Tuesday, June 11, 2019

#TipfulTuesday Scenes That Propel Story



#TipfulTuesday Scene Setting Tips
(The bridge in the photo is significant for this topic...read to the end to see why)

When the story scene moves to a new location, the writer provides a brief description, transporting the reader there.

The point of today's post is to show the flaw in that statement.

Yes, each new scene should have a description. 

Brief at first. More revealing as action and dialogue quickly take over. Readers want to know if they are underwater, on a mountaintop, in an office room, a small town, etc. This is essential for storycraft.

So, what is the error in the introductory sentence to this post?

"The writer provides."

Setting the scene will look very different depending on the POV character, and as a result, sets the tone and so much more. It's true!

Say, for example, the scene is in a living room. This is the first time this living room has been in the story.

The POV character is a female detective. Her boyfriend left for Italy with another woman on a business trip this morning. He didn't say goodbye. A body is on the floor. When the detective walks into the room does she first see the body or the Italian deco? Well, that would depend on where her mind is at that moment. Is she in the job? Then the body. If she struggles with her relationship, then the deco. 

Both will be described in this scene because both are essential. The Italian deco lets readers see more than just a body and carpet. Naturally, hidden clues can only be seen if the description takes readers beyond the body. Still, readers want to know more about the crime. Who died? A child, a woman, a man with a mask and a gun in his hand, etc.?

The first descriptive sentences of a scene propel the story forward, indicating exactly where the POV character's focus is. The first also tends to go deeper for that very reason.

Therefore both answers can be correct. It simply depends on the forward momentum of this story at this time. 


 A great resource for more information is, Kathy Tyers Writing Deep Viewpoint.

Do you have questions?

Oh, and the Venetian bridge in the photo served as the last view a prisoner received of the world before guards took him or her to prison. Can you image their POV when looking out this window? Changes the way you first looked at this photo. Right?

~Mary Vee
Photo taken in Venice, by Mary Vee

Would you like to visit Montana? I am taking a group on a virtual trip in my June 15th newsletter. No packing needed. No bug spray required. Explore something new in each letter! Sign up today at http://eepurl.com/dITkz5

Link to Mary's books: https://amzn.to/2Fq4Jbm

Mary Vee -Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, was a teacher, a missionary, and married an Air Force vet. Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.
Visit Mary at her WebsiteBlog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter







Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Illusive Writer's Voice



Among the numerous benefits of attending a writing conference is the opportunity to learn something new. Or better yet, finally untangling that crazy misconception of a specific topic.

I admit it, sharpening the focus on "voice" in terms of writing, has been as difficult for me as learning how to crochet. I still don't know how to crochet. 

BUT

Thanks to author Lisa Carter, an instructor at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer's Conference, I FINALLY UNDERSTAND completely, exactly, totally what an agent means when he or she says, I want to see your voice in your story. 

I can't help but tell the world of writers and spare the masses from the same puzzled look I've had.

When an agent or editor says he wants to see your voice in the manuscript, he or she expects to begin reading your story on page one, and due to the engaging writing and deep story, he feels more than compelled to read on...and dreads the bell ending the appointment time. Your twist on the plot. Your presentation of the characters. Your edited writing has sucked the reader into the story.

Any writer can write a given story. The resulting manuscripts of five authors given the same topic will be completely different because we include what we know, what we have experienced, our tastes, perceptions, feelings, hopes, anticipations, dreams, and etc. No two people, even twins, have walked the same exact road and therefore no two stories will be written the same exact way.

These are some ways to ensure our voice is present on the page:
1. Don't allow fear to stop you from confronting your fears and utter joys when keying words onto the page. Not fake, superficial emotions. Touch the heart.

2. Explore your passions. Although we are told to write what we know, we should write what we love. Then and only then will your voice enrich the story.

3. Keep a journal of your experiences. Record clear descriptions that tend to fade with time. Pour your emotions on the page so you can remember the feelings, then give those feelings to your characters.

4. Also, record daily details. What you see and think. Today you saw two people walking across the street. Yesterday you saw two different people walking across the street. How were they different. Dress. Body Language. Voice. These notes will enhance your writing. Most likely if I had seen the same two people, my observation list would look different. These differences are what flavor our voice when writing. If we both wrote a story about the two individuals, do you think the story would be different? Absolutely. 

