Thursday, December 20, 2012

7 Basic Plots

"Everything worth writing has already been written." This is an old saying that will undoubtedly turn out to be only partially true. Many scholars agree that there are only so many plots that can be written. Although the number varies greatly, depending on who you ask, perhaps the most well-known list of plots are the seven types of conflicts.


  • Man vs. Nature
  • Man vs. Man
  • Man vs. Environment
  • Man vs. Machines/Technology
  • Man vs. The Supernatural
  • Man vs. Self
  • Man vs. God/Religion

If this is it, then where do we fit in? Why do we write? Because the beauty lies in the details. The number of different characters that can be written is infinite. And each character will handle the same conflict in an entirely different way.

Each setting that a writer creates challenges these characters in different ways. Unless you go about to consciously copy a novel, it won't be the same as the one before it.

We have to remember that when we write, it's not an exact science. There is the thrill of deciding how to tell the story we want to tell. That's half the fun!

If you truly believe in your story, then it's worth writing. What do you think?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday Greetings!

Here it is the end of another year! I've had this blog up for one year now and have experienced my ups and downs, as all my readers have seen. But the one thing I've learned this year is: don't quit. Writing is too important to my life and the desire to share keeps me coming back to continue to write. I'd like to share a quote that I saw:

"The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."  ~Sylvia Plath

May each one of you experience a renewed sense of creativity with the new year and have the courage to share your unique insights with the rest of the world. This world is getting smaller and smaller and we need to reach out to each other in a vested effort.

I want to thank each one of you for taking the time to visit my blog and I hope we all have a successful new year.

Merry Christmas!

Happy New Year!

 
I tried to add a pretty picture, but I can't get the picture to upload. So, imagine a brightly burning candle set among Christmas ornaments and pine boughs, tied with red ribbon. That is my gift to you.

                                                                 
                                                                

Friday, December 14, 2012

Excerpt: The Chameleon Effect #13

Chavez works for The Agency and has been assigned to rescue Kira Rostropovich and return her to Vega Minor, where she resides with her parents. After being in prison and being 'bought' by Chavez in an auction, Kira is not happy about being searched by Chavez. But he finds a tracking device on her right before a mercenary, Captain Maddeson, finds them and demands that Kira be turned over to him. Chavez immediately makes a sudden jump across the galaxy, much to Kira's surprise! Kira continues to have nightmares and is haunted by the fact that her life is in danger. She demands to go back to Prison Planet 452, but Chavez has someone to add to his crew complement first.
Kira's dream keeps coming back. Is it a warning? All she knows is that her destiny lies intertwined with the prison planet. Will Chavez understand? It is six hours away from rendezvousing with Dr. Winters, who will attempt to help Kira with her problems. But Captain Maddeson is on an intercept course to capture them and return them to the warden. Will they escape? Dr. Winters has diagnosed Kira with the Chameleon Effect and in an attempt to halt its progress, he will use Chavez's DNA. But Kira has other plans and escapes off Chavez's ship, without a word to anyone. Chavez decides to go after her.





Kira entered her destination into the shuttle’s computer and engaged the engines. After she was underway, there nothing for her to do except wait. All the changes to her body from the Chameleon Effect made her so hungry and fatigued that she could barely keep her eyes open. But the last thing she wanted to do was fall asleep and dream about the white room again. She decided to eat and find out something about this Chavez who was supposed to be her savior. She sat chewing on a food packet and requested his information from the computer, but received a denial. No data available. On her second try, she tried the back door.

“Computer, give me information on Chavez at The Agency, Acquisitions and Restorations.”

A single visual image appeared along with the word: “ Deceased”. The image was Chavez, but the information was faulty. What’s going on? Kira thought, There’s a dead guy flying around through space saving people from themselves!

“Computer, give me any information on the deceased Chavez.”

This time, the computer complied. Chavez was listed as a six foot two, Terran-born nationalist. He had a family, a wife and daughter, who preceded him in death by three years. Born on Earth, Chavez was sold into slavery along with his mother. He escaped when he was seventeen and schooled on Darius and Arcturus, then recruited into The Agency from there. All other information was classified.

Kira was so wrapped up in reading about Chavez that she didn’t notice the ship approaching onscreen. She became aware of its presence when a sudden lurch brought her ship to a standstill and she fell head first, out of her chair.

A tractor beam! Damn! It’s probably Chavez!

Kira scrambled up off the floor and stood expectantly toward the forward screen. Whoever did this would be making themselves known soon. But Kira wasn’t giving up that easily, she had a surprise or two waiting when they boarded the ship.

But the surprise was on Kira when the forward screen lit up and Captain Luthius Maddeson appeared with a wicked grin. His green eyes widened as he took in Kira’s appearance. He understood her to be humanoid, but her markings and luminescent green-blue eyes suggested otherwise.

“I’ve been searching the entire galaxy for you, my dear, and I’m most anxious to have you on board my vessel. If you fight me, I will cut off your air supply and starve you of oxygen until you black out. Now you decide - which way will it be?”

“Where are you taking me?”

“What concern is that of yours? Shouldn’t you rather worry whether I let you live or not?”

“If you wanted me dead, I’d already be dead and we wouldn’t be having this ridiculous conversation. So where are you going to be taking me?”

Captain Maddeson licked his thickened lips and smiled. “I like a challenging female. So I will tell you. I am taking you to Prison Planet 452, and am delivering you to the warden.”

Kira nodded in response. “In that case, I will comply with your wishes, without any further hostilities on my part. I will fight you, however, if you should try anything of a personal nature against me.”

Captain Maddeson blinked  his two sets of eyelids as he continued to smile and replied, “You will be well taken care of on my ship, young Kira, and you can be assured that no one will cause you personal tragedy unless you try to escape from my ship.”

“I have no desire to do so, Captain. I am ready to board now.”

Kira gathered her few personal belongings and unlocked the shuttle door. When it slid open, she was inside another cargo bay surrounded by Orgarian guards. They aimed their blasters at her, which made her nervous, but she resisted saying or doing anything until she saw Captain Maddeson enter the bay.

“Captain, is it necessary to have all these weapons aimed at me? I did, after all, make my intentions clear.”

Captain Maddeson spoke to his men in a guttural language that Kira had never heard before. As he did, his men lowered their weapons. Kira filed the language away for future access, in case she needed it.

“In my business, I have learned that one’s doing is worth more than one’s saying, my dear. I have been, how do you say it… crossed double, more often than not by those offering good will.”

Kira nodded in understanding. “I see, double crossed. I am in earnest with you. My goal is to get back to Planet 452 as soon as possible.”

“Then it shall be so. Let me show you to your quarters and tell you a few rules I must insist upon.”

Captain Maddeson led Kira out of the cargo bay and onto his ship as he explained where she could and could not go and what she needed to do to comply.

“I require your presence at meal times and you are not allowed on the bridge unless you feel it is an emergency. Other than that, you will be free to explore the ship, as long as you do not go near the cargo bay.”

Kira nodded as she felt the heat of the temperature the Orgarian ship was kept at. And although it was daylight hours, the ship was kept with low lighting to help with the comfort of the Orgarian eyes. This made Kira sleepy, so after a meal with barely cooked meat and strange vegetables, she excused herself to go to her quarters and sleep. She noticed the guard by her door, but was told it was for her safety. She lay down on her bed and was soon asleep. She began to dream of the white room and the table. Everything was the same until the end! She saw the person coming toward her… it was the warden!

“If you don’t comply with my wishes, your sister will die!”

Kira awoke with a start. And she remembered! My sister! She had to get back to save her sister from the warden. Her sister had been kidnapped when she was thirteen years old and was being held by the warden. She was being kept in a cell in Kira’s place until she returned. But why had she been auctioned off? Was it an accident? She couldn’t remember that being part of the plan. She was supposed to use her powers as a seer’s daughter, if she had any, and combine it with the Chameleon Effect to see if she could become stronger and smarter. But what was she supposed to do? She couldn’t remember what the warden wanted except for one thing. The warden wanted to make her into an advanced being! But why?
 
To be continued...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Subtlety and Misdirection


 
There are tools in writing that add an element of uncertainty and tension, that William Noble, in his book Conflict, Action & Suspense calls “plot-hypers”. They create a rise of anxiety by injecting an unexplained event or circumstance. For example:

A car engine breaks the stillness of the night…or…an unopened letter slips behind couch cushions…

What makes plot-hypers especially useful is the relative ease with which they can be used and the impact they can have on the story. They are the tools that make subtlety and misdirection possible. They raise the tension level. They create uncertainty that might - but doesn’t have to - complicate things.

We speak of subtlety and misdirection because the story moves in whisps and veils and there’s no attempt to ring a bell or blow a whistle to get the reader’s attention. It must, however, take a careful assessment of how much or how little to offer the reader, keeping in mind that we don’t want to be unfair, and we don’t want to confuse the issue. It means we must come up with at least one plot-hyper, and plant the key somewhere in the text. It doesn’t do much good if we expect the reader to deduce things from vague clues, because then, we’ve exchanged subtlety for unreasonable expectation.

Consider Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, and Edgar Allen Poe’s The Purloined Letter. Both planted their plot-hypers in the body of their stories, the subtleties and misdirection came not from confusion or vagueness, but from the knowledge of the way we tend to think. How many of us are lulled by the steadiness of routine? Always the same thing, done the same way, at the same time and same place. Would we wonder about sinister consequences if the routine broke down once or twice? Human nature, we’d say, nothing works perfectly every time!

But Sherlock Holmes wasn’t quite so fooled.

How many of us go on a search for something and assume that what we are searching for must be hidden, and can’t be picked out by the naked eye. Poe showed us that the best place may be somewhere in plain sight because human nature assumes this could never be a possibility.

Why do we use subtlety and misdirection in the first place? And do they actually build action and suspense? The answers lie in a simple equation that becomes an element of the partnership we develop with our readers: The longer we keep our readers guessing, the more attention they will pay to what they are reading. Simple as that.

Subtlety and misdirection make the plot-hyper work by:

·         Offering a thread of information.

·         Forcing the reader to deduce the relevance.

·         Not highlighting the information (making it seem a natural outgrowth of the conversation) but not burying it either - remember, no unreasonable confusion.

Suspense and action can both use subtlety and misdirection to give them depth and zip. Uncertainty is the lifeblood of suspense, and when we provide a bare clue about something sinister, we can’t help but heighten the uncertainty. The clue won’t give the answer, we’re only offering a whisp of something, but it does increase the suspense.

With action sequences, things happen. Suppose a fact is misread or ignored (such as out-of-date blueprints that become a basis for a rescue during a construction fire). The subtlety or misdirection comes in avoiding overemphasis of the plot-hyper - the use of the old blueprints, for example - and keeping things simple. Mention the wrong blueprints in passing, or have the character unaware they have been superseded. Play fair with your readers, give them a chance to catch the subtlety or misdirection. But don’t make it too easy!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Excerpt: The Chameleon Effect #12

Chavez works for The Agency and has been assigned to rescue Kira Rostropovich and return her to Vega Minor, where she resides with her parents. After being in prison and being 'bought' by Chavez in an auction, Kira is not happy about being searched by Chavez. But he finds a tracking device on her right before a mercenary, Captain Maddeson, finds them and demands that Kira be turned over to him. Chavez immediately makes a sudden jump across the galaxy, much to Kira's surprise! Kira continues to have nightmares and is haunted by the fact that her life is in danger. She demands to go back to Prison Planet 452, but Chavez has someone to add to his crew complement first.
Kira's dream keeps coming back. Is it a warning? All she knows is that her destiny lies intertwined with the prison planet. Will Chavez understand? It is six hours away from rendezvousing with Dr. Winters, who will attempt to help Kira with her problems. But Captain Maddeson is on an intercept course to capture them and return them to the warden. Will they escape? Dr. Winters has diagnosed Kira with the Chameleon Effect and in an attempt to halt its progress, he will use Chavez's DNA. But Kira has other plans and escapes off Chavez's ship, without a word to anyone.



Chavez couldn’t stop thinking about Kira as he plotted his course to Prison Planet 452. He finally satisfied his curiosity by deciding to review her file again. He’d read through all the essential parts and now he wanted to know everything he could find about her. Although he had perused the file before, he hoped there was something that he’d missed.

“Computer, open the file on Kira Rostropov.”

“Searching.”
A few seconds later, her entire file flashed onscreen, starting with a recent visual of her at her home on Vega Minor. She was standing next to the family swimming pool, dressed in a white cover-up, with her thick, curly hair piled on top of her head. What Chavez noticed most about the image was the smile that adorned her face. It lit up her entire face and sent out a non-verbal message of happiness. Chavez automatically smiled back as he felt a yearning for her in his gut. He wished that she was able to smile like that now, but he’d only seen hints of it from her. He frowned at the thought he suddenly had, and decided to follow through on it.

“Computer, shown me Kira’s mother and her history.”
 
