Why I Write Military Heroines

Nov 11 2020, 9:23 am in ,

            I write about extraordinary women and the men they love. Military heroines.  Women at the top of their field in a man’s world. The men in their lives accept them for who they are and stand shoulder to shoulder with them in their adventures.

I’m frequently asked why my heroines are in the military.

Let me begin by saying the military is in my DNA. I come from a family, who over the years, have served in every branch of the service in every conflict since WWI. Two great, great, great, great uncles were in the Charge of the Light Brigade. Thomas Dunn, a corporal, and Alexander James Dunn, a lieutenant were members of the 11th Hussars, a British Army unit. Lieutenant Dunn was killed in the battle. Corporal Dunn was one of the fabled survivors.

My daddy trained Coast Guard recruits in Florida and Washington State, and patrolled in the North Atlantic riding shotgun for convoys. 

Another Uncle was a Navy ace in WWll and in Korea.

One uncle, on Daddy’s side of my family, was home in December 1941 for leave before he was to report to his next duty. His next duty? The USS Arizona in Hawaii.

My husband’s uncle served in Germany.

Hubs was a Marine and served in Vietnam.

One son was with the first Marines into Bagdad in the Iraq war.

There are many others but I think you get the point. 

 

Now, back to that question why my heroines are in the military.  I say why don’t we have more books with military heroines? I feel like the women in the service of their countries are under appreciated.

George Washington credits winning the war against England to six colonial spies who risked their lives to bring him information. One of them a woman whose name has never been discovered.

Dr. Mary Edwards Walker is the only woman to receive a Congressional Medal of Honor awarded for her life saving work during the Civil War. Her name was deleted from the Medal of Honor Roll in 1917. She was asked to return the medal and refused, wearing it every day until she died.

Agnes Meyer Driscoll known as Madame X, an American cryptanalyst for the U.S. Navy during World War I was a brilliant code breaker.

During WWII over 1000 women in this country flew every type of military aircraft, ferrying them to military bases and departure points. They were test pilots and towed targets to give gunners training. Their service wasn’t recognized until the 70s.

Nancy Augusta Wake was a British agent who became a courier for the French Resistance. By 1943, Wake was the Gestapo’s most wanted person, with a 5 million-franc price on her head.

 Rose Antonia Maria Valland, a French art historian and member of the French Resistance. A captain in the French military, and one of the most decorated women in French history. She secretly recorded details of the Nazi plundering of National French and private Jewish-owned art from France. Remember the book and movie The Monument Men? That’s her.

I have a special place in my heart for the nurses who took care of those who fought in Vietnam.  (Read, The Trunk, in my collection of short stories Let Me Tell You A Story)

In my first book, Under Fire, a Coast Guard helicopter pilot teams with a DEA agent and launches a personal seek and destroy mission to find her brother’s killer. This thriller follows the two through the dangerous drug underworld, a fierce gun battle at sea and brings down a notorious drug lord.

In Under Fire: The Admiral, a Coast Guard officer and the doctor she is flying on medical missions in Ecuador are shot down off the coast by a drug cartel. She uses all her skills to get him home safely. While in the jungle, she is the doctor’s Guardian against danger and he becomes the guardian of her heart.  

Point of No Return features a female Marine Corps Intelligence officer and a contract spy, investigating kidnappings of military children and mysterious deaths. As they navigate the murky political waters of the Pentagon, and private armies, it’s hard to know who’s lying to your face, and who’ll stab you in the back.

In Hunter’s Heart the heroine works closely with military units.  Her personal and professional life is a complicated tangle of dark secrets, and she can’t afford to let anyone close. A Navy SEAL earns her trust and learns her secrets putting him in more danger than he’s ever known. 

Check all my books out on my Amazon Author Page

                                                           Rita

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lighthouse Ghosts

Oct 27 2020, 8:56 am in ,

 Haunted Lighthouse

From William Samuels’ Journal. 

Written on a plane headed to Kansas City.

     I love lighthouses. I grew up a block from the St. Augustine, Florida lighthouse. As a kid the grounds, with its old oaks were my playground. The light and the keeper’s house were basically abandoned after the Coast Guard automated the light.

