Thursday, September 27, 2012

Win a Book!


Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing

When you leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, September 30, 2012 you'll be entered in the DRAWING for a copy of the book I review below. If you mention in your comment that you’re a new or old follower (see in the left column “Join This Site” or “Follow by Email”), I’ll add your name a second time in the drawing. You can read details about my book giveaways here.

Twice Promised by Maggie Brendan


Acclaimed romance writer, Maggie Brendan is the author of Heart of the West series that has been well-reviewed in Romantic Times, and she has received the Atlanta Persistence Award from the American Christian Writers. She is a member of American Christian Writers, Romance Writers of American, Faith Love and Hope, Georgia Romance Writers, and the American Fiction Writers Association. Maggie loves all things western and enjoys doing research for her historical novels. 



From the book’s back cover:
Two beautiful brides.  One unsuspecting groom. Three weeks to figure it all out.

Greta Olsen arrives in Central City, Colorado, as a mail-order bride, expecting to marry Jess Gifford, the man she’s come to know through his tender letters. But when she meets Cora Johnson, she discovers she’s not the only bride waiting at the train station for Jess.

Already shocked to find they must compete for Jess’s affection, the young women can hardly believe it when not Jess but his brother Zach picks them up from the station—and reveals that Jess knows nothing about any mail-order bride, let alone two. Will either bride make the match she hopes for?

Filled with surprises, misunderstandings, and tender romance, Twice Promised is the story of how two unlikely women become twice blessed.

From Jo:
With her words Maggie Brendan weaves a quaint plot in the area of mail-order brides. The two brides-to-be are quite the opposite in disposition with both being sweet but confused. The two grooms-to-be are brothers but also have opposite dispositions. As all the ends are tied together, this is a romance story that will keep you guessing even though you’re pretty sure you’ve figured out the ending.


Remember: leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, September 30, 2012 and you'll be entered in the drawing for a copy of Twice Promised by Maggie Brendan. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where prohibited. Please, please remember to leave your email address so that should you be the winner I can get in touch with you for your mailing address.


Till next time … keep on smiling.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Yes ma'am, No ma'am, Thank you and Please

Monday Musings on This 'N That

The first time I heard the sing-song words, "Yes ma'am, No ma'am, Thank you and Please" I was already married but didn't have children. But the little ditty stayed with me. When starting to raise my children I used part or all of the words to get my children to learn politeness to others. Repeating the words to my children helped to make it fun for them to learn good manners. More than good manners, it's just plain respect.


Every time I hear a child, little or teenager, answer an adult with "Yeah" it's like fingernails on a chalk board. I hear it so much when I rarely watch TV. I hear it when out shopping. I've concluded that parents must not be teaching such manners, or none at all, to their offspring.

I wonder how they respond to their teachers in the classrooms. I wonder how they respond to Sunday school teachers or any minister at church. Or to any adult.

Am I being picky to expect more "Yes ma'am, No ma'am, Thank you and Please"? What are you hearing? Does any of this bother you? I can't discipline others' children, so if the parents don't do so, what happens when the child finishes school? Does he/she respond politely to their superiors at the work place?

Share your thoughts--leave a comment. Let me know if I'm way off base with my thinking.

P.S. I have my Jamie Lee Curtis haircut appointment set for tomorrow. Look for photo in next Monday's blog--if I have the courage to post it.



The winner of last Thursday's blog post for a copy of Sandwich, With a Side of Romance by Krista Phillips is Pat T. I'll email you to get your mailing address and get the book out to you. Thanks all for commenting. Watch for more book giveaways.


Till next time ... keep on smiling.



Thursday, September 20, 2012

Win a Book!


Thursday Thoughts on Reading 'N Writing

When you leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, September 23, 2012 you'll be entered in the DRAWING for a copy of the book I review below. If you mention in your comment that you’re a new or old follower (see in the left column “Join This Site” or “Follow by Email.”), I’ll add your name a second time in the drawing. You can read details about my book giveaways here.


Sandwich, With a Side of Romance by Krista Phillips

Krista Phillips is a debut author and the owner of the popular blog One Woman's Dream at reflectionsbykrista.blogspot.com. She lives with her husband and four daughters in Middle Tennessee.    



From the book's back cover:
She moved to Sandwich, Illinois, in search of a new life, but ended up in a giant pickle.

