This is a question that people have asked me about writing fiction. Where do my ideas come from? The answer to that is simple: They are everywhere.
If you look at situations and people as subjects for a romance novel or novella, it’s not hard to imagine stories around them, once you get in the habit of doing so. Keep your notebook handy.
Here is an example: Recently a distant relative of mine got married in Hawaii. I saw the photos on Facebook, looked at the beautiful bride, and enjoyed the romantic, tropical setting. I don’t know these people personally so I don’t know their actual story. What I can do is use their photos as a jumping off point for creating a romantic plot.
The first step to coming up with a romance plot is to ask, what if?
If you have ever spent time in an airport waiting for your flight to be called, you’ve had lots of time to watch people and make up stories about them. The tired-looking woman in the business suit—see her over there, texting—perhaps she has spent so much time on the road that her boyfriend is losing interest. What does she have to do to keep her relationship alive? Or, perhaps she is never in on place long enough to have a relationship but she longs for a romance and a family.
A man wearing climbing gear sits next to the window reading a newspaper. Where has he come from and where is he going? Is there a woman in the city wishing he loved her more than he loves the mountains? You have enough conflict there to create a dynamic plot.
The young adults playing volleyball on the beach all look so happy and carefree. But what if that girl with the brown ponytail looks longingly at the tall, blonde guy who never seems to notice her? What is their story?
The choice, of course, is yours. You can make up any tale you like about anyone you like. Put them in a setting that appeals to you, and in a situation that is difficult. Give them an attraction for each other, but lots of obstacles that they have to overcome before getting together.
When you figure out those basics, voilà! You have a romantic plot.
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Remember those summer days when you played outside until long after the sun went down and came in smiling and worn out? After you mom made you wash and get into your summer pyjamas you flopped into bed and instantly fell asleep between crisp cotton sheets. You woke when the sun came in your window and hit the ground ready for another fun day.
That was then, you say, and this is now.
Stay with me for a moment. What happened along the way that robbed us of the delicious experience of a good night’s sleep? Our date books are crammed with commitments; we’re on call for everyone and the dog, and after another exhausting day, we fall into bed only to be wakened by snoring mates, full bladders, or the thought of tomorrow’s schedules.
We really need to re-learn the art of the wonderful sleep. For sleeps to be luscious and satisfying, we need to put aside the cares of the day early in the evening. If the cares of the day are so numerous that it is not possible to retire them early, then perhaps it is time to re-think how much we are trying to cram into our days.
Not long ago, I felt caught in the constant swirling cycle of too many things to do and not enough time to do them all. I stayed up too late, woke in the night and lay awake thinking about important every detail I must remember to circumvent some crisis. Eventually falling asleep just before dawn, I then spent my days like a flag at half-mast. I was neither awake nor asleep but dragged through my days too foggy to accomplish much at all. Anxiety and fluctuating hormones were ruining my life. Finally, I went to see my doctor. He prescribed a rather benign drug whose side-effect is that it makes you sleepy. I re-entered the world of the childlike sleep.
Once I began sleeping well again, I had the clarity required to see what needed to change to make my life simpler and less stressful. I realized that there are some things that I will not be able to do, that I must choose one main course in life and focus on it. My evenings have become quieter and calmer. I spend more time with my husband. And I look forward to going to bed, sliding between my pale yellow sheets and reading, or snuggling into my puffy pillow and drifting off.
Sleeping luxuriously means giving your whole self to the process.
It may not seem easy to go back to those delicious sleeps of childhood, but it is possible to improve your sleep life. By endeavouring to make the experience a luscious one, you improve your chances of being well-slept.
Celebrate often and laugh lots
Most of what we think is a big deal is really no big deal. Holidays and family events are obvious reasons to celebrate, but can sometimes also be exhausting if you are trying to live up to traditional standards or other people’s ideas about how a celebration should happen. Instead, why not pick your own reasons and ways to celebrate?
Celebrate a perfect hair day by taking yourself out for iced coffee. The fact that your bathroom got cleaned is cause for celebration, especially if someone else did it. How about celebrating a good night’s sleep? What about the first daffodil bloom in your garden or the first hummingbird at your feeder? Life is full of special and ordinary moments so why not just pick some and make them a celebration?
While you are at it, choose fun people with whom to celebrate. Choose to spend as much time as possible with people who make you laugh. It has been known for ages that laughter is good for you. The Bible says that a happy heart is as good as medicine. Plus it’s also a lot cheaper and far more fun than drugs and surgery!
