Thursday, June 28, 2012

Welcome Jude Urbanski

Jude Urbanski writes women's fiction featuring strong inspirational romance elements. She invites you to stories of heroes and heroines who spin tragedy into triumph with help from God.

First published in nonfiction, Jude now has two electronic novels, The Chronicles of Chanute Crossing Series, offered by Desert Breeze Publishing. She is a columnist for Maximum Living, a magazine focusing on spirituality and wellness for women.
Jude has a Master’s Degree in Nursing. She is a member of national and area chapters of American Christian Fiction Writers and National League of American Pen Women.
 Jude and her husband live in Indiana.

Enjoy this Excerpt 
Chapter One

Chill, Willard, chill.
I have to act cool if I want to bump Seth Orbin out of this big sale and I do. Oh, yes I do.

He transferred the phone receiver to his other ear. This conversation was heating up.

''Well, you see, Hansford, in my opinion, the wood from Orbin Sawmills is inferior and will not meet your expectations, by any means. I don't sell wood, but in my career as a paper salesman, I've seen a lot of wood, if I do say so. I know you're used to the best wood available."

He paused and paced around his desk.

''Now, there is this mill in Burkesville I think you'd like and I know a man who can get you the very best deal there is. Want me to talk to him?"

Willard waited, wiped sweat from his brow, and ran his fingers around the neck of his collar.

''You do?" He hesitated just slightly. "Great." A silent sigh of relief shuddered through him, but he allowed a smile to crawl up his face. ''I'll get right on it and call you back."

Maybe a few more sweet deals like this will make ole' Seth hurt.
He laughed and began dialing.

Willard Wittenberg had a vendetta to settle with Seth Orbin. His fiancée Elizabeth Koger had a vendetta to settle with Kate, Seth's pregnant wife.

Buy links for Jude's book

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Guest Blogger Patty Froese

                  When I'm really happy about something, I tend to clean the bathroom. I'm not entirely sure why, but I've noticed that little habit of mine. For example, I got news that three novels were accepted within just a few days of each other. After I let out something halfway between a squeal and a sigh, I toddled off to clean the bathroom.
                  I think you could say that I'm kind of bad at celebrating. Joyfully scrubbing a bathtub really shouldn't count as celebration at all. I should be off spending money or eating something, or... What do people even do?
                  There is always the Release Party, but I'm one of those people who is very confident online, but gets a little shy about all the attention being on me in a room of actually present people. Online, I'm thrilled with it. In real life, I squirm. My mother always described that as "being a Froese." And I am a Froese...  So the release party with friends and family is kind of out of the question.

                  I think part of the failure to celebrate my successes comes from my starving artist habits. When I was single and fresh out of school, I was living the writer's dream. I lived in a tiny little room in the downtown core of a major city, working odd little part time gigs in order to finance my writing. I could live on a meager budget, I assure you. It was a matter of pride on what I could get out of a wee little pay check.
                  I'm no longer the single, starving artist. I'm now a stay-at-home mom, which means I still have to be thrifty to keep this family whirring along on one income. The beauty of the set up is that I get to stay home and write novels while I raise our son. It's really quite fabulous and I couldn't be happier. In order to keep this beautiful arrangement, I need to stay thrifty.
                  Some habits die hard, and thriftiness seems to be one of them. I get excited about things like homemade bathroom cleaner because it works better and it costs so much less. I also get excited about using black tea to tint my hair and about a hundred other mumsy-wumsy things that tickle my fancy. The point of it all, though, is to let me stay home with my son and write.
                  ...Which has the odd side effect of making me a very awkward celebrator. So I did scrub my bathroom while I called people to tell them my news. As for Facebook, I updated it the second I checked my email and got the good news. ;)

                  In my newest novel, Perfect on Paper [1], my heroine is a lot like me in her dogged determination to make it work as a writer. She's been a starving artist, and she's finally risen above it. When you love something, like your writing or your career, so much that you're willing to forgo that costly celebrating in order to keep doing what you love best, what do you do when the man of your dreams wants you to put it aside?
                  So check out Perfect on Paper [1] and give it a try! I think you'll enjoy it.
                  Check out me, too, while you're at it. I post on my blog [2] daily and you can always find me on Facebook. [3] Like I said... I'm confident online. ;)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Welcome Author Shawna K. Williams

