Posts Tagged ‘Fiction’
Posted on November 19, 2013 - by Shannon Vannatter
Several years ago, when I was still trying to get published, I saw a movie trailer about a writer. He worked in his bathrobe, slept on his couch, never got dressed, and let his housekeeper take care of everything. All he did was write. I thought it was awesome. As the movie trailer continued, he had problems. Lots of problems. But the bathrobe and uncombed hair in pursuit of his passion–I got that.
Since I got published, I do get dressed and function in the outside world. And I do take care of lots of other things besides writing. But because writing is my job–I get away with a lot of fun stuff.
1. Working in my jammies. First I was a hairdresser, then I worked at a bank, then in corporate offices. I had to show up looking presentable. But with writing, I wash my face, brush my teeth, and go to my computer. But don’t come to my house before 2:00. I won’t answer the door until I’m presentable.
2. Working my job around my family. During the school year, I write during the day. In the summer, I write after everyone’s in bed. When they’re around and awake, I focus on them.
3. Flexible hours. On most days, I send my family off to school and work, then write while they’re gone. But if there’s a school function in the middle of the day, a Christmas float to decorate, or a church member in the hospital, I can take the day off without worry.
4.Having a job that requires daydreaming. All of my life, I’ve tried to listen and pay attention, but my mind would wander. With writing–having a wandering mind is encouraged, an active imagination is required, and daydreaming is allowed.
5. Making my characters do whatever I want them to. I’ve always thought I could solve a lot of problems if my friends and family would just take my advice. My characters listen to me and do what I say. It’s the ultimate control freak job.
6. Hearing voices and having imaginary friends. Oh the wonderful people who live in my head. And everyone thinks it’s okay and normal since I’m a writer.
7. Meeting authors. I love going to the bookstore, scanning the names on book spines and counting how many I’ve met. They may not remember me, but I remember them. I’ve talked to Denise Hunter, hugged Lenora Worth, laughed with Mary Connealy, and rode in the elevator with Terri Blackstock—just to drop a few names.
8. Sleeping in fancy hotels with women I barely know. There for a while I was sleeping with someone new at every ACFW conference. The friendships I’ve made through our common pursuit of publication are priceless. Isn’t that nice alliteration?
9. Having writing buds who really get me. There are friends and then there are writing friends. Writing can be very lonely, but not with friends to share the valleys and summits, highs and lows, thrills and spills. When I have writing news—good or bad—I share it with my family, then my writing buds.
10. Connecting with readers. Either in person or online. It’s exhilarating to know someone is actually reading what I write, enjoying it, and appreciating my efforts. Through books, God has blessed me with the ability to witness to more people than my mouth will ever meet.
It worked out for me to be a stay at home mom before I got published. We’d already given up my income, so anything I make now is just a bonus. My hat’s off to the published authors who have a full time job and still manage to write books. I honestly don’t know how they do it.
And to those still seeking publication–don’t give up. Keep writing. Persistence + Patience = Publication. I hope you get to work in your jammies someday soon.
We’re giving away a copy of Rose Ross Zediker’s Wedding on the Rocks. Comment to enter – deadline Nov 30th.
When she traded small-town life for the bright lights of Chicago, Jennifer Edwards yearned to discover a world beyond Faith, South Dakota. So when her father’s illness calls her home to run their cattle ranch, she tells herself it’s temporary. Then why is she even thinking about a future with archaeology professor Brett Lange—the boy she left behind—whose life’s work is digging up the past?
Twelve years ago, Brett had a crush on Jennifer the size of the T. rex that put his hometown on the map. Now she’s a citified magazine editor who prefers designer duds to dungarees. Except that’s not the real Jennifer. Brett needs to make her see how a little faith can go a long way in uniting two perfectly in-sync hearts.
