Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tuesday Tip: Character Sheets

Tuesday Tip
Characters are obviously very important in a work of fiction. Your characters should be interesting and realistic. When creating them, be sure to consider the following:

  • Does my character fit my story?
  • Does my character's name fit my character? (For instance, is the name accurate for the time period?)
Creating a character sheet for every character in your story, particularly the main characters, is crucial.This helps keep the character consistent, yet developing, throughout the story. 

Here are some things to include in your character sheet:
  • Character's name
  • Character's role (hero, heroine, villain)
  • hair color, eye color, age, height, weight
  • Identifying features (such as scars, impairments, etc)
  • Character's goal
  • Hobbies
  • Occupation
  • Educational background
  • Friends and enemies
  • Family background (including religion, economic status, nationality, relationship with parents/siblings)
  • Most important thing for the reader to know about the character
  • Strengths/weaknesses
The more the reader understands the character, the more they care about your character. This makes a better manuscript overall. It's important to show the good and bad about each character, as everyone has both qualities. Someone's weaknesses may ultimately be what causes them to change and become stronger. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

"Plain Protector" by Alison Stone

A Word from Alison...

Thank you, Leslie, for inviting me to visit your blog. I never imagined I’d be writing Amish fiction when I first started writing. I had been targeting Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line for a couple of years and had come “this close” to selling two different books that were ultimately turned down by the senior editor. Determined to sell to Harlequin, I attended a panel at a conference where the editors discussed their wish list. I heard the senior editor say she’d love to see more Amish suspense. Intrigued, I started to run through ideas and had a plot formulating before I even hopped on the plane home. Once home, I researched the Amish by reading textbooks and memoirs. I went to visit a local Amish community, and I started writing the book. Less than a year later, I sold this story which was published under the title, Plain Pursuit. Since then, I’ve sold eight more books to Harlequin, six of which are Amish.

I have a lot of fun writing Amish because I enjoy the challenge. Not only do I have to come up with a plot appropriate for the Love Inspired Suspense line, but I also have to create a realistic story set in an Amish community.  One way I have expanded the number of stories set in the same community, a fictional town called Apple Creek, is by creating a hero and heroine who are not Amish, but live and work among the Amish. In Plain Protector, Sarah moves to Apple Creek to escape her abusive ex-boyfriend. When it seems that he has found her, she must rely on the deputy sheriff to protect her. The perfect start of a romance, right? Well, perfect for romantic suspense.

My next Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense, Plain Cover-Up, is due out in August 2016. I have another due out sometime next year. I'm currently writing it!

Over the winter, I had the chance to write something completely different. Both my daughters dance competitively, and I had a story idea bouncing around in my head for years. I was thrilled to sell Pointe and Shoot, a dance mystery with romantic elements, to Waterfall Press, Amazon Publishing's Christian imprint. I like to call it my Dance Moms meets Blue Bloods story. I hope you also check that out when it's released on October 4, 2016. It's already up for pre-order at: amzn.to/23KxVLa

You can read my review at the following link…
(I rated it 4.5 - TOP PICK/5 stars.)

Amazon link for purchase…

About Alison...

Alison Stone left Buffalo, New York and headed 1000 miles south to earn an industrial engineering degree at Georgia Tech in Hotlanta. Go Yellow Jackets! She loved the South, but you love brought her back North.

After the birth of her second child, Alison left Corporate America for full-time motherhood. She credits an advertisement for writing children's books for sparking her interest in writing. She never did complete a children's book, but she did have success writing articles for local publications before finding her true calling, writing romantic suspense.

Alison lives in Western New York, with her husband of twenty-plus years and their four children, where the summers are actually gorgeous and the winters are perfect for curling up with a good book — or writing one.

Besides writing, Alison keeps busy volunteering at her children's schools, driving her girls to dance, and watching her boys race motocross.

Where you can find her online…

Twitter:     https://twitter.com/Alison_Stone (@Alison_Stone)

You can sign up for her newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/berYBH

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Writing Prompt Wednesday

If you're feeling stuck in your WIP (work in progress) or just want to shake things up a bit, here's something different to try today:

Write a haiku about your favorite season.

Happy writing!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tuesday Tip: Flashbacks (back story)

In general, it is not a good idea to start a book with back story. This could confuse your reader and possibly cause them to stop reading before they even get started. If you are determined to begin with a flashback, you may want to consider using a prologue.