Chavez searched through her history and found what he was looking for. Kira’s mother was the first wife of Ambassador Rostropov and was descended from a line of seer’s that were from the planet Darius. They had mental powers that were unequal to no other in this part of the galaxy. She died after giving birth to two female children. If Kira had even part of the powers her mother had, what would the Chameleon Effect do to her and how much power would it give her? He wondered if the warden had figured this out and that was why she was targeted. But unless they had a way of controlling her, the power would be useless.

Chavez pulled up the file on Ambassador Rostropov’s second wife. She was his current wife, who was freed from slavery by the Ambassador. She had one child who followed her into slavery, but had become lost when he or she was thirteen.

Chavez reminisced about his own mother who had worked so hard to protect him while they were bound in slavery. But it was at thirteen when he met the warden, who gave him his lasting disfigurements and sent his mother away to the slave auctions. The last word he had received about his mother was that she had died under someone’s hand. Chavez vowed he would make the warden pay for his cruelty not only to him, but to his mother. He had caused her to work herself to death in slavery.

Chavez continued to dig through the family history until he came to the line about a younger sister that had been born three years after Kira, and then kidnapped at age 13. She was never found and although they continued to look for her, the family rarely mentioned her because of the pain it caused their father. But Chavez was curious. Why had Kira insisted that she had to get back to Planet 452 or she would die? She only knew bits and pieces about the Chameleon Effect, nor did she know what happened to her while she was there. Or did she? She was so insistent about going back, that she actually commandeered a shuttle and headed off into space, not knowing which way to go. Were the two incidents related somehow? The answers lie on the prison planet amidst a crowd of greedy, backbiting individuals who would sell their own mother for a credit. Chavez knew he needed to go there to get the answers he was searching for. He needed to find out what had happened to Kira.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The End of A Community...

Writer's Digest Community is closing its doors November 30th and pulling back to its original forum. For those of you who aren't familiar with the community, it hosted a place where writers could go and post their work for critiques and sharing. The original forum is less interactive and a little more confusing to navigate, in my opinion.

I'm hoping to find a new place to join with other writers soon, so if you hear of a place that doesn't make claim to your work, please let me know. I'd be interested in checking out any reasonable place. For now, I will continue to post work here, on occasion.

For you members of Writer's Digest Community, I hope to see you in a new arena soon. And keep writing, no matter what!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Layers of Life

Envision a person as if he was an onion. Layer upon layer of life experiences, covered by layers of protection. When we peel away the layers what do we find? We start with the outer layers:

  • Clothing and makeup
  • Hairstyles
  • Gloves and hats
  • Whatever hides the real person

When we get to the inner layers of protection, we approach the core of our being:

  • Basic truths
  • Honesty
  • Religious beliefs
  • Fundamental relationships
  • Political leanings

The next question is: What is at the core of a being? For each person it will be something different. As writers, our job is to have vision and peel away the layers to the core. We need to explore what each character is at its basic layer. Is there light or darkness? Does your character hide behind its beliefs? Do they dress in religion or politics or some other trapping that identifies them as a certain truth?

When we strip away each layer of each character, we can easily identify who they are and where they belong in our story. When we create characters this way we will have a better perspective of our entire work. Try unwrapping your characters as if they were an onion. What is at the center? Will your character have light at the center of its being? Is he/she the protagonist? Or is there darkness, that pervades its core. Investigate your characters, then wrap them back up, layer by layer, according to what you find. It is a fun exercise that reaps its own rewards.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Discussion on Dialogue

Recently I have been getting some feedback on dialogue that has me wondering. What are the rules that you follow? I've been told that good dialogue should be like a tennis match or a ping-pong game. It should be swift, back and forth and short and sweet. I'd like to hear what my friends out in blogosphere say:

Just how do you create your dialogue?


Do you follow any rules?


Where does the monologue fit in and when do you give it the axe?


Does your dialogue dance like a tennis match?


How do you deal with a character who is a wind-bag?


I haven't answered these questions with good reason. I'd like to see what you think and what, if any, is the consensus on good dialogue. I hope you will take a moment to jot down your thoughts and thank you for sharing!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Excerpt from: The Chameleon Effect #11

Chavez works for The Agency and has been assigned to rescue Kira Rostropovich and return her to Vega Minor, where she resides with her parents. After being in prison and being 'bought' by Chavez in an auction, Kira is not happy about being searched by Chavez. But he finds a tracking device on her right before a mercenary, Captain Maddeson, finds them and demands that Kira be turned over to him. Chavez immediately makes a sudden jump across the galaxy, much to Kira's surprise! Kira continues to have nightmares and is haunted by the fact that her life is in danger. She demands to go back to Prison Planet 452, but Chavez has someone to add to his crew complement first.
Kira's dream keeps coming back. Is it a warning? All she knows is that her destiny lies intertwined with the prison planet. Will Chavez understand? It is six hours away from rendezvousing with Dr. Winters, who will attempt to help Kira with her problems. But Captain Maddeson is on an intercept course to capture them and return them to the warden. Will they escape? Dr. Winters has diagnosed Kira with the Chameleon Effect and in an attempt to halt its progress, he will use Chavez's DNA. But Kira has other plans and escapes off Chavez's ship, without a word to anyone.





Chavez’s massive hand whacked down onto the side of the systems array station. “How did she get in there? That’s what I want to know! I kept the cargo bay locked with a special password. Did you unlock it for any reason?”

He continued pacing around the bridge, while Dr. Winters stood completely still. They had been alerted of Kira’s escape when the computer signaled Chavez that someone had opened the outer doors and decompressed the cargo bay. By then it was too late to get in to stop her, even if he could have overridden her commands. So, he watched with impotent anger as she left with Dr. Winters’ ship, and no word of explanation.

Dr. Winters cleared his throat and answered Chavez’s question. “Yes, I did unlock the door. I needed supplies that I’d brought with me. How was I supposed to know she’d try to steal my shuttle?” Dr. Winters stood with his hands held up as he shrugged, trying to understand what had just happened. “Chavez, how did she know how to fly the shuttle? Is she trained as a pilot?”

“No! That’s what I don’t understand either. Her file says she has no technical knowledge of spacefaring vehicles.”

Dr. Winters pointed at Chavez. “It’s the chameleon effect. She is adapting to her surroundings.”

“And part of that is learning to fly the shuttle?”

“Her brain is working faster than ours and she is using her surroundings as an integrated learning situation. She’s assimilating from everything she sees.”

Chavez’s brow wrinkled, as he was lost in thought. “What else can we expect?”

“That’s the thing. We don’t know, because we don’t know where she went.”

But Chavez shook his head. “Yes. I know. Prison Planet 452.”

“Then we need to get there before her. Once they get her back in their clutches, I doubt if we’ll be able to retrieve her. And, I also doubt if they’ll be able to control her, so their only option would be to eliminate her.”

Dr. Winters had been discussing Kira analytically, but Chavez was starting to get upset. He turned and glared at him, all the while suppressing the urge to grab him by the throat and shake him.

“She’s not one of your lab rats, doctor! She happens to be a frightened, but intelligent young lady who has feelings that need to be remembered!”

Dr. Winters paused from his monologue and gave Chavez searching look. “Are you in love, Chavez?”

Chavez sputtered as he back-pedaled from the question. “Me? In love? What a ridiculous question. I don’t have time to be in love with anybody, let alone a mouthy young lady who steals your shuttle and causes me twice the work to get her back home!”

Dr. Winters raised his hands in surrender and backed away from the bridge monitors and a very angry acquisitions agent. He continued backing all the way across the bridge until he reached the double doors that slid open on his approach.

“I’m going to be in my quarters, Chavez. Let me know what the plan is before we get there.”  The doors slid closed leaving Chavez alone on the bridge, with no clue as to how to retrieve Kira.

As he prepared to call in a report to The Agency, Chavez found himself mumbling to himself. “Some cases are harder than others and this one is going to get harder starting right now. I knew it was too easy! But in love? How did that wrench happen to get thrown in the machinery? Winters doesn’t know what he’s talking about! Or maybe he does…?”

It was then that The Agency answered his call. “Greetings, Chavez, how can I direct your call?” It was the same young lady as the last time he had reported in. Someday I’ll ask her name.

Chavez settled his frame into the captain’s chair, exhaustion pushing at his thoughts. “Is Vida in?”

“One moment please.” Her pleasant smile reminded him of Kira. She had attempted to smile once and it lit up her whole face.

Vida, the head of Covert Operations appeared onscreen. She took one look at Chavez and asked, “Don’t you ever sleep?”

“It’s been problematic. But I’ll be able to get in a few hours soon. Kira Rostropov has escaped in a stolen shuttle and is believed to be going to Prison Planet 452. Dr. Winters has diagnosed her with the chameleon effect. Apparently she wasn’t irradiated. What I saw was the beginnings of the markings that appear on her body.” Chavez went on to explain all the ramifications of her escape and how she could hide anywhere, learning from her environment.

Vida was silent for a few seconds. “What a useful tool for a government that wanted to infiltrate another sector. Do we know where she was injected?”

“According to her dreams, it was while she was on the prison planet. The warden must be doing some kind of experiments there. They have all kinds of subjects available to do tests on.” Chavez said.

“Then why did they specifically grab an ambassador’s daughter? What reason was there for it?” Vida asked. “We have to look at the big scope of this. Is it because of her nationality? They needed her gene pool?”

Chavez jumped up off his chair. “Of course! If they were going to use people from her planet, they need to see their reaction to the injection. But why pick someone so high profile?”

“Maybe it’s a warning? To the ambassadors?” Vida shook her head, tapping her finger against her jaw in thought. “No, it’s more like a demonstration? I don’t know at this point, but try to get her back if you can. Her parents would be most grateful. And if you do get her back, keep her tied down until you get her back here for debriefing.”
 
 
To be continued...

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Agony of Rejection


Bench In Winter by Petr Kratochvil
 
 
Rejection can be looked upon as a repudiation of self, or a slap in the face. But I've learned that along with rejection comes a learning process that can be invaluable to an aspiring writer. For those of you who have the good fortune of never receiving a rejection letter - congratulations! Maybe the rest of us can learn something from you.
 
I feel fortunate that along with my letter (or rather email) came a personal critique of my story. They actually read the entire thing! And were thoughtful enough to make comments. To me, that's a five star review that can only serve to improve my writing. Had I received a form letter or email, I would have chalked it up to experience and moved on. But with personal comments I can dig in and make some changes that will strengthen my story and improve my style.
 
Being rejected by a publisher seems to be a part of the writing world. And being invited to submit another story is a plus also. So, before I decide to submit that second story, I'll make sure I have addressed all of their concerns in their carefully prepared personal critique. What an excellent way to grow and learn about writing.
 
Don't think I didn't have my moments of feeling froze out and rejected. It was my sister, Loretta Stephenson (Art By Retta) who pointed out how lucky I was to get a personal reply. She helped me turn agony into victory by showing me that it's all in how you choose to think about your experience. So, next time you experience rejection, find what you can learn from it and turn a negative into a positive so you won't have to spend too much time feeling the agony of rejection.
 


Monday, October 29, 2012

New Kindle Edition of Dragon Kind!


Announcing... Dragon Kind is now available for Kindle through Amazon.com. If you have been waiting for this edition, it is finally here!


Dragon Kind

When Marsilynda Weston’s grandfather dies, he leaves her a magic sword that sends her through a time portal, on a quest to kill a dragon. Plus, he requests that his associate, Richard Carnes, become her protector. But what happens next is a total surprise when the dragons turn out to be her friends and the nearby king and his knights her enemies. Will Marsilynda accept Richard, who she thinks will foul up her quest? Will she return with Richard through the time portal or will she stay with the dragons and fight their enemies?

You can get your copy of Dragon Kind HERE.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

It was a dark and stormy night...

Have you had trouble with that first sentence? Do you want to set the scene without becoming cliche? I've struggled over that first line time and time again, but have found a few ideas to help me get through that "dark and stormy night".

Certain important parts need to be included in your first paragraph. Your character, conflict, specific use of details and credibility should be included. What you choose for your first line can come out of these, but needs to be an eye opener so your reader will want to continue reading.

Character: Your opening should give the reader a person to focus on. In short stories, the person will appear almost immediately and become an integral part of the story. In a novel, the main character may take a little longer to appear, but someone interesting should be on hand for the reader to focus on.

Conflict: The point to remember about conflict is that something isn't going as it is expected to go. Your readers should suspect that as soon as the first few paragraphs. But calling for conflict doesn't mean that the first sentence has to have a body hurtling past a sixth story window (but then again, maybe it will?). In some stories, there may be overt conflict with man against man, or man against nature, etc. In other stories, however, it will be on a smaller scale; family strife, romantic misunderstandings, economic gain or loss. The conflict may be so subtle that it exists solely inside the skull of one character. No matter what kind of conflict there is, it should be hinted at in the beginning, even if it won't be developed until later.

Specific Use of Details: Effective beginnings make use of specific details. These may be details of speech, setting, characters' thoughts - anything relevant. The right details gain you three advantages.
  • Details anchor your story in concrete reality.
  • Details set your opening apart from hundreds of others similar to it.
  • Details convince the reader you know what you're talking about.
Credibility: Even the most accurate and interesting details will be undermined if your prose lacks credibility. Here, there are two kinds of credibility discussed in writing. One is that of whether or not you can handle the language you are writing in. Are you in control of your words, sentences, and paragraphs. The other kind is whether or not your characters are credible. Do they appear to be what you present them to be. For example, a character is a ninety pound weakling, but you have him bending steel. Unless this is science fiction, where he's gotten hold of some kryptonite, this character isn't very credible. He isn't real. Make your characters believable.

With all these in mind, we get back to our first sentence. We have to make our character credible, through the specific use of details and conflict. Can you write a sentence? Maybe even a paragraph? This will blossom into the beginning of a new story and perhaps a new novel. Good luck with your next new sentence. It won't be a dark and story night...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Characterization



Creating characters that are believable and capricious all at the same time can require a lot of work. I've started a character journal in order to have my characters available when I need them. I add to their personalities as I think of things and have them on 3x5 cards in a file. I found a list of things to help me round out my characters and I'd like to share it with you.

  1. Be aware of the four methods of direct character presentation: appearance, speech, action, and thought. The indirect methods are: authorial interpretation and presentation by another character. In other words, introducing the character by the author or another person.
  2. Reveal the character's conflicts by presenting attributes in at least one of these methods that contrast with attributes you present with the others.
  3. Focus sharply on how the character looks, on what he or she wears and owns, and on how he or she moves.
  4. Examine the character's speech to make sure that it does more than convey information. Does it characterize, accomplish exposition, and reveal emotion, intent or change? Does it advance the conflict through "no" dialogue? Speak it aloud: Does it "say"?
  5. Build action by making your characters discover and decide. Make sure that what happens is action and not mere movement, that is, that is contains the possibility for human change.
  6. Use your journal to explore and build ideas for characters.
  7. Know the details of your character's life: what he or she does during every part of the day, thinks about, remembers, wants, likes and dislikes, eats, says, means.
  8. Know all the influences that go into making your character's type: age, gender, race, nationality, marital status, region, education, religion, profession.
  9. Know what your character wants, both generally out of life, and specifically in the context of the story. Keeping that desire in mind, "think backward" with the character to decide what he or she would do in any situation presented.
  10. Identify, heighten, and dramatize consistent inconsistencies. What does your character want that is at odds with whatever else he or she wants? What patterns of thought and behavior work against the primary goal?
  11. If the character is based on a real model, including yourself, make a dramatic external alteration. Keep the character fresh.
  12. If the character is imaginary or alien to you, identify a mental or emotional point of contact.
Characters are the life of our stories and without a fully fleshed out character the story will remain flat and lifeless. We can even re-create characters that we have used in the past by adding to them and turning them into a new generation of life. Good luck on your characterizations. I hope this sparks a fire in your mind.


Twelve points from: "Writing Fiction" by Janet Burroway

Friday, October 19, 2012

Excerpt from: The Chameleon Effect #10

Chavez works for The Agency and has been assigned to rescue Kira Rostropovich and return her to Vega Minor, where she resides with her parents. After being in prison and being 'bought' by Chavez in an auction, Kira is not happy about being searched by Chavez. But he finds a tracking device on her right before a mercenary, Captain Maddeson, finds them and demands that Kira be turned over to him. Chavez immediately makes a sudden jump across the galaxy, much to Kira's surprise! Kira continues to have nightmares and is haunted by the fact that her life is in danger. She demands to go back to Prison Planet 452, but Chavez has someone to add to his crew complement first.
Kira's dream keeps coming back. Is it a warning? All she knows is that her destiny lies intertwined with the prison planet. Will Chavez understand? It is six hours away from rendezvousing with Dr. Winters, who will attempt to help Kira with her problems. But Captain Maddeson is on an intercept course to capture them and return them to the warden. Will they escape? Dr. Winters has diagnosed Kira with the Chameleon Effect and in an attempt to halt its progress, he will use Chavez's DNA.



Kira’s hearing was improving rapidly since being injected with the transposons. She was silently listening to Dr. Winters and Chavez from beyond the sliding doors to the bridge and decided her only chance of survival was to get to Planet 452. Kira would not be locked up on a ship in the middle of space. She’d had enough of being in prison! She didn’t understand all they were talking about, but as she looked at the back of her hands, she could see the tan mottling around her forearms and wrists. It was spreading fast! Kira could also feel something happening to her on the inside. Her awareness of things around her was heightened and each item or event was becoming a piece of her knowledge. It was as if her brain was working like a computer and identifying each new thing and how it related to her. Was this the Chameleon Effect at work? If it was, then she was far more advanced than Dr. Winters suspected. She was identifying and categorizing as she went. Kira realized that she had to protect herself from what others might do to her. She didn’t want to be anyone’s lab rat.

 Right now her only option, aside from staying on the ship, was to take Dr. Winters’ shuttle and make a run for it. She wasn’t sure where she was in space, but anywhere would be better than being cooped up here, waiting to die! Then she had a thought; she would visit Chavez on the bridge and get a look at the star maps. They were individual computer chips plugged in and displayed on a computer screen. Chavez always kept the computer linked to the original maps as he traveled.  Kira packed a few supplies into a shoulder sack, hid it in her quarters and headed for the bridge. When she arrived, Chavez and Dr. Winters were still deep in conversation, which halted abruptly when she passed through the double doors. She knew they were still talking about her, but it didn’t matter now. Wandering over to the map station, she was startled to see that all his original maps had been put away and the computer was organizing their mission.

“What happened to all your maps?” she blurted out, unrestrained. This was unacceptable! She needed those computer chips with the maps!

Both Chavez and Dr. Winters stared at her, but Chavez said, “Are you unhappy because of a little housecleaning? Dr. Winters is entering those new sectors into the computer for me. A tedious job which I have ignored.”

“But it gives me something to do on this journey.” Dr. Winters added, smiling.

Kira didn’t answer, but spotted what she needed on the computer readout. A map of the current sector was open and a blip showing their location flashed onscreen. She grinned as her own mind instantly made a copy of the sector.

“What’s so funny, Kira?”

Chavez had noticed her half-smile. Damn! Now she needed to make up something. “I’m just thinking how easy it would be to get lost without these maps.”

“And that’s funny?” Chavez said. He lifted an eyebrow and tilted his head as he stared hard at Kira.

Kira turned toward the double doors and gave Chavez a withering look. “Absolutely!” Then she was gone off the bridge with a sigh of relief. That man always made her feel disoriented and as if he could see right through her. For all their snapping and fighting, she found herself thinking that she would miss his company.

But right now she had another thought that was first and foremost to her. I need to find the shuttle. She didn’t know her way around the ship, but it was small enough that with her one prior exploration, she could sneak to the tail of the ship and find its docking port with veritable ease. All the way there, however, she was hearing Chavez’s voice in her head. Haven’t I tried to protect you? But Kira shook her head vigorously.

“No! You aren’t protecting me when you take me away from the only thing that will save me!” she shouted back at her thoughts. Kira knew that Planet 452 held the key to her release. She fought with her blank memory, trying to remember the tiniest thing about herself. Chavez had told her she had been programmed to return, but if that was so, why was she adapting to her surroundings out in space? She had been through the computer data files and had all the history of the quadrant. She could remember everything in the encyclopedia, but not one detail about who she had been before she woke up in prison.

Dismissing the disturbing thoughts, she began to run through the ship’s halls, anxious to be gone. She stayed away from the floor with the engine room, knowing that the computer would betray her to Chavez.  Finally, on the lowest level, a door slid open and there, in the cargo bay, sat Dr. Winters’ shuttle.

“Thank you Dr. Winters!”

Kira smiled as she approached the ship. Thinking of all that needed to be done to launch the shuttle, she started to panic. But she had very little time before she got caught, so shaking off her feelings of fear, she forged ahead. Kira pressed her hand onto the shuttle’s computer readout and a sudden influx of information flew into her mind. She suddenly knew how to do this and in what order. It was simplistic! All she had to do was follow the steps in her brain. And she had to hurry!

Kira didn’t question how this information was transferred to her, or why. Her hands were shaking as she felt a thin webbing form between her fingers, while the mottling continued to change faster than before. Catching a glimpse of her reflection in the computer screen, she could see the mottling next to her eyes. It had changed the shape of her eyes. They were pulled up and out, so instead of being round, they were oval. She blinked with two sets of eyelids closing and saw that her iris color was now a shimmery blue-green.

Kira locked the shuttle door, depressurized the cargo bay and opened the outer doors into space. Step by step she released the interior drag lines, adjusted for pitch and yaw while she taxied out, then, when she was clear of the outer doors and the ship’s tail, she fired the engines and disappeared into the stars.

To be continued...

Friday, October 12, 2012

New News!


I've been keeping a journal again. It's not as nice as this one, that was created by my artist sister Loretta Stephenson (Art By Retta). But it's for my class and I am required to do four pages a week.

What I've discovered about my journal is, I'm writing down a plethora of ideas that normally get lost because I don't have pen and paper handy.
Last year when school was out, I was happy to end my journal, but I found that during the summer I was going through it and gleaning out the notes and ideas that I'd thought about but didn't have time to do anything with. Now that I'm in the same situation with barely any time to write at leisure, my journal is always handy so I can jot down those thoughts that same important enough to keep. Actually, sometimes, they may not seem important now, but later will be the crux of a story.

News Flash- I have some good news! Right now I'm pouring over a contract sent to me from an editor. It's for a romance story that will go in an anthology of medical romance. I'm excited about this sudden development, but am taking it slow. I have until November to return the story, complete and polished. Believe me, to me that seems like a long time compared to the way things have been flying around my house.

I'm happy to announce that it will be published next year and I'll let any of you romance readers know when it is available. In the meantime, I'm continuing to work on my sci-fi/fantasy novel The MacKenzie Chronicles. It will be available next year also.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Controversy Over Adverbs

So here I am back in a writing class and I turn in my paper, which has very few adverbs for the entire piece, and the teachers announces that adverbs are our enemies. Well, she didn't actually say that they were something to loose sleep over, her main idea was that adverbs muddy up the clean water and cause clear writing to become hazy.

I always enjoyed saying how the cat bounced playfully onto the bed and dug its claws deep into my skin. But just like a cat's claw, that playful bounce becomes a prick into my writing skin as the red editing pen comes out to dash away the playful part of the bounce. My question is, if you want to be concise and say it was a playful bounce, why go around the block three times by saying: The cat was in a playful mood and jumped up on the bed. Blah, blah, blah, etc. Do you get what I'm saying? Using an adverb, I eliminated the need for extra sentences and got my meaning across in a direct manner.

Perhaps brevity isn't what my teacher is looking for. Of course, I never said I was an expert on grammar. Ask my sister, Loretta (Art By Retta), and she will tell you how poor my grammar was when I first attempted to share my stories. If anyone could be an editor in my family, it would be her. But it seems to me that adverbs were created for a reason in the English language, and it couldn't be to just cut them out of everything. I suppose I'll have to persevere and do my own research on the subject. After all, I seem to remember at least a few prominent authors who were willing to risk the editor's slice and have faithfully added a few adverbs.

We must learn the rules before we can break them. And we can offer up a resounding hooray for any adverbs that slip through the editor's pen.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Does Your Pencil Have An Eraser?

With the beginning of the school year, I've come to find out that I have a ga-zillion things going on and I'm running this way and that trying to keep up with myself. What I've learned is that I have to learn how to prioritize my activities. And, I have to learn how to say that one word that is all too difficult to say to people when I'm overloaded: no, thanks.

Actually, saying no isn't hard, it's the feeling that I need to justify myself when I need to rest or take some time to let my batteries charge, so I have something to write about. Have you ever been in that situation? If you haven't, I'm envious of your ability to plan your schedule so well that you flow like a rolling river on a lazy summer afternoon. Right now, I'm a raging tsunami getting ready to hit inland, with no way to stop except to hit a mountain wall.

But before you say whoa there! Let's remember the schedule I decided to start keeping before school started. I was going to keep everything ship shape and prioritize my activities. What actually happened was everything hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks, all at the same time. Then, I had to make my lists and check off those things that were the least important. I had to say no. At first it hurt to hear the pleading and whining, but after I said I'm sorry, but I don't have the time for this, it got easier.

Now, with the ga-zillion things slowly ebbing down to a minor uproar, I'm breathing easier as I watch my to-do list get checked off, one by one. And with everything taken care of, I can actually enjoy learning something new and sharing my writing with other students.We can all take time to learn a new thing each day. All we have to do is pencil it in on the calender. But make sure your pencil has an eraser, just in case of emergencies!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Excerpt from: The Chameleon Effect #9

Chavez works for The Agency and has been assigned to rescue Kira Rostropovich and return her to Vega Minor, where she resides with her parents. After being in prison and being 'bought' by Chavez in an auction, Kira is not happy about being searched by Chavez. But he finds a tracking device on her right before a mercenary, Captain Maddeson, finds them and demands that Kira be turned over to him. Chavez immediately makes a sudden jump across the galaxy, much to Kira's surprise! Kira continues to have nightmares and is haunted by the fact that her life is in danger. She demands to go back to Prison Planet 452, but Chavez has someone to add to his crew complement first.
Kira's dream keeps coming back. Is it a warning? All she knows is that her destiny lies intertwined with the prison planet. Will Chavez understand? It is six hours away from rendezvousing with Dr. Winters, who will attempt to help Kira with her problems. But Captain Maddeson is on an intercept course to capture them and return them to the warden. Will they escape? Dr. Winters has diagnosed Kira with the Chameleon Effect and they need to find a way to stop it.



Chavez and Dr. Winters met on the bridge after the doctor was finished with Kira’s blood work. Chavez was estimating the arrival time to Darius when Dr. Winters rushed through the doors.

“Chavez, how long is it until we are orbiting Darius?”

“We have seven solar hours until we enter their system. Why?” Chavez saw the concern written on Dr. Winters face and alarm swept through him. “What’s happening with Kira?”

“Transposons sometimes generate gene mutations. This can cause diseases, but can also be a way for an organism to respond to its environment, through adaptation.”

“Tell me in English, doc.”

“Kira is changing on a cellular level. That’s why she has no memory. She wasn’t irradiated with someone else’s memories; they wiped her clean and left her blank so she could adapt to the information in her surroundings. She will adapt to her surroundings like a chameleon. I don’t advise taking her to a planet until I can create an antidote to either halt or eradicate this. She’s liable to try to adapt to her surroundings by hiding somewhere.”

“Okay, we skip Darius.” Chavez reached to changed course, but Dr. Winters stopped him.

“The problem is, I need some supplies. I need protein transposase to combat this.”

Chavez narrowed his eyes. “How do you get it?”

“I’ll need fresh DNA from individual volunteers.”

Chavez bit his lower lip while considering whether or not he should volunteer. He hesitated, then asked,

“Can you use me?”

“Chavez, this is dangerous.”

“How dangerous?”

“I’d be sharing your DNA with Kira. Any type of gene mutation in your past could show up. How did your parents die?”

“My father abandoned my mother and I when I was young and my mother died in the slave camps. But I’m perfectly healthy.”

“I don’t know…” But Dr. Winters needed the DNA and this was his chance to get started. “I suppose I could screen the DNA for aberrations if it was a small sample.”

Chavez paced around the bridge, trying to think. “Why don’t you start with me while we’re waiting to arrive at Darius? After we get there, you use your shuttle to go to the surface and back. Kira and I will stay in space.”

“I’ll only use you once. That way I can create one dose of antidote. One dose of antidote will cover Kira for any eventuality.”

“Alright. Let’s get cracking.”
 
 
To be continued...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What's In Your Mirror?




With school starting up next week and a whole new focus beginning in my writing class, I got out my notes from last time and reviewed what I learned. Or at least what I wrote down in my notes. Whether I actually learned it all or not will soon become evident as I take the second semester of Imaginative Writing. As I begin this class, I am looking in the mirror and asking: What's changed in my writing?

I believe it's important to evaluate our growth occasionaly, to ensure that our writing doesn't stay static. If I'm not moving forward or at least stepping to the side on a different path, then I must question the effort I put in to create a better outcome. Has my writing improved? Have my stories become more alive with the characters and details that surround them?

One of the things that I know has changed is my level of courage. Or my dimishing fear. Like the lion in the mirror, I see myself beginning to roar back at my kitten meow of last year. Having the courage to explore different avenues available to me has opened up new possibilities for me. Besides self-publishing my books, I've had the courage to submit my manuscripts to a publisher of ebooks. Allowing my work to be critiqued has been the hardest growth for me. I'm learning how to develop a thick skin so I don't crumble when someone doesn't like my work. Now I can ask why? And how can I improve and sharpen my characters and plots.

I look forward to getting back to the grind. If I was thirty years younger I wouldn't be so hard on myself. But I feel the urgency of wanting to get the stories out that are inside, just like a painter would want to paint all the pictures that are in their mind's eye. And so I leave this post with these questions for you. Are you continuing to improve in your writing? Has your story become sharper and clearer as you write? Are you focused so each chapter reflects a mirror of what you want to say?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Interview with Christine Rice


Today I’m going to be interviewing Christine Rice - freelance writer, editor, and author. She has been publishing her writing since 2007. She is the author of four books - Poetry for the Heart, Essays for the Soul, My Not-So-Ordinary Life, and Freelance Writing Guide - and is planning on publishing two more books by the end of 2012. She has been a freelance writer and an editor since 2011. Her newest book, Freelance Writing Guide: What to Expect in Your First Year as a Freelance Writer, was just released in August 2012.

 

Karen: Christine, welcome to my blog.

 

Christine: Thanks for having me, Karen. It’s a pleasure to be here.

 

Karen: What started you writing? Are you self-taught or did you study writing?

 

Christine: Mostly, I learned how to write from being an English major in college and my specialization was professional and technical writing. Some of the things I learned were: to conduct effective online research, write literary analyses, keep accurate bibliographical information, edit other students’ writing, design brochures and web pages, give proper step-by-step written instructions, and much more of course. I learned the most from all the writing practice I got from writing essays and papers, because there were so many! I received good instruction on how to write clearly and concisely - to get my message across with using as few words as possible. College was a great experience and I highly recommend that other writers get educated on writing. My newest book, Freelance Writing Guide, has a chapter called “Writing Courses,” which provides information on how to get educated in writing.

 

Karen: What is your inspiration?

 

Christine: Life itself is the main source of my inspiration, and my ideas come when my mind wanders. I like to brainstorm to come up with ideas to write about. That was how I came up with the focus for Freelance Writing Guide. I knew I wanted to write a book about freelance writing, and by thinking about the topic and writing down thoughts about the topic as they came to me, I discovered the slant of my book which is reflected in the subtitle: what to expect in your first year as a freelance writer.

 

Karen: What made you decide on this topic?

 

Christine: I decided to write about the business of freelance writing, because it was a main part of my life, since I was and still am a full-time freelance writer. I decided on the topic after I had worked very hard for nine months and had learned a large amount of knowledge about the career field, and since I was approaching my one-year mark as a freelance writer, I thought I had enough credibility to write a book about what it’s like to be a freelance writer during the first year. And when I looked back at all I had learned and gone through during that time, I wished I had a book, with all that knowledge bottled inside, to read before embarking on my journey as a freelance writer, because it would have saved me a lot of time and trouble from the research I did and the experiences I went through. Wanting to bottle my experiences in a book to help other inspiring freelance writers was my underlining reason for writing and publishing Freelance Writing Guide.

 

Karen: Did something happen in your first year that prompted the writing of this book? (Or do you explain this in your book?)

 

Christine: My experiences in general inspired me to write the book. I had gained a lot of knowledge during my first year, so I had a lot to share with other people. I had learned about search engine optimization, online writing communities, networking, marketing, resume writing, writing for content websites, traditional publishing, and much more, which is all found in my book.

 

Karen: As a freelance writer, what is the best advice you can give to those new to writing or new to freelance writing?

 

Christine: For writers looking to embark on a freelance writing career, don’t expect a lot of profit in the first year. I’m sure many writers don’t want to hear that, but we can’t live in denial. The first year of freelance writing is about getting acquainted with writing for the Web and print publications, building a network, starting and maintaining a blog and website, and finding your niche in the freelance writing world. So if you plan on quitting your day job to become a freelance writer, you should save up enough money to cover expenses for the first year before you become a freelance writer, or make sure your family can cover household expenses with less income. Also, you may have a lot of business expenses, if you need equipment and supplies to start, and that would factor into your net profits. It’s best to have a financial cushion, so-to-speak, so that you don’t get stressed over money. The profits will definitely increase, but in the beginning it’s good to have a financial backup.

 

Karen: What kind of writing goals do you set for yourself?

 

Christine: My book reviewing goal is three books a month. I have another goal of writing at least one blog post a week for each of my two blogs. Mostly, I have a to-do list or a list of goals, but with no deadlines. I’m very self-motivated and productive, so items don’t stay on my to-do list for long. When I have things I need to accomplish, I often stay up all night to get them done, because I don’t like leaving loose ends. My long-term goals are to publish Chronicles of a Troubled Girl and Articles for the Mind by the end of 2012, Freedom from Fat in mid-2013, and second editions of two of my books in 2013 as well.

 

Karen: As a freelance writer, how much time do you spend on marketing your books?

 

Christine: An average amount, I suppose. Most of the marketing I do is when the book first gets published. I write and publish a blog post, a press release, forum posts, and events. After the book has been on the market for at least a year, I will seek out additional reviews from book reviewers. I create postcards with my book cover as the image and mail them to people I know. I have giveaways and discount days. Marketing gets done in short bursts so to not overwhelm the public with constant promotion.

 

Karen: All the books you've written are non-fiction. How does this plan apply to someone who writes fiction? In your opinion, can a fiction writer do as well in these areas?

 

Christine: Sure, fiction writers can become freelance writers. They can publish short stories online or in print magazines, and novels. And my book talks about all of that. Being a freelance writer is mostly geared to writing content for websites and clients, which tends to be nonfiction writing. But some fiction writers I know are great freelance writers, because they are able to write both fiction and nonfiction. It is definitely possible for a fiction writer to do well as a freelance writer.

 

If you are interested in my book, Freelance Writing Guide, you can pick up a copy at Amazon, Lulu, or Smashwords. If you wish to learn more about me, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and my blog.
 
 
 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

About getting stuck...



Yesterday I was stuck with my writing, so I turned on an old re-run of The Waltons and watched an episode called The Easter Story. In this particular episode, the mother of seven children contracts polio and decides she's going to walk again, no matter what. But, the more she tries, the worse she feels until she finally gives up in defeat, saying "It's time to get busy living with the way things are, and not the way I wish things could be." (not an exact quote) Anyway, that night she has a dream that her youngest child is calling to her, so she gets up and starts walking to her. The family is elated that after she relaxed, she was able to walk again and all was okay.

I thought about that and how I've been trying so hard to write a story I've been working on. Maybe if I just relaxed and let the story flow, it would be more natural and forthcoming. So, last night I accepted that the story was not happening the way I wanted and decided to let it go. I woke up this morning with new ideas that seem fresh and vivid. All I had to do was relax and let things happen the way they are, and not try to push things into a mold.

So much of life is like that. We get an idea of the ways things ought to be, and forget to look at how things are. Reality gets pushed out of perspective and is distorted. It becomes unusable and forced. I'm going to try to embrace the way things are and let my stories create themselves. That way, what actually comes from me will be a whole lot more real than any sci-fi/fantasy I could dream up. Oh, I'm still going to write fantasy, it'll just be more like what's going on inside my head as I let it come out in its own time.

My sister, Loretta Stephenson, at Art By Retta, sent me this quote today:

“Perhaps, it is just as well to be rash and foolish for a while. If writers were too wise, perhaps no books would get written at all. It might be better to ask yourself 'Why?' afterward than before. Anyway, the force from somewhere in Space which commands you to write in the first place, gives you no choice. You take up the pen when you are told, and write what is commanded. There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.”

– Zora Neale Hurston from Dust Tracks on A Road

Monday, September 10, 2012

What's Your Chocolate? Blog Hop!


Welcome to the What's Your Chocolate? Blog Hop. You can check out M Pax's website HERE for more blogs to visit. I've been doing my own drooling with anticipation while I thought about what my favorite chocolate was. I decided that my chocolate desires changed with the seasons.

I associate chocolate covered cherries with Christmas. In fact every year I buy a box to eat throughout the season. I can remember having a box when I was twelve that I shared with my brothers and sister.

During Easter, my chocolate takes on a different taste when it is chocolate covered marshmallows I crave. I can't wait until next year when I can share it with my granddaughter in the form of brightly colored tinfoil designs.

My summer favorite is M&M's peanuts. The chocolate doesn't melt in the heat (as long as you don't sit out in the sun with it).

My all time favorite would have to be chocolate peanut clusters. I remember my mother keeping a candy dish with goodies in it, when I was young. I loved lifting the lid of the cut glass candy dish and picking out one piece to eat after school. My mother loved that particular kind of chocolate also.

As much as I love chocolate, I don't eat it very often. Because of physical problems, I'm not supposed to have any at all, but I do indulge occasionally. I imagine that eating low-calorie chocolate would help, but it doesn't taste the same. Since I don't need to eat it to make me feel better, I will continue to take an occasional bite of chocolate and enjoy the seasons as they come.