Theme Along With ME
I’ve finally finished Shadows of Home, my romantic-suspense novel set in Louisiana and am now attempting to start the sequel to Breaking TWIG. Problem is, when I wrote Breaking TWIG, I never figured on writing a sequel until so many readers asked me to continue Becky’s story. How did life in Paris work out for her? Did she have a child? And the number one question readers asked: Did Becky and Johnny end up together? Now, as possible sequel scenes swirl in my brain, I once again face the adversary of all writers—the blank white page.
When I wrote Breaking TWIG, I had a question niggling my mind. When raised in an abusive home, why do some children grow up and repeat the abusive pattern with their children, while others manage to break free and become loving, supportive parents? Finding an answer to this question lodged in my subconscious, and it wasn’t until I’d written two-thirds of the book that I realized this was the book’s theme. Frankly, I didn’t give a thought to theme in the beginning. I just wanted to tell the story of Becky’s quest to survive her childhood as it unfolded in my mind.
I’ve read books on the craft of writing a novel that state emphatically that a writer should never consciously insert or apply a “theme.” Somehow, the theme of your book (if it has one) will reveal itself through your characters’ action and dialogue. Trying to force a theme onto your characters can come off as “preachy.” Yet other writing experts insist the writer must provide via the narrative a theme or several themes to give the characters depth and show the deeper meanings embedded in the book.
Thus the question arises--to theme or not to theme? Should you have a theme(s) in mind from the get-go? Or do you wait for the theme to effervesce through your narrative like bubbles through champagne? What works for you?
In Breaking TWIG, I wrote about the lives of three people who’d suffered mental, emotional, or physical abused by their parent. Two overcame their obstacles and became strong, loving adults. One could not break out of the pattern of abuse she’d known as a child. What made the difference in their lives? This became the major theme of the book. Perhaps Becky said it best, “Having one person who loves and believes in you is all a girl needs to keep hope alive.”
Thanks for stopping by,
PS: Shadows of home (Ebook) is on sale for 99¢ for a limited time. So grab you copy today.
My Best Friend
My Best Friend
I’ve know my best friend for over eleven years now. We met at a children’s day-care in West Valley, which is somewhat strange since my youngest kiddo at the time was fifteen. I was more interested in getting to know her sister and didn’t notice her at first. But fate, kismet, or just dumb luck stepped in and pushed us together, and I thank my lucky stars every day.
We’re alike in many ways. Both blond. Both need to lose weight. Both have bones that creak and pop now, especially in the morning. We both like Dairy Queen way too much, and we both do volunteer work.
We are there for each other in good times and bad. When she was bitten by a water moccasin, I took her to the doctor and spent a week caring for her swollen leg. She was by my side as I suffered through a strep throat, bronchitis, and sinus infection (all at the same time) and when I recuperated from an auto accident that left me with a broken ankle.
I spend more time with her than I do any family member or friend. A few years ago, I received an invitation to apply for a writing job that would require moving to Washington D.C. for a year. My husband was working in Texas, my son was away at college, and my daughter had married and moved to the Bozeman area. They all urged me to take the job. I agreed and started looking at apartments near where I’d be working. When I discovered my best friend would not be able to go with me, I nixed the move. I’d move without my husband or kids, but I wasn’t going anywhere without my best friend.
My best friend’s name is Jasmine, but I call her Jazzie. She is a beautiful, devoted, golden retriever who has for over eleven years delighted, protected, and inspired me. Most of all, she has given me her unconditional loyalty and love. What more could you ask for in a best friend?
Thanks for stopping by,
P.S. Do you have a BFFD (best friend forever dog)?
Christmas Songs Say It All
The Ghost of Thanksgiving
The holiday season is here again. I don’t know who originally set the dates for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, but I do wish he or she had spread them out a little. In the stores, the paper turkey centerpieces set across the aisle from rows of lighted artificial Christmas trees. Several stores have their plastic 2015 champagne flutes stacked neatly in a bed of confetti. Thus, it gets harder every year to give each holiday its individual significance. After considerable time spent pondering this commercial symbiosis of holidays, I conjured up a way to separate them evocative of Scrooge’s three Ghosts.
New Years represents the future. It’s the time to make the list of resolutions, knowing most will fall by the wayside by the spring thaw. Still, we plan, we hope, we resolve, we look forward to a new year as a reboot of our dreams and desires.