Flashbacks are a useful way to tell the reader about the character's motivation, but if not used appropriately, the scene can be slowed down. Be sure information is not just given in one big chunk.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Life Verse Creative Journal Set by Jana Magruder and Morgan Grace Magruder

I was very excited to receive this journaling set in the mail. I enjoy the new adult coloring trend, and I also do Bible journaling.  I felt that this set would be a perfect complement for both of them. I was correct :-) The small size of this journal makes it extremely portable, but don’t let the size fool you, as there is a lot packed in little book. The journal encourages creativity and provides an easy way to add a daily dose of Scripture, as well as meditation, to your day. There are numerous images to color, and some have blank places for the reader to add in their own touch to the included picture. A number of popular verses are included. The set also comes with a completely blank journal to use. This would make a wonderful gift for just about anyone.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, May 13, 2016

"Hearts Tightly Knit" by Jodie Wolfe

In celebration of her latest release, Jodie has graciously offered to give away a copy of the book (US Only). To enter, see the Rafflecopter box at the bottom of this post. (Contest ends May 20, 2016.) If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information. Good luck!

A Word from Jodie...

For this story, I wondered what would happen if twin sisters made a vow to never marry. What would they do if a man came into one of their lives? Next I started looking for photos to use for my characters to help me picture them. Then I researched things about the time period and had a brief outline in my mind of what would happen. Although my characters often tend to change things around on me. J

Back cover blurb...

Orphaned at age ten, Ellie Stafford and her twin sister Mae made a vow—to stick together and never marry. Nothing will ever come between them. Now in their mid-twenties, they are bucking convention in Calder Springs, Texas, as women with respectable occupations who can take care of themselves. Ellie works at the Good Fixin's Diner and spends her evenings knitting garments for The Children's Aid Society. When a handsome local rancher shows up searching for a cook, she's hardly even tempted.
Luke Rogers owns a spread just outside of Calder Springs. It was running as smooth as cattle going through a chute until his cook up and marries the local widow and high-tails it back east. With no cook and a bunkhouse full of ranch hands ready to revolt, he persuades Ellie to temporarily fill-in until he can hire someone else. He should have known better than to get tangled up with another woman.

Q & A with Jodie...

Q:  What would you be doing if you were not an author?
A:  Wow, that's a difficult question to answer since I've always wanted to write. I did spend 16+ years homeschooling my two sons. Does that count? J

Q: It certainly does! How did you start writing?
A:  I remember writing my first poem in second grade. It was about Snoopy. In elementary school I wrote little stories and illustrated them. Then when I turned 13, I started writing a mystery for teens. I tweaked it in my high school years. I guess you could say writing has always been in my blood.

Q:  What are your thoughts on the publishing industry in general? In relation to self-publishing?
A:  The publishing industry is difficult to break into. My agent and I are still knocking on those doors and waiting for God's timing. If you asked me a year ago if I'd ever self-publish, I would have said no. LOL. But then one of the group blogs I write for wanted to do a collection together, so I prayed about it and felt God leading me in that direction, so here I am. J

Q:  What advice you have for new authors?
A:  Make sure you cover your writing in prayer. Be open to learning and growing as a writer, even when critiques can be painful.

Q:  What is your favorite writing-related book?
A:  I'd have to say The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.

Q:  What can you tell me about your next project?
A:  I actually have two. Ellie's twin, Mae, will have her own story coming out in November called Love in the Seams. I also am working on a story set in the town where I live. It's been a lot of fun researching and learning more about it. Each time I drive downtown I can picture my story in my mind.

Q:  Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
A:  Right now it's Hebrews 11:1 - "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." (NLT)

Q:  What's a book you wish you'd written?
A:  That's a hard one. I'd have to say A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter. She has such a way with words.

Q:  What is your favorite book character (can be yours or someone else's)?
A:  Another hard question to ask a writer. In this book, my favorite character would have to be Ellie. J 

Thanks so much for stopping by, Jodie. I'm sure my readers will enjoy getting to know you a bit better, as well as about your latest release :)

Purchase link...

About Jodie...

Jodie Wolfe got bitten by the writing bug as a young girl after reading and watching Little House on the Prairie. She loves writing stories about feisty heroines and strong, godly heroes. The power of story to influence lives and change hearts is what motivates her to weave tales that tell of the Savior’s faithfulness and forgiveness. Her books provide history, hope, laughter, and happily-ever-after. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her husband, reading, walking and being a grammie.

Where you can find Jodie online:

Blogs I contribute to: Stitches Thru Time, Putting on the New and of course, Quid Pro Quills.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

"5 Minutes with Jesus" by Sheila Walsh

My Review...

