Six Word Challenge Reveal

Happy new year, everyone! I’m pushing ahead with my novel, but in the meantime, wanted to share my six word challenge results from M.J.’s (@pageflutter on Instagram) “Six Word Challenge.” A six word challenge encourage you to spend 5 – 30 minutes a day coming up with a six word story based on a prompt.

I’ve been documenting some of my progress on Instagram… But here is my complete list!

Day Prompt Story
1 Gift exchange “But… I love you.”
“Thank you.”
2 Snowflakes “Watch out for the danger flakes.”
3 Reunited Gilmore Girls stayed same. I changed.
4 Under the Ice I won’t tell if you won’t.
5 Stuffed! “Of course I’m stuffed,” Eeyore sighed.
6 Under the Mistletoe “Well. I didn’t expect you here.”
 7  Dreaded Relative Everyone knew why they were invited.
 8  Bundle Up “It’s cold outside, baby.”
“Nice try.”
 9 Wonderland Hate this song. Stop the memories.
 10  Evergreen Wrinkled lips, trembling. Their final kiss.
 11  Dear Santa… An entire movie to accept Rudolph?!
 12  Sugar & Spice Once a currency, now cheap commodity.
 13 Wood Pile Hidden behind wood pile, she waits.
 14  Snow Day! Happily trapped in a snow globe.
 15 Office Party Reminder: Drinks limited. He breaks rules.
 16  On the Roof Rooftop date. Stargazing between tiny kisses.
 17  The List Relishing being on her sh*t list.
 18  Feast …End of days. Feast now, son.
 19  By the Fire Drawn by the frozen fire, smiling.
 20  Hot Cocoa Scalding, yet satisfying. Gotta have marshmallows.
 21  Unwanted Gift The cat doesn’t get my horror.
 22  Frozen “Let it go! Let—”
“Dude! Stop.”
 23  Care Package  Care package for sale. Donations accepted.
 24  First Candle  Candles lit. Stories told. Smiles shared.
 25  The Mensch  She helped, never hoping to receive.
 26  In the Box  Pandora tucked hope in the box.
 27  Heritage  “We are do-zers. We must do.”
 28  Helping Hand  She stood, ignoring his outstretched hand.
 29  White Elephant  Ultimately, the ring was never chosen.
 30  Cheers!  Everybody knows your name here. Why?
 31  Fresh Start  “Tomorrow is another day!”
“…Drama queen.”

Do you have any monthly challenges that you love and want to share?

Front Matter and Back Matter Fun: Disclaimers and Author Notes

front matter funPart of the work that comes with independent publishing is writing your own front matter. That is, a disclaimer at the front of the book, and for historical fiction, an author note at the end. I’ll admit I’ve kinda of always thought of the front matter as boring and a part of due diligence. But thanks to reading a couple blog posts, my mind is changed forever!

Front Matter: Disclaimers

I read this blog post about writing creative disclaimers from The Book Designer. The point of a disclaimer is supposed to protect the author and publisher from being sued for defamation or libel… you know… “any resemblance to anyone living or dead is coincidental,” etc. However, guest blogger Helen Sedwick makes the claim:

Many authors assume the legal disclaimers at the front of their books are supposed to be boring. They presume some pricey lawyers devised standard legalese, and they dare not depart from the norm.

Not so. The law does not require a disclaimer to be boring. In fact, just the opposite is true. The more interesting the disclaimer, the more likely it will be read. From a lawyer’s point of view, a well-written, well-read disclaimer is best of all.

I loved this idea. I had to take a stab at it for my work-in-progress…

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously to build a believable historical world. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. The aftermath of Lincoln’s assassination, however, was very real. For story purposes, the author altered the timeline of historical events but attempted to stay as close to the truth as possible. Well, as truthful as a story about assassination conspiracy timelines can be.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this disclaimer! I love the idea of beginning the story right from the front matter copy, rather than from chapter one.

Back Matter: Author Notes

This was one of my favorite parts of reading Ann Rinaldi books as a child. It’s one thing to read a thrilling story about girls do heroic things in long skirts, it’s another to read that the stories were inspired by real events that I could learn more about, if I wanted to. Ann Rinaldi began my love affair with historical fiction, and I want to continue the tradition along with authors like Amy Timberlake.

My author note has a number of sections, including the below “Ohio and the Civil War.” I also have sections titled Lincoln’s Assassination; Camp Chase, the Confederate prison that my main character escaped from; John Wilkes Booth; and a couple other sections which would be total spoilers if I shared them with you.

Here is a part of the draft author note I’m crafting for my yet-untitled work:

Ohio and the Civil War

Lincoln is often quoted as saying, “Ohio won the war,” and the reason for that is because Ohio volunteered the highest number of soldiers of any Union state. Without the help of Ohio’s men, it’s hard to say what would have happened. All we can say is that those huge numbers bolstered the Union Army so that its might was greater than the Confederate’s.

