Specific Words

We’ve all been told, over and over again, to use active verbs instead of passive.  Active verbs make our writing more dynamic, less flat.  M. L. Keller, on her blog, defined what is and what isn’t a passive verb–and it’s not always what we think.  http://themanuscriptshredder.com/whats-the-deal-with-passive-voice/  The thing is, though, a strong verb makes for a strong sentence, a clear image.

I’ve been writing a free romance that I’m loading, chapter by chapter, on my webpage.  And when I rewrite my work, for some reason, I’ve been paying more attention to word choices.  I forget that sometimes in the day in and day out job of trying to get words on paper.  But using specific words instead of pronouns or just okay choices makes a striking difference on how the story reads.  And I’m not sure that we concentrate on word choice enough.

We all get weary as we slog through a novel.  At least, I know I do.  There are lots of things to consider.  Is the story moving forward?  Have we gone off on any tangents, gotten distracted by something that doesn’t matter?  Does each scene advance the plot?  Do the transitions work?  Is there emotional impact?  Is the pacing too fast?  Did we tell too much too soon?  Or too slow?  Are we mired in quicksand?  Is our protagonist taking action to solve his problem or just reacting?

Everything in a story matters.  Dialogue.  Setting.  Angst.  And words.  It’s hard enough to keep the plot and pacing on the right track.  But the words we choose matter, too.  Red is vague.  Crimson or scarlet is more specific.  Words are the tiny building blocks that make a sentence that joins with more sentences to make a paragraph, that lead to a page and a chapter and a book.  Vague words don’t excite.  Sometimes, they confuse.  The exact right word is a minor miracle.  It can create the image we’re striving to convey.

The next time your fingers tap the keys, I hope the words flow for you.  Not just any words, but the specific words that bring your story to life.  Happy Writing!

 

My webpage.  And I just put up chaper 15:  http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

My author’s Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

twitter:  @judypost

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December

There’s a lot of cooking in my novels.  Food is the glue that brings people together.  Probably because that’s how I view it.  I love to cook, and sitting around a table with family and friends is one of my favorite experiences.

Cooking is a creative outlet for me.  I get bored making the same recipes over and over, so I love to experiment with new ones when I have guinea pigs–oops,  I mean friends–over.

December in our house ups the ante.  It’s about putting up decorations and connecting with more friends and family than usual.  I’ve cooked a lot of suppers for a lot of people lately.  My daughter–the traveling nurse–decided not to re-sign her contract in Indianapolis and try for a job in San Jose.  There’s a gap between finishing in Indy and starting in California, so she and her cat have been staying with us.  She’s not a recipe follower.  She glances at the basic ingredients she needs and then wings it.  I had to laugh at myself.  Winging it horrorifies me.  Maybe I need recipes to cook just like I need plot points to write.  I’m more comfortable with structure.

Since I love cooking , it shows up in my writing.  In our family, the details of each day were discussed at the dinner table.  It was the hub for staying in touch.  Everyone sat around the table and talked about school and work.  In my novels, people connect over the food they love most.  Cooking is an act of love.

However you’re spending December, I hope it’s a good one; and Happy Writing!

Webpage: http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

Author Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

twitter:  @judypost

 

Not one, but two . . .

I’ve been trying not to drown everyone with marketing, but I’m a part of two promotion blogs right now.  So it would be easy to fill my content with stuff about ME, ME, ME.  Except that it’s so nice to work with other wonderful writers and bloggers.  Kensington set up a book tour with Silver Dagger Book Tours for SPECIAL DELIVERY that stops at a different blog every day from Nov. 21 to Dec. 21.  That’s a lot of blogs.  It’s awesome!  And even though I don’t put every single stop on my blog or webpage, I do make an effort to retweet them and leave a comment.  After all, some nice, compassionate blogger took the time to host my book, and I appreciate it.  They deserve a little spotlight on them, too.

At the same time, I signed up to join with some fellow awesome writers to do a December giveaway.  Two Fort Wayne writers are part of it, along with me:  M. L. Rigdon (aka Julia Donner) and Kyra Jacobs.

Avenue to Heaven cover-Julia DonnerHer Unexpected DetourCoockingupTrouble

 

Here’s more information, available on B. L. Blair’s blog: http://blblair100.blogspot.com/2017/12/the-12-days-of-christmas-giveaways-day-1_2.html

Giveaway for Dec.

At the end of the author giveaways is a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card:

$100 Amazon Gift Card

 

If you follow the giveaways, good luck to you!  And there, my shameless plug is finished for the moment.  Have a great December!

