Ending of the new beginning

NaNo-2017-Winner-Badge

Today is the last day for NaNoWriMo and I can count myself a winner. It’s a thrilling feeling, as I had paused my writing for longer than I expected. I’m also excited about feeling fulfilled like I do when I write a good story.

I have to admit that I’m not thrilled with “ Christmas in London”, my NaNo novel. I guess it will take a lot of rewrites. I know stories have lives of it’s own, but this one really went left from what I had planned.

Today I also started my writing course. It will take me about a year to complete. This is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, but never thought I could. In a leap of faith and a friend who found the course, I’m really excited to be able to improve the talents that God gave me.

My first class is on short stories, which is ironically how I started my public writing career. I published the short story “The Janitor” as part of an anthology. The story of a troubled man seeking answers, stops at a local church. There he meets the church’s janitor who has some very wise words for him.

My favorite short story, which I’ve only publish within a writer’s website it’s “ Waffles and Coffee”. This is the story of a Christian family that loses perspective of life and each other because they’re lost in their routines and ministry commitments. They learn that the simple things in life can mean more than grand gestures. They also learned that those small gestures are what keep relationships healthy.

short stories

As part of my course I’m reading “ Schaum’s Quick Guide to Writing Great Short Stories” by Margaret Lucke. The first few pages were things that I already knew, but as I keep reading I’m getting more intrigued about the content. It’s going to be a good ride.

Share with me what new journey  you are about to embark, even if you have not made any steps towards it. Remember, everything starts with an idea.  (Yes, I got that from the book !)

Before I go, Happy Anniversary to The Rising Muse. On and off we’ve been at this for 8 years and God willing many more ahead.

HA

 

Until next time,

Be blessed.

Naty

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Creating Believable Characters

By Suzanne Williams

There are three keys to creating believable characters, characters a reader desires to know more about and cares for. The first key is emotion. A character’s emotions create a reader’s emotions. The second key is creditability. How true to life is that character, and can the reader identify with him or her on a personal level? The third key is what I call the “male or female factor,” and I will explain that in a moment.

The character’s emotions are what draw readers into a story. In the following paragraphs, the main character, an Irishman named Michael, for multiple reasons cannot consummate his marriage with his wife. One evening, he kisses her and it sends him over the edge.

“Hands shaking, senses convulsing, Michael collapsed against a tree. What had happened?”

“His head spun, and the moment repeated itself, the sweetness of her mouth, the supple feel of her skin. He squeezed his eyes shut and floated helplessly skyward and back to earth on a swollen wave of sensation. He would have her; he would touch her again.”

“His eyes flew open at the vivid image of thirst and yearning quivering before him. She returned his feelings at last. But for his escape, they wouldn’t have stopped.”

Michael’s emotions come into the story through the use of powerful words like “shaking, convulsing, sweetness, supple, floated [and] swollen.” Now, make note that the only terms used to indicate any body parts were “mouth,” “skin,” and “eyes,” harmless enough terms, so it is the choice of adjectives that let you know he’s struggling and exactly how he feels about her.

When working with a character’s emotions, consider what the purpose of the scene is and how you feel when you read it. If you’re emotional, often the reader will be as well. And here’s something to think about. When creating emotion in a scene, I tend to go where I am uncomfortable. I have found that playing it safe leads to a boring scene.

This thought leads me to credibility. Credibility is that factor that makes a character a real person. In the same scene above, Michael, a twenty-year-old male, has fallen in love with his wife. His problem is he didn’t realize it was easier when she wasn’t returning his feelings. Now that she is, he sees the struggle in himself.

Thinking like a young man of that age and all the factors that led up to this moment are what made me write the scene as I did. I wanted him to have the same battle with his flesh that a man that age would have in the same situation.

Credibility comes into play in many other ways and with many other scenarios. Author Peter Levell once told me, “Never have two cowboys sharing a cinnamon role in a café.” I have never forgotten that advice because it holds to credibility. Two cowboys are not going to do something of that nature, and even if I write such a scene, the reader won’t believe it. I once read a western where the hero was dashing off to catch a criminal with a sandwich in his hand. Uhm. I don’t think so.

CINNAMONROLL

Now, this leads me to point number three – the “male and female factor.” I am opposed to males who speak and think like females. I’m sorry, but a man in love with his wife doesn’t want to hold her hand. He is a man, so he’ll think like a man and have the desires of a man. Similarly, a female isn’t going to deal with the same situation in the same way. When Michael’s wife approaches him later in this scene, she hasn’t a clue why he’s acting that way.

