Today’s Featured Author – Rosie Christie

Please welcome author Rosie Christie to my blog. Her book, As Tears Go By, was released last year. She is currently working on a sequel to it.

Interview

Please tell us about your current release.

As Tears Go By – Inspired by True Events – An eye-opener to treatment of Indigenous Children lost in the system.

The emotions portrayed by Maria, a beautiful Cree woman raised in residential school, attempting to save her children from the same demise as herself, tears at your heart strings while Kate, the overbearing foster mother rules with an iron fist, a wicked mouth and a razor strop. This book is compelling which makes it a very hard book to put down. Follow the journey as the fate of Maria’s children, Dolly, Jacob and Rayen, hang in the balance.

What inspired you to write this book/series?

This story is something I have had extreme difficulty with for over a half century which is when it all began. It is only by the grace of God that I am still here on this earth. This is why I felt it was a testimony that needed to be heard. This story even to myself seemed so unbelievable that it needed to be shared.

How did I come up with the title?

“As The Years Go By” was what I was typing with lightning speed when the title “As Tears Go By” emerged. It proved appropriate to the content and it stuck with me.

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?

“Rayen – More Than Enough” is the second book of what I now call the Rayen Series.

Rayen leaves the house where she has been abused for the past 12 years.  At the tender age of thirteen she discovers the name she is using is not her own. Nothing she has been told is real. She hates herself. The streets can be cruel for a naïve preprogrammed little girl. Pedophiles and violent men swarm to her in droves. Would death be kinder?

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

“As Tears Go By” and “Rayen – More Than Enough” have both invoked so many emotions that each page has been difficult to write. These stories need to be told. It is my hope that other people can find inspiration in these survival stories and that in some way I can help them.

 Book Blurb

I changed their names. I shaped their minds. I was judge, jury, and executioner. No one could stop me. No one! To anyone looking in, we were just a normal church going, family. No one was aware of the dark secrets we held within the walls of the tiny house by the swamp. I was the woman with the razor strop and I made sure every blow connected. That was until the day the sheriff handed me my subpoena. I felt the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Abuse? What? The one-word ringing in my head drowning out anything and everything else that might have been said. I felt I might just pass out right there on the step. I kept my composure until he pulled out of the driveway and then my anger quickly exploded into rage. Those ungrateful little bastards. After everything, I did for them. This was my thanks. A bolt of straight adrenaline shot through my veins and I grabbed the gun….. I had instilled the fear of god in them. I am not a woman to be tampered with. How could this be happening? My one mistake…and I don’t make many… was not realizing that these stupid children would grow up.

About the Author

My name is Rosie Christie and I am from the Thunderchild First Nation in Saskatchewan. I am a Canadian Author. My inspiration came from author V.C Andrews. “Flowers in the Attic” was a major influence in my life when I realized that I was not alone in my plight. This author gave me the strength to continue on and to eventually escape from the nightmare that I lived.

In reform school I was taught to write down my thoughts and feelings that were too indescribable to speak about. We would burn these writings on the fire. I continued to use this mechanism as a release for many years and I did not elect to publish any writing until 2016.

My writing is slated as Fiction but only for legality purpose. I feel it is anyone’s inherent right to write or speak about their own history without repercussion but this is not so when abuse is involved.

You can find out more about Rosie and read the first chapter on All Author.

You can purchase As Tears Go By on Amazon.

 

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Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

This post is the twelfth in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Last week I wrote about one of the most crucial scenes in your novel – the very first scene. But there are still many more scenes to write. And each scene of course has a beginning, middle and end. Here are some tips and ideas on how to begin and end a scene in your novel.

Beginning a Scene

So how do you begin a scene? Well, begin is kind of a misleading term as some scenes pick up in the middle of the action or continue where another scene left off. Often a new scene starts at the beginning of a chapter or is separate by a break of four lines or maybe a series of *** to let the reader know a new scene is to begin.

How you handle each scene probably won’t be the same way each time, but here are some ideas on how to start a scene.

Begin in the Middle

Instead of building up to the action, sometimes it is best to begin in the middle of the scene with the action in full swing.

The horse’s hooves thundered across the ground. Tosh dug his claws into the saddle as his back legs threatened to slip off. A firm hand pressed against his side, pulling him closer toward the young man behind him. Feeling safer, Tosh leaned out to see the terrain up ahead. He blinked his eyes in disbelief at what he saw. – the opening scene of The Search.

