Hooks!

I’ve been posting words for #1linewed on twitter for a while now.  Do they help me sell books?  Maybe.  I have no idea, but once a week, Kiss of Death chooses a word that you’ve hopefully used in your WIP, and you can post that tiny section on twitter with the hashtag #1linewed.  I think it’s fun to share them and see what other authors have shared.  For example, for last Wednesday–the 5th–Kiss of Death posted:  Something different for our 12/5/18 THEME. Give us your best end of chapter **CLIFFHANGER** line. Hooks make a reader turn pages so show us what you’ve got! 

I have to admit, my wonderful critique partner, M.L. Rigdon, often catches mushy chapter endings in my manuscript and I have to beef them up, so the idea of LOOKING for cliffhangers worried me, especially in a first draft.  But bless Scribes, they’ve expounded the idea of hooks at the end of chapters so many times, I did better than I thought.  And they were easier to find than I’d first thought, too.  I just printed FIND for my manuscript and typed in Chapter, and ta-da!  I scrolled up to the end of the previous one and found my hooks pronto–something I should start doing on a regular basis when I polish my manuscripts.  For the end of chapter 1 in The Body in Apartment 2D, (what I’m working on now), I found:

 “Are you going to be okay?”

            Radley shrugged.  “You know Bain’s temper.  He’ll stew and grumble, then get over it in a while.”

            That’s when they heard a gunshot.  They all looked at each other, then raced for the stairs.

Not too shabby.  I posted it.  But I was curious now.  I looked at more of my chapter endings.  For the end of chapter 2, I found:

Jazzi’s heart sank.  She felt it shrivel and weep.  Bain.  Living with them.  And he’d be in a worse mood than usual.  But he was Ansel’s brother.  They couldn’t just leave him on the streets.  Could they?  No.  Shame on her.  But she wasn’t looking forward to spending time with Ansel’s oldest brother.

Not brilliant, but it would do.   At least for now.

Anyway, the whole exercise was a good reminder that EVERY chapter should end with some kind of hook, something to encourage the reader to turn the page.  I hope all of your chapters end well:)  I’m checking mine from now on.

Happy Writing!

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A Goodreads giveaway!

I’d like to introduce you to Karen Lenfestey, whose book 5 O’CLOCK SHADOW is available on a Goodreads giveaway from December 6-17.  Karen writes women’s fiction and is part of my writers’ group.  We tease her and call her the Queen of Drama.  For good reason.  She takes wonderful, lovely characters and forces them to face the kinds of situations that all of us dread, making them stronger in the process.

In FIVE O’CLOCK SHADOW, Claire Tillman is a social studies teacher, who out of an act of kindness, ends up in all kinds of trouble.  Here’s the blurb for the story:

When social studies teacher, Claire Tillman, finds one of her seniors sleeping in his car, her maternal instinct kicks in. Despite her crumbling marriage, she welcomes Jaxon into her home. She even offers to help him find the father he’s never met so he can come to Jaxon’s high school graduation. As she follows Jaxon’s journey, she realizes the story of her own father’s death doesn’t add up. He died accidentally when she was young and yet her mother is still bitter about it. Digging into her own family history, she discovers that her father had a secret that turns her life upside down. 
Will Jaxon and Claire regret finding out who their fathers really were? 

To enter the giveaway, here’s the link:  https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/enter_kindle_giveaway/287084-five-o-clock-shadow

I’ve invited Karen to my blog for a Question and Answer session.  Please make her feel welcome!

