Sparking a Writer’s Creativity From Guest Author Leigh Goff (Bewitching Hannah)

Many thanks to Leigh Goff for sharing her insight with us today on Writing Advice From the Pros!

 

Sparking a Writer’s Creativity

from Leigh Goff

If I struggle with writing a descriptive scene, I know it’s time to step outside my present environment (the sofa, a hot cup of coffee, and a fluffy dog at my feet) and explore the world around me—really explore it. There’s something about traveling and sightseeing that stimulates my senses and creativity and it might be just what other writers need, too.

Photo courtesy of Cody Board Unsplash

When I was little, I loved traveling to visit my grandparents every summer. I remember counting down the days and planning what to pack in my blue and red-striped suitcase. I remember the excitement of my first airplane ride and my first trip to Disney World. Disney was like nothing else I’d ever experienced. It went something like this—the Florida sun blazed hot against my skin while the magical kingdom around me smelled of caramel apples and mouth-watering vanilla waffles. And, oh, the stomach-whirling water rides and fantasy-filled adventures that swept me away while I was there. When I arrived home after that first visit, I wrote all about it in my diary, every scrumptious detail. I didn’t want to forget where I’d been and what it felt like to be there because if I didn’t go back ever again, I would be able to revisit that dream-like place in my diary.

I’m an adult now, however, I still need to explore different worlds in order to get my writer’s creativity flowing. Whether my travels include walking in the woods, trekking through London, or taking a ghost tour of the historic buildings and cemeteries in my hometown, every trip is filled with descriptive possibilities. I don’t know if a future main character will end up lost in a city café ordering escargots and later singing along to a street musician’s rendition of ‘Chevaliers de la Table Ronde,’ but I’ll be able to describe it with accuracy because I’ve done it.

One memorable sightseeing trip was to Paris, which included a stop at the Louvre. Breathtaking. I’m talking about the artworks—every single one I saw, including Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. The masterpiece was smaller than I’d imagined, but she was a rock star. Crowds lined up outside the salon for a glimpse of her. Finally, it was my turn. She was beautiful, mysterious, wise, and timeless.

As I stood there before her, I thought about the Da Vinci Code written by Dan Brown. I found myself recalling his vivid descriptions of the museum including its parquet floors, vaulted archways, glass pyramid, and the paintings’ gilded frames. Being there in person was amazing, but if I hadn’t had that experience, Dan Brown’s descriptions of the Louvre and a few of its precious contents were the next best thing to being there.

Writers create or recreate worlds with words and traveling experiences can be the spark for those words. As author Larry Brooks once said, “Writers experience the world…in a unique way. We look for meaning. We see it when we are not paying attention…We are scribes to the ticking of the days, and we have a job to do.” We just need to get out there and experience it for ourselves.

Here is a little from my latest novel for your reading pleasure.

Sixteen-year-old Hannah Fitzgerald has always known she is descended from a royal legacy of dark magic. Although a stranger to her coven in Annapolis, she is no stranger to grief and denial. However, when an ancient prophecy reveals the rise of a young, powerful witch and the impending death of another, she realizes she can no longer afford to suppress the magic that has taken away so much. She seeks out the frighteningly scarred, yet mysterious W who is destined to change her life, but even he cannot prepare her for the danger that lies ahead.

Engaged in a deadly game and not knowing whom her true rival is, Hannah isn’t certain she will survive, and if she loses, she may lose everything, including the ones she loves.

EXCERPT
The imposing entrance segued into the main part of the old family chapel. Shadows flickered across the white walls as candlelight streamed down from an ornate iron chandelier cradling clear-colored hurricanes. Angelic sculptures hung between the arched windows and beneath the cloud-painted ceiling that Michelangelo himself would have envied, four wooden pews graced each side of the aisle.

I tiptoed farther in and spotted another black-lined white envelope on the altar. I was definitely in the right place.

My fingers trembled as I traced the letters that formed my name. This was way beyond ordinary, but why and—more importantly—who?

“W?”

A hint of the Shadow’s amber and woods scent mixed with the faint candle smoke of the chapel. “No. Way.” I spun around ready to stomp right out of there.

In that moment, a heavy gaze fell on me and the air felt charged with electricity. I searched right and left, seeing no one. “W? Whoever you are, show yourself.”

“This will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done.” His potent voice reverberated off the walls and seemed to come from everywhere, including the inside of my head.

I locked my wandering gaze on the loft above the entrance where I spotted his silhouette. “Was leaving me in a burning wreck the hardest thing you ever had to do? Was it?” I raised my volume. “Who are you? Why did you leave me for dead?”

His intake of breath was audible. “I would never. I mean. I didn’t want to do that. I don’t.”

“Oh, lucky me.” I stuck my hands on my hips and tapped an impatient foot on the floor. “If you don’t want to finish me off, then you lured me here to do what, exactly?”

“To help you. I want to help you.”

“Ha!” The sarcastic laugh burst out before I could stop it. “You’ve done a bang up job inspiring my confidence and trust in that department.”

He simmered in silence for a moment. “What do I have to do to inspire you to follow my directions?”

Following someone else’s directions was definitely not my strength. I grimaced, but curiosity got the better of me. “What do you want?”

“You read the note.”

His desire to remain in the shadows was increasingly irritating. “I consider myself a very smart girl, so when a guy who left me in a burning car tells me he wants to help me take on a different deadly problem, I have to wonder if he’s not setting me up to fend for myself again. What’s your motive?”

I dropped my eyes to the envelope, turning it to and fro.

“Emme Blackstone is a mutual enemy and means us both harm.” A tinge of anger laced his tone.

The anger, I understood. After all, we were talking about Emme, but there was also a hint of sadness that intrigued me further. “Why do you think Emme means you harm?”
“It’s inevitable—because of what I am.”

What was he besides completely contemptible?

“It’s in her blood and I believe it’s in her destiny to wreak havoc, especially against someone who can challenge her in talent like you can.”

I dropped my hands to my sides, still clasping the enveloping. “Whoa. Like me? You don’t know me. You don’t know anything about me. How could you? I’ve been gone for the last year.”

A chortle caught in his throat. “What’s a year when you come from a bloodline with hundreds of years of history? A history that’s written down and available to certain people with the right—pedigree.”

Confused, I creased my brow as I continued to stare at his silhouette. “Have you been cyber-stalking me on Ancestry.com or something?”

“Hardly.” There was disdain in his voice as if he considered cyber-stalking to be worse than leaving a girl to die.

“Look, whatever you think you know about my family, I’m not like them. I’m not talented, and I don’t want to challenge Emme. I just want to live a normal life. Normal.” My voice escalated. “Do you hear me all the way up there?”

He huffed. “Normal? You don’t get to pretend to be normal when you’re not. It doesn’t work like that. Not in Annapolis. Someone always knows. Someone always unravels your secrets.”

I thought of the Witch’s Grave. I pictured the women’s slender figures dangling from sturdy, gnarled branches. Their tragic endings proved what I already knew. Magic only brought suffering and death. “You make it sound like I don’t have a choice. I’m telling you I do, and I won’t be a part of this.” I stomped my foot hard on the floor.

He shifted from the shadows into a dim ray of light, seething. “You read the note and you know Emme won’t stop. You need my help.”

I glared, trying desperately to make out the details of his face. “I don’t need anything from you.”

“You don’t have to like it, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are a part of this. You know you are or you wouldn’t have come here. However, if that’s how you feel then you should leave.” The cold in his voice crystallized.

My pulse escalated. “Yup. That’s how I feel. And I’m only leaving because that’s what I want to do, not because you suggested it. Bye.” I marched to the door and wrapped my hand around the knob. I yanked it open. From the moment I’d first laid eyes on him, he’d been nothing but trouble. Horrible, awful trouble. However, as much as I hated to think it, he knew about me and the other witches in town. He was full of answers—answers I needed. I shut the door and turned back around. “How do you know all this about Emme and me?”

AMAZON BUY LINKS


Leigh Goff loves writing young adult fiction with elements of magic and romance because it’s also what she liked to read. Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area’s great history and culture.

Leigh is a graduate of the University of Maryland, University College and a member of the Maryland Writers’ Association and Romance Writers of America. She is also an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council. Her debut novel, Disenchanted, was inspired by the Wethersfield witches of Connecticut and was released by Mirror World Publishing. Leigh is currently working on her next novel, The Witch’s Ring which is set in Annapolis.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

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NaNoWriMo and Your Wrists

I’m participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time and it is a blast! I’m 22,000 words into my first draft of book 5 of the Natural Gifts series and it has only been four days! Yes, I’m on a streak.

I’d like to see that streak continue for me and for fellow authors who are putting extra effort into writing this month by sharing Dianna Gunn’s tips. And by following them!

 

Stay tuned for news about Deep In The Dreaming, Natural Gifts Book 4, which is set to release in February 2019! Yep, that’s the cover you’re seeing!

 

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Writing Advice From The Pros – Six Tips to Revise Your Writing By Guest Blogger C.D. Hersh!

Please welcome C.D. Hersh to the blog today as they generously share their revision secrets with us!
Thank you, C.D., for contributing to better writing for all of us!
Today is the last day to get The Promised One, the first book in The Turning Stone Chronicles, for free. Blood Brothers, the second book in the series, is discounted to under a dollar! Click here for details!

While we have been working in our (my wife’s) garden, between rainy days, cleaning up weeds, volunteer trees and leaves, we have been talking about cleaning up the two years’ worth of bird droppings and green mold from the railings and edges of our Trek decking. Our deck is a three-level beauty, designed by Catherine. The deck is a joy to sit on and a great place to entertain, but it’s a bear to clean. We have noticed the birds’ ‘gifts’ deposited on the railings and the mold creeping across the banisters, and meant to get out and take care of them, but other things got in the way. We got too busy, worked too hard, it got too hot to work on the deck, and we were just too lazy.

In retrospect, we should have paid more attention to what was happening, because we have let a minor job turn into a major one, once again. Oh, yes, we’ve faced this challenge before.

Last time we cleaned, we spent about five hours cleaning the railings and about two feet around the lower two decks, scrubbing, rubbing, and rinsing. We even cleaned some spots with a toothbrush! Then we cleaned the center of the two lower decks, the steps, and the balcony.

This cleaning exercise, that we have to do again, is a lot like revising a book—you have to take the time to get rid of all the crap you let accumulate. That’s every time you write.

We’re not saying our books, or even your books, are crap. We all write well, right? But it’s so easy to get lazy and let a lot of stuff slip in like passive voice, adjectives, groaning dialogue tags, purple prose, slow pacing, and way too much back story, until, like the railings of our deck covered in bird droppings, you can no longer see the beauty of your original creation. We don’t know about you, but we hate revisions and would rather do everything we can to get our books as clean as possible the first go around.

So, here are six tips we use to get the bird droppings out of our writing.

• Reread the previous days’ work. This not only gives a fresh look at your writing but also helps get back in the groove. If you’ve been away from a WIP more than few days you might even go back to the previous chapter. By revisiting each chapter, you get a head start on the small revision stuff.

• Write with grammar check turned on. You can set grammar check to highlight a lot of things, but the most important use we have found is to highlight passive writing. Having attuned yourself to those squiggle grammar check lines, the passive verbs are very clear to see. A glance tells where you need improvement in this area. Not every passive sentence can be revised into an active one, but many can and doing so will make your writing stronger.

• Do a search for “LY” on each chapter as you complete it. It’s amazing how many of those sneaky adjectives creep in.

• Look for long paragraphs. Too little white space on a page can often be a warning sign of heavy narrative, back story, or too much description.

• Check every page for tension. Donald Maas says we should have tension on every page. It doesn’t have to be bang ‘em up, slam ‘em up tension, but there needs to be something that keeps the story humming along.

• Do a check of dialogue. Are there too many “he saids” or “she saids.” Or are there too many lines with no dialogue or action tags? Have you gritted or laughed the dialogue? Teeth are gritted not words, and how in the world do you laugh words? We know we can’t.

These six items may seem like little steps toward revision, but sweating the small stuff now can make your major revisions easier. And who doesn’t want that?

What do you do as you write to help your revisions go faster?

Now here is a little about our paranormal series, The Turning Stone Chronicles.

Now here is a little about our paranormal series, The Turning Stone Chronicles.

Three ancient Celtic families. A magical Bloodstone that enables the wearers to shape shift. A charge to use the stone’s power to benefit mankind, and a battle, that is going on even today, to control the world. Can the Secret Society of shape shifters called the Turning Stone Society heal itself and bring peace to our world? Find out in the series The Turning Stone Chronicles.

The Promised One, book one:
When homicide detective Alexi Jordan is forced to use her shape shifting powers to catch a paranormal killer, she risks the two most important things in her life—her badge and the man she loves.

Blood Brothers, book two:
Shape shifter Delaney Ramsey’s daughter is missing, and she is bound by honor to protect the man she suspects of the deed. To bring him to justice, she must go against her code, the leader of the secret shifter society, and the police captain she is falling for.

Son of the Moonless Night, book three:
Thrust back into the world of paranormal huntress, Deputy Coroner Katrina Romanovski must unravel a string of murders she believes are vampire attacks. When she discovers the shape shifter she’s in love with is the murderer, she must reconcile her feelings for him, examine her life of violence against paranormals, and justify deceiving him in order to bring him to justice.

