Category Archives: Blog

“Grammar, What Big Teeth You Have” ~~ by Mark Huntley-James

Another enjoyable post from writer/blogger Mark Huntley-James as he tackles Grammar. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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Grammar rules, OK.

Breakages will be reported, criticised and condemned.

I never learned much in the way of English grammar.  Plenty of French, Latin and Greek, but very little English.  I’ve largely forgotten the former three, and now I just struggle with my native tongue and frankly the natives can get pretty damned restless if not outright hostile.  For some reason, there are two things which bring out the tyrants, the complainers, the rabid proselytisers – grammar and spelling.

When I was a kid I was frequently told that there was no such word as ‘can’t’.  Not even finding a suitably recent and liberal dictionary containing the fabulous ‘can’t’ could put an end to the assertion.  There simply was no such word, no matter how many people used it, in speech and print.  Now roll on a few years, to my teens, and those immortal words: to boldly go where…

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“Don’t Leave Me Here Like This” ~~ by Michele Potter

This is a difficult topic for many people in my age group who are dealing with a parent requiring physical care later in life. Pull the box of tissues close, it brought tears to my eyes.

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The people sitting opposite him in the small room were his people. He knew that and wished he could say it. For a minute, he struggled with trying to form the words. In his mind, he heard them: I’m so glad you’re here. I love you. The garbled vocalizing that came out of his mouth, however, frustrated him to no end.

He could see the sadness and pity on their faces. Faces that he once knew so well, now unrecognizable. He only knew that they were his people. They belonged with him and he with them.

“Do you want to go for a walk, Dad?”

He understood what the woman was asking but couldn’t phrase what he really wanted. Instead, he nodded and smiled in a grimace. His facial gestures no longer worked the way they should.

She helped him up, gently, as if helping an invalid. Suddenly, he had an image, a flash of a memory. A…

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The Importance of Dialogue in Plot Development ~~ by Kate McGinn

My recent blog for the One Million Project.

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Dialogue — can you picture a story without it? Most stories have chapters or scenes without dialogue, and an example of a book without any dialogue from the main characters is the animal story, An Incredible Journey.

So, yes, it can be done and successfully, but dialogue plays an important role in a story. Humans communicate with more than dialogue. Their actions, tone of voice, what they say and how they say it as well as what they don’t say all communicate something about the message they want to convey or perhaps what they are reluctant to say.

One important role of dialogue in a story is that wherever it occurs it should move the story forward. The following excerpt is from my book, Winter’s Icy Caress, and I’ve used it to show an example of how dialogue moves a story forward.

“What are you reading?” Wyatt asked…

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Eliciting Emotions from Your Readers

Every writer I’ve ever communicated with over the past few years will tell me that they want people to like what they’ve written. I do as well, but I also want them to feel something beyond “liking” my story.

I want the reader to feel a multitude of emotions when they read my books — fear, sorrow, anger, indignation, love and happiness. In essence, I want them to feel what the main character is feeling at that time. My goal is to have them step into the story become a part of what is happening by playing it out in their minds.

I read somewhere recently that when we listen to a story various areas in our brain are stimulated. If a passage talks about how something feels or sounds, the sensory cortex becomes active. If we are reading about some type of physical activity, our brain’s motor cortex responds. As storytellers, we can affect our readers deeply.

My characters aren’t perfect, and I don’t want them to be. Real people cannot be assigned labels like “good” or “bad”. People are too complex to be deemed one thing or another.  I want my readers to react to the fictional characters inhabiting my story’s world. Whether it’s a negative or positive emotion, I want them to feel something.

Clare Thibodeaux is the main character in my suspense series. Clare can be distant, stubborn, and can make some very bad decisions. She can also be a loyal friend; and at times, she cares about people many readers dislike.  gallery clare seriesClare resists being told what to do, being overprotected or treated like she’s weak. Throughout the series, she struggles with letting someone else help her.  Some of the other characters are overbearing and too protective to the point of being dismissive at times.