Sandwich represents hope for twenty-year-old Maddie Buckner and Kyle, the eleven-year-old brother Maddie wants to spring out of foster care. Then she loses her new job after less than a day. It's all Reuben-the-Jerk's fault, and she's determined to make him right the wrong.

He does so, reluctantly, by giving her a job at his restaurant, The Sandwich Emporium. Then crazy things start happening at the restaurant, and Kyle's foster parents apply to adopt him. To stop it all, Maddie must learn the art of humbling herself and accepting the help God has arranged, risking her heart to Reuben in the process.

And she'd rather eat a million corned-beef on rye sandwiches than do that.

From Jo:
Maddie has “graduated” from foster care but her eleven-year-old brother has not. Determined to make it on her own and also gain custody of her brother, Maddie is an independent, street-smart twenty-year-old who is not accustomed to accepting help from anyone. Her heart needs to soften to the good will of others who come into her life. Phillips brings us a strong-willed character that must learn to accept the help others offer if she can gain custody of her brother. Memorable characters and a fun read page-turner.


Remember: leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, September 23, 2012 and you'll be entered in the drawing for a copy of Sandwich, With a Side of Romance by Krista Phillips. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where prohibited. Please, please remember to leave your email address so that should you be the winner I can get in touch with you for your mailing address. I will announce the winner in Monday's blog.


Till next time ... keep on smiling.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Being You and Being Me


Monday Musings on This ‘N That

Recently I had to get away from my computer or throw it out the window. While relaxing I decided I’d try to find a good movie on TV. I flipped till I found one with an actor in it that I liked. Of course, I didn’t get in at the beginning. But I saw the conflict already there. Toward the end the actor, who lives richly, wears women’s clothing and a long blond wig.

When his landlord discovers his renter is really a man he asks him, “Why you want to do that—dress like a woman?” The renter answers, “I don’t want to be me.” The crime he’d committed was his motivation for this deception.

My brain took that information and ran with it. I began by thinking how many poor souls are walking around not wanting to be who they are. Then I wondered how many folks get all the plastic surgery to make them look different because they don’t want to be their real me.

Many people have probably had at least a fleeting thought about what if—what if I looked differently, what if I walked differently, what if, what if… I wrote a blog (http://www.johuddleston.com/2011/10/whos-you.html) about who I would want to look like if I had the choice.

Well, bottom line is I’ve decided to get a fresh, new haircut—like Jamie Lee Curtis. And when the eye doctor changes my prescription, I plan to get new glasses with rectangular-shaped lenses like those Diane Keaton wears. If this transformation actually takes place I may share some photos here. Maybe. If I don’t like the haircut my hair will grow out again. I know I’ll like the glasses—I tried on some one time.


The winner of last Thursday's blog post for a copy of Still Life in Shadows by Alice J. Wisler is karenk. I'll email you to get your mailing address and get the book out to you. Thanks all for commenting. Watch for more book giveaways.


Till next time … keep on smiling. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Win a Book!


Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing

When you leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, September 16, 2012 you'll be entered in the DRAWING for a copy of the book I review below. If you mention in your comment that you’re a new or old follower (see in the left column “Join This Site” or “Follow by Email.”), I’ll add your name a second time in the drawing. You can read details about my book giveaways here.

Still Life in Shadows by Alice J. Wisler

Alice J. Wisler is the author of four novels, two of which were nominated for a Christy Award, Rain Song and How Sweet It Is. Her other titles are Hatteras Girl and A Wedding Invitation. Alice grew up in Japan as a missionary kid, but now writes in Durham, North Carolina. Her son Daniel died from cancer treatments in 1997 at the age of four. In addition to writing inspirational Southern fiction, Alice teaches grief-writing courses both online and at conferences. Visit with her at http://www.alicewisler.com.



From the book’s back cover:
Fifteen years ago Gideon Miller ran away from an Amish life that seemed perfect. But it held a childhood secret he could not leave behind. Gideon, now an auto mechanic in Twin Branches, North Carolina, helps Amish youth relocate to modern society, earning him the nickname the “Getaway Savior.” When Kiki, an autistic teen, enters his shop wanting a job, Gideon struggles to accept her although he’s infatuated with her sister Mari. Furthermore, a surprise visit from his younger brother Moriah forces Gideon to realize that his need for God’s forgiveness is far greater than he anticipated.

