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August 2017
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Tag: reading

Home > ArchivesTag: reading

Three Boys and Books

August 10, 2017 by in category Charmed Writer tagged as , ,

On my bookshelves are a lifetime of beloved books, mine and those of our three sons, all now adults. I’ve always loved books. I grew up in a little Amish town in Ohio, with no library, or bookstore. We did however have the bookmobile. By the age of eight the librarians knew me, knew that I would read however many books I checked out, and would often put aside books they thought I would enjoy to bring on their next trip into town with the bookmobile.

And my father read to us when we were young. Tornado warnings were fun because my father would take us down into the basement with our favorite books and read until the coast was clear. I don’t remember ever being afraid.

My oldest son also loved books. He was reading by age four and loved our library time almost as much as I did. Taking away video games was never much of a punishment because he was happier reading a book anyway. Not just comic books or graphic novels, he read mythology, religion, science fiction and classic literature. I think his favorite authors in high school were Ambrose Bierce and Edgar Allen Poe.

Reading didn’t come as easily for our middle son. When he wasn’t progressing in school, we eventually decided to home school both him, and his younger brother. I wasn’t a teacher, but I knew that reading opened so many doors in life…and that not reading kept doors firmly shut. I scoured the library and bookstores for books that might motivate my eight-year-old son. Eventually, I stumbled on the Star Wars Junior Jedi Series, and caught middle son’s interest. Each day we sat on the sofa, he’d read the first sentence on the page…which he seemed to find torturous, and I’d read the rest of the page. As he progressed he read the first sentence of every paragraph, and eventually we took turns reading paragraphs. It made me happy when he finally began looking forward to our reading time.

One day, he came into the kitchen while I was cooking dinner, a book in his hand and asked. “Mom, what’s this word.”

Startled I looked at him and the book and asked “What are you doing?”

His expression told me what a ridiculous question I’d asked. “I’m reading, if I wait for you I’ll never find out what happens!” He answered, and I knew he was a reader. I hugged him, told him the word, and sat down to cry happy…relieved tears.

The other day I was sorting through years of schoolwork that I’d kept for proof of the work the boys and I had done during our homeschooling years. I came across a book report by my youngest son.  The book was Mystery of the Dinosaur Graveyard, and we’d checked it out of the library. The last sentence youngest son wrote was “I didn’t want the book to be over.” It was the first novel that he’d ever read. I remember reading that report for the first time and knowing that all three of my sons would be lifelong readers. I tried to buy a copy of the book but it was no longer in print. It was nowhere to be found. I was ready to commit the most heinous of crimes, and tell the library that I’d lost the book and pay their fines.

This was in 1998. We didn’t have the internet yet (or so I thought) because I thought the internet was a betrayal of the library. Oldest son was in high school, he got onto his video game system, accessed Amazon and asked them to search for the book. Within a week they’d found the book, I’d made my first internet purchase, and my son had saved me from life in the ‘Big House’.

I can’t imagine a life without books. Library books, print books, ebooks, there are never enough, although my husband, and friends and family who have helped us move may disagree. And although my sons’ bookshelves are filled with Brandon Sanderson, Tolkien, Ambrose Bierce, and Terry Brooks, and mine are filled with Phillipa Greggory, Sarah Dunant, Rebecca Forster, Erika Robuk (and so very many more) I’m so glad that we share a passion for reading and books.

What’s on your bookshelves? And who shares your love of books and reading? What are you reading right now?

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Share if you remember when…..

July 20, 2017 by in category Writing tagged as , , , ,

I recently posted a picture on my Facebook site of a Simplicity sewing pattern from around the 1970’s.  The banner on the top read, “ SHARE IF YOU REMEMBER WHEN MOM WOULD MAKE YOUR CLOTHES.”


Boy, did it stir some special memories of a different time and place. In one short afternoon, hundreds  liked it and over the days that followed many more liked, shared and commented. The comments keep coming. It’s probably one of the most active posts I’ve ever had and I’m guessing that many of the comments came from men and women in their 50’s and 60’s.

Some remembered their mothers (or grandmothers) sewing them everything from pajamas to school uniforms to prom dresses. A few bragged that their moms made clothing for their Barbie, Ken and even GI Joe dolls. Some struggled through Home EC classes themselves and shared tales filled with evil task masters and measuring tape miracle workers.  It was not uncommon to hear about failed sewing projects that made their way home only to be resuscitated by mom. A few said that they themselves now successfully sewed for their kids or that they had friends who had become master seamstresses.

There were some lovely, often humorous, memories shared and it really got me to thinking.

I have four real passions in my life: Family, Writing, Reading and of course, Sewing. And as I was thinking about it, I realized that each of these passions grew from time spent with my mother.  To mom, family was everything and she raised us to always remember that. She was an avid reader, a poet and a phenomenal seamstress. And through her example, she ingrained a love for each of these things in me. Those are such wonderful memories to have.

My own kids have grown up watching me living a life centered around my family, always working on a sewing project, with a book close in hand. Recently they watched me as I’ve thrown my hat into the writers’ ring.

So now I have to I wonder what tales they’ll tell when asked…”Do you remember when your mom would…”

Do you remember when your mom…or dad…would…? What would you say?