This devotional is filled with inspirational tales to help increase and develop the reader’s relationship with Jesus. It contains 50 short, powerful readings which are to the point, making them very easy to fit into a busy schedule. Each devotion has a story, a summary, and then scriptures. There is no need for the reader to look up verses, as is the case with many devotionals. The author includes stories which are likely to be relatable to the reader. Various topics are addressed, and it really does take five minutes daily!  Walsh’s book is encouraging, which would make this book a wonderful gift idea, as well. I would certainly recommend this book, as it was just what I was expecting.

Disclaimer: I received a free e-book copy from the publisher as part of the Booklook Bloggers Program in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon link for purchase...

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Writing Prompt Wednesday

If you're feeling stuck in your WIP (work in progress) or just want to shake things up a bit, here's a prompt to try today:

Why is is that...

Happy writing!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Monday Motivation

Some motivation to begin your week:

"Reading usually proceeds writing, and the impulse to write is almost always fired by reading. Reading, the love of reading, is what makes you dream of becoming a writer."
              — Susan Sontag

So, what will you be reading and writing this week?

Have a wonderful week!

Friday, May 6, 2016

"Song of Silence" by Cynthia Ruchti (Litfuse Blog Tour) - a music-themed GIVEAWAY!

Song of Silence Cynthia Ruchti

My Review...

Lucy Tuttle followed in her father’s footsteps. She has spent her life teaching music. When her position is eliminated (riffed), everything changes in an instant. Just as her retired husband is discovering his passion, Lucy is losing hers. Nothing in her life is going as planned, and her family is at a loss for how to encourage her, particularly as depression is setting in. The music in Lucy’s life begins to fade and an accident threatens her song, possibly forever. Will she be able to find a new purpose in life, or will her passion be silenced?

This is a prime example of Ruchti’s “hemmed in hope” stories. Beautiful prose and raw emotions combine in this highly engaging and uplifting tale. As a former teacher and a life-long music lover, many parts of this story resonate with me. I love the meaning behind the title. The characters face genuine situations, and the secondary characters are well integrated. Ruchti addresses the sad reality of budget cuts, particularly in the area of the arts, in schools today. Lucy is a prime example of how one’s influence on others may not always be obvious, and the cover is a perfect fit. If you have ever struggled with life’s detours, this is definitely a book to check out. I read hundreds of books every year, and this has definitely earned a place in my top five for the year!

Some of my favorite quotes include:

·         “Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.”
·         “Even for burdens we’re forced to carry, we have to set them down once in a while… it’s the only way we’ll have the endurance to pick them up again and keep going longer.”

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the publisher as part of the Litfuse Blogger Program in exchange for an honest review.

To purchase a copy...

About Cynthia...

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope. She is the award-winning author of 17 books and a frequent speaker for women's ministry events. She serves as the Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers, where she helps retailers, libraries, and book clubs connect with the authors and books they love. She lives with her husband in Central Wisconsin.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

"The Prince Warriors" by Priscilla Shirer and Gina Detwiler

Xavier and Evan realize that there is a larger battle going on than most siblings experience. Evan is reading a book about a fierce warrior who is a prince and lives in Ahoratos, a land filled with beautiful castles and mountains. The book seems to come to life, and the brothers find themselves in Ahoratos, where they meet their guide Ruwach. He informs them that they are princes who must always be equipped with their armor, as the battle and enemy are real in Ahoratos. Cryptic messages and biblical truths are given to them throughout the story. Will it help them with their battles?

This is the first book in the “Prince Warriors” series, and it is based on Ephesians 6:10-18. It is designed for middle grade readers (ages eight through twelve), but it could be enjoyed by adults, too. It is appropriate for boys and girls. The characters and dialogue are realistic in this quick read. The characters show the reader the power of prayer and remind them that everyone is designed to be a warrior. There are some illustrations and strong spiritual tie-ins.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon link for purchase:

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tuesday Tip: Misplaced Colons

Tuesday Tip
If you have a list that is an object of a verb or preposition, a colon is not needed in your sentence.

Example: If you are going on the field trip, please bring your lunch, a swimsuit, sunscreen, and your permission slip.   
(In this sentence, the list is the object of the verb "to bring.")

Example: When you get on the bus, be sure to give your permission slip to Marcy, Stephen, or Jeremiah.  
( In this sentence, the list is the object of the preposition "to.") 

To be on the safe side, use the phrase "as the following" or "as follows" before a colon.