 Having never considered becoming a writer, Shawna K. Williams' path changed in a single night all because of a dream. Her early writings were a mere attempt to fill in gaps within the dream and satisfy her curiosity, but later became the inspiration for her first two novels. She is a content editor for Desert Breeze Publishing and Solstice Publishing, acquisitions editor/social media specialist for The Wordsmith Journal Magazine, speaker,home-schooling mom and multi-published author of twentieth century historical fiction. Shawna enjoys books in almost any genre as long as they contain strong characters tackling real-life grit -- even if the book is sci-fi/fantasy. She also has a thing for dogs and pygmy goats, and believes the world would be a better place if people aspired to be the person their pet believes them to be.

Don’t Make Readers Stare at their Brains.

I'm first and foremost a writer, but I've also been working as an editor for a few years. I currently edit for two independent presses and occasionally take on freelance projects. I also do short story acquisitions for a literary magazine.
I've gained a few insights over the past several years; some related to writing, some having to do with character and people skills. For example: What's the best way to tell an author "We need to scrap the whole last third of the book" and make it sound enjoyable. As such, I thought it might be fun and mildly educational to journal on my blog about what I've learned.
I'm of the mind that very few rules are absolute. When it comes to writing though, one has to be careful. There's a fine line between having your own unique style (voice) and well... not having any style at all. Writers will try lots of tricks as they strive to discover their voice.
So, this brings me to my first observation: analogies.  They can be beautiful, evoke just the precise image to capture that elusive feeling so that you've gripped the reader's heart and squeezed (gentle or with malice, depending on the author's intent). The other end of the spectrum is that you overreach or overuse -- or do both. You produce agony but not with intention. The inappropriate or misplaced analogy, or one that's simply a poor comparison can indeed induce eye rolls so extreme readers are forced to shake their heads to refocus their vision -- reread with hope of better understanding, eye roll, head shake and groan. This isn't the reaction you want.
My advice is to never use analogies flippantly. The analogy is a powerful tool. Reserve it for intense emotion; moments of emphasis. This includes everything from grief to humor, or even as an element of foreshadowing. But don't overdo it! The idea is to draw the reader into the experience. Readers will feel the apprehension as your character enters that big, old house, because your reader remembers the house is like a siren, tantalizing and dangerous -- ever beckoning, patiently waiting out his resolve until he succumbs and is at her complete mercy and will.
However, if the tree in the yard is like a monster with outstretched arms poised to attack, the upstairs windows are glowing eyes watching his every move, the front door is a mouth, wide and gaping, ready to devour, and the sidewalk leading up to the door is like a frog's tongue, stuck to its prey and pulling it toward its doom, then it's a lot less likely that readers will remember the foreboding feeling of the house being compared to a siren. Mostly their eyes will just be rolled so far back in their heads they'll be staring at their own brain.
Don't make readers stare at their brains. 

Books by Shawna K. Williams:
No Other, In All Things, The Good Fight and Orphaned Hearts. Coming in Dec, 2012 from Desert Breeze Publishing: A Hand to Hold (A sequel to Orphaned Hearts).
Follow me on Facebook and Twitter

Friday, June 22, 2012

May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose.

Today I thought it imperative that we take a look at clichés, and folk sayings.

What are clichés and folk sayings?

Cliché -- an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect. At some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel. Many cliché started off as a folk saying in some part or other of a country. They are used for comic relief.

Clichés are things a writer shouldn't over use when writing their books. Let me stress Over Use… because some would have writers believe that you shouldn't use them at all.

Which would kill one of my stories since the heroine finds them fascinating and loves to use them constantly when she talks.

In honesty, a lot of writers and people in general use them more often than they like to think. They're catchy phrases that stick with you. They are the commercials, and ads you hear a gazillion times a day. The little adages that stick in your head and won't get out no matter how hard to you shake your skull.

Why? Well, clichés and folksy verbiage tend to date a book. They tend to throw people out of the storyline for a moment as they try to understand the meaning. You don't want people just remembering a saying from your book. (unless they mention that it came from your book... hmm)

The biggest reason would be clichés tend to get overused. A good writer should write with the intent that their writing will catch a reader's imagination so fully that one of their lines or more become cliché in status.

Can you think of a writer who's words have done that?

I thought we should take a look at clichés and folksy language and perhaps give you some ideas for your next story… No. No. Do not use these. They are mine. LOL

I'll write them and for fun let's see if what explanation you can give for their meaning.

If a bullfrog had wings it wouldn't bump its butt on the ground.

(I'd never heard this particular saying until I started dating my husband, who is from the south, Georgia to be exact.)

May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose.

First thought that comes to my mind is... that would be like sticking a hot needle in my eye. Ouch)
The phrase can be found in the lyrics of a Little Jimmy Dickens song. But what does it mean? What is a Bird of Paradise? And why exactly do you want it to fly up my nose?

Not Playing with a Full Deck.

Doesn't have both oars in the water.

Going to talk to a man about a dog. (Yet another saying I didn't hear till I met my husband.)

Make like a tree and leave.

Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you'll be among the stars.

Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way you are a mile away and you have their shoes.

If you think talk is cheap, try hiring a lawyer.

Pro is to con as progress is to Congress.

I used to think I was indecisive, but now I'm not so sure.

A watched pot never boils.

Back handed compliment.

Scrape the bottom of the barrel.

Hit the nail on the head.

Hurts like the Dickens.

Keep your pants on.

Tied to her apron strings.

Let the cat out of the bag.

Well… how many did get?

Your assignment if you choose to take it… see how many you clichés or folk sayings you can find or hear through out the day.

*** Handy tip -- There are so many more. If you need some for your stories all you have to do is type cliché into the search line.

Wait… scratch that… you do not want to use clichés. If you must, use them sparingly.

Do not sprinkle them willy nilly like throughout your story, or the Bird of Paradise just might fly up your nose.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Eating Eggshells

Made the grandkids pancakes for breakfast today. Culinary Genius that I am, I cracked an egg and managed to drop some of the eggshell into the batter...


Which, after stirring through the batter with a fork, I could not find to retrieve.

again yayyy.

I could have ran the batter through the colander  and found the shell, but I decided to what any self respecting grandmother would... I turned it into a game.

Whoever finds the some eggshell in their pancake wins a prize. Major fun. Whoohoo

(maybe I should get out more)

That got me thinking about eggshell moments in life.

Ya know... those little surprises that flop into life. Out of place moments. Oft times distasteful moments. The ones that make you want to spit.

Moments that make you stop and go HUH?  Why would somebody put that there? Why did that happen?

Do you ever stop to think about the eggshell moments in your life? And see the good surprise behind them?

Everyone knows the adage, Stop and Smell the Roses... But maybe we should keep our eyes on the eggshells too

Because maybe, just maybe... they hold some of life's greatest mysteries.

And who found the eggshell at breakfast today? Who won the prize

I did.

Did it give me a surprise... Oh yes.

Did I smile... For sure. After I dug it out of my teeth.

And maybe that was all the prize I needed.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Refrigerator Stew

Did you know that writing is like making Refrigerator Stew?

Well kind of...  sort of...

I realize that in our fast paced, throw away society, some may not get the concept of Refrigerator Stew. So maybe we should discuss making Refrigerator Stew First

Which is quite simple really...

Go to your refrigerator and pull out all your leftovers.

Toss out any that resemble a green science project gone wild... (moldy)

Now pick through the rest and choose those items which might lend themselves to a stew. Meats, noodles, beans, vegetables (NOT Lettuce). Old bread is not a good item unless your making french onion soup or bread pudding or something, but you can use the bread in other ways. Like making croutons for the salad you're not tossing in the pot.

Take those lovely food prospects and toss them into a big black cauldron... I mean a pot.

That's right... mix all those leftover components together. You may have to add a bit of broth and seasoning. Then let it warm and perhaps boil and voila, you now have Refrigerator Stew.

If you prefer to have a ghoulash  (error intended)  don't add as much broth and mix your items into a baking dish, layer over with some cheese and bake your concoction instead.

It sounds like you're concocting some strange brew... but before you say ewww, give it go.

*** Historical info tidbit... in the olden days, their form of refrigerator stew was called seven day stew or week stew, they would leave the pot boiling and add to the mixture daily. I suppose after the concoction crusted the pot enough it was time to start a new batch.