Here are some ideas of how to celebrate and laugh:
Simply adding more laughter and fun to your life can not only improve your life, but prolong it as well. Laughter is a spirit lifter and the best antidote for depression. It is also known to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, elevate mood, boost immune system, improve brain functioning, protect the heart, connect you to others, foster instant relaxation, make you feel good. There are so many reasons to laugh, it is really important to find more laughter in your life.
I know that it is not always easy to avoid people who get you down, but you can do things to offset their effect on you. By finding more reasons to laugh, you counteract the dampening affect of the negative influences with which you come into contact. Your light-hearted approach to life may even turn those grumpy folks into happier people, too.
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When I set out to create a daily journal I thought it would be easy. I’d sit down each morning at my computer and dash off a note about whatever was happening with me, and hope that there is someone out in computer land who finds it and finds it useful or interesting.
As with many things, the doing has been more challenging than I expected. I imagine that this is a metaphor for most of our lives. I want to spend quiet time each day, stopping the busyness, and hushing the whirr of demands, but day after day goes by and that time doesn’t happen.
The mornings begin with the telephone ringing or a deadline looming. The others in the house demand attention or there is a plan to go somewhere, and that sweet silent morning break gets pushed aside for the noisier demands of the day.
So how do we manage to take the time we need to be quiet, to really relax, to pray or meditate, or to just read or write for a few minutes?
Obviously, I’m no authority on this or I would be doing it everyday. I have no children at home, no dog, no job to rush off to by a certain time (for which I thank God—the job, not the kids or dog). But I do run a business, and sometimes that can be more demanding than all the others put together.
So here is what I do when my brain is so full and so busy that I am beginning to feel fractured and scattered in a hundred places. Around four o’clock in the afternoon, just when I start to feel draggy and a bit hungry, I stop what I’m doing and make myself a cup of tea. Then I take it to the wicker settee in the corner of my living room, under the palm tree.
Sometimes I read a book for a while, and sometimes I just look out the window and think. Sometimes I write in my journal or pray, talking to God about my day, my plans, or my frustrations, or about my friends and family who need help just now.
This bit of time, perhaps twenty minutes or a half hour, calms my soul again. For a little while I can put aside the demands of business and maintaining daily life and rise above the din of it all. Those minutes help me be clear about what I am doing and why I am doing it.
So now, I am trying to take a few minutes in the morning before I launch into my busy day, to write something down. My hope is that what I write will touch someone who needs to read it, at the moment she needs to read it; that my experiences and how I deal with issues in my life will resonate with someone who needs to know that she is not the only one struggling.
I know I’m not the only one who has trouble finding a quiet space in my days to just be still for a few minutes, to collect my scattered thoughts and to sit in silence even listening to my own heartbeat. But I encourage you, like me, to keep trying to find those minutes. Those times of peace hold our lives together.
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A few years ago I was working a trade show and while taking a break I walked past a booth advertising a new resort project. When I made eye contact with the man behind the table, we both had a jolt of recognition and said at the same time, “I know you.” It took a few minutes to trace our past connection, but we remembered that he had been the realtor who sold our house several years before. We had also attended the same church for a while.
We agreed to have lunch together to talk about old times, and during our conversation over burgers and fries, he made a comment that I have never forgotten. “A hundred years from now there will be all new people on the earth.” I realized, that with only a few exceptions, the statement was true.
Since then I’ve given that concept a lot of thought. If I am one of the people here now, then there must be a reason for me to be here.
What if we are all here at this time because we are the exact complement to the people with whom we will come into contact?
What if we are each here to be the one to help someone or several others get through this journey we call life?
If that is the case, then what do I bring to the table to offer others as a means to aid them on their journey? What talents and abilities do I possess that will make someone else’s journey easier?
If I have a responsibility to the other people who are inhabiting this earth in my time, then I need to look at what my abilities are that I can offer you. If I am to offer you my very best, then I need to use the talents that God gave me to the best of my ability.
There is no point in me spending a lot of time and effort trying to be something I’m not, since my purpose will be thwarted. Assuming that we are given talents and natural abilities which we might develop for the purpose of using them to make the world a better place, then it doesn’t make any sense at all for me to not maximize those talents and abilities.
If I spent an inordinate amount of time on meaningless tasks, am I not wasting the time I have been given to develop my talents for the benefit of those around me? Am I not squandering my abilities, to not develop them?
