Friday, December 6, 2013

Ten Ways to Be A Better Writer by Rita Karnopp

“Always kill with lean writing,” Catherine Coulter once said. “Sloppy writing is not acceptable. … You don’t want to end up being a murder victim in your own book.”
I so believe that . . . and it's the little things that can make you a better writer.
     1. Ban the adjectives - “Treat adverbs like compliments. A few go a long way.  Listen to what you are writing and if you would not say it aloud, then don’t write it.  The trick is to read it aloud, and your ear will reveal the truth.  Remember the golden rule ‘nothing you write is set in stone—change it and change it until it sounds right.
     2. What is wrong with “said?   Avoid repetition- Cut out those “She encouraged.” “He snapped.” “Damn this God forsaken place, he yelled frantically.  Think about it, it’s like writing, “I’m sorry, he apologized.” You don’t need all the excess words. ‘Keep it simple’ applies here. Every time you use a substitute a word for “said,” the reader blinks—and you have pulled her/him out of the scene. Keep in mind you want constant forward motion. Trust your characters – they know what they are thinking and feeling.
     3. Erase exclamation marks – When I started writing I was told you’re allowed three per book - so use them wisely.”
     4. Expunge euphemisms - Blue orbs for eyes? Really?  Don’t stall your reader into pausing – guessing - what are blue orbs?  Back to writing ‘simple.’
     5. Stereotypes – Characters should be unique and true to themselves—especially bad guys. Imagine them and make sure they ring ‘real.’  Are the people you know – our everyday family and friends – are they physically stunning knockouts? Then don’t create perfect people in your books – you know anyone perfect?  I surely don’t.   Make sure you have a very good reason for whatever you do. Consider giving your characters some sort of ‘tag,’ some quirk that will make them real.
      6. Use restraint in sex scenes – Again – ‘less is more.’  Be sensual, even make your reader squirm . . . but do it with taste.  You don’t have to explain every little detail. The reader will get more out of a scene with tasteful illusions.  Do not overwrite.  Remember humor can be sexy.
     7. Skip introspections – Introspection (self-examination or self-analysis) kills pacing and pacing is key to a good story.  If a character can say something aloud instead of think it, then choose to say it aloud.
     8. Use care with violence and language – If an intense violent scene doesn’t actually advance the plot of the story, don’t use it.  Never write scenes with shock value, it’s gratuitous and you don’t need it.”
     9. Never use cliché’s – We’re all sick of them – and they almost make us laugh at this point. ‘Pull an all-nighter.  See the writing on the wall. Fit as a fiddle. Moment of truth.’ Ugh, get rid of them or your reader might stop reading.
     10. And above all, enjoy writing your story – it will show - Don’t take yourself too seriously and don’t push yourself to the point writing is a chore instead of a pleasure. it will not be your best work and it will definitely show.
Happy Holidays Everyone.   Hope these few tips help you to enjoy a more profitable New Year.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Memories of Christmas

I love Christmas. Always have. I'm sure it comes from being raised in a family of Christmas lovers. My mother started the holiday season the day after Thanksgiving by baking. I
swear she made every type of Christmas cookie available. 
Back then, during the holidays friends and relatives visited often and she always served a dish of cookies. 
I remember several big 3# potato chip cans full of cookies. When she went out for the evening, she called to see if we were behaving. Our reward - three cookies. Of course, we took three from each can. Even with six of us (I had three brothers and two sisters) we didn't make a dent. 
Our Christmas tree went up December 6th, the feast of St. Nicholas. We put our stockings up the night before and in the morning we received oranges, apples, and nuts. Sometimes a harmonica or other small toy. 
My mother went all out for Christmas with an elaborate village set up under our tree, complete with hills, caves, and houses - all lit and surrounding the nativity set. It took a whole day for my mom to set it up. I'll never forget her crawling on the floor under the tree. After laying a bed of cotton, she carefully arranged the caves in the back corner, built hills and valleys and placed the houses. She even created streams and ponds with tinfoil and mirrors. Everything led to the nativity set. A cardboard stable held animals along with Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Every year one of us got the privilege of placing baby Jesus in the manger. Once they were in place, she set up the shepherds, wise men, and angels. 
For many years, she place a wooden fence around the whole scene. For some reason, she quit setting that up. I wish I had that fence.
I'll never forget how the neighbors complained that she put the tree up so early because, of course, their kids wanted their tree up also.
On Christmas Eve, we had a traditional supper. My aunt, uncle, and four cousins joined us and after dinner, we went to visit my grandmother.
Our dinner consisted of Oplatky (holy bread wafers like you receive at communion) mushroom soup, balbaki - little bread balls covered in either poppy seed and honey or sauerkraut. At some point, we added periogis to the menu. 
One of my favorite memeroies is the year my uncle decided to dress as Santa Claus. He decided to wear the suit to my grandmother's. My sister and I often rode with him, while some of my cousin rode with my parents.  On this particular year, we stopped at a traffic light. A man came out of the bar on the corner. My uncle waved and yelled Merry Christmas. The man stopped, looked in the car, scratched his head, turned and went back into the bar. Guess he thought he was seeing things. 
I have many great memories of Christmas, and I still carry on the Christmas Eve dinner tradition. 

