Thursday, August 07, 2014

Love on the Oregon Trail



"Cait Logan [London] beautifully blends the heart-tugging atmosphere of an Americana Western with a humorous, poignant love story sizzling with sexual tension on the Oregon Trail. NIGHT FIRE is a marvelous read."

I drove the Oregon Trail, researching along the way. There are parts that cannot be accessed, but what an experience!

As you're standing on the windswept hills, viewing one of the many cemeteries, you can just feel the hardships and determination. We visited each of the landmarks, which the emigrants had to reach by a specific time--or get caught in winter snows.

I like this cover better than the original. See Below:

I hope you check out my other BOOKS and western historical romances because I've been to all the locales and researched thoroughly. I loved driving the NW trails.

And get out and drive, if you can, visit the forts, the rendezvous spots, etc. It's a wonderful experience.

And#2 I would so appreciate reviews NIGHT FIRE, now published at Amazon and Nook. Thank you in advance!

And#3: Don't forget to use the sidebar form to sign up for my newsletter?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

That He-She Thing

Now on Sale 2.99

Romance and other Writers: Let's study that He-She Thing:

In general romance, writers need to reach beyond and dig deeper than their own life experience. Here are some of my tips to consider:

We’re as different as our birth signs. John Gray’s study of Venus and Mars books are excellent studies for the general romance man/woman basic relationships.

Historical romance writers have an easier time of creating the male protagonist/hero—this because in historical times males had a designated role, just as females did. Yet he had to be appealing enough for the Heroine. Now with Equal Opportunity, etc., sex harrassment, etc., romance needs to temper the hero’s power over the heroine just that tad more. (We know that the heroine has her own power, right? :))

Excellent Story Twists: Expectations of relationship and romance can conflict, and do. For instance: A hasty marriage and shift in a heartbeat, because H/H expectations are different. Who does what in the partnership? Who pays the bills? Stay at home mom or career mom? Household management, etc. Whose Friends antagonize, etc.? Who does not look at the opposite sex too much? So when push comes to shove, and expectations are not met, are they reasonable or not, when considered by the opposite partner? Thus, a story twist.

The Pendragon Virus, one of my early contemporaries, is an example of man/woman expectations and therefore, the interesting battle of the sexes.

Physical Action and Body Posturing: This is an area that is critical to the creative writer, not just words, but Actions and Posturing. A flirtatious gesture by a woman, a second look by a man—much slower, more intense—a man showing off his strength, angling his head, sticking his thumb in his waistband, both hands slid into trouser pockets, tensing of his shoulders, neck cords, etc.

That flirtatious gesture by a woman: a look over her shoulder, maybe a little more sway to her walk, arranging her hair, etc. are typical.

Dressing the H/H: Tighter clothes to show off assets, looser clothing for movement or shielding self, updated or outdated clothing. Jewelry or not, expensive etc. And shoes. Is she checking herself in the mirror to see if she appeals to him? His favorite color of dress? Is he sprucing up for her? It’s all part of the mating ritual, seen in wildlife. Dressing also includes preferences, i.e. Sam in The Pendragon Virus loves his classic oil-dripping Bertha.

Back to Expectations: If one H expects certain behavior from h/her prospective mate and those expectations are not met, that’s a twist.

Romantic Touch: How each H/H touches the other: a stroke, a gentle brush of a fingertip, examining the other’s face, the various shades of hair, the tiny crinkles at the side of the eyes, examining a tiny scar and its history, the texture of skin, the comparative size of their hands when held. Any kind of nervous/excited tremor when touching, a desperate need touch/grip need to be contrasted with gentler moments.

Lots of little nuances in the He-She Thing. When they are missing, the texture of the story/romance is off.

I hope you’ll comment/input on this post?