     I’m not admitting to anything but…entering the structure was—cough—hypothetically possible. Hypothetically, I spent some rainy afternoons in the keeper’s house with a girlfriend or two, making out. Occasionally, of an evening, Clay, my best friend in high school, and I would entice our dates to climb in a window and go into the light. Not up to the top, just stay at the bottom where it was nice and private. I’ve only been to the top a handful of times. Not because it’s 219 steps to the top, but up past the first 50 or so steps I got a queasy, dizzy feeling. Like vertigo. Pretty sure it’s because of the heavy smoke smell permeating the walls. Accumulated from years of cigar and pipe smoking keepers. I also hear phantom footsteps that kept my feet firmly on the ground. One of the times I did go to the top was with a girl. While we were up there she clocked my hard enough to cause a bloody nose. Why? She said I tried to push her over the iron stair railing. I didn’t lay a hand on her and I was pretty mad she said I did something like that.

     Anyhow, that’s how I got started with lighthouses.

     I went away to journalism school at the University of Missouri and believe it or not there aren’t any lights there. I was so used to the beam from the St. Augustine light sweeping past my window every minute and a half I had trouble sleeping. I tried setting a timer on a lamp to mimic the light. Roomie put an end to that real quick.

     After graduation I worked for a couple of small newspapers and freelanced. I could see the internet was killing print media and in my spare time—which had become more than my working time—I began to write the great American novel. Quickly learned I’m no Stephen King. Writing is hard. One night at the corner pub I was telling a friend my sad tale of woe and he gave me the name of a client of his looking for a ghost writer. Well, hell. I gave it a try and found out I could do it and do it well. I live comfortably off my earnings. So do two ex-wives.

     I recently traveled to Michigan to work with a client, I’ll call Sam for the telling of this, on his auto-biography. Before taking on a gig I visit with my client to gage the tempo of their speech and get a feel for where they live. This makes the ghost writing easier. Sam spent his childhood and adult life on the upper-peninsula, or thumb, as the locals call it. A nice guy, nothing earth shaking in his life. I enjoyed listening to his rich story telling style.  Some interesting stuff, like his grandfather came to Michigan from Boston on an orphan train. We bonded big time when Sam tells me about a nearby haunted lighthouse where he and his friends hung out. I’ll be honest, I never thought about lighthouses in Michigan. But, get this, Michigan has more than any other state. Michigan’s rocky shores on four great lakes are home to a hundred and twenty lights. Florida has thirty. Yeah. We shared a few lighthouse stories and a lot of damn good whisky.

     Contract signed and my business concluded, on a whim, I drove my rental to a few of the Michigan lights. At each I was greeted by enthusiastic volunteers who treated me to the stats, stories and secrets of their wards. These bastions are pretty damn amazing. Most, built in the late nineteenth century on inhospitable rocky islands and desolate land, are pounded year round with treacherous weather. Yet, they’re still standing.  Gotta tip my hat to those who built the towers without the heavy equipment we have today.  One thing they had in common with the St Augustine light, they smell of cigar and pipe smoke. I mentioned this to the woman—an aging hippie type—showing me around. She stopped dead in her tracks and put her hand to her throat, breathing hard. Eyes big as Oreos. Thought she was having an attack and was reaching for my phone to call 911 when she told me, in a halting whisper only special people could smell the smoke.

     Alrighty then.   Said my good-bys and beat feet it out of there.

     I made my way to the next Light where a great guy and his wife show me around. At the top of the light the lady, in a hushed voice, says, “The windows are clean.” I thought she was responsible and asking for an atta girl so I told her she did a good job. Although I wasn’t sure how she’d managed to do the outside. The Mrs. politely informs me she didn’t clean the windows, the ghost did.   

     Okay.

     Moving on, I mention it’s too bad the smoke smell can’t be removed by cleaning. The couple give me a hard look. The Mr. chimes in that not everyone can smell the smoke from the light keeper’s cigars. As if I’ve given them a secret handshake into a paranormal club, tales of haunted lighthouses around the country pour from them. Strange lights, music playing, cries of women and sailors, heavy footsteps on the stairs. Cleaning ghosts, like the one here, who clean light windows and brass. Specters of women in flowing white gowns and men in pea coats.      

