Thursday, April 24, 2014

Lost Works from the Circle C Archives #1

Welcome to the Lost Works from the Circle C Archives. I've found some original Andi stories I wrote YEARS ago. Some I've recycled for published stories (you might even guess which ones sometime). Others I might salvage for future stories. However, for one reason or another they have never been submitted in their current form. What I'll present every once in a while is a "scene" from one of those lost works.  

I thought it might be fun for fans to see the "oldies." Nobody else but readers from this blog will have that dubious privilege, so enjoy! This scene is from a nameless book, and the scene is close to the beginning of the story. 

Premise: After Andi and Cory find a wounded man by the creek, they drag him to the ranch, and the Carters put him up in their guest room. Trouble is, he's been gunshot, so suspicions rise as to how and why this happened. Chad figures he's some kind of outlaw or shady character, so he insists the fellow has got to go. To make matters worse, that very night, the Carters have to attend a fund-raiser auction/dance, which Andi balks at. She despises these social gatherings but is forced to attend and behave like a young lady. 

Okay, here you go:

Another Weary Night on the Dance Floor: Part 1 (of 2)

The Ladies’ Aid Society’s fund-raiser at the Fresno House was lavish and well-attended. The hall had been cleared away of the tables and chairs after dinner, the auction had gone without a hitch, and now the orchestra was playing as numerous couples moved gracefully around the floor in a waltz.
In Andi’s opinion it was high-time her family got on home. All the important things—namely the auction and the pledges for donations—were finished. There was no logical reason to hang around town any longer. In addition, the injured young man Cory and she had found this afternoon lay back home, in the Circle C’s guest room. It didn’t seem right to dump him on Luisa and Nila.
No, I found him. I want to take care of him. There was something about the young man’s haunted eyes that made Andi feel like she’d rescued a sad, hurting animal. She glanced at the clock. Ten o’clock. She groaned. Long enough, for sure.
Andi had endured Virginia’s and Patricia’s company for as long as she could and was happy to see they were off dancing to their hearts’ content with the Baldwin twins.
She knew it would be her turn soon. She paled at the thought and glanced around quickly for one of her brothers. “Traitors,” she muttered softly when she spotted them. They seemed to be having a wonderful time dancing with Fresno's numerous available young ladies. Andi watched Melinda waltz by on the arm of Jeffrey Sullivan and rolled her eyes heavenward.
“Excuse me, Miss Carter.”
Andi whirled at the voice just above her ear. She smiled grimly at the sight before her. It was Oliver Jansen, slicked up and polished, wearing a ridiculous grin on his long, narrow face. The young man attended Fresno Prep, the private boys’ school across town. Other than passing the imposing brick structure on her way north, Andi knew nothing about it. Well, she did know one thing, she corrected herself. She’d heard the boys from Fresno Prep were insufferably conceited.
She clenched her teeth, not wanting to confirm or deny this fact. “Yes?” she answered politely.
“Would you care to dance?”
“No, thank you. I’m waiting for—”
“Nonsense!” Oliver interrupted her excuse by grabbing her by the arm and leading her out onto the dance floor. She had little choice but to follow if she didn’t want to make a scene. When I get my hands on Mitch, I’m going to give him an earful!
“Well, aren’t I the lucky one tonight?” Oliver croaked in glee as he swung his reluctant partner around the dance floor. He was an excellent dancer and very proud of his ability.
“How so?” Andi asked half-heartily. She wished the music would stop so she could extract herself from this young man’s clutches.
“I do believe I’ve gotten the first dance with you, Miss Carter. Isn’t that right? Art Jennings bet I wouldn’t get the chance before one of your brothers stepped in. What is it with them, anyway? Surely they have better things to do than spend all of their time dancing with their baby sister.” He laughed, and Andi grimaced. “I wouldn’t be caught dead dancing with my sister,” he went on, rolling his eyes.
“Why not?” Andi honestly wanted to know. She knew Amanda Jansen. She was always polite and nice to Andi when she happened to meet her on the street, but a bit too giggly for Andi’s liking. Besides, Amanda was just back from finishing school and lived in town. Andi had nothing in common with her.  
“Why not?” Oliver repeated, a shocked look on his face. “Why, she’s . . . she’s . . . the ugliest girl in town and rather silly, in spite of the money Father has spent on her schooling. Look at her over there, trying to be the belle of the ball, when there are quite a few young ladies much prettier than she is.”
“That’s not very nice,” Andi blurted, stopping in her tracks. She watched Amanda swirl past on the arm of Zach Morton, the son of another rancher. She looked like she was having a good time.
Which was more than Andi could say about herself.
Oliver grinned and didn’t miss a beat. He continued to propel his partner around, merrily chatting away. “Oh, Miss Carter.” He shook his head. “She’s nothing like you.”
“You don’t even know me,” Andi protested. And if you don’t shut up, you’re not going to want to know me. She glanced around, searching for any brother who could deliver her from this intolerable situation.
“That’s what you think. I do my homework. I hear you’ve got a mind of your own, and I can see for myself you’re real pretty.” He smiled. “Not to mention the fact your family is the richest in the entire valley. I’m sure we could become good friends once we get to know each other.”
“I wouldn’t count on that if I were you.”
“Miss Andrea! May I call you Andrea?” he continued without waiting for a reply. “There are many parties going on this spring—clear up through the fall. Then there’s the governor’s inaugural ball next winter. With my father helping with the governor’s campaign—as is your brother Justin—I expect both our families will get an invitation to the ball.”
“You’re very well informed, aren’t you, Oliver?”
“I make it my business to be.” His voice dropped and he pulled Andi a little closer. “I plan on seeing a great deal of you this season. You’ve grown up. I haven’t heard you’ve been thrown in jail lately for wrecking the water trough with the town’s scruffy boys.” He grinned at Andi’s furious look. “And I heard all about how you saved your brother’s life last summer and brought home all the bank gold. Quite an adventure, yes? I think you’ve grown up enough for me.”
“You think so, huh?” What a self-centered, arrogant, boorish young man!
“Indeed I do.”
Just then, a light tap on his shoulder interrupted Oliver. It was Jason Wright, another Fresno Prep snob.
“My turn, old man,” he announced with a wide, toothy smile. Jason stood a head shorter than Oliver. His vest buttons were nearly popping with the effort to keep his generous girth tucked in.
Oliver snorted. “I don’t see how. This dance isn’t half over.”
This is a nightmare! Andi moaned quietly.
“I’m cutting in, Jansen.”
“Get lost, Wright.” Oliver steered Andi away from the chunky, fuming young man. He held her possessively and grinned at his success. From the look on his face, Andi knew he’d had his sights set on Andrea Carter for a long time. If he was persistent, he probably reasoned, he could win her over in the end.
In your dreams, Andi thought. She bit her lip from saying anything out loud. Will this dance never end?
She was beginning to think the night would never end, when another young man tried to cut in on Oliver. “May I?”
Mitch’s voice was a welcome sound to Andi’s ears, but Oliver frowned.
“No, you may not,” came his churlish response.
“I’m sorry, young man, but I really must insist,” Mitch repeated a little more forcefully. “I always dance with my sister at least once so she won’t feel lonely.” He smiled to take the sting from his words.
“Now just a minute, Carter,” Oliver snapped. “Your sister doesn’t look lonely to me. I’m keeping her company.”
“Very gracious of you. But I assure you, it is my pleasure.”
Andi reached out for his hand, and Mitch whisked her away and onto the middle of the dance floor. As she twirled, she saw a very unhappy young man staring after them in disappointment.
“Mitchell James Carter!” Andi began in a furious whisper, “Mother promised you’d look after me tonight and keep me from the Fresno Prep vultures. No sooner is my back turned and off you go, dancing with all those other girls.”
Mitch looked contrite. “Forgive me, Andi. I got saddled with Josephine March’s granddaughter from St. Louis. She talks a mile a minute and I couldn’t get away. I didn’t forget you. Honest. I came as soon as I could.”
“Well, it wasn’t soon enough,” Andi pouted. She glanced over the crowd. “That Oliver Jansen makes me ill.”
“Why did you agree to dance with him?”
“I didn’t.” Andi tossed a long, dark curl behind her shoulder. “He just . . . well, he grabbed me and off we went.”
Mitch’s eyebrows shot up. “Why, Andi! I’m surprised at you. Since when have you let something like that happen if you didn’t want it to?”
Andi favored her brother with a scowl. “Since I’ve grown up,” she said sarcastically. “Mother wouldn’t like it if I made a scene at a fancy party like this.”
“That’s true,” Mitch agreed with a nod. “Well then, little sister, I applaud your self-control.” He laughed softly at the look on her face.
“If you’re going to keep teasing me, I’m not going to dance with you anymore.”
“Sure,” Mitch replied lightly. “That will send you right back into the arms of Oliver Jansen.”
“I’m sorry, sis. Let’s go another round, then we’ll rest, okay?”
After that, there was no more trouble from the prep boys. Andi contented herself with two more dances at Mitch’s expense, two with Justin, and only one with Chad. He started in on her about the injured stranger as soon as the music began.
“So, little sister, I noticed you’ve got a real interest in our wounded stranger. Justin’s going into town tomorrow to check with the sheriff.”
“A bullet in a stranger. Seems pretty strange to me. Besides, it’s not a good idea for you to—”
“You are so suspicious of everybody,” she argued. “Why don’t you give it some time and let the poor fellow heal. Then—”
“Bringing a strange, bullet-ridden man into our home is not exactly the wisest thing I ever heard of,” Chad said, frowning. “It would be best if Mother made arrangements to have him driven to town to stay at the hotel—”
“Chad!” Andi gasped. “Who’d take care of him? I found him and I’m going to help him.”
“He’s not a stray puppy,” Chad snapped. “You’d best—”
“I’m done dancing, big brother. Thank you very much.” She rudely left him standing in the middle of the floor.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Short-story book is a go!

