Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Writer Wednesday: Turning the Page

What makes you turn the page of a book? Did the author manage to catch your attention so you had to keep reading to see what happened next? Or did it leave you wondering if you'd wasted your money and should've bought the title with the half nekked cowboy. Well...cowboy for me, maybe you prefer the firefighter or sweet couple holding a baby.

I am in no way an authority qualified in the craft of writing. However, I do love to read and learn about writing. If I can share anything that might help...you betcha. I would love to have an editor critique my blog posts if I could. LOL. So if you have any insight, please by all means--share.

The opening paragraph is our opportunity as authors to grab the attention of the reader. Whether it be an agent or editor, or the all important reader that buys the book. Of course it's important to catch the eye of a person that can get your book to the shelves, but with the availability of self-publishing there are those that bypass the agent/editor route. (Which isn't always a good thing.) But it is vital to reel in the reader so they'll stop thinking about the sink full of dishes needing to be washed, or that the family actually expects to eat dinner on a daily basis. Not that I advocate starving your family because I want you to read my book. But maybe keep sandwich meat, or pre-prepared casseroles, on hand for a quick meal so you don't have to put the book down for long. I personally love my slow-cooker. I've had a few nights where I took a book in the kitchen with me and read while sauce simmered or I was waiting for garlic bread to toast. Usually I can fold clothes or handle other household chores while cooking, but when I get a great book that grabs my attention...I tend to burn the bread. ;)

Is it the emotion that makes you keep going and wanting more? The element of surprise or the burning need to find out who the woman is and why she is rushing to the hospital? It's the beginning of the book and the chance to introduce the main character/s and premise of the story. It could be a killer opening sentence, several sentences, or a full paragraph. Whatever the length, it is one of the most important elements of a book in my opinion. It sets the tone. There have been several books I've read that I doubted would be worth my time to read but I kept pushing through because I hate to waste money. I also like to keep notes as to what it is that turned me off and use it as an example as what not to do.

The hardest part of writing for me is the first paragraph and where to start. I think it's a difficult task for several authors from what I've understood when talking craft. If the pacing is slow and you're trying too hard to cram character backstory in...then it's probable that the reader has already lost interest. But it's a balance to keep from cramming action down their throat and confuse the reader before they even have a chance to get hooked.

I believe that the balance evens out when the author can begin with a dilemma or the hint of what the conflict will be between the main characters. To give the reader a reason to cheer for the hero/heroine and root for a reward. A reason to care. And proofread, proofread, proofread. Especially if self-publishing is the projected path. I can't count how many books recently that I can instantly tell there wasn't an editor involved in the process. It's easier to swallow when the book is priced at $.99, but it kept the author from going into my must-buy list.

So what about you? Will you keep reading and give the author/story a second chance?

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Tiara Tuesday

We're talking about "firsts" over at my critique group blog, Heart-Shaped Glasses.  Author, Lori Sizemore, asked if we'd read any stories that had touched us in memorable ways.  I immediately thought of my aunt and a book that spurred my imagination on to spin a story about an ancestor I'd found fascinating.  One of these days I'd love to sit down and read through my notes and finish the story.  Check out Lori's post if you have time.


Her post made me think about something as an author that I've been asked.  How do I come up with my story ideas.  Many of my ideas pop up when I'm doing simple household chores, taking a shower, driving and listening to music, conversations I overhear...just about anything can trigger an idea.  I can actually picture characters and then I question why?  What if?  What makes the main characters react...what makes them tick?  How can I lead them to the happily-ever-after?  My family knows when I go into full writer mode if my eyes glass over and I start frantically searching for paper and pen.  I've also been known to leave a blank page open in my Word program so I can open my laptop and jot down an idea.

If you're an author...is there something specific that helps trigger your story ideas?  As a reader...is there a particular story that is a shelf keeper?  A book you can reread over and over again?

Hope you all are having a productive week!

Chelle

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

April showers bring May flowers...

I am so ready for spring to arrive.  Today is the first day of May and tornado statistics predict that Oklahomans are more likely to deal with tornadoes in the next two weeks than any other time of the year.  But guess what is in the forecast today and tomorrow?  Snow.  Seriously.  It was 86 yesterday, predicted to be 82 today, and the high tomorrow will be 46.  I've always heard that if you don't like the weather in Oklahoma...wait a day.  True that, I guess.  We probably won't see the snow but I guess it's better than being in the 90's already and going into the summer months in a drought.  In fact, we've had so much rain that I lost all of my early tomato and pepper plants.  My cowboy hasn't even tilled the big garden yet because it's still a little wet around the garden.

What have you guys been up to?!  Me...life chaos as usual.  Little man is back in school, I'm taking classes online, and we moved.  Again.  And we're still looking for the right land to buy so I can't even feel settled yet.  *sigh*  Maybe one of these days.  My writing has taken a detour lately.  I've tried to open my files and work, and I got in a couple of good word days...but not recently.  And I really miss it.  I had several story ideas pop up so I at least put them in a file for later brainstorming.

I'm off to work on critiques and maybe my own chapter.  I also have 2 final papers to prepare for school, but I wanted to stop by and say hi.  I hope you guys are being much more productive than I am.  :)  My critique group has revamped our blog and I'll leave you guys a link if you have time to drop by and share a cup of Joe with us.

Through Heart-Shaped Glasses

*smooches*

Chelle

Thursday, November 01, 2012

NaNoWriMo

November...I can't believe we're on the downhill slide to the holidays.  I love this time of year.  The smell of wood burning fireplaces, vivid colors in the turning leaves of fall, college football, the smell of chili in the slow cooker...

