September 28, 2009

Bell's Pyramid of Writing

I've been reading Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell and it is an excellent resource. Last week I was struck by all the different ways to generate plot ideas. So what do you do with all those ideas? You've got to narrow them down and the way to do it is with the Bell Pyramid.

There are three layers to the Bell Pyramid. We'll start at the base and work to the top.

Passion: A novel takes a long time to write, so you must be passionate about the plot you choose to write about. Rejections abound in the publishing world and many times it is because the work presented is "cookie cutter" work. Writers will follow the crowd and write what is selling instead of writing the book in their heart. You must feel passion about your plot to sustain your writing through the lenth of time it takes to write it.

Potential: You have to consider the possible reach of your plot idea to an audience. The way to do that is to put yourself in the shoes of an invester. Would you want to invest thousands of dollars in a book about cleaning a fish? Hhhmmm. You don't need to write to the largest possible audience, but you do need to focus on a specific audience and write a passionate story to that audience. You want to write romance? What kind? Historical, suspence, contemporary, etc... It is not a rule, but a guideline as you write what you are really passionate about.

Precision: You've found what your passionate about and think the potential is there for a readership following. Now you must trim away anything that is not in line with that potential. If you are writing for suspense, don't get distracted from that focus. You don't want anything to distract from the potential.

I thought these were very helpful as I am gathering up ideas and trying to figure out which one to write about.

How do you decide which idea is the one you run with?

September 26, 2009

Winner of Cowboy Christmas!

I used a random number generator and lo & behold, it spit out our winner of Cowboy Christmas by Mary Connealy!

The lucky winner is...........

Ava is a lovely, lovely woman who is just starting her writing journey. She has begun blogging and I have seen her name of several of my cyber friend's blogs lately. She has been impressed with the support of the writing community and is eager to learn all she can about this writing journey. Check her out and send some encouragement her way!

Ava, I'll get your book to you soon!

September 25, 2009

Fat-Less Friday & Plot Ideas

For my Fat-Less Friday, I am announcing another loss! Woohoo! I stepped on the scales and held my breath. The lady at the computer stared intently at the screen and, after a long wait, looked up at me and smiled. I sighed in relief and eagerly looked at the sticker she stuck into my book. I lost 2.2 lbs, which gives me a total of 8.2 lbs.

I am well pleased.

My writing status:

I've been musing over ideas for my next ms and while I have a few ideas, I haven't really dug deep and fleshed anything out yet. I started taking my book Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell to work and reading it during my lunch break. Can I just say, "WoW"?

Chapter 3 has really hit home with me as it delves into how to gather up plot ideas. He has a Top 20 list of ways to get plot ideas that just held me enthralled! I can't wait to try a few of these. Here are just a few:

  1. Flip a genre. An example of this would be The Wild Wild West. It is just James Bond set in the Old West.

  2. Obsessions. You know, money, looks, ego, etc. Ahab obsessed about a whale in Moby Dick. Create a character, given them an obsession and see where they run.

  3. Titles. Create a great title, then write a story to go with it.

  4. Steal from the best. Yep, you read right. Bell says even Shakespeare took other's plots and weaved his own magic into them. We've all seen movies with similar plots. Take a plot and ramp it up, make it new, let it sing!

Bell had so many great ideas for generating great and interesting plots. Now I just need to sit my backside in the chair and let my mind go roam wild and free. I've definitely got to let some things go. Hhhmmm. TV and the new shows coming on are very tempting, and oh, the books in the pile of my bed are calling! I've got to learn to let things go.

So how do you writers brainstorm ideas? Do ideas come to you in your normal, everyday life? Or do you sit yourself down and get down to business?

What things to do let go in order to write? Is it painful?

September 23, 2009

Cowboy Christmas by Mary Connealy & GIVEAWAY!

