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My Book Friends

June 15, 2021 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster, Writing tagged as , , , , ,

This week I had lunch with two of my oldest writing buddies – the ever fabulous Mindy Neff and equally fabulous Sandy Chvostal. I met them soon after publishing my first book. Over the years I have truly come to treasure my book friends.  In fact,  I think the world should be run by book friends and here is why:

1) Book friends are inclusive. I have never been asked how old I am, what my heritage is, what my political party is, what my religion is. What I have been asked is,’what have you read/written lately?’ Instant friends!

2) Book friends are creative. We share not only a love of reading, but a love of creating. I’ve met sewers, quilter, carpenters, crafters, and chefs. I wonder if we love creating things because we need to move around after spending so much time reading, or do we read because we’re exhausted from our hobbies?

3) Book friends are endlessly curious. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t read, or review, ask questions about what they’ve read, or waxed poetic about it. I love being asked, “have you read (fill in the blank)” because I know the conversation is going to be interesting.

4) Book friends are generous. Time with a book is time we treasure, but reader friends will put down their book to come to another friend’s aid. Period. No questions asked.

5) Book friends are open. All of us have preferred genres, but we like to  try something new. I’m a thriller lover yet there are historical fiction books I’ll never forget, nonfiction works I love, even action/adventure novels that have kept me up late into the night.

So it was no surprise that when I received an invitation from a group of authors to join their Facebook reader’s group, My Book Friends, I did.  The authors are fun, smart, and generous. They primarily write women’s fiction and romance, but welcome my gritty thrillers. The members of My Book Friends are creative, curious, and inclusive.

The bottom line is this: no one can have too many books or too many book friends. That’s something we can all count on.

You’re Invited June 16, 4-5PM Pacific: Cocktails, Cops & Conversation . Help me celebrate my birthday and Detective Finn O’Brien’s fourth birthday as we talk about my latest release INTIMATE RELATIONS.

Join My Book Friends.

Read INTIMATE RELATIONS  FREE at KindleUnlimited; 99¢ to buy

 

The Finn O’Brien Thriller Series

(Click on the cover for more information. Hover over the cover for buy links.)

SEVERED RELATIONS

Buy now!
SEVERED RELATIONS

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Buy now!
FOREIGN RELATIONS

SECRET RELATIONS

Buy now!
SECRET RELATIONS
INTIMATE RELATIONS

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PORTMANTEAUS*

July 19, 2020 by in category On writing . . . by Jenny Jensen, Writing tagged as , ,
Portmanteau | Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

We’re so lucky. The English language is like play dough.

Oh yes, we have strict rules of grammar, tense, POV, all the way to the minutia of intransitive verbs.  We can choose from a number of eminent grammar and style guides to ensure conformity. We have stalwart English teachers to drill those rules into our heads so that we are all on the same page. (And bless them all – there is nothing better than order over chaos).  But despite those rules a writer has so much freedom to shape our mother tongue into forms wry, brittle, silly, heartbreaking, snarky or just plain mad.

I don’t have much command of any other language; a smatter of German, a soupçon of French, about a third cup of Latin and a healthy plateful of Spanish. But I do know that the rules of those languages are not as forgiving as English — not as much room to roam before you run afoul of the language police.  English allows us to mangle all the rules of spelling, meaning, and sentence structure to reflect dialect, or character traits, add color, shift perceptions or mood and anyone with a good command of English can understand — and only pedants ever complain. Of course, you have to use the rules of punctuation.  Gotta have those traffic signs.

Anthony Burgess used bits and pieces of Russian mixed with Shakespearian English and other tongues to give us Nadsat, the terrifyingly unique argot of his dark characters in A Clockwork Orange. The reader may have had to work at it a bit, but it was intelligible and colored the story with an unforgettable feel. Fantasy and Sci Fi from J.K. Rowling to Ursula K. Le Guin play with all sorts of mixed up language that become magical words and when you’re reading in those worlds you understand.

Dialect and special vocabulary enrich a tale on many levels and I’m in awe of those writers who do them well, but my favorite form of play dough English is the portmanteau. Anybody can create one of these inventive combinations, and everybody does — usually with something faintly deprecating or ironically funny in mind.  And with just one word a portmanteau can ooze with meaning. Frenemy speaks volumes — we’ve all had one and it’s exhilarating to give ‘em a proper name. Craptacular very neatly wraps up the verdict on so much of our over-hyped media. And then there’s pompidity, my own invention from University days when I struggled to describe the quality of politicians.

All writers love words. Words are paint, chisel, fabric, and clay for our creativity. If you can’t find that one word that perfectly reflects your intent, try cobbling a new one together — no one will take points away.  Blog is a portmanteau (web log) so if you’re lucky enough to have your portmanteau go viral, you might wind up in the OED.

 

 

With a BA in Anthropology and English Jenny pursued a career in advertising and writing and segued into developmental editing. She has worked on nearly 400 books during her career. Her clients include both traditionally published and indie authors. She has worked in every genre from romance to horror and thrillers as well as edited  Air Force manuals, commercial communications and memoirs. She offers every service from copyediting to developmental coaching. 

 

 

*This blog is an oldie but goodie, originally published in March, 2018

 

 

 

 

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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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What Eccentric Writing Habits Have I Never Mentioned? By Connie Vines

October 13, 2016 by in category Archives tagged as , , , ,

Most authors, of course, have personal eccentric writing practices. Fueled, no doubt by his or her personal muse.  Agatha Christie munched on apples in the bathtub while pondering murder plots, Flannery O’Connor crunched vanilla wafers, and Vladimir Nabokov fueled his “prefatory glow” with molasses.

Then there was the color-coding of the muses:  Alexandre Dumas, for decades, he penned all of his fiction on a particular shade of blue paper, his poetry on yellow, and his articles on pink; on one occasion, while traveling in Europe, he ran out of his precious blue paper and was forced to write on a cream-colored pad, which he was convinced made his fiction suffer. Charles Dickens was partial to blue ink, but not for superstitious reasons — because it dried faster than other colors, it allowed him to pen his fiction and letters without the drudgery of blotting. Virginia Woolf used different-colored inks in her pens — greens, blues, and purples. Purple was her favorite, reserved for letters (including her love letters to Vita Sackville-West, diary entries, and manuscript drafts. Lewis Carroll also preferred purple ink, but for much more pragmatic reasons: During his years teaching mathematics at Oxford, teachers were expected to use purple ink to correct students’ work — a habit that carried over to Carroll’s fiction.

So how do my little eccentric (or never before mentioned) writing practices measure up?  Is my personal muse quirky, dull, or out of control?

Since my quirks are normal for me, I had to think about this for a bit.

• I always drink coffee that is part of my current ‘setting’.  When my setting is New Orleans I mail order my coffee from my favorite spot.

Café du Monde.  I have my cup and saucer, and a portable mug when I writing outdoors.   I have a blue coffee pot and matching tin cup when I writing westerns (yes, the coffee is VERY strong and black).  And of course, a Starbucks cup or a Disneyland mug when my novels take place in So.Cal.

• My music and my menu planning also is linked to my settings.  All within the range of normal.  Though I have more than my fair share of coffee mugs and cups.

• I listen to diction videos on YouTube so that I am not relying on my memory for the sound of a Cajun accent, Texan’s drawl, etc.

• I visit areas on Google Earth and Zillow.  Even if I have lived or vacationed there, I may have forgotten an interesting ‘something’ I can insert into dialogue, or find a way to describe a scene.

• I talk to myself.  Or not simple little sentences.  I’m talking about a two- way conversation: “Do you think that might work?”  â€œNo.  No one is that stupid!”  â€œHow about. . .”  This is the time my husband walks by to find out who’s on the phone, or if I’m asking him a question.  The dog even pokes her head in to see what’s going on.  I’m thinking this is a bit outside of the ‘normal’ range.