If you’re interested in learning more about Columbus in the Civil War, I encourage you to visit the Camp Chase cemetery in Hilltop, the Ohio Village sponsored by the Ohio History Connection, and Grove City’s Century Village.

Original 19th Century barns and cabins from all over Ohio have been collected to a single plot of land in Grove City to use for educational reenactments and school field trips. In fact, a couple of the characters in this novel were inspired by stories told to me by Grove City elders. Just remember though, that the personalities and actions of the characters in this novel are my own invention!

Thank you for joining me on this adventure. Your time and imagination are precious.

I hope to share more teaser content as I get closer to finishing the first draft. I’m within 10,000 words of my goal, which is exciting! And a little scary, because that means I’m that much closer to brutal edit mode…

Take a Library Tour

columbusMetroLibraryI love libraries with a passion that some say borders on the abnormal. When I visit a new city, there are two things I must do:

  1. Visit whatever water exhibit available (fountains, lakes, etc).
  2. Visit the local library.

The first is something my father instilled in me. He grew up in a water area and feels at home where water is prominent. The second again is something my father began, back when wifi wasn’t prevalent and he needed email access.

Enter the local library. The amazing thing about local libraries is that they say more about a town than you would imagine. Is the library in an historic house? Then books are seen as something to be treasured, but perhaps only to be seen, not used. Is the library in a modern building, with a lot of light and computers? The city perhaps feels that knowledge is power.

These are, of course, my biased opinions based on what little I know about budgets, architecture, and book culture. But the fact remains that you can learn a lot about a city by going to the local library. Better yet, chat with the librarian and get some interesting facts about the town.

Columbus, Ohio, where I am located, has over 30 libraries. Many belong to the Columbus Metropolitan system, and others are specific to the suburbs in the area. When preparing for my book launch party back in 2010, I hit six of the libraries and was stunned by how different they were. It was fascinating to see how the interior layout of the building changed the mood; how the configuration of the books brought certain people together and kept others apart.

Take a library tour of your city, if you’re blessed to be in a city that has more than one library. It was a blast for me to spend a day driving around town, popping into a library to leave some fliers and wander around the building. It lifted my spirits and made me feel good about where I’m living, as a reader and an author.

Try it sometime. You just might like it. But you don’t have to take my word for it.

Best,
Belinda

10 Irrational but Nonetheless Persistent Fears I’ve Picked Up from Reading Adult Historical Romances

  1. Apparently, I either have to be so beautiful everyone chases after me, or so unique no one knows what to do with me, in order to get anyone’s romantic attention.
  2. Because I’m fairly certain I’m neither of the above, I shall be forever alone.
  3. I will never be able to breathe properly around my love interest, either because of my unmentionables (damn corset) or because he looks so delicious I hyperventilate into a faint.
  4. When I fall in love it will be with someone who probably doesn’t deserve it.
  5. My romantic interest will have a rake’s past, and therefore, the sexual infections that come along with all those bed adventures.
  6. One or both of my parents will die before I meet my romantic interest, meaning I will doubt his interest in me over my inheritance (which, let’s be honest, will probably not be very much).
  7. When I catch my romantic interest’s gaze across the room, our gaze will burn so hot we might cause people to spontaneously combust.
  8. I will want to have sexy time with him every time I see him. This will prove to be inconvenient should I see him in church.
  9. My romantic interest will have a brooding past, which the books tell me is supposed to make him irresistible. I now fear for my sanity.
  10. The first time I have sexy time with my romantic interest, it will either be mind-blowingly good, or so bad I’m crippled.

What about you?

Best, Belinda

The Pros and Cons of Living a Historical Romance Novel

Dear Reader,

It is so easy to wish you lived the life of a heroine from a romance novel. I know I do, sometimes, when I’m lost in a particularly good historical romance. I began to wonder, what are the pros and cons involved?

Pro: Even if you’re ugly (let’s face it, you’re probably pretty and just have bad self-esteem), you’re gonna end up with a beautiful man. No, not physically. I mean, he might be physically beautiful. I certainly hope you, as the heroine, think he’s attractive. No, I mean he’s got a beautiful soul, the type that makes  you feel beautiful because of the way he looks at you.

Con: You probably had to suffer something in order to deserve such a beautiful man, like losing all your money, parents, or home, or all of those combined. Maybe you lost the affection of the duke and are having to settle for that viscount who always admired you from afar. Or let’s face it, you were never on the duke’s radar.

Pro: All the men wear suits. All the time. And they look good doing it. And when they aren’t wearing suits, they roll their sleeves up to their elbows to show off those delicious forearms of theirs. They also lose their cravats, giving you a peek at their impressive pecs.