Christmas time represents the present. However you celebrate the season—Christmas, Hanukkah, or other—this is the time we rejoice in the company of family and friends, wish glad tidings to all, and open our hearts and wallets to those we love, and hopefully, to those in need.
Thanksgiving represents the past. Why? Because this is the holiday we look back over the past year and give thanks for both the strength to get through the tribulations that came into our lives as well as the many blessings.
This Thanksgiving, I can look back on the trials like my father’s death and my brother’s battle with cancer, as well as the blessings. My children are grown (too soon) into educated, loving, responsible adults, and Nathan has retired and is home for good. We celebrated our 31st anniversary in Oct. and I’m still wondering how the years went by so fast.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Thanks for stopping by.
Breaking TWIG now an audiobook for iTunes, http://Audible.com and ACX on Amazon. listen to sample here: http://www.amazon.com/Breaking-TWIG/dp/B00P2RR5FE/ref=tmm_aud_title_0
This past weekend, I attended the wonderful Flathead River Writers' annual writer's conference. One of the speakers was Roxanne McHenry who spoke on marketing your ebooks on Amazon. I first met Ms. McHenry three years ago when I began to consider self-publishing Breaking TWIG as an ebook. By utilizing the information, tips, and ideas she so graciously shared with me and other writers, I was able to develop a marketing plan that has resulted in over 200,000 copies of Breaking TWIG being downloaded to Kindles. So, I was delighted to hear that Roxanne had published her own ebook for new and experienced ebook authors who need help making a comprehensive marketing plan for their ebooks. Although I usually don’t do book reviews on my blog, I felt I should do this one because I know from personal experience that these techniques work, and I believe in paying forward the many blessings and benefits that others have shared and keep sharing with me.
5-STARS Review of Roxanne McHenry's: Death of eBook Marketing -- 5 Ways to Revive Your eBook Sales
Roxanne McHenry’s ebook on marketing is a helpful guide to promoting your ebook on Amazon. It is very thorough and detailed. In a clear, concise tone, she guides you through Amazon’s KDP Select marketing program, shows you how to set up and optimize your Amazon Sales Page, and explains why and how you should have a long-term marketing plan for your ebook.
She explains the importance of creating an attention-getting book cover, various ways to pinpoint the best price point for your ebook to maximize sales, and how to get reviews for your ebook. And just as importantly, she tells you what NOT to do.
This book is an excellent guide for authors new to marketing and the various Amazon programs, and is a great refresher course for authors who have been using Amazon’s programs. I highly recommend this ebook. Here's the link:
Thanks for stopping by,
Confessions of a Critteraholic
I am crazy about animals. I’ve had cats, rabbits, horses, cows, a snake, a baby armadillo, dogs, and more dogs. I’ve had pedigreed dogs, rescued dogs, mutts, curs, big dogs, bigger dogs, and 100+ pound dogs. Of all the dogs I’ve been blessed to know, it has been two golden retrievers whose paws captured the biggest pieces of my heart.The first golden girl of my heart came to me when I was twelve and stayed by my side until cancer took her thirteen years later. Some folks may tell you goldens are not good watch dogs. They would be wrong! Mae was just ten months old the first time she came to my rescue. She and I were sitting on the porch of an old, closed feed store when a tall, lanky fellow in his forties came up and tried to talk me into going with him. I said no and started to leave. That’s when he grabbed me, and that’s when Mae went from being a big tail-wagging pup to Cujo. She jumped off the porch and landed on his back and held on. When she finally let go of him, he took off in one direction and Mae and I ran the other way.
I have a large American flag mounted on the southern deck of my house. We live in the mountains so nobody sees it except family, but that’s okay. I like watching it wave in the wind. Sometimes the wind whips the flag up and it gets wrapped around the pole. In the past, I’d run outside, take down the flag, and unknot it so it could once more fly free in the wind. An hour later, the scene would repeat itself. Some days, I’d make five or six trips outside to untangle the flag.
What's in a Heart?
“How do you know if a guy has a good heart?” This was the question my daughter asked me the February she was seventeen. The boy she liked and her date for the upcoming Valentine’s dance had done “something” (she wouldn’t go into more detail) that was causing her to have second thoughts about Mr. Wonderful. Summoning all the restraint I could muster, I didn’t push her to reveal what the “something” was, as I knew that would send her fleeing in fear of a pending inquisition.
