If you love a good pun, chase this link to the cartoon world of Gnome Ann.
The Original ScrapBox
I saw this on Facebook and immediately started thinking of how I could buy it. Take a hit on my 401K? Save $10 a week for 3 years? Look for used (who would give this up?)
After a little thought, I wondered if I need it. Yes. No. Do I have that many projects planned that I need 70+ baskets to store all my fabrics and notions?
I'm still undecided, but you must admit, it's pretty to look at and fun to dream about.
If you're serious about ordering one and/or want more information, go to:
Otherwise, watch this video, and dream.
If you're not a subscriber to Kindle, the price is $0.99.
Sage Harding is a bored trophy wife. Her VP husband has all but abandoned their marriage. Sage craves adventure, but the most excitement she's able to find is mocking on-line dating sites.
Then a freak accident leaves her a widow, and her nights are haunted by guilt and one particular dating profile.
Lt. Dax Richque is on his last mission before leaving to colonize another planet. He's had a lifetime of adventure and dreads settling down.
Can these two reconcile their differences and find true happiness?
This is an excerpt from "The Plot Thickens:21 Ways to Plot Your Novel", written by me and my wildly creative partner, Jack Monroe.
Love It or Hate It, It’s Time to Outline
It’s time to put some of these lessons into practice, and outline your story. I’m a big fan of outlining; it helps me stay organized and focused, and keeps me drifting off subject.
Your outline should be a living, breathing document, able to change as inspiration and your characters take you in new directions.
You’re going to spend a lot of time on your outline, tweaking it until order starts to take shape. Don’t be discouraged; it’s all worth it in the end.
First, brainstorm the heck out of your story. Nothing is off limits, nothing is a stupid idea. Write down all the elements you want to appear in your novel—the characters, their situations, the setting. Once you feel you’ve exhausted your imagination, start funneling your ideas into something more manageable by writing a summary, an abbreviated version of the main body of work.
Some of the things to consider:
Now list the plot points, the major milestones your character has to experience to get him to the end of the story. Use the Hero’s Journey section of this book to define them.
These plot points will become your scenes. Each scene must have a purpose. Something has to happen which drives the story forward. It will produce a change molded by conflict.
Summarize each scene in a few sentences. Use index cards, Post-Its, an Excel spreadsheet or (my favorite) Scrivener, to organize them.
Elements of a scene:
Do your subplots tie into the main story?
Does your character suffer and grow and change until he can’t go back to the way he was at the story’s beginning?
You probably have an idea of how long you want your novel to be. Using the three or four act structure, break your estimated word count into the appropriate sections. Place your “must-have” scenes where you think they should fit in the overall structure. Take a step back.
Believe it or not, you’ve just outlined your novel! Don’t be surprised if you deviate from it. Characters have a habit of taking over, but you’re in the driver’s seat!
Congratulate yourself and start writing!
The Plot Thickens:21 Ways to Plot Your Novel is available as a FREE Kindle Unlimited book!
We all know the cliches of the spoiled baby of the family or the tyrant older sister. Why not use this information to drive your characters through your story?
In "Birth Order, Adding Depth to the Characters You Write," I examine the strengths and flaws of each child of a family's hierarchy (now grown for your plotting purposes). If you've wondered why your hero is a leader, a clown or a negotiator, the answer might be in where his birth order lies.
The last section looks at the romantic relationships between the different birth orders. Do you want your hero and heroine to clash? Make them both first-borns. If your heroine has older brothers, how does her status affect her relationship with the hero, who is the youngest of his clan?
If you're a subscriber to Kindle Unlimited, this is a FREE book.
A truncated version of this information was presented as a workshop to my writing group, Grand Rapids Region Writers Group.
The Secret the tourist industry isn’t telling you about traveling to Hawaii.
The rest of the world (and media attention) is focused on the zika virus, but we in Hawaii are living day-to-day with Dengue (pronounced Den-gee) fever. As a resident of Hawaii Island (Big Island), I’m sitting in the cross hairs of the most rapidly spreading mosquito-borne viral disease in the world. I know some of its victims. It’s a debilitating disease, called the “Bonecrushing” disease in the past because of severe muscle pains.
