Spellbinding stories of mystic love and soulful hope . . .

Posts tagged ‘tender graces’

Audio books at Audible on sale for one week, including a couple of mine

Morning all y’allses wunnerfuls! Peeking in here as I do from time to time to post off-schedule about book deals and such, really the only time I will yappity do dah day about my books on social networking is when I have some news!

Audible.com, an Amazon division, is having a promotion on some of its audio books. Two of my novels, and the anthology with Petey in it are in that promo.

They’ve lowered the audio prices to $5.95. Dang!

So, if you’ve never tried an audio book (I haven’t and with this sale I am going to try some books!), or if you like audio books, now’d be a good time to go for it.

What I love about this is that it also supports the Voice Artists, who work so very hard -harder than I ever imagined or knew! They are wonderful!

Tender Graces audio book. Narrated by Mia Bankston

Sweetie audio book. Narrated by Ann M. Richardson

The Firefly Dance (with novella Petey) audio book. Narrated by Frances Fuller

All right, that’s it! See y’all next Friday with: Photos: No Words.

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for all your support and all you do. *muwah!*

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Classroom: Do your research to gain trust with your reader, yawwwwl

Morning Y’allses! Guess where I am while you are reading this? In Oregon! Lawdy but I’m far away from my little log house. GMR and the dawgs and the ghost dawg have the house and cove all to themselves and I bet they miss my pea-headed s’ef.  So, for this post, I’m a’trying to post ahead of time. Just think, as I’m typing this I’m in the little log house, but as you read it, I’m in Oregon. Wheeee ain’t technology grand?

Folkses, as you all may be able to tell from reading my posts on writing, I can be strict about some thangs. I try to have things Right. I want to convince my audience, and you should, too!

With fiction, bring in truths to ground the reader—and whatever those truths are will be  up to the writer to convey them. The amount of danged old research we do will have much to do with the place/time we create. My worlds have been and are in South Louisiana, West Virginia, and here in these western North Carolina mountains. My time has been from the 50’s to the present. My research will deal with that time and place.

If I’m writing about a real town, I need to be accurate about that town to honor its people and sense of Place–I wouldn’t have New Orleans as the capital of Louisiana–lawd!–because it is Baton Rouge; I wouldn’t have Maggie Valley with a McDonald’s because we do not have fast food joints in Maggie (except for one lonely Subway, and who knows how it managed to find its way here). If I’m writing about a fictional town based on a real town, I have a little more flexibility, but I still need to be mindful. Most of my books do not mention specific towns, but my readers can often guess where I am talking about, or place my characters in a specific area that they can relate to.

If you’ses have yourse’f a world that’s all made up, like “Madeupland,” you still must ground the reader in some reality, yawwwl, right? riigghhht! So there will be some research even if it’s minor. Mainly, if you have a “Madeupland” you best be consistent–I tell you what!

All you’ses wunnerfuls out there have seen me write this before: Convince your audience and you’ve done your job, no matter how, what, where, when, who you write. Throw all the danged ole rules out the window for all I care—just convince me, or you lose me as your reader.

Sometimes you may think you have something correct, but you do not! oopsies! It doesn’t hurt to double-check those things you “remember” or “think you know.” I had Tang in a Tender Graces scene–later, it began to bug me, when was Tang invented? I looked it up and Lawd!, it wasn’t released to the general public until sometime after my scene–the astronauts had it first.

Whenever I mentioned a movie or a television show or a football game, I made sure I had it Right. Folkses, you don’t EVEN want to go messing with South Louisiana and have their LSU Tigers game days, or anything else, wrong–lawd! I can’t have my South Louisiana town’s team playing  Old Miss in September when they didn’t play until later in the season, or have them playing in town when it was an out of town game. I can’t have the movie Rocky coming out in March of 1976 (in Secret Graces), because it didn’t release until December 1976. Look It Up and double check–our memories are wankity.

You can play around with research to enhance your books. Was there a significant weather event that would change something with my characters or their Place? Or make something fun/interesting? (Like the South Louisiana Hurricane mention in TG when Mee Maw comes to visit—category five Grandmother.) Or, if in the holler in West Virginia there was a bad snow storm, Katie Ivene wouldn’t be flying to town in her Rambler with the windows open yelling “wheeee!” I found sites that show historical weather. I love those little details even if only I know that on April 13, 1976, it really was 82 degrees and foggy in a town in South Louisiana (I use weather more as a mood or as Place or whatever, not that I go around quoting weather).

