Wednesday, December 17, 2014

You Know You're a Writer If...

...the mug of coffee by your side seems to have cooled incredibly fast. You're sure you couldn't have spent that much time reading emails and checking in on Facebook.

...the idea that kept you up last night—you know the one you were so sure you'd remember so you didn't take notes—has vanished without a trace. the same moment your fingers touch the keyboard, your previously peacefully snoozing dogs leap up and begin a vigorous reenactment of an English fox hunt.

...the snappy dialogue that sounded so witty and—let's just say it—superior in your head has revealed itself to be trite and cliché-filled on paper.'ve spent the last 15 minutes imagining how you'll feel when you finish this manuscript. You're presently on page 10. love working in your PJs. However, the embarrassment of the neighbors seeing you at 3:00 in the afternoon still dressed in your jammies has kept you from putting up the Christmas lights.

...your coffee has cooled again. You just couldn't have spent that much time reading and commenting on your favorite blogs.

...your Christmas tree remains bare of ornaments but your characters threatened mutiny if you left them in that black moment any longer.

...moving to a bookshelf, you pick out one of your favorite books for inspiration. After only a few sentences you're sure you will never have as brilliant a career as this author. Practice self-restraint and reach for the cold coffee instead of the wine. when facing your blank screen, you summon the inner strength to pound out the first sentence of your novel and it isn't completely awful. Resist the urge to belt out "Tomorrow" from "Annie". Your pets will judge you. Harshly.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dressing the Dog

Who started this fashion trend? I can remember dressing the cat when I was a little girl. I still have the scars to show for it. However, a dog dressed not for play but for real seems strange.

I was watching HGTV the other night and this woman had her dog dressed in a sweater. It's a DOG - it comes with a fur coat. Why does an ugly Christmas sweater? Is she taking it to visit Santa?
Well, Hubs must have seen the episode—or else smelled too many tubes of paint, because he decided to dress Shadrach. How he managed to make him sit still for it I don't know—he weighs 220 pounds. Shadrach not Hubs.

I heard them coming down the hall, Hubby encouraging the poor dog to "Go show 'Mum'."

Now you have to understand, this dog of Biblical proportion is afraid of his own shadow. The other night he was outside doing his nightly business when a frog croaked in the bushes. Instead of investigating like any other normal dog, Shadrach made a beeline for the house, nearly knocking me over in his terrorized dash. It was the first time he moved faster than a sloth all day.

When I brought home an exercise ball a friend gave me, I though it would make a great game for him. I had to give it away. Silly dog was terrified and wouldn't come in the same room with it.

So, when Shadrach slunk to my desk, I couldn't help but laugh at the poor thing. Dressed in the hub's vest, he was mortified. I think he may need therapy.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Living on the Edge ... of Robin Hood Country

Beth Moran has a background as a research scientist and adult educator. She is now part of the national leadership team of the UK women's network Free Range Chicks. She is married with three children and lives in a village on the edge of Sherwood Forest, England.

Tell us about your releasing book.

Making Marion is about a troubled young woman, Marion, who flees her wretched life in Northern Ireland and comes to Sherwood Forest looking to uncover the secret of her dead father`s past. She ends up with a live in job at a campground run by a remarkable woman, Scarlett. As she settles in to her new life, she begins to uncover the truth about her dad, while actually discovering a lot more about herself. It`s got a mystery, a mix of humo
ur and heartbreak, and a sprinkle of romance, but ultimately is a story about hope. 

What sparked this story?

I got the inspiration for Making Marion while staying on a beautiful campsite in France, set in the grounds of a crumbling chateau. I began thinking about how a campsite could be a peaceful place for a wounded woman to heal. Then I began to ask questions like “Who is this woman?” and “Why has she ended up on a campsite?” and “What is it about her old life that makes it so easy to leave behind?” The setting had to be Sherwood Forest – I live on the edge of Robin Hood country, and it is one of my favourite places in the world.

Did anything strange of funny happen while writing this book?

Not that I can think of (although the newspaper stories Marion found when researching her father`s past were all genuine, and I found some of them pretty funny). I did find it an interesting coincidence that when my next door neighbour, who is a photographer, took my publicity shots for me I learnt his best friends are the official Robin Hood and Maid Marion, who are a couple in real life and have a baby called Scarlett.

What's the one book or writing project you haven't yet written but still hope to?

I came up with an idea for a YA book, getting as far as writing the synopsis and the prologue, before growing busy writing Making Marion. My teenage daughter loved the idea so much that after weeks of nagging me she started writing it herself. I`m slightly intimidated by the incredible standard of YA fiction out there at the moment, but hope that one day I will have the time to dig it out again and see what happens.

What's your favorite genre in which to read?

