The Spirit of the Day

Small cheer and great welcome make a merry feast.

~William Shakespeare

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and  many families are making plans to get together.  They will endure long lines at airports or drive miles to spend the day with family just to gather around the dinner table and share a meal.  In some cases, a football game in the backyard or on the television will round out the day.

I’ll let you in on a secret if you promise not to hold it against me – Thanksgiving is lovely, but it isn’t my favorite holiday. I know sacrilegious, right?  Don’t get me wrong,  I enjoy the day.  I just don’t wax poetic over it or spend hours poring over cook books to find the perfect turkey recipe. I don’t even particularly like turkey and I am not much of a carnivore even on the best of days.  The gasp you hear in the background is my son.  He loves everything about Thanksgiving and always has.   🙂   But there you have it.

I do embrace the chance to get together with my fun and quirky family though.  A Norman Rockwell painting we aren’t, but there is always plenty of laughter, odd snippets of conversations to drop in and out of and a rhythm that comes from being – well – family.  Thanksgiving is a time to remind us of what is important and to appreciate all that things that have led us up to this point.  That part I like.  A lot.

Like many people, we have family scattered far and wide.  It is rare we can all be together, but that doesn’t mean those missing are not part of the day.  Memories are shared between those gathered, silly thing recounted and laughed over and no one is safe.  Phone calls are exchanged and beloved voices are heard while everyone is jockeying for their turn to say “Hi”.  It is all part of the traditions of the day with us.  I am sure you have those, too.

So, in the spirit of the day, I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with good food and laughter.  May you embrace those quirky family members and appreciate your friends.  If  you are travelling, may your journey be safe.

Happy Thanksgiving!   🙂

 

 

I Wouldn’t Have it Any Other Way

“Giving up is the only sure way to fail.” 
Gena Showalter

Perseverance. It’s an interesting word, don’t you think?

As writers we have few qualms about putting our characters in situations that require a great deal of it.  They need that dogged determination to overcome those black moments and obstacles that make a story compelling. Through dialogue and narrative readers get to share the journey, explore the resilience of our characters and do it all from the comfort of a favorite chair.

By and large, we writer’s tend to throw a lot at our characters.  We try to keep the tension and action tight-rope worthy and the stakes high from page one until the very end.  Why?  We want a good story. 🙂  It is a challenge to keep the plot, the characters and all the sub-text spinning in the world we create.  It is gratifying when we write the final chapter and know we have done our best to tie up all loose ends with our characters and our readers get to exit the story with the promise of a HEA.

But, let’s not forget the most important part of this.  Without a writer’s perseverance, that single-minded resolve that keeps us sitting at our computer day after day, none of this would happen.  What isn’t evident to most non-writers is the hours spent at a computer, the time carved out of our busy day with surgical precision to spend writing.

Being a writer is a demanding occupation, its damned hard work even on a good day. We give up family time, social/fun activities and, in many cases, sleep while we do our best to make a story come alive. We deal with the frustration of words that fail to adequately evoke the emotions we are doing our best to describe, the dreaded writers block that attacks out of nowhere, and story lines that fizzle for no apparent reason.

How many times have you wanted to throw up your hands and quit when confronted with yet another rewrite?  When you have written yourself into a corner and now have to figure out the best way to get back on track?  Me?  Countless times.  There have been instances where I will spend weeks avoiding my computer, convinced I will never write another word, but it is a losing battle – I always end up back in my chair and picking up where I left off.  It is a compulsion, a creative outlet and an absolutely exhilarating roller coaster ride with all the highs and lows.

I love it and sometimes hate it with equal passion, but I persevere.  It’s what I do.  I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

 

Laurel Newberry’s Confessions of a Word Addict

I think my love affair with words began with the first story my mother read to me. Okay, maybe not quite that far back, but she is responsible for planting the seed. No matter how many times I heard the same story the words were always magical. Friday or Saturday nights were for snuggling in together with a chapter book. She would read a chapter or two, pausing to make sure I understood big or strange words. With an actor’s skill she wove magic, gave the characters voices and expressions and emotion, all the nuances that were embedded in rich vocabulary.

What is the point of my trip down memory lane? Bear with me I’m going to rant just a bit.

Why would any modern day author be required to simplify language before a book will be published? I understand that we live in an age that is geared toward keeping things more streamlined. Our society values the quick and easy. I’m busy, you’re busy, things are hectic and there are never enough hours in the day. Okay for a lot of things but I don’t agree that it applies in this instance.

Whether reading books or writing them, every individual brings something to the experience; a yearning for adventure or an inclination to solve a mystery. For others it is a longing for great romance, complete with the requisite: Happily Ever After. Think about what makes one book an easy beach read you set down and pick up over the course of a few days, and the next book one you stay up into the wee hours of the night to finish. What takes a generic boy meets girl story from syrupy drama to epic romance? It is all in finding the right combination of characters, plot, drama, and words. Yes, words. Big and small, inventive and enticing, it is the diversity of words that enrich the story.

With the emergence of eReaders I don’t see a compelling reason for authors to be asked to simplify vocabulary. It only takes a moment to tap on an unfamiliar word and learn it’s meaning through the embedded dictionary/thesaurus. Why miss an opportunity to elevate the experience, to refine the meaning and emotion?

What do you think? Am I alone in my quest or does it matter to other readers?

As for me, I intend to keep reading, and writing, with my dictionary and thesaurus at the ready.

Seriously, there’s an app for that 🙂

Ready…Set…Go!

 

“There’s a book in you that only you can write.” 
Chris Baty

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The goal is to start November 1 and write 50,000 words before the end of the month.  Basically, a whole novel. Yikes!  That is a lot of words in a very short period of time.

My friend and critique partner has been telling me about this month long event for years and encouraging me to give it a try.  Nope.  I have always resisted.  I didn’t want the pressure, didn’t want to write words just for the sake of writing words and couldn’t imagine how this would help me.  Besides, I have this teensy, weensy little personality quirk that makes me rebel whenever I am being told I have to do something.  The thought of NaNo always threw that personality quirk into a frenzy .

I don’t know what changed for me this time.  I would like to think I matured (Ha!), but it would be closer to the truth to say I just stuffed that pesky personality quirk into a box and taped it shut. It was annoying anyway.  Or, maybe I just rebelled against my inner rebellion – who knows. 🙂   Either way, I signed up this year.  I need to do NaNo.

I have been lazy these past months.  I thought about writing, even had scenes mapped out in my head, but I didn’t sit down and transfer them to a page.  I spent too much time flopped on my couch channel surfing for mindless entertainment.  It was like having a bag of potato chips and trying to eat just one, you know?  I got in the habit and couldn’t seem to break it.  The worst part – I got bored very quickly. The horrifying part – when I did sit down to my computer the words were elusive and everything I wrote seemed pedantic and trite. It was discouraging.

Maybe the idea behind NaNo is not so crazy after all.  Giving myself permission to turn off my inner editor and write whatever comes into my head might be just what I need.  I have to do something to break through and get the words flowing again and the brass ring of 50,000 words by the end of the month is a great stretch goal.

The novel I have in mind is going to be more in the range of 80,000 when completed.  I have a lot of story to tell, but the idea of meeting the NaNo goal does have a certain appeal.  It is a huge chunk of my story and makes the original goal (yes, I do occasionally set them for myself) of finishing the first draft by December 31 more attainable.

So, I am lacing up my running shoes and standing ready for November 1st and the start of the race.  I expect some bumps in the road and words that refuse to cooperate, but I am also hoping the path will get easier as I get those writing muscles back in shape.  Besides, remember my friend?  I am sure she is going to be nudging me along and refuse to let me quit.  Thank goodness.

If you are interested in being a NaNo buddy my handle is KylieW.  Look me up.  We can race together.

 

 

 

The Adventure Begins

You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.

~ Christopher Columbus

 

imagesI like the above quote.  It reminds me that taking a leap of faith is not without risk, but the reward can be incredible. Today is Columbus Day and history would certainly be different if ole’ Chris C. hadn’t decided to leave that familiar shore.  I am sure he was more focused on the journey ahead than his place in our history books, but his willingness to risk it all, his desire to push the limits, compelled him to do something extraordinary.

We all have that potential within us.  That passion to take what we imagine and make it a reality. We see it every time someone stops talking about the novel they plan to write and actually sits down to do it.  It takes courage to put yourself out there and jump into uncharted water.  Writing a novel is not for the timid and faint of heart!

As with  every journey you have to make corrections when you drift off course and I can’t count the number of times I have been surprised by what can happen.  Sometimes I love the new direction, but there are times when I have to retrace my steps to get where I need to go.  It can be discouraging or exhilarating, but none of it would have happened if I hadn’t allowed myself to lose sight of the shore and step away from my comfort zone.

So, for all of you beginning your writing journey, for those that continue to pursue their dreams and for those contemplating their next published work – congratulations!  Like Columbus you have the courage to pursue your dreams.  What wonderful adventures await you!