Friday, July 11, 2014

15 Ways to Edit the Feel


The Basket Maker's Wife

You’ve written the whole story and it’s time to edit. Last century, when I started writing, I began writing with a big checklist: Who, What, Why, When. Then there’s the 5 senses, etc. And making punctuation work.
There’s the Plotter and the Plunger style of writing. Sometimes to just get into the story, to get into the pulse/heartbeat of it, I try to write whatever in the set-up, pushing it. I’m fine with Dreck, if it gets the story rolling.
I’m editing now and toning, darkening/lightening, watching those paragraphs for dialogue/narrative positions. If dialogue is placed within the body of a paragraph's narrative, it will be overpowered visually. Thus, either at the beginning or the end of the paragraph.
Right now, in the final stages, I’m feeling my way through what works and doesn’t. 

So here's some hot tips to Massage/Edit the work:
1.     Are subcharacters too strong, trying to overpower the main characters.
2.     When paragraphs change mood, that is the time for a new paragraph.
3.     Today’s e-novels need shorter paragraphs.
4.     Today’s readers may want more quick action up front. (The writer has to be very well known to pull off a slow start and build now.)
5.     If the story lags, is it time to drop a dead body into it, or at least change POV?
6.     Watch the em dashes and ellipses. If interruption is needed em dashes work. If pausing, ellipses. Use them to create more normal dialogue, rather than rattatat back to back sentences.
7.     Someone long ago said to watch how many clauses in one sentence. 2 are usually enough or max.
8.     There’s the old: Is the second chapter a better place to start?
9.     Is too much background packed into the first chapter?
10.  The first paragraph in a chapter has more impact, if it is shorter.
11.  Likewise, the first chapter is the come-on, so a little shorter.
12.  Who’s talking tags aren’t always needed, but if Dialogue is back and forth, some tags are needed to keep the reader within the story. Some physical action, rather than blah-blah-blah. !!These are live people, who move, whose expressions shift.
13.  Breaking a tense scene. Be careful not to distract from the weight by noticing outside elements, i.e. a bird in the window. However. If that bird intensifies the scene, then it is valid.
14.  Ye Olde: All questions should be answered—or not, depending.
15.  Flashbacks: Keep to a minimum. Make certain you introduce the Flashback and then Exit it to the current Now.

Every writer has their personal difficulties, and that’s why we have editors. Good editors. IMHO some editors work better with nonfiction, while others are better at fiction. Some have a talent for exposing humor, emotions, character. Repeat: Talent.

If an editor is not “talented”, he may edit only by the book/rules. This might not serve the work well. Keep in mind that the writer owns the work and style is the writer’s domain, this over a suggestion that does not work. But take all suggestions and mull them. What works, works, right?

If the wrong editor works on a fiction piece, or too many “cooks” are critiquing, it can suck the life right out of the work.

Would love to have your comments on Editing the Feel.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Doll Clothes Patterns

 I'm currently working with the 2nd book in my Basket series, but today had to lay off due to eye strain.

I've been labeled a Busy Bee as I am always doing something, and today seemed a good day to work on my 18" Doll Patterns. (I have granddaughters. :))

!Before reading on, note that making doll clothes is a sideline, and I'm not doing designer work, rather for play.

These patterns were purchased, then traced on grocery sacks. I only traced/cut the ones I would probably do the most and those will go into an easy-reach file. !!I'm using the material/notions I have on hand, because if you've priced fabric lately, it is $$.

Why grocery sacks? you ask. Because a grocery sack is sturdy and with basics and a rotary cutter, you can move fast. No pinning, just hold the sack-pattern down with one hand and run the cutter around with your other hand. The sacks are hardy and I'm not careful with the tissue paper patterns. I've made some of my own clothes patterns years ago, tailoring. Not doing that now tho 'cause I am a Writer. :)

But at one time, I made men's wool shirts, my mother's clothes, Barbie doll clothes, my 3 daughter's clothes/coats/bonnets/long prairie dresses/ my clothes, drapes, etc. I had a Pfaff then, with what I thought was a miracle: a hemmer cam, and the other cams were super, too. With 3 girls and myself, that hemmer was a blessing as I am no delicate hand-stitcher like my mother.

