Terrify

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Terrify. [More info]

Photo by Antriksh Kumar from Pixabay

I am pretty fearless, and you know why? Because I don’t handle fear very well; I’m not a good terrified person. ~ Stevie Nicks

Something Scary

We asked authors who write on the clean end of the spectrum to tell us something scary whether from a work-in-progress, a published book, or a personal moment.

Photo by Frank Winkler on Pixabay

Jessica L. Elliott – This may come as a shock from the girl who writes sweet romance and generally light-hearted fantasy, but I love a good scare. Edgar Allen Poe is one of my favorite authors ever, and I’m the weird person who will watch scary movies alone at night because a) I have kids who shouldn’t be watching them yet and b) my Prince Charming doesn’t enjoy them.

My very first attempt at writing a novel back for NaNoWriMo of 2005 was a haunted library story. Unfortunately, my college computer crashed shortly after graduation and I lost everything (which as an author is horrifying). Someday I might go back to that idea and try again. For now, the spookiest my writing has gotten is in the Through the Rainbow series where Irish legends are real, and not always pleasant.

Katy Huth Jones – I have a medieval fantasy series with battles and executions, but I’ve tried to keep them PG-13 at most. The third book was written during an excruciating cancer recurrence, and I figured out why it has more scary stuff–since I was dealing with a monster in real life, my antagonist became a monster, too. It does have some scary stuff in it, as the Vandals he takes up with like blood and decorate with skulls (just like I found in the Czech Republic).

Laurean Brooks –  From my WIP: Speaking of train fare, Emily felt a guilty tug at her heart. She should repay Clemons for the train ticket, since she refused to keep their agreement. She owed him that much. But repaying him meant confessing she was his intended mail order bride. Emily inhaled a ragged breath. What if Clemons already knew and was only biding his time, waiting for the perfect moment to expose her?

Patricia Snelling – In my novel Unshakable, Ruby get’s lost on Dartmoor in England when pea soup fog came down It happened to me once near Dartmoor prison. That’s real scary.

~~~

Patricia, I have to agree with you about the pea soup fog. It is real scary. Twice over the years this has happened to me, the fog suddenly reducing visibility to zero. I might only include one of those times in a current WIP called Fifty Close Calls (or I might rename the final product).

At the time, I had a job waxing floors for a nationwide clothing store. My route included the Southeastern US and Texas so I spent a lot of time on the road. One particular night—or early morning if you prefer—I’d been driving many hours already after completing my work at a store in either Nashville or Memphis, Tennessee around midnight and scheduled to arrive at the next store a couple hours before it opened early the next day. I began to drive into small and thin patches of fog as I approached Lake Pontchartrain just north of New Orleans, Louisiana.

But once I was over the water, the fog began to thicken. Since I was on an Interstate highway crossing a huge lake, I decided it would probably be best to just stop at the next exit rather than on the bridge. Within only about five minutes time, visibility went from about three hundred feet to about fifty and it started to get scary. But then, within a second, it was as though a sheet had been stuck to the windshield of the truck, visibility was zero. A second later, I could see about thirty feet then another second only the hood of the vehicle. I let off the accelerator and began to reconsider the emergency lane as this pattern continued many more moments. This was bad.

But the motorhome parked on the Interstate was much worse. I saw it, I swerved to the lane to my left and missed it by mere inches and somehow did not completely lose control of the vehicle and crash through the railing into the fog-covered Lake Pontchartrain. And incredibly, that one patch about a hundred feet wide was the thickest I would hit before I did finally make my way to the next exit.

As I mentioned above, this is for my WIP Fifty Close Calls or I might call the book at least my WRITING is clean. ~ Earl Chinnici

Scare

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Scare. [More info]

Photo by Andrea Boldizsar (Unsplash)

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Fear

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Fear. [More info]

“The fears we don’t face becomes our limits.” ~ Robin Sharma

Worry

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Worry. [More info]

Photo by Greg Reese

Matthew 6:34 KJV – Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Crazy Florida Man

Photo: Bayfront Park, summer of 1984

By Earl Chinnici

It was horrifying. My best friend was about to marry an absolutely crazy man from South Florida. Had it been only the occasional yelling at nothing while waving his hand around in the air, I might have been able to overlook it. This man was so disturbed he murdered his imaginary friend then turned himself in. He once got caught trying to smuggle an ounce of marijuana onto a plane while wearing a shirt proclaiming “I have drugs.” He’s no longer allowed in a Publix supermarket after getting in trouble for dancing around in Superman underwear in their parking lot screaming “Lois! Have you seen my cape, Lois?”

Anyway, they made it all the way to “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness…” when Blake Shelton’s “God Gave Me You” began blaring—seemingly out of nowhere and everywhere simultaneously. I thought “Okay, I can see playing this at a wedding; it’s a great song. But right in the middle of the vows? And why on Earth is it so loud?”

When I finally realized it was my alarm sounding off, I woke with a start and laughed until my cheeks hurt. I’m sure glad that went off without a hitch.

Concern

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Concern. [More info]

Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right. ~ Abraham Lincoln

Relaxed Friday 3

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Sun

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Sun. [More info]

Photo by Photo Mix on Pixabay

Light and darkness play a huge metaphorical role in my Unsung Legacies historical fiction series. I use it to illustrate good and evil, knowledge and ignorance, truth and lies, fear and trust.
It’s especially evident in Sunlight and Shadows (as the title suggests), where the main character, Betty, comes out of the comfortable darkness of ignorance into the harsh light of truth.
“She walked through the silent house and out the back door. She stood on the back porch and looked around at the landscape. It was the same sunlight as before. It was the same paddock, the same lazy horse eating grass, the same field, the same woods. Somehow the world had gone on as though nothing happened. But her perfect day–her perfect life–had evaporated like a puddle in the summer sun, as if it never was.”