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Conflict & Tension – The Ticking Clock

July 19, 2017 by in category On writing . . . tagged as , , ,

I read a lot. I devour books of all genres – Indie and traditionally published, new and old. I need to know what’s selling, what’s succeeding and what stories are breaking through the competition to become a hit (and I really love to read!). There are lessons to be learned in every book I read and those lessons always make me a better editor.

Lately I’ve seen a trend toward ratcheting up the level of tension. It’s not just serial killer thrillers where the plot is structured for the loudest ticking clock; I see it in every genre. There’s more than a clock ticking, there’s a nuclear device with a very short fuse. And the fuse is lit from page one on. Some of these tales are wound so tight I nearly get an ulcer fretting my way to the solution. It leaves me exhausted (entertained, but exhausted), and leads me to consider the element of tension.

We all know that tension is a required element of every story. It’s what draws the reader into an emotional engagement with the tale. Conflict and tension go nicely hand in hand but conflict alone doesn’t create tension. You need that emotional investment in the character’s fate so that the reader cares about the outcome. Tension is about anticipation. Phil and Philly flirt. What will this lead to? Will this bring out the monster in Philly’s father? Will Phil leave Dotty for the long legged Philly? What if Dotty won’t let go easily?

We care because you’ve created characters that resonate with the reader, characters worth rooting for. We need to know what happens. It’s the anticipation that draws us on. A conflict is just a conflict – two opposing forces on a collision course. Not very exciting unless it’s infused with an emotional content that makes us care about the outcome of the clash. And with well-drawn characters a story is richer with several elements of tension. Tension can be anywhere and everywhere – between characters, within a character himself, with the outside world. There are enough possibilities for an element of tension in every scene and that’s a great tool for moving the story forward.

But that golden element requires balance. The suspense created by tension should ebb and flow or you’ll burn the reader out. Down time from tension allows a place to let the characters develop further, build on the setting or background, weave in foreshadowing. Let the moments of tension grow in intensity as the story progresses until it stand shockingly tall as the blockbuster needed for the climax. Bring your reader along for the ride without always creating the need for a stiff drink.


Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange
With a BA in Anthropology and English I pursued a career in advertising and writing and segued into developmental editing. It was a great choice for me. I love the process of creating and am privileged to be part of that process for so many great voices — voices both seasoned and new.

I’ve worked on nearly 400 books over 20 years, books by noted authors published by New York houses including Penguin, Kensington, Pentacle and Zebra as well as with Indie bestsellers and Amazon dynamos. From Air Force manuals and marketing materials to memoirs, thrillers, sci fi and romance, my services range from copyediting to developmental coaching.

Having worked in advertising and marketing, I am always cognizant of the marketplace in which the author’s work will be seen. I coach for content and style with that knowledge in mind in order to maximize sales and/or educational potential. My objective is to help the author’s material stand out from an ever more crowded and competitive field.

Jenny Jensen

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Time Passes

July 6, 2017 by in category Pets, Romance & Lots of Suspense tagged as , , ,

Pets Romance & Lots of SuspenceI write posts for several blogs each month–and this month I’ve been tending to mention in most of them that it’s July already.  The year 2017 is half gone already.  Time certainly passes quickly!  Do you feel the same way?  What happened to the first six months of this year?

The two books of mine scheduled for publication this year have already come out. BAD TO THE BONE, my third Barkery & Biscuits Mystery, was published in May, and PROTECTOR WOLF, my eighth Alpha Force paranormal romance for Harlequin Nocturne was published in June.  I’ve met deadlines for books scheduled to come out next year and am coming up with ideas for more.

Since I became a full-time writer, every year is somewhat the same, at least generally.  I write a lot and spend time on the computer learning more and promoting what I write.  I attend chapter meetings and conferences held by writing organizations and meet up with friends.  I spend time with my husband, too.  I play with my dogs.  I travel now and then.

Every year is different, too.  What I’m writing changes.  I’m not currently writing Superstition Mysteries, but I have started a new miniseries for Harlequin Romantic Suspense called K-9 Ranch Rescue.  The first book in that miniseries, SECOND CHANCE SOLDIER, will be a March 2018 release.  And my fourth Barkery & Biscuits Mystery will be a May release.  Will I  have another Harlequin Nocturne published?  Possibly, but it will be the last one since the series is ending.

Another thing that’s different about this year is that I haven’t been able to attend meetings of the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America as often as I usually do, thanks to a knee injury.  But I’m improving and hope my ability to get to the meetings will improve, too.

So how has 2017 been going for you?  If you’re a writer, what have you been writing?  If you’re a reader, what have you been reading?

And does this year seem to be going especially fast for you, too?  Think about it!

Writers Write| Linda O. Johnston | A Slice of Orange Linda O! Johnston

Linda first novel was the 1995 Love Spell time travel romance A Glimpse of Forever. Since then she has published over 40 novels—mysteries and romances, including paranormal romance and romantic suspense.

Linda has two new books out for 2017. May 8th will see the release of BAD TO THE BONE, the third book in the Barkery & Biscuits Mystery Series. On June 1st, her book PROTECTOR WOLF (Alpha Force) a part of the popular Harlequin Nocturne series of paranormal romances will be published.

Linda also blogs at Killer Hobbies, Killer Characters and Midnight Ink Author blog. You can also find her on Facebook.




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