Disclaimer: Not the cover but close?
I am very excited! I just learned today that my short-story collection (inspired from all your questions about the "inside" stories from the Circle C Adventures) has been accepted by my publisher. Now I don't have to publish it myself. *huge sigh of relief*

I originally thought I would like to go the self-publishing route, but after publishing the Contest Book, I discovered it cost me the same per book to print it as when I buy my CCA books with my author discount from my publisher! So, why in the world would I go to all that work to do it myself? With Kregel, I also get all the marketing/sales, and my books are in the book stores.

I came up with another cover idea. Whether Kregel will want this design or not is now, of course, up to them. But I'll do my best to make my opinion known.

Since the stories are finished (40,000 words) it will come out pretty soon (well, not until after Thick as Thieves, and no, I can't show that cover yet, but you're gonna love it!). The Tales book will come out right after Thick as Thieves, perhaps next spring . . .

Here are the stories in the book. Half of them are ones that are either brand-new or changed dramatically from the original blog posting. (Indicated by a *):

Part 1: The Early Years
1- Britches Are Not for Little Girls *
2- The Best Gift of All
3- Aunt Rebecca and the Hat *
4- White Christmas

Part 2: The In-Between Years
5- Prince Loco, Chad's Crazy Horse *
6- Hurrah for the Fourth of July! *
7- Cooling Off Can Be Risky
8- A Matter of Honor (A young Justin, Chad, and Kate story)
9- Snakes Alive!
10- Virginia's Riding Lesson
11- Where the Trees Meet the Bay (A Jenny Grant story)
12- Adios, Jeffrey Sullivan

Here's the good news: my editor hinted that there could be other short-story collections, so I'll need more ideas of how to answer the "what happened then" questions that I didn't answer in this volume. Like maybe the return of Felicity Livingston or something.


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     

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!

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.