Now onto Refrigerator Stew vs Writing

When a writer puts a story together, they are in a sense concocting their own form of stew, only the ingredients aren't kept in a real refrigerator, they are locked in the writer's imagination--erator.

When the writer starts a story they look through that imagination information and begin to add portions of what they find together. Some of those ideas having been setting on the imagination shelf for some time and need to be tossed, or filed away for a horror story.

But the writer begins to draw from that shelf and begins to form a story.

A touch of a heroine here, a bit of a hero there, a dash of imagery, a cup of conflict, a pinch of motivation they toss it all into the Plot. Mixing it together with patience and purpose. Then they add some research and narrative and dialogue, check their POV's and RUE. They continue tossing in this idea and taking out  another, adding more to the mix. Then they stir it all together  and find they have a story.

They let it simmer for a time, read it and edit out some more or add some more flavor, before they send it off into the world, hoping an editor might find their mix as enjoyable as they do.

When was the last time you made Refrigerator Stew?

Thursday, June 07, 2012


 You have mastered the English language, well, sort of… and you are fluent in three different languages, like me… okay not really. I have a hard enough time with English as a first language. Took four years of German and one of Turkish and remember barely enough to get by.

Then, just when I thought school was over, I had to learn Writernese. What is that you may ask? Simply put… it the language of writers. Writerspeak.


And if you're a writer, you know that writerspeak is often times hard to grasp. Kind of like cyberspeak. IMHO BTW LOL

I thought it would be prudent to take a look at Writernese and see if we can decipher some the meanings behind the words and acronyms to help us speak the language.

Common Writernese Terms and Acronyms. Trying to understand these few aspects of Writernese could be a brief exercise in madness, but it's a start.

EC: External Conflict (oppositions or physical threats to heroine or hero reaching their goals--i.e.: villain, journey, opponent)

IC: Internal Conflict (character's emotional struggles and growth)

GMC: Goals, Motivation, Conflict

Goals-- your character has a goal that he or she needs to reach.
Motivation-- what sends them out to accomplish the goal?
Conflict -- all the trials and thorns thrown in the path of your character to keep him/her from reaching goal. (when established, these set up the premise of a book, the overriding theme)

Climax -- a moment of great intensity that usually brings events to a head and moving toward the conclusion.

Foreshadowing -- adding hints and important information earlier on in the story that tip the reader off to what may come.

Resolution -- can be done on varying levels, like resolving problems in the story. Or resolving the main conflict.

Genre -- the kind of story being written; Gothic, Mystery, Romance, Inspirational, Sci Fi, Women's Fiction, Speculative… etc.

HEA: Happily Ever After (the resolution/ type of ending expected in a Romance novel) Think Fairy Tales. Hello, Prince Charming.

H/H: Hero and Heroine
Protagonist -- the main character
Antagonist -- opposition to protagonist… enemy

MS: Manuscript

WIP: work in progress. Unfinished Manuscript

 POV: Point Of View -- What a character can see or hear. (If it's dark he or she probably can't tell you someone's eye color. If it's behind them they can't give detail.)

1st person POV -- Spoken and told by one character in their viewpoint alone throughout the story. Uses I to lead sentences and so forth.

3rd person POV -- Storytelling told using third person pronouns like he/she. This POV can be Limited or Omniscient.

Limited -- The writer sticks closely to one character's feelings, thoughts and viewpoint, while other characters are added externally.

Omniscient -- The storyteller knows all the views and can bring in several character's point of views for the story. POV purest prefer that one POV is used in one scene to avoid head hopping.

Headhopping -- when the POV bounces back and forth instead of staying in one character's POV

Author Intrusion -- where the author puts in little snippets to explain the story or what may come.

CP: Critique Partner

MRU - Motivational Reaction Unit/ Motivation Response Unit 

Plot: the organization of main events

Story Arc: the continuing unfolding of the story. (This is certain to have highs and lows.)

ARC: Advanced Reader Copy.

Narrative: the telling of fictional or real events

RUE: Resist Urge to Explain. 

