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Sunday, July 24, 2016

DO WE COMPLAIN TOO MUCH? #celiayeary #rebeccajvickery #publishingbyrebeccajvickery-vtp

I call it "griping," because that's the word my mother used. "Celie Ann, stop your griping and make your bed. It's not going to make itself."

To be fair and also to defend myself, I most often complain when hunger strikes me. Maybe I have low blood sugar or something, but if I'm hungry, don't push me. All my friends know this. "Uh-oh, feed her so she'll shut up."

As a general rule, I'm not a complainer...much. Most of the time I do it out of boredom or to make conversation or some other inane reason.


I learned that complaining, though, is not all bad. It can actually be a Creative Act. The more you complain, the more you summon your creative energies to attract something to complain about.  Maybe the complaints seem fully justified, but realize that whenever you complain, you set yourself up for more of the same. Just remember the part "complaining is a creative act", and you might find yourself writing a novel. Hmmm.
Complaining is the act of reinforcing what you don’t want. Is this bad? I think not. Perhaps it's therapeutic.


Warning: Complaining is also addictive. The more you do it, the more it becomes an ingrained habit, making it more difficult to stop.
Some people complain too much about their own lives. This is a trap that gives the person a constant source of something to complain about.  "Bad luck follows me; Life is too difficult; Why can't I get a break?"  The complainer may tell you their reality is causing their complaints, but it’s more accurate to say their reality is reflecting their complaints.
"If you have time to whine and complain about something then you have the time to do something about it."  ~Anthony J. D'Angelo, The College Blue Book

Yes, but after analyzing myself, I believe I complain about trivial events that really have nothing to do with me. When I fully realized this, I honestly tried to keep my mouth closed and push the ugly thoughts away.

We have a neighbor who refuses to mow his property, so the tall dead grass is a permanent fixture. I say something about that every time we pass the house. It has nothing to do with my life, it just annoys me. So, why do I persist in complaining about it? The time has come for me to ignore it.

Bad parkers/drivers really make me complain. You who know me understand I sort of go ballistic over a vehicle parked somewhat diagonally in a straight-in space, a driver in front of me who sits at a green light because he/she is on the phone or texting, or someone who throws litter out a car window. I really don't think I can stop complaining about these....sorry.

Do your characters complain?
Do you dislike characters in a novel who complain?
Hmm, I don't know. I suppose it depends on what the person is complaining about.

I try very hard not to be a chronic complainer...but sometimes...I must or I'll throw a fit.
Excerpt from A Christmas Wedding
(offered in the VTP Anthology “Have Yourself a Merry Little Romance)
In my Christmas novella titled “A Christmas Wedding,” Kailey Lovelace has plenty to complain about—her blonde frizzy hair, her six-foot frame, her boring boyfriend, and the worry that the Best Man for her brother’s wedding—which she would be paired with as Maid of Honor—would be short.

The arrival monitor showed all flights on time. From Denver to Austin: Flight 303, Gate 6, 12:30 pm.
Taking one more quick glance at the monitor, she strolled back to sit across from her brother and her boyfriend. Neither man looked at her. She was only good ol’ Kailey, best sister in the world and so-so girlfriend. She laughed to herself with a little derision. They sure noticed some buxom, prissy young woman, though, if one happened to walk by. Neither halted his conversation but continued talking with his head swiveling until she was out of sight.
She snorted to herself. Men.

“Hey, Kailey,” her brother Sam said. “Here’s an empty seat by me now. Come over here.”

Hoisting her dark blue leather bag on her shoulder, she moved to the empty chair, sat, scrunched down, and crossed her arms as well as her long legs covered in black leggings. Her boyfriend, Martin, on the other side of Sam, gazed away studying other passengers. Seemed to her he was always scouting out the females, but with him, she never knew for sure what he was doing or thinking.

Probably, if she looked as good as those cuties prancing by, he’d look at her that way. Why did he go out with her, anyway? Why did she bother with him?

Sighing, she turned to her brother. “Tell me again, Sam, how tall is he?”