I was thrilled to get to read Cowboy Christmas by Mary Connealy and she certainly does not disappoint! Because I have been so blessed by blog giveaways, I wanted to give back and so I am giving away a copy of Cowboy Christmas to a lucky commenter. If you would like a chance at winning, please leave your email address and your name will be added to the draw! Be sure to leave your email like this, to avoid spammers. sherrinda(at)gmail(dot)com

From the back cover of Cowboy Christmas:

Singer Annette Talbot used her voice to spread the gospel with a traveling missionary troupe. When the Latrells take over and want Annie to dress provocatively and give up singing her beloved hymns, Annie flees to Ranger Bluff, Wyoming, dreaming of reuniting with her father for Christmas. But trouble chases her--right off the edge of a cliff!

Elijah Walker's heart turned as cold and barren as the high plains in December after his ex-fiancee betrayed him and caused his father's death. But when he rescues Annie out of a freezing river, Walker's instincts tell him he must help a stranger in need.

With her hermit father retreating to the high country and the Latrells intent on kidnapping her to make money off her singing, Annie may have no way out.

Has Annie hidden the truth about wanted posters bearing her face too long for anyone to believer her now? Can Elijah overcome the painful past and learn to love again? Will there ever be peace in their hearts in time for Christmas?

My thoughts:
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! From the very beginning, I was drawn to Annie and her predicament, rooting for her and loving her sass. And Elijah...sigh...what's not to love in a brooding cowboy, betrayed by a woman, and fighting his attraction for the new woman in town. Mary does such a good job with developing conflict between the hero and heroine. The conflict, mixed with the growing attraction for one another, make for a great romance.

I thought the villain was very...villainous. He becomes a predator, hunting down Annie, and the suspense of when he would make his appearance kept me turning the pages. Don't you love a great villain?

Mary Connealy is excellent at hooking you in and keeping you turning page after page. She creates believable and heart-warming characters and weaves humor into the dialogue, making it snappy and fun. You will love this book!

Remember to leave your email in the comments for a chance at winning a copy of Cowboy Christmas! The drawing will be held Saturday, October 26.

September 19, 2009

Happy Dancin' In The Face of Satan

Woohoo! I'm kicking up my heels with joy. Doing my little happy dance. Fist pumping high. All in the face of Satan.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." James 2:2,3

Oh, life has had some joyous moments lately. I've lost 6.4 pounds in a week. My daughter tried out for the position of Costume Designer for the High School musical and was selected. And my son's first year tuition was cut by $20,000, leaving us with a relatively small monthly payment to get him through the year! (all due to aid because of our past couple of financially stressed years.) We are starting up a new curriculum and class rotation at our new church and people seem to be excited about it. We have finally gotten rain...and lots of it. (I LOVE rain.)

But, it seems Satan has taken to making all our cars and appliances go haywire. Seriously, we've had something wrong with our cars for the last month, one right after the other. We get one fixed and another breaks down. Our washer went out yesterday too. Luckily, someone at our new church knows someone who takes older models and put new parts on them and fixes them up. We bought one for $60 today! Much cheaper than a service call and all the parts and labor it would have required.

So I say, phooey on you, ye ole devil. I'm dancing in your face! You cannot bring me down. You cannot steal my joy. You are nothing.

Just call me twinkle toes!

p.s. I finally found the perfect layout for my blog. I love it. It is cute. It is clean. And it fits me, I think. This one is sticking around. Sorry to be changing up my blog so much. This one shall stay.

September 18, 2009

Fat Free Friday!!!!

Mood: Happy! Happy!

Why? Because when I weighed in at Weight Watchers last night, I had lost 6.4 pounds! In one week! I've never done that before, and I was shocked, but oh, so excited!

Weight Watcher Challenge: To incorporate exercise in my day.

Mood: Not so happy. Seriously? I'm just getting used to my stomach growling. I'm just figuring out how to calculate those points. I don't want to increase my sweat gland production on top of all that!

So I having been thinking alot about what to write next. I've had some ideas brewing, but am not sure what to do. Have you ever had ideas but thought it might be too close to home? Too real? Too honest? Well, I have. I have a great premise for a series, but will have to really change it up some to make it acceptable. All very cryptic, I know. :)

So this weekend, I hope to get these ideas fleshed out some and down on paper. Maybe seeing it laid out will help me decide what direction to go.