What is dengue fever?
Let’s back up a moment and explain the threat. Dengue fever is a viral illness spread by the bite of the Aedes mosquito. Symptoms typically start 5-6 days after being bitten but the onset can range from 2-15 days. Symptoms include fever, rash, severe headaches, joint and muscle pains and possible blood clotting issues. It usually goes away after 1-2 weeks. There is no known cure or effective vaccine because there’s four types of dengue, and scientists are challenged with producing a vaccine that will treat all four.
As of 2-19-2016, 259 cases have been confirmed.
How to Write a Hook for Your Novel
Even if you’re new to writing, you know the importance of writing a hook for your novel. It grabs your reader’s attention and convinces him to buy. A good hook raises questions, piques curiosity, and draws the reader deeper into your story.
Without a compelling, question—producing opening, your reader isn’t going to buy. You only have a few sentences to make an impression. Nowadays, no one has the luxury of time. You have to hit them fast and hard.
Your reader wants to be drawn into a believable world from word one. He expects to be entertained. Don’t disappoint him. Skip the protagonist sitting with a cup of coffee, contemplating the letter she got from dear Aunt Sally. Jump right into the story – Collecting Aunt Sally’s inheritance means quitting the job your protagonist loves and moving back to the town that gave her heartache.
Conversely, don’t plunge the reader so quickly into the story with a one—line exclamation from the protagonist. The reader has no context in which to place it. It’s a cheap device that’s been overused.
Instead, start where the protagonist’s problem begins, raise questions that intrigue the reader, and filter in back—story later.
A hook prepares the reader for what’s ahead—the immediate future of a character and introduces the conflict. It sets the mood and style and gives the setting--all the elements of who, what, why, when, where and how.
Who is the story about?
A penniless orphan? A struggling housewife? A wizard? Whomever you’ve chosen as the protagonist has to strike a cord with your reader. They need to quickly identify with him and his problem.
What is the story about?
On a quest to tighten the household budget, Maddie Nash examined her husband’s current bill for hidden charges. Instead, she found a number repeated thirty-seven times. When she called, a woman answered.
The story now has a “what” – alleged infidelity. How will Maddie respond to her unexpected find? Will she confront her husband? Another layer of curiosity is added to the reader’s expectations.
Why is the story worth reading?
What’s changed or unique? What’s about to change? Throw the reader a curve to intrigue them to read on.
Charlie turned the key to her parents’ back door, and walked in on them making love on the kitchen table.
Charlie is traditionally a man’s name, so the author has introduced the unanticipated. So is the fact of Charlie walking in on her parents making love. The author has set up many questions the reader will pursue by reading further.
Where is the story set?
In London? The moon? A suburban living room? You are creating a world for the reader to step into. Give them a sense of where they are and let them suspend belief.
The air exploded with a violent crack of energy.
Ned Archer swung toward Navy Pier, less than a mile away. The Ferris Wheel still stood, and blue skies negated an accidental fireworks display or a rogue thunderstorm on Lake Michigan. His gaze scraped across the Chicago skyline, No smoke billowed from any of the buildings. His first thought had been of terrorists.
The reader knows the location—Chicago, within sight of its famous Navy Pier. An explosion has taken place. How will our hero-Ned Archer-be involved in the aftermath?
When does the story take place?
The present? Near future? Alternate past? Give the reader a timeframe.
“I hate London.” Charlotte Taylor wrinkled her nose against the fetid air of the nearby Thames. The country was atwitter with the fortieth anniversary of Queen Victoria’s accession…
We know she’s in London during the late Victorian era. Why does Charlotte hate the city that’s in the throes of a celebration?
How is the main character affected?
Does he panic? Turn the other cheek? Ignore the sudden change in his life?
The alien ship crash-landed in the middle of Zealand Harlow’s lunch. Not literally, of course. Her cameraman, Wayne Gregory, a veteran of two Iraqi tours of duty, hit the deck. Zealand rose and surveyed the Chicago skyline, her eyes narrowed.