Why am I here now?
Who am I here with and why them?
What do I have to offer ?
Am I maximizing my talents for the good of myself and the rest of the world?
Creating new habits isn’t easy. Here are six simple tricks that will make it a little easier. Use them until you’ve internalized your new creative habit and don’t need them anymore.
Schedule It And Put It On The To-Do List
Sometimes we forget to do that new thing we were trying. Maybe we forget that we’re supposed to be writing first thing in the morning instead of reading the news, or that we need to get that daily walk in that charges up creative energy.
Schedule your new creative habits or make them part of your daily to-do list until they become something you do automatically.
Make It Public and Be Accountable
Let family and friends know what new creative habits you’re trying to establish. They will call you out if you don’t stick to your plan and get you back on track.
You may even go as far as sharing it publicly on Facebook or write a blog about your new journey. Knowing that others read it and know about it might be just enough to keep you going when you feel like throwing in the towel or slipping back into old routines.
Piggyback On A Habit You Already Have
Whenever possible, add the new habit to one you already have. For example, if you fix a cup of tea or coffee at 4:00 pm, and you want to get in the habit writing in your journal, make the new ritual to do your journalling while enjoy your tea.
It’s much easier to amend an existing habit or ritual than creating an entirely new one.
Make Slip-ups Costly
Here’s a fun idea. Put a jar on the kitchen counter and each time you slip back into your bad habit or forget to stick to the new one you have to put five dollars in the jar. It will quickly help you remember to skip wasting time surfing Facebook instead of working on your creative project. For extra motivation donate the money to charity at the end of the month or hand it over to your spouse to go spend.
Find A Partner and Help Each Other Along
Find someone with the same or similar creative goal. This could be a writing partner or fellow artist. Keep tabs on each other and encourage each other to keep going. It’s much harder to skip if you know someone else is depending on you.
Make It A Group Challenge
If one accountability partner is good, a whole group is even better. And they don’t even need to be local. Find a supportive group creative online and challenge each other to stick to your new habit for the next 30 days or so. Not wanting to be the first one to give up will keep all of you going until you establish that new habit.
Give these simple little tricks a try. Keep using the ones that you find helpful until you have made new creative habits you can stick with without the help of any tools or support.
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They say it takes 21 days to create a new habit. That’s kind of a weird idea though, isn’t it? It doesn’t take that long to form a bad habit. And sometimes no matter how hard we try it takes us a lot longer to form a new habit.
When it comes to creative habits, how long does it really take to develop a new habit? The answer is that it depends. It depends on your mindset and it depends on how big of a change it is from what you are doing now. If it is your habit to eat a bowl of ice cream at night and you switch from regular ice cream to a low sugar frozen yogurt version, it’s probably not going to take you very long to make that new habit. Giving up ice cream altogether though or cutting out all sugar on the other hand might take a lot longer.
When we ask that question, what we really want to know is how long do we have to tough it out before it gets easier. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel where we don’t have to try so hard to do things differently or structure your day to fit in more writing time anymore? In other words, when will this new behavior of painting daily or writing a thousand words before work become automatic?
While it will be different from one person to the next and even from one habit to the next, there are a few things to keep in mind.
It’s easier to make a new habit than get rid of an old one. Whenever possible, try to replace an old habit with a new one. For example if you’re wanting to write every day, try replacing that half hour you spend reading the news over your morning coffee with 30 minutes of writing instead.
Habits will form faster if you stick to the same time and environment each day. Instead of trying to fit in sketching whenever, keep your sketchbook next to the door and schedule your art journalling time right after dinner, for example.
A constant reminder of why you’re trying to change your behavior is also helpful. Remind yourself every day that you’re writing every day so that you can finish your novel by the end of the year. Or put up a picture to remind you that you’re developing your painting skills so you can have your own show. Keep your reason why you’re changing front and center and then be prepared to stick it out. Yes it will take some time to make new habits and replace old ones. But it will be well worth it in the end.
Let’s talk about forming new creative habits. We all have times in our lives where we intentionally want to change our behavior for the better and create new habits for ourselves. This could be getting in the habit of eating healthier and drinking more water. Or it could be moving more and taking the dog for a daily walk. Or it could be work related, or spiritual, or fitting more writing or painting time into your day. There are so many areas in our lives that could be improved and made easier if we created new habits.