Meet Jessica and Nate from Armed with Steele by Kyra Jacobs

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing two delightful characters from ARMED WITH STEELE the new release by Kyra Jacobs.  Welcome!

 Jessica: Thanks so much for having us on today. I had to drag Nate into the studio kicking and screaming, but he finally saw the light.

Nate: More like she threatened me with no se–(Jessica elbows him in side hard)—oof!

Jessica: On with the interview!

Kylie:  I can see you two are going to be fun to interview. (smiles)  Why don’t we start out with you telling me a little about your story.

Jessica: ARMED WITH STEELE was supposed to be a story about me and my best friend, Grace. She was in a horrific car accident, and I felt so awful because…well, I won’t go into all that. Too hard to talk about. But I knew as soon as Nate described the accident scene that something was amiss.

Nate: Meaning, she didn’t think I did a thorough enough investigation.

Jessica: No, I just didn’t think you, uh, explored all the avenues. (Nate rolls his eyes) Anyway, I was all determined to figure out what happened, and then Kyra drops this gorgeous hunk of a cop into my life. Needless to say, the story took a hard turn at the intersection of Suspense Street and Romance Road.

Kylie:  I have to admit that Kyra certainly knew what she was doing when she introduced you to Nate – whew.

Nate: (broad smile on his face as he waggles his eyebrows) Thank you, Kyra…

Kylie:  (turning to Nate) Jessica did a lovely job of summing up her view of things, but now it is your turn for a question.  How would you describe Jessica?  Let’s see if you can do it in one sentence.

Nate: Stubborn.

Jessica: Hey, that’s not a sentence!

Nate: Okay, how’s this: Jessica is a twenty-five year-old beauty living in Fort Wayne, Indiana who possesses the snark of Stephanie Plum, the ingenuity of MacGyver, and the compassion of, um….

Jessica: You can stop now before you go and embarrass me any further. (she plants a quick kiss along his chiseled jaw line)

Kylie:   So, Jessica, what attracted you to Nate?

Jessica: Ooo, my turn. Hmm, that’d be his uncanny sense of timing.

Nate: It wasn’t my fault you were speeding in chapter one.

Jessica: And that time you just happened to be jogging by my house?

Nate: Hey, that visit nearly got my head cracked open with your softball bat!

Jessica: I rest my case.

Kylie:  Ahem…remember me?  You know, the one doing the interview?  Let’s get back on track here.  Did Kyra listen to music while she wrote?  If so, what songs were playing?

 Jessica: I don’t really remember Kyra ever playing music for us. Do you, Nate?

 Nate: Nope. Though, she did have Boston’s “Peace of Mind” listed in an early draft. It’s one of her favorite songs.

 Jessica: (giving Nate a flat look) And how do you know so much about what music Kyra likes?

Nate: Uh, next question, please? (Puts hand up to hide his face from Jessica and adds in a whisper) Did I mention Jessica’s also a bit on the jealous side?

Jessica: I heard that!

Kylie:  Moving right along…  What do you do when you are not writing?

Jessica: Most of my writing is just copy edits for what my clients ask to have put on their websites. Oh—that reminds me! Wait until you hear about Kyra’s next romantic suspense: FLIRTING WITH FIRE! It’s going to be awesome! And yours truly will get some page time as well!

Nate: Oh, come on, Jess—you know they’ll all watch for the second book because I’ll be in it, not you. Everyone loves a man in uniform.

Jessica: Actually, Nate, they’ll all watch for the next book because of a certain smokin’ hot fireman named Torrunn MacKay.

Nate: (scowling as he crosses his arms) Looks like I need to have a little talk with T after we’re done here. Set some boundaries.

Jessica: Now who’s the jealous one?

Kylie:  I’ll definitely be watching for the new book.  Torrunn MacKay, you say?  Sounds intriguing.   But, let’s not get too sidetracked, okay?  Jessica, do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?  Why?

Jessica: Oh, I’m definitely an introvert. Grace is the extrovert, as is Nate. I just lurk in the shadows. Oh wait, no, that’s Nate, too.

Nate: One time. I surprise you in the shadows one time

Jessica: (mumbling) …and it better be the last… (she clears her throat and flashes a brilliant smile at her host) Kylie, thank you so very much for having us on today. Truthfully, we get kind of tired being restricted to the pages of an e-book. It’s nice to get out and stretch from time to time, isn’t it babe?

Nate: That depends—do these “stretches” involve Torrunn MacKay?

Jessica: Okay, looks like I’d better get back to ARMED WITH STEELE before Officer Steele trumps up another imaginary traffic violation on me.

Nate: The light was red, Jess.

Jessica: Orange. Burnt sienna at most.

Nate: *sigh* See you around, Kylie. And do me a favor—don’t run any reds in my city, alright? I’ll be watching.

Kylie:  No red light running.  Got it.  Although, I have to admit the temptation is a little hard to resist.  🙂  Just kidding, Jess.  Seriously.  You can stop frowning at me.

 

armedwithsteel

Blurb:

What happens undercover, stays under covers.

Jessica Hartley is looking for answers surrounding the mysterious car accident that nearly claimed the life of her best friend. She’s willing to risk it all, even her fledgling business, to find the person responsible and bring them to justice.

Nate Steele is more than willing to help Jessica, but for reasons all his own. He’s been watching the infamous Maxwell Office Solutions for some time now, convinced there’s more going on than meets the eye. When his chief issues a cease and desist order yet again, Nate has no choice but to accept inexperienced Jessica as an undercover partner outside the letter of the law.

Will Jessica and Nate be able to flush out Maxwell’s elusive villain, or will their growing attraction for each other sabotage their undercover ploy? Motives aren’t always what they seem when Jessica finds herself armed with Steele.

CONTENT WARNING: Beware drool-worthy men in uniform, touchy-feely coworkers, and vindictive ex-girlfriends.

Kyra Jacobs on the web:

Website: http://bit.ly/AuthorKyraJacobs

Blog: http://indianawonderer.wordpress.com

Facebook: http://bit.ly/KyraJacobsFB

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KyraJacobsBooks

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/19r2j1Z

ARMED WITH STEELE links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/18J8IUG

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/16j0Z1U

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1d4FYK8

iTunes: http://bit.ly/17XrmHd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stormy Weather

All was silent as before –
All silent save the dripping rain.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It rained this weekend.  I don’t mean the usual Oregon weather of a steady drizzle – we barely pay attention to that.  No, I mean the kind of rain that sounds like a herd of elephants doing a manic tap dance on your roof, the kind where gutters overflow and roads turn into temporary rivers.  To step outside was to be surrounded by the misty clouds. They hung that low and heavy with moisture.  Just so you know – I didn’t.  As romantic as it might sound to walk in the clouds I am far too pragmatic to want to court the drenching that would accompany it.

If the rain wasn’t challenge enough, we also had high winds to add to the fun.  Trees were whipped into a frenzy and debris scattered everywhere.  My wind chimes didn’t tinkle with soothing musical notes, but clanged loudly and discordant in the driving rain and wind.  I was glad to be inside where I was warm and dry.

I prepared to hunker down with a warm lap quilt and some mindless television to while away the evening.  Just about the time I found something good on TV and got comfortable the lights flickered.  Have you ever noticed  how we pause and wait for just a second to see if we are about the lose power?  I did that – fingers on the remote, lap quilt half way settled and then a slow exhale when the lights remain steady.  Too bad it didn’t last.  The next gust of wind and everything shut down.

Other than the storm outside the house was suddenly quiet – too quiet.  And dark.  Did I mention dark?  Where had I stored my freakin’ flashlight?  What about candles?  I scrambled around and found the lighter and a couple of candles.  Whew, some light.  But, then I discovered the batteries I had purchased earlier in the day did not make it home with me – so no flashlight – grrr.

I’ve known for a long time I rely heavily on technology and it was disconcerting to have it all stop.  The fridge was not humming, there was no music or computer to entertain myself with.  I couldn’t make myself a cup of tea to enjoy while I waited for the power to return.   I couldn’t even read a book because I didn’t have enough light to see the words.  Note to self:  buy batteries – again! Oh, and more flashlights just for good measure.

If I hadn’t been alone in the house it would have been a great time to chat without all the distractions in a normal day.  A friend told me her family actually sat down to the dinner table and enjoyed a meal by candlelight  instead of being glued to their computers and peripherals.  There is much to be said for reconnecting and talking over your day.

The lack of anything to do slowed the evening down considerably (okay, I got bored) and I was relieved when the power came back on.  Thirty minutes was a long time, people! I would like to say I learned a good lesson on being too reliant on technology, but the truth of the matter is we all are and that is not likely to change.  I scurried around resetting clocks and blowing out candles.  I am grateful the storm died down and the rain eventually turned into something more civilized.

Just so you know – Yogi,  my cat, is a lousy conversationalist and no help.  We’re working on it….