In the next snippet, the light represents hope peeking out through despair, and foreshadows the good that will come out of this tragedy, even if it’s not clear right now.
“Soon enough, the sun peeked through the drawn curtains, finding its way through the crack between the two dense panels of fabric, and creating a narrow line of light across Mama’s casket.”
Then, in this last snippet, the sunlight (the truth) turns her father (who has changed for the worse) into a literal shadow of himself, and it’s only when he closes the door that he is recognizable.
“Daddy walked in, a moving silhouette until he shut the door and blocked the sunlight out.” ~ Jessica Marie Holt, Unsung Legacies

“Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.” ~ Helen Keller

Character Names

We asked authors who write on the clean end of the spectrum how they come up with all those characters’ names and how they remember who’s who as they write. Here’s the inside scoop.

Charmain Zimmerman Brackett – Most of the time, they just come to me. I have looked up names every now and then, but for specific reasons. My latest series is based in my hometown of Augusta, GA so I needed some Southern sounding names. I also looked up articles on favorite double names. One way to remember everyone’s name is to keep the list of characters minimal. If the writer can’t remember them, then how is a reader supposed to remember them? Also, my “characters” are real people to me especially the main characters. I know their backstories and their favorite colors. They are people; they wake me up at night and talk to me.

Michael Lynes – I remember them because they become ‘real’ to me in some sense.

Authors are often extremely busy people so we try not to be too pushy when we can tell they’re in a hurry. Nonetheless, when we pressured Michael slightly as to whether he has tricks up his sleeves to decide which names to use, he told us the names “completely pop in. Especially their nicknames and the names they call other people.”

Linda Ellen – That’s a good question! Sometimes names can be hard, and now with ten books, I’m having to scramble and not use the same ones. I write historical romance, and many times I’ve found old fashioned sounding names for secondary characters on census records for that year. Sometimes if I need a last name for a character mentioned one time, I look over at my Facebook chat list and pick one from who is on, lol. First names of my main characters started out being names I loved, and then I started honoring loved ones and friends (a friend named Terry is the hero’s name for one book. Grandson Finn is the hero for another. Co-worker Mary June is heroine for another, etc.). How I keep them straight is I keep a note file open side by side with my master file as I’m writing. When I create a new character, I click over and type it into the note file.

Jessica Marie Holt – Some names just come to me, as though the character was a real person who always had that name. Most others I struggle with. I tend to want to name every older man George and every younger man Jackson, and after that my creativity sort of taps out. For my historical fictions, I googled the most popular names in the 1860s, and looked at the US census records. Then, because the series takes place here in my area of North Carolina, I have recently been looking at history books and gravestones to get ideas for future names that sound local/regional. For contemporary names, I use baby name lists, popular name lists, and I look at TV credits and street names. Some of my characters have “placeholder” names until the end of the book, because I struggle so much with the decision. Keeping the names straight once I choose them is easy, though. They’re like real people. I might occasionally mix up them up, like I would in real life, but deep down I always know who everyone is, and what their names are.

Richard Houston – I put a list of characters at the front of my books with a short description of who they are. In one book, I even drew a chart to show their relationships. I do this a much for myself as my readers.
Another question you didn’t ask, but I’ll answer is how do I keep track of time. I put the day of the seek and the date in brackets on every scene and chapter heading of my manuscript. I remove those before the book is published.
These are tricks I’ve only used in my last two books after I found I couldn’t keep track of either one in my previous books.

Arthur Daigle – Some character names are related to what they are or their occupations. For example, I have two trolls named London and Brooklyn, since in legends trolls often live under bridges. I have a goblin alchemist called Vial, after the glass container used in chemistry.
In other cases I’m trying to defy expectations. Heroic leads often have names that imply strength, such as Stone, Rock, Hawk and so on. I named my main character William Bradshaw to make him sound ordinary.
Lastly, each character has to have a name that is both pronounceable and different enough from the names of all other characters. Some fantasy authors create highly complex names that look like the alphabet got tossed in a blender. Those are hard for readers to say, and I feel that makes it harder to remember. Having character names too close together may make readers mistake one for the other.

Debbie Brown – I’m always paying attention to names, but strangely enough, I usually wait for my characters to tell me their names. I remember one time, where i was in the middle of a scene and this character walks in… I had no idea who he was or what he was doing…
Turns out, he was very helpful and definitely needed, lol. I had to wait to hear somebody say his name to know what it was.
Crazy stuff ya just can’t make up.

Laurean Brooks – I don’t have a problem remembering the first names of my characters since my books usually don’t have more than 8 or 10. I name them according to their looks and personalities. My current WIP (Western) has hero “Clint” (rugged name for a cowboy), and heroine “Emily” a pretty name. For the goofy buck-tooth dentist, who gives Emily a tough time, his name is “Wendell”, Another lady who is pursuing Wendell, is “Prudence.” This gives a visual of shy and a little homely. As for Characters’ names, I have a book published in the late 70s titled “Beyond Jennifer and Jason.” I paid 50 cents for it at a Library sale, a decade ago. It’s been worth it’s weight in gold many times over. The “baby name” book lists many popular baby names from 2 centuries ago and up to the 1980s, and their origins. It also lists names that portray personalities. Like macho names for men, pretty names for ladies. Suggestion: If you purchase this book from Amazon, get the original version. I later bought the updated “Beyond Jennifer and Jason, Madison & Montana.” It does not contain half the information and listings as “Beyond Jennifer and Jason.”

Jessica L. Elliott – Depends on the project. One name came to me because I have a snarky author friend who recommended it in jest. Turns out Allisatravondarestra was just the right name for my character, who incidentally much prefers to go by Allie. My readers prefer that too! Haha.