I'm really praying about this, because before I wrote my first MS, I did not seek the Lord, other than ask for His help in making my dream to write a book come true. This time, I want His leading in what to write. I want to be in His will this time and not just write to fulfill my desires. I don't know, but maybe I will grow more as a writer if I am writing for the greatest Author of all.

Here's to a great day, even though it is quiet in cyberland.

September 16, 2009

I Need Direction From The Pros

I have been wrestling with what to do. As you know, I have been taking a break from writing and editing since my major overtime at work in August. I am ready to jump into something, but am not sure what.

My dad has my MS and has edited the first 5 chapters. He had to take a break because he got a pressing (and paying) job that had to be done. I thought I should just go ahead and begin the edits, but then dad said he is almost ready to get back to mine and it got me thinking. What if he gets midway and there are so many problems that I have to redo the beginning?

Should I wait until all the edits are finished before I edit?

I thought maybe it would be best to flesh out some of my other ideas and begin another project, but I don't know if that is best. What is best? Does it matter? Is it all about what is good for me?

What do you writers out there do? Do you edit as you gets edits back? Have you ever experienced editing through a MS only to find that your crits found some problems that required you to redo the whole first half of your MS? Or do you set it aside for awhile? I'm afraid I might forget my story! Does that ever happen? Do you ever lost interest in your story after you start a new one?

Questions, questions....does anyone have any answers?

September 14, 2009

Loving Montana Rose

I won Montana Rose by Mary Connealy and this poor book had such a hard time getting to me. In fact, it never came. Poor Mary. She graciously sent me another one and you wouldn't believe the condition in which the package arrived! The envelope was dirty and torn so much that the postman had wrapped rubberbands around it to hold it together. It looked like a tired had run over it! When I told Mary, she her unique, funny way..."I hope the postman wasn't carrying it when it got run over!" LOL

Read what the back cover says and then I'll tell you what I thought.

Cassie Griffin has always dressed in silks. Her free-spending husband expects nothing less. But now he has died, leaving her unprotected, heavily in debt, and pregnant. As any single woman doesn't remain so for long in Divide, Montana, Cassie wonders if marrying one of the local cowboys might be her only choice. After seeing her choices, she then wonders if joining her husband might be even better.

Red Dawson has always had a soft spot in his heart for Cassie, even though most of the townspeople see her only as a silk-clad china doll. When she's left a widow, only one thing keeps him from immediately sweeping her off her feet--she's a nonbeliever.

As the other cowboys lay claim to Cassie, the most powerful rancher in the area steps forward to demand what he thinks rightly belongs to him...and the property that goes with her. Red struggles with figuring out what to do but decides he can't allow Cassie to suffer a fate worse than death and marries her himself.

Will Red win over this seemingly fragile and spoiled china doll's heart...and survie her unique brand of ranch help in the meantime? Will Cassie find true love with her cowboy--and his God--when she exchanges smooth silk for coarse calico?

My thoughts: I wasn't sure I would like a wimpy heroine, but I knew I liked Mary Connealy's writing. She makes me smile. As for the wimpy heroine, she did not get on my nerves like I thought she would. Instead, she stayed in my mind long after I read the last page.

It had to have been difficult to write a convincing character who has been abused and take her on a journey of healing and become a woman who is free from fear. Cassie was such a helpless thing and yet Red was a perfect companion who nurtured her and coaxed her to shed her fear and failure, layer by layer, until she was strong of heart and even a bit fiesty!

I loved the tenderness and the sweet love between Red and Cassie and I was extremely satisfied in the end. Bless Mary's heart! She has written a lovely story that makes me smile and sigh in the end. Montana Rose stayed with me for a long time and is definitely going on my keeper shelf.

You can check out Mary Connealy's other books on her website HERE.

September 11, 2009

Fat Friday

I shall call this post Fat Friday, because I went back to Weight Watchers last night, weighed in, and gasped in horror as the lady behind the desk stuck the sticker with my weight on my new tracker journal and quietly showed me my starting point. Bless her heart, her hand was shaking as she handed it to me, which gave me pause. Was she scared to show me my weight for fear of my reaction? Hhmmm. Then I looked at the numbers on my tracker.

Oh. My. Goodness. Seriously?