Getting into the habit of doing something is often easier said than done. For some reason that I'd rather not explore, we seem to acquire bad habits without any effort, but getting into a “good” habit can be a little more challenging.
Let’s break it down into a three step process that makes it easy to follow until we’ve internalized the new creative behavior and made it a true habit – something you do automatically without having to think about, like brushing your teeth.
Decide What You Want To Do
The first step is to decide what you want that new habit to be. Be as specific as possible. Don’t just tell yourself you want to write more. Instead say something like “I will write for 30 minutes every single day”. Deciding what your new habit will be and committing to when and how you’re going to do it, is half the battle.
Remind Yourself To Get It Done
The next few days should be smooth sailing. You’re motivated and excited to get this done. Sticking to your new creative habit isn’t an issue. But a few days in you’ll notice that it’s easy to slip back into old habits.
Maybe it’s raining and you don’t feel like painting. Or maybe your day just gets away from you. This is when it’s important to have a daily reminder. Set an alert on your phone or add the new habit to your daily to-do list for a while.
Make It Part Of Your Routine Until It Becomes A Habit
Which brings us to the last step. It takes some time before a new behavior becomes a true habit. Until then, a routine will work to your best advantage. Even before the new behavior becomes automatic, a routine will help you get it done without having to spend a lot of willpower or relying on daily reminders.
Make daily writing part of your after breakfast routine, or change fitting it in when everything else is done, to doing it before you start on your to-do list for the day.
Congratulations! Decide to create the new creative habit, practice the routine until it’s second nature and you’ll be well on your way to forming a new good habit.
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It's not unusual to hear writers talk about how hard it is to write, to get published, to find an agent. Some writers talk about writing as though they have to slit their wrists and bleed on the page. For years I believed these people who complained about how hard the writing life was and allowed all this discouragement within the industry to keep me from writing.
But even if it is hard, so what? What isn't?
Going to work at a job you hate year after year is hard. Having children and going without sleep night after night as you nurse a sick baby is hard. Making a marriage work through difficult times is hard. Losing a job and wondering where the next meal is coming from is hard. Living with illness, family problems, financial difficulty is hard. Losing a parent, or a child, is hard.
Writing? It's a piece of cake. It’s not hard to sit at a computer and make up a story. Putting words together into cohesive sentences is not difficult at all. It's more fun than a lot of other things that make up ordinary life. The act or writing is simple. Sit, type, read, correct, write some more.
I’m not saying that writing isn’t work though some people seem to think it’s not. Like going to school, or learning a new skill, it will take time and attention. You have to educate yourself to become a good writer. You need to develop your skills, and you need to read a lot. You can shorten that process by working with a good writing coach.
Writing a book can take many hours, or even months to complete. After that come the re-writes and the edits to polish a manuscript. Time-consuming? Definitely, but not really that hard.
In fact, compared to a lot of other things, writing is easy!
What about publishing? These days, getting your work in print or digital format has never been easier with print on demand and e-books. Book distribution has also changed in favour of the author. Thank-you Amazon.
If you want to publish the traditional way, through a publishing company, it can be a longer and tougher process. Either way, what if it does take a while to see your work in print? Try harder. Do the work.
Can't find an agent on the first try? Try again. Don’t give up. Keep on until it works. Rejection won’t harm you, but it you let it, it can stop you. Improve the book. Try again. Do whatever it takes.
But let's all stop complaining about how hard it all is. Try doing something really difficult then come back to writing. I predict that writing will seem a whole lot easier and more fun. Perspective is everything.
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For some time I have been a member of a social group that meets periodically. While I have enjoyed the group and the people in it I was finding myself frustrated by the lack of depth in the relationships and the lack of support when I was going through a difficult time.
After one meeting in particular, I seriously considered leaving the group. I went home feeling like it was over for me. Yet, many months later, I am still a member of the group and I enjoy the interaction more than ever.
What happened to change that?
In another instance, I was considering a certain program in my business and something just didn't sit right. Part of me wanted to move forward, yet I kept feeling like I was dragging my feet and wasn't sure why. I loved the concept and the planning but something in me didn't want to do it.
What was going on?
Once I gave both of these scenarios some thought, I realized that the problem was not with the group, or with the business plans. The problem was that my expectations of what I would get did not match what the situation had to offer. In the first instance, I was expecting a deeper relationship with the group members than anyone else expected or gave. Once I realized that I would never get the kind of support I had expected from these people, I knew I had to change my expectations of the group.