Posted on November 5, 2013 - by Shannon Vannatter
I’m celebrating my new release, Rodeo Queen by giving away two print copies. Answer the question at the end of the post or comment daily for the next two nostalgic weeks to enter the drawing. Deadline: Nov 16, 11:59 pm central time.
No, I was never a rodeo queen. But I’ve been feeling nostalgic about my latest release, Rodeo Queen. Why would my recently released book make me feel nostalgic? Because it formed in my head as a teenager. It was the story that wouldn’t go away until I finally realized it was a book around 1996. Then it took me three more years to get a hand me down computer and write it.
That’s me in 1999 writing my first ever book about a interior decorator with a stalker and the private detective who protects her. My husband took the picture and it’s my favorite. I was so involved in my story, I didn’t even know he’d taken the picture until we got the film developed. Yep, back then the pictures actually got out of the camera and you didn’t know how they looked until you picked them up from Walmart. I love the picture because it reminds me how supportive he’s been of my writing–from day one. He didn’t complain that I was ignoring or neglecting him, he just took a picture of me doing what I love.
Back to the story, after fifty-two rejection letters on that first book, countless others on six more books–I stopped counting at 200–fourteen years, and seven published books later, that first book I ever wrote releases this month. Rodeo Queen is a reworked version of my first story.
The original version was set in rural Arkansas. Rodeo Queen is the 5th title in my Texas rodeo series and is set in Aubrey, the Fort Worth Stockyards historical district, and Medina, Texas. My heroine morphed into the owner of a blingy western clothing store and a rodeo queen–which lent itself well to the stalker angle. The hero became a Texas Ranger. And in the new version,they were high school sweethearts.
The Medina part was originally in there and it makes me nostalgic too. My hero and herione visit his grandfather’s ranch in Medina twice during the course of the story. The ranch is based on my father-in-law’s ranch in Medina, near San Antonio. My father-in-law passed away, but we still visit his wife–Texas mom–once a year.
I’ve heard countless authors say they have their first awful manuscripts moldering in a drawer, that they’ll never see the light of day, and they shouldn’t. I wasn’t willing to let my story die. I didn’t go back and try to fix that original manuscript with all the knowledge I’ve gained from countless writers’ meetings and conferences, I started from scratch.
And I like the new version better. Readers often ask me which of my books is my favorite. I’ve never really been able to answer that question. It’s like picking your favorite child or pet. I love all of my books–otherwise I wouldn’t have written them.
But I think I’ll play favorites now–Rodeo Queen–hands down.
CAITLYN WENTWORTH LOVES BEING A RODEO QUEEN
Until she starts receiving threatening letters from a stalker. The good news is, the Texas Ranger assigned to her case is none other than her former sweetheart Mitch Warren—the man who chose his career over love.
Mitch vows to focus on protecting the woman he’s never forgotten. But Caitlyn stirs up memories best left in the past. When Mitch insists on hiding Caitlyn away on his family’s San Antonio ranch, will he keep things professional or seek out a second chance?
Remember to enter the drawing daily with each new post from all the inkspers. And if you can’t wait or don’t win, here are a few purchase links for your convenience
Question of the day–for readers or writers. Have you ever had a story in your head that wouldn’t go away?
Posted on September 17, 2013 - by Stacy Monson
Isn’t the phrase guilty pleasures an oxymoron? Or maybe it’s just that as women, we tend to feel guilty when we take too much time doing something we enjoy. But then THAT is an oxymoron – can we possibly take too much time for ourselves with so many other things pulling at us?
But I digress. This isn’t a post about oxymorons. It’s about those things in life I love, love, love! There might be a twinge of guilt once in awhile, but for the most part – bring it on!
* Sitting in the sun (that’s it – just sitting under a comfortably warm sun enjoying the outdoors)
* Dinner out with my girlfriends
* The change of seasons (yes, even into winter – which lasts until January 2 and then I’m ready for spring, which is pretty funny considering I live in Minnesota!)