“She’d watched Michael for days, memorized his every movement, his mannerisms, until they were as familiar as her own. She saw how he tilted his head when he teased her, how the muscles in his neck flexed when he was upset. She heard him say he loved her, felt it in his gestures, and knew it when he didn’t speak. Yet to have him flee sent her spinning.”

“Isn’t this what he wanted? He wanted her to love him. Now that she did, he backed away?”*

Notice, how female she’s being. She’s spent time watching him, noticing all the funny little twitches or habits he has. What wife hasn’t done that? I could make you list of my husband’s quirks. Also note, it wasn’t enough that he’d told her he loved her, she expected more from him. This is decidedly female, and even more so when she is clueless as to why he’d run off in the first place.

I challenge the idea that the characters must be devoid of thoughts and feelings and a couple cannot show they care for each other (within Christian guidelines) without it becoming taboo. This type of writing leads me back to the “vase of flowers” concept where children are conceived by some mythical moment and not because the husband wanted to be with his wife. In this same vein, I have read some fabulous stories full of emotion and real-life characters that barely had kissing in them, and yet I knew how the man felt about her and how she felt about him.

Stories are all about words, and an author’s choice and placement of those words are what gives the characters life on the page. And that life is what keeps me reading and makes me relive certain story scenes again and again after I close the book. It is also what keeps me writing – that knowledge that these people could have existed and would have behaved like that. And I like think it is that certain thing which keeps readers returning to my books.

(Unedited story excerpts are from Love & Redemption by Suzanne D. Williams to be released March 1, 2013.)

Suzanne-640Suzanne D. Williams is a native Floridian, wife, mother, photographer, and writer. She is author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She writes a monthly column for Steves-Digicams.com on the subject of digital photography, as well as devotionals and instructional articles for various blogs. She also does graphic design for self-publishing authors.

To learn more about what she’s doing visit http://suzanne-williams-photography.blogspot.com/ or link with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/suzannedwilliamsauthor.

I HATE COMMAS, COMMAS, AND MORE COMMAS!

By Lillian Duncan

I gladly admit that I hate commas. I much prefer to ignore them when I write. Those kind souls who critique my writing are always pointing out my comma failings (and I so appreciate them).

So, I’ve decided to do something about it. Since I needed to write a post about writing tips, I decided to improve my own writing in the process, or so I hope. Instead of writing about what I know I’m on a quest to find out what I don’t know about commas!

I asked some other writers to give me rules about commas as a first step. Here’s what they’re saying:

Linda Samaritoni gives us RULE # 1: Use a comma in direct address, meaning names.

EXAMPLE : I’m here to help you, friend.

Gail Kittleson, author of Catching Up With Daylight (to be published 2013), gives us RULE # 2: Use a comma after a subordinate clause used as an introduction to a
sentence.
EXAMPLE: After we watched our team lose, we headed to the malt shoppe.

Louise M. Gouge, author of A Suitable Wife, December 2012, tells us about RULE #3: Use a comma to separate independent clauses (complete thoughts) when they are joined by these transition words: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.

EXAMPLE: We wanted to go to the movie, but none of the films caught our interest.

Amy Cattapan, aspiring author and a middle school English teacher, gives us RULE #4: When including a full date in a sentence (month, day, and year), put a comma after the year as well as between the day and the year.
Example: The conference held on September 21, 2012, was a great success.

I give you RULE #5: Use commas to separate a series of at least 3 objects or events.

EXAMPLE: She woke up, brushed her teeth, ate breakfast, and then left for the day.

I’m checking out the Chicago Manual Of Style, which is what many fiction writers use as the ultimate grammar and punctuation resource. I’ve spent more than an hour reading questions about commas and CMOS answers on their website.

A few things have become clear to me.

Commas are troublesome to lots of people not just me.

There are lots of ambiguous situations concerning commas, but the CMOS people have a consistent answer. If the comma helps to clarify a situation use it. If the sentence doesn’t need clarifying then don’t use it.

In many situations, commas can or cannot be used, and either way would be right. That makes me feel better. I guess it comes down to personal preference and what your editor prefers.

The CMOS website points out that good editing smoothes the way for the reader. And I guess that’s why writers need editors. My job is to create the story, and the editor’s job is to smooth out the bumps.

But I’m hoping my editor has a few less commas to add in my next story!

YOUR ASSIGNMENT SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT:I purposefully left out some commas in the above post and possibly a few accidentally. Leave a comment if you find a sentence that needs a comma with an explanation why. You may refer to the above rules to make it easier.

Lillian Duncanwrites stories of faith mingled with murder & mayhem. She writes the type of books she loves to read—suspense with a touch of romance. Whether as an educator, a writer, or a speech pathologist, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.