Here the action is already taking place. The reader must continue reading to find out what danger lies ahead and why Tosh is riding on the horse in such a hurry. This type of beginning to a scene is more dynamic than one describing the scenery. It can hook the reader quickly.

Beginning with Dialogue

This really is a variation of the above scenario but instead of being in the middle of the action, you begin in the middle of a conversation. The conversation can be the momentum that sweeps the reader along. There is an element of suspense as the reader tries to figure out the context of the conversation.

Starting at the actual beginning
Sometimes the best place to begin is at the beginning. For many people that might be the beginning of the day. It is a natural place to start but this has been done so many times that beginnings, such as “I woke up to the screaming alarm clock” have become cliché.

Start with Setting

Of course, some authors begin their scenes with a description of the setting. But when you do this, you are announcing to the reader that the setting is important and will have an active influence on the characters and action in the scene. If your character is on a deserted island, the lay of the land may be helpful in letting the reader know what is available.

Dream sequence

If you want to disappoint or perhaps even anger your readers – start with a dream. Your reader is engrossed in the action of the scene and the death-defying situation with no way out. Then the reader turns the page only to discover the character wakes up, and it was all a dream. After that, the character arises from the bed, and the real story begins.

Now this isn’t to say you can’t start a scene with a dream, but you should only do so if the dream is an integral part of the story. I started my first book, Summoned, with a dream sequence, but I made sure the reader knew it was a dream BEFORE I began the dream.

The young woman tossed in her bed, muttering softly. She rolled over, her long honey-colored hair covering her pale face. Her fingers dug into the mattress. She shook her head as she sank deeper into the dream.

The yellow light cut through the dark. Her eyes stayed focused on it as it flickered before her like a hundred candles dancing in a soft summer breeze, growing brighter as she neared. As she walked, her hands reached out, touching the smooth, cold stone wall. That alone should have warned Lina something was not right. Even as her mind called out that this was all wrong, she continued down the hall toward the light and toward whatever was calling her.

There is no right or wrong way to begin a scene. These are only a few suggestions. You may need to try several of them to find what works best for your scene. Just remember that the secret to a good opening – whether it is for your book or merely one of its many scenes – is that it compels the reader to keep reading.

Ending a scene

The ending moments complete the scene and should leave the reader wanting more. It should make them eager to begin the next scene.

It is always best to end a scene as early as possible. You want your last statement to be strong and not full of unnecessary details. Depending on the situation, you can end the scene with a sense of finality or with something that propels the reader forward.

Remember that each scene is part of a larger story. The ending of a scene should make the reader think, “That was good. I want more.” And then plunge ahead into the next scene.

Cliffhanger Ending.

This type of ending is characterized by stopping the scene just as a major action is about to take place or in the middle of the action at a crucial point. The easiest way to think about this is to watch a TV drama. Something important is revealed and then…cut to commercial break. That leaves the viewer hanging around waiting for the show to return rather than channel surfing. You want the same type of reaction from your reader.

Cliffhanger endings typically happen at the end of chapters forcing the reader to start the next chapter to see what happens.

However, some authors do not continue the scene in the next chapter. In order to heighten the reader’s curiosity, they insert a scene or chapter that takes place somewhere else, perhaps with different characters.

Even though the cliffhanger ending is a powerful tool, you can’t use it to end ALL your scenes..

You might also end a scene by revealing insight into one of the characters. This might happen through an internal monologue that the character is having about the events that occurred in the scene, or it could happen through dialogue with another character. Ending in the middle of dialogue can be confusing to the reader, but it also can heighten a passionate or revealing exchange. The exact place the dialogue ends could reveal a lot about the character: their fears, hopes, how they are changing.

Sometimes a scene ends with a note about the setting or the character doing something mundane. But the fact we are focused on it elevates that item to greater importance.

No matter what ending you decide to use, remember to make sure they do their job: hook the reader into wanting to read more.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

Organizing PTA Parent-Education seminars

Part of my responsibility as first vice president of my daughter’s elementary school parent-teacher association (PTA) is to bring in speakers to help educate the parents. Last year, I brought a speaker on cyber-bullying. My goal this year was to bring in two different speakers.

One of the fifth-grade teachers at her school is also member-at-large for the Texas Parent-Teacher Association. For the past few years, he has given a speech about Maximizing Parent-Teacher Conferences at the annual statewide leadership conference. But he has always told those of us who attend from his school that we shouldn’t attend his speech as he can always give us that information at a different time.