Many thoughts jumped into my brain. Make sure he respects you. (I’d preached that one for years). Does he listen to his mother? (More important to me, no doubt, than to her). But I sensed she didn’t want to hear a rehash of the platitudes and pearls of wisdom I’d tried to instill in her since birth. I didn’t want to screw this up. Her coming to Mom for advice instead of to her teenage peers was more and more a rare event.
She wanted something new, something simple and concrete that she could use as a yardstick in an attempt to measure the true nature of a human heart. Years before, I’d read a quote from Immanuel Kant, a famous 18th century German philosopher and ethics professor. It had stuck in my mind, probably because I love animals so much. My daughter does too. The quote seemed to fit our situation. I considered it a pretty good yardstick. So did my daughter, who eventually found and married a man with a good heart, a man that adores her and shares her love for animals.
“We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.” Immanuel Kant.
Thanks for stopping by,
January 10th, 2014
According to the dictionary, cabin fever is an idiomatic term, first recorded in 1918, for a claustrophobic reaction that takes place when a person or group is isolated and/or shut in a small space, with nothing to do for an extended period.
I can understand how early settlers in rural locations could get cabin fever. There were no cars, phones, electricity, or the many things we take for granted today. But in this era of television, cell phones, computers, Skype, IPods, streaming videos, Facebook, eReaders, and a never-ending list of electronic wonders, it takes a lot of work to be “disconnected” from family, friends, or world events.
I never get cabin fever. There is simply too much to do. Research for a book or article, write, cook hearty stews or soups, answer emails, clean out the closets or design that special project to build next summer …here too, the list goes on and on. There are shelves of books, baskets of books, a Kindle full of books waiting to be discovered. There are stories running through my mind, scenes playing out in my dreams, and characters waiting to be named and given life on pages I have yet to write.
When I need fresh air and just want to play, I let loose the hounds (in this case – golden retrievers) into the fresh fallen snow. They romp, frolic, and roll around making their equivalent of snow angels. They’re like two silly kids enjoying a snow day. When play time is over, we trudge back inside to find a warm fire, a treat for them, and cocoa for me. Nope, there’s no time for cabin fever here in our winter wonderland.
Thanks for stopping by,
One of the very best gifts I ever received didn’t come wrapped in holiday paper. There was no bow or cute little “Merry Christmas” card. It came around 10 am on a bright June morning in 1993.
In 1987, my husband, Nathan, and I purchased a ten acre tract of land in a beautiful little valley in Northwest Montana, with hopes of retiring there in 2008. We had an electric pole set and bought an 8 x 20 foot storage building. We wired our little “camp” and put in windows bought at a salvage yard. Shelving balanced on cement blocks (reminiscent of my college days) became our kitchen counter. Every August for the next five years, we’d come to Montana and spend our vacations “fixin’ up” our piece of the last best place. A neighbor gave us a hide-a bed and an old ice box. We cleared brush, picked out where we wanted to one day build our dream home, and under the star-filled big Montana sky, we decided our family was one person short. Our son was born nine months later.
Every year it got harder to leave Montana and return to Texas. In Texas, we’d worked hard and achieved “the American dream” – two kids, two cars, nice big house, and money in the bank. And we were miserable—trouble sleeping, short tempers, etc.
In June of 1993, we decided we couldn’t wait until August for our annual trek to our Montana paradise. After a four day drive, we arrived and started airing out the camp. I slept on sofa pillows on the floor and gave the bed to Nathan and the kids. We slept for ten hours. The next morning, Nathan came and sat by me on the floor. He put his arm around my shoulder and said, “Let’s not wait until 2008. Let’s move this summer.” Now I am a practical, pragmatic person, so I was a tad shocked when I heard myself heartily agree.
We bought a business, finalized plans for our log home, and went back to Texas to resign our positions, sell our properties, and say goodbye. Family and friends told us we were crazy. We agreed and kept on packing. That was twenty years ago.
Today, the business is sold, the kids have finished college, and Nathan is retiring this month. Because of his gift that June morning in 1993, we don’t have to “retire” to our vision of paradise. All we have to do is walk out onto our deck.
Have a blessed holiday season and thanks for stopping by.