  1. When did you decide to write your first book?  I started writing as a child when my parents sent me to my room. And why? Since I lived in the country and didn’t have cable TV, making up stories entertained me. I was too shy to let anyone read them, though. When I had my baby, I wrote a novel about someone questioning their childless by choice marriage, called A Sister’s Promise. Eventually I became brave enough to join a critique group and that has made all of the difference in my writing career. (Thanks Summit City Scribes!)
  2. You’re a counselor, aren’t you?  Yes, I’ve been both a high school and a college counselor. How does that affect your writing? My students break my heart and inspire me with their resiliency. For example, one of my students told me her mother wouldn’t tell her who her father was. The young woman said whenever she’s in public she looks at men approximately the right age and wonders if one of them is her father. That intrigued me so much that I wrote 5 O’Clock Shadow about a teenager who longs to find the father he’s never known.
  3. Your books have strong themes of relationships.  Is that the kind of book you enjoy to read?  I like a combination of complicated relationships with a bit of suspense. Who are some of your favorite authors? Lisa Scottoline and Shari Lapena do a great job with making me anxious to turn the page. I also really like Kristina Riggle, Diane Chamberlain and Anna Quindlen for their interesting, often dysfunctional, characters.
  4. I know you love to travel.  If you could choose one place you’d love to see, where would it be? I would love to ride on a gondola in Venice, but I’m hesitant because I don’t speak Italian.
  5. Do you have an all-time favorite movie?  I’ve always loved “When Harry Met Sally” but for a more modern choice, I laughed out loud at “Crazy Rich Asians.” I’m looking forward to watching the sequel with my girlfriends.
  6. If you could give a new author one piece of advice, what would it be? Find people who will give you honest feedback with plenty of encouragement while you’re polishing your rough draft.

Thanks for visiting my blog and letting us get to know you better!

To visit Karen’s blog:  https://www.karensnovels.com/

Karen Lenfestey's Five O'Clock Shadow

Thanks, Judy, for inviting me to share my story on your blog!

 

It’s Not Easy

My writers club had its last official meeting for the year on Wednesday.  We meet twice a month except in December, and for that month, we have our annual Christmas carry-in, and that’s it.  No critiques.  No agenda.  Just sharing food and conversation.  I always e-mail every member and invite them to come, even if they’ve missed a few meetings.  I did that this morning, and as always, it made me think about the people who used to be regular members who no longer are.

Plenty of people have tried Scribes and dropped us as quickly as possible.  We’re not for everyone.  But I’m not talking about those.  I’m thinking of writers who came month after month, sometimes year after year, and then disappeared for various reasons.  Sometimes, they move.  Sometimes they get divorced and their lives go into upheaval, and they can no longer write.  A baby’s arrival can usurp a mother’s time.  Some have health issues.  One of our members just had three heart surgeries in two days, and she finally got to return to us, thank heavens.  Not everyone can.  One member retired, and now she travels and plays too much to write.  I know Life can throw people curveballs, and it’s sad to lose them from our group, but I understand why.

The missing-in-action because of discouragement bother me more.  I’ve watched people who share their pages with us rewrite them, share them again, get better, and become talented writers, only to give up under the heavy weight of rejection.  They decide they’ll never be good enough, never sell.  I get it.  Rejection hurts.  But . . .  it’s part of being a writer.  Still, and I have to remember this, it’s not for everyone.  When writing causes more pain than joy, maybe it’s time to walk away, to give writing a break.  I always hope they’ll pick it up again at some other time, but maybe they won’t.  Maybe writing doesn’t grip them like it does me.  Maybe other interests bring more fulfillment.

There have been many times that I’ve been discouraged.  Many times that I think I must be a masochist for pounding away at stories and novels.  But if I stop for a while, the emptiness is too much.  I never dreamed of being a writer, but writing is just like my pet strays.  Once I opened the door for it a tiny crack, it took over my life.  Writing isn’t easy.  Rejection is worse.  And talent doesn’t guarantee success.

Jeez, I sound gloomy.  But the good news is that I celebrate every time a writer I know, including myself, finds some success.  And there have been enough successes to keep me hopeful.  Scribes is full of wonderful, brilliant writers, and we work to encourage each other.  I hope you find encouragement and joy in your writing, too.

Happy December!

 

And P.S.  If you live in Fort Wayne, Kyra Jacobs and T.G. Wolff will be signing books and reading short excerpts at Half-Price Books this Saturday, Dec. 1st, from one to three.