But it’s a toss up. Some characters come into my head fully-formed with a name already attached. Others, I spend days searching my worn-out baby name book for just the right name. I really relate to the scene in The Man Who Invented Christmas where Dickens is trying to discover the right name for his protagonist. Just as Scrooge appeared to him, once I’ve got the name, the character comes to life.
As far as keeping track of them, I’ve got a spreadsheet I try to remember to fill out.

Katherine Karrol – I have an easy time keeping track of characters because not only are they as real to me as people in the world outside my head, but they pop up in multiple books in the series.
Most of the names are ones that just jumped into my head as fitting a particular character. I was having a hard time coming up with the name that felt right for one of my leading men, so I started thinking through my favorite NFL teams. I didn’t even realize it at the time, but his name ended up being a combo of two players on my favorite team. The irony is that he wasn’t the athlete in his family or a very alpha guy.
I have a list of names that has grown to include first and last for males and females, towns, businesses, and places around the fictitious county my series is set in. I’m incorporating more names of town fathers from the area my county is modeled after, too.
I try not to use names of people I know, but I have used some of my ancestors’ surnames. I made an exception once and named a lighthouse after my grandmother. I figured no one would know that Marvel was an actual person’s name!

Rachel John – I put a list of the characters at the bottom of the document until I have them memorized, but I do struggle with not using the same ones from book to book. I seem to have a problem with wanting to use Jasmine as the bad girl/ex-girlfriend character. And I just realized I had Lottie twice in the same series and had to do a find/replace on my current WIP. Find/replace can get tricky if you have a name like Dan because of words like dance. Also, I have it in my editing checklist to search for the name I started with because my brain will want to keep using it after I’ve changed it.

Lea Carter – I got the names for my Coddiwomple series from the Basque language, Euskara. I didn’t always use whole words, but that allowed me to choose names with meaning that wouldn’t be recognized as everyday words. It would sound silly to name an older woman in the village ‘mother,’ for example, but naming her ‘Ama’ sounds fine!
I’ve also learned to keep a separate document called “Who’s Who” for each setting.

Margaret Skea – All but my main family in my Scottish series were real people – the problem that posed was that they weren’t very imaginative re Christian names in the 16th century – so keeping track for me was hard never mind for readers. I have lists pinned up with ages etc to keep me on track and supply a character list at the front of the books. Ironically, when I had a free choice, I couldn’t decide on a Christian name for the main character until the very end of the second book, so he survived two whole books on just his surname!

Ruth O’Neil – In my current WIP I had to come up with seven names for main characters and they all had to have meaning. Some were easier than others, but then I came to that one that just wouldn’t come out. But then, after one last ditch effort to name this character, I found exactly what I had not been looking for. I found a name, but I also found a whole background for her to write about. Zena became a Greek with a history that no one knew about.

We’re working closely with a growing number of authors who lean toward the clean end of the spectrum to bring you similar collaborative articles and behind the scenes glimpses. If you enjoyed this, and we hope you did, please consider sharing it.

Snow

Photo by Alain Audet (Pixabay)

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Snow. [More info]

I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” And when they wake up in the summer, Kitty, they dress themselves all in green, and dance about–whenever the wind blows. ~ Lewis Carol “Through the Looking Glass”

Something for the authors. This Twitter thread from filmmaker, Christopher McQuarrie is about screenwriting and it has nothing to do with snow. We feel it applies to authors of every sort and is totally worth the time it takes to read. (Maybe save it for a snow day if you must.)

Many of these authors and a few others joined together for today’s second article, Character Names. It’s a sweet collaboration we hope you don’t miss.

Lightning

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Lightning. [More info]

Photo by George Alexandru (slightly altered for use here)

“The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug.” ~ Mark Twain

Lightning would be so romantic if it would just keep its distance from everything important, including all living creatures. Of course we all know it doesn’t. All too often lightning ignites fires, damages homes and other structures, destroys appliances… sometimes it even kills.
The earliest scary lightning story I can think of happened when I was perhaps ten years old. While swimming in an in-ground pool, lightning struck close enough that I felt a slight tingle in the water similar to the sensation of sticking a 9-volt battery to one’s own tongue. (Wasn’t everyone their older brother’s battery tester? No? Hmm.)
I recall another close call in my early to mid teens. It was much closer, actually. I was watching TV with my dad while Mom was at the kitchen sink when all of a sudden and with a loud blended crackle and pop, a bolt of blue came from an outlet directly behind the television and struck the sink just as Mom took one step back from it.
I know there were many other times lightning was closer than I like it to be. I live in Florida. Some have called it the lightning capital of the world though the age of the Internet has shown everything—including this claim—is debatable.
Undoubtedly, the strangest lightning occurrences I’ve witnessed were during tornadoes. I’ve been in and near many, especially since February of 1999. I didn’t move. Perhaps they did.
Only some of the tornadoes arrived with lightning, but the lighting that came with those that did was unlike any lightning I’ve ever experienced outside of a tornado. Instead of booms of thunder, there were only extremely fast clicks and crackles; the flashes were like flashes of a strobe light at a dance party or the local disco. (Give it time. Disco music will make a comeback, I can feel it.)
This article seems it might tolerate one lightning fast tale. This occurred only a half-dozen years ago and it was among the most scary—holding its own with those during the tornadoes.
Boom! (Scared yet? No?) About three seconds later, another boom, this one louder and undeniably much closer than the first. I begin to count. One Mississ—BOOM! Shaken, I begin to count again. One—BOOM! And another. BOOM! I lie flat on the floor on my belly, now considering how soldiers must feel when in a war zone under fire by heavy artillery. A final approaching BOOM, quite deafening and then about two seconds later a BOOM further away, but obviously following the same line of travel.
