Saturday, April 19, 2014

Off the Grid

"Andi" has not posted much this week because her ghost writer (i.e. me) fell off the Internet grid Wednesday through Friday. Andi gave me permission to explain, if you're interested in knowing what I was up to.
Monday: discover my sister in Kansas City has no one to help her drive across the country to Washington to orient for her new nursing job (mom/baby) in Bellingham. Must leave her kids and be gone a month. I offer to fly out and help her drive back. I buy plane ticket.
Tuesday: My hubby drives me 6 hours to the West side and drops me off at my daughter's (the one with the 8 kids).
Wednesday: I leave for SeaTac at 3:45 am with my DD's husband, who is flying to Florida at 6 am, same as me. Fly to Kansas City; Holly picks me up; we hit the road and make it to North Platte, Nebraska.
The reason we drive quickly through Wyoming!
Thursday: We drive quickly through the rest of Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, and end up in Twin Falls, Idaho.
Friday: We drive through the rest of Idaho, Oregon, and cross the Columbia River into Washington. Home. Tired.

Welcome to Washington: home sweet home!
This is why there have been no posts. Andi forgives me. Will you? 

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Trevor Trekker's Terrific Time Travel Tales

Trevor Treker's Terrific Time Travel Tales Banner
Say the title of this post five times really fast. It's a tongue-twister. And a new, fun blog. It appears that this brand-new blog will take readers to all kinds of interesting places (and times), recommend books, and have an all-around swell time. I'm not sure how Clever Trevor (honest, that's his name) plans to do that. I think he uses a  . . . okay, I won't give it away. You will have to click over to Trevor Trekker's new blog and see how he pulls this off: TREVOR'S TIME TRAVEL BLOG  And I can totally vouch for this blog's content as well. (Wish I'd thought of it. Well, maybe Clever Trevor will let me guest blog occasionally.)

This has "1960s" splattered all over it!
But, wow! TIME TRAVEL? Can Clever Trevor pull this off? Last time I tuned into time travel was via the 1960s TV show The Time Tunnel (one of my favorite shows back then). Our heroes on The Time Tunnel used a . . . well . . . a tunnel. Trevor uses a . . . nope. Not gonna tell you. Head over there and check out the very first post. I hope you are hooked. I even signed up to follow ol' Trevor. Maybe he or his young sidekick, Marin, can give me ideas for my next adventure back in the Old West. 

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Monday, April 14, 2014

200,000 page views! Free Goldtown Ebooks!

Well, whoops! How did I miss the big 200,000 visitors benchmark? This calls for a celebration, my friends. Of course, this means I'm giving something away. And guess what? Today, Monday, April 14, you can get both Goldtown books #3 and #4 (Canyon of Danger and River of Peril) as FREE Ebooks (Kindle, Nook, or Google Play). No kidding. Both of them.

I'm not drawing names for only ONE winner for THIS giveaway. Everybody wins today! Head on over to this link: FREE GOLDTOWN EBOOKS to choose either Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Google Play and download your free copies before the day ends (after Monday, the Ebooks will be only $1.99 for the rest of the week). Tell all your friends too!

I'm so happy that Kregel is doing this fun thing for us. You can bet I'm going to download Kindle editions for myself.

 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Let's Go Fishing . . . for Story Beginnings (Part 3)

It's time to write some story beginnings! If anyone has a story they are working on, go back and look at the first page or two. Have you "hooked" your reader with one of the 7 techniques?

1. Dialogue
2. Action
3. Thought or Feeling
4. Question
5. Unusual Setting
6. Interesting Character
7. Sound Effect

If so, I'm sure we would all love to read the first few paragraphs of your story. Share! We can "guess the hook" you used (or if we can't find one, maybe help you come up with one). For those of you who do not have a work in progress but still want to participate, here is a writing prompt:



You (or another character) are walking along the beach when you discover a lifeboat that has washed ashore. Using what you’ve learned, begin a story that HOOKS your reader, so they want to keep reading.

Here are examples of how this can be done. I only wrote a couple of sentences. You should write at least a paragraph.

Action:  Samantha saw it first. She tumbled down the side of the sand dune, raced across the beach, and nearly fell into the gray, weather-beaten lifeboat.
Dialogue or Question:   “Come quick!” Samantha squealed when she saw the lifeboat. “Look what last night’s storm washed up.” She waved Julie over and peeked inside the boat. "Wow! What's this?"
Question-Thought-Feeling: Samantha stopped short when she found the lifeboat, half buried in the sand. What’s that? Her eyes widened, and a warm glow spread to her fingertips. It’s all mine, she thought. I found it first, and nobody better take it away!
Sound effect: Crash! The waves tossed the old, abandoned lifeboat against the rocks with a force that splintered the ancient wood.
Unusual setting: The cave was dark, and dripping wet from last night’s high tide. Behind a rock covered with orange and lavender starfish, a half-rotten lifeboat waited. It wasn’t just any lifeboat. This lifeboat had a story to tell—to anyone unlucky enough to discover its hiding place.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Let's Go Fishing . . . for Story Beginnings (Part 2)

Do you remember the 7 techniques for hooking your reader right from the start? If not, here they are as a review (you'll need them if you want to try the activity below):

1. Dialogue
2. Action
3. A Question
4. A Thought or Feeling
5. An Interesting Character
6. An Unusual Setting
7. A Sound Effect

Now that we have that all settled, below are the beginnings of some books I found. Can you figure out which "bait" the authors used (sometimes more than one) to hook their readers? You can write your answers in the comments.



1. I am afraid. Someone is coming. That is, I think someone is coming, and I pray that I am wrong. 
~Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien   Hook: ______________

2. In the last days of Narnia, far up the west beyond Lantern Waste and close beside the great waterfall, there lived an Ape. He was so old that no one could remember when he had first come to live in those parts, and he was the cleverest, ugliest, most wrinkled Ape you can imagine.  
~The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis      Hook:_____________

3. It happened so quickly, so unexpectedly, that Little Jon’s cry was almost instantly cut short as the blackness closed over him. No one knew the hole was there. It hadn’t been there the day before, and in the twilight no one noticed it.  
~The Forgotten Door by Alexander Key     Hook:____________

4. “Cluck, cluck, cluck!” TJ Stenson glanced toward the source of the chicken imitation and quickly looked away. He wished the after-school activities bus would hurry. Why was it always late on the days when Craig Ackerley decided to hassle him? “Cluck, cluck, cluck, CLUCK. Cluck CLUCK!” TJ ignored him.     
~Night of Fear by Peg Kehret       Hook: __________________

5. When twelve-year-old Andrea Carter brought her golden palomino mare to a skidding halt near her favorite fishing spot, she expected to find a bubbling, splashing creek full of trout just waiting to be snatched up for supper. Instead, she found a dead man.    
~Andrea Carter and the Family Secret by Susan K. Marlow  
Hook: _______________

6. “Little Man, would you come on? You keep it up and you’re gonna make us late.” My youngest brother paid no attention to me.     
~Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor     
Hook:______________

7. Way cool! Me, Dakota Anderson, humming down the road beside my dad in his brand-new red Ferrari! I sank into the leather seat, breathing in the new car smell and squinting against the sun’s rays shooting off the hood.    
 ~Out at Home by Jeannie St. John Taylor    Hook: _____________ 

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Let's Go Fishing . . . for Story Beginnings (Part 1)

Let's Go Fishing . . . for Story Beginnings! (Part 1)

If you have ever gone fishing, there is one thing you know right away. If you want to catch a fish, you have to carry the right equipment: a fishing pole, a hook, and (most importantly) decent bait like salmon eggs, flies, spinners, worms, or herring. Every fisherman knows he can't hook a fish using the wrong bait . . . or dried-up bait . . . or worse--no bait at all! You won't catch a 30-pound salmon with a worm, nor will you catch a little rainbow trout with a dead herring.