* Singing praise and worship songs (which I only do alone in my car, or in the house with all the windows closed – trust me, it’s not pretty)
* and of course, M&Ms – plain
Now I have this sudden need to go shopping with my girlfriends for new office supplies with a bag of plain M’s in hand. Then I’ll have to stop by the Dairy Queen before heading home to settle in for a good long soak in the tub. Sounds like a perfect evening to me!
What are some of your guilty, or not-so-guilty pleasures? We’re giving away a gently used copy of Sarah Sundin’s On Distant Shores to one lucky reader this week, and a copy of Laura Frantz’s Love’s Awakening to another reader. Every time you leave a comment over the next two weeks, your name will be entered.
The two winners will be chosen after midnight on Friday, Sept. 20 and posted on Saturday!
Posted on September 3, 2013 - by Stacy Monson
I loooove new books. (I suspect I’m among friends with similar feelings here.) I’ve included three books that are set for release this month – all with covers that intrigue me (along with great story lines)
A Log Cabin Christmas is a collection of stories from some amazing writers, including fellow Minnesotan Erica Vetsch. I love this cover for several reasons. First, I want to stay in that log cabin! Wouldn’t it make a great hideaway to read or write? Second, I love the mountains. Maybe I’ve spent my life in the suburbs of Minneapolis, but I’m a mountain girl at heart.
I love the stories within this collection: Experience Christmas through the eyes of adventuresome settlers who relied on log cabins built from trees on their own land to see them through the cruel forces of winter. Discover how rough-hewed shelters become a home in which faith, hope, and love can flourish. Marvel in the blessings of Christmas celebrations without the trappings of modern commercialism where the true meaning of the day shines through.
Any cover with nature (especially those mountains!) quickly gets my attention. I’ve yet to visit Alaska (it’s high on my bucket list) so I hope reading the Alaska Brides Collection will give me an idea of life in that vast state. These stories are written by some of my favorite authors including Mary Connealy and Tracie Peterson. I’m expecting this to be another great read.
Experience five Alaska adventures through the lives of determined women who overcome the many challenges to build their lives in the wilderness. From the gold rush, through a diphtheria epidemic, to the building of the Alcan Highway, readers will enjoy the stubborn fight each woman displays as love comes into her life. Will the women also give up fighting God and let Him lead them through America’s last frontier?
Yet another September release, The Prayer Box, is by Lisa Wingate. What drew me to this cover was, first of all, the title. I have a prayer box myself, so the simple cover of a young woman surrounded by paper prayers caught my eye. And I love the story line.
When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola’s rambling Victorian house. Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola’s walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, spanning from Iola’s youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper–the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything for Tandi.
What kind of covers catch your eye?
Posted on July 23, 2013 - by Stacy Monson
Writing is something one does alone. And not alone. When it’s time to write, it’s up to each writer to plant themselves in a chair and crank out words. Lots of them. But there’s so much more to it than that. Few of us can sit down and write the great American novel without help. Craft help, networking help, editing help, publishing help, marketing help. For a solitary venture, writing requires a lot of help!
These two weeks, the Inkspers are sharing ideas on where to get that help – industry influencers, new technology, people “in the know.” I’d like to share information about an agency from which I’ve received great advice and encouragement though I’m not represented by them.
The Steve Laube Agency is run, of course, by Steve Laube. Steve is widely regarded in the writing industry as knowledgeable, helpful, approachable, funny, and a genuinely nice guy. Author friends of mine are represented by him and have never spoken a negative word about him or his agency. In fact, the words have always been glowing!
Steve’s website and blogs are thoughtful and informative, providing guidance to those writers seeking answers to a long and varied list of questions. Rotating blog duties with his agents Tamela Hancock Murray, Karen Ball, and now Dan Balow, the posts are interesting, thought-provoking and even funny at times. Check out Fun Friday for something completely different each week.