To learn more about Lillian and her books, visit: www.lillianduncan.net. She also has a devotional blog at: www.PowerUpWithGod.com. You can also connect with her on Twitter as @LillianDuncan and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/lillian.k.duncan

Interview with Sharon Srock

DSC_0022Today we have the visit of Christian Author, Sharon Srock. I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Sharon, thanks for being with us today at The Rising Muse. Tell us, How much of yourself do you write into your characters?

I don’t, intentionally, write any of me into my characters. That doesn’t mean you won’t find a little piece of me in all of the women. Callie teaches Sunday school and loves her guacamole, Terri is looking for God’s will in her life and arguing the whole way, Pam is learning lessons in forgiveness. Yep, there I am.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

Believe it or not, I went to bed one night, a normal person, and woke up the next morning determined to write a book. I know, now, where that came from. It was more than a little weird at the time.

How do you keep your sanity in this crazy fast paced world of ours?

I guess I’m a product of our environment. I like being busy. Even on a vacation I have to consciously tell myself to slow down and enjoy the moment. Sanity…I’m a writer, that option took a hike a few years back.

What is your current work in progress?

I’m working with my editor to get Terri’s story complete. Pam’s story is close to being at the word count I want. Then I’ll start the serious editing process for her. Samantha is knocking…

If you could invite a fictional character to dinner who would it be and why?

Oh, can I pick two? Merlin and Spock. Merlin because I’m captivated by the whole knights in armor, Arthur, slaying the dragon thing. Spock because…well…because the idea of extraterrestrial life interests me. If we ever find life out there, I’d hope they would be wise and beneficial sort like Vulcans. Not the I’ve come to destroy your world we see portrayed 99% of the time.

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

That sometimes we spend too much time beating ourselves up for something God has already forgiven and forgotten. That we do a disservice to ourselves and others when we indulge in those feelings.

What is your favorite material item that you own (examples: iPod, Gone with the Wind book, grandmother’s rocking chair)

My Kindle. It’s just the most amazing machine.

Do your characters ever give you surprises when you are writing? Can you give us an example if they do and if they don’t do you know why?

My characters constantly surprise me. Their individual determination to be front and center in my brain is relentless. I’m a SOTP writer. I don’t work with an outline, so I can’t give you an example of where I planned to go one way and they insisted on taking their own way, but I continue to be amazed.

Do you have a favorite scene in this book and what would it be?

I think where Pam, Karla, and Terri come to Callie’s house with groceries and stuff for the girls. That is exactly like it would happen, has happened, in my life. Our church family is so generous. I have been on the giving and the receiving end of help.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?

A lack of time. I don’t think there is a way to overcome it until I retire. I just have to deal with not enough hours in the day.

Which character in your book are you most like? What have you learned about yourself in writing this story?

For this book. Callie, of course. I didn’t really need to learn the life lesson that Callie had to learn, but writing the story taught me so much about persistence, trust , and patience.

As a writer how have you had to grow and stretch out of your comfort zone?

You are looking at it. Learning the craft, editing, and revising were easy compared to putting myself in the path of perfect strangers and begging for their attention. I’m a pretty solitary person. If I had my way, I’d write the book and pay a look alike to go out and face the public.

Thank you so much for sharing all this with us. Please tell us where we can find you on the internet and where can we get your book?

Visit my BLOG at: http://www.womenofvalleyview.blogspot.com/
Connect with me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SharonSrock#!/SharonSrock
Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/SharonSrock
Find me on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/10758698-sharon-srock

The Women of Valley View. Ordinary women using their faith to do extraordinary things

Three dire circumstances. Three desperate prayers. One miracle to save perf5.500x8.500.inddthem all.

Callie Stillman is drawn to the evasive girl who’s befriended her granddaughter, but the last time Callie tried to help a child, her efforts backfired. Memories of the tiny coffin still haunt her.

Samantha and Iris Evans should be worried about homework, not whether they can pool enough cash to survive another week of caring for an infant while evading the authorities.

Steve Evans wants a second chance at fatherhood, but his children are missing.  And no one seems to want to help the former addict who deserted his family.

For Steve to regain the relationship he abandoned, for his girls to receive the care they deserve, Callie must surrender her fear and rely on God to work the miracle they all need.

You can obtain Callie at:

And here’s the chance to win a huge basket of gifts. Keep reading

A copy of Callie’s story
A certificate for Terri’s story when it releases in April
A 6 piece Cherry blossom bath set
A cosmetic bag
A Bath Wrap
A Cozy pink eye mask
A Pair of aloe infused booties
A Hair Turban
A Tennis Bracelet
A 25.00 Amazon gift card
The rules are easy. For every reader that comments on this post, you get an entry into the drawing. A winner will be drawn Monday November 19th. The items add up to well over 100.00 in value.