Lisa gave several more points. Hopefully, the few I've highlights helped you to understand the concept.

One day at the conference, I saw an agent see my voice in my manuscript. This was the first time for me! The agent glanced at my one sheet, slightly grinned and tipped his head to the right then to the left. He asked for my first three chapters and began reading. He shielded his eyes with his hands blocking out other appointment distractions and read on. His eyes slid left to right and down the page. He whipped the first page aside and read on through the second page then looked at the time. 

His smile said he saw my voice in the story. 

I may not be able to crochet, but I finally, after so many years of learning how to write, have discovered how to write my voice into story.

Do you have questions?

~Mary Vee
Photo by Mary Vee


Link to Mary's books: https://amzn.to/2Fq4Jbm


Mary Vee -Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, was a teacher, a missionary, and married an Air Force vet. Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.
Visit Mary at her WebsiteBlog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter








Thursday, May 16, 2019

Medieval Romances + Giveaway of Lord of Her Heart

Medieval romances are not a huge genre in Christian fiction. I've wondered about that because they are popular in mainstream fiction. Is it because there is usually a half-naked man on the cover? Or is it because women were thought of as useless and weak back then (or, at least, that is a general thought)?

That may all be true, but I'm here to argue for the medieval era. In my research, I found that women were not always under a man's thumb.

  • Matilda of Canossa (1046-1115 AD) was known for her military expertise in defending her lands and managing a vast kingdom.
  • Eleanor of Aquitane (1122-1204 AD) was the mother of King Richard I and King John. She participated in one of Richard's crusades and it was believed she rode into battle topless to distract the enemy. She was also a great patroness of the arts.
  • Christine de Pizan (1364-1430 AD) was a counselor to kings and aristocracy and was a proto-feminist very influential in her time. After her husband died, she was able to support herself with her writing.  
There were women in biblical times that rose into power and authority.
  • Deborah, who became judge over Israel. She went into battle one time at the request of the leader of the army. 
  • Abigail, who ran her household and estate for her drunk husband. 
  • Miriam, Moses's sister, who was prophetess in Israel.
This is what I love about researching! Learning new things that can change misconceptions about certain times or groups of people. 

That's one of the reasons I wrote Lord of Her Heart. I didn't want to write a bodice-ripper where the woman is wimpy and must be saved. I wanted to write about a strong woman who is not afraid to go after what she wants. I wanted to write a story that showed the courage in spite of fear in my heroine. We all struggle with fear and sometimes we have to take a step of faith to push us into our courage. I hope I accomplished that in Lord of Her Heart. 

Hopefully, medieval romances will become more popular in Christian publishing. Until then, I will continue to write them, because I love them. :)

I'm giving away a copy of Lord of Her Heart today! Your choice: ebook or paperback. US only on the paperback. Leave a comment below to be entered into the draw. Winner will be selected Saturday, May 18, and will be announced in the comments. 

**************************************************************
Sherrinda Ketchersid is a born and bred Texan, preacher’s wife, mother of 4 children, and works part-time as a bookseller at Amazon. With the children grown and out of the house, she weaves tales of fierce knights and their ladies in a time where men were warriors and women had to be strong enough to keep them in check.

After taking time off from writing, she has returned with a new motto in place to spur her on. “Writers write. Everyone else makes excuses.” ~Jack Bickham.  No excuses this time. She is weaving her love of romance with history to bring joy and the hope of love to those who may one day read her stories. Her first book, Lord of Her Heart, is available on Amazon.

You can connect with her through:
Newsletter: Sign Up Here
Website: sherrinda.com
Twitter: @sherrinda

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

#TipfulTuesday The Issues With Head Hopping



Last month, I read ten books, all published in 2018. That is a lot for me. Of the ten books, eight had more than one moment with head hopping. It’s an easy mistake to make. Anyone can do it. Perhaps this reminder will help all of us to weed out these moments.

What is head hopping? Head hopping is when a scene's point of view character sees, hears, feels, or knows the thoughts of another character in an unlikely way. 

For example: A scene is in Jane’s point of view. Jane is speaking with John Dear on the phone. The conversation ends. The call is disconnected. The scene continues with John throwing his phone on the floor and grumbling. He picks up Jane’s photo and … His actions or thoughts continue for a line or two before the scene returns to Jane’s point of view. 

Jane did not witness what John Dear did after the call ended, therefore, those aspects could not be in her scene. An author can begin a new scene or chapter with John’s point of view and include this information. OR. Jane can learn about John’s actions in some other way: a security camera, a bug in the room, another person reporting, etc. 

BUT his thoughts are his thoughts. She can’t possibly know them unless he tells her.

Writing in the omniscient point of view will not fix this problem. We tend to pick one character or another to tell a scene in today’s stories. That is the point of view. Also, I believe the omniscient point of view is taboo today. Stay tuned. It may come back.

I had an instructor who once told me to picture a camera with voice recognition in the eyes of the point of view character figuratively. Jane may see John Dear fall on the ice and cut his hand. She may hear him scream in pain, (or not), she may know what a gash on the hand feels like, and she can witness his body language. However, she does not know that inside his head he feels like a bumbling fool. That he screamed not from the pain but because he ripped his new pants. Etc. The scene can, therefore, include what Jane thinks John Dear is experiencing, but not what is in his head. Because….yep…that is head hopping.

When you edit your story, watch for head hopping. Words like: must, seem, etc., allow us to write things like, "John must really be hurting.”

Since I don’t know what you are thinking, I shall sign off with: May all your characters think only their thoughts. 

~Mary Vee
Next week I will be attending the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer's Conference. My book, Daring to Live is one of the finalists. Please join all of us as we cheer on the Selah winners that Wednesday night.

Photo by Mary Vee- a few friends down the road from me
Link to Mary's books: https://amzn.to/2Fq4Jbm
Mary Vee -Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, was a teacher, a missionary, and married an Air Force vet. Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.
Visit Mary at her WebsiteBlog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter






Thursday, April 25, 2019

Two Epiphanies + A GIVEAWAY

During Holy Week, I (Laurie) had two epiphanies. First, have you ever noticed that so many of the verbs associated with the Lord begin with "RE"?

For example, He:

  • Resurrects the dead
  • Restores the broken
  • Redeems our debts and failures
  • Revives souls
  • Returns lost things
  • Refills what's empty
  • Receives the least of these
  • Renames the disenfranchised
  • Renews the weary
And so. much. more. Don't you think this common denominator only shows that our Father loves second chances? 

I've been listening to the newest album from the UpperRoom worship team on repeat. In their song "Healer," the bridge repeats these lyrics:


"You restore my heart over and over again."


As a writer, I'm always thinking of things in terms of recurring themes, common denominators, underlying significance, and meaning. My second epiphany was that second (and third and fourth) chances are what I love the most in fiction, whether it's characters rediscovering their worth after being stuck in lies for so long or romances in which people find their way back to each other at the end of the most unlikely roads. 

I think there's nothing our Father loves more than a second chance and people willing to drop their shame, fear, and failure to take it--to take HIM--and make the most of a new beginning. 

---


If you're like us and love second chances in fiction, one of our favorite authors, Kara Isaac, has a reunion romance on sale this week! Comment on this post for the chance to win ALL MADE UP or buy it for $1.99 here: https://amzn.to/2Gv4gTz 


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

#TipfulTuesday Expectations: Influencers vs Street Teams




On the Writer’s Alley, we share writing issues almost daily. We bounce around the problems and discuss solutions because the author’s journey is one that can’t be traveled alone.

Today’s topic is Influencers and street teams. What is the difference? What are the expectations for the author? What are the expectations for the reader?  Both are such an asset for an author.

What is an influencer? An influencer agrees to read the author’s book and write a few reviews, say on Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, Amazon, etc. That is about it. If the influencer wants, he or she may volunteer to also write a social media post or two about this one book. Authors should not blindly send books to someone for a review. Typically, the author communicates with potential influencers, asking if he or she would like to read and review the book. This is how the author’s book rises to the top of a TBR (to be read) pile and gets a review sooner.