     On the ground, outside and after the hairs on my body returned to their proper positions I was slapped alongside the head with a book idea. Thoughts swirled in my mind and I wasn’t able to think of anything else. I’ve heard writers speak of getting ideas this way but this is a first time experience for me. I’m excited. Excited about writing for myself. I can hardly sit still. The woman in the seat next to me keeps giving me funny looks. I gave her a big smile and tell her I’m going to write a damn good book about a haunted lighthouse.

     Some of this is true. Some is not. Can you tell which is which?

                                                                                     Rita

 

Haunted Yaquina Bay Oregon Lighthouse

Oct 14 2020, 10:54 am in

Are the stories true? 

               Yaquina Bay, Oregon. The charming two-story clapboard structure was deserted a mere three years after its light was first lit in 1871 and it remained empty for fourteen years. In 1889 The Army Corps of Engineers used it to house one of their engineers and his family. That is, until it was heavily damaged in a hail storm and struck by lightning. It’s had spotty off and on use until it was privately purchased and relit in December 1996 as an aid to civilian navigation.

     Deserted and in disrepair, it has ever since been the setting for many a ghostly tale. The most famous being about Muriel Travenard, born at the end of the 18th century to a sea captain and his wife. Her mother died when she was young, and for a time she sailed with her father. When she was a teen the captain decided to leave his daughter behind with friends in Newport. Weeks lengthened into months, and the captain didn’t return. Muriel and a group of friends decided to explore the abandoned and dilapidated lighthouse. They discovered an iron plate in the floor on the second level of the light opening to a deep hole. Nothing exciting there so they went off to explore. And you know teens they didn’t bother to put the iron plate over the hole. Muriel remembered she’s left her scarf inside and went to retrieve it.  

     She didn’t return. Friends went to look.  

     You know what’s coming.

     She was nowhere to be found. But…… they did find a pool of blood and a blood trail leading to the deep and mysterious hole which was now—mysteriously— closed. The teens tried to open the door, but couldn’t.  (Feel free to use your Rod Sterling voice reading that.)

     Help was summoned. A through search of the lighthouse and grounds made.

     No Muriel.  

     Are you saying, “look in the hole dummies?”

     Thing is, as the story goes, the plate was frozen in place and couldn’t be pried open.  I find that a little iffy. But anyhow, Muriel, or her body, was never found. Dark stains mark the floor where, what is believed to have been, her blood was found.

     Over the years there are claims Muriel’s ghost has been seen peering out of the lantern room or walking down the path behind the lighthouse.  

      Now here is where the story gets a little wonky. It may or may not be true. All this falderal could have originated from Lischen Miller’s story, “The Haunted Lighthouse,” published in an 1899 issue of Pacific Monthly. A fictional account of a girl named Muriel Trevenard, who mysteriously disappeared in the lighthouse after returning to retrieve her handkerchief. 

     Hmmm. So whatcha think? Fact or fiction? Did Ms. Miller hear the legend and write her story or, did the legend get legs from her story?

                                                   Rita

 

 

How To Be A Successful Hooker

Oct 10 2020, 8:23 am in

Hooker? 
 Did you come to the blog thinking I was going to talk about a very old profession? If you did well……..

HA! Made you look. You fell for my HOOK.

I’m talking Writing Hooks. Hooking a reader into your story.

Grabbing them so hard and fast they can‘t put your book down.

 

     So what is a HOOK?

     Mary Buckham, in her lecture packet on Hooks and Pacing, says, “Hooks create an emotional response from a reader. Not just any emotional response but one that gets under your subconscious, raises a question and compels a reader to turn one more page in order to find an answer.

     Hooks can, and should be used, in the opening sentence of a book, the opening paragraph, the end of the first page, the end of the third page, the end of the third chapter, opening a chapter as well as an ending one, at each new scene and, if you’re writing a series, the last sentence.”