I celebrate every bit of good news

My wonderful editor, John Scognamiglio, just sent me a good review from Library Journal for SPECIAL DELIVERY.  Made my day!  Kensington has my romance on a book tour right now, too.  Pretty sweet:)  Here’s the review:

The following Kensington titles were reviewed in Library Journal Online:
SPECIAL DELIVERY by Judi Lynn (Lyrical Shine EB/November 2017/978-1-5161-0139-9)
“Lynn expertly weaves together the many stories that develop from this single household, showcasing the family dynamics and the complexities of her characters…Readers will find this feel-good romance entertaining.”– Library Journal
 

Wasted Time

We had one of our nicest, happiest Thanksgivings ever.  Nate couldn’t be with us–he’s a marine near San Diego–and we missed him, but the rest of us were here.  We’re a small group, and we were all in the mood to see each other.  Truth be told, though, I think some of the joy came from us being older, a little more mellow.

Age has some benefits.  Comments that once made tempers rise aren’t worth getting hot and bothered over.  Some of them have even become punch lines and jokes that we hear and roll our eyes.  I went overboard on the food because my daughter, the traveling nurse, might be out of town for Christmas or Thanksgiving next year.  I aimed for abundance, so made a turkey roulade and a whole turkey, so that we’d have plenty of leftovers–but not nearly as much as I expected.  We were all in the mood to overindulge.  People stayed longer than usual and conversation flowed the entire time.  A wonderful celebration of things that make us happy.  And lots and lots of fond memories.

After everyone left, I thought of Keith Urban’s song:  All That Wasted Time.  I bought his latest CD and love every song on it.  I listen to it when I cook and clean, but every time I listen to Wasted Time, it makes me think of all the time I spent alone, perfectly happy, daydreaming when I was a kid.  The line that catches me is “Ain’t it funny how the best days of my life was all that wasted time.”  Kids today are so busy.  So are their parents and everyone else.  But when I was growing up, kids had lazy summers.  At least, I did.  And I loved it.

When I talk to my friends, we’re all trying to cram too many things into our days.  How many words did we get written?  How many chores did we cross off our lists?  We have goals and we want to meet them, and we’re busy.  That’s good.  It keeps us motivated.  But I’m starting to make time for doing nothing or goofing off or seeing friends.  Life is all about balance, and I’m not going to feel guilty when I turn off my computer and relax or play from now on.

Thanksgiving was the perfect time to eat, yak, and be merry–to enjoy “all that wasted time.”   I hope yours was as nice as mine.  And on Monday?  It’s back to work, but hopefully with a little more balance.

Webpage:  (I’m up to chapter 8 on LUCAS):  http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

Author Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel 

Twitter:  @judypost

Thanks Giving

I’m getting in gear for Thanksgiving.  My two sisters and cousin always come to our house.  I know–our family is pitifully small.  This year, my daughter Holly and her son Tyler can both make it, too.  Nate’s in the marines and can’t make it home until Christmas, but that’s not that far away.  So I feel especially blessed.

We’ve had so many wonderful times with friends and family this year.  Some of our dear, old friends who’d moved away have returned, and it’s like they never left.  The years didn’t diminish our friendship at all.  And as always, I have my writer friends–a true treasure–and today, I want to share my blog with a fellow writer I admire, Julia Donner.  I’ve yammered on and on about how much I love her Regency romances.  She just published a historical western romance, and I love it just as much, so I invited her here to showcase AVENUE TO HEAVEN.  Thanks for the wonderful excerpt, Julia!  I read this book and can’t recommend it enough.  (Jake is a love interest to remember).

Blurb:    When a coffin arrives on Annie Corday’s doorstep she knows who sent it—her former husband, one of Chicago’s most vicious crime lords. Desperate, she decides on a radical solution. If a man can advertise for a wife, why can’t she arrange for a bodyguard and temporary husband?

Jake Williams isn’t looking for a wife when he comes to Chicago to buy cattle but ends up roped into a loco marriage contract. And worse, he can’t stop his headlong fall into love with a woman who will eventually leave.

 

Excerpt:

Colorado

1891

 

By the time Jake returned from the barn, Annie was at the range. He quickly learned that she liked it quiet in the morning, a slow waker. He knew enough about women to not provoke her and quietly ate. The thin, fragile pancakes filled with blackberry preserves were worthy of reverent silence.

He put his plate in the dry sink and went to get his hat. He hesitated at the door, toying with the brim, while trying to judge if she was ready for conversation. He gave up worrying about it and went out.

She surprised him when she joined him on the porch. In the quiet, they watched morning’s shy light spread its warmth across the land. The sharp scents of ragweed and dew-drenched foliage permeated the air. Gentle lowing of cattle drifted up from the pastures below.

He looked over at Annie. She gazed out at the new day and glory of a Colorado summer sunrise. She no longer looked grumpy.

He tugged his hat into place and pulled a pair of gloves from his back pocket. “Thanks for breakfast, Annie. And last night. Your word is good. I haven’t eaten like that in a long time.”

Not since Mother, but he wouldn’t tell her that. No sense in giving her a swelled head.

