Friday, May 22, 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Clichés are Clichéd

Well, at least when it comes to writing. But there are times when a good ole cliché is called for. So how can we put a twist on them to make them work?
I offer a few examples:

From my manuscript, When the Wind Blows, I needed a twist on "there's the fly in the ointment." I wrote: "That's the poppy seed in the denture cream."

From a novella my agent is shopping, Star Bright, I looked for a twist on "between a rock and a hard place." I wrote: "...between a dropped line and a costume malfunction."

When trying to find a new way to describe a smile, instead of using Cheshire Cat, I wrote: " Garfield with a pan of lasagna."

In wanting to play with some new ones, I Googled clichés and got a few random ones. Now to twist them:
  • Life wasn't meant to be easy: Life's like an out-of-balance washing machine.
  • That's water under the bridge: That's fluff off the dandelion.
  • Pea brain: From Chapel Springs Survival (coming in Dec), "Doesn't have enough to brains to give himself a headache."
  • The best thing since sliced bread: That's gooder than grits (okay, that's a Southern one, but it counts).
  • Clumsy oaf: So clumsy he'd trip over a cordless phone.
  • That takes the cake: That puts pepper in the gumbo.
  • That boy is about as sharp as a bowling ball: If all his brains were dynamite, he couldn't blow his nose.
Now it's your turn. What ways have you twisted a cliché or a new spin on a simile?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Can a Child Recognize His/Her Mother by Touch and Scent?

We hear so much about mothers being able to identify their children by their cry. This turned the tables to see if children, blindfolded, could recognize their mothers. As a writer, I find this to be a wonderful study. It's research I can use, if only in the use of body language.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Richard Mabry ~ Doc turned Author

Richard Mabry is a retired physician, now writing “medical suspense with heart.” He is a former Vice President of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and a member of the Romance Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. His novels have been finalists in a number of award programs, including ACFW’s Carol Award, RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, and Romantic Times’ Reader’s Choice Award, and have won the Selah Award of the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. Fatal Trauma is his eighth published novel. You can follow Richard on his blog, on Twitter, and his Facebook fan page.

SFF: Leave a comment for "Doc" and be entered in a drawing for his latest release, Fatal Trauma. US residents only, please.

Tell us about your releasing book.

In the Emergency Room, Dr. Mark Baker and Nurse Kelly Atkinson face a gunman who points to his wounded brother and declares, “If he dies, everyone here dies.” The two men are members of the feared Zeta drug cartel, and after their deaths the threat of revenge puts the lives of Mark, Kelly, and others at risk.

Where do you get your ideas for your books? What sparked this story?
Most of my ideas come from situations I’ve seen, read about, or imagined. This one began when I was reminded of a physician, a woman whom I helped train, who faced down a gun-wielding patient in a hospital emergency room. Soon thereafter I read a story about the drug cartels making inroads into this area of Texas. After a few false starts, I had the story arc for Fatal Trauma.     

Did you always want to be a writer?

Goodness, no. When I was a practicing physician I wrote or edited eight textbooks and more than one hundred professional papers, but I had no desire to write non-medical stuff. That changed with the death of my first wife, resulting in the publication of my book, The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse, and a challenge from a couple of well-known writers on the faculty of a writing conference for me to try my hand at fiction. Four years, four books, and forty rejections later, I got a contract for my first novel.

Where do you write, a coffee shop, attic nook, or a cave?    

I work at home. Each morning, after coffee, TV news, and breakfast, I walk a couple of dozen steps into my office, sit down at the computer, and start to work. My office is small, but it works for me.

Of all your characters, which was your favorite, and why?

My favorite character lives on my computer hard drive. Dr. Ben Merrick was the protagonist in my first novel, and I like him because Ben was me in a different environment and at a different stage of life. Unfortunately, the book wasn’t a salable product, so Ben will remain locked away until I rewrite that novel.

Share a few of the techniques you learned that changed the way you write.
Like a lot of newbie writers, I had trouble with point of view. Then Randy Ingermanson told me to imagine a camera and microphone on the shoulder of my POV character, and to observe every scene from that vantage point.
I’ve also learned to avoid the passive voice, to replace adjectives with verbs that show, and to keep the plot going by ending each chapter on a cliffhanger.

Now for the fun: Tell us 3 things your readers might not know about you.

         1. I’ve played semi-pro baseball (could throw the curve ball, not hit it).
         2. I’ve served as a church music director a number of times.
         3. The medal I won in the Air Force proudly hangs on my office wall.

If you were a musical instrument, what would you be and why?
A flute—something that adds to the aggregate sound but rarely gets noticed.

It began with Dr. Mark Baker facing a gunman who had nothing to lose. It could end with him behind bars.