Last year, I wanted to get him to give this speech at our school but I approached him in the middle of September and we couldn’t get anything planned before conferences started in the middle of October. Instead, I had to settle for him writing a two-sided flyer that gave parents tips. (Check out my post about it here.)

This year I approached Mr. Shelby in August, and we scheduled his speech for the end of September as conferences begin mid-October. As with any presentation, you can plan and advertise it but getting a full house is a different matter. I think even Mr. Shelby was worried about getting people to show up. We had 26 parents attend which nicely filled up our library tables but is a real small percentage of the parents who have children attending the school.

The main point of his presentation is that the parent-teacher conference is not the first time you should see your child’s grades. In our school district, you can go online and check grades on homework and tests plus there are always papers coming home. There really should be no surprises.

The parent-teacher conference is a time to work with the teacher in deciding what areas your child needs to work on. Even good kids have something that can challenge them or maybe there is something that can push them to achieve more.

The second speaker I plan to bring in will speak on children and internet safety. I will be going through the Texas PTA’s Ready, Set, Achieve program since the CyberBullying one last year was so well done.

Internet safety is an important topic in our technology-driven society and with the ever changing technology and apps out there, I don’t think parents can attend too many of these talks. In fact the middle school just brought in someone from Homeland Security to talk about the same thing.

It was a good speech though most of the information covered was stuff that I have heard before. He recommended that you check your kids’ phones weekly. You should know who they are talking to just as you would want to know who their friends are if they were meeting with them in person.

He recommended the website netsmartz.org as a way for parents and kids to learn more about online safety and the dangers of posting information online. To report Cyber Bullying, he recommended Cybertipline.org. Both websites are hosted by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

I’m looking forward to my January speaker and if he/she provides any useful websites or information, I will certainly write a post about it.

Today’s Featured Author – Paulette Harper

Today I welcome author Paulette Harper to my blog. Her book, That was Then, This is NOW, was released in August. 

Excerpt: Walking in Purpose

How can I live in my purpose? While it is important to define what purpose is, I believe purpose must start with God. When I began to recognize my purpose for living, I realized it was about producing a life that was fulfilling, complete, and satisfying. As a believer in Christ, I believe that I am in a place where I am fulfilling the purpose for which I was created.

What I find most rewarding is making sure I’m doing what I believe the Lord will have me to do. I’m a strong believer in the fact that if God wanted me to do something else, I would be and if He wanted me to be somewhere else, I would.  True happiness comes when a person identifies his purpose and lives his dreams with God in the center of everything he or she does.

Inside each of us is a yearning to know why we are created and for what reasons we exist. I don’t believe we will be satisfied in life or even enjoy the life we have been given apart from walking in our divine purpose.  Finding your purpose in life should be one of your greatest goals. For one to fulfill his role and assignment here on earth, one must be aware of his own skills, talents, passions and abilities. Once those qualities are identified it makes doing what we love easy.

Some of my life’s challenges and struggles lead me to God’s divine purpose and plan for my life.  I found that in my own personal struggles there were ideal and dreams that God had birth inside me that where pulled out when I went through the most challenging times in life.  I learned that God’s purpose and will in my troubles were being fulfilled through my life’s experiences.

I live by my own motto…”Intentionally Living Life on Purpose.”

Book Blurb

HOW COULD GOD HAVE A PURPOSE FOR ME AMIDST THIS MESS?

WHY DO SUCH BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE?

If you’ve recently asked yourself these questions, Paulette Harper’s That Was Then, This is Now has the answers. Struggling to recover from a broken marriage and disappointed dreams, Paulette Harper gropes for meaning and understanding. And through her searching, God reveals Himself to her in ways she never before imagined possible. By sharing her struggles with transparency, she illustrates how a heart attitude of surrender allows God to use a broken vessel for His ultimate plans of glory.

That Was Then, This is Now, minsters to hurting hearts in every season in life, reminding them that God restores shattered lives, intent on using them for His sovereign purposes.

About the Author

In addition to being an award winning author of Completely Whole and Secret Places Revealed, Paulette is an inspirational speaker, as well as a writing workshop instructor. Her literary works have been spotlighted in a growing number of publications, including CBN, Real Life Real Faith Magazine, The Sacramento Observer and Black Pearls Magazine. She has also appeared on numerous local and online radio shows.