Little details help the reader to “Be There” with the character, to ground them in a place or time or mood, maybe even to have them say, “I know that place/event/area!” “Hey, I remember that!”

Don’t rely on only one source. I do the best I can to make sure I have everything as accurate as possible—because you are worth my time and care, you being the reader. Often, I double and triple check my sources.

Will someone find an error if they go through my books with a fine-toothed eye? I don’t know, but it won’t be for lack of me working hard and doing my job best I can. I don’t respect lazy writing and I know it when I read it.

When and how you do your research is up to you. Do what works.

Don’t cheat. Don’t be lazy. It’s worth it to build trust with your readers. Do you want your reader to stop and say, “Hey, wait a minute! This ain’t right . . .” and bump them from your world, your story? Naw! And more important to me: I want my reader to trust me and to forget about me and only focus on the narrator and the story.

Do you make sure you have things Right and build trust? Does your work require extensive research, or just a bit?

See all y’allses wunnerfuls later!

Don’t forget: I changed my blog posting schedule for my Classroom series & I am your Personal Trainer series, etc, to the first and third Wednesdays of the month, with Friday open to photos/art/video: no words. So there will only be posts twice a month, and on most Fridays, photos/video/art with no words.

Friday Photos/Video: Cove Walk & Novelists Who Can’t Sing & Et Cetera

A novelist and her laptop – a love story Part One – to be continued . . .

I am The Worst Dang Singer EVER . . . I dare you to post YOUR singing – haw!


My brother composed this music for Virginia Kate

My debut novel Tender Graces and the video Bellebooks made – I was so excited!

Then when Secret Graces came out, I tried to make one – lawdy!

Okay all y’allses – I have a visitor coming who has never been to the states! Then, I’ll be flying out, leaving GMR and the dawgs here, to visit my Granddaughter, Son, and DIL in Oregon. I am hoping to post ahead of time for my first and third of the month posts -Don’t Forget Me! :D (Note new posting schedule to the right – )


Friday Photos (and a free Kindle book for mother’s day) . . .

A bit of news first – I passed this news on at my facebook page (come ‘friend’ me if you like!- I’m rather shy so I mostly stand on the corner waiting for people to come to me *laugh*), and will do so here – either Amazon, or Bellebooks, has put my first novel – the first in the trilogy – Tender Graces – on a free promo for two days only (far as I know)  – yesterday and today. It’s for a Mother’s Day promo (there are strong mother-daughter themes in the trilogy), and as a “launch celebration” for Family Graces release. I always love passing on promos, and you all know it’s difficult for me to post/talk about my books–lawdy be in  a bucket!

Tender Graces, back when it was first released, became a Kindle best-seller – hitting number 1 over The Help on the Kindle Paid list of top 100 for  a while there – it was most exciting! It then hovered there in the top 5 for a while, and that was quite exciting, too.

Now, on the Free list, it is hovering at No 1 on contemporary fiction and No 4 on over-all kindle books–this does help with people seeing an author, I do believe, but whether it does or does not, it’s a great promo for readers to try out an author. So, thank you to all you who have downloaded my Virginia Kate — I hope you enjoy it and if so, you will perhaps read the rest of the trilogy! *smiling warmly* And if you want to try out my books without risk, here’s your chance.

There is much debate about “free books” and I won’t go into what I think or don’t think or in between–but, those promos are here to stay, I do believe, and at best they give readers a chance to check out an author and as a Thank You for reading our work. At worst – well, I’m not going there because that’s not what this is about!

If you have  B&N Nook, then it is not free but it’s there as well. I want to give a shout out to Barnes & Noble, and the indie bookstores — I support them, as well, and all they do for authors.

Now . . . Photos of the day: Spider Webs

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Wednesday F4A: I am your guinea pig: Agadir Argan Oil Line (and a note about Family Graces)

(I apologize if those of you who subscribe by email receive this twice! I accidentally hit “publish” last night instead of “draft” – lawd!)

I am in love with Agadir Argan Oil line of products. On two earlier “product review” posts, I happily talked up Agadir shampoo and conditioner, and the Agadir Argan oil.

While strolling about CVS in Waynesville–okay, I don’t get out much y’allses — huhn, so CVS is close by and it has stuff in it and I can gawk and meander and look and sometimes buy something. Even though GMR has accused me of going all “girly-fied” lately. Huhn. What-EVER.