In the Emergency Room, Dr. Mark Baker and Nurse Kelly Atkinson stand at the mercy of a gunman who declares, “If he dies, everyone here dies.” At the end of the evening three men lie dead. One of them is a police officer Mark and a surgeon, Dr. Anna King, couldn’t save. The other two are members of the feared Zeta drug cartel, and their threat of revenge puts the lives of Mark, Kelly, and others at risk.

It isn’t long before the shootings begin, and Mark finds himself under suspicion as a killer, yet still a potential victim. Because of Kelly’s growing love for Mark, she is hurt when he turns to his high school sweetheart, now an attorney, for help.

Who is the shooter? And can Mark find out before he becomes the next victim? 

Monday, May 18, 2015

How Do They Do That?

This is so clever, besides being funny, I want to try to do it in our community theatre somehow. I realize the costumes are a big part of it, but they're also connected. How did they do that?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Sneak Peek at Chapel Springs Survival

Like shot pinball, Claire Bennett pinged against, around and between hordes of straw hats, bikinis, and plaid shorts. All along Sandy Shores Drive, shoulder-to-shoulder throngs of people crowded the sidewalk and spilled into the avenue. A party atmosphere—with noise level to match—permeated the quiet morning and their once peaceful village.
What had they done? When she and her friends envisioned the revitalization of Chapel Springs, it was a nice, controlled rise in tourist trade—not this craziness.
One bruised elbow later, Claire reached the door of her art gallery, The Painted Loon, and turned her key in the lock. A heavy hand grasped her shoulder. Her heart skipped a beat. Was she about to be robbed?
Hold on. In broad daylight? With this crowd watching? She may not be the brightest color on the palette, but she did possess a little common sense. Her gaze traveled up the beefy arm to a scraggly-bearded face with beady eyes. A rolled red bandana wrapped around his forehead, held back salt-and-pepper hair. Beside him stood a bleached-blonde motorcycle mama, dressed in a halter-top and the skimpiest shorts Claire had ever seen. Strings hung from their ragged edges and drew attention to the lumpy cellulite dotting the back of her thighs. Who was this woman trying to kid? She was fifty if she was a day.
"You're the loon lady," Motor-mama said. "We want to see your pots." They tried to shoulder their way into the gallery, but Claire stood her ground.
"I'm sorry, we aren't open yet. Please come back at ten." She threw the deadbolt, pulled down the window shade, then leaned her back against the door and drew in air. The familiar scent of lemon oil-rubbed wood with the underlying twang of turpentine surrounded her like a security blanket.
After rattling the door handle a few times, the couple retreated. Claire released her breath in a whoosh as she slipped into the back workroom, where she and her gallery-partner-slash-best friend, Patsy Kowalski, created their art. And, Claire had to admit, a problem for Chapel Springs. The review they received last year—Patsy for her paintings and Claire for pottery—had put them on the art world's radar.
Between that and the town's cleanup campaign, Chapel Springs attracted half the population east of the Mississippi. Then Rod Campbell, Nashville's newest country heartthrob, strolled into The Painted Loon one day and bought some artwork. He told a Hollywood producer about them, and the producer told one of his starlets, who was an art collector.
Now Chapel Springs was filled with stargazers. Their quiet little village by the lake had become the trendy place to visit in north Georgia. Oh sure, Chapel Lake was the best summer vacation spot in the state, with its tournament fishing, beautiful beaches, and fabulous hiking trails. Naturally, the town's merchants wanted to increase the tourist trade.
Because Claire had come up with the revitalization plan, the mayor blamed her for the ensuing problems. And problems were plentiful. College kids decided their little village was the perfect party town. Aside from their noise and litter, and traffic congestion on the main road through town, Chapel Springs didn't have enough rentable living space for more than a couple hundred overnighters.
Claire’s sigh came all the way from her toes. Apparently, that lack of foresight was also her fault, along with the wild parties in Warm Springs Park. However, their cantankerous popinjay of a mayor sure took credit for the financial gains.
Peeking out the back door, she found the coast clear and sprinted for Dee's 'n' Doughs. One of Dee's apple fritters and fortifying high-test coffee would go down good. Then Claire and her friends, all local entrepreneurs, could strategize a way to survive this pickle.
She slipped into the bakery's rear entrance and was immediately plunged into gastronomic delight by the heady aroma of sugar and spice. It made her want to lick the air. Dee stood next to a large industrial mixer, pouring milk into its stainless steel bowl. Claire waved but between concentration and the noise of its motor, Dee didn't look up. However, her new assistant, Trisha, who was elbow deep in a huge batch of some wonderful concoction, did look up and frowned. With the back of her wrist, she rubbed the side of her nose, leaving a trail of flour.