     In her book, How I Write, Janet Evanovich says:  “The beginning is the most important part of the book. It must capture the reader immediately and force them to keep reading.”

      In his book Hooked Les Edgerton says, “ If your beginning doesn’t do the job it needs to the rest of the story most likely won’t be read by the agent or editor or publisher you submit it to.”

     Agent Donald Maas says hooks are vital to open your book, open each chapter, open each scene, and end the book. The best books contain one or more of twelve different hooks.

* Action or danger

* Overpowering emotion

* A surprising situation

* An evocative description that pulls a reader into a setting

* Introducing a unique character

* Warning or foreshadowing

* Shocking or witty dialogue

* The totally unexpected

* Raising a direct question

     Still not convinced hooks are important? Take five of your favorite books from the shelf and read the first paragraph. Is there a hook?  Does the end of the first chapter have a hook?  I looked at 20 of my favorites. All have hooks and all but a handful had the story GMC in the first pages.

     My very favorite opening is Michael Connelly’s The Brass Verdict. It completely lays out the story.

“Everybody lies.

Cops lie. Lawyers lie. Witnesses lie. The victim lies.

The trial is a contest of lies. And everyone in the courtroom knows this. The judge knows this. Even the jury knows this. They come into the building knowing they take their seats in the box and agreed to be lied to.”

     There is an Eloisa James book, (Historical) the name of the book escapes me now, that begins “I didn’t mean to marry them both.” Brilliant. The reader knows what this book is about instantly.

     Does your opening immediately draw the reader in?  Don’t know? If you open with a character talking about grocery lists or what’s on TV, probably not. Your opening signals what the rest of the book is about.  

     Openings don’t have to be explosions, fires, or murders.  Although I do like those.  It does need to make the reader want to read on and on and on. You only have a few pages to ‘hook’ an agent, editor, and most important, your readers.  

     Make the best of your first pages.  In the first paragraph drag the reader in with a grappling hook, use a spinner to end the first page.  End the first chapter with a treble hook.

      Go all out for the end of your story and use a big game hook that satisfies the reader an has them searching for your next book.  

     Share a opening hook from a favorite book or, one from your own writing. 

                                                                                                 Rita

Haunted Lighthouses on the US East Coast

Oct 5 2020, 1:04 pm in

I couldn’t decide which east coast Haunted Lighthouse to feature this week. There are so many.  So, what the heck,  I decided to  do several.

 

     I’ll start with the Ram Island Light located on Casco Bay, Maine.  In 1900, because of a long history of shipwrecks in the area, Congress appropriated funds to build the 90 foot high granite light. With the many shipwrecks come several ghostly stories. One sailor tells how his boat was caught in a terrible storm. Wild waves and lightning streaking across the sky turning night to day. He was unsure of his bearings until he saw a woman dressed in white, shinning as if full of electricity, standing on the reef at Ram Island, waving her hands in warning. He goes on to say if it weren’t for her he would have struck the ledge. He was never able to find out who she was.  Another fisherman: “I was in danger of running into the rocks when I saw a burning boat near shore, about to smash on the rocks and in the boat was this woman, warning me away. I quickly changed direction. The next day I saw no trace of the burning boat or the mysterious woman.”

 

     The ghost of a beautiful young woman dressed in white walks the shores of the beach near Hendrick’s Head Lighthouse, Southport, Maine. There is speculation she’s the ghost of a woman found drowned there one morning, or…is the ghost the mother of a baby saved in a shipwreck?

     In 1871, a vessel went aground off shore during a March gale. The light keeper, having no means of rescue, watched helplessly as the ship sank. The next day the keeper and his wife gathering debris found feather mattresses bound with rope, a wooden box wedged inside. Opening it, they discovered an infant girl. Someone, more than likely the mother, had done their best to save the baby, and succeeded. The keeper and his wife rushed her to the house where they cared for and kept her as their own.

     Who do you think the ghost who walks the beach is? The drowned woman or the infant girl’s mother?

     Owl’s Head Light, near Rockland, Maine, has two ghosts, one a former keeper who polishes the brass. The other known as the “Little Lady” resides in the kitchen. She is credited with doors slamming shut unexpectedly and silverware rattling. Those who have the pleasure of bumping into Little Lady say she imparts a peaceful feeling.   