 

A Little Late

My grandson Tyler recently got engaged.  We love Emily, the girl he asked to marry him.  She comes from a big extended family, though, and they all get together for Thanksgiving.  Our family these days is dinky.  My daughter Robyn lives in Florida with her husband.  Our grandson Nate’s in the marines in San Diego.  John’s brother lives in Oakland.  When we get together, it’s my two sisters, my cousin, and my daughter Holly.  And she’s a nurse.  She had to work this Thanksgiving, so we decided what the heck?  Why not have our Thanksgiving late?  So Tyler and Emily are coming home late tomorrow afternoon.  Holly’s coming early on Sunday.  We’re all going to celebrate then.

Ty and Emily already did the traditional meal–twice.  Holly’s hospital put on the works for the doctors and nurses who had to work.  And we had a friend over for turkey, brussel sprouts, and cranberry sauce, so everyone’s had enough of the usual feast.  To change it up, we decided to make chicken cordon bleu instead.  Mary will still bring her cheesy potatoes and Patty makes the green bean casserole.  I’m going to try Geoffrey Zakarian’s Hawaiian roll stuffing, a big salad (no Romaine, darn it!) to keep it light, and a pumpkin roll.  Ty always expects one of those.

It’s been so low-key this year, it’s nice.  When we all sit down on Sunday, your Thanksgivings will already be over, and I hope they were wonderful.  But I thought shifting our days around might bother me.  I worried I’d wake up on Thursday and miss the bustle.  I didn’t.  For this year, being flexible was nice.

Once you’re back on schedule, happy writing!

Stan Lee

I don’t buy comic books and I don’t know much about any of the heroes, but when my grandsons lived with us, they dragged me to see a lot of Iron Man, Avengers, and X Men movies.  And I enjoyed almost all of them.  Just like the urban fantasies that I love, comic book heroes always face overwhelming odds.  Good always versus evil.  The fate of the world is at stake.  And there’s so much action.  How fun is that?  So it surprised me when I listened to a quote by Stan Lee, after his death, where he said, “I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers. And then I began to realize: Entertainment is one of the most important things in people’s lives. Without it, they might go off the deep end.”  (I got that quote from Screen Rant’s list of 10 most important quotes from Stan Lee:  https://screenrant.com/10-inspirational-stan-lee-quotes/ )

I love his words.  When I was a kid, I always wanted to do something important with my life.    It wasn’t about making oodles of money.  It was about changing the world, and in my eight-year-old mind that equated to becoming a teacher.  To me, teachers shaped kids’ minds and kids were our future.  And I didn’t change my opinion all through school and college.  That’s why I taught elementary for six years.  But it dawned on me that yes, teaching was important, but there were so many other factors that shaped a child, my influence was like a pebble dropping into an ocean.  And when laws changed, and Indiana wouldn’t hire anyone with a Master’s Degree anymore when I wanted to return to my old job, I told myself that raising two awesome daughters could change the world, too.  Still believe that.  And then when I discovered writing, I thought I’d found the perfect vehicle for more.

Somewhere in time, though, I realized that serious fiction might not be for me.  I was more drawn to genre novels.  At the first writers’ conference that I ever attended, the speaker asked us to raise our hands if we wrote genre.  My friend and I lifted our arms, and he sneered at us and informed us that we were hack writers, that we only worked for money.  (I wish).  Now, I knew that I’d never be compared to Margaret Atwood or Shakespeare, but that still ticked me off.  I took pride in what I wrote whether he thought it was worthy of literature or not.

A few writer conferences later (and I chose ones that focused on genre fiction), and the speaker asked one of the really talented romance writers why she chose to write “beneath” her.  Again, I silently fumed while the poor writer struggled for an answer.  (She came up with a good one, too.  Not that it satisfied Mr. Smirky Pants).  Since then, I’ve decided that it’s hard to write ANYTHING well.  And if you do a good job, you’ve earned my respect.  I’ve also learned that some people STILL have to have an hierarchy of what’s important literature and what’s not.  That’s their problem, not mine.  But I still fussed about the things that, in my mind, I couldn’t write well.

That’s part of the reason I had so much fun writing outside of my comfort zone for the three short stories I posted on my webpage for the beginning of October.  I’d told myself that I couldn’t write dark and dismal very well.  And when I posted those three stories, I was pretty satisfied with them.  I’d achieved my goal.  And do you know what?  It wasn’t as much fun as I thought it would be.  Because they’re not the real me.  Yes, I could write them.  Did I want to write any more?  Not really.  And that was a revelation for me.  I’m happy writing what I write.  That’s why Stan Lee’s quote struck such a chord for me.

I’m grateful to all of the authors who write the books that I love to read, the ones that bring me so much enjoyment.  Stan Lee’s right.  Offering entertainment is an end in itself.  Yes, serious, weighty volumes inspire me, but so do cozy mysteries and smalltown romances.  The world needs people who care about what they do, whether they collect garbage, perform surgeries, sing and dance, or write comic books.  Do what you feel passionate about (within reason:)

P.S.  I won’t be posting another blog until after Thanksgiving, so enjoy the holiday.  And happy writing!

How to Hide a Body

M. L. Rigdon shared her blog with me today. We’ve been friends for too many years to confess, so I sure enjoyed visiting her space on the internet. Plus, she helped me plug my book:)

historyfanforever

It’s a pleasure to have the wonderful Judi Lynn visit my blog. When we met (long ago), she was writing mystery, then urban fantasy, then was offered a contract with Kensington to write a series of romances, which she doubted she could do. Hah! For them, and us, she wrote a marvelous series about Mill Pond, peopled by characters so real you wanted them as your forever friends, characters so alive that they made you laugh and cry, allowed you worry about their problems and rejoice in their triumphs. And oye, the food! (Ms. Lynn’s a kitchen goddess after all.)

The Mill Pond series was followed by a request to write cozy mysteries, just what Judi loves. To look at her, one would never think that someone so jolly and generous could think up so many unique ways to murder people. But then, you’ve never seen the bathroom wall she…

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Book Signings

My husband and I went to hear Anna Lee Huber at Barnes & Noble on Thursday night, and as much as I enjoyed it–and I enjoyed it a lot–I think he enjoyed it even more.  He has a thing for World War I and II history, and Anna’s new Verity Kent mystery series takes place right after World War I.   She had information neither of us had ever heard of.  Did you know that Britain recruited aristocratic women to be spies and go behind enemy lines when Germany cut off Belgium and occupied it?  The conditions of that poor country and German-occupied France was deplorable.  Never mind the conditions in the trenches.

Before Anna even started her presentation, she let us chatter with her about writing and publication.  John loves that, too.  He actually likes talking writing and the business end of it as much as I do.  Probably has to out of self-defense.  Anna writes TWO historical mystery series.  Both of them intrigue me.  Her Lady Darby series is set in 1830s England.  Now, as everyone must know by now, I’m a huge fan of Julia Donner’s Regency romances, which take place from about 1810 to 1820 (unless Julia reads this and corrects me).  Anna loves research as much as Julia Donner, but she purposely picked the 1830s because no one had written very much about that time period.  A good writers’ tip.  Find a niche of your own.  The 1830s were between the Regency period and the Victorian years.  A nice pocket to explore.  Too soon for Jack the Ripper–which always intrigues me:)  That series is her Lady Darby series, and I’ve already bought the first book (on sale as I write this) to try.

Her second series is the one John’s excited to start.  It’s the years right after World War I with plenty of flashbacks about the war.  It’s her Verity Kent (she’s a spy for England) series.  The second book in the series recently came out:

The good news is that Anna Lee Huber was interviewed on NPR the morning of her signing.  The sad news is that John and I and ONE other person showed up to hear her, besides her mother.  Fun for us, since we got to ask more questions and interact with her more.  And she’s DELIGHTFUL.  Just saying.  But not so good for her, because she didn’t sell many books.  She took it in her stride.  Book signings are like that.  Sometimes, people show up.  Sometimes, they don’t.  And only the heavens know why.

Talking about people showing up, I’m plugging the reading event (with Kyra Jacobs, Julia Donner, TG Wolff, L.A. Reminicky, and me in Decature on Nov. 17 at 6 p.m. again.  It’s hosted by The Next Page Bookstore and Monster Pizza.  Hope you can make it.

AND, it snowed today.  Just enough to let you know it’s cold outside.  So I hope you’re holed up inside and hitting the keys.  Happy writing!

