The Importance of Story

Do you remember your mother or grandmother reading stories to you when you were small? When my son and grandsons were little I read to them before bed. As they grew I encouraged them to “read” their favorite stories to me. Since we read Dr. Suess and Paddington Bear over and over again, they knew what happened on every page and could almost recite the words before they could read.

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There are quotes from books or films (stories) that stick in our minds and never go away. They speak to us. They make us laugh or cry or think. “Everything looks better with pearls,” is one of my faves. I don’t wear pearls but I remember watching Audrey Hepburn and Doris Day in films and they always had pearls on and looked beautiful and confident.

These days superheroes are very popular, everyone wants to be a hero, save the day, have superpowers. Imagine it? Of course, you can, we all can. Stories about ordinary people who find out they have extraordinary gifts inspire us to be greater.

Everyone has stories in them. Our lives are vignettes, scenes that play out every day. Sometimes they are boring, but they can just as easily be exciting, frightening, or romantic. Share your stories. If you don’t want to write them down, speak them to others, take photographs that tell a story, paint a picture, write/sing a song. We all love a good story.friends_n_rain

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2017 – What will you bring?

Last year was challenging for many, but there were lots of good parts, too. Family. Friends. Good Memories. Good conversations. Good books. Good food. See, it’s not all been bad.

We have a new year upon us. How is it going so far?

With ignited enthusiasm, I’m writing and editing like crazy. Hopefully, that will translate to a new book out soon. I tried the agent search method the past six months with nibbles but no bites. So, again I will adjust my path back to the smaller, independent publishers out there. I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m going through “Every Move You Make” and doing what I hope are final edits, after sharing it with my critique group and other writing buddies, whose opinions I respect.

For those of you readers who are looking for another book in the feisty family series, I will resume working on it next. I have a good start beginning five years after “Patchwork Family” ends. The kids are growing up, Peggy has her own cafe business with Tom in the kitchen and Tillie supplying the desserts. Tad is in college and Megan is in high school and thinking college might not be what she wants. But we all know she is the most book-smart of the kids and Peggy is concerned her little sister is going on the wrong track. Oh, and did I mention Megan may be in the midst of her first crush?

That is all for later.

Let me tell you a little about “Every Move You Make, I’ll Be Watching.” Just like the song Sting sang in the 80’s, someone is watching Amanda Cook – at work, at home, at school, everywhere she goes. At eighteen she’s a bit oblivious since she has her own inner struggles with the departure of her parents, the relationships with her best friends Sarah and Andrew, as well as her first love, Mitch Roman. Even though Amanda has the adorable Great Aunt Faye to live with she feels lonely and afraid of the future. I’d better stop before I spoil the surprises in store for readers and Amanda in this New/Young Adult novel.

Sorry, I haven’t blogged much the past year. (I’ve been really busy editing and looking for an agent.) You can find writers advice from me and other talented authors on Author Expressions blog. I post there once a month. It’s a good place for writers to hang out and find support.

Readers, I hope you enjoyed the two feisty family novels I’ve published so far and will be patient while I make my next stories even better.

Good luck to us all in 2017.

November where are you?

Okay, what happened to November? It was here and now it’s gone.surprise

I looked back at the calendar to see just why and it appears to have been inordinately busy, with family visiting, holidays, and birthdays. All good things. Is it my imagination or does time go faster as you mature? I suppose scientifically it does not – but it appears to, none the less.

There’s always something that needs to be done – but do we make good choices? I confess I don’t always. Do we make time for the things that truly matter? I hope so. Some things can wait another day, like dusting and laundry. But sharing a conversation or coffee with friends are important. Make time for them.

Our children grow up, move away and have families of their own. Soon the grandchildren are grown as well. Time does not stop or slow down for any of us, no matter how much we want it to. Some days I am amazed how much time has passed in my life then I think of all things I’ve experienced and realize it’s been not only productive but incredible.

Will things slow down in December? Doubtful. Will I enjoy it? Absolutely. I’d like to repeat myself – make time for the things that matter and have a healthy, happy December.

Santa reading

Nathan Hill, Author of THE NIX

By now you’ve heard about THE NIX, Nathan Hill’s debut literary novel that has set the world on fire. Not only did I enjoy his book, but I love the man, who just happens to be my son’s best friend and I consider my second son. I’m very proud of him and his work.

Let me see if I can think of some other words with which to express my awe and joy in this work. The novel is epic, folks. The prose is amazing. I highly recommend it and although it is long, take your time and don’t miss a single word.