Annnyyyywaaaaay, I happened upon this lovely wonderful sight: Agadir styling mousse . . . be still my beating hair follicles! I grabbed it and with no shame whatsoever paid the full price for it instead of going through Amazon (where I see it is cheaper – if you receive free shipping) as I did with the shampoo and conditioner. But I wanted it Then. I felt completely spoiled–though may I just say and of course I may, that I have come to adore Agadir products and they are worth every penny (Dear Agadir, please do not raise your prices–do not toy with me!). Not only do they make my hair feel wonderful, but the scent is exotic and clean and soothing to my pea-headed brain.

What they sayMoisturizes, conditions, smoothes, humidity resistant. No build up and gives super shine to dry, damaged, stressed hair. Protects hair against chemicals and hot tools. Great aroma that will waken your senses! Paraben free. 24 hour, lasting shine. Enriched with antioxidants and Vitamin E. With protective sunscreen. Sulfate free. Anti color fade for long, lasting hair color. Great body, volume & shine. Hydrates, smoothes, detangles, controls frizz.

What I love about it: Every.Little.Thang!

What I do not like about it: There’s nothing so far that I can say negative. If I had one teeny thing, even though I said it’s worth every penny and it is; well, folkses, it is a bit more than some of the other “over the counter” brands and more in line with “Beauty salon” items. But again, worth the money in how it makes my hair look, feel, smell. Whoopeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

You will only need a bit of the mousse – so be careful. I splorked a big-arse glob of it onto my hand, accidentally. It’s thick and creamy-rich–feels like a cream instead of a mousse. I put it all in my  hair because I didn’t want to waste it, but it was a bit much, so I’ll be careful next time. The scent is the same as with the other products, and I had a whiff of it all day as I went about my business.

I have baby fine hair, but this product, even though it has the word “oil” in it, does not weigh down my hair.

I can’t say enough good things about this product.

Now, while I am here, might as well tell you that FAMILY GRACES is on Amazon Kindle; it’s there in trade paperback, too, but since the release date isn’t quite “official” yet, there’re still doing their thang and all (the trade paperback is at BelleBooks/Bell Bridge books now and they always enjoy readers contacting them, of course!) It should be out in all the usual places soon. I guess they are trying something different by slipping in the kindle book first–I do not know!

I’m excited and terrified that it’s finally out *pant pant pant!* – My goal (and I have no control over it, so I guess it’s more of a hope than a goal *laugh*) is for it to reach the top 100 of Kindle – or as Tender Graces did, the No 1 spot on the Kindle paid bestseller’s list—yes, TG was No 1 over The Help for a little bit–lawdy! Ohhhhh doggies, wouldn’t that be excitervating? :-D

So, at last–  my Virginia Kate Sagas, the Grace’s Trilogy, is at last complete. What a journey. It feel so bittersweet. I spoke of this hope and love for the characters and writing here when this blog was MSN spaces, so some of you may remember those days *smiling*

I’ve loved this character dearly. I’ve loved writing about her and all the others. She has been such a part of my life — I think I just may cry. And here they are–the three books that I have spent so much time with. The entire trilogy. Lawd. *sniffle* I’ll miss you Virginia Kate . . . Micah, Andy, Bobby, Rebekha, Katie Ivene, Frederick, Mee Maw, Miss Darla, Amy and “Mr. Husband” Campinelle, Jade, Soot and Marco–and all the rest.

Friday Linky/Video Love: Books, Eagles, Give-aways, and Owls, et cetera!

C.G. Blake is not only a nice man, and writes up thoughtful reviews on books (including Tender Graces, thank you CG!), but he has written a wonderful coming of age/family saga called Small Change. I so enjoyed his book.   I’m waiting for him to write more about this family.

If you haven’t yet seen it, check out the Alcoa Bald Eagle live webcam, where you can watch a pair of eagles and their little ones–love this. “A pair of bald eagles joined the Alcoa Davenport community in Iowa in 2009. They built their 7-foot nest on our 400-acre facility in a tree near the Mississippi River. In the spring of 2010 they fledged a pair of eaglets and later that year we installed our first Eaglecam. We recently launched a new camera with improved video streaming. Employees and the community helped name the eagle pair Liberty and Justice.”

writers at work at last year's Fairhope secret hide-away

Since I will be at the Fairhope conference and leaving poor GMR and doggies in the little log house in the cove without  me so that they will surely miss my chaoticnessnessess, I am typing this ahead of time, so hope you all checked out the beautiful Sharla’s authors on parade, where on Thursday (yesterday) the prize was a copy of my soon-to-be-released Family Graces. Can’t wait to see who won a copy! FG isn’t out yet, but will be this spring. While there, check out my good friend and colleague Sharla’s blog and news about her upcoming new release The Reason is You– my blurb of it is on the back, teeheehee! :-D It’s a kick-arse book, y’all. L O V E D it!