I lie flat another couple minutes and finally get the nerve to get up. About twenty minutes later, I hear sirens of fire trucks and getting louder with each passing second. Roughly a minute later, they’re slowing in front of my home then turning onto the small private road at the edge of my yard. Turns out the final approaching BOOM struck a cousin’s barn less than a thousand feet from me and had pretty well burned it down before it became apparent to other neighbors what had happened.
But it sure seemed closer.

By Earl Chinnici
Today’s lightning theme seemed a great reason to work on my first draft of a work-in-progress currently titled “Fifty Close Calls.” If these collaborative articles have also helped motivate you to add words to a work-in-progress, I’d love to hear from you. Check the contact page for the latest info.

February 22, 2014 – Lightning exploded the side of a tree and propelled several shards of wood into the ground in multiple places, the farthest discovered piece being about fifty feet away from the base of the struck tree. The sticks forming the V (an X when viewed closer) in the background of this photo are also two pieces of the same tree. Others nearby were not photographed.

Rain

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Rain. [More info]

We are excited to announce today the opening of our CleanWIP Magazine storefront. We’ve designed several awesome products already and have many more planned.

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Cycling under the autumn rain.

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While it’s true that some things smell better than others do, it’s nice to be able to smell a distant rain. It’s also nice to enjoy the smell of frangipani without a burning cigarette or an ashtray full of butts nearby. I shudder when I think of all the butts I used to smell. ~ Earl Chinnici (from Maybe You Should Move Those Away From You)

Wind / Windy

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Wind (the breezy kind). [More info]

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” ~ Henry Ford

Being a Floridian fifty years, I’m no stranger to wind. So it seems to me I should be able to write so much about it, on demand even, but I’m finding it difficult. I began to write yesterday while still being affected by post-tropical storm Nestor. I wrote two paragraphs and stared at them about the span of half an hour then discarded them so swiftly as though I’d suddenly realized they were infected with a highly contagious pathogen. Why would anyone want to read this?
I tried again and achieved similar results.
A third time I began anew and only made it through two sentences before being disgusted by the way I arranged the words. Perhaps I am tired, I thought. So I slept.
As I young child, I recall days with family flying kites on a gentle breeze from the schoolyard. Had my wind-related experiences stayed in the neighborhood of kites and pinwheels and gentle ocean breezes, perhaps it would be easier to write about wind today. But then, how could I ever hope to convey the differences between the center of a hurricane and the center of a tornado had I not been intimate with both?
Minutes after I rose and with great determination, I attempted this article once more. Only minutes later, that disheartening realization of failure set in yet again.
Anyone near me knows of the anxiety I now feel, but how could one topic cripple me to this point where words will not flow?
But isn’t that how it often goes and with nearly any work-in-progress? When it comes to matters of the mind, a work might be ‘in progress’ quite a long time.
Perhaps I am tired.
Perhaps tomorrow the words will flow freely.
Perhaps this tale isn’t so much about wind as it is about writing and about those spaces between words. ~ Earl Chinnici

Relaxed Friday 2

This marks the second ‘Relaxed Friday’ we’ve hosted but unfortunately the first was apparently so relaxed, we failed to create a collaborative article. What can we say? Relax already. Don’t judge.

Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP ‘Relaxed Fridays.’

  • NO THEME – We’re encouraging authors to take advantage of ‘Relaxed Fridays’ by sharing interesting lines without the usual concern of whether an excerpt matches our announced theme.
  • WIP OR PUBLISHED WORK – Since every published work was once a work-in-progress, we want to see the polished product—but only on Fridays because CleanPublishedWorks Magazine didn’t sound right to our ears.
  • PURCHASE LINKS WELCOME – Since we’re sharing lines from published works on Fridays, we want a quick way to purchase something that catches our attention.
  • #CleanWIP NOT REQUIRED – Say what?! – This isn’t a mistake—or at least we hope it isn’t. Authors who have joined us in the CleanWIP Facebook group can also share links on the Relaxed Friday thread there to other hashtag game posts as well as pretty much any fun sort of thing readers are sure to love.
  • RELAX – It’s nearly the weekend. Why stress?

Fun Granny Excerpt!
By Jessica Marie Holt
“Henry, listen. That is Samantha Cooper at the door. She needs our help because she’s having . . . lady-troubles. Would you mind very much making yourself scarce for a while?”
Henry stared at her skeptically. “Lady-troubles?”
“Yes. Very personal lady-troubles.”
The doorbell rang again four times in a row. June jumped slightly. “Here, Henry,” she said, hurriedly shoving cookies into his hands. “Take these with you. Fresh out of the oven. You can eat them upstairs, In bed, if you want!”
Henry’s eyes widened, and his brow furrowed. “I can eat them . . . in bed,” he said slowly.
“Yes, yes! I’ll even let you read to me later from that book you like so much, and I won’t fall asleep this time,” she said.
Henry stared at the cookies with a familiar gleam in his eye. “Lady troubles.”
“Lots of lady-troubles,” said Ellie, nodding.
Henry shook his head. “All right. But I’m keeping an eye on you two.”
“Yes, Henry. You do that. But later.”

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#mysky now ❤️

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From a WIP by CleanWIP Magazine’s very own Earl Chinnici – ~ We didn’t set out to be heroes, but heroes we became. I’m sure you’ve seen our faces on billboards and subway walls. We’re uncanny symbols of America’s determination and resilience. Some people claim we’re not human; some claim we’re not real. We want you to know we are. We do have feelings. ~

Finish

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Finish. [More info]

“There is nothing so fatal to character as half finished tasks.” ~ David Lloyd George

Even after I began to mention to a few close friends and family members that I was writing a book, I was not entirely sure I could finish it. ~ Earl Chinnici

Peculiar Characters

People are peculiar. Characters should be too. Vanilla ice cream is arguably wonderful, but you won’t find many readers willing to argue that books need more vanilla—as in plain—characters.

We asked many authors who write on the clean end of the spectrum to tell us about a peculiarity of one of their characters, either in a current work-in-progress or a published work. Since we realize authors are often extremely busy people, we’re especially appreciative of those who were able to—and did—respond.

(Click an author’s name or book link for more.)

Jessica Marie Holt – Oh, goodness, all of my characters are peculiar. But Dottie Dixon from Sunlight and Shadows is one of my very favorites. The story is set in 1871. Dottie is a sturdy, no-nonsense, buxom kind of woman, but she has an absolute weakness for fashion and decorating—the more lavish and ridiculous, the better. She reads the fashion and home décor mags of the day, and she goes around in fancy brocade dresses with huge bustles and a thousand buttons. The best thing about her is her hats—she wears these elaborate hats with tall, trailing feathers, and you always know when she’s upset because the feathers start trembling. She’s also a woman of few words, and she has an intriguing and sometimes shady past that only reveals itself in tidbits. In a way, I feel like she represents the dichotomy of the Victorian era; austere and no-nonsense, but also opulent and hopelessly over-the-top.

Jessica L. Elliott – My favorite part of writing is discovering all of my characters’ peculiarities. In my published book Operation: Romance, Stacie is a teenager who always writes texts out with proper spelling and punctuation. She can’t stand text-speak, which can drive her crazy since that’s all the handsome football player she’s working with uses. This part of her personality just cracks me up because most teens have no problem with texting shorthand. But, Stacie is not your average teen.

Ruth O’Neil – I actually keep a notebook in my purse as weird/quirky/strange characters seem to be drawn to me. I’ll be out in public and someone feels it necessary to tell me their life’s story—everything I never wanted to know. Little do they know I’m taking mental notes and will record things ASAP. I think one of the favorite characters I “created” was Professor Yates in Come Eat at My Table. She is a conglomerate of several people I know personally. She is the epitome of the absent-minded professor. Her outfits are eccentric, complete with huge, coordinating hats. She might wobble on the sane/insane line, but her heart is true. She loves my MC like no one else but her father did.

Linda Ellen – In my book A Bride for Finn, one of my side characters is an incessant talker. I named her Elvira. She’s based on one of my sister-in-laws, lol. She talks non-stop, you can’t get a word in edge-wise, and her thoughts bounce from one subject to another. Her scenes are hilarious.

Lea Carter – Fairies live for several thousand years. It’s typical to find great-great-grandparents playing sports with their descendants, taking adventure vacations, and just generally living life to the fullest.
Princess Arabella, on the other hand, views life through a lens colored by early tragedy. Her younger sister died doing something quite mundane, heightening Arabella’s awareness of how fragile fairies truly are. While other parents are pushing their 40 year old children to learn to fly, she’s finding whatever excuse she can to keep her children close to home. Where it’s safe.
She fights her fears daily, with the staunch support of her husband and family, but cringes each time life puts those she loves in danger.
[Though she’s not the main character, Arabella has a supporting role in Silver Majesty and Silver Verity.]

Arthur Daigle – Mr. Niff the goblin is convinced he’s a hero, and is the first person to run into danger. It doesn’t matter if there’s no way to win the fight, or if there’s even a real threat, he’s going in with without regard to his own safety. His bravery has resulted in several spectacular acts of heroism, and a nearly endless stream of lawsuits from outraged property owners, insurance salesmen, and totally innocent passersby.
[Mr. Niff and his heroic acts are in William Bradshaw, King of the Goblins.]

Laurean Brooks – Aunt Em is a quirky older lady, (my hero’s aunt), in my Western mail order bride story, Not What He Ordered. She speaks her mind and is devious in a helpful way. Hero (Josh) does not know the ad he placed for Aunt Em was not for house help, but for a bride for him. Then when Aunt Em swears the prospective bride (heroine Carrie) to secrecy, Carrie is caught between a rock and a hard place. To tell or not to tell. But Carrie has secrets of her own.

‘We’ even asked the editor.

Earl Chinnici – Not counting that one peculiar character in my debut nearly-a-memoir I wrote as I quit smoking, I suppose my most peculiar character so far is Rita, a boisterous woman of Peurto Rican heritage in one of my current works-in-progress. She speaks and drives very fast. I believe she might be one of Atlanta, Georgia’s worst drivers. Rita comes across as borderline obnoxious at first but she’s really just having a rough time navigating life. That pretty well sums up what I know about her personality so far. Soon after we met, we each faced our own traumatic events so our relationship has been on hold a while. Maybe we’ll get a chance to reconnect someday soon.

Middle

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Middle. [More info]

Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides. ~ Margaret Thatcher

Poem on Poems

I think I should write a poem but wherever shall I start?
Many have written before me about matters of the heart.

Some cried tales of lost friends and loved ones, heartaches, and deep sorrow.
Others rhymed words of joy, of true love, and a bright tomorrow.

Some wrote about pirates and their shipwrecks, and buried treasures.
Still others told men’s secrets, evil schemes, or hidden pleasures.

Countless moving verses have been written throughout the ages.
Once I put the pen to paper, I’m sure to fill some pages.

~ Earl Chinnici “Poem on Poems”

Tomorrow

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Tomorrow. [More info]

“The trouble is, you think you have time
You think tomorrow’s always coming down the line
Then one day you wake up and you find
The trouble is, you thought you had time”
~ Dean Brody “Time”

Editor’s Challenge: Pick one of those “special cigarettes,” such as the one you always smoke immediately after breakfast or lunch, and skip it tomorrow. Do not smoke that one cigarette. Tell yourself you will have to wait a specific amount of time after that special event before you ignite a cigarette. What is so special about a cigarette anyway?