The Mercenary and the Shifters, book four:
A desperate call from an ex-military buddy lands a mercenary soldier in the middle of a double kidnapping, caught in an ancient shape shifter war, and ensnared between two female shape shifters after the same thing … him.

C.D. Hersh–Two hearts creating everlasting love stories.

Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after.

The books of their paranormal romance series entitled The Turning Stone Chronicles are available on Amazon. They also have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven other authors. Also a standalone novella, Can’t Stop The Music, in a collection with thirteen other authors.

They look forward to many years of co-authoring and book sales, and a lifetime of happily-ever-after endings on the page and in real life.

Learn more about C.D. Hersh on their website and their Amazon Author Page.

Stay connected on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Now here is a little about our paranormal series, The Turning Stone Chronicles.

Three ancient Celtic families. A magical Bloodstone that enables the wearers to shape shift. A charge to use the stone’s power to benefit mankind, and a battle, that is going on even today, to control the world. Can the Secret Society of shape shifters called the Turning Stone Society heal itself and bring peace to our world? Find out in The Series The Turning Stone Chronicles.

The Promised One, book one:
When homicide detective Alexi Jordan is forced to use her shape shifting powers to catch a paranormal killer, she risks the two most important things in her life—her badge and the man she loves.

Blood Brothers, book two:
Shape shifter Delaney Ramsey’s daughter is missing, and she is bound by honor to protect the man she suspects of the deed. To bring him to justice, she must go against her code, the leader of the secret shifter society, and the police captain she is falling for.

Son of the Moonless Night, book three:
Thrust back into the world of paranormal huntress, Deputy Coroner Katrina Romanovski must unravel a string of murders she believes are vampire attacks. When she discovers the shape shifter she’s in love with is the murderer, she must reconcile her feelings for him, examine her life of violence against paranormals, and justify deceiving him in order to bring him to justice.

The Mercenary and the Shifters, book four:
A desperate call from an ex-military buddy lands a mercenary soldier in the middle of a double kidnapping, caught in an ancient shape shifter war, and ensnared between two female shape shifters after the same thing … him.

C.D. Hersh–Two hearts creating everlasting love stories.
Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after.

The first four books of their paranormal romance series entitled The Turning Stone Chronicles are available on Amazon. They have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven authors. Also a standalone novella, Can’t Stop The Music, in a collection with thirteen other authors.

They are looking forward to many years of co-authoring and book sales, and a lifetime of happily-ever-after endings on the page and in real life.

 

Where you can find CD:

Website

Soul Mate Publishing

Facebook

Amazon Author Page

Twitter

 

 

Thank you for the time we spent together today! It means so much more to me when you’re here!

 

Gina

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Writing Advice From The Pros – In Proper Proportion by HL Carpenter

Please welcome one of my favorite writing teams to the blog today! These two have written a variety of stories that keep me hooked. Check out their tips and an excerpt from their space opera, Taxing Pecksniffery.

 

So there we were, with a packet of strawberries threatening to go soft and the need for a recipe to make good use of them. None of the sauce recipes we found called for as many berries as we had.

And then we realized all the recipes could be reduced to proportions. In this case, the proportions were 1:1:2, meaning that as long as we used 1 part water, 1 part sugar, and 2 parts strawberries, we could adjust the quantities to achieve the result we wanted.

Once the sauce was made and we were eating vanilla ice cream with strawberry sauce topping, we began to think of all the ways we use proportions in our writing.

Here are two examples.

Book covers 

The Golden Ratio or Golden Mean is a mathematical concept that creates a symmetrical, eye-pleasing composition. Yes, we know—math! EEK! Thanks to web-based calculators, you don’t actually have to do the calculations.

But understanding the idea that proper proportions are an important design element will make your book covers naturally attractive. As a bonus, you can use the Golden Ratio to design your logo and website, and to choose the right text size and spacing for your printed marketing materials, such as bookmarks.


Time management

Much as we’d like to write ALL THE TIME, we schedule our days to include other tasks that go along with the business of being indie authors. For example, we allot 20-25% of our workday to marketing. We want to keep the results we achieve in proportion to the effort we expend.

We also need a lot of time to refill the creative well—or, as some would say, loaf around doing nothing. Here, the trick is to keep the proportion of time off to work time in harmony so we don’t end up procrastinating instead of starting new projects.

Whether or not you like math—or strawberry sauce—we’re sure you can figure out other ways to apply proportions to your writing. Tell us your tips in the comments!

And now a little from our fun Space Opera. We hope you enjoy it.

Flying frizzles! The year is 2176, a rebellion is brewing, and the boss wants a recon report. Ichann Count is all wet as a spy, but she plunges into the fray. Will she emerge with her memory banks intact?