And, at Amy Nathan’s place I have donated a copy of a signed Tender Graces for her: Put On Your Fancy Hats! It’s Women’s Fiction Writers 1-Year Blogiversary Mega Book Giveaway! I adore Amy’s blog–check out her author series. She’s truly a supporter of authors, writers, women, and I appreciate her!

My friend (Hi Angie!) sent this video to me “of a very high speed camera. Watch his feathers in the last few seconds.”


There are more at Vurtrunner on YouTube.

I hope to have other posts up before I leave, but if not, I hope to be posting from Fairhope. Or a little of both. For now, I must get back to the galley proof of Family Graces, for right now it is not yet Friday-oh wait, it is Friday where you are sitting but right  at this moment, back in time, where I am now sitting it is not Friday, but as you read this it is, but . . .  — lawd! I have a headache! Have a wonderful weekend, y’allses!

Monday Classroom: Are you bored with your manuscript?

You stare at your computer screen, willing yourself to open the manuscript you’ve been working on, or start that new story/novel/whatever. Instead, you surf the net, check your email, tweet, Pin some inneresting stuff onto Pinterest, read Facebook updates and then update how you need to get back to writing—hahaha—but—hahaha—you’re just so distracted—hahaha—and well it’s soooo haaarrrd being a writer–hahaha, eat last night’s leftovers and the Hubig’s pie that’s still half-frozen (don’t judge me, ungh!), call out in a strong and determined holler, “What? What? Did you call me? Here I am! I thought sure I heard you say to come here. No? Well I heard something. Huhn. Isn’t that funny? Well, since I’m already here, I guess I’ll just scrub out the sink, la la la tee dah scrub scrub la la scrub la la la. I just looooove a clean sink; don’t you?”

Sometimes you may feel as if you want to ditch the entire manuscript, stomp off, and never open up that word document again. You may think, “I am B O R E D, b-o-r-e-d, bored.”

Welp, my good friends, let’s first consider that “boredom” may not be the real problem. ‘Kay? Imagine my benevolent head hovering over your shoulder, smiling encouragement and . . . okay, that’s kind of disturbing an image, so, um . . . anyway . . .

If you lose motivation to keep writing on a project (or finishing any project—like renewing your driver’s license because you keep failing the online test because you can’t remember all that crap and what’s a point anyway? Ungh.), maybe you do need a break—so yeah, go clean out the sink, watch brain-emptying television, read a book (which you should be doing anyway *giving you The Eye*), do some research, take a long walk somewhere quiet and restive, take a shower (unfortunately, no one’s yet, that I know of, invented waterproof pen and paper to take notes of the BRILLIANT ideas that come while you are washing your hair . . . lawd), et cetera. You can also try working on something else for a while, then go back to your original project. I find, as well, that starting at the beginning of my novel/novella/short story/essay and reading it from Word One spurs off more ideas, thoughts, and brings renewed energy to the project—it reminds me of why I wanted to write it in the first place, what brought me to these characters, setting, and situation. I fall in love all over again—oh siigghhhhh *little cute hearts abound*

If you are still unmotivated, maybe it’s time to consider why? If you are truly bored by your work and are not excited about working on it despite all my kick-arse ideas (hey! Who said that? They are, too!), will your readers feel that boredom as well? Hmmm? Think about it—if we are bored and uninspired by our work, how much more so will our readers feel this way? Believe me, it shows in our work. Our attitudes about character, place, scene, setting, tone, et cetera, will manifest into our Product. We should be the first champions, the first lovers of, the first excited readers of our work. Does this mean we’re always WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP *happy dance la la la laaaa!* about our work—naw, but you and I know when all the air’s been let loose from the balloon and what’s left is a sad limp wrinkled rubbery thang.

Perhaps you are stuck on a scene or chapter—then move on to the next one. Perhaps a character isn’t ringing true—ask yourself why; are you forcing your will onto the character instead of letting them be who they are? Do you have some “agenda” for that character that is your agenda and not what the character would ever care about? Be careful when you try to “get a message across” to your readers, for it can set you up for wooden prose and wooden characters.

Bluebird of happiness won't crap on your shoulder!

Perhaps you are simply discombobulated (oh how I love that word! Let’s say it together: dis-com-bob-u-lated—teehehee) or tired—go take a nap, sleep a good night’s sleep (don’t underestimate the importance of sleep—sometimes things Come To Me after a good night’s rest; a solution, where I go HEY! Whoop! Bingo!). Maybe you are stressed about that “$*%&$*% (that’s a curse word—oh, you knew that, well ex-scuuuuuse me) editor/taskmaster on your shoulder, so lower the stakes a little—don’t let yourself become so worried about where the book is going after you complete it (read that again—don’t let yourself become so worried about where the book is going after you complete it) and instead again find the joy of writing and creating—be In The Moment *cue new age music here.*

Maybe you need to hit the good ole delete key and be rid of some dead-weighted text. Oh, the delete key can be our friend—no really! I’ve grown to rather like that ole delete key. Look at it—give it a pet, stroke the key and say, “the pweshush, oh the pweshush.” I’ve deleted entire chapters, thousands of words, and after that, felt a renewed energy for the work. Keeping what doesn’t work, what bores us or stalls us will do us no good. There are always more words—trust yourself and the process. You can always save the deleted words in case you decide you want them after all—but guess what? Most times you won’t miss them. Really! You doubt me? *trap door opens, you fall into dungeon*

metaphor for bright shiny thoughts

It’s okay to be stuck with your work at times. It’s okay to feel frustrated. It’s okay to put it away and work on something else for a bit. It’s okay to hate being a writer sometimes. It’s okay to stomp your feet and raise a fist to the sky and ask, “WHY DO I DO THIS? WHY WHY WHY OH WHYYYYYYYYYY DO I TORTURE MYSELF IN THIS WAY? I SUCK; MY WORK SUCKS; BEING A WRITER SUCKS! SANCTUARY SANCTUARY!” Yes, it’s perfectly normal and fine to feel that way, as long as you don’t let it overtake you, consume you, have you arrested for climbing atop some building and rending your garments. As long as you scream and stomp and angst and feel depressed and feel defeated and feel horrid and yucky and icky and poodly doo doo pee-pee-poo-poo doody head, and Then You Go Back To The Work.

Now, go stomp up a hissy fit and then take a deep breath and fall in love with your characters and their stories all over again.

Oh! and here is the book-cover for my new novel Family Graces (which, by the way, gave me ten kinds of unholy hell, but I finally found what I was looking for–don’t give up on what you know is viable work). This is the last book in the Graces (Virginia Kate) Saga Trilogy. It will be released in spring. And you know, I’m grieving in a way–I know that sounds crazy, but I’m going to miss writing about Virginia Kate and all the others. She, and they, have been with me for years. Tender Graces was my very first ever novel to write! *sad face* So, at last, the Graces Trilogy complete:

Now Go Do The Day! And tell me, how do you inspire yourself to go back to work?

Monday Classroom: Tic Words, Similes, Ignoring Advice until . . .

Morning, y’all. Time for Monday Classroom!

Filler words. Tic words. Most all of us use them; although, the more you practice your craft and Recognize/Pay Attention to what you are writing/saying and how you are crafting your prose, the more you will be aware of filler or unnecessary or tic words. Yet, they do creep in when we are writing as we naturally speak (or as the character speaks), especially when “free-writing” that first draft, or writing in a casual loose way as we do in blog posts, or letters, et cetera. But the idea I try to push to you in my Monday Classroom posts is for things to become “second nature” – instinctual – in your writing, so that it carries over naturally into everything you do (mostly! :-D).

Some “tic” words: little, just, that, so, then, very, really—to name a few. It doesn’t mean you never use these words, it means to make sure you aren’t peppering your manuscript with unnecessary words that, well, aren’t necessary. Do a search for “so” or “just” or “very” and see how many come up—sometimes I use them on purpose, but it’s the “on purpose” that makes the difference, you see? In Family Graces, Adin says “very really much” – on purpose, though I tried not to do this so often it became distracting. In the South we often use “a little bit” or other colloquialisms—but again, “on purpose,” and as well, again, using them in a way that doesn’t distract your reader by overuse, or mindless use.