Today

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Today. [More info]

“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” ~ Steve Jobs

Many todays have passed since February 28, 2013, when I watched and photographed that gorgeous sunset, some pleasant and fun and some delightfully uneventful. But then there were those todays that were frightening and those todays that were tragic… and those todays that were both frightening and tragic … some day, I’d like to share so much more with you, but there isn’t time to take you there today. Let’s make the most of this today.

Yesterday

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Yesterday. [More info] Because it is a collaborative article, it will likely be larger tomorrow than it is today. I hope this doesn’t confuse the authors. You see, tomorrow’s theme is today and Tuesday’s theme is tomorrow, but today’s theme is yesterday. When I first mentioned today’s theme to author Jessica Marie Holt she replied, “I only use this word in dialogue, and apparently it doesn’t come up often! But, tomorrow is another day!” Yes it is, Jessica. Tomorrow is today.

“I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

We’re scouting for clean content today based on the theme, especially lines from author’s current works-in-progress. We’ll update this page throughout the day. Be sure to check back.

Keys to Life

By Earl Chinnici

Have you ever wondered how transformed your life could be if one small detail of your past had happened a little differently? It seems everyone occasionally entertains such thoughts. I suppose it is human nature. And isn’t it funny that we often blindly envision how life could be better, not considering how it could be worse? Sometimes, however, our eyes are forced wide open—even if only for a moment. What you are about to read is my unadulterated recollection of one such time. Where I was going I cannot recall, but the trip was unforgettable.

Checking my watch to verify I was running late, I rushed to grab my keys from a hook on the wall just inside the front door of my home. Apparently, I was in too much of a hurry. I fumbled and gravity took over. “ Great, ” I thought, “what’s two seconds when I’m already running late?” I knelt to retrieve the keys then persevered, locking the door behind me. The next six and a half miles of my journey were utterly uneventful.

“Please turn green,” I said aloud as I approached the first of two busy intersections between my home and my destination. Nearly stopping about fifteen feet short of the crosswalk, I was glad to see the traffic signal mercifully comply. As I accelerated and started through the intersection, a four-door sedan from days gone by passed immediately in front of me like a whirlwind, missing my car by mere inches. Shocked and trembling, I stared at the green light I had abruptly stopped under as my mind replayed the dropped keys and the close encounter. A loud and persistent horn soon sounded behind me, urging me to get it in gear. Wiser and more cautiously, I continued along my path. — Life isn’t a race, you see. You don’t need to be in a hurry to cross the finish line.

Connect with the author: Earl Chinnici

Website: https://CleanWIP.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/e.chinnici
Twitter: https://twitter.com/earlshelpdesk
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Earl-Chinnici/e/B00L894LL6

Clean Works-in-Progress

Part One of Many

We asked fifty authors who write on the clean end of the spectrum to tell us about one of their current works-in-progress. Since we realize authors are often extremely busy people, we’re especially appreciative of those who were able to—and did—respond. We hope you’ll keep us informed as these manuscripts become new releases.

(Click an author’s name for more.)

Arthur Daigle – I’m working on Goblin Stories 2, a collection of interlocking shortchanged stories. My goblins face off against a cabal of wizards and scholars that seeks to reveal all secrets, and the unending damage caused by their quest.

Lea Doué – Geese and Gold (Fairytale Dragon Riders) features a young woman on a quest to rescue her brother from trolls, with help from a golden goose and a mushroom-loving dragon.

Irene Onorato – My WIP is titled The Preacher and the Shopkeeper and will kick off a clean romance series which I’m calling Unlikely Love.
My hero accepts a pastorship at a church only to find there is no congregation whatsoever. A chance meeting with a homeless man leads him to take up a challenge – to live “tent city” for two weeks, and see if he can make a difference there.
The heroine, a local thrift shop owner, thinks he’s crazy. She knows he’s throwing himself into a dangerous situation, and can only hope he survives to tell the tale.

Joanna A. McKethan – I am working on the next in my series featuring the heroine Kenna Alford or as she is in this book Kenna Campbell. She along with her husband Lane to whom she is a distant cousin are in search of their personal legacy, connected to and caught up in an international secret society’s agenda, hounded by stalkers who mean them harm. Their epic struggle spans two continents, giving the lie for all time to the adage, ‘what you don’t know can’t hurt you.’
This WIP is The Tarbert Legacy.

Ruth O’Neil – I just finished final edits on my WIP at 10:30 last night! Yay! (Now on to betas) Still working on the title. I have a couple swimming around in my head, but none are screaming, “Me! Me! Me!”
It is about a group of friends who stick together through thick and thin. They meet for lunch once a month, but are always there for each other, especially when prayer is needed.

Charmain Zimmerman Brackett – I’m finishing up the fifth in my cozy mystery series set in my hometown of Augusta, Ga. it’s part of the Grace’s Augusta Mystery Series. My protagonist is a florist who finds herself in the middle of another murder—or two?

Debbie Brown – Working on wrapping up the last installment in my Amethyst Eyes trilogy… looking at final edits in the coming weeks.

Jessica Marie Holt – I have several works in progress, including a Christmas short story, but right now, I am working on my second Granny Pact novel. June and Ellie–grannies, neighbors, and best friends– have taken their meddling to the next level. They have their sights set on Ace and Maddie, two do-gooders who are perfect for one another. Unfortunately, Maddie’s meddling mom has other ideas. . .

Jessica L. Elliott – My current WIP is Of Bows and Cinnamon, the third book in my Christmas romance series, Fairy Matched. Uptight theater director Landon Brown has to find a girlfriend before his mother comes, or else. Time is limited, and he manages to convince Elena Mendoza to take on the role just long enough to get his mother off his back. If only he can keep his heart out of the equation.