Paulette resides in Northern California.

You can find out more about Paulette on her website or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase That Was Then, This is NOW on Amazon.

Novel Writing – Prologue and opening scenes

This post is the eleventh in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

You have decided to write a novel. You have planned out your plot and built up believable characters. You have your outline or perhaps you are plan to just sit down and write. You are now at that point.

But where do you begin? How do you begin your novel?

The very first words, sentences and paragraphs are some of the most important. This is where you are going to hook your reader into wanting to keep reading.

You may decide to start with an interesting scene that draws in your reader and sets the stage for your story. That all sounds good until you have to write the scene.

Perhaps you are thinking your reader might benefit from more information before they are introduced to the world you created. This information might help them understand the importance of what is happening. This is where a prologue comes into play.

Prologues

 A prologue is an opening to a story that establishes the setting and gives background details.

Prologues appear at the beginning of most Star Wars movies.

Various purposes of the prologue

  • Give background information. For example, in a sci-fi book, it may be useful to introduce the alien world in a prologue so that the reader is not confused when they enter a completely foreign world in the first chapter.
  • Grabs the reader’s attention with a scene from the story. I can think of numerous movies that do this. They start with an exciting scene and then pause to go back and fill in everything that led up to that scene.
  • Describe a scene from the past that is important to the story, such as the death of the main character’s mother, which is motivation for the action in the novel.
  • Give information from a different point of view. If the story is written in first person and the prologue in third, the prologue could give information that the main character would have no way of knowing.
  • It expresses a different point in time. The prologue could be the main character when he or she is older and reflecting back on another event, which begins in Chapter 1. (Think of the opening scenes in the movie Titanic.)

So with all these good reasons for writing a prologue, what is the downside? Well, often prologues are boring. If too much history is put into the prologue, it can turn off readers. And many readers say they skip the prologues so if you include an essential part of the story here, your reader may not get it. But the main reason not to include a prologue is that they are often unnecessary. Many of the purposes of the prologue can be accomplished in the actual novel.

So before writing a prologue, ask yourself, will this fit in Chapter 1 or perhaps later in the story? Is this essential to the plot? If the answer is no, skip it.

But if you decide to add a prologue to your novel, here are some things to consider.

  • Keep it short. You don’t want the prologue to drag on for half the book.
  • Keep it interesting. This is the first thing the reader will read so you want to hook them with this passage.
  • Think of the prologue as a separate entity from the novel. Just because the prologue has a hook doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one in your first chapter.
  • Limit background information. I have read prologues that are dull and boring histories which I ended up skimming. You can weave background information into your novel so don’t dump it all here.

Overall the prologue, when done correctly, can enhance your story and further your plot. But when done incorrectly, it can put your readers off so consider carefully before you include a prologue.

Opening Scene

Now it doesn’t matter if you wrote a prologue or not as the opening scene must still hook the reader. You want them to read the first few paragraphs and want to keep on reading. They should want to know what happens next.

Here are some things that your opening could do…

Introduce your story idea – think of the opening scene of Jaws where the shark attacks a group of teenagers.

Foreshadow your story idea – think of this as the opening to Sleeping Beauty when the fairy curses the baby at her christening.

You may want to start with an action or suspenseful scene. Of course this could backfire as the reader may be confused as to what is happening and which character they are supposed to be rooting for. Well actually there are pros and cons for almost any way that you might want to start a novel.

Long scenery descriptions are typically bad. And most other website will also warn you to not start with a dream sequence unless you first let the reader know that it is a dream. Some authors recommend not introducing too many characters at once in the beginning and others will tell you not to start with the weather.

The key is to not throw too many new things at the reader in the beginning. Don’t worry about backstory, description, character motivation (or internal monologues). Instead look for action that drives your story forward. You only have a few pages to hook the reader (or book editor).

You want to begin with conflict and tension. Something has gone wrong.

Often writers spend too long building up to their story. This means that the first few pages or even the first few chapters could be totally omitted from the novel without any problem. I have seen a few other authors say that it is the first 50 pages or the first three chapter. Know that it does take some practice to figure out where to begin your novel. I re-wrote the beginning of my first novel Summoned a dozen times, starting later and later in the plot until I found the one that worked.

For every “rule” of what not to do, there is an example out there of someone who made it work for them. But the most important thing is to draw the reader into your story. You don’t have pages to convince them this is the book for them. You have just a few pages at most. Make them count.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace