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July Featured Author: Denise M. Colby

July 1, 2021 by in category Featured Author of the Month tagged as , , , ,


Denise Colby |The Writing Journey

Denise M. Colby loves to write words that encourage, enrich, and engage whether it’s in her blog, social media, magazine articles, or devotions. With over 20+ years’ experience in marketing, she enjoys using her skills to help other authors. She treasures the written word and the messages that can be conveyed when certain words are strung together. An avid journal writer, she usually can be found with a pen and notepad whenever she’s reading God’s word. Denise is writing her first novel, a Christian Historical Romance and can be found at www.denisemcolby.com

She’s a member of RWA, OCC/RWA, Faith, Hope & Love Chapter of RWA, ACFW (where she is a semi-finalist in the Genesis contest Historical Romance Category), OC Chapter of ACFW, and SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference.

 

In addition to Denise’s column The Writing Journey on A Slice of Orange, you can read some of her magazine article here.

 


 Denise M. Colby’s Books

 

 


 

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Eating–A Writer’s Humanizing Element in Stories Ancient and New

June 13, 2021 by in category From a Cabin in the Woods by Members of Bethlehem Writers Group tagged as , , ,

I remember a National Geographic article from a few years ago, The Joy of Food, by Victoria Pope, offered an interesting observation.

“The sharing of food has always been part of the human story . . . ‘To break bread together’, a phrase as old as the Bible, captures the power of a meal to forge relationships, bury anger, and provoke laughter.”

In creating contemporary fictional scenes, epic fantasy moments, or science fiction settings, food and the act of eating, humanizes a story. Our mouth waters with tantalizing narrative of baked goods and braised stew. Romance tickles when someone gently hand-feeds a morsel of food to a love interest. Intrigue is piqued while supping at the table of a wealthy nineteenth-century Duke. Warmth ebbs in our bones when characters share spit-roasted game around a campfire in the dead of winter. We smile when a normally dysfunctional family banters happily around a holiday feast, setting aside for a moment, that which keeps them apart.

Food can be a defining backdrop with apocalyptic and dystopian fiction. Driven back to our hunter-gatherer forbearers, societies are demoralized with heart-wrenching memories of how abundant food once was. Haves and have-nots when food is scarce, polarize villages, communities, entire nations. Food as common currency is reborn. Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy is an excellent example of this. S.M. Stirling’s Dies the Fire serialized life when the power went out—permanently. Christopher Nolen’s movie Interstellar, painted somberness from food-blighted, agrarian collapse.

Food weighs heavily when portraying communal tables, customs, folklore, and regional diversity. George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series is rich with culinary indulgence and subsistence living. Tolkien’s Hobbits are quiet, yet passionate diners. Elves are vegans, and dwarves—well—they’ll eat anything that isn’t green. Robert Jordan’s fourteen book Wheel of Time series has more eating scenes than grains of sand in the Wicked Witch of the West’s hourglass. Vampire feeding is a genre unto itself. Opinions vary on what Zombies find nutritious.

Science fiction poses a stronger challenge with respect to otherworldly beings, especially when writers have to define characteristics of sentient alien life. Babylon 5 was a jewel of multiple alien interactions, all with unique culinary customs. Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow did a masterful job of characterizing alien beings by what they shared with pioneering visitors from earth. Hard-core Star Trek fans can cite Klingon fare as if reading from a menu. One of my favorite movies was The Matrix where human “copper-tops” dreamed of real food, but the few humans outside the matrix subsisted on something resembling watery eggs. Has all the body needs, amino acids, proteins . . .” The very sight of it made me gag.

Eating is the ultimate show versus tell enhancer. Here’s one in an old story I wrote that attempts to capture all five senses. A pungent smokiness wafted from the meat offering that resembled a hairless, mummified rat carcass. The skin crackled between her teeth and her eyes watered from its unsalted, campfire bitterness. It was like trying to eat a botched taxidermy job, or an Amazonian shrunken beast stolen from a museum.

A story lacking a good eating scene falls short in illustrating a fundamental anthropological trait, not to mention missing out on a lot of fun writing.

What’s my favorite eating scene? Have to turn the clock back to the 1963 movie adaptation of Henry Fielding’s classic novel set in the British eighteenth-century, The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling, where the handsome Tom and his dining partner wordlessly consume an enormous meal while lustfully gazing at each other.

That’s what I call eating.

A native of Wisconsin and Connecticut, DT Krippene deserted aspirations of being a biologist to live the corporate dream and raise a family.  After six homes, a ten-year stint in Asia, and an imagination that never slept, his annoying muse refuses to be hobbled as a mere dream.  Dan writes dystopia, paranormal, and science fiction. His current project is about a young man struggling to understand why he was born in a time when humans are unable to procreate and knocking on extinction’s door.

You can find DT on his website and his social media links.

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Some of DT Krippene short stories appear in the following anthologies


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To Deadline Hell and Back or How I’m coping finishing my next Occupied Paris novel by Jina Bacarr

June 11, 2021 by in category Jina’s Book Chat, Writing tagged as , , , ,

I had every intention of writing a lovely post this month about all the cool stuff going on with my WW 2 Occupied Paris novel, The Resistance Girl. Honest I did.

Then the research on my next book shot the pants off that idea.

My deadline is right around the corner.

My book is written… mostly. Some bugs to work out. Re-read, check it over… you know the drill.

The research is overwhelming… so much so, I’ve got to cut this shorter than I like. I’m writing another book about Occupied Paris, but this time my heroine finds herself in a concentration camp. Two of them actually… emotionally, I’m drained. Mentally I’m exhausted.