In Tender Graces/Secret Graces (oh dear, did I do it for Family Graces, erkity dang I don’t remember!) I did a search for “felt” and was amazed at how many times Virginia Kate said she felt something instead of showing the action of her “feeling it.” Sure, sometimes “felt” fits, but in many of the incidences I used “felt,” I was able to delete it along with several other words and instead make the action active instead of passive. How much better to have the character actually feel something rather than saying the character felt it, right?

Kathryn felt her stomach growling but she wanted to finish this blog post and besides she sure ate a lot over the weekend for her birthday (*birthday plug here even though she is already on cloud nine with birthday wishes on FB/twitter/email/phone/mail, but she’s greedy-guts – just a danged ole greedy guts who can’t get enough attention–dang her hide!*). *Wishes had more of those waffles GMR prepared for her yesterday–and notice the word “prepared” instead of “made,” huh? huh? notice?*

Kathryn’s stomach growled, but . . .

I once read a book peppered with “suddenly” – Suddenly, someone grabbed her arm; suddenly, the wind came; suddenly, she ran to meet her friend; suddenly, the car rounded the corner. Consider your manuscript—do you really need that “suddenly” when the action and/or dialogue itself can show immediacy? Virginia Kate has a “VK’ism” where she says, “All a sudden,” and like Adin’s “very really much” above, it’s On Purpose.  But, yeah, watch those “suddenly’s,” y’all, and instead create the Action itself.

What about those similes? (which are often clichés if we aren’t careful): “Her hair was like an old frayed rope and she re-climbed it to get away from that prince dude she thought was her savior, but the tower was actually not so bad after all . . . .” Simile – when you use “like a” or “as a.” When I go through my manuscript, I really do try to watch for overuse of simile and metaphor—because boy did/do I tend to over-use them (hopes I do not now—wonders if should check latest manuscript but it’s already in copy-editing stage, dang! Wonders if remembered to check all these things in latest manuscript–dang.). I will note here that I use “as if” and “as” much more then “like” – as in, example:

Kat typed like she wasn’t in a hurry but she was because her stomach growled mean and hateful—her guts are in an uproar, shouting and stamping and storming the castle because the Prince is pissed off that the Repunz rejected him.

I use “as if” instead: Kat typed as if (or as though) she wasn’t in a hurry . . .

Create a Good Draft with freedom and abandon (unless you are an organizational type person who cannot write in this way). Personally, I ignore advice until I have a good solid Draft; I mean a GOOD solid DraftPersonally I think we writers give out too much advice, but dang, we love talking about language and writing! And really, we want to put a fire in your belly; at least I want to put a fire in your belly! Read your manuscript with a critical eye and tighten it, tighten it. Sure, we’ll always have “extra filler words” or use too many similes or use passive phrasing instead of direct action; after all, who is Perfect? And if we spend all of our time creating Perfection in our manuscripts, we’ll never be able to say, “I’m done . . . ” and then do the Happy Dance of Whoop Whoop Whooop as we gaze lovingly at our Completed Manuscript. However, the more you know, the more power you have to manipulate your words and the language. Right? Right!

Once again, as I always write to you: Know the rules so you can break them. Be aware of “tic” words. Practice your craft. Read with a critical eye. Pay Attention.

What are your “tic” words or phrases? Will you have a fire in your belly?

Monday Classroom: So, you want to write? . . . Then, come on with me and do it. (Voice/Style/Setting/Tone/Dialogue)

 Practice

Just as any musician, athlete, artist, Olympian gold medalist, blacksmith, butcher, baker, candle-stick-maker, must practice their craft, and practice often to become better at what they do, so must the writer. The more you write, the more you will understand just what it is you are doing and why. Of course there are the mysteries. I love the mysteries, too—those things we do that come just from the instinctual/natural and no matter how much someone else may practice, they may never break through that wall that some achieve more easily and naturally. But with practice comes confidence.

If you could read the original Virginia Kate story compared to what would become The Graces Trilogy, you’d laugh. Oh, the writing isn’t really bad (uh huh, some of it is, Kat), but everything is just Wrong. I cut my teeth on what would become Tender Graces, and then the others followed. But that first novel was an experiment, a beginning. It allowed me to learn about dialogue, setting, tone, point of view. It allowed me to “find my voice,” and as important, to find the character’s, Virginia Kate’s, voice. (And by the way, yes sometimes your first novels are published, as mine was.)