“Wayne, you idiot, get out from under the table. This might be a terrorist attack.” If someone had attacked the city, she wanted the camera rolling. She had her eyes on bigger things at Channel 29 News.
Zealand is unflappable and very ambitious. She’s got “her eyes on bigger things”. The reader, knowing the “how” of her reaction, and is intrigued enough to read on and find out what she’ll do to get the story.
If you’ve noticed a pattern in these examples, it is that the opening of a story begins when a change takes place. The reader doesn’t care at this point about the main character’s background; he wants to know what happens next.
How can you show when a change takes place?
· Start with the arrival of a stranger (usually bearing bad news)
· Start on a day that is different (Maddie didn’t expect to find evidence of her husband cheating)
· Start with a crisis
· Show something unique, unanticipated (Charlie walking in on her parents)
· Start with the emotional moment in the character’s life that will drive the story
· Begin with dialogue
· Start with a question
· Start in the middle of things. Stuff is happening and the reader has to read more to catch up
In all these scenarios, the change sets off a chain reaction of events that continually get worse and worse for the character. Build from that moment of crisis, force the character to make a commitment and thrust him into a strange and dangerous world.
What to leave out when writing a hook for your novel
You won’t engage your reader if you fall into the common mistakes writers make:
· Don’t add back-story, background, or the past. Stick to what’s happening in the story now.
· Forget character description. There’s time later to have the heroine look in the mirror and admire her luxurious blonde hair, azure eyes and alabaster skin.
· Setting. The reader needs to know where the story takes place, but they don’t need a multi—page description of Aunt Edna’s antique store.
· Discussion of past events. “Shelley, dear sister, something happened today that reminded me of when we found old man Smith’s body, which led to the arrest of Handyman Jones.” Boring, boring, boring. People don’t talk like this in real life.
· Flashbacks. It takes skill to pull one off. You probably don’t have it.
· Introducing too many characters at once.
· Similar names. Matt, Mike, Mick, Mandy and Missy deserve their own stories.
In writing a hook for your novel, you need an existing situation, a character in the situation, a goal, an obstacle and consequences to the decision the character is forced to make. If you add in a reaction to his decision and a problem for the next scene, you’ve got all the ingredients to keep your reader turning page after page.
My alter ego, Cheryl Sterling, has published one of the most fun books she's (I've) ever written. The voice of Betty Banks was bold, strong and kick-ass. She's a purchasing agent for NYC vampires. Life is running smoothly until vampire slayer Gabe Mercer starts killing off her clientele.
Here's the official blurb:
Betty Banks has made a living as a purchasing agent for New York City's vampires. Artificial blood. Sunscreen. Chocolate? Yes, because all of the vamps in Betty's world are women, fighting a bloodlust that hits them in their childbearing years. They're not immortal yet, but Dee Villa, a powerful vampire, hopes to soon make that legend a reality. Under her influence, Betty's clients are taking to the streets, looking for fresh victims. Helping Dee is Betty's grifter father, who sees the Back-to-Nature movement as the perfect con.
Gabe Mercer, a childhood victim of the bloodlust, is a cold, calculating slayer. He's in town to take out Dee, a threat to the peace the government likes to keep. When he crosses paths with Betty, fireworks erupt. Soon, he's embroiled in a fight to save her business, but to do so, he must first confront his past.
Many, many thanks to cover artist Kris Norris (email@example.com)
Who knew this organization existed? One of our favorite Kona thrift stores, Mama's House, posted a few pictures on Facebook, alerting me to this wonderful campaign.
From their website:
People from across the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, The UK, Sweden, the Philippines, Uganda and more gather for a day or an evening of sewing dresses out of pillowcases and fabric. They gather in living rooms, basements, backyards, dining rooms, schools, churches and civic centers.
They join together because they believe that every girl deserves the dignity of owning at least one dress.
How awesome is that?
Check your neighborhood, church or school to see if they participate. If not, start your own sewing party.
Aloha! I love to travel, read, write (check out www.cherylsterlingbooks.com for romantic paranormal