     Light keepers are the ones who usually encountered the unknown, brass polishing keeper, seeing him out of the corner of the eye. His brass polishing skills make him a welcomed ghost. Brass work was the bane of lightkeepers.  Footprints in the snow have been attributed to him. The 3 year old daughter of a keeper woke her parents telling them to ring the fog bell because it would soon get foggy. Which it did indeed do. When questioned how she knew, she revealed her friend told her. The friend who looked like a sea captain in a picture in the house. The lighthouse keeper’s house is currently used as quarters for the local Coast Guard and the thermostat is frequently lowered presumably by the ghost. Frugality passes on into the afterlife.

     The Boon Island lighthouse stands on a  300 X 700’ barren shoal in the Gulf of Maine.  In 1710  the Nottingham Galley crashed into the island. The crew that survived had no way to reach the shore six miles away and survived a winter by resorting to cannibalism.  Eh…. what about fishing, maybe catching birds? Sounds crazy to me.

     Many report seeing an ethereal young woman shrouded in white on the Boon rocks at dusk. She  may be Katherine Bright, who came to Boon as a newlywed with her lightkeeper husband. Four months after arriving, a surge tide swept the island. Attempting to secure the island’s boat, Keeper Bright slipped on the rocks and drowned. Katherine pulled his body ashore, dragged it to the lighthouse and left it at the foot of the stairs.  She took over lighthouse duties for five days and nights, without eating or sleeping. On the sixth day, the light was out. Fishermen investigated and found Mrs. Bright sitting on the stairs holding the frozen corpse of her husband. She’d completely lost her mind and died a few weeks later. Those who see her apparition also say they hear her screams.

Do you have any haunted Lighthouse experiences?

                                                                     Rita

The Seguin Lighthouse

Sep 28 2020, 11:43 am

Tis the season to tell spooky stories. Today I begin a weekly series of Haunted Lighthouse tales. 

Maine has 67 Lighthouses. One, the Seguin Lighthouse, is in the Gulf of Maine on Seguin Island, south of the Kennebec River.

Established in 1795, it is the second-oldest of Maine’s coastal lighthouses. The light station stands on the island’s highest point, and includes the lighthouse itself, the keeper’s house, fog signal building, a small oil house, and a 1006 foot tramway for bringing supplies from the shore to the site. The light, built from granite blocks, is 53 feet tall and 180 feet above sea level making it the highest in the state. The first tower was wood frame completed in 1797 and replaced by the present tower in 1857.

This light has quite the history and it is haunted…..

Let’s start with the history part. On September 5, 1813 the epic sea battle between the HMS Boxer and USS Enterprise took place near Seguin. Yes. The name USS Enterprise has a long, glorious history.

More than a hundred light keepers have served at Seguin. There has been several women assistant keepers. Not a common thing in those days. Going through the list of keepers names I found it odd that some were removed from their position. For what reason? I can understand why many resigned. That island is pretty small and is said to be foggy fifteen percent of the time. The fog horn is so loud it can be heard fourteen miles away and keepers swear it has blasted birds from the sky.  BTW I don’t care for fog. Nope. Not at all. What about those who were removed. Why? Did they go batty?

Anyone who lived there had to be self-sufficient. Electricity didn’t arrive until 1953 and from what I can tell it was kinda iffy at that. Did those that resigned get bored? Couldn’t take the isolation or get tired of being so self-sufficient?

Now here is where the weird stuff begins.     

Near the island, in July of 1875, a sea captain and ship’s crew reported seeing a monster that came to their boat and put its head over the rail. They struck it with a pike sending it back into the water. A few days later another boat reported seeing the serpent floating along occasionally raising it head to look around. WTH?

Many believe the pirate, Captain Kidd, buried his gold and silver treasure on the island. In 1936, for a year, a man dug up the place looking for it but found nothing. The legend and a lot of holes still exists. 