If you want information about the writing industry, you can find it on their website under Resources. If you are looking for information about submissions, marketing or publication, check out their blog archives. A few blog titles include Hints for a Great Cover Letter, What are Average Book Sales, Writing That Sings, and How Long Does it Take to Get Published. They also list industry blogs to give a wide range of opinions and topics.
While the search for an agent can be long, exhausting and often frustrating, connecting with just the right agent will serve a writer well in the long run. It’s definitely worth the effort to research agencies and agents, ask questions, check references and talk with authors they represent. In the meantime, keep writing, and gather as much information, guidance and encouragement as you can from professional, reputable places like The Steve Laube Agency.
Posted on April 16, 2013 - by Stacy Monson
I’m all for new things – like warm weather and sunshine (we don’t have either yet here in Minnesota). So along those lines, I’m looking forward to reading books by authors I’m unfamiliar with. There’s always that little excitement when I read something from an author I don’t know – perhaps this person will become one of my go-to authors in the future. We’ll see!
Marrying Kate by Kimberly Rae Jordan (March 3, 2013 release)
She has loved him for years, so when Jared asks her to marry him for the sake of the orphaned children of his brother and her sister, Kate says yes. The foundation of their marriage is a mutual love for their nieces and nephew, but Kate hopes for more. As they learn about God’s ideal for marriage and how it works for them, danger from Jared’s past threatens their family. Will they have the chance to see if respect and affection can blossom into love before it’s too late? Or will a man’s need to protect his secrets rob them of the marriage Kate dreams of?
Sounds like a sweet story – and I’m a sucker for stories with kids.
Then there’s Beth Wiseman. Yes, all of you have probably read at least one of her many books – but not me! So I’m really excited to see why she’s so popular. Her newest release is The House That Love Built. (April 2, 2013 release)
Brooke has only loved one man, her late husband. Owen is rebuilding after a painful divorce. Can a mysterious house bring them together for a second chance at love? In the charming town of Smithville, Texas, Brooke Holloway is raising two young children on her own, supporting them by running the family hardware store. The last thing on her mind is falling in love. But she’s intrigued when a stranger moves to town and buys the old Hadley mansion. She’s always heard that house holds a secret—maybe even a treasure—and she can’t wait to see inside. When she meets the new owner and they spend time together, she can’t deny the attraction. Could God be giving her another chance at happiness? Or is she betraying her late husband’s memory by even thinking that way?
Owen Saunders bought the Hadley place to spite his cheating ex-wife. She’d always wanted to restore an old house in Smithville. Now he’s going to do it without her. But if anything needs restoration, it is Owen’s heart. Then he meets Brooke and her kids and finds himself tempted by love. Can he bring himself to trust a woman again?
Throw an eccentric uncle into the mix, along with the town’s teenage troublemaker, and even a finicky cat—and one thing becomes clear: God is bringing them all together for a reason.
So here’s to new books, new authors – and new things, like maybe SPRING???
Posted on March 12, 2013 - by Shannon Vannatter
I once thought writer’s block was a myth. Until it held me in it’s cold grip. Desperate, I asked for advice from other writers. And got lots of advice. Eventually, I came up with my own cures.
- Go for a walk by myself.
Most of the time, I walk with my son or my mom. But walking by myself clears my brain. Alone with my thoughts, the ideas start to flow.
- Take a shower.
Just me and the warm water and my undistracted brain. Bubble baths are good too, but the shower blots out the noise of my family, the TV, the neighbors.
- Work on a different book.
This is my surefire cure. As soon as I try to concentrate on another book and other characters, I get all kinds of creativity going for the book that was blocked until I can’t wait to get back to it.
- Go on a research trip.
I love research trips. There’s nothing like walking in your characters’ shoes. Trips are expensive, but they are tax deductible.
- Playing Angry Birds.