Writing stories is a lot like fishing. You need to use the right kind of "bait" to hook a particular reader. Next, the question arises: When do I catch my reader? Answer: On the very first few pages of your story! Just like a fisherman carefully chooses his bait to snag a fish, you, the author, must hook your reader with a slam-bang beginning. Once you catch your reader, you can reel him or her in with your real-life characters and your excellent use of "showing" and not "telling."

Just like there are different kinds of bait for different kinds of fish, and author can use different techniques to capture the reader's interest. I have found 7 kinds of writing "bait" that work well:

1. Action
2. Dialogue
3. An Unusual Setting
4. A Thought or Feeling
5. A Question
6. An Interesting Character
7. A Sound Effect

Below are Seven Ways to Hook Your Reader and an example of how each is used. You can right click and "save as" to print it out. You may need to enlarge it in order to read it easier.
(from Reach for the Stars, young author's fiction workbook by Susan K. Marlow. 
See sidebar if you would like to buy the workbook and see all the writing lessons!)

Part 2 coming later this week . . . with a chance to "Guess the Hook" and share!

Today: 
1. Look through some of your favorite books and see if you can figure out which "hook" the author used to reel you into his/her book.
2. Find a book or two that you just could not get interested in. Did they use any of the hooks above? 
Share your answers in the comments!
(Thanks, Anne, for asking me to write this post.)


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Monday, April 7, 2014

Meet the Characters

Macy Walker
Now that the first book of the Circle C Milestones, Thick as Thieves, has been turned in (finally!), I thought I would introduce a character for one of the threads going on in the new story. Her name is Marcella Walker and she's quite something (she's no Jenny Grant, that's for sure). Andi probably would not have paid too much attention to this new girl at school, except for the fact that "Macy" gets assigned to occupy the vacant spot at Andi's double-seated desk. Not for the first time, Andi mourns the fact that Rosa, her dear friend and former seatmate, has had enough of school and decided to quit! Worse, the classroom is packed tight with new students. Andi tries her best to get a new seat and rid herself of this painful "thorn in the flesh." One can't help but wonder how that works out for her.
Ty, Jase, and Rudy Walker

I love finding pictures on line that help me "see" my characters. The one above is perfect. Macy is 13 and wild. She pops one of Andi's friends in the eye (I won't tell you who) and nobody can retaliate because of . . . well, let's just say she has some pretty scary brothers who figure prominently into the overall plot of the story.
 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Newest Idea Underway

Here is the sample cover I created
Because of popular demand (for more stories), I went to a lot of work to gather up some of the short stories I've posted on the blog (under "Ranch Stories"), fix them a lot, write a few more stories, and gather them all together in a short-story collection that I am pitching to my publisher. In order to make it look really COOL, I went on Lulu.com  (where you can print your own real books) and made my stories into a real book, like I did for the contest stories. I even grabbed an old cover, erased the original title, and created my own front and back covers. So much fun!

So, here's the deal: the collection has 11 short stories in it so far (and yes, some of them nobody has read yet, like the one about when Andi visits Jenny in Washington Territory). I would like to have an even dozen. This would also bump the word count to 40,000, making the short-story collection the same length as the other Circle C Adventures books. 

Let me know what other questions you would like answered from the books. Those questions spurred me to write the story about the snake Cory gave Andi at the end of Dangerous Decision (which I posted), how it happens that Andi got to ride in the Fourth of July race just before Dangerous Decision begins (which I have NOT posted), what happened to the wild horse Chad had in Long Ride Home that got Andi into so much trouble (which I posted but added a bunch later), and other questions. If any of your questions spark a story then I will write story #12 and include it.

My editor liked the book I showed him and is very interested in the project. It will be fun to watch and see what happens. Since I already have the book printed, even if they say no, I can still offer it after all (after editing and fixing it a lot more. There are a ton of mistakes in it, but I was in a hurry to get it ready before my writers' conference.

Also, for the time being, I am not going to post any Fan Stories. I think most of us are getting a little burned out on them. Hopefully, I can write some things that will keep you interested, like maybe a "Let's Write" post or something historical or maybe even some activities. I'll keep you posted!

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Andi's Horse Party . . . by Kurt Schmucki

And last but by no means least, may I present "Andi's Horse Party," the Honorable Mention for ages 6-9, written by Kurt Schmucki of Morgan Hill, California:


Andi danced all around the garden. “I am going to have a party for my horse!” Andi said.
Then Chad came and said “Who are you inviting?”
So, Andi said “You, Justin, Mich, Melinda, and Mom, and Riley.”
Then, Justin came and said “I forgot… How many more days are there until Taffy’s birthday?”
“Four!” said Andi.
Then Chad said “Pretty short.”
“Of course it is” said Andi.
Then Melinda came and said “What are you talking about?”
“My horse party,” said Andi.
“It’s so exciting!” said Melinda.
Finally the party day came. Andi danced all the way to the kitchen.
Then she remembered “I promised my mom I would make a horse cake for Taffy.” Andi said.
So, Andi got……… a mixing bowl, blueberries, strawberries, and a spoon, cake batter, a spatula, and eggs.
Then she cracked the two eggs into the big bowl. Then she put in the cake batter and stuck it in the oven and said “I hope I can finish all this stuff.” The oven was done. Ring! Ring! The oven rang.
Andi quickly opened the oven and set the cake on the counter to cool. Then she lifted the cake off the pan and put it on a plate and covered it up with a towel.
Then she asked Justin “Will you help me put the balloons, tables, and chairs outside, please?”
“Yes” Justin answered. And then they put out seven chairs, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7.
After all the chairs were at their spots, Andi heard the doorbell ding dong!
“It’s Riley” Andi said and she quickly opened the door.
“Hi Andi” Riley said.
“I just remembered this morning the party, so that’s why I’m late” he said.
“Oh, that’s ok,” said Andi.
“Thank goodness for that,” Riley said. “I really thought you would be mad,” he said.
“Why would I ever be mad at you?” said Andi.
“Because I was late,” answered Riley. “Sometimes you are mad. Well, sometimes,” he said.
“Just forget it,” said Andi, laughing. “Let me show you what is happening so far,” said Andi.
“Fine with me,” said Riley.
“Great!” said Andi “because there are only two things done already,” Andi said, laughing again.
“Oh,” said Riley, laughing also.
“C’mon Riley,” said Andi.
So, they ran to where the chairs were.
“See!” said Andi. “There are seven chairs, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7.”
“Cool!” said Riley. “It looks great.”
“Thanks. My brother and I did it all together.” Then Andi said “Can you help me finish the cake please?”
“Sure” said Riley, and they both headed to the kitchen.
Andi got out the frosting box and frosted the cake. It was a beautiful white cake now, and Riley sprinkled the berries on.
Then he asked “When does the party start?”
“In six minutes” said Andi.
“So that leaves us time to set out things for Taffy” Riley said.
“Yes” said Andi.
They put out apples and carrots.
Then after everyone sat down, Andi brought out the cake, but Andi did not notice that the cake was leaning. She set it on the table with a “BANG!” and the cake fell on her. She cried “Mommy! It’s running down my back!”
After Andi was all cleaned up, they did not have cake because of the accident. But otherwise, it was a perfect birthday party because Taffy turned 10 years old, and Taffy did eat her carrots and apples. Andi just got applesauce, and that was as good as cake.
Then Taffy whinnied to Andi. Taffy said in horse voice “We didn’t really need a cake because it is my birthday.”
Then Andi whispered back “That’s right, Taffy. I did not think of that before. Thanks for saying that.”
“You’re welcome, Andi” kindly said Taffy.
Then Andi got more and more applesauce for the apples to get dipped in and the party was great!

The End