He shrugged. “I dunno. Tall. Like you.”

She flinched. “As tall? Or taller? Oh, please don’t tell me ‘not as tall.’”    

“Stop complaining, sis, he’s a good guy. Just have a good time. Don’t worry about a thing. Shelley met him once, and since he’s to be my best man and you’re the maid of honor, she told me you two would make the perfect pair.”

“Yeah, I bet. When he learns his partner is a giraffe, he might back out.”

“Ahh, don’t be so hard on yourself. Martin likes you.” He jabbed Martin with his elbow. “Don’t you, buddy?”

Martin turned to look at both of them, his face bland, and his eyes blinking. “What? Did I miss something?”

Kailey wanted to hit him over the head with her bag. At least he possessed good looks, he had brains, and he was almost as tall as she was. And he was nice to her. When he noticed her.

Sam jumped to his feet. “There he is! He’d headed for the luggage area. Let’s go.”

The three scrambled to their feet and pushed through the mass of people, rode down an escalator, turned a corner, and entered the huge cavernous space filled with people and a high noise level. Sam led the way with Martin hot on his heels. Kailey trailed behind, knowing she wouldn’t lose them, really hoping to see this Alex Dunn before he saw her.

Please, Wedding Angel, let Alex like me enough to smile as we walk down the aisle. That’s my only wish.

Since Martin didn’t know Alex Dunn either, he hung back, too.

Kailey reached up with both hands and tried to smooth her frizzy blond hair. Why did the Hair Gods curse a female with thick locks that did not obey one rule of beautiful hair? Hers hung well past her shoulders, and in cold weather, it crackled with electricity that made it bush out even more. Today, she’d parted it in the middle, brushed it back, and secured the mass with a silver clasp at her nape. Just to get it away from her face turned into a battle.

She heard her brother call out over the din. “Hey, Alex! Alex Dunn!”

A young man stood next to a rotating luggage carousel, watching the baggage tumble by. He lifted his head, grinned and waved. Then, he jerked his gaze back to the carousel and began moving down the line very quickly. He stepped between two people, and with one long arm reached in and grabbed a U. S. Army duffel bag, lifting it over everyone’s head.

“Sorry, ma’am, sir. I hope I didn’t step on anyone.”

Kailey watched the older couple look into his face and smile glowingly as if he had done them a favor.

And why not? He was gorgeous, with his short military haircut, square chin, and wide mouth with fabulous white teeth. When he walked toward her brother, she couldn’t keep her gaze off his George Clooney eyes, except Alex’s were blue. Her knees felt a little weak, a completely foreign feeling.

And Alex Dunn was quite tall.
Celia Yeary
Romance, and a little bit of Texas
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/celiayeary
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Friday, July 22, 2016

Growing up Southern

Growing up Southern gives you a new perspective on life. It's the land of wrap around veranda's. Long afternoons sitting in the shade hoping to find a nice breeze as you gently rock away, sipping on a tall glass of ice tea.

On your porch, your grandmother or mother holds a metal colander in her lap, filled with snap beans or butter beans ( the true gem of the south ). Her hands stay busy, snapping the ends of the beans or gently pushing the seam of the butter beans open to extract the tender offering inside. The heat and humidity lulls you to a half sleep state. The sound of the rocker on the white washed porch boards is hypnotic. But, while she is working, she is talking. The southern tradition of story telling or departing family history begins on those lazy summer afternoons.

Typically, your grandmother will be the keeper of the "bible". She 'pretends' to be talking to your mother, forgetting that you are at their feet, because as we all know southern children learn at an early age to be seen and not heard unless spoken to, of course. She may start with the local gossip. "You know, Mrs. Nelson, over on Popular Avenue, her daughter...." Then the tales will go deeper. "You know, that family never had a lick of sense." and the whole history from the time the family moved to the town.

The reason I'm speaking up on our southern traditions, is because Miss Muriel is at it again. In my fictional town of Rebel's Crossroads, Miss Muriel is one of those ladies that feels she must be the moral compass of the city. We met her first in Random Acts of Kindness when she came out of church and spied poor Dan Brown in an unkept state. Right then and there she decided that it was her mission to find him a wife. (That's another required duty for older southern women - matchmaking)  Of course, she has about as much tack as an open barn door, but that is part of her charm.