 

P.S.  If you look up Anna Lee Huber on Goodreads and look at her reading lists, etc., she has a shelf of books she uses for research…in case you’re a history buff like someone I know who writes Regencies.

 

 

Looking forward to November

A new month started, and I’m excited about it.  First, I’m hoping to have more writing time in November than I did in October.  October got busier than usual, so that I had to write around and inbetween things.  I don’t mind that, but if I don’t have as many distractions for a while, that would be even better.  I know there are writers who are trying to pound out 50,000 words this month for Nanowrimo.  I wish them the best.  My mind can’t even fathom what they’re doing.  Too much pressure for me.  I’m happy if I produce 2,000 words/day.  And if I calculated right, taking out the two Wednesdays for Scribes and my family coming for Thanksgiving and grocery shopping, etc., I’ll be lucky if I get 15 full writing days in November, since I usually don’t write on the weekend.  That means, if I can get 30,000 more words on my 4th mystery by December, I’ll be happy.  I’ll only have to pump out 20,000 more in December–and I always lose more time then–but it’s always because I’m having fun.  My goal is to have the first draft done before Christmas.  Wish me luck.

Another thing I’m excited about this month is a writing event I’ll get to participate in with several other local authors.

T.G. Wolff (her blog: http://tgwolff.com/) talked to

Kyra Jacobs (https://www.amazon.com/Kyra-Jacobs/e/B00E5PIJ04/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1541214697&sr=1-2-ent), and somehow I was invited to join them at The Next Page Bookstore Author Event in Decatur, Indiana, on Nov. 17, from 6 to 8, along with:

L.A. Remenicky (https://www.amazon.com/L.A.-Remenicky/e/B00FNS31EG/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1541214883&sr=1-2-ent) and

Julia Donner (https://www.amazon.com/Julia-Donner/e/B00J65E8TY/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1541214956&sr=1-2-ent), aka M.L. Rigdon (https://www.amazon.com/M.L.-Rigdon/e/B0086UZFGA/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1541215046&sr=1-2-ent).

We plan to do 2 five-minute readings each from one of our books.  I haven’t done a reading for a long time.  I’m going to have to practice:)  I always enjoy meeting with fellow authors, and we’ll get to meet with readers, too.  A great night!

And then, soon after that, is Thanksgiving.  I’m still talking to my daughter and grandson who live in Indy about when they’re coming to celebrate.  Holly–a nurse–has to work that night, and Tyler’s going to his (serious) girlfriend’s family’s for their big dinner.  We’re playing with the idea of them coming AFTER Thanksgiving, and the hubs and I will have the traditional feast with my sisters and cousin and then have everyone over another time for gumbo.  Tyler loves leftover turkey gumbo, so that would be fun.

One more thing to mention is that Anna Lee Huber, the mystery writer, will be at Glenbrook’s Barnes and Noble on Thursday, Nov. 8th at 7:00.  I’m hoping to get to hear her.

https://www.amazon.com/Anna-Lee-Huber/e/B007G2ODGM/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Whew!  I think that’s it for this month.  Enough to keep me busy, but some open days to write.  Happy writing to you, too!

Pre-Order The Body In The Attic by Judi Lynn #cozy #mystery

Mae Clair was kind enough to invite me to her blog to promote The Body in the Attic. I always read Mae’s blog, so it was an honor to be a guest on it. You might want to check her and her books out, too.

From the Pen of Mae Clair

Happy first day of November! To kick off the month, I’m delighted to welcome friend and sister author, Judi Lynn. We’ve shared the same publisher for many years now. Judi has a new mystery release coming out in November that I’m super excited about and have already pre-ordered. Before I turn things over so she can tell you about it, please be sure to check out her blog. She’s wonderfully supportive of others and shares engaging posts that I know you’ll enjoy. And now….take it away Judi!


I want to thank Mae for inviting me to her blog.  We’re sister authors for Lyrical Press.  I loved her Point Pleasant series and the start of her Hode’s Hill series.  CUSP OF NIGHT has such a great mix of mystery and paranormal, I’m waiting for the second book to come out in January!  My first mystery, THE BODY IN THE ATTIC…

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