When I was younger I used to try to write as other writers did. I’d read a good book and then try to sound something like that author. I did that until one day my own voice, my own style, my Own emerged. Something clicked and it felt Right. I began to better understand what I was writing and how and why. I felt more comfortable with the language, with my language.

Finding your voice–

When you are not so “self-conscious” about what or how you are writing and just let the words come, you will “find your voice.” It isn’t some magical thing—just be who you are. Find a quiet space and then allow yourself to write the words without worry over how they read (sound) or without worry over who will read and like it/hate it/not care one way or t’other–this is the time to experiment, to be free to see where all this Goes. Most important, don’t think too far ahead of yourself. If you let yourself become worked up over “Who’s going to want to publish this drivel?” you may find the urge to write what you think someone else wants to hear. Set the words on the page without stopping to over-think it—your own voice will come through. After you finish, you can then revise. See “practice” above.

Finding the character’s Voice–

Your character must tell his/her own story in his/her own unique way. You must step out of the way and let them emerge. I want readers to be able to know who a character is without me having to identify them. I could take out all the taglines between Sweetie and Melissa (in my novel Sweetie) and in most, if not all, instances, you will know who is speaking just by their “voices” – who they are and how they speak. You don’t want everyone to sound alike, do you?

 Style–

The way the writer writes – use of the language/words – the unique way each writer has, just as the unique way a painter paints, or a dancer dances. The “voice” (above), if you will. One day, someone will tell you: “Before I even saw who wrote this, I knew it was your work.” And when I am told this, I feel a sense of gratitude and happiness–it is a supreme compliment. Our style is our handprint, our fingerprint, on the work. It is ours and no one can do it quite like us.

 Setting–

This is the where and when of your story. For example: a small mountain town in 1966; one stormy night spent in a boat on the sea; a house on a hill in the middle of winter. (This also can set the “tone” of the story.) To me, Setting is as important as character, or even in some way, a character. The mountain in the Graces Trilogy is almost as if another character, as is the lonely house on the hill, Momma’s little white house in the holler, for they set mood (tone), have “personalities,” and are as important to Virginia Kate, and the story, as her human supporting characters.

Tone–

The “feel” or “mood” or “atmosphere” of the story (see above). Set the tone at the beginning of the story–by the way you write it, your reader will anticipate “what kind of story” to expect or how they will feel while reading it.

Dialogue–

You do not have to repeat what’s already been told in your narrative—use dialogue to move the story along, or to develop your character(s), not just to hear them talk back and forth as we would in real life because you think you should have some dialogue thrown in there. Dialogue is also a wonderful way to show your characters’ personalities, quirks, etc etc etc. Don’t put yourself in the story–let your characters speak for themselves. Listen to them. Don’t force your characters to say something that feels wrong or unnatural (or if you have a rant or “lesson” you want to project through your character–no no!). And remember, your readers won’t be fooled by your trying to fool them into believing something unbelievable just because it is easier for you to have that particular (implausible) thing happen instead of thinking the scene through—like dumping a bunch of information in the dialogue because you want the reader to “know” something; don’t be a “lazy” writer.

Do your research

Not only when you write something technical or informational, but in general, make sure you are accurate, for if you make mistakes, the reader may no longer trust you. If I say that the capital of Louisiana is New Orleans, then many people may not completely trust what else I have to say, since the capital of Louisiana is of course Baton Rouge. If I talk about clothing/food/drink/models of cars/hairstyles, etc, I do my research even when I think I know it from memory–memory is a tricky thing. Same goes with figures of speech, pop phrases, music, et cetera. There have been times I thought sure I knew something was correct and I’ll be danged turned out I was wrong. We aren’t perfect and we do make mistakes; so again, don’t be a “lazy” writer.

And finally, Rules are made to be broken

If you break them, do it well; do it with confidence; do it so that the reader loves you for it.

We hear this a lot: Never Give Up Your Dreams. You know, I do believe this. But I also believe that sometimes we may have to alter our dreams. Maybe the way we’ve always “dreamed” of something isn’t going to happen just in the way we’ve always dreamed of. So, try something else, or do things another way. Turn the dream on its head and shake it and see what falls out of its pockets. But you’ll never know until you sit down and Begin, right? Right.

Oh, and don’t forget to have fun, for lawd’s sake! See you Wednesday! — now go do the day.

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