In Winning Her Heart, Miss  Muriel is holding court at the beauty parlor. Yes, every southern woman has to go to the beauty parlor on Saturday morning, because they have to look their best on Sunday morning. Southern beauty parlors are a thing of beauty. They tell more gossip than any tabloid sold in the super market. My heroine, Stevie Darden ( Stevie - short for Stephanie ) is a young widow. Her husband died in a plane crash. To forefill his last wish, she takes the 1956 T Bird for a trip to Daytona Beach for a stock car race. After which, she plans to sell the car to take care of bills. But before she goes, she makes a trip to the local beauty salon. Where Miss Muriel and her fellow cohorts pick up on the subtle hints that she's coming back to life. She cuts her hair, puts in highlights, and sheds her grief. Of course, Miss Muriel is right, Stevie will find love.

I'll leave you today with a snippet from Winning Her Heart in the summer anthology put out by Victory Tales Press, Those Summer Nights on sale now at Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes and Nobles.

Winning Her Heart....
Saturday morning meant all the ladies of Rebel's Crossroads went through the door of the Fancy Lady on the corner of Stonewall and Jackson. Mrs. Muriel Lowe was no exception. Only today her walk was a bit more brisk than usual. There was news to share. "Morning ladies," Muriel called as she hurried through the front door.
"Morning Miss Lowe," Amber Bell called out as she ran a comb through the selection of hair and wound it around the curler. "Just have a seat and we'll get to you as soon as possible."

Muriel moved to the line of chairs in front of the plate glass window with an antebellum lady painted in the center. She placed her pocket book on her lap. She could not contain the excitement bubbling up inside. Studying the faces, she zeroed in on Eddie Cox.

"Morning, Muriel," Eddie Cox murmured as she looked up from the latest copy of The Rumor. "Did you hear, Kate Middleton is pregnant again?"

 Muriel huffed. "That isn't true and you know it. If the Princess of Cambridge was expecting, the Queen would be making an announcement."

Eddie folded the small print magazine open to the article she was reading. "It says so right here." She pointed. Muriel gave it a sideways glance and huffed. "That's not news." "You got something better?" Eddie demanded her nose turning up at the insult.
Muriel's eyes brightened. "I saw Stevie Darden open up the garage out back of her house."

Eddie's eyes widened. "You didn't."

Muriel bobbed her head. "I did and even better, she went off and brought back a gas can. Next thing I know, I heard her start that car up."

"Her husband's car! The T-Bird?"

"One and the same," Muriel replied, her expression smug.  "Looks like our favorite widow is trying to come out of retirement."

Eddie thought for a moment. "What do you think she's going to do with it?"

"Well, we all know that she's got debt. I bet she's finally given into her daughter's wishes and she's going to sell that car."

Eddie gave a low whistle. "I bet if you go the cemetery and put your ear to the ground, you can hear her husband, Bobby turning over in his grave."

"Ladies, you aren't spreading gossip are you?" Eyes wide, both women turned to see Amber's scolding face looking down at them.

"Why no, Amber," Muriel smiled. "I was just telling Eddie what I saw out my kitchen window this morning."

Amber stared at them. Muriel caught the slight tick in her left eye. As Amber opened her mouth to condemn them both, the door to the shop opened and every eye turned to watch Stevie Darden walk through the door. "You keep your gossip to yourself," Amber hissed before she turned to greet her customer. "Stevie, this is a surprise!"

To read more and see the other fantastic stories from the authors in this anthology, be sure to clink on the link below

Amazon:  http://amzn.to/28VTCCi

Smashwords :http://bit.ly/29SiGeu

Barnes and Noble : http://bit.ly/2agPOig


Saturday, July 9, 2016

Terrible Advice By Famous Authors by Sarah J. McNeal

I can almost guarantee that any author here who has done an interview has been asked the classic question: What advice would you give to an aspiring writer? I’m sure some of us have squirmed and given the question great thought in order to inspire someone who might want to become a writer. We may even think about the advice of our sage and famous authors who have gone before us and the answer they may have given to that question.