I saved the best for last. I’ve never been much of a gamer. Electronic games usually frustrate me. But when my son introduced me to Angry Birds, I fell in love. For some reason, knocking all those boxes, piles of snow, glass, and wood piles down–freeing those caged birds, popping those oinking piggies, and knocking those laughing monkeys off their tail ends relieves my stress. And stress can be the biggest block a writer must hurdle.
So my new way of relaxing at the end of the day is Angry Birds. The black bomb birds are my favorite. They cause so much destruction and get all my inner aggression out. My husband and son even got me an Angry Bird necklace for Christmas. I wear it proudly.
Posted on February 19, 2013 - by Stacy Monson
I am not the typical standard romance reader. Much like Dawn described in her post a few days ago, I’m not drawn to typical stories with typical heroes.
For most women, the point of reading a standard romance is to live vicariously through the heroine to win that perfect man. In most of these stories, the hero is self-confident, uber successful, swooned over by many, distrustful of women until the heroine comes along, wears only stylish clothes, can do anything he sets his mind to (fly planes, run large companies, ski only diamond runs in the Alps, cook seven-course meals), and basically never fails. Not only do I not know anyone like that, I find myself rolling my eyes as I read about them.
I do enjoy reading romance stories but I read them to make the journey with characters I come to love, rooting for them when they mess up, cheering when they succeed, and sighing in delight when they finally fall in love. I like unconventional heroes – real guys who are doing the best they can with what life hands them. Even if it means they face the day unable to find socks that match.
And like their socks, these guys can be difficult to find. But that’s okay – it just means I have to work harderto find my kind of hero. And usually I love the book because of the hero.
One such unconventional hero is Ragnar from Michelle Griep’s book, Undercurrent. There are two heroes in this story. The first one we meet is Alarek (the epitome of tall, dark and handsome, and funny to boot). But it’s his cousin, Ragnar, who captured my heart. This tale of a modern-day woman stuck in the Viking era is interesting, funny, and poignant. Ragnar, the wounded, reluctant hero is a Christian amidst his Viking contemporaries which sets him apart from the beginning. The fact that he was brutally disfigured by his own father sets him apart in another way.
He struggles on so many fronts – trying to protect and clear his cousin, Alarek, from murder charges; protecting the strange, foreign heroine with whom he falls in love; protecting his countrymen from the evil that threatens to overtake them all. Yet his stoic demeanor, steadfast faith and unwavering loyalty make him a true hero.
Another of my favorites, in a very unconventional way, is Pastor Alex Armstrong in Judy Baer’s Forever Hilltop series. He’s a single guy, ditched by the love of his life. A city guy trying to figure out how to pastor in a farming community. He’s cuter than he realizes, funny enough to make me laugh out loud, and sweet enough that he manages to win over the congregations of both churches by the end of the series. You can’t NOT fall in love with this unassuming, sometimes bumbling guy who loves deeply, goes out of his way for others, and is determined to let his faith lead – even when it’s to an unexpected place like Grassy Valley, North Dakota.
Do any of your heroes wear mismatched socks?
Posted on February 12, 2013 - by Shannon Vannatter
Dylan Taylor. Just his name almost makes me swoon. It’s not his picture on the cover, though that’s pretty yummy too, but the way Denise Hunter wrote him that makes me palpitate.
I started reading The Trouble with Cowboys not liking Dylan. I’d gotten a glimpse of him in Book 2 in Denise’s A Big Sky Romance series. I thought Dylan was a ladies’ man, a player, a playboy running from commitment. And Annie, the heroine did too. But we were both wrong. Dylan’s not like that at all.
In scene one, he chipped away at my resolve by worrying about his horse. In his second scene, he showed he loves kids. And before I knew it, I was in love. This handsome cowboy was deeply wounded using his carefree facade to hide behind. Months after reading the book, I can still hear his slow drawl, see his swagger, feel the beckoning of his dimple.
Here’s the blurb: Only one pair of boots—and the cowboy wearing them—can get Annie out of the mess she’s in.