But it also marks the national writing movement of NaNoWriMo.  For those of you unfamiliar with that term of torture, it's National Novel Writing Month.  It's where writers all over the world (I know it says national but I personally know there are international writers involved) gear up to write that best selling novel in just one month.  It's a challenge.  BIG challenge.  One that I'm participating in this year.

Not that I'm particularly active in posting on my blog, but I may be a little distracted with my writing this month.  And then both of my boys have birthdays coming up along with Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I'll try to post again soon...but if not?  You can find me at NaNo and Facebook.

Keep pushing!!

XOXO

Chelle

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Writer's Wednesday

NaNo?  Anyone?  Do you pre-plan?  I have to.  I'm not a panster.  Well...maybe a little.  So does that make me a panster plotter?  I'm working on my synopsis and outline for a new story I decided to use for National Novel Writing Month.  November 1st...it's on like Donkey Kong.  It's all about the daily word count.  I'll have to handcuff and gag my internal editor.  The important key to remember is to get the story out.  Put it on paper.

So do you plot or pre-plan your story?  Do you make character charts or write out an outline or synopsis to follow as you push through the rough draft?  I'm going to plot with this story.  I haven't always in the past and I've struggled with them.  Hopefully this weekend I can get a corkboard for my notes.  Next week I'll blog out writing space and how it affects your writing.  But I've got about two weeks before NaNo begins and I need to chart my characters, their goals, motivation, and conflicts.  Even though it sounds like a lot of work...I'm excited.

Are you a plotter?  Panster?  Both?!  What seems to work best for you?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Double Dip

Hmmm...I see that I missed Foodie Friday so I'll do a double dip and include a little food in with my Monday musings.  Pot roast.  One of our favorite go-to meals that is not only easy to make, but a meal I know will be eaten and enjoyed.  I usually buy a double pack of Angus beef chuck roast at Sam's Club and slow cook one in the Crockpot and one in the oven.  I put a packet of onion mushroom soup mix in each pot and mix it with about a cup of beef broth.  I add a small bag of fat baby carrots, mince four cloves of garlic, two medium onions, and chop six stalks of celery and split for each pan/pot.  I lightly sprinkle both roasts with Cavender's All Purpose Greek Seasoning because we love the flavor and it has most of the seasonings that I'd use anyways.  I add a bay leaf and sprinkle about two teaspoons of Italian seasonings in each pan/pot and cover.  I slow cook the one in the oven at 250 degrees for around 5 hours and raise the temp to 400 degrees for an hour until the internal temp is at least 145 degrees as recommended by the USDA.  Rare is usually around 130 degrees but my guys prefer their roast medium.  And if you slow cook it...it's usually just as tender.


I usually check them both at least once and spoon some of the juice from the pan drippings over the roast for more flavor.  When the roast is finished, I'll put the pan drippings in a sauce pan and heat it up until it's barely bubbling.  Whisk in about a tablespoon of flour for gravy you can pour over the roast or mashed potatoes.  I don't include potatoes in my pans because the guys prefer homemade mashed red potatoes.  I'll quarter potatoes and boil with two tablespoons of butter, a dash of salt and pepper and cook until fork soft.  Drain and mash, adding a stick of butter, two minced garlic cloves, a half cup of sour cream, a cup of cheddar cheese, and a half cup of chopped velvetta.  The guys love fresh baked rolls and I cheat...I thaw Rhodes white or wheat frozen rolls and let them rise.  I'll put them on to bake about 15 minutes before we start dishing up dinner.  Rarely do I hear a peep from the guys...except when they ask for seconds.  LOL.  Several people I know have variations of the same recipe...some brown their roasts for a crust.  Not me.  I tend to find the roast a bit tougher when I do.  I occasionally add fresh herbs when available.

*deep sigh*  Now that the house is smelling soooo scrumptious, it's time to get to work.  NaNo is coming up fast and I'm working to prepare my story.  Today I'm going to start working on a basic synopsis or outline.  I'd like to flesh out my character charts as well.  That usually happens as I squeeze out the rough synopsis.  We have about two weeks to get the basics done before it's time to start concentrating on word count.  I am determined to have a rough draft completed by the end of November.  Hopefully I can have the edits completed by January.  My goal is to go through a round of critiques with my crit partners and then send it to a freelance editor by the end of January.  I've imposed a personal deadline to have it ready to either submit or self-publish by March 1, 2013.  I'm still not sure which I'll focus on yet.

Okay...enough rambling. Off to work I go!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Writer's Wednesday

*sigh*  That title doesn't look right.  I am such a dork when it comes to grammar.  LOL.  But Wednesdays are going to be for my writer friends and anything writer related.  I didn't have time to message anyone about guest blogging...but feel free to contact me if you're a writer and interested in taking over the blog on an upcoming Wednesday.  My email is chellesandell@sbcglobal.net .  You can write about your journey, call story, struggles, craft...whatever you can think of that has affected you as a writer.

Anyhoo...my week has been full (nothing new) with milestones and education, so absolutely nothing has been accomplished on my chapter.  Grrr.  My man/child has reached a major milestone and moved out on his own this week.  *sob*  I was a good mom though and waited until he left to lock myself in the bathroom and bawl.  Even better...I didn't call or text every five minutes to see if he was ok.  He did say that his first night was quiet and spooky.  Poor guy.  Not.  LOL.  But I do remember my first apartment and how I slept with the television on at night...for years.  :)  And my little man is starting to sound normal again after having his tonsils out.  He is also beginning to adjust to his online school schedule.