Sometime in the mid-1800s a murder suicide took place. The story is, a light keeper bought his wife a piano. Ah. Nice guy. She played the same tune over and over for hours upon hours until it apparently drove the keeper insane because he took an axe to the piano, his wife and himself. Eww. Doing yourself in with an axe? The mind boggles. The spooky thing is on quiet nights, the crews of ships going by the island say they can hear the tune playing over and over and over.

A young girl died and was buried on the island and many report still seeing her running up and down the stairs. Some have even heard her laughing.

Getting chills yet?

There are other reports of items being moved or going missing, jackets being taken from hooks and thrown to the floor, and furniture rearranged.  

In 1985 the Coast Guard was packing up to leave the island.  An apparition—you got that right—an apparition in oil skins begged a warrant officer to leave his furniture and home alone. The next day as the furniture was being loaded on a boat, chains broke and all the furniture fell into the ocean. Coincidence? Don’t know but my rule is if a ghost asks me to leave his furniture and home alone, I’m not arguing.       

Do you have any haunted lighthouse stories?

                                                                     Rita      

 

 

 

Writers are Super Heroes – Part Trois

Sep 18 2020, 8:30 am

Yes they are.

The Creativity Super Power

With all going on in the world there has been some discussion about how to keep the joy in our writing. There are a bazillion possible answers to this.

I think one is by indulging our other creative talents.  Yeaph. OTHER creative talents. Authors are very creative people. Writers think about all the other talents you have and how those creative outlets can nourish your writing. 

Here are a few.

Sewing. BTW I hear it’s coming back as a thing. Many Historical Romance authors make costumes for their events. 

Knitting and crocheting.  

 Setting a proper table is now considered an art. Ha!  I giggled when I saw a Facebook post about setting a table and there was no place for the cell phone.

Family wrangling. 

Cooking. Baking. Look at all the TV cooking shows.

Painting as in, on a canvas and the walls. 

Carpentry.

Sketching.

Coloring.

Gardening.

Decorating.

Giving Parties.

Yeah. I hear you asking what these creative endeavors have to do with writing.  Consider. When you begin writing a new book you write a synopsis. Make a plan. Develop a structure or a pattern.  Look at the talents I mentioned above. How many need a plan, a pattern?

When sketching a face you start with the basic features everyone has, head shape, jaw, ears, nose eyes. But, it is how we shape those features that makes the face unique. Take sewing a dress. You begin with a pattern. Each one has an opening for the head and sleeves, but think of the creative possibilities in achieving the finished product.

When you begin to write every word inside you doesn’t rush out like a water fall onto the page all at once. It’s like knitting and crocheting. One stitch/word at a time culminating in this great design/book.

I believe spending a few hours or minutes a week with your other talents can help feed the writing beast. I know many authors creative in other fields. One is what I call a perpetual creative bottle rocket. She’s an entrepreneur, baker, swag maker and always has amazing creative ideas. Another, is a knitter extraordinaire. Others are or have been a TV producer, an opera singer, teachers, farmers and gardeners.

Me? I sketch. Drawing my characters. Although I have to admit I sometimes use the Flash Face app to get the basics. I may or may not admit to coloring in the big girl books. I click the knitting needles and crochet with basic stitches. Garden. A new design is emerging in the out of control back yard jungle thanks to my improved chain saw skills.

What are your other creative talents? Take one of yours and examine it for similarities with writing.

Do you think enjoying all your creative venues can help keep the joy in your writing?

 

Writers Are Super Heroes – Part Deux

Sep 16 2020, 8:20 am

Yes they are. 

The Curiosity Superpower.

Author’s professional curiosity is a huge subject on many levels. It begins with, can I write a book? Should I write a book? How do I write a book? Flash forward to a truck load of how do I promote and gain new reader questions.

I believe an author’s personal curiosity keeps joy in their writing. It ignites the imagination and fuels the creativity tank.

Curiosity isn’t just asking questions, it’s challenging yourself to come up with your own discoveries. Please. Please. When you do ask questions, don’t be an ask hole.

DefinitionAsk Holeone who takes another’s time asking a million questions and not only doesn’t listen to the answer, but if asking for advice, has no intention of taking it. 