She stared sleepily at the spectacular view. “Thank you. Will you buy a milk cow?”

“Sorry. I don’t milk cows. I can have the neighbors bring milk over twice a week.”

“Wouldn’t it be easier to have a cow?”

“Are you willing to milk it every morning and night?”

That woke her up. He wisely swallowed a laugh when she scowled. He couldn’t tell if she was annoyed about his refusal to buy the cow or the idea of getting up early to milk it.

“Very well, sir. No cow, but I was accustomed to fresh milk every day and always kept a Jersey in the barn.”

“Small yield.”

“Plenty of cream,” she shot back.

“No cow, Annie. I spent enough years as a ranch hand to have developed a snobbish attitude about milking. Farmers milk cows. Ranchers breed’em.”

She gave up the argument with a sigh and turned back to the view. Jake started to leave, got half way to the barn and came back.

“Annie, do you know how to shoot?”

“Certainly not!”

“Can you drive a team or a single hitch buggy?”

“Yes, and I can ride.”

“Well, that’s something. But you’ll have to learn how to shoot.”

She made an owlish face. “I think not.”

“Annie,” he began, careful to remove all traces of condescension from his tone, “there’s no choice. You have to learn.”

“Give me one reason why.”

“First off, it’s August. The heat draws the rattlers to the water trough and the well out back. Come September, or when the weather turns wet, they won’t be a bother.”

“Are you speaking of rattlesnakes?”

“Yes. They like the water when the heat gets bad.”

“Very well, then. I shall learn.”

“Tomorrow,” he succinctly warned.

“Why so soon?”

“Because, Annie, it’s hot and likely to stay like this for another three weeks.”

She huffed a sigh, letting him know she would do as he asked but that he’d spoiled her morning.

~~~

She suffered through her first weaponry lesson the next day. Her target was a dead tree. Jake demonstrated with a pistol, showing how easy it was for him to shoot off tiny twigs she could barely see and certainly had no interest in killing.

She took the Colt.44 from him and managed to hit everything surrounding the tree but not the tree itself. The pistol weighed too much for her wrist. His army issue revolver wobbled in her feeble grip, even when she used both hands. By the time he told her to stop, she was ready to give up and happily set the pistol on a tree stump. She hadn’t counted on his annoying determination.

He withdrew a rifle from a fringed buckskin case. “Here. This is a Remington D-Ring.”

Exasperated by yet another weapon to fuss with, she made an impatient noise. “How many guns do you have?”

“This is a rifle, not a gun.” Before she could ask, he explained. “It has to do with the interior design of the barrel.”

She huffed an aggrieved sigh and confronted the rifle. Smooth brass pegs had been hammered into the stock for decoration. The unexpected weight of it almost slipped through her fingers and toppled her to the ground. She gamely hoisted it up.

He showed her how to fit it to her shoulder. Standing behind her, he reached around and adjusted the position. She instantly lost the ability to concentrate. His entire body was wrapped around hers, huge and enveloping her within his heat. His breath brushed her cheek. When he correctly positioned her hands, his fingers felt raspy yet gentle. The solid ridge of his thigh supported her hip. The implacable wall of his torso braced her back. She tried to think about what he was saying, but his scent and heat and presence were making her head spin.

She heard his patient directions from a distance and tried to focus on his deep, whispery voice. “Squeeze it, Annie. Slow and easy. Don’t jerk on it. Just slide your finger over it. Here. I’ll show you how.”

His finger covered hers against the trigger. An explosion slammed into her head, her body rammed backward into his chest. The spot where the rifle stock fit against her shoulder felt like she’d been kicked by a horse. But there was a hole in the center of the tree.

Stepping back, he said, sounding oddly hoarse, “Now you try it without me.”

And she did, many times. She listened, forcing attention and persistence, while he explained how to load and clean the rifle. He didn’t stand closely again, but stood a little behind her, ready to support or catch her after the impact of the recoil.

At bedtime, she used a hand mirror to study the bruises on her sore shoulder, quite proud of the smudges. She could barely lift her arm, but she knew how to shoot. Not that she could hit much. The only time the tree had anything to fear was when Jake helped her to aim, but he’d only done that once. She pretended not to feel any disappointment about that, nor about the fact that Harold had yet to wire her about what was happening in Chicago.

That night she dreamed that Charles had come to the peaceful valley, vowing to keep her there forever. Jake was in Chicago at the Clark Street house, happy as a lark, soaking in the black marble tub, fully clothed.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Avenue-Heaven-Westward-Bound-Book-ebook/dp/B076HVGS98/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1509530295&sr=1-1&dpID=41zH8uAUeKL&preST=_SX342_QL70_&dpSrc=detail

 

M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)

Blog: https://historyfanforever.wordpress.com/

Website http://www.MLRigdon.com

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/julia-donner

https://www.facebook.com/Julia-Donner-697165363688218/timeline