Richard Houston – My current WIP is about a guy, Jake Martin, and his dog who seem to get involved in solving murders. He is drawn into yet another mystery when he finds a diary written by a teller who witnessed a bank robbery and murder 35 years ago. Her false testimony had sent an innocent man to the gas chamber. Jake gets involved when his seventy-year-old friend and neighbor, Bonnie Jones, asks for his help because the person who was executed was the husband of a friend. His current investigation gets complicated when his eighteen-year-old daughter from his first marriage shows up because she isn’t sure what she wants to do with her life and doesn’t like Jake’s current girlfriend, Kelly Brown, a sheriff deputy.
Bad things start to happen after Jake starts looking into the old bank robbery. First, Fred, his golden retriever, and best friend is dognapped; then a string of arsons and dead bodies begin to pile up all while he tries to deal with the conflict between his daughter and Kelly.
Just when Jake thinks he’s solved the crimes, Kelly gets news from her forensics team that Jake’s suspect couldn’t have done it because he was dead at the time of the latest murders. Kelly is now in trouble with her boss, the sheriff, and begs Jake to butt out.
Will Jake break his promise to Bonnie and quit investigating? Of course not, but you will have to read the book to see how he manages to solve the crimes and deal with his daughter’s problems, without losing his girlfriend.
This is the seventh book in my bestselling Books to Die For series. The working title is A Diary to Die For. Every one of the books in this series has been at the top of one or more Amazon list. The fourth book was on the USA Today Bestseller list twice and number one overall on Barnes and Noble’s Nook. Girl on the Train was number two.

Frank Luke – Just finishing up JOSHUA’S PAWN SHOP. It tells seven tales of people who need a change and find it at a run-down pawn shop with a peculiar owner. Each customer is given the chance to change his future by embracing either a cardinal virtue or heavenly grace. From Fort Worth, Dallas, Cambridge, to Arkham, the shop shows up in the strangest places.
The tales run from superhero (“To He Who Overcomes”), to surreal (“The Art of Living”), to time travel (“Blood Ties”), to supernatural horror (“Fun and Games”), the heroes and heroines find out what they are made of and how to be more than they thought possible.

Lea Carter – I’m just starting books 8.5 and 9 of my fairy series, Silver Sagas.
In Fission (book 8.5) poor young Rolf struggles to shape the history he’s sworn to record, while enduring yet another burgeoning romance between the main “adults” in his life.
In Fusion (book 9), Prince Isaac and Lady Cassidy face the grave challenge of preparing for a massive influx of released political prisoners after the spring thaw. Finding time to finish falling in love may prove impossible!

Laura Hile – My current WIP is SO THIS IS LOVE, a joyride of a Regency that brings whirlwind romance and happily-ever-after to Jane Austen’s staid-and-practical Charlotte Lucas.
Because generations of readers have never quite believed Charlotte’s famous statement: “I am not a romantic.”
Of course she is.
No one could be so desperate as to marry that arrogant bounder, Mr. Collins. Not even undemanding, unromantic Charlotte.
Ah, but what if?
What if, before the wedding, Collins crosses the line and gets handsy
What if something in Charlotte snaps? What if she suddenly breaks the engagement and is sent to live with an aunt and uncle?
What if this sets into motion an unexpected future, one that includes danger, taking risks, and falling desperately in love?
Because after a girl kicks a creep like Collins to the curb, doesn’t she deserve to encounter a swashbuckling hero?

‘We’ even asked the editor.

Earl Chinnici – One of my works-in-progress is Skin Cancer, Black Salve, and Me, a disgusting and informative mini-memoir about how I removed three skin cancers from my arm using the herbaceous perennial Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot). I was nearing completion of the manuscript when a tornado spun up by Hurricane Irma destroyed my home—around me. I… I have no excuse. I need to get back to work.

“So, what do you do for a living?”

By Irene Onorato

Photo: Author Irene Onoroto before retiring from her position as radiation protection technician at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station

“So, what do you do for a living?”

The question seems to be a kick-starter for dialogue when meeting someone for the first time. The awkwardness of the moment melts when you have something, anything, to talk about.

Recently, at a social gathering, I was intrigued by a man who said he was a retired US Air Force fighter pilot. His Viet Nam era Top Gun stories (yes, really) had me and a small gathering of others riveted to his every word. By far, he’d had the most interesting career of anyone in the room. None of us had ever flown at supersonic speeds, and not a single person in the room had ever had a missile fired at them.

“So, what do you do for a living?” someone asked me later that evening.

I told them I was retired, left out the details of my career, and said, “And now I’m pursuing a career as a writer of romance novels.”

Amazingly enough, the person didn’t squeeze a social yawn out of her eyeballs and walk away. Instead, her eyes widened and she said, “Really? I’ve always wanted to write a book.”

I’m meeting more and more people with the same dream. We want to leave an indelible mark on the fabric of time. Something to say, I was here. Here are my thoughts. My hopes, my dreams, the things I think about.

If you’re one of those people who would tell me you’ve always wanted to write a book, here’s my advice: Write. That. Book. Get your thoughts down on paper or into the computer and save every jot and tittle. Worry about what you’re going to do with your masterpiece later.

Never give up on your dreams. Ever.

Connect with the author: Irene Onorato

Website/Blog: https://ireneonorato.com/blog
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorIreneOnorato
Twitter: https://twitter.com/IreneOnorato
Amazon: https://amazon.com/author/ireneonorato

CleanWIP Magazine has obtained from the author non-exclusive right to publish or republish this content. The author retains copyright.

A Book’s Success is Like Surfing

By Laura Hile

Years of practice (and failure) built this surfer’s graceful skill.