In asking questions be prepared for the responses you may receive. I asked a couple married 60 years a simple question. “When did you first know you were in love?”  The couple had never told each other and their answers had everyone in the room dabbing tears.    

The Curiosity Superpower takes a writer places. Not like in horror movies when the dude goes out into a dark and stormy night to see if the guy with the chain saw needs help. Like asking a perfect stranger in line at the Post Office a question that can lead to a romance or lifelong friendship. Ask the elders in your family what their earliest memories are. Call the local apiary and ask how they get bees to give up their pollen. BTW, I still haven’t gotten an answer to that one. 

Being curious gives you the courage and confidence to step out of your comfort zone. Even if it’s a tiny bit and for the briefest moment it can take you to the next level with new experiences to use in your writing.

Schedule a day, few hours, an hour, to question everything in your world like a joyous five year old. Finding the fun and joy in your life carries over into your writing. Use curiosity to wake up your senses. Take a ‘feel’ trip. Invite friends. Touch everything you see. Well, not hot stuff and not other people you don’t know. High end department stores, craft stores, and garden centers are great for this. When you write about the silk duvet on the heroine’s bed you’ll smile remembering exactly how it looked and felt when you flopped on it at the chi-chi boutique.

Equate the wool textures from the craft store with your protagonist’s sweater. You won’t have to imagine what his girlfriend feels as her fingers drift over his sleeve. You will know.

Finger flower petals and leaves. They have an incredible lush feeling. Leaves can release a surprising scent. Instead of the heroine stomping through the lavender, you can use lemon balm, geraniums or any other scented plants you discover. 

Ladies, talking scent, do an experiment to find which is more alluring to the Y chromosome homo sapiens in your life. Does bacon, stink bait, or a slightly spicy Jo Malone scent dabbed behind the ear drive them crazy?  I found it broke down to the first two depending on how hungry and how close to the weekend it was.

Guys, are you more likely to be drawn to a woman with the scent of bacon wafting from her bag or who smells of Freesia and nectarine blossoms?   

Are you curious and courageous enough to taste python pizza?  Find out if eel is really that nasty. Blah. I say yes. It’s nasty. Does a hot dog taste as good without the bun? That’s a big N O for me. How many shots of grappa does it take to make you drunk?

So using my curious endeavors I could write a story about a bee pollen hijacker who slams back grappa with python pizza and carries bacon in her purse to attract men who wear sweaters.

Where has your curiosity taken you?

Come back Friday to read suggestion on how to fill your Creativity tank. 

                                                                                              Rita 

Writers Are Super Heroes.

Sep 14 2020, 8:35 am

Yes they are.

Why?  Because writers swirl words on the page in a way that captures the reader’s imagination with descriptions and conversations and carries them away to other places and times. 

They are able to do this using their Superpowers of Imagination, Curiosity and Creativity. Every writer, no matter the genre we write, has theses super powers.  No joke.  If we didn’t have them we couldn’t write.  

The Imagination Super Power.

Writers are blessed/cursed with the double edged sword of wild, vivid imaginations propelling us to conjure stories of the same ilk.  I firmly believe imagination is everything to a writer. It’s a way to preview life’s coming attractions. It’s the ability to change the past in our mind’s eye. And……therefore allows us to write about such things.

Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

I’m not going to argue with Al.

Authors are frequently asked: “Where do you get your stories?” 

When I first started writing I was hesitant to say the people living in my head tell me what to write so, being the snarky person I am, I quickly said, “the Amazon story store.”  I mean, Amazon sells live lady bugs and rents goats, why not sell stories?  But alas, I had to stop because too many asked me for the link. 

The correct answer is writers get stories everyplace. Remember that double edged sword?  Through our senses, into our minds, we ingest the world around us then reshape it all into new images in our imagination.   

Last year my imagination was triggered by The Bureau of Land Management seeking volunteers to spend the summer in the middle of nowhere Montana in an abandoned haunted town.  Not happening for me but, my mind took me to an abundance of romance possibilities and spooky stuff.