I'm only making simple designs as I really am a writer and want to get back to painting my wildlife/scenery canvases. After all, I bought a lot of art supplies and have to get to them before they dry up. So making doll patterns is a side track on an off day.

Tip: I usually overlap outside leg seams on pants, but this pattern came in one piece. It had a set-on waistband, but I overlapped the seams of the pants and waistband. This will create a seam in front, but I'm going for the fastest way through... which is to sew the crotch seams first, and then the legs together.

Here you can see how to double the waist over. All seams are around 1/4", except the hem at 3/4" I did buy a rolled hem attachment for my old machine and had to watch a YouTube video on how to use it! This after using it years ago.

About the sleeves: I put them in before sewing up the sides, which makes it a lot easier.

If you're connecting 2 small pieces, save time by just sewing from the end of one to the edge of the next, then cut apart later.

With the basics shown on the first photo, you can make about anything, just by changing the length of the dress, adding a ruffle or eyelet lace to the sleeves, different buttons, and bias tape. Since I'm running fast, I'm using bias tape. Since my machine is old/basic, I zigzag seams, especially stress points. Love that old Singer 717 cabinet model. I know if I get a new one, I'll be tied up with that and not writing, but some of the stitches would really be nice.

Here is my model, a thrift store 18" find, who everyone says is "scary". One daughter, a Pinterest lover, says she can straighten the hair. I haven't named her, yet.

I don't think she's scary. Do you think so? :)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Who Owns the Story?


In editing mode, (if not before) a fiction writer (especially in romance) must answer/finalize two primary questions:
1.) Whose POV starts the story?
2.) When to introduce other protagonists or antagonists?

Hogan Kodiak in Sleepless in Montana has a problem, and he's perfect to demonstrate Who Controls the Story. Other family members revolve around him, and The Problem and sub-problem, but Hogan is central to the story.

A story will twist and turn as it is being written/emerges and characters/individual characteristics are born, edited, reborn, changed. To be creative means just that: you may not want to follow this rule and use another: What Works Works.

Sidebar: I just made a Quinoa and Kale Salad that did not work, also a doll's outfit that did not work, despite all efforts. So some things work and others don't.
However, here’s a good basic writer's rule of thumb (What is a "thumb’s basic rule"? Didn’t know they had rules :)):
Point 1: The starting POV should be that of Who Owns the Story. If one protagonist has a problem with another, the primary POV starts with that first protagonist. Generally, who owns the story, also finishes it. Always generally.

Point 2: When to introduce other protagonists/H&H/antagonists?
That can depend on the length of the story and the genre.
Today’s genre books can be much shorter than yesteryears’. They can have much more dialogue, which moves the story faster, and maybe a lot less color and use of senses. Media has influenced some readers’ need for give me quick, right at the start of the story. Building a story, making it live takes time. If space is short, the story has to move forward quickly to suit the readership.
I am reading a lot now, trying some new writers, and noticing less pinpointing, less color, less 5 senses. Yet the story is there, leading the reader on. However, as a reader, I need color (there’s that artistic personality thing again).
Putting the reader into the story, i.e. the scenery, the room, the location of said room is mega important, that old Who, What, Why, When deal. That can best be done in the lead POV and dialogue, jumping the story forward.
If the story is short, the second protagonist can be introduced after a chapter’s space break. If the book is longer, the second chapter or in yesteryear’s mega books, sometimes the third chapter. That is too long for my taste.
FWIW: If the second primary character is an antagonist, leading with the protagonist’s POV, an argument with the antagonist/dialogue, propells the story forward. Or introduce the primary’s problem, and follow with an antagonist’s POV, but the protagonist should dominate the story, good over evil and all that stuff.
Keep in mind that a story is fluid and characters sometimes make their entrance when they choose. Again, What Works Works.
But to me, as a reader, I need to be set into that story from the Get Go and that is in the protagonist’s POV or Who Owns the Story and What is the Problem.