Nate will be at Watermark Books & Cafe in Wichita, October 25th, 6PM,  and my husband and I will be there. Come and join us, won’t you?

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True Words

“When you set conditions on being a writer, you’re fooling only yourself. The biggest requirement is an intensity to write, and a fire in your belly to be better, and better, until you can write no more.” ~Hope Clark

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Summer colds & the magic of storytelling

mature_womanI hate summer colds. When it’s raining and icy outside I anticipate I’ll get the flu or a virus, but not when it’s hot out. I don’t know why. This past weekend my hubby and I spent it sleeping, reading, eating soup, and binge watching House of Cards (Netflix). We saw a couple other great movies on HBO, too.

The book I just finished was one of JD Robb’s Death mysteries and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There’s something amazing about an author who can write so many stories about the same characters and keep bringing something new and inventive into the story. Certainly, there are always new characters and murder situations, but the main characters keep evolving and that makes the story even better. It’s set in the not so distant future, say forty years from now and much of life is the same. But getting real coffee and real meat is a challenge and only reserved for the wealthy. Pepsi comes in a tube. And while cars can elevate and fly, they don’t often so we don’t have to worry about suspending disbelief – it could happen.

Do you ever wonder why movies and television shows have exploded and there are so many channels to choose from? (Money for one, but the other is – storytelling keeps us going.) Since many channels show reruns I don’t see how they all survive, but they do, and not everyone has access to all the same stations. What makes these forms of entertainment so popular is the story. We’re captured by the actors, the scenes, the special effects, the music, the drama/comedy/adventure. We are transported into that story, maybe even flying through space on the starship Enterprise as the Romulans attack. I recently saw “Brooklyn” and I was transported to Ireland and then New York City (Brooklyn) during the 1950’s. The cars, the clothes, the music, the hairstyles, the language (love Irish accents) let me be there while I watched the story unfold.

Isn’t that the same thing we want when we read a book? We readers want to slip between the pages, into the time and place, along with the hero and antagonist, so we can experience this new world we’re reading about. I recently read “The Citadel” by Kate Mosse and I have to tell you – I wanted to be in France, but NOT during the 1940’s. The German occupation of France was horrific. Kate Mosse made the time and place come to life.

We authors want our stories to draw readers in and hold them there until the end. When it happens, it’s magical. When the moving pictures in your head get transferred accurately on the page and into the reader’s imagination – we soar with joy. We take the reader along with us and hope their experience is satisfying. Not every story will resonate with every person – but when it does – it is true magic.  One of my readers sent me a message saying she had seen my character, “Annabelle” on the street in town.  Feisty Family Values and particularly Annabelle had come to life for her. That’s what I call MAGIC. Another reader wrote me that she hated Regina in the first book but really liked her in the second. She said she was glad she wasn’t such a bitch anymore. It made me laugh and gave me a sense of pride as well. The character of Regina came to life for her.

I hope none of you out there get summer colds, but if you do – drink lots of fluids, sleep lots, read and get well soon.

writing advice

“My advice to writers of mysteries, or any writer for that matter, is to remember that a story is not about what happens; it’s really about the people things happen to.”

– William Kent Krueger

Writers are Readers, too.

You’ve no doubt heard this one before, good writers – READ.  It’s true!  I write mainly women’s fiction, so I do a lot of reading in that genre.  I also read chick lit, mainstream fiction, mysteries, thrillers, romance and much more.  Check out my Goodreads.com books and you’ll see that I am a diverse reader. If there’s a book review in the paper or a magazine I have to read it and if the story sounds good, then it goes on my list of things to read.

 

man_looking_thru_binocularsWhen I find a particular author I enjoy I tend to read everything they’ve ever written, but reading debut novels is enjoyable.  Sharing any new found book treasures is a must.  Many of my friends and family like to book swap, and if we’ve gotten the book from the library we make sure and email the title and author around the group.

Occasionally films will come out about the lives of authors or based on one of my favorite books.  It’s fun to get a group of writers together to see a matinee and then get coffee and hold a discussion.  We writers have such an interesting way of viewing things.

There are lots of book clubs out there that get together and discuss their favorite stories. reading books(But, you have to read them first.)  Kansas has a statewide reading event each year that is fun to participate in.  You will overhear book conversations in the grocery store and all around town.  It is like being a part of a really BIG book club.

Many of us have a library of unread books that we have collected from friends, book sales at the library, yard sales, and those bought with coupons from the local bookstores.    When I’m finished reading and sharing a book, I donate it to the library so others can partake of its pages.  The bottom line is – you can never read too many books.  And reading good books will help you become a better writer – I PROMISE!

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