Then there’s the abandoned and boarded up Baker hotel in Mineral Springs TX.  A big ole empty hotel just sitting there. I imagined a story about a group of mystery writers spending the weekend. I even came up with a last sentence for the book. “How would you rate your stay at the Baker Hotel?”   

And songs. For me songs are writing prompts. Take Ray Stevens’ DEAD SKUNK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. I immediately thought of a squished ex sprawled across the double yellow line. The protagonist, a very hot detective BTW,  is convinced the ex-wife killed the skunk.

Who but an author can admire an ancient oak and imagine couples from every time period falling in love under the spreading branches? Then wonder how many bodies the roots are embracing.

I believe authors are a special breed. Every day we fade into the alternate world of books. Those written by others and the ones we’re writing. We extend our arms, put our fingers to the keyboard and imagination flows, letter by letter, across the screen. We can imagine anything and happily share what we conjure up with the world. 

I use my imagination to write the Under Fire series about extraordinary women and the men they love. Military heroines. A Coast Guard helicopter pilot. A Coast Guard admiral. A Marine Corps Intelligence officer. A Federal agent who works closely with Special Ops men. Women at the top of their field in a man’s world.

My imagination got the best of me and I published Let Me Tell You a Story.  A collection of eight twisted and tattered tales from the odd side. It felt amazing to finally free these characters from my mind and put them on the page. 

BTW I now answer the question, “where do your ideas come from”, with a huge smile and say, “I imagine every single one of them.”

Where has your imagination taken you today?  Or, where has an author’s imagination taken you today?  

Come back Wednesday to talk about another writer’s Super Power –Curiosity.

                                                                               Rita 

TIPS FOR SELF EDITING.

Jul 29 2020, 10:00 am in

 

First draft finished. Woot. It’s strong and somewhat as bloated as a T-Rex.

As a writer my goal is to have the reader devour every word I put on the page and keep them turning those pages. I strive to make my writing crisp and to the point. Before a manuscript goes to my editor I go through several self-editing steps. First, I search for weak works and phrases, redundant words, and overused and unnecessary words. If I’m writing in a series I refer back to my series bible and make sure characters who appeared in previous books have the same color eyes and hair etc.

Next, I read the story aloud or have a program read it back to me. I catch many things that way.   

My job is to de-bloat my story like these pink birds tackled the T-RexHere are some editing tips you may find useful to de-bloat your WIP.

Weak words and phrases. 

Weak words drain the power from what you write. Watch for these weak words: even, very, some, sometimes, occasionally, before, maybe, really, often, especially, somewhat, actually, few, fairly, many, most, and just.

Some editors insist you never use just. I use just when I speak and consequently insert it into my work. It’s the first word I search to remove.  

Wasted phrases and vague words.

Do you best to eliminate these wasted phrases: in order to, by means of, in fact, for the purpose of.  and any other combination of wordy words that can be deleted and not missed. 

The more specific a word or phrase is, the more information the reader has. The more information the reader has increases their connection to your story. We want to keep readers hooked.  Using vague, useless wasted words unhooks them.

A little pregnant.  Somewhat hungry. Halfway angry. Say they’re hungry or angry. Start to. Start is sufficient. He almost exploded.  Either he did or didn’t. 😯 

Redundant words.

Using two words when, by definition, you’ve said it twice. For example, baby puppies.  Puppies are babies. The word baby is unnecessary. Examples. 

Flinch back

Crouch down

Stand up

Sit down

Climb up

Kneel down

Frigid ice

Honest truth

Burning hot

Short midget

Tall giant

Protrude out

New recruit

Free gift

Bare naked

Completely naked

Burn down

Recur again

Cancel out

Basic fundamentals

Definite decision

Completely destroyed

Eliminate common overused and unnecessary words.

Search for— that, was, had, the, as if, but, when, again, against, by. It isn’t possible to eliminate all these words. But when that is used 13 times in one paragraph. Well…..some can go. 

Read your sentences with and without these words aloud. Decide which you prefer.

 

                   Happy editing.

                                             Rita   

 

 

 

 

Next Page »
   

home | about rita | books | character interviews | extras | contact

© 2010-2020 Rita Henuber. All rights reserved.
Site designed and maintained by