From Jo:
This story of a boy who runs away from his Amish family and lifestyle is somber yet enlightening. Because of the harshness of Gideon Miller’s father and his home life, Gideon doesn’t know how to have fun. Wisler expertly paints a character that is dedicated, responsible and serious. Gideon is one dimensional until a little girl and her big sister pry away his Amish shell and expose him to smiles, laughter, and God’s forgiveness. Every character is well developed and memorable, and the setting descriptions are realistic.


Remember: leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, September 16, 2012 and you'll be entered in the drawing for a copy of Still Life in Shadows by Alice J. Wisler. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where prohibited. Please, please remember to leave your email address so that should you be the winner I can get in touch with you for your mailing address.


Till next time … keep on smiling.

Monday, September 10, 2012

My Mini Vacation


Monday Musings on This ‘N That

Last week I took a mini vacation and where do you think I went? The beach of course! The beaches on the Gulf of Mexico are my favorite places to be. Before Memorial Day and after Labor Day are enjoyable because the crowds haven't arrived or have already left. Here are some photos to help you feel relaxed as if you had been there with me.

Taken from our patio overlooking the pool. You can
see a sliver of the ocean beyond the palm trees.

Me looking toward the sunset, waiting for the color show.

The clouds tinged with pink from the sunset.

Looking southward across the ocean and clouds.

Looking westward where the clouds carry
pink tints from the sunset.

Then later when the sun has dipped below the horizon.


Fell refreshed? Hope this beach tour helped you to add a little peace and a smile to your hectic schedule.


We received our 10 comments and then some! Readers, thank you! The winner of last Thursday's blog post for a copy of A Path Toward Love by Cara Lynn James is Morgan. I'll email you to get your mailing address. Thanks all for commenting. Watch for more book giveaways.


Till next time … keep on smiling.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Win a Book!


Author Cara Lynn James said if we receive 10 comments we'll draw for a winner of the book shown below. When you leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, September 9, 2012 you'll be entered in the DRAWING. If you mention in your comment that you’re a new or old follower I’ll add your name a second time in the drawing (see “Join This Site” in the left column to become a new follower). You can read details about my book giveaways here.  



Fixing Problems by Cara Lynn James

Our guest blogger today is Cara Lynn James. Cara writes historical romances set during the Gilded Age. Her fourth book, A Path toward Love, was released August 2012. Her previous novels are Love on a Dime, Love on Assignment and Love by the Book.
Cara and her family have resided in northwest Florida for the past ten years. She’s also lived in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Texas, California, Virginia and Vermont. In her younger years she served in the military as a Naval officer along with her husband who’s a retired Navy pilot. Now Cara writes full time--when she’s not playing with her five year old grandson or Sparky, the family Papillon. 


Some of the most important work we do as writers is editing or book doctoring. Our manuscript might not exactly be ‘ailing’—then again it might be—but maybe it doesn’t quite belong in the healthy category yet. Before we send off our story we’ll need to fix mistakes and weaknesses in craft. But first we have to spot them. They’re likely to pop up in three areas: characterization, story and plot.

Characterization
Problem #1:
Underdeveloped characters that produce insufficient depth, dimension, believability or interest.

The Fix:
Here are some areas to check out and revise—The character must have a clear yearning, a traumatic past, a heroic strength and a weakness, many unique personality traits, habits, likes, dislikes, talents, hobbies, attitudes, quirks, strong emotions, motives, fears and secrets, and one or more contradictions. These are all the things you put into character sheets.

Problem #2:
Passive characters who are watchers, not actors, who are on the defensive, or who are not effected by the conflicts—that is, they could walk away from the situation without batting an eyelash. I’m talking about characters that are acted upon.

The Fix:
The protagonist should be striving to meet an external story goal, resolving the problem and relieving the inner suffering. Our beloved characters are suffering, aren’t they? Remember, we need to torture them no matter how loving we are in real life. We don’t want to bore our readers to death by treating our characters with sugarcoated kindness. We want to keep our readers and boring them isn’t the way to do it. It’s hard for some of us to be mean to the people we love, but we must at least until the end of the story.

It’s okay if some of your characters are in defensive positions, but your protagonist should be on the offensive—strong and active. Formulate your story so the protagonist’s goals are most important, not the antagonist’s goals. Sometimes a plot can be set up incorrectly and that puts the protagonist on the defensive. Not good.