Annie Wilkerson is Moose Creek’s premiere horse trainer and equine columnist for Montana Living. Money is tight as she tries to put her kid-sister through college and provide for her young nephew. When Annie’s column is cancelled, she’s given first shot at a new lovelorn column—and she can’t afford to turn it down. Only problem is . . . Annie’s never been in love.
Always resourceful, she reluctantly strikes a deal with the town’s smooth-talking ladies’ man Dylan Taylor: She’ll work with his ailing horse, Braveheart, if he’ll help her answer the reader letters.
Working closely with Dylan is harder than Annie imagined, and she quickly realizes she may have misjudged him. But her unwavering conviction that cowboys are nothing but trouble has kept her heart safe for years. And she can’t risk getting hurt now.
The more Annie tries to control things, the more they fall apart. Her feelings are spinning out of control, and her sister’s antics are making life increasingly more difficult. Annie knows she needs to turn the reins over to God, but surrender has never come easily.
Usually when I read a series, I can pick a favorite book and sometimes there’s even one book I’m disappointed in. Not so with this series. Since The Trouble with Cowboys is Book 3 in the series, readers should begin with Book 1 – A Cowboy’s Touch, then Book 2 – The Accidental Bride . Just see if you can keep from falling in love with Wade, Travis, and Dylan. Come on, I dare you.
Posted on January 29, 2013 - by Shannon Vannatter
I’d read about, heard about, and learned about timeline for years. So, when it came to my first book getting published, I’d already done my timeline. This book was based around Valentine’s Day. It started on Valentine’s Day and ended on Easter. The timeline was very definite. Or so I thought.
Imagine my shock when I got my very first content edit and the editor said I needed to show passage of time. I’d done okay from Feb. to April., but then I didn’t show any passage of time and the next month I mentioned was Sept. which made the editor go, “Whoa.”
You don’t want your editor to go, “Whoa” or your reader for that matter. So here’s my timeline recipe.
Remember I’m a pantser, so I write the book with no definite timeline in mind. I basically just pick a month to start the book in. If it’s a continuing series, the last book often sets the timeline. As I go along, if I realize I need to get a certain event in a certain month, I change the timeline accordingly.
After I finish the book and start editing, I staple several sheets of paper together. I scan through the book and write it down scene by scene. Not everything in the scene, just the pivotal stuff such as: hero and heroine meet at wedding.
Once I get all my scenes written down, I grab my trusty calendar and figure out a day by day pattern for each scene. I mark days and dates for each scene. Again if I realize I have a scene set at Christmas and my time line isn’t going to get me to Christmas, I change timing. Instead of something happening day by day, I’ll change it to week by week or even month by month. By the time I get done, my sheets have marked out dates and scribbles all over them.
Once I get my timeline worked out, then I go back in the manuscript and put the timing in each scene.
Here’s some tips on how to show passage of time:
- The next day, Caitlyn went to work.
- A week later, Mitch checked his computer.
- On September 27th, Caitlyn went to work.
Some of these might work in a pinch, but not for every scene and they’re boring. Try to mix it up.
- Caitlyn drained her coffee, hoping it might perk her up. She’d barely slept last night after the argument with Mitch.
- Mitch checked his computer. Had it really been a week since he’d seen Caitlyn?
- Late September gold, yellow, and red leaves rustled in the trees outside Caitlyn’s store window.
Aren’t these more interesting?
My recipe will work for plotters too. Just work the timeline in when you’re doing your outline or whatever it is you weirdoes do
The only problem I’ve run into was with the last book I turned in to my new publisher. My new editor asked for info for my cover about a month and a half before my deadline. I hadn’t quite finished the book and hadn’t pinned down the timeline. I had to stop and do that because they wanted descriptions of scenes including the season. With the book I’m currently writing, I’m trying to get my timeline a little more set as I write.
How do you handle timeline and passage of time?