The Silence of My Imaginary Friends

It’s been said that writer’s block is nothing but a time when our imaginary friends won’t talk to us. As writers we get frustrated because once we finally settle down, are able to shut down social media, and we are in the middle of a promising good scene; then poof, words just go away.

We tend to forget that our imaginary friends can get tired, hungry, and bored just like us. I  understand and have experienced that their timing tends to be very inopportune, but since we need them, just like with babies, you have to adjust to their schedule.

When I’m on a roll with my writing and my muse just stops, I have to check to find out what my imaginary friends need so that I can get them talking again. Sometimes when I lay down for a nap, the funniest thing happens.  They go from being absolutely mute to arguing amongst themselves about how the plot should go. At that point I tell them to shut up. If they weren’t willing to talk to me when I was in front of the computer, this is not the time to talk. So they finally calm down. Sometimes they seep into my dreams showing me whatever conclusion they came up with during their argument.

Other times we both need food. The “glamorous” life of a writer comes with long work hours and ironically we sometimes forget to eat. I had not discovered this particular need of my imaginary friends, until recently. I used to keep a plate with junk food right next to me  during my writing times.  However, now that I’m trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle and making sure I eat what my body needs and not just what it wants. I don’t keep anything at my desk, other than water.  I’ve discovered that sometimes when my imaginary friends stop it’s to get me off of the computer and get me to eat.

The other thing that I’ve discovered that helps me sometimes, is to take a walk. My dog particularly appreciates when my imaginary friends coincide with the fact that she has been laying at my feet for hours without relief. Yes, your muse (our imaginary friends) gets bored too and sometimes a walk can help. I’ve read that for some people working out does the trick. I guess that depends on your physical condition. While I try not to pass out at my Zumba class, it’s very hard for me to think of anything other than not dying. However taking a walk through the neighborhood, looking at the trees, and watching other people interact can help entertain them and when we get back they feel more incline to start talking again.

So when your muse aka your polka dot people (don’t judge, not all little talking people are green or pink) try to see what they need and they may start cooperating again.

If you want to read a different type of novel that will keep you at the edge of The Road Home Cover (1)your seat. See the story that God placed in my heart to share, a story that will definitely touch your heart: The Road Home

Your Life A Legacy for Kids

I had the great opportunity to read this book this past weekend and all I canYour Life a Legacy for Kids say is, Where was this book when I was growing up? Especially now in the summer, parents run out of ideas of things to do with their children while at home and why not do something that not only is fun but that matters. I also can see how this book has the great potential to help teachers develop so many skills for children.

This book encourages children to explore who they are, as well as their dreams. In a society where dreams have been dictated by the media, this gives them an opportunity for the children to create dreams of their own. The great thing about the activities in this book is that they can be generalized for all ages as long as the children can write or draw. Each child will feel important and included in the activities.

I enjoyed the real life stories of children who have participated in this project, especially the story about the kid who wrote about the Mustang car. Sorry my readers, you know I don’t like to give too many spoilers so you will have to get the book to find out.

I really enjoyed this book. I don’t have kids, but I do interact with many and I look forward to introducing them to this concept.

The author of this great book is Joy Dekok. She is the author of 7 published books, a national speaker, author coach, and social media manager for several clients. She and her husband Jon live on 35 acres of field and woods in Minnesota with their dogs Sophie & Tucker. You can find more about Joy’s books on her website www.joydekok.com

We got awards!

My new blogger friend and great writer Holly Michael from Writing Straight has awarded The Rising Muse with the One Lovely Blog Award. How cool is that! I’m so humbled and appreciative for the consideration.

But that was not all, she also awarded me with the Reader’s Appreciation Award.

As a writer you have no idea how honored I feel. We live for our readers, to connect with them and provide for them the information, inspiration and entertainment they seek, that’s why we exist. Thank you!

Now I believe the rules require that we share the joy with our favorite bloggers and I shall do just that.

The One Lovely Blog Award goes to… Nancy Jill Thames and her blog Queen of Afternoon Tea. I met Nancy through twitter and she’s a very supportive blogger and friend. She interviews different authors on her blog and is a lover of tea. I’ve learned about different writing styles through her blog. Very well deserved, Nancy!

Last but not least, the Reader’s Appreciation Award goes to…Rebecca LuElla Miller and her blog Rewrite, Reword, Rework. This is a blog that provides a lot of great information for writers and I could never express enough how grateful I am for how much Rebecca has expanded my writing tool belt.

Congratulations to the winners!