Because of these unflattering character traits, some of my readers won’t care for my books. That’s okay, I don’t like every book I read.  No matter what, I have elicited an emotion, and that is what art is all about!

 

Thank You to My Readers!

I want to take the time to thank all of the people who have downloaded my books over the past three months, read my books on Kindle Unlimited and left reviews.  I hope you were entertained by my tales about Clare Thibodeaux and her friends.

I promise you there will be more action, drama, romance, and suspense to come.  Mark your calendars for February 5th and 12th.  I will be offering special deals on books in the Clare Thibodeaux Series on those dates. Watch for more info on my Facebook Author’s Page

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Book reading/signing at local library

I was invited by our village library to do a book reading and signing this past week. Despite the nasty weather earlier in the day, I was pleased to have some brave souls navigate the snowy roadways to attend. I am so blessed to have so much support from so many nice people.

Now, I need to start writing again… TTYL!

The Role of Environment in Creativity

I never thought of myself as being particularly fond of winter, but I have noticed as I’ve gotten older I do like many aspects of this frosty season.

I’m not really a snow bunny; although, I waimg_1367 1s born with large ears to my sincere regret. My favorite Lab isn’t really bunny material, either.  Except, I seem to remember watching him hop, hop, hop through the deep snow from time to time.

During the winter, his nose turns from black to pink, a condition aptly called “snow nose”, because he is always sniffing the ground and coming up with a coating of snow on his nose.  He loves winter!

I liked cross-country skiing when I was younger, but recently, I discovered I really enjoyed snowshoeing. It is a great workout and gets me outside. Unfortunately, we have snow but the temps are in the double-digit negatives, so being outdoors for extended 470440dd-b225-4365-a130-d7c8065f719cperiods isn’t necessarily a good thing.

This leaves me no other alternative except to turn to another favorite activity — writing. Winter days are perfect for sitting down with my laptop and pounding the keys as I peel back the layers of my characters and create something worth reading. By my side is a piping hot cup of coffee, tea or cocoa assisting in the efforts to keep me warm.

Most of my writing over the past three years has occurred during the winter and springtime and have published most of my work during the summer or fall time frame. Could that be why the winter season figures prominently in the books?  The second book in the Clare Thibodeaux Series is aptly named Winter’s Icy Caress.

What impact does environment have on a writer’s creativity? Princeton English Professor Diana Fuss explored the habitats where her favorite writers penned their literary works in her study, “The Sense of an Interior:  Four Writers and the Rooms that Shaped Them.”

Professor Fuss researched for eight years and visited the very rooms where the subjects of her study wrote their books. It seems each environment was as different as the subject from Freud’s antiquity-filled Victorian office to the surprise of finding Emily Dickinson’s light and airy cupola with views over the countryside. Dickinson’s writing space was unexpected, because she was widely portrayed as being a helpless agoraphobic, and many envisioned her shut up in a tiny, dark room in her father’s home.

I like to write in my library surrounded by5df8dc15-6c5a-4be2-a825-8dc4c4c9b1ab hundreds of books and mementos from past travels. Three large multipaned windows allow the space to be flooded with the morning light, and I can look out and see the snow swirl down or watch the birds play in the fountain outside.

I know my environment plays a fundamental role in my writing. I’m happier on sunny days, morose on rainy ones, and energized by the cold snap of fall and winter weather. I get my best ideas after periods of physical activity particularly those activities that occur outdoors. My mood and my muse tend to go to the dark side after too many days when I’m stuck inside.

Unfortunately, I’m not a snow bunny, but the winter weather does influence my mood and my writing. I like to think I’m attuned to the changing environment around me whether that involves the change of the seasons or a swing in the mood of a room full of people. I strive to put my observations down on paper using them to create the imaginary worlds my characters inhabit.

What influences your writing, your art, and your moods? Does it matter what desk you write on? Do you like to shut out sensory stimuli like Professor Fuss found during her research on Proust? Or doesn’t it matter to you?

It is an interesting subject and I’d love to hear whether your environment affects your creativity.