Most of us see a quote by a famous author and we’re eager to hold on to that nugget of wisdom with both hands. I even keep a little notebook with these lovely gems written in it. I’m all in when it comes to improving my writing and being the best writer I know how to be. Famous authors have already blazed that trail, so who better than a well-known author to learn how to improve my writing.

But hold on a minute, do these famous authors always spout literary wisdom, or could it be possible that maybe, just maybe, they may have thrown out some really horrible advice once in a while? Here are a few gems by famous authors which may prove to be the worst writing advice ever:

Edgar Allen Poe

“Include a beautiful woman with raven locks and porcelain skin, preferably quite young, and let her die tragically of some unknown ailment.”
–Edgar Allan Poe

“Write only when you have something to say.”
–David Hare

“Don’t have children.”  (I can’t help it. I’m thinking about the History Channel program: People: Population Zero on this quote)
–Richard Ford

Marguerite Duras

“Writing is trying to know beforehand what one would write if one wrote, which one never knows until afterward.”
Or: “There is something exhilarating about successful, magnificent mistakes.”
-Marguerite Duras’s

Here is Kathryn Davis’s account of how she knew when to abandon a book-in-progress:
The very first novel I wrote was horrible, as so many first novels are. I put my novel in a box and hid it somewhere. I don’t even know where it is anymore. When you’re working on a novel, you have this idea that it’s not easy to write one, and that one of the things you have to do is persist through the difficult times. Inevitably, there’s always that moment when you find yourself wondering, “Well, is this an instance of a problem that I have to persist through, or am I just working on a horrible novel that I should just get rid of?”
“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”
— Saul Bellow

Ray Bradbury

“Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you are doomed.” —Ray Bradbury

“Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.” — Kurt Vonnegut
“Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.”
— Oscar Wilde

“Don’t try.”  (Oh yes, this is a marvelous piece of advice. If we took it, no one would be writing anything anymore. We’d all be sitting around watching video games I suppose.)
— Charles Bukowski

“Write drunk; edit sober.”
— Ernest Hemingway

“Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.”
— George Orwell

“Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.” and “Same for places and things.”
—Elmore Leonard

“You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.”
— Robert A. Heinlein

“Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.”
— Henry Miller

“You’re a Genius all the time”
— Jack Kerouac

“Stop reading fiction – it’s all lies anyway, and it doesn’t have anything to tell you that you don’t know already.” (Yeah, like who needs Shakespeare, Charlotte or Emily Bronte, Lousia May Alcott, F. Scot Fitzgerald, or any of the other great writers who made the unforgivable mistake of writing that tacky and unnecessary fiction.)
— Will Self

Ernest Hemingway

“Actually if a writer needs a dictionary he should not write. He should have read the dictionary at least three times from beginning to end and then have loaned it to someone who needs it. There are only certain words which are valid and similies are like defective ammunition.” (I guess I better not look up the word “similies” then.)
— Ernest Hemingway

Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.
– Mark Twain

Immature poets imitate. Mature poets steal.
– C.S. Lewis

All the information you need can be given in dialogue.
– Elmore Leonard

Grammar is the Grave of Letters.
– Elbert Hubbard

Maybe you have some terrible advice you found from a famous author—bring it! I loved these quotes. Just when you hold an author you love up on that pedestal, be prepared for the day they said something really stupid just like the rest of us.

 Sarah J. McNeal  (not a famous author)

Sarah J. McNeal is a multi-published author of several genres including time travel, paranormal, western and historical fiction. She is a retired ER and Critical Care nurse who lives in North Carolina with her four-legged children, Lily, the Golden Retriever and Liberty, the cat. Besides her devotion to writing, she also has a great love of music and plays several instruments including violin, bagpipes, guitar and harmonica. Her books and short stories may be found at Prairie Rose Publications and its imprints Painted Pony Books, and Fire Star Press. Some of her fantasy and paranormal books may also be found at Publishing by Rebecca Vickery and Victory Tales Press. She welcomes you to her website and social media:

Monday, July 4, 2016

Opening Lines

Opening Lines

by Gerald Costlow  @RebeccaJVickery @GeraldCostlow #romance #books

Let's talk about the all important opening line of the story. What makes a good opening line? We'll begin with an example off the top of my head, from our vast collection of Very Important Novels.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness..." (Charles Dickins, A Tale of Two Cities)

This quote is recognized by anyone who received a traditional education. It's certainly a famous opening line, but is it a good example for us to follow on how to start a story? In other words, if a publisher received this manuscript from an unknown writer named C. Dickens today, what would an editor think of this peculiar opening?

"Yes, Mister Dickens, it is clever, but gets in the way of the story. Delete the entire first paragraph and try again. Let events in the story show the reader why it was both the best and worst of times, depending on your situation. Don't lecture. Your audience will soon learn getting caught up in the French revolution sucked and being in London wasn't much better back then for the average citizen."

I guess writing styles have changed since the nineteenth century. Let's give you a couple of modern day opening lines from my work.

"Clyde Barrow stood over the grave of his wife and went insane." (Taking Liberty) I introduce a character at an important event that's critical to the story while warning the reader this is not a lighthearted comedy, all in the first sentence.

“My turn,” Deputy Seth Morgan said to his mule. “Knock, knock.” The mule put its ears back. “Who’s there?” it replied. (A Ring for a Lady) I introduce two characters, warn the readers this story is a bit of a tall tale, and let them know Seth is the kind of friendly deputy that likes to joke around. The reader learns later on that Seth still takes his job seriously.

Both examples get the reader into the story as quickly as possible, and that's all I asked. Simple and effective. Just as important, it gets me typing the story onto the page as quickly as possible. All writers share the experience of staring at a blank white page with a title across the top and needing to find that perfect place to start the story and the perfect opening line to start it with.

Writers would have already been given plenty of advice on what not to write. Don't begin with a weather report (It was a dark and stormy night with the wind south-southeast gusting to 20 knots.) Don't give a synopsis of the story (If I knew then what I know now, I would never have accepted the dare to sleep in a haunted house and caused the death of my good friend "M".) And for Heaven's sake don't regurgitate pages of backstory  (Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, an evil Empire ruled the planets and I'm going to start with a history lesson of the thousand years before that so pay attention all this is important to the plot, if you can find one.)

Of course, great writers break those rules all the time and get away with it. Does that mean you can, too? If you're breaking the rules just to prove you're a great writer, you aren't. If it's because the story needs something special in spite of the rules, then trust the story.

So what is the perfect opening? That's a trick question. There are a million opening lines but only one way to begin a story: engage the reader. Make the reader want to turn the page. How you do it is as individual as the story itself.

Now back to that blank white page. Here's a little trick I came up with that works for me, and it's the first time I've shared this secret. I imagine a tiny reader is on my shoulder. I say to the little guy, "Something marvelous happened. I'll tell you all about it." Then I fix the opening scene in my mind and start typing as I tell him the story. The opening lines come naturally to me that way, and I rarely have to revisit the beginning of the story in the editing stage.

If the little guy on my shoulder applauds as I type "The End", then I know I've written an interesting tale about interesting characters. And if this imaginary guy insists on following me around after that and commenting on my lack of a social life, I know it's time to take a break from writing. But I digress.

What's your favorite opening line?
P.S. I might not be Charles Dickens, but I can now tell the world I was quoted alongside that great author. I'll leave out the detail that I was the one doing the quoting. It was the tallest of times; it was the shortest of times… 

Gerald Costlow is currently writing a supernatural romance series that spans generations for VTP Publishing. You can find a list of his published stories at Gerald Costlow at Amazon.com. His blog (such as it is) can be found at http://theweaving.blogspot.com/ and he promises to get it caught up as soon as he finishes his next story.     

Happy 4th of July! @RebeccaJVickery