing date for my novel, the publishing house was sold again. The new owner was going to honour my contracts, but in the future wasn't going to publish mysteries. I knew there was no use sending my third manuscript to that publisher and after checking around I sent it to Books We Love. They immediately accepted it and e-published it. After two years of talking with my old publisher I was able to get the rights to my first two novels of the series and now all three are published with Books We Love Ltd.
       So on Friday the 13th that is my post of the luck that has brought me to where I am today in my writing and publishing career. And being an optimist, I am off to buy a lottery ticket on Lotto Max which is worth $10,000,000. Wish me luck.
Books of The Travelling Detective Series:
Illegally Dead
The Only shadow In The House
Whistler's Murder

Thursday, June 12, 2014

LET YOUR CHARACTERS LIVE THROUGH YOU ~ BY RITA KARNOPP

To create exciting strong scenes – make sure they vary from quiet to loud.  Lackluster to exciting.  Emotional to in-control.  Highs to lows.  Happy to sad.  Yet, they all must fit together like pieces of a puzzle.  Everything should snap into place and fit – nothing should stick out at odd angles.  Every part of the story should contribute and move the story forward, making it complete.

I don’t know about you, but I like to put myself in my character’s body, living the scene with his/her baggage, experience, flaws, and attributes.  Do the situations or challenges feel ‘real’?  What doesn’t feel believable?  You will know what needs changing by running your scenes through your mind like a movie – you are the character – living, breathing, and experiencing each scene you’ve created. 

You’ll find yourself rewriting - adding spontaneity from the character you’ve become.  You’ll make changes that transition the story better.  Step-by-step, you’ll feel, hear, touch, taste, and see yourself in the scenes of your character.  Do you believe them?  Did you miss any of the senses?  Add them in and you’ll be surprised how this will improve your story. 

If a scene feels confusing or uncomfortable – fix them.  Never leave them in hopes the reader won’t notice – believe me, they will.  Add deep internal emotion and allow your characters to have flaws that hinder their goals . . . making them realize they must change to have what they need or want by the end of the book.

You should laugh, cry, and get angry if that’s what the character experiences.  If the words you’ve written don’t evoke the emotion or reaction you want . . . rewrite . . . rewrite . . . and rewrite until you find yourself crying . . . laughing . . . and ticked with the world if need be.  If you don’t feel it when you write it – the reader won’t feel it when they read it.  It’s as simple as that.

Grab your reader right from the beginning . . . and don’t let go until you type ‘the end.’ 
 
Whispering Wind ~ Montana Territory 1865 – Pregnant and alone, Tsopo, Wind, leaves her Blackfoot people to save her lifelong friend, Kom-zit-api, An Honest Man, from untrue accusations.
Kom-zit-api finds Wind and asks her to be his sits-beside-him wife.  Before she can give him an answer, he dies saving her from Crow warriors.  Trapper, Jake McKinney hears her cries and finds her down on a ledge, birthing a child that has arrived too soon.  Now Wind finds herself at a crossroads. 
Ashamed and confused, she accepts McKinney’s offer to go with him to the Big Belt Mountains, where his Confederate war buddies are prospecting for gold.
They meet brothers, Tucker and Alexander Walsh on the trail.  McKinney, with his valuable bales of furs and buffalo robes, and the Walsh brothers, with their four wagons of supplies, strike a partnership.  They’ll start up a general store for miners on the east side of the Missouri River near Diamond City. 
Wind reveals possession of a gold nugget the size of her thumb. Her father gave it to her, and she knows where in Confederate Gulch it was found.  The men make her an equal partner in their business they are now calling Whispering Wind.
Nothing like her peaceful village, Wind finds herself among ramshackle clusters of tents, lean-tos, and crude log cabins.  The main street is a knee-deep mud trail mixed with horse manure, lined with make-shift stores, hotels, rowdy saloons, and a single assayer’s office.  Wind aspires to find love and happiness where greed rules actions above common sense.  Dressed like a white woman, hiding her part Blackfeet blood, she faces being one of a few women in a wild, lawless mining territory.  Who can she trust? Can she survive where so many men have failed?
Watch for Rita Karnopp’s next book ~ Whispering Spirits
Summer Timber Wolf, Nii’ówa Ómahkapi'si, is disenchanted with life in general.  Ashamed of being Blackfeet, yet broke and alone, she goes to Browning, the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana she swore she’d never return to or call home.    
Angry with her decision to quit college, her parents give her the task of caring for her eighty-year-old grandmother, Kimi’Aki, Secret Woman.  It sounds like an easy alternative to getting a job. 
By the time Summer realizes this means she’ll be living in the mountains in the ways of the old ones, in a tipi, with no more modern support greater than a boiling pot, it’s too late to go back.
In this primitive setting she realizes there’s more to being Blackfeet than just being called Indian.  Although she fights anything to do with her ancestry, she is quickly caught up in a world of whispering spirits and a journey that teaches we must understand and find pride in where we’ve come from . . . in order to know where we’re going. 
Multi-published author Rita Karnopp knew at a very young age she wanted to be a writer – and penned her first story at age sixteen. She is drawn to the history of the Native American and strives to bring alive the authenticity of a time past. Whether writing suspense, Indian historicals, or contemporary romance, Rita enjoys bringing excitement and the enduring power of love to her stories.
Rita currently resides in Montana with her husband and their loveable Cockapoo named Gema. When she isn’t reading, writing or doing research, Rita enjoys making dream catchers, gold panning, crystal or sapphire digging, rafting, fishing, canoeing, and spending time with her children and grandchildren.
Also find Rita at:
Website:
http://ritakarnopp.com
Facebook:
rita.karnopp@facebook.comBlog:
http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Contact her at:    ritakarnopp@bresnan.net
 