I weigh more than my husband did at our wedding! Grrrr. I had lost a lot of weight 2 years ago on WW and kept it off for 1/2 a year, but this last year, with all the drama and changes in my life, I put it all back on, plus 10 pounds!! Double grrrr.

So why do I eat in my emotional distress? Why do I turn to food for comfort or reward? Why can't God be my reward? He should be my comfort and my helper in my battle with my weight. I feel it is more of a submission thing, I suppose. Am I really submitting everything to God, including my weight? What else am I clinging to in stubbornness?

So, my friends, I am going to lose this roll of flab that has been hanging over my belt and bugging the fire out of me. It's so sad when all your pants are getting to tight! Even my cranky pants are snug as a bug!

So wish me luck. Or better yet pray for me this week. I'm gonna be HUNGRY as my stomach begins to shrivel up a bit.

September 08, 2009

Am I A Real Writer?

I'm nervous today. Not sure why exactly, but part of the anxiety is my lack of desire to write lately. I keep trying to tell myself that I am just detoxing from my many hours of overtime in August. I'm recouping from all that hard labor and lack of sleep. Right?

I can go with that, but deep down I wonder if maybe there is more to it. I am a gal who is a creative type. I love to try new endeavors that allow my creativity to soar. The thing is, I never stick with anything.

I've tried many things over the years: crossstitch (more of an 80's thing), calligraphy, calligraphy art, scrapbooking, making cards (an outlet of scrapbooking), knitting (didn't last long at all) decorating photo albums, tiling clay pots, beading everything, jewelry making (more of the beading thing) and now....writing.

Writing is by far the hardest thing I've ever done. So deep down I wonder if it will be too hard to stick with. Is this just another outlet? Is this just another side trip for my creative self? Do I really have what it takes?

The only thing different about writing from my other endeavors is that I have dreamed of writing since I was a teen. I haven't dreamed about anything else. Just writing. So maybe there is hope that this little vacation from writing really is just that. A time to recoup. A time to rest.

But if I really was a writer wouldn't I WANT to write all the time? Wouldn't I have that desire deep within to put words to paper? All the time? Every day?

Does anyone out there ever feel like me? Are there any real writers out there who just don't want to write sometimes?

Forgive my rant. I just wanted to spew forth my fears today.

September 04, 2009

The Full Moon Effect

The last two days at work have been harried, not to mention the weirdness at home. It was brought to my attention that it was a full moon week and then it all made sense.

I don't know if you've ever experienced the Full Moon Effect, but it is a real thing. Hospitals say the ER is full of craziness on those days. Many police forces use more officers to patrol on those nights. And I know for a fact that the principal sees a lot more discipline problems during those days. Studies have shown there are more babies born, more crime, more suicides, and even more dog bites! Craziness abounds.

It got me to wondering if this strange phenomenon affects my writing. What happens to my characters during this full moon phase? Do my villains become more villainous? Does my hero do more heroic deeds? Does my heroine pull on her cranky pants? I honestly do not know. :)

But isn't it an interesting thought?

September 02, 2009

Giddy Fest & Writer Questions

I've been almost giddy with the normalcy of life this week. I find myself smiling for no reason, other than life feels like it is right side up. To come home at 4 p.m., fix dinner, eat around the table with my family, clean the kitchen, do a little laundry, and relax for awhile before bed, is just the best day ever. Boring, right? YOU BET!!! And I love it!

I am about to open up my book and go through the first 5 chapters of edits my dad has sent me. It is a little overwhelming to try and figure out how to best go about it. You writers out there, how do you do it? How do you organize your work while editing? I have a Word file with my MS. Then I have the file of edits. Do you create a new file for the first rewrite? I thought about saving the edited version with a different name and working in that, since he used the track/change part in Word. That way I could accept or reject some of his suggestions. I don't know.

I'm suddenly getting nervous about this editing thing. Is that normal?

September 01, 2009

Winner of Rocky Mountain Oasis!

The lucky winner of Rocky Mountain Oasis by Lynnette Bonner is.....

Congratulations! After a weekend like you had, you should be able to relax with Lynnette's book and read your cares away! I believe Lynnette is sending it to you as we speak, so be checking your email!

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