Ichann Count is an expert at accounting warfare. She spends her days crunching numbers at the Etherworld Tax Bureau and crushing on her really cute co-worker.

When the Water Tax Rebellion of 2176 geysers to the surface, Ike finds herself—and her really cute co-worker— drowning in trouble.

Can Ike save them both? Or will events continue to burble downhill?

 

EXCERPT

The biggest surprise about the Shewawa Water Tax Rebellion of 2176 was that no one on Xerios read the signs correctly.

Oh, the Celestial Council knew cosmic numbers of Shewawans were swelling the ranks of the opposition. Who could miss that? Long before the proposed Water Tax had taken effect, news reports overflowed with stories of protestors and frivolous arguments—well, arguments the Council called frivolous. The protestors were deadly serious. When civilized avenues of protest failed, they turned to more forceful ways of expressing displeasure.

Tax accountants who’d been posted to Shewawa on standard duty tour understood the brewing danger. We encountered antagonism every day, first hand. We sent urgent red-alert notices to Xerios. We nearly melted the tax hotline advising the Council’s Senior Tax Commissioner of the agitation boiling in the colony.

The STC and the rest of the Council dismissed our warnings. They refused to believe a ragtag group of upstarts would challenge their authority to impose the Water Tax. So events continued to burble downhill, the way they do when no one has the courage to face the truth or the vision to chart a new course.

I never expected to get caught up in the rebellion. I was not a Shewawantologist. I was a Certified Etherworld Accountant, an expert at numbers warfare. Maybe I should have been less casual about the impact of the Water Tax, since I was part of what the protestors had begun to call the “oppressors.” But in some ways, I was as blind as the Council.

As surely as my name was Ichann Count, I knew what was going to happen. I just didn’t want to acknowledge my intuition or admit the protestors had a valid complaint.

Why would I? I was an ordinary Xerian, doing an ordinary job. Like a gazillion others across the Tri-Galaxies, I got up every morning, ate breakfast, brushed my ivories, and went to work. I spent my days crunching numbers at the Etherworld Tax Bureau with a hundred other CEAs. I also spent a considerable amount of time crushing on my hunky cubicle-sharer, Fifo Ventry.

The Monday the Water Tax went into effect, I sat behind my light-beam privacy curtain, working on an audit report and stealing glances at Fifo. Outside my little bubble, the office was in turmoil. My co-workers had abandoned their desks. They gathered in uneasy clusters by the main conference room, sipping hot fragrant Starshine coffee and muttering to each other.

We were all waiting for our boss to brief us on his morning’s skull sessions. He was confabbing with the political factions on Xerios who wanted us to enforce the legislation as well as the Shewawan revolutionaries urging its repeal.

None of us expected the news to be good. We’d hoped to be back home in Xerios by now, but redeployment was doubtful. The Water Tax meant fathoms more work and the Tax Bureau was already short-staffed.

I wrapped up the audit report on the local branch of the AquaDrip Water Company and touched the moon-metal brooch I always wore. Dad had given it to me a few months after Mom died, when I was a skinny ten-year-old. I opened the ornate clasp and studied the hologram inside. I always studied the hologram of my parents on their wedding day when I needed strength or courage. That happened a lot.

In the picture, Mom wore a lacy bridal skinsuit. She was slender and tall, like a long drink of water, though she seemed tiny beside her imposing new husband. A cascade of dark blond hair flowed back from her intelligent face as she looked up at Dad. Her smile was insouciant and beguiling.

As always when I touched the brooch, Dad’s words echoed in my mind. “Mom wanted you to have this picture so you can carry her close to your heart, Ike. When you’re grown, you’ll be exactly like her.”

Though he too had long since passed and would never know, at least part of his prediction had come true. I missed out on Mom’s beauty, but I inherited her mental acuity. Fortunately. I needed the advantage of Brainbox genes to figure out the problem at AquaDrip. The company was in serious financial difficulty.

I stared across the office at Fifo as I balanced the audit disk in my hand. Neither of the higher-ups I reported to would be happy to read my recommendation for fixing AquaDrip. Still, someone had to face the truth. I just hoped that truth wouldn’t circle back and drown me.

At the same time, I knew it would.

The only question was how quickly the water would run downhill.

 

Mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write family-friendly fiction from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit their website to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happeni
ng in Carpenter Country.

Stay connected on TwitterPinterestLinkedinGoogle+GoodReads,
and their Amazon Author Page.

 

 

 

As always, thank you for reading!

Gina

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