 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

My Cup runneth Over



Today is our anniversary. My husband woke me up early whispering, "Come here quick." He was standing in the doorway of the family room looking at the suction cup bird feeder we put up last winter. Two grosbeaks were trying, unsuccessfully, to get at the seeds. Sadly, the birds were too big. The last time we had grosbeaks in the yard was the year Mt. St. Helen blew, and that spring we had a yard full. Grosbeaks might visit a yard if black oil sunflower seeds are available but, then again, they might not. The sunflower seeds sell in 20 pound bags here and if the birds don't come, what are you going to do with all those seeds? We are debating the pros and cons. My husband and I enjoy many little things such as what birds are in the feeder, and have learned many things from each other. He has taught me war history and how to appreciate country and bluegrass music and how to spot game tracks. I have taught him about Russian history and different kinds of flowers, and moss--a specialty of mine. Together we try to identify birds or find out where the ships in the harbor are from. We talk to people in restaurants or in line at the grocery store or even the homeless.We have learned the words for hello in Korean, Russian, Spanish and Laotian and the emigrants we encounter are so pleased that we care enough to have learned. Everyday is made up of many little things that fill us to overflowing. When people ask me, what's new, it's hard to explain how exciting it is to see animal tracks in the snow or bird tracks in the sand on Commencement Bay or about the elusive peacock who plays hide-and-seek in the neighborhood. These are the sorts of things I try to include in my writing.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My Favorite Things - by Cheryl Wright

As an author, I feel somewhat creative. I get to write books, the sorts of books I love to read.

I have been published since 2003, but the thrill of having something published - whether that's an article, a short story, or a novel - never leaves me.

Don't Tell, Don't Die by Cheryl Wright
My latest novel Don't Tell, Don't Die was published on April 21, and it was absolutely breathtaking knowing that once again one of my 'babies' was out in the wild yonder. (Also known as the world.)

I've known for many years that I was what others considered 'a creative'. I have always dabbled in art, as well as playing various musical instruments. Except for the guitar, I played most in a mediocre manner. The guitar was always my favorite, although I admit to not having touched it for a few years. (Note to self: start playing guitar again!)

Apart from writing, my most favorite thing to do is make greeting cards. It's been my hobby for about fourteen years now, and I'd like to think that I'm improving as time goes by.

In an average month, I would make around 30-40 cards, making at least one a day. Cardmaking is my way of unwinding after a long or stressful day.



Most of the cards I make are donated to various community groups, including an oncology ward at a local hospital. These are all thank you cards, and are for the patients to give friends and family who have helped during their cancer treatment. It's a small gesture on my part, but means a lot to the patients, and the recipients.

I also make cards for the soldiers overseas. These are for a variety of celebrations including birthdays, Mother's Day, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Father's Day.

In addition, I create cards as a fundraiser for a foodbank where my daughter is volunteer manager.  The sale of the cards - at their related second-hand shop - raises money so additional food can be purchased and given to families in need.

One thing I've tried to do over the years teach others the skills I've learned over a long period of time. I have three of my six grandchildren living with me, and two of them are teenage girls. Both have shown interest over the years, and both have won awards for their cards. They have also made and donated cards for the above purposes.

It's a wonderful feeling knowing you can pass on your skills, and know those skills are helping the wider community.

The cards I make range from very basic (as can be seen above), to  more complex (like the one shown below).



I hope you have enjoyed reading a little about me and my hobby.



p.s. Looking for a quick read? Check out my novella, A Winter Sabbatical.

Links:

My website:  www.cheryl-wright.com 
Blog:  www.cheryl-wright.com/blog
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/cherylwrightauthor

Make sure you join my Facebook page as I run regular giveaways for followers!


Be fearless, like my heroines - by Vijaya Schartz

see more of Vijaya's books HERE At one time in my writing career, I looked at the covers of my books and realized on each of them ...