• When I write I have to make certain my work space in in perfect order.  I have colored folders/pens/notebooks that match and are exclusive to the story I’m working on at the moment.

• I never enroll in an online class when I’m writing—it’s guaranteed writers’ block.  I never talk about my WIP because I mentally clock that as writing time and lose interest in the story before it’s completed.

• Whatever story I’m am working on is my favorite.

• I survive on 3 hours sleep when I am deep in a story.  I know I drink coffee, but seem to run the story in my mind when I sleep too.

• I also pick up the quirks of my heroines.  I have several friends who are in theater and said it’s a bit like ‘method acting’. Fortunately, I’m back to my state of normal a couple of weeks after typing THE END.

I think all of this part of a writer’s voice.  It is what we, as readers, look for in a story.  Hopefully, it is what my readers, enjoy about the novels, short-stories and novellas that I write too.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Connie

Visit My Author Page @ Amazon.com 

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Structuring a Story by Connie Vines

August 14, 2016 by in category Archives tagged as , ,
Please excuse my late post–blame it on first week school overload!
As many of the readers know, I write in multiple genres of fiction as well as nonfiction.  Therefore, it only goes to reason I have attended workshops, conferences, enrolled in extensions classes, and networked with other authors to discuss the topic of story structure.
So many ideas, so many strong opinions, but no fail-proof map to success.  What I have discovered is that many authors (Note: my personal findings only), agree that there are thirteen basic plots.
The following are common plot motivations that have appeared in written literature for centuries.  Of course, more than one of these plot motivators may exist side-by-side, affecting the story.  Take your story idea, add one or more of these motivators to it, and, so I’ve been assured, you’ll have a plot and a storyline.
Catastrophe                     Vengeance
Love and Hate                 Persecution              
The Chase                      The Quest
Grief and Loss                Rivalry
 Rebellion                       Betrayal
 Survival                         Ambition
   
So, is this true in my own novels and fiction stories?  I have three books published at Books We Love, Ltd., as well as an anthology featuring five stories to be released this fall.  Let’s see if this is programmed into a writer’s psyche, or if it is a learned skill.
With my Rodeo Romance, Book 1, “Lynx”.  I have added Grief and Loss into my basic storyline for my heroine.  While my hero deals with Ambition, and one other (I don’t wish to give away too much of the story).
In Rodeo Romance, Book 2, “Brede”, Survival, Vengeance, are added to my romantic suspense novel.
“Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow”, obviously, deals with Catastrophe and Survival (with a light-touch).
Not the result I was expecting. Why?  Because, if you’ve been following my blog posts, you are aware that I follow Joseph Campbell’s “A Hero’s Journey” when plotting my stories.   Joseph Campbell based his teachings/writing on the power of the ancient myth.
Of course, there is more to a story than just a great plot!  So, using the accepted rule of thirteen, let us progress to adding another layer or two to our storyline.
 These added layers to the story do not appear to be genre specific, though some are more commonly used in romance than, say, mainstream fiction. 
                                                                                               
 Authority                                      Conspiracy
Criminal Action/Murder                Deception
                                                                                            
 Honor/Dishonor Making Amends
                                                                                               
 Poverty/Wealth                               Rescue
                                                                                               
 Mistaken Identity                          Searching
                                                                                                
Suspicion                                        Suicide
                                                                                               
 Misplaced Affection (or unnatural if it is a human and supernatural being)
I believe, for a story to be an excellent story, which of course, is every author’s goal. These plot motivators with the added layers to drive the characters in the story, result in the depth (landscape) and richness (emotion) we all crave in a good story.
Readers, do you agree that all the stories you’ve read and loved these plot lines and motivators?
I admit was able to spot many of these plotlines and layers in the works of Homer, Shakespeare, and may of the Classic Greek Myths.
What do you think?  Are there certain plotlines that appeal to you more than others?
Thank you for stopping by today.
I hope to see you here next month.
Connie Vines




Purchase Links:     Amazon.com

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