For a long time I read mainly crime novels and thrillers – growing up my Dad`s bookcase interested me far more than my mother`s. However, in recent years I have broadened this to include women`s fiction, and high-quality chick-lit. I am also trying to work my way through some classics – last summer I read Gone with the Wind (having never seen the film) and just finished Lucy Maud Montgomery`s the Blue Castle.

What was your first writing "instrument"?

When I was seven or eight my grandparents bought me a little green typewriter. I can`t remember actually using it to write stories. My imagination in those days was too busy thinking up far naughtier schemes. These included writing a poison pen letter to my best friend`s evil babysitter, demanding she let my friend play inside when it was raining, and faking a love letter to myself from a boy at school (which to his bemusement, everyone fell for).

Tell us 3 things your readers might not know about you.

I love contemporary country music – very rare musical taste for a thirty-something English woman!

I used to work in a university laboratory doing cancer research – a fascinating, challenging, rewarding job.

I overcame years of selective mutism to the extent that one of my passions is now public speaking.

If you were one of God's creatures other than a human, what would you be?

One of God`s creatures…maybe an angel? Not a cute angel with wings and a harp, a warrior angel with a sword on a mission from God. I think I`d prefer that to any animal.

What's next for you?

I`m still spinning a lot of plates – working hard to fit writing in between my other commitments. This Autumn I completed my second novel, currently titled I Hope you Dance, about a woman who has to (very reluctantly) move back in with her parents after her partner dies. It's also about starting again, first love, a bunch of fabulous women friends, a terrifying stalker and ballroom dancing.

Making Marion

Marion Miller comes to Sherwood Forest to uncover her father’s mysterious past. She is looking for somewhere to stay, but instead finds herself on the wrong side of the reception desk at the Peace and Pigs campsite. Despite her horrible shyness, she promptly lands herself a job working for the big-hearted and irrepressible Scarlett. It takes all of Marion’s determination to come out of her shell and get to grips with life on a busy campsite, where even the chickens seem determined to thwart her. Then an unfortunate incident with a runaway bike throws her into the arms of the beautiful, but deeply unimpressed, Reuben… Can Marion discover her father’s secret? And will she find peace, and perhaps even love, among the pigs?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Community Theater

I'm busy these days with writing and managing an avocational theatrical group. It's been a few years sins since I've been involved in theater, but we're having a blast. An exhausting blast. 

Last night and tonight, our group is presenting a dinner theater. The script is one I co-wrote with a friend. It's a farce, which really means it's an exaggeration of life, and that makes for some funny situations. 

Here's a shot of the cast:

L to R: Debbie Bush, Joyce Cutchins, Martha Wright, Dean King, 
Terry Mulligan (Hubs) and Marla Krohn

The center couple is Margaret & Beauregard Crudgemuffin. They're long on money and short on sense. The ladies on the left are sisters, locked in sibling rivalry they never outgrew. The butler (Hubs) served in a war with Beauregard and has been with him ever since. He and Margaret's mummy (with the cane) have a love-hate relationship. Both tipplers, the more they drink the hate turns to infatuation.

A few members of the cast have performed this together before and turn on the ad libs. I.being the savvy writer I am, grab those ad libs and add them to the script. Nothing make better comedy than ad libs. 

And nothing makes for better stories than theatrical mishaps. Got a story to share?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Worth Her Weight by Janet K Brown

Worth Her Weight is Janet K. Brown’s debut inspirational women’s fiction, but it makes a perfect companion to her recently released, Divine Dining: 365 Devotions to Guide You to Healthier Weight and Abundant Wellness. Both books encompass her passion for diet, fitness, and God’s Word. Janet and her husband love to travel with their RV, visit their three daughters, two sons-in-law and three perfect grandchildren, and work in their church. Find her at her website on Twitter, @janetkbrowntx and on Facebook   

An excerpt from Worth Her Weight:


The acid from Mom’s hurtful words burned. Only a gooey, cream-filled donut could neutralize the pain. That, and maybe a couple of Snickers. I’m not going crazy. The phone heated Lacey’s hand. She wanted to drop it to the desk, but Mom’s prattle continued.
“You’re going nuts like your dad.” Her words sliced through Lacey like a tornado in a Texas cornfield.    
 Mom droned on about her visit with Katie, Lacey’s kid sister. Lacey opened a desk drawer, lifting out her bottle of Prozac. She turned it over to read the directions. If she downed these pills, her disappointing life would end. Old thoughts resurfaced, bringing a longing for peace but a warning of hellfire.
Mom took a breath between words. Lacey’s office was quiet except for the phone-voice of condemnation.
Reality dawned on Lacey with the bong of the office clock on the hour. She was a Christian. She was not crazy. She would conquer this weight problem.
 Her mother let out a long sigh. “Lacey, are you there?”
“Yes, Mom, I’m here.” Lacey increased her volume. “I’m me, not Dad, and not Katie, Me.” Mom never made accusations about Katie’s drug addiction. Mom didn’t call her crazy. Lacey bit into her third donut. She needed reinforcement.
 If something happened to Lacey, Mom would miss the paycheck, the help at home. A longing for love washed over Lacey like a spring shower. She refused to take the coward’s way, but maybe she should leave town. Let Mom fend for herself. She’d soon be begging for her crazy daughter to return.
Lacey spread the tattered pamphlet across her desk once more and read, “Christian Singles Cruise.” Only two more weeks before registration ended. Might be eligible men there. Hope rose in her heart, but like a blip on the screen of her monitor, it all too quickly vanished. Learning to swim at the age of six was easier than stuffing her bulk into a size triple-X swimsuit at twenty-six.
Mom’s monlogue escalated to a tirade while Lacey gazed out her office window. Small oak trees lifted branches to a hazy blue sky. She heard a squeak. The chirping of crows filtered inside. The front door had opened.
“I’ve got to go, Mom. Someone came in. See you tomorrow after you get home.” Lacey hung up the phone and turned to see how she could help the lady who’d entered her office.
Standing in front of Lacey’s desk, the woman held out a check.
“How are you today?” Lacey reached out to accept the woman’s money. “I’ll put this on your account.”
As the lady opened the door to leave, Marion Ferguson from next door’s insurance office passed to enter. “I want you to meet my grandson.” Her eyes danced.
The four-year-old tore around the office using his arms as airplane wings. Lacey chased the small boy until he broke out in giggles.
Myrna Cutter, Lacey’s boss, peered around her private office door. “When’s my first patient?”
Lacey stopped flying and put on her serious expression. “Not until one.”
“I need to get this boy out of here so you can work.” With a pained look, Marion ushered out her grandson.
Myrna watched the boy shuffle out the door and then moved closer to the reception desk. A huge bag with a logo reading North Texas Mental Health swung from her shoulder. “I think I’ll run some errands. If you would, call the hospital administrator and make me an appointment for tomorrow.”
“Okay.” Lacey gritted her teeth as she dialed the now familiar number.
Myrna left, escaping the distasteful duty.
Lacey’s napkin soaked up the donut’s glaze like her heart held resentment. Sweat beaded her upper lip. Please, Mr. Haggerty, don’t answer.
He did. “Put Ms. Cutter on the phone.” His response set Lacey’s teeth on edge. She drew large quivery circles on her scratch pad. “She’s not here now.”
“Then tell her if she wants to see me tomorrow, she can call me herself. I might work her in.”  
Lacey’s voice softened. “I’ll tell her, sir.” The phone slipped across her sweaty palms. After this, Myrna could do her own feuding. Lacey didn’t like being the middleman. When the man disconnected, her fingers unfolded, dropping the receiver before she regained control.
She shifted her gaze to see if anyone had noticed, but she was alone. With a deep sigh, she encouraged herself with a reminder that tonight she’d be alone. Her mother would stay with her sister in Apache Falls one more evening before coming home. Let the day roll. Tonight, she would have the house to herself.
By six o’clock, Lacey was unlocking the side door of her white, thirties-style house, the boxy ones with huge front porches. She noticed the flaking paint. Her house needed attention-along with everything else in her life. Her self-worth drooped at the door.
Plopping into her green leather recliner, a romance book in one hand and a bag of peanut butter cups in the other, she breathed a sigh of contentment. Food seemed to be the only friend she had.
A fickle friend. With each bite of the smooth peanut butter, she swallowed more guilt. Toby Wheeler, her self-proclaimed conscience and good buddy, would tell her Jesus was her best friend, and Lacey didn’t disagree. Yet, as her life plummeted into an abyss, Jesus was nowhere in sight. She put those dismal thoughts out of her mind for now and let the sweetness of the candy dissolve her tension.
She’d regret her actions tonight when she tossed about on her bed and couldn’t sleep.
She’d regret her actions in the morning hours as she prepared for the workday with a sugar hangover.
She’d regret her actions while she worked tomorrow in a heavily-caffeinated fog.
But, for the moment, she relished the taste, threw aside a wrapper, and popped another treat.
The doorbell rang.
Great. Anxious and unsteady, she pondered her plight. She wanted to be left alone to wallow in misery. The intruder could be a Girl Scout selling cookies. That would be a good thing. Glancing over the den, she scooped the empty wrappers under the cushion and set the half-filled bag on the dining table.
She peeped around the front curtain, but couldn’t see anyone in the day’s lingering shadows.
A kick and shuffle from the porch pricked her curiosity.


This inspirational women’s fiction is available now for pre-order at Pen-L is offering a 10% discount if pre-ordered before Christmas. Since it will release on Dec. 16, in most cases, it can still be shipped and received in time for Christmas delivery.