Showing vs Telling: 


Example -- Caroline from Shadowed Dreams...
"There are no buts about it, you ought to be sorry," she howled. "Just look what you've done. Do realize how much this dress cost?" Muddy tears filled her eyes. Caroline lifted her arms from the mud, the sleeves, weighted and wet, hung heavy, like muddy flags in the air. She flapped them. "Look at this mess."

Example -- See Jack run. She Jack climb the hill. See Jill join Jack and climb the hill. See how they laugh.

 GUM: Grammar, Usage, Mechanics

Theme: What is the topic of your story? What were you trying to say?

Backstory: Filling in the mystery of your character's past.

Backstory Dump: giving a lot of information about your character that might be better placed throughout the story.

Dialogue: talking, conversation between characters… set off with quotes.

Tags -- he said, she said. Most say not to overuse the tags with fancy words because they can pull a person out of the story, where as he said/ she said seems to disappear. "I don't know where I stand on that. too many he said/she saids begin to drive me bonkers," I declared.

Beats -- action beats to be exact. We communicate with actions. When a person is talking they are also moving. Action beats take away the need to use tags and move the story along with the character's movements. They draw the reader in visually.

Symbolism -- represents a deeper meaning than the words themselves convey.

Epilogue -- the final section of a novel that usually wraps up the tale nice and tidy like. Not all novels have them.

Prologue -- a prologue should reveal significant contributing facts. They can be used to hook a reader. Some would say they should never be used… Not sure I agree.

Euphemism -- word or phrase that stands in for another word or phrase.
    Chronically Challenged
    Economical with the Truth
    Collateral Damage

Imagery -- Vivid descriptive language that appeals to one or more of the senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste).

Metaphor -- a comparison of two things that does not use like or as
    "Life is a journey, travel it well."
(United Airlines)
    "Life is a journey. Enjoy the Ride."

Simile -- a comparison that uses like or as
Like peas in a pod.
As bald as a cue bald

Analogy -- is kind of like Metaphors and Similes, which can be used in an analogy, but an analogy is used to explain and convince.
    "I am to dancing what Roseanne is to singing and Donald Duck to motivational speeches. I am as graceful as a refrigerator falling down a flight of stairs." - Leonard Pitts, "Curse of Rhythm Impairment" Miami Herald, Sep. 28, 2009
    "If you want my final opinion on the mystery of life and all that, I can give it to you in a nutshell. The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination. But the combination is locked up in the safe." Peter De Vries, Let Me Count the Ways
    "Writing a book of poetry is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo." - Don Marquis

Cliché -- a trite or overused expression. These are to be avoided like the plague… so they say. I say use them sparingly. Have to… I have a character who loves to use them.
    Birds of a feather flock together
    Kill two birds with one stone
    Two peas in a pod
    Stubborn as a mule
    A submarine with screen doors
    Like pulling chicken's teeth
Well you get the idea.

Zeugma -- is a figure of speech in which two or more parts of a sentence are joined with a single common verb.
    "You are free to execute your laws, and your citizens, as you see fit."
(Star Trek: The Next Generation)
    "Kill the boys and the luggage!"
(Fluellen in William Shakespeare's Henry V)

Plotters -- writers who plot out their story, by outline or use of a certain Methodology (i.e., Snowflake Method, Liquid Story Binder, Open Source Novel Writing Software, Scrivener ) to fill in the blanks and plot out their stories. Some people go to great lengths to plot and boast that they can have a story plotted in a day or a week. Then written the following week.

I am not one of these people. I have tried, to no avail. I fall under the next category

SOTP -- Seat Of The Pants -- writers who use no set formula to write out a story, other than where the ideas or characters take them. They may use a bit of an outline to keep certain thoughts in order. Put up some sticky notes and follow a calendar but not much more.

You can mix the percentages of these writing styles and come of with writers on all levels.

SASE -- Self Addressed Stamped Envelope. Important to know when sending in a manuscript. (Yes, even in this computer driven society, sometimes you will send a manuscript via snail mail. Rare but…) Always send an envelope with your information and the proper postage.

Well, we've barely scraped the tip of the Iceberg (oops a Cliché) covering Writernese. Hopefully, it's not as foreign a language as it used to be and I have not led you down the road to insanity. There is so much more, but let this be a starting place on your journey to learn the language.