Con: You have to wear a corset. Good luck breathing or eating or, you know, moving comfortably.

Pro: If you’re the typical historical romance heroine, you have at least one servant to help you get dressed. She knows how to do your hair so you always look good, she knows the colors that show off your eyes, and she knows when to tighten that corset to really get your man’s attention.

Con: You can’t dress or undress yourself because there are so many freaking layers to have to tie into place.

Pro: You need help getting undressed. Ask your hero. He will be glad to help, and you will be glad you asked him to.

Con: It might take him half an hour to undress you because of all those layers, so unless he’s awesome at teasing, you can lose the mood quickly.

Pro: You probably have two guys interested in you, and at the same time. However will you choose??

Con: One of those guys may very well try to shoot you or the guy you chose out of jealousy. That, or challenge your beau to a duel. Or kidnap you. Or threaten your family, if you’re one of those lucky heroines who has a family.

Pro: You often get to stand at the top of a staircase, hand on the rail, looking down at a man who is absolutely blown away by how the candles make your hair shine.

Con: It is freaking hot under those candles and the smoke is getting in your eyes and for heaven’s sake, and you have to walk down the stairs in heels without wiping out. And you’re still wearing a corset.

Share in the comments what other pro/con combinations about living in a historical romance novel! And don’t forget, I’m posting inspirational quotes, imagery, and videos at my Tumblr. You can ask me questions there and submit content for me to share with everyone. See you over there!

P.S. Image reblogged from my Tumblr, via Jessica J Hansen.

Best,

Belinda

Stylish Blogger Award

Dear Reader,

You are looking at, well, reading, the recipient of the Stylish Blogger award, given to me by fellow author Jen Lane. I would like to thank Jen and the academy for thinking of me.

There are some criteria to winning this award:

  • Link back to the person who gave it to you.
  • Give 7 facts about yourself.
  • Award 15 great bloggers you’ve recently discovered.
  • Contact them and tell them about the award.

So the seven facts about me… be prepared to be amazed.

Numero Uno

I own an egregious amount of green things, including clothing, accessories, and office supplies like a stapler and hole punch. Took me a while to find those.

Numero Dos

I don’t speak Spanish. I took French for three years and miss it, but haven’t made it a priority to pick it up again.

Numero Tres

I am an intermediate lindy hop dancer. Don’t know what lindy hop is? Here is a cool how-to if you’re interested. Great workout.

Numero Quatro

In high school I made a comic about a princess who was out for revenge because someone had killed her parents.

Numero Cinco

I love sushi. A lot.

Numero Seis

I had to look up the number six in order to write it in Spanish.

Numero Siete

If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m actually pretty lame. But I own it, which makes it a cool lame. That’s my story, I’m sticking to it.

And now my awardees!

  1. Catherine, Caffeinated (non-fiction indie author)
  2. Susan Spann (fiction author)
  3. Kait Nolan (paranormal romance indie author)
  4. Susan Bischoff (supernatural romance indie author)
  5. Critique This WIP (author blog)
  6. Derek Canyon (adventures in e-publishing)
  7. Evangeline Holland (historical fiction author)
  8. Joel Kirkpatrick (indie author)
  9. Charlie Courtland (book reviews)
  10. John Betcher (indie thriller author)

All the best,

Belinda

Worderella’s How to Make a Character Map

Dear Reader,

After giving you a taste of Haunting Miss Trentwood, I thought it would be nice if I showed you one of the many ways I keep track of who I’m writing about, how they relate to one another, etc.

I love pen and paper, and could probably buy out any office supply store in the blink of an eye (that is, if I had unlimited funds, which, thankfully, I do not).

That said, I’m sure it wouldn’t surprise you to hear that I adore Post-it notes. The image in this post shows how I visualize the love triangle(s) from Haunting Miss Trentwood. I would make the image bigger but then it might spoil some of the plot twists!

You see, dear Reader, this is a sort of map for me. I use this to remind me where tensions occur between characters. I’m color code so I know which character is part of which plot or subplot, and then I draw arrows with visuals to tell me the generics about the relationships.

I was thrilled to read Deanna Raybourn’s blog when she said she does something similar: a collage of images that help inspire her current work-in-progress. I love learning other types of writing exercises that don’t—shock!—require you to write. I need to make things because I am a Maker. I need to use my hands while I’m figuring something out, even something as cerebral as a plot twist. And then after I’ve made the thing, I want to share how I did it. Like this.

How to make a Character Map

  1. Have a crummy day at work.
  2. Have an awesome conversation on Facebook.
  3. Grab a tabloid-sized sheet of paper, multiple colors of small sticky notes, a pen, and a pencil.
  4. Write the names of the main characters on different colors of the sticky notes. Try to group the characters based on their primary plot lines.
  5. Play around with the configuration of the character sticky notes on the page until you can get them to fit, and represent the relationships.
  6. Draw arrows from one sticky note to the other to show direct connections.
    • Use dotted lines to show indirect connections.
  7. Use a pencil because you might make a mistake and try to draw one arrow over another.
  8. To keep the character map legible, try to arrange the stick notes so you won’t have to cross arrows.
  9. Have fun with it! I drew a funny angry face to show antagonists, hearts to show love interests, and broken hearts to show tragedy.
  10. Put the character map somewhere you can glance at when you need inspiration.

I had so much fun with this, I might do it for the relationships I have in my life, and use it as a sort of art piece in my apartment. Or as a way for me to remember who is who at work. Learning the organizational scheme of a new workplace is always so stressful…

All the best,

Belinda

Checking In

Hello everyone!

Yes, I am alive. I apologize for my absence. Graduate school takes up far more time than I realized, and now I am working full-time in an internship that requires too much of my creativity… I come home exhausted yet satisfied.

Loyalty Contest

I realize I’ve probably lost a lot of my readership, so if you’re still around, thank you for sticking with me. Make sure to comment and tell everyone what you’ve been up to lately. One of the commenters will receive a free copy of my “best of” book, Worderella On Writing. The 52 pg book contains my most popular posts for your scribbling pleasure. As a full disclosure, I make one dollar per purchase.

The winner will be notified/announced next week.

Writing

In terms of writing, I was a little burned out from my fiction class this last semester. However, the class improved my writing tremendously, and I wouldn’t give up that experience for the world. Word Nerd was kind enough to provide comments for Trentwood’s Orphan, the entire draft, and boy do I have some work to do. On the one hand, it seems she liked it, on the other hand, I was obviously way too close to the story because what I thought was clear about the characters was actually very muddy.

I have a lot of work to do. But now that I’ve taken a six-month break from the work, and a month-long break from writing in general, I think I’m ready for it. Wish me luck!

Guest Posts

Do you have a topic you’d like to talk about? Are you new to self-publishing, a veteran, or somewhere in-between? Do you have editing and/or writing tips that others could learn? Submit your idea and we’ll work out deadline. Make sure to provide a summary of your idea.

Find a Friend Dialogue Exercise

By _Yogu at Flickr

Today in class we talked about the mechanics of dialogue, and how it’s a weakness for some writers and a strength for others. We read Robert Bausch’s short story, “Aren’t You Happy For Me?”, which I suggest you all read as an excellent example of external conflict (the dialogue) and internal conflict (the exposition).

You should also read David Foster Wallace’s “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men” for another type of story where the dialogue is the entire story. Not only that, but he only provides half of the conversation, leaving the reader to fill in the gaps. Disturbing and brilliant.

Besides talking about the pitfalls of dialogue, which can include talking heads and over-philosophizing, we talked about exercises that we each use as a way to strengthen our dialogue-writing skills.

I admitted to being a closet eavesdropper. One of the guys in the class pulled out a tiny composition book and admitted to taking it with him to the bar, which inspired another guy to pull out his own tiny notebook meant for the same purpose.

For our class exercise, we had to pair up and write a conversation together. This was a lot of fun. My partner and I began giggling because we were writing an argument that started over the lack of peanut butter… it was, as Dane Cook describes, a “nothing” fight. Yet, under the surface, there was real conflict. Amazing what can come out of five minutes of passing a journal back and forth.

Try this exercise with a friend of yours, whether they’re a “writer” or not. It’s a lot of fun, and inspires new story ideas, guaranteed.

  1. The first writer pulls out a piece of paper and begins their dialogue with the words “I’m sorry, but…”. They complete the sentence and pass the journal to their partner.
  2. The partner, after reading the sentence,writes a line (or paragraph) of dialogue which heightens the tension.
  3. Keep passing the journal back and forth, trying to throw curve balls at one another without delving into the absurd.
  4. Try not to rely on dialogue tags to reveal how the character is speaking.
  5. In fact, don’t use dialogue tags at all. Rely on your word choice and punctuation.

Do you have a favorite dialogue exercise? Let us know in the comments.

Big Day

Well, with a day full of classes and the inauguration, I managed to forget to post. Bad Belinda! I don’t really have a lot to say, other than the fact that I submitted my first short short story (five pages), and I’m terrified to hear the critique. I’m also looking forward to it. But still terrified.

Anyway, as a historical fiction writer, a part of me has to wonder… what will future historical writers say about this day? Any speculations? Try to put yourself in the shoes of a historical fiction writer, trying to capture this day. If you had one paragraph, what would you write?

And please, no flame wars. If you don’t agree with what is written in the comments, please just ignore it.