Claire waggled her fingers as she passed by. "I'm avoiding the foot traffic out front." 
"Well, just don't touch anything."
Sheesh. Even a newcomer knew her infamous reputation for calamity. She had hoped being elected to the town council would have brought her a modicum of respect. But no such luck. She was still the town's favorite joke. If Henderson’s hadn't had a Halon fire alarm system in the cooking school, it wouldn't have been a big story.
Maybe if she ran for council chairwoman she could change her personae—become a purveyor of wisdom instead of a diva of disaster. Pondering that thought, she scurried through the double swinging doors into the front.
A din louder than Dee's giant mixer rolled over her. Van Gogh's ear! The hordes had invaded Dee's 'n' Doughs, too. And they all chattered at once like monkeys in a jungle. She started toward the bay window, when a hand rose above the crowd and waved at her—from the opposite side of the room.
"Over here, Claire."
The vacationers had commandeered her favorite spot too, relegating her friends to a smaller table in a dark corner. Maybe it was for the best. They could talk unobserved back there. She grabbed a cup of coffee and a warm apple fritter, then joined Patsy and Lydia Smith, who owned the Chapel Lake Spa. Except she wasn't Lydia Smith any longer. She was now Lydia Sanders. At least she didn't have to throw away anything monogrammed.
Claire hip-bumped the closest chair, moving it so she could sit.
"Oh, my, I'm so sorry, Lacey." Embarrassed not to have noticed her, Claire patted her friend's shoulder and tried to hang her Minnie Mouse tote bag on the back of the chair at the same time. Her fritter and coffee tipped precariously. Patsy made a grab for them before she spilled everything all over Lacey's shoulder.
"Thanks, girlfriend." Claire couldn't count the times Patsy saved her from mortification. The first, if she remembered correctly, was when they were four and Claire tried to make grilled cheese sandwiches in the toaster.
She planted her backside in the seat. "So, what do y'all think of this ... this crush of humanity?"
Lydia craned her neck to look at the mob crowding the bakery. Her shiny, dark brown bob swayed, brushing her jaw line. "I'm surprised they're still here. Once school started, I thought we'd get our little village back." Her fluid voice and slow Alabama drawl charmed even Southerners. She and her sister, Lacey, both had that sweet Alabama accent, but somehow Lydia's was more pronounced.
"This is way more than any of us expected." Patsy tore off a corner of Claire's fritter. She claimed it was her duty to help Claire avoid gaining weight. "I figured when August was behind us, they'd leave. It's September and they're still here."
For the first time in her life, Claire wished the temperature would drop. Then again—"It'll be the leaf-peepers next," she grumbled around a mouthful of fritter. "All I can say is I'm thankful we don't have a ski resort."
Lydia swatted Claire's hand. "Don't say that out loud. Mayor Felix will find out and want one."
"Did you hear the McMillans put their house on the market yesterday?" Patsy's forehead wrinkled beneath her bangs. "And they're not the only ones."
"Really?" Claire ripped open a packet of raw sugar and stirred its contents into her coffee. She wasn't surprised about the McMillans, since Bev filed for a divorce, but—"Who else?"
"The Lees, the Chapmans, and a couple of others. The Greins moved last week."
With so much congestion in the streets and the park, Claire hadn't been taking long walks like usual. It was one way she kept up on everyone, but she never saw the for sale signs. Her twenty-one-year-old twin daughters would be devastated. The Grein kids were among Megan and Melissa's, closest friends. This wasn't good, and Felix Riley would try to blame her for that, too. "What can we do? Anyone have a good idea?"
Patsy shook her head. When she started to chew her bottom lip, Claire knew something was up. That was Patsy's "I've got a problem" M.O. But when she sighed on top of the lip-chew, a sick feeling dropped like lead into Claire's stomach. "What? What's wrong?"
"Last night Nathan made a few choice noises about all this."
"What do you mean 'noises'?"
"For one, he said if he wanted a loud, congested town he'd move to New York. At least there he could make more money."
Claire recoiled like she'd been slapped. She didn't know what she'd do if Pat-a-cake moved away. They grew up together, suffered through acne together, raised their babies together. Her chest constricted. Nobody knew her like Patsy did. Tears stung the back of Claire's eyes. "Pat-a-cake, he's not serious is he?" Her fritter lost its flavor.
"He ordered home delivery of the New York Times so he can look at the classifieds." Patsy tormented the artist’s callus on her right middle knuckle. Whoa, she was scared.
Claire could maybe put up with losing a few old friends and neighbors, but not Patsy and Nathan. Why, Nathan was her Joel's best buddy, and Patsy was like a sister. This was serious. They had to do something—but what?
The bells on the front door rang with a jocular jingle. A man entered the bakery wearing nothing more than a Speedo and a sombrero, and he was at least fifty pounds over the Speedo limit.

Be watching for its release in December!