Relaxed Friday 21

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

~ Steve Mathisen ~
I have a story I have been working on slowly over the last couple of years. Here is a scene that I wrote for it recently. (Inspector Elliott McGinty)
Inspector Elliott McGinty awoke with a sinking feeling. The last time this happened was when his waterbed had broken and flooded his bedroom. This time, however, he was not in bed. In fact, when he opened his eyes and looked up, he could see white, fluffy clouds in the blue sky above him. Then he realized that he felt wet. His arms felt wet and so did his legs.
Lifting up his head to look around, Elliott could see nothing but water all around him. He tried to prop himself up on his elbow to get a better look and discovered that he was on a small, wooden raft in the middle of what looked like the ocean. He licked his lips to discover a salty taste and the air also smelled like the sea.
“How did I get here?” He wondered.

~ Laurean Brooks ~
(an excerpt from To Trust Her Heart)
Her smile was a sad imitation. “No. We’d planned to, but it never happened.” Mistaking her reason, he asked, “Did you ever consider adopting? Adoption is our specialty at Tyler Law Firm. There is nothing as rewarding as placing a child with the right parents.”
His voice rang with sincerity. How could Amanda explain her situation to her boss, without giving away too much? She cleared her throat and swallowed a growing lump. “It wasn’t that we couldn’t have children.” She paused, looked out the window. Rain pelted down. Miserable weather.
“The timing was never right?” he guessed.
“Something like that.” At least it never was for Greg.
He sucked in his bottom lip. “Too bad. You will–would–make a great mother.”
How could he say that when he knew nothing about her?

Cherry Christensen ~
Excerpt from Secret Valentine: Hannah shook her head at her main male man. “You’re encouraging his bad habit by feeding him those.”
Jasper smirked and scooped Jingles into his arms. Trudging back toward the store, Jasper said, “I keep a sampling of cat and dog treats handy for the pets on my route. Makes it easier to corral the cats and stop the dogs from biting my ankles.” He stopped in front of her and gently kissed her cheek. “I missed you the other night.”
Heat coursed through Hannah, chasing away wintry shivers. “I’m sorry I had to cancel our plans, but I had to attend a faculty meeting.” The wind gusts intensified, and she pinched her coat collar tighter around her neck. “We better get inside. Can I get you a cup of coffee?”
“I thought you would never ask.”
“Let’s go.” Hannah wriggled out of her coat and returned it to the hook, waiting for Jasper to deposit Jingles on the floor. The cat meowed and ran off, bounding up the stairs. Hannah slid behind the counter and powered off her CD player before filling Jasper’s cup with steaming black liquid. “This will warm you up.”
He loosened a scarf tied around his neck and took a long sip. “Ah. It’s nice, but I can think of more interesting ways to thaw out.” He winked and set the cup aside.

Shelf

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

Photo by Jay Mantri

~ Scott R. Rezer ~
From my soon to be published novel, The Haberdasher’s Wife:

Stacks of books lay strewn about the small office. She had searched the study all morning, pulling down every volume of the massive collection of books lining the floor-to-ceiling shelves, and found nothing. She was certain she would find something tucked into the front cover of one of the books. She had rifled through the drawers of the large desk. Nothing. The drawers of two large letter cabinets yielded the same. Nothing escaped her search. She found notebooks, family records, newspapers, and decades of letters written to a host of well-known men, but nothing that hinted at a scandal or secret between her parents.

Book

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Book and since we know quite a few authors who write along the clean end of the spectrum and since every published book was once a work-in-progress, we’re showcasing some of their published books among the #CleanWIP posts in this Special Edition. [More info]

Photo by Lubos Houska

~ Earl Chinnici ~
Somewhere or some time along my journey to be nicotine-free, I began to consider that I might be able to use my handwritten notes from my composition book to get ideas for writing an actual book.

~ Laurean Brooks ~
“Oscar,” Jenny interrupted, “I have plans for this afternoon. But I appreciate the invitation.” She did not inform him that her plans were to curl up with a good book and fall asleep. If she had, he would barge into the house uninvited.

~ Cherry Christensen ~
“You think I’m cute?”
“I, um…” She squirmed in her seat as his eyes sparkled.
“On a scale of one to ten, what’s my cuteness number?”
“You’re a ten in my book,” Sabela answered as her feet scuffed across the floor. She placed the water glasses on the table. “Ready to order?”

Study

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

Learn

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

Photo by Dimitri Houtteman

Teach

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

Photo by Michal Jarmoluk

~ Laurean Brooks ~
It wasn’t Mama’s fault that Emily’s tongue had a mind of its own. She had tried to teach Emily to use discretion, but sometimes blurting the truth was better than hiding it. If the truth was better, then why had Emily fibbed about her true reason for coming to Abilene?

Relaxed Friday 20

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

M. L. Farb ~
Q: Where did you get your idea for Vasilisa?
A: The idea came from a children’s picture book “Serpent Slayer: And Other Stories of Strong Women by Katrin Tchana” (with gorgeous art work by Trina Schart Hyman). A woman dresses as a man to rescue her husband, and to do so she passes three tests of strength, skill, and strategy. The picture book took on tall-tale quality as the woman injured her opponents in wrestling and shattered a tree by shooting it with an arrow. How did she become so strong? I wrote Vasilisa to answer that question.

(Vasilisa coming 2020)

Answer

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

Image by Molly Roselee

~ Jessica Marie Holt ~
Q: Where do you get your inspiration?
A: The short answer is . . . everywhere! The long answer: 1) Details. I notice lots of really obscure details, like the pattern of wrinkles on an old man, the way a note hovers and trills in the air, the number of cans of cat food in the man’s shopping cart behind me. This is bad in the sense that these details crowd out important ones, like where I put my keys, whether I am wearing two different shoes, and whether my son’s face is smeared all over with chocolate. But it’s good in the sense that they feed my imagination. 2) My life. My everyday life is a deep well of delightful absurdities, pathos, and interesting, over-the-top characters, and I draw from it quite a lot. 3) Music. So many of my stories come from music. Some, like On the Other Side, are an attempt to flesh out an existing song into a longer story with greater specificity. Some, like Just Before Dawn, I wrote while playing a specific song again and again, to help me stay within the exact mood and tone I was trying to capture (it was The Stable Song by Gregory Alan Isakov case anyone is curious). 4) Nature. I love using nature–seasons, wind changes, sunlight, storms–to set moods, create foreshadowing, and establish metaphors. I could go on, honestly, but I’ll end here, with my bases mostly covered. 🙂

~ Naomi Musch ~
Q: How long have you been writing, and how many books do you have?
A: When I was a 10-year-old, I began writing my first stories and informed my family, teacher, and friends that I planned to become an author (novelist) someday. Someday finally arrived during my 40s, though I’d been publishing in a number of magazine/newspaper/online venues until then. I’ve written 20 novels/novellas, 13 of which have been published.

M. L. Farb ~
Q: Where did you get your ideas for the maze and riddles in The King’s Trial?
A: I wrote the riddles first and then wrote scenes that answered the riddles. It was a fun bit of reverse engineering and discovery. I didn’t know what would happen any more than my main character did.

~ Laurean Brooks ~
Q: What, or who, spurred you to start writing?
A: My 5th-Grade teacher, Mrs. Mary Brann enjoyed my oral book reports. Probably because I left a cliffhanger at the end which caused struggles among other classmates to be next in line to read it. Miss Mary told the class I would one day be an author. She he almost changed her mind after I handed in the essay on Columbus’s Adventures. When the natives tied him up and stuffed him in a cannon, then shot him back to Spain…well, that didn’t set well with her. Miss Mary told me gently to “rewrite your essay, and THIS time, make it more realistic.” LOL. Her reprimand squashed my imagination for a while. But it returned in full force a few years later. I truly appreciate Miss Mary. Without her encouragement, I would’ve never had the courage to take up writing.

Question

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

Photo by Stafford Green

~ Scott R. Rezer ~
Q: Why do I write?
A: I do so because I enjoy it–not to make a fortune or gain great fame (both would be nice, but unnecessary). Surprising?–imagine my shock to discover this after all these years of writing. I write firstly and most importantly, because I love it; secondly–and this is where you the reader comes in–I write because I like to hear how much others enjoyed what I have written–not how wonderful or how talented you think I am as a writer. I would write no matter what people thought of my ability.
This is why my novels seem so varied. I write about things I care about or that interest me, not to attract readers. I hope that attraction comes about because people like what I write. I know that sounds strange in an industry centered around getting published as the end result of all your hard work. After so many years trying to do just that, I finally came to realize that writing is the part I enjoy–not the publishing. Publishing is just a means of sharing what I love.

~ Hope Toler Dougherty ~
Q: Do you write sequels?
A: I don’t write sequels (or I haven’t yet) because I write happily ever afters, and I don’t want to put characters I love in more pain and conflict. I do, however, bring back favorite characters in new stories.

~ Arthur Daigle ~
Q: Where do you get your ideas from?
A: Everywhere. That’s not a joke or glib answer. I draw inspiration from countless sources. These include history books, science books, TV, video games, weird things I see people wear, conversations I’ve had with total strangers, and more. Sometimes I have no idea where the ideas come from. I’m minding my own business and they appear fully formed.

~ JoAnn Durgin ~
Q: How do you know when you’ve reached the end of a series?
A: I could say, “I just know.” Although it’s true, I realize that’s not a satisfying answer. I’ve written a number of series now, some completed and others ongoing. I write contemporary Christian romance, and my shorter series (three to four books, although I have two “series” with only two books–so far) are either set in small towns or within a close group of friends. My longest-running series, The Lewis Legacy Series, is now 10 books plus a prequel and has become what I call my “signature” series. I’m working on Book 11, and I hope to finish out this original series with the final Book 12 by the end of this year. I know I’ve reached the end of this particular series because all of the original adult characters have now married (or will be married by the end of Book 12). But another huge advantage of a series? The children of these couples are now growing up and my readers are already anticipating The Lewis Heirs Series. 🙂 However, I have another “bridge” series in-between where the original characters pop in from time to time to keep it fun for my readers (and the author!).

~ Laurean Brooks ~
Q: How do you incorporate humor into your stories when the characters are dealing with a serious conflict?
A: Writing humor comes easily for me. It probably springs from my wacky sense of humor. I thought writing funny scenes came naturally for every writer. I didn’t realize some authors struggled to incorporate humor into their stories until one asked me how I did it.
I assign at least one character in each book to be quick-witted. In my current WIP (Half-Price Bride), I have two sassy female characters. They keep the story interesting because whatever comes to their minds flies out of their mouths. I don’t mean vulgar talk—Just clean wit.
Also, when a character enters the room, I might ask: What can I do to make this scene comical? Maybe his shirt is buttoned wrong, his rooster-tail isn’t combed down, or he has a smudge on his face. Another scenario: he may trip over something. Or, his love interest could him talking to his horse. Embarrassing moments are naturally funny.
In my book, Beneath A Macon Moon, Eric wants Jaela to think he sacrificed to take her to an expensive restaurant, when in fact, a customer gave him a gift card to the restaurant. When the waiter loudly announces in front of Jaela, there is enough left on the card for another meal, Eric is humiliated.
My stories deal with characters who struggle to forgive and are afraid to deal with certain issues. Before I let my readers become bogged down, I give them a good dose of humor.

~ M. L. Farb ~
Q: What inspired you to become an author, and how old were you at the time?
A: Some of my earliest memories are laying on the carpet listening to my dad read out loud. We explored the worlds of Narnia and Middle Earth. We cried with Corrie Ten Boom in The Hiding Place. We voyaged with The Kon-Tiki and to Grass Beyond the Mountains.
As a teen I made up stories to help my little sisters go to sleep. It backfired. We stayed up for hours continuing the tale. The King’s Trial was born in those late, whispered nights.
I’ve journaled almost every day since I turned seventeen. I capture conversations, descriptions, happenings, and quotes. I explore ideas. Through the years I’ve written well over a million words. It prepared me to become an author.
I started writing seriously when my youngest started sleeping through the night.

Declare

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

Photo by Jeff Smith

Danger

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

Photo by MikesPhotos from Pixabay

Calm

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

Photo by James DeMers

Relaxed Friday 19

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays. It also seems a lot of authors are busy doing other things today (maybe they’re writing), so we’re going to share several recent Special Edition posts you might have missed.

Share

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

Photo by JacLou DL from Pixabay

Love

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is LOVE and we’re relaxing the rules a little for this one to show some love to some lovely love stories. We’re shooting for something similar to a CleanWIP Magazine Relaxed Friday, but right smack in the middle of the workweek and all about LOVE.

Photo by Jill Wellington

Let’s crank up “The Love Edition” with Love Abideth Still by Scott R. Rezer

March, 1863. The War Between the States has raged for nearly two years.
Five months after his death, the body of Sarah’s estranged husband, a Union soldier, finally comes home for burial in Philadelphia. Taylor’s burial, though, rather than putting her unresolved grief to rest, begins a journey that will not just test her faith, but will plumb the depths of her devotion to her dead husband.
When anger and sorrow push her to the edge of despair, Sarah turns to the few letters sent to her by Taylor from the frontlines in a desperate need to understand the guilt she feels over his death. But, as the war continues to tear the nation asunder and rumors of a Confederate invasion threaten the North, Sarah’s own sense of patriotic duty begins to awaken. And with that newfound obligation, she discovers in the letters she once dismissed as weak attempts to convince her of his duty to the nation, that Taylor’s voice has the power to soften a heart grown bitter and cold from beyond the grave. Taylor’s letters, though, do not tell the full story of his life as a soldier, a story Sarah will never know…
From the bloody battlefields of Winchester and Bull Run to the quiet streets of Philadelphia, Love Abideth Still is a fictional story based upon the lives of the author’s Civil War ancestors whose sacrifice—like so many others who loved and lost during the War Between the States—has not been forgotten. It is a moving story of war and forgiveness, one in which a young woman discovers that it is possible to fall in love again with her husband even when separated from him by the finality of death.

From Miss Mae, we present Kiss Me, Mr. Hitchcock.
What’s a girl got to do to get a guy to kiss her?
A guy who’s new in town. Who flashes a practiced lady-killer smile. Who drives a dashing Porsche.
Maybe she shouldn’t confront him with a baseball bat. Or get herself locked with him in a library basement. Or get him involved in a feud with an old boyfriend.
But then again, maybe she should.

Also from Miss Mae: Dove Island

How much does a man love a woman?

Does he love her more than family?

More than life itself?

When crisis happens, only his heart can determine the truth.

Hope Toler Dougherty shares two from the heart.

My first novel is all about second chance love, and it’s set in Ireland. If you’ve never been and want to go or if you’ve been and want to go back, Irish Encounter is a good substitute in the meantime. Read all about Ellen and Payne’s love story in beautiful Galway City!

Rescued Hearts has a kidnapping, an undercover deputy, and a couple of scenes with guns if suspense is what you like. Mary Wade and Brett set off a lot of sparks every time they’re together, too. Read about their love story in Rescued Hearts!

Professor Hannah Wagganer spends her days teaching history, and her nights dating Glen Arbor’s new mail carrier, Jasper Morgan. Not only does he spark Hannah’s heart, but he has become best friends with her cat, Jingles. And, now that we have your attention, you can learn more about Secret Valentine by Cherry Christensen directly on Amazon.

Much love, everyone.

Like

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

Featured image is a moderate adaptation of a photo by Wokandapix

Amaze

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

Photo by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Attract

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

Photo by Meredin from Pixabay

Relaxed Friday 18

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

~ Scott R. Rezer ~
From my upcoming release The Haberdasher’s Wife, Chapter 3:
Josefa mouthed the words of the prayer, her voice a mere whisper escaping her lips. The words echoed in her head, swirling amid a swarm of thoughts that had nothing to do with her mother or the sickness that weakened her with each passing day. Distraction was Josefa’s greatest enemy. And everything seemed to distract her when she needed most to concentrate on her prayers—the brightly painted frescoes, the statuary, the pungent smell of incense, the glow of candlelight on the gold all around the church. Father Anselm would certainly tell her that her mother’s life depended on it. But Josefa was never good at prayer. She found no comfort in it.
Another bead slid through her cold fingers. 𝐻𝑎𝑖𝑙 𝑀𝑎𝑟𝑦, 𝑓𝑢𝑙𝑙 𝑜𝑓 𝐺𝑟𝑎𝑐𝑒, 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐿𝑜𝑟𝑑 𝑖𝑠 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑒…
Empty, hollow words.

~ Laurean Brooks ~
From Not What He Ordered: Josh Kramer mistakes a pretty young lady for his aunt’s domestic help and hauls her to his ranch. What he doesn’t know is, his aunt did not order domestic help, but a BRIDE for Josh. CARRIE FRANKLIN was tempted to leave, but she’d made a promise and meant to keep it.
“Excuse me,” a smooth baritone voice sounded above her head.
Carrie gazed up into hooded, black eyes that pierced through to her soul. The tall cowboy wore a black Stetson over coal-black hair with curls that caressed his ears. His strong jaw suggested determination and stubborness. A little lower, a red bandana circled his neck. Molly failed to mention he was handsome. But only an egotist would boast about his looks.
“Are you the woman I’m looking for?” he asked.
Carrie’s heart raced. If only she were. Her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. “I…I–” was all she could manage.
The cowboy shuffled his booted feet. “Well, what are you waiting for? A ranch doesn’t run itself. It’s a ten-mile drive. Let’s get going.”
“Mr. Kramer, I’m not–.”
He pointed to the valise at Carrie’s feet,“Where are your other bags? Is that all your luggage?”
She could only nod. The cowboy’s intimidating demeanor had paralyzed her tongue. He snatched up her bag, tramping out of the depot before she could explain she was not the woman he’d ordered.
Carrie hurried after him, catching up as he set her valise in his buckboard. “But, Mister Kramer…I’m not–.”
“Are you ready to go, Miss Davis?”
Miss Davis? He really thought she was— “Mr. Kramer, I need to tell you something.”

Journey To Writing

By Laurean Brooks (Photo by Martin Winkler)

I had wanted to become a published writer since my teacher announced to our 5th grade class, “One day, Laurie will become an author.”

I married too young, and paying bills got in the way. When I graduated high school, I got a job in the textile industry. I hated the daily push and grind of trying to make production. I developed many lasting friendships with co-workers. It was the work I hated. I felt as if my brain was becoming petrified by doing the same thing over and over. I added it up once, and estimated that I’d attached over 3 million back pockets to 1.5 million pairs of Chic jeans, during the years I worked at that plant.

By the time NAFTA closed our plant, I had a job as a quality control technician (inspecting garments.) NAFTA gave us the option to go to college. I took it, drove 100 miles per day-round trip-to WKTC in Paducah, Kentucky. The entrance test showed I would do well in the creative arena. But, as the lady in the office said, “I’m sorry, but we offer no creative classes here.”

I decided to take Legal Assistant classes, because it seemed more interesting than anything else offered. I had an instructor who piled on homework. I was up until 2. a.m some nights completing it. Before I entered college, I did not know one end of a computer from the other. The first 6 weeks were grueling as I attempted to believe what one instructor said.”Your computer is your best friend.” It was hard to swallow since I crashed mine at least once in every class. I struggled to keep up with 19 and 20 year olds, who made everything look so simple. It took me longer to do my work, but I strove to make the finished product error-free.

By taking a heavy load of summer classes, I graduated in 16 months, and on the honor roll. Can you believe it? But, there were few job openings for Legal Assistants. I worked for four attorneys in the first two years. Each law office downsized, and I was the first to go.

After those attempts, I decided to try for my childhood dream of writing. What did I have to lose? Most of my classes had required Microsoft Word. I submitted an essay to our local Hometown magazine. It was accepted. And they paid me $25. I was on cloud nine. I immediately wrote more essays, some they published. But my dream was to write a book. Not any book, but my mother’s story–her life during the Great Depression. She’d repeated it so often that it had become part of me.

That book, Journey To Forgiveness, was published in January 2009, and I’ve never looked back. If you come out with anything from this post, the important thing I want to convey is, “Never give up on your dream.” There will be obstacles. Kick them out of the way and forge ahead. Writing is an emotionally satisfying career well worth fighting for.

Sometimes, I feel like I failed myself and others because I earned the diploma, but didn’t pursue the career of a legal office assistant. But honestly, my heart was never in it. And maybe—just maybe—it was in God’s plan that I take college courses to learn computer programs and skills I would need to become a writer.

Connect with the author: Laurean Brooks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/laurean.brooks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Laurean2
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Laurean-Brooks/e/B00SBXMVL4

Sign

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

Almost Made the Blurb

Featured photo by Scott R. Rezer (Saguaro National Monument, February 2019)

In the book blurb, those words an author uses to tell you why you should read this book, authors often struggle with exactly what to reveal and how much of it. The perfect blurb is sometimes the last or near the last hurdle between a work-in-progress and a published work. Authors might be slow to admit it, but we’re pretty sure the inclusion of an idea, a sentence, or an entire paragraph is sometimes decided by a coin toss. Sometimes though, the decision is a little more complicated. Scott R. Rezer conveys a great example of one such time.

With the publication of my first Civil War novel, Love Abideth Still, I originally left out of the blurb the part that the book was based on the lives of my 3rd great parents. I had planned to make it obvious at first what the book was about, but as I got into the actual writing, I decided that I wanted to surprise the reader toward the end of the story when one of the characters is finally referred to by her last name which is the same as mine. At the last moment, I changed the blurb as well. (I do explain it later in my author’s note.) Once reviews started mentioning that the book was based on my family it sort of let the cat out of the bag and so now the blurb mentions it! Writing plans sometimes take surprising twists and turns!

Connect with the author: Scott R. Rezer

Website/Blog: https://scottrezer.weebly.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Scott-R-Rezer-83136191431
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/scottrezer
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Scott-R-Rezer/e/B002BRESGM

Tell

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaboration is Tell. [More info]

Photo by Pixabay user FunkyFocus

Radio

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaboration is Radio. [More info]

Photo by Lubos Houska

Communicate

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaboration is Communicate. [More info]

Featured image is an adaptation of a graphic by Muhammad Ribkhan.

Connect

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

Photo by congerdesign on Pixabay