In the second case, I recognized that I had been looking at the business project as having to do it for the rest of my career, which I didn't want to do. When I saw that it was simply a means to an end that would support what I most want to do in my business, I changed my expectations and that foot-dragging feeling disappeared.
It's a bit like trying to get grape juice from a cow. No matter how much you want it or how hard you milk it, you're never going to get any grape juice from that cow. It's time to change your expectations and enjoy the milk for what it is then go to the vine for those grapes.
My next novel in Jill Moss Adventures series is called Indigo Beach. I came across this photo while searching the internet and thought this is perfect for what I have in mind for the setting for scenes from the book. The location of Indigo Beach is still a mystery (to me, too) so we'll all have to wait to find out where it is. Meanwhile, I'm still in the process of working out the plot, and am hoping to have the book out before the end of summer.
If you would like to leave a comment, I'd love to know what you liked best about Picking up the Pieces, or The Glass Dolphin, or both.
Our lives are full of choices and opportunities. Every day we must make choices, some small and fairly insignificant, some monumental and life-changing.
Too often we make choices without thought or preparation. After all, we are busy. Our minds are occupied elsewhere so we choose without stopping to think where this path might take us.
It doesn't have to be that way. We can live our lives with a greater sense of purpose.
One simple guide that I have used over and over with success when faced with a decision on how I will spend my time is to ask myself, "Will this go toward or away from the direction I want my life to take?"
Will volunteering for the parent council at your child's school lead you closer to your goal of being on the town council, for example? Will saying "yes" to a home product party take up time that is best used working on your novel?
If I am asked to take part in a fund-raiser that I deem worthwhile but for which I have no great passion, and it cuts into the time I could spend reading or furthering my business, which are important goals for me, is this the right thing to do?
Keep your destination in mind and make choices that move you continually in the direction of that destination.
In my novels, I write about daring adventures, people doing daring things, and daring to go where others might fear.
In my own life I sometimes live the same way. Not always, of course, since there is nothing particularly daring about going to the grocery store or doing laundry. However, sometimes the choices I make seem quite daring, even to me (and I'm pretty nervy).
In the spirit of encouraging daring you can...
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My novel, Picking up the Pieces, recently won 1st Place in the Inspirational Romantic Suspense Category at Chanticleer Media and Publishing book awards. Here I am showing off my Blue Ribbon on awards night.
Picking up the Pieces as won in its category of Suspense/Thriller in the Reward of Novel Excellence Awards. Winners will be announced and awarded at the gala event, 2012 RONE awards ceremony and celebration, August 9th at the Golden Nugget Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada - in conjunction with the RomanceNovelConvention (http://romancenovelconvention.com/ )
Picking up the Pieces, Wendy Dewar Hughes Genre: Suspense/Thriller
Jill Moss is surprised when she receives her Uncle Neil Bryant’s Bible and discovers that it has certain, odd passages marked. Then she learns that her uncle has discovered an artifact in Mexico that consists of sixteen separate pieces that have been sent to people he knows and trusts. He needs her to travel all over the world to collect all sixteen pieces. Jill prays about it and listens when God tells her to help her uncle out. Thus begins a high speed adventure as Jill meets Marco Jimenez, a handsome Spaniard who helps her out as she is chased and stalked while traveling to collect the pieces of the artifact. The pieces are written in three different and distinct languages: Olmec, Mayan and Hebrew. How is this possible when these three cultures did not exist together and what is the significance of it all?
The adventures Wendy Hughes puts her heroine through are both thrilling and exhilarating, as are her captivating descriptions of the terrain and beauty of the countries that are visited. It is amazing how beautifully she marries such diverse points of view, taking passages from the bible and scientific knowledge and creating a story that makes a believer out of the reader. The fast paced adventures and love interest keeps the reader eager and unable to put this story down!
Rose Mary Espinoza, InDTale Magazine
My novel, Picking up the Pieces, is in a contest and I need your votes to move to the next level up. The voting is a little complicated but it won't take more than a couple of minutes.
1. Go to this link: http://www.indtale.com/2012-rone-awards
2. Click on where is says "register" and fill in your details.
3. You will receive a confirmation email. Click on the link in the email.
4. If it is not readily apparent where to vote, click on Fun Stuff, then Week 5, Suspense and Thrillers. My book is the last one on the list.
5. Click on the button on the left of the title and hit the "Vote" button
You're done! Thank-you for your support.
