Friday, October 24, 2014

Finding the Beauty in Words

Edie Melson posted this on her blog, The Write Conversation, and has allowed me to borrow it. 
There is also beauty in writing. Sometimes, I read something and think how beautifully stated it was. 

I'll never forget when I posted a descriptive paragraph from Chapel Springs Revival to my authors' loop and one of my early mentors replied, "What beautiful writing!"

I was thrilled. I realized it wasn't that my writing was literary, which is what I always think of when I hear the statement "beautiful writing." It was because I'd painted a picture with my words. 

In one review of Gina Holmes' Driftwood Tides, the reviewer said, "You'll smell the salt in this book." What a great statement.

Do you paint a picture people can see in your words? 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Saying "Thank You" Goes a Long Way

Sometimes, you just need something to make you smile, or in my case, cry happy tears. This does that. Sometimes, you just want to say, "Thank you."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Nicknames and Pen Names

A lot of writers use pen names. I went with my nickname. Yes, Ane is a nickname. 

People always ask about its spelling. When I met my British husband, he kept asking me in his wonderful accent, if I spelled my name with an "e".

Repeatedly I told him: Yes, with an e.

One day I left him a note, asking him to do something. He replied, “Okay, An e.”

His wit is very dry.

That was many moons ago. Since then, he removed the space between the n and the e. The spelling stuck.

I recently did a search on one of those websites to see how many people are out there with your name. I'm the only Ane Mulligan in the U.S. That's worth its weight in gold for a writer.

Do you have a nickname you use?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hidden in the Stars ~ by Robin Caroll

Where do you turn when a dream you’ve cherished in your heart for your entire life is completely shattered? In her new release, Hidden in the Stars, Robin Caroll introduces us to a young woman who must find the strength to continue living after losing everything she cares about. For more information about Robin Caroll and her books, visit her online home at She is also active on Facebook and Twitter.

Tell us about the main thread or theme that runs through Hidden in the Stars.

The strength of the familial bond is the strongest thread in the story, but another theme would be the sacrifices we make for the people we love.

The main character in Hidden in the Stars, Sophia, loses not only the person she loved the most in life, but also her dream of becoming an Olympic gymnast. What can readers learn from how she manages this loss?

So often we begin to believe our dreams define who we are. What we do becomes our identifier. I wanted to portray a character who had worked hard for something all her life — something her mother had sacrificed much to help her attain — yet she had it snatched away with no hope of reclaiming it. I think we (myself included) sometimes need to realize we are, first and foremost, a child of God and not a dream or a goal.

Sophia suffers a brutal attack, and the criminal remains at-large, leaving her feeling vulnerable and afraid. We all face moments in life when we feel that way, even if the events in our lives vary. Where do you go for strength in those times?

God. Yes, I have family members who are loving and supportive and encouraging and helpful. Yes, I have friends who are there for me through thick and thin. But when it comes down to brass tacks, as my grandmother used to say, God is my source of strength, comfort and peace.

Why is it so challenging to forgive people who have hurt us?

Because we’re human and our initial reaction is based on our own thoughts and feelings. When we’re hurt, we don’t WANT to forgive. Sometimes, at least for me, the choice to forgive is more about wanting to be obedient to God and wanting to keep that pain from clawing at me.

The attack left Sophia without a voice — is this a metaphor in any way?

Yes. When we’re attacked — physically, mentally or spiritually — we often feel like we aren’t heard . . . that our cries for help fall on deaf ears.

Which character in the book do you identify with the most and why?

Sophia. She was strong and determined and wouldn’t let her attack and the murder of the one person she loved the most stop her from living a good life.

Tell us about the quilt in Hidden in the Stars. How does it play a role in solving this mystery?

The quilt itself was made from the costumes of Sophia’s mother, Nina. It’s like a large declaration of her life’s ballet work. Once the police get the quilt, they determine it holds the key to solving the mystery and the murder.

Tell us a little more about the Quilt of Love series and how you became involved in it.

As a young girl, my family lived in the country. We didn’t have many friends close enough during the winter where we could just hop on our bikes and ride down to a neighbor’s house. During those lonelier times, my mother taught me how to quilt. I will always associate quilts with the strength of the mother-daughter bond. When I heard about the Quilts of Love series, I wanted to be a part of it.

Q: What is the one thing you hope your readers will walk away with when they close the cover of Hidden in the Stars?

I hope they will feel they were entertained, but also they will be reminded that no matter what their circumstances, what the Enemy means for evil, God will turn to good.

Hidden in the Stars

Following an attack that killed her mother and stole her ability to speak, 21-year-old Sophia Montgomery has no choice but to accept her estranged grandmother’s offer to return to their family home. Although detective Julian Frazier is working hard on the case, Sophia unknowingly frustrates him because her inability to speak thwarts her eyewitness evidence.

Little do they know, the clues to solving the case may be right in front of them, displayed in Sophia’s mother’s “special” quilt design. Who will realize the secret Sophia’s unwittingly been hiding in plain sight? When the truth comes to light, will Sophia find her voice again? Or will the murderer — still at large — silence her forever?

Keep up with the Quilts of Love series online at: ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Pinterest 

Monday, October 20, 2014

What's the Deal with Back Story?

Back Story
Contrary to popular belief, backstory is a good thing.

Now, before y'all call for a lynching party, let me tell you what it's good for and what it's not good for. After all, backstory helps you, the author know your character. What makes her tick? What formed her worldview? Why does he dislike women who have a good business head?

Let's get the "not" out of the way first. The reader does not need to know the backstory of your characters to understand the plot—at least not in the beginning. A bit of mystery about the character is a good thing. It draws the reader onward to find out why this otherwise nice guy is so antagonistic to the heroine.

I always tell new writers to think of it this way. You're attending a party, and you host introduces you to a new neighbor. You start off the conversation by telling her your life history, and the new neighbor will be in jeopardy of whiplash, looking for the host—or anyone for that matter—to rescue her.

Readers who are bombarded with backstory in the first few chapters of a novel with either skip over it or close the book for good. Either way, putting it in wasted your time.

Now, let's look at what backstory is good for and how to discover it. First, I conduct a character interview (CI). Think of that as a journalist interviewing a subject for an article. In my CI, I dig and prod for the character's secrets and for his or her fears. What happened in their childhood that had a major effect of them?

After I've completed the CI, I write a stream of consciousness (SOC) backstory. This is where I go back two or more generations. People are the product of their ancestors' worldview. For example, let's say your great grandparents lived through the Great Depression. They probably could get more for a quarter than anyone you know. They taught your grandparents, who taught your parents. But did your parents continue that trait or did they, because of their more affluent status, break away from it?

It's within the SOC backstory where I discover so much about my character. Besides their worldview, I learn the lie they believe about themselves, and that lie will color their motivation, and that motivation will drive their plotline. Your characters will either fall victim to their lie or they will try to prove it wrong. 

Remember, the key is: Lie drives motivation drives plotline.

Much of what I learn never makes it into the manuscript, but if makes the characters come alive. They're three-dimensional and when they are real to you, the author, they become real to the reader.

One of my beta readers said after reading Chapel Springs Revival, "I love the people. I want to find out more about their lives."

And that's the goal for backstory.