Problem #3:
Insufficient relationship chemistry, contrast or conflict between the characters.

The Fix:
Increase and strengthen the relationship between the characters and heighten the emotions and the potential for conflict. Make your characters essential to each other, and make their goals at cross-purposes. To avoid a lack of chemistry develop the characters and think in terms of opposites and differences. If they’re too compatible you won’t have much of a story and your reader will yawn. A bored reader will not buy your next book. A very important point.

Problem #4:
Awkward shifts from one POV to another POV.

The Fix:
Use only one POV per scene so you won’t confuse your reader. For smooth transitions between scenes start with the new character’s name or use a key word or phrase such as “Later that afternoon.” Don’t head hop because it’s confusing and we don’t know whom the scene is about or who to root for.


Dialogue
Problem #1: Too much dialogue for too long; i.e. ‘talking heads.’

The Fix:
Very simple to correct dialogue. No speeches or sermons, please. Just break it up with a response from another character so that it becomes a conversation. Don’t overload dialogue with too much information. You can fix your ‘talking heads’ by adding setting, sensory experience or some other characterization.

Problem #2:
The speakers all sound alike and are flat.

The Fix:
You can use slang, regional figures of speech, words that reflect the character’s ethnicity, race, religion, personality etc. Develop a word list of favorite phrases that fit the character. (I’ve never done this, but I’m going to. Anything to stay organized.)

Problem #3:
Dialogue lacks tension, fails to move the plot.

The Fix:
Revise based on your character’s scene goal or emotional need. Through dialogue show your POV character striving to reach their goal and running into obstacles. You must have some sort of opposition. If you don’t have this then you could add an antagonist who challenges the POV character through dialogue.

Problem #4: Attributions
—who is speaking—take characters out of the story.

The Fix:
Don’t use words such as snarled, chided, chortled etc. Replace them with he said/she said. Or replace he said/she said with an action sentence that makes clear who is speaking.

Problem #5:
Avoid over-the-top writing of dialect, slang, jargon, clich├ęs, or foreign terms.

What are some other problems that need fixing?

The Fix:
A few dropped ‘g’s’ such as ‘walkin’ will do the trick. Avoid trying to phonetically spell dialects. Readers might throw your book across the room out of frustration and you wouldn’t want that.




Remember: leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, September 9, 2012 and you'll be entered in the drawing for a copy of A Path Toward Love by Cara Lynn James. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where prohibited. Please, please remember to leave your email address so that should you be the winner I can get in touch with you for your mailing address. Remember, we must receive 10 comments to have a drawing. (Tell your friends to come over and comment!)I will announce the winner in Monday’s blog.


Till next time ... keep on smiling.



Monday, September 3, 2012

If it Rolls or Bounces.....

I heard a woman  discussing her husband by saying, "If it rolls or bounces he's going to play it or watch it on TV." Ah, yes, college football season has begun. College football draws avid fans, whether in the stadium or in front of the TV.



This past weekend kicked off the collegiate football season bringing with it the roaring crowds, the chanting cheerleaders, the marching bands, the flip of the coin, the referee's whistle to begin play, and replays on the stadium's giant screens. Vendors are everywhere. Souvenirs, the college colors in caps and shirts, the food and drinks. All that  brings unequaled excitement to the sports fans.

 Did you see that Notre Dame played Navy in Ireland?! Michigan played Alabama in Texas?! What is this--a new trend in game scheduling? Will we continue to have home games at home as we did in the past? 

When I was younger I loved all sports. Participated in some and then attended and cheered others from the bleachers. I still enjoy watching sports but am not as crazy-wild as I once was. Just like most things in this technology age, I can sit in the comfort of my home and watch the game. Doing so allows me to avoid the hassle of getting to and from the game, fighting the traffic and crowds, etc., etc.

Some college football stadiums hold 80,000-100,000 or more. Consider the college campus, its academic and administration buildings. The football stadium drawfs many of them and is used probably only six or seven times a year.

Have we gone overboard with our enthusiasm for sports in general and football in particular? I sometimes wonder. I'm not grumbling here--remember I played and enjoy sports still. But is there no limit to the heights we'll go to enjoy sports? Do you ever think we could pull the enthusiasm/fanaticism down a notch or two? Let me know what you think--please leave a comment.


Till next time ... keep on smiling.