To see more about the book, go HERE.
The sciatica that has plagued me for two whole weeks is beginning to wane and giving me more pain-free moments everyday. I am so grateful for the medical help from the hospital and Dr. Phimester and my chiropractor, Dr. Darren Paul. These people and their skills gave me so much relief (not to mention the morphine). I am also thankful for the healing power of Jesus.
Now on a light note, spring is bursting out all over so I thought I would share a little Spring in musical form. Spring Song by Felix Mendelssohn. A lovely piece to calm the mind for writing.
This illustration gives a pretty good indication of what I've been dealing with this week. The sciatic nerve pain got so bad that I called an ambulance to take me to emergency just so I could get some morphine in my system and dull the seering pain.
Fortunately, they had some and after an hour or so, I had relief, an x-ray, a prescription for some heavy-duty pain meds and a requisition for a CT scan. On top of the sciatica, it seems I have an infection that is causing my lymph nodes to become inflamed from overwork fighting it and a twisted muscle in . I'm feeling a little better today but the term "a world of hurt" wouldn't be amiss. The medication makes me dizzy and dopey so I'm not getting much writing done and my clients' work is progressing slowly - not surprising.
However, onward we go. Tomorrow, the CT scan, a visit to the chiropractor and then I'm the guest for a Facebook chat about self-publishing like a pro. I hope you can join Suzanne Lieurance and me at 11:00 Pacific time.
A few days ago I found some old 3.5" floppy disks that I thought had been lost forever. They contained, among other files, the only digital copy of the first novel I wrote as well as, to my surprise and delight, several other pieces of writing that I had forgotten all about. Thankfully, my husband is still using an older computer so I was able to get my files onto a memory stick. The following short story, called The Library, was an early attempt at writing suspense.
Deep in the bowels of the library, in the second basement where the books on the obscure sciences were shelved, she stood, absorbed in a paragraph about the discovery of the mu-meson. Unaware of time, her finger traced the words. A stringy voice crackled over the sound system announcing that the library would be closing in five minutes. She didn't hear it.
The book in her hand snapped closed and, looking up, she selected three others from the shelf and headed for the elevator. The library seemed dim, she realized, looking around. There was no one in sight. She pressed the up arrow of the elevator and glanced at her watch. 5:37. The library is supposed to close at five o'clock. Why didn't they announced it?
She heard a sound behind her, like footsteps. She swallowed. Perhaps she wasn't the only one here. The doors of the elevator slid open and she scurried inside, turning around so she could look out. She jabbed the CLOSE DOOR button and then MAIN.
Stepping out of the elevator on the main floor, she was startled by a sound off to her left. She froze and listened.
Cautiously, she started toward the exit doors, keeping her heels up and rolling on the balls of her feet so as to make no sound.
There it was again. It sounded like footfalls on the old hardwood floor. She veered right and tiptoed between the soaring shelves then crouched to peer between the levels of books in the direction of the sound.
Creeping forward, she edged between the rows toward the door. Another snap sounded, behind her, off to her left. Her heart pounded in her throat now. Her breath came in shallow gasps. She opened her mouth so that her breathing would be silent. Every sound counted. She started down another row of books.
She could see the door.
Rustling. A ski jacket sleeve brushing against the side of a body? She could feel the dampness in her armpits. Sprinting for the door, she rammed her body against the handle bar. Her head struck the glass but the door held. She whimpered and struck the bar frantically with both hands.
The door was locked. Spinning around, she flattened herself against it, her eyes flicking around the huge room, darting between the towering rows of books.
Again the floor creaked, this time farther to her right. She lunged behind the librarians' station and searched for a telephone. Snatching up the receiver she saw the number for Campus Security on a sticker and stabbed the buttons with a numb finger.
"I'm locked in the library," she whispered to the voice that answered. Peering around the corner of the counter she pleaded, "Get me out of here."
She sank to the floor and leaned her head against a filing cabinet. The dark fluorescent tubes pinged overhead. Bookshelves groaned and cracked. The library was cooling off in the dusk. She sat and listened. Slowly, she realized that the creaking and snapping came from all over the room. Of course, the library was settling in for the night.
Outside, she could hear scuffling and then a key turned in the lock. The door swung open and a uniformed security guard strode in. She jumped to her feet.
"You all right?" the guard asked.
"I'm fine," she said, straightening. "Let's go."