My heart… broken.

I will never, never be able to understand why it happened, the horror, injustice, humiliation done to the victims of the Holocaust. But I’m determined to tell a story about a brave young woman who had a baby in a camp… and she survived. But she never knew what happened to her baby… until years later.

I’ve watched a million survivor videos… read so many books about the Holocaust… checked and double checked the timelines of the camps and what happened there down to what they ate, where the railroad tracks ended at camp, the blocks or barracks map… and I still have questions. I want to make it right.

No, I’ve got to make it right.

I owe to the those who died and those who survived.

So forgive me if I’m emotional this month.

Because.

We must never forget…

——————-

You can listen to The Resistance Girl on Spotify

Or search for Jina Bacarr and my ‘artiste’ page will pop up.

Amazon Links:

US https://amzn.to/3woj1Am

UK https://amzn.to/3bU18Qv

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Characterization by E. J. Williams

May 3, 2021 by in category Starting a Novel Series with a Partner by E. J. Williams tagged as , , ,

Starting a Novel Series with a Partner
Characterization

by E.J. Williams

(Janet Elizabeth Lynn & Will Zeilinger)

My husband, Will Zeilinger, and I co-write the thrillers of INTERNATIONAL MYSTERY SERIES, as E. J. Williams. Our tales transport the reader from 1962 southern California to various international locales. In the first new book of the series, STONE PUB, we find ourselves in County Cork, Ireland.

The first book sets the tone and is the foundation of all future books in a series. The main characters will appear over and over again. They have to be strong and memorable. The character must be able to grow and change through several books while remaining exciting and unpredictable. Keep in mind that you, too, will be living with them for some time, so you, as the author, must like them also.

As a couple, we often think back to people we’ve met or know, then we kick it up a little…or a lot. At first, it wasn’t easy to choose. We had so many. Then we realized we didn’t have to choose…we could combine, which made for powerful, strong, funny, and capable characters that can sustain the reader’s interest over the course of the series.

Supporting each other and valuing the ideas we each bring to the table make for great characters. Remember, the crucial thing is to write a good story. So stay tuned. There is more to come.

STONE PUB is the first in the series, and yes…we are still married!

Website:  Janet  Elizabeth Lynn    

Website:  Will Zeilinger              

    Janet”s and Will’s
Skylar Drake Series

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

DESERT ICE

Buy now!
DESERT ICE

GAME TOWN

Buy now!
GAME TOWN

SLICK DEAL

Buy now!
SLICK DEAL

SLIVERS OF GLASS

Buy now!
SLIVERS OF GLASS

STRANGE MARKINGS

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STRANGE MARKINGS

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Writing The Dreaded Book Blurb by Jenny Jensen

March 19, 2021 by in category On writing . . . by Jenny Jensen tagged as , , ,
The Dreaded Book Blurb | Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Cartoons by John Atkinson, www.wronghands1.com

Writing The Dreaded Book Blurb

Every author faces this last crucial challenge. You’ve already spent untold hours researching, writing and editing your book. Your title hits just the right poetic note. You’ve gone several tense rounds to find the perfect cover. All that remains is the book blurb, the opening salvo in the promotional war.  This is the first (and sometimes only) chance to grab a reader and compel them to buy the book. And so, like click bait, you need to lure your reader with an honest but irresistible snap shot.

It’s an art, this writing of a synopsis that isn’t a synopsis, this sell copy that isn’t an ad. And for something that isn’t a science there are strict rules: you have to be honest – no misleading the reader. No spoilers or why bother to read it – which can be tough since the spoiler is often the most exciting part of the story.  Keep it at 200 words or less and don’t make it one run-on paragraph. Use the proper keywords for your genre. Reveal something about the antagonist – readers like to know if they can root for the hero. This isn’t the place to relate the entire plot but you have to provide the zeitgeist, the feel of the tale. No easy task.

A lot of the writers I work with find this daunting and ask for help, which I am happy to provide. I think it’s difficult for the writer to step far enough away from their work to pick out the enticing, salient points and present them with the tension and intrigue that make for a successful blurb. To the author, all story points are important. I get that, but as an avid reader I know what works for me in a blurb. It’s not how much is said, but how compellingly it’s said.

I start with a deconstruction approach. It’s possible to distill any story down to bare bones. In his book Hit Lit – Cracking the Code of the Twentieth Century’s Biggest Bestsellers James W. Hall provided the most distilled example I’ve ever seen. This is a beloved tale that we all know intimately: “A young girl wakes in a surreal landscape and murders the first woman she sees. She teams with three strangers and does it again.”  It’s short, accurate and intriguing but would it sell the book?

I wouldn’t distill it down that far but it makes a great beginning. What if we knew something about the young girl – an orphan, a princess, a refugee? And what about the surreal landscape – gaping desert, oozing swamp, forbidding mountains? Then the three strangers – female, male, older, menacing, kindly?  Is all this murdering spurred by necessity, thrills, defense, the three strangers or is it unintended manslaughter? And finally, what is the young girl up to – revenge, enlightenment, finding a way out of the surreal landscape? Flesh out those points, add some genre keywords, reference any kudos and you could turn those original 24 spartan words into a 160 – 200 word blurb that would peak curiosity and entice the shopper to buy.

If you can step away from the totality of your story and deconstruct the plot to the primary elements, then present those elements in a provocative way you can create an effective selling tool with your book blurb. BTW, that book Hall described? The Wizard of Oz.

Jenny

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