Photo by Miguel Navaza (CC / Flickr)

I’ve released a new book, and the process kind of reminds me of surfing. Okay, body surfing. I was never brave enough–or coordinated enough!–to try it with a board. Tanning on the beach? Forget that. Why lie in the sun when you can spend the afternoon catching waves? Many summer days at Santa Monica and Malibu taught me a thing or two.

Surfing is about position, skill, and timing. This means hours in the water, being ready, watching wave after wave. Learning how to know a promising wave from a dud. Being willing to swim like crazy to catch the awesome one. You can’t be lazy as a surfer.

Position would be the intriguing story premise and the cover. These are what put me in the water, and each one represents a risk. I wasn’t sure how the ‘magical reality’ element of the body swap would fly. And that sweet cover was spendy–but worth every cent.

Skill? I’ve been writing for 17 years. If Darcy By Any Other Name is an instant success, know that I’ve been rolled under by plenty of waves. (Yeah, the wipeout thing.) I’ve learned to escape the worst by diving under, but multiple thousands of clunky words lie at my back. Then too, I teach fiction writing to high school students. What I’ve learned in helping them improve is a lot.

And timing is about being in the right place at the right moment. There are more Austen readers now than ever before. No readers, no wave!

Photo by Swell Surf Camp (CC / Flickr)

Surfing, like writing, only appears solitary. The photo at the top of this page shows a lone surfer, but I’m betting he wasn’t the only one in the water that day. Bobbing heads beyond the line of surf are not attractive, so they’re cropped out. Deal is, no one surfs alone. No one writes a book alone–or should.

The fellowship of like minds is crucial. As with surfing, skills are developed alone but there is safety in companionship. In the water and out, surfers hang together and talk. If writing greats C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien needed a support group, so do I.

Sales numbers continue to roll in, and not because of me. News about Darcy is being spread by people like you, my social media friends. A hectic school schedule has allowed me little time to compose ads or tweet or anything. I’ve put up a few posts on Facebook, and you have been sharing them. I am beyond grateful.

Connect with the author: Laura Hile

Website/Blog: https://laurahile.wordpress.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LauraHile
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LauraHileAuthor
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Laura-Hile/e/B003UT6VDS

CleanWIP Magazine has obtained from the author non-exclusive right to publish or republish this content. The author retains copyright.


Raisin Cookies, Holidays, and Other Taboos

By Earl Chinnici, owner / operator of CleanWIP Magazine.

I’m a peculiar person and I suspect you are too. I guess that’s okay. If you were like me or I was like you and everyone else was like us, things could get monotonous in a hurry. Trouble is, several of my peculiarities likely have been named and a strange tone of voice applied each time they are mentioned in public. I don’t know, nor do I want to know, those names.

If you’ve spent any time at all on Twitter, I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of users announce in their bios that RTs ≠ endorsements. Sometimes, a user will even spell it out for the viewer, retweets do not equal endorsements. It’s like, make no mistake, since these people were so kind recently when they retweeted my new release apocalyptic steampunk romantic comedy, I’m letting them know I appreciate it by retweeting their raisin cookie recipe—even though I personally despise raisin cookies. And some people feel this way about holidays and some feel this way about opossums and some feel this way about cats, and some feel this way about caterpillars, and if you pick any item that can be named and ask around about it, somebody somewhere feels the same way about it too. But this magazine isn’t about them and ultimately, it isn’t about me either. It is about the authors who market their books as clean and the readers who love them.

Reading is paramount. Even though I can’t always feel great about every book or teaser we include here, I can feel great about promoting literacy. Perhaps somebody needs to read Caterpillars in Space Eating Raisin Cookies to pave the way for Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Bottom line: I intend to and will put forth a great effort to include in CleanWIP Magazine a wide variety of the things I know readers love, even though the likely-named peculiarities within me will certainly at times cause me great anxiety about some of the things I share here.

In addition, some materials for this site are submitted by others. I don’t necessarily share their opinions and they don’t necessarily endorse this site, although some will. Some guests may also write material which is not suitable for all ages. Please use discretion when following links.

So authors, bring on those raisin cookies, holidays, and other taboos! So long as you feel confident about marketing your writing as clean and your works are respectful of others, join in the #CleanWIP hashtag game for authors and if you’re also interested in enjoying the benefits of an ‘open door’ of communication regarding special events and promotions, your book deals, new releases and newest news, join the CleanWIP Facebook author group as well.

By all means, feel free to share this article with others. After all, retweets do not equal endorsements.

Early Contributors

A heartfelt thank you from CleanWIP Magazine owner/operator Earl Chinnici.

When I decided to announce my desire to host the #CleanWIP author hashtag game, I had already been helping to administrate a Facebook group of around 3500 awesome authors of clean fiction for more than a couple years. Committing to the extra time involved worried me some, but I felt the game would help these authors, many of whom had become friends, to gain exposure and become even stronger authors through the sentence-level scrutiny of a publicly displayed author hashtag game. I also figured my own Twitter profile could stand the extra traffic.

While I contemplated the logistics of hosting such a game, a whirlwind unfolded before my eyes—right there in the ‘Trends’ section—and before I gave it a second thought, I clicked on the #1 spot.

It would be easy for me to say I wish I hadn’t, but it would not be truthful to say that now that I’ve taken time to consider all things. Though my spirit was once again troubled and my mind weary from the nearly constant vitriol of hatred the ‘trends’ section seems to promote, it was time to turn the page. It was apparent at that moment. A new chapter awaits.

Thank you to everyone who has already shown interest in CleanWIP Magazine, the #CleanWIP hashtag game, and the CleanWIP Facebook author group that helps tie everything together under one figurative roof. I greatly appreciate the continued and the newly found support. I look forward to showcasing examples of your clean content here and presenting it to readers who are most likely to love it.