Wishing everyone a blessed and Merry Christmas.                                                                                                                                                               

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Meet Cassie Fremont - Betrayed's Heroine by Ginger Simpson

I'm so excited to announce the release of my "relationship" novel, Betrayed.  This story is inspired by my sister's real-life experience with computer dating, and delivers a message everyone should read.  The explanation at the end of the book will explain away any doubts you might have and help you understand the writing perspective.  Please, please excuse any typos you might find since in the midst of completing this book, my computer crashed, I finished the manuscript on text edit, then transferred to Word Perfect and transmitted as a Word document.  The book was previously published under a different title, but didn't receive the notoriety it deserves.  Books We Love has given me a chance to revamp the story and offer it with a new title, new name, and correct genre promotion.  I'd like you to meet my heroine, and the best way to do that is through an interview:

Meet Cassie Fremont...

“Get out there.  You promised to do this, remember?”  *Ginger pushing Cassie onto the stage*

*Cassie digs in her heels* “Okay, okay, I’m going, but I’d like to remind you that you’ve already put me through hell in that friggin’ book of yours.”

*Cass approaches the microphone and taps it* “Can everyone hear me?”  *smiles* “My name is Cassie Fremont and I’m the heroine in Betrayed.  I’m not sure what I’m supposed to share with you that Ginger hasn’t already divulged in the story.  God knows she told you everything. *rolls eyes* I guess nothing is sacred when it comes to novels.”

*Pulls up nearby stool and inches her butt onto it. Heaves a big sigh, and runs her hands along her slacks while peering into the bright lights over the crowd.*  “Well, I promised her I’d make an appearance today, along with everyone else she’s invited, so I’ll get on with it.”

*Shrugs* “I’m a dolt   What can I say?  I found myself divorced, middle-aged and lonely.  I share a home with my mother because I don’t want her to live alone, but she pretty much keeps to her own part of the house. I have a lot of spare time so I entertain myself with the Internet. Don’t we all spend time on the computer? Well, I happened across a dating site one night…big deal   I figured it wouldn’t hurt to join and see what happened.  I never expected anyone… Okay, that’s a lie.  I wouldn’t have joined if I hadn’t hoped someone would notice my post.  I just didn’t expect it would turn out like it did.”

*Cassie rises, pulls microphone from stand and walks toward edge of stage.* “I admit I was flattered at all of Evan’s flowery words and his Texas accent, but I have no idea what happened to my common sense.  I’m quite sure everyone was stunned that I let a virtual stranger move into my house… and my bed. *gazes down at stage*  I guess if you’ve never been afraid of growing old alone, you can’t fathom why I did what I did.”

*Pauses, pinches the bridge of her nose, then peers out at the audience again*
“I should have listened to my sister and brother, but I didn’t.  Instead, I flew into a rage and wrote them off.  For too long, they weren’t part of my life, but I was so wrapped up in myself and Evan, I didn’t miss them until things got so bad I had no where else to turn.”

*Shakes her head* “Hey, talking about this is depressing the hell out of me.  I’ve moved on to newer pastures.  If you want to know the whole story, you’ll just have to buy the book. Betrayed…*stares at the ceiling for a moment* "What a dopey name  I would have thought an author would pick a title that didn't give away the story"

"*Walks back to stand and replaces microphone* “I can’t say it was a pleasure being here today, because no one likes to admit being an dolt, but it happens.  All I can say is if I pull another idiotic stunt, I sincerely hope Ginger will have the courtesy to forgo writing another book about it. I could write a journal about her stupidity, but I haven’t.  *looks backstage and flashes a glare, then exits to applause*


If you think this is something you might enjoy, you can find the Kindle version, priced right for immediate purchase on my Amazon page. Cassie's chagrin, I have another story in the works...maybe two more.

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