An influencer can be a friend, a librarian, a women’s study leader, a bookstore owner, a book club leader, local radio or TV host, bloggers, etc. Think outside the box and be brave. It never hurts to ask. Most people love to receive a free book. Some of the individuals should receive a paperback instead of an eBook or pdf of the story.

What is a street team? Street team members support an author’s work. They enjoy the author’s writings and like the opportunity to tell others about the author’s new releases. The group is led by the author or the author’s assistant. They design memes, share posts, write Tweets, Instagram, and Facebook messages about the author’s new releases. They can form a community among themselves to work on bigger promotional projects. A wise author will give street members the opportunity to recommit annually or some other time increment in case life needs require the member’s time.

Some Alley Cats have street teams. Amazing. Amazing people.

Some Alley Cats would appreciate an influencer. Some of you have time and would like to be an influencer. Then again, perhaps some of you need an influencer too!

So let’s get together! 

In the comment section simply state if you are willing to be an influencer: read one book and write a review. Say what genre you prefer.

Those who need influencers state the genre of your book. Typically, the author gives a pdf or kindle version of the book to the influencer.

Ready to help each other?

I know I am. I am looking for a few influencers for either my new fantasy for YA or for my contemporary women's.

Go!

Happy reading!
Photo courtesy: Pixabay

~Mary Vee
#Influencer #Streetteams #TheWritersAlley #authors #readers #amreading #amwriting #TheWritersAlley

Link to Mary's books: https://amzn.to/2Fq4Jbm
Mary Vee -Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, was a teacher, a missionary, and married an Air Force vet. Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.
Visit Mary at her WebsiteBlog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter
 Meet my new fantasy story, Fire and Thorn. 
A Story for Teens


The day the king of Aerlis heroically dies and his lovely queen is viciously carried off to the dark north, dragons invade the land. Crops and homes near the border burn to the ground. Prince Gilbert must give up what he wants most to save his father’s kingdom and himself. Far away lies the answer. Something unseen. To save the kingdom he must go on a quest to bring the unseen back. A quest filled with danger. There seems an easier solution in the vast north. One that offers great wealth and power. Time is short. One choice will save his kingdom. The other will silence him and his people—forever.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Bloom of the Cross for Writers

As Christians, Easter is THE day. It's the celebration of life - true life in Jesus.

It's the day we are reminded that Jesus has taken our crosses...our burdens, our failures, our sin...and nailed them to the cross. It's the day we are reminded that because of Jesus' resurrection, we have a new life, a beautiful life.

Jesus has taken the ugly, thorny cross of our sin and failure and replaced it with beauty and life. Real life. Joyful life. Life with meaning and purpose.

Our church flowers a barren cross every Easter. People file up to the front and place their flowers upon the cross, reminding them that Jesus replaces our failures with His goodness. What was once a cross of thorns and ugliness becomes a cross of velvet beauty.

That's what Christ does for each and everyone who believes in Him. He takes our failure and sin and turns it into success and beauty. He transforms us, loving us into becoming a person for His glory. A person of beauty. A person of joy. A person who oozes God's love.

As writers, we all struggled with feelings of failure, disappointment, angst, rejection, and despair. It's not an easy road. But like the picture of the flowered cross, when we give our hurts and rejections over to God, He redeems those feelings and replaces them with His love and encouragement.

We keep drawing close to Him, bringing our offering of words before Him each and every day. He will make our words bloom into something beautiful as we trust Him and His timing.

What has the bloom of the cross done for you? Are you experiencing His transforming power or are you struggling under the weight of the thorny cross?

**************************************************************
Sherrinda Ketchersid is a born and bred Texan, preacher’s wife, mother of 4 children, and works part-time as a bookseller at Amazon. With the children grown and out of the house, she weaves tales of fierce knights and their ladies in a time where men were warriors and women had to be strong enough to keep them in check.

After taking time off from writing, she has returned with a new motto in place to spur her on. “Writers write. Everyone else makes excuses.” ~Jack Bickham.  No excuses this time. She is weaving her love of romance with history to bring joy and the hope of love to those who may one day read her stories. Her first book, Lord of Her Heart, releases May 2019.

You can connect with her through:
Newsletter: Sign Up Here
Website: sherrinda.com
Twitter: @sherrinda