In February, the Greater Vancouver Chapter of the Romance Writers of America held a Valentine's Lunch in Steveston, B.C. It was a lovely time, the sun shone, awards were handed out for writing and publishing achievements and many door-prizes were given away.
I received two awards. One was for "Pitching and submitting to an agent in Emerald City (Writers' Conference) and entering two writing contests in 2012". The second was "in recognition of independently publishing two books, Picking up the Pieces and Turning on the Light - Finding Your Sweet Place in the Spirit."
I met new people who do not regularly attend the meetings and got to know others better over a delicious lunch. The whole affair was grace and elegance. Many, many thanks to the organizers.
Picking up the Pieces opens with a short prologue so well done that we are anchored in its stellar writing and professional style. Immediately, readers pass through a portal, created with written words, transported into the living world of the story. Feeling a part of Jill Moss, we long to discover “how, who, what, where, when and why” as we begin chapter one, bracing for an emotional ride filled with suspense.
Jill Moss loves and respects her eccentric Uncle Neil, an expert and fearless archaeologist. He has discovered ancient artifacts in Mexico. Recognizing the danger if the artifacts fall into the wrong hands, he hides away. He deflects attention and involves his beloved niece, Jill—protecting her by telling her nothing, but trusting her to do as he asks. She suspects he is once again in danger and believes she has no choice. Uprooting her life, she embarks on Uncle Neil’s quest, one clue at a time.
Readers walk in the foreign streets, sit in the cafés, sleep in the dwellings, sweat in the heat, smell the food, and drop exhausted with Jill, when she is overcome. Our hearts thump as we run with her to keep up. We can’t wait to get to the next page, but the words are so compelling, we cannot skip. Pulling for her, we try to solve the mystery and decide what she should do to stay safe.
We are comforted when Jill’s trust in God along with her spiritual connection, guides her, allowing narrow escapes in a few of the many precarious situations. Biblical quotes augment the story, giving clues, as the reader slowly grasps the reason behind the intense desire of others who hunt the artifacts—at any cost. The plot keeps the story flowing, but jars us with surprises. Do we believe this story could happen? Absolutely.
The main characters are well drawn and feel like family or people we know or have met. We don’t want to say goodbye when finished with the last page. In many scenes, we wonder whether the players are friend or foe. Even the sweet romantic element keeps us guessing until near the end.
This reviewer looks forward to being captivated again by this author and will watch for a sequel to Picking up the Pieces, or to the next entertaining page-turner by Wendy Dewar Hughes.
I have spent most of my adult life trying not to be a writer. It is not that I don't like to write. I do. In fact, I love writing. Nor is it a matter of finding writing difficult. I don't. In fact, I can think of numerous pursuits that are far more difficult (or grueling, or insufferable) than writing.
No, the main reason that I have never, until recently, pursued writing is because of bad PR. Pick up any publication on writing and you will find lots of moaning about how hard it is to do, how difficult it is to get your work published, or how you will never make any money. That last one can certainly be a major deterrent to choosing a writing life - if you believe it.
The problem is that if you only think one way, then these naysayers might be right. If you believe them, like I did, then you will give up before you even start. Consequently, you might never string a sentence together for years. After all, what's the use? Publishers are just waiting to reject your work (and ultimately, you); pompous editors hang about like fifth-grade English teachers, red pens in hand, waiting to get their inky hands on someone's work just so they can slash it to ribbons.
At least, that's the way it seems.
However, if you choose not to believe those negative reports, your life might turn out to be entirely different. You can write with enthusiasm, knowing that your book, if it is good, will find its audience. You may have to take a different path than the traditional one, or you may find that what you write is exactly what a publisher is looking for at the exact moment you type "The End". You can write for the love of writing, improve your craft and skills, produce highly readable novels on subjects that you know and love, and let the chips fall where they may.
What do you think?
I am thrilled to announce the launch of my new website into the world of writing and publishing.
As a professional artist and writer for over thirty years, I've combined my artistic and graphic design skills to help other writers, independent publishers and traditional publishers present their books to the reading world with beautiful, high-quality covers. Please have a look around the new site and see the sample covers I have created. Some are on books already in print; others were created to showcase the possibilities.
If you need a cover for your next project, please contact me and we will work together to create the perfect cover to help your book attract the attention of your reading audience.
P.S. We can help with interior book design layout and e-book formatting, too.
Where I share creative ideas, uplifting thoughts, and spread sweetness to make life pretty.