close

Seekerville: The Journey Continues | category: Winnie Griggs

home

Seekerville: The Journey Continues

seekerville.blogspot.com

Playing With Acrostics

 

Playing With Acrostics

Hello everyone,

Winnie Griggs here. Today I wanted to talk about Acrostics. And just so everyone is on the same page, an Acrostic is a poem or verse, either structured or free form, where certain letters in each line, when read vertically, spell out a word or phrase. And the word that is formed refers back to the verse itself. For instance if the word formed is clock, then the verse itself would be about some aspect of clocks or time.

Now, don’t confuse an Acrostic with an Acronym. While similar, there is a key difference. An acronym uses the first letter of each word (sometimes excluding prepositions) to form a shortcut word. For example NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), and Scuba (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus). An Acrostic, on the other hand, is a verse where certain letters from each line have significance but are not intended to be taken as a substitute for the whole. 

Of course I’ve known about acrostics since my schooldays. But what I didn’t know until recently is that there were so many different forms of acrostics.  So today I thought I’d give quick description and example of each

There is, of course, the Conventional Acrostic.

This is the one you usually have in mind when you think about acrostics. In a conventional acrostic, it is the first letter of each line that forms the word. For instance, here is an acrostic I worked up on one of my favorite flowers. (Caveat, I’m by no means a poet)

Tall and splendid

Uniquely bell-shaped

Lovely to look at

In the words of Mary Poppins

Practically perfect in every way

Playing With Acrostics

 

 And just because I was on a roll, here's one I did using my name

Wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend

Informed by these precious relationships

Notes from songs of love and laughter

Necessarily tinged with droplets of pain and loss

Inspiration is born in these moments

Eventually emerging in the pages of a book 

 

Then there’s the Telestich Acrostic

This one uses the LAST letter of each line to form the word or phrase. Again, I tried my hand at writing one (and I found this one much more difficult than the other!) and here is what I came up with:

When I’m down they’re therapeutic

I’ll have one, no make it two

Chocolate chip and peanut butter too

But oh there’s shortbread and macaroons—it’s so hard to pick

Especially when you throw in gingersnap and biscotti

Who am I fooling by saying just two, certainly not me

My willpower’s no proof against their siren calls

 

A third type is the Mesostich Acrostic

For this one, letters from somewhere in the middle of each line are aligned and used to form the word or phrase. For example:

                   A harbinger of spring
              With a rosy red breast
And a short thin beak
               Your bright blue eggs
Have a beauty unique 

 

Playing With Acrostics


 

Adding more complexity is the Double Acrostic.

This one requires that both the first letter of each line AND the last letter of each line form words.  My attempt at this one is a bit convoluted, but here it is.

Ride along as if on a magic carpet
Over hill and dale, past trees and a river
Accompanied by friends, sipping on a chai
Destination aside, it's fun riding with pals in my Jeep

 

The last two forms don’t actually form words with a single letter. They take the Acrostic in a different direction 

You have the Abecedarian

Like a Conventional Acrostic, you focus on the first letter of each line. But instead of those letters forming a word, they are successive letters of the alphabet. So, if the poem were written in English, there would be 26 lines moving through the alphabet, starting with A and going through Z. I did not try my hand at this one. But you can see an example here: https://www.poetrysoup.com/poem/alphabet_games_1484213

Other examples of this can be found in Psalm 119 and Provers 31. Of course it’s only in the Hebrew version that you can see this progression in the Hebrew alphabet.

  

Then there's The Golden Shovel

Playing With Acrostics


This is a much more recent version of the acrostic. It was created by National Book Award winning US poet Terrance Hayes in 2010. In a Golden Shovel you take a line, or lines, from someone else’s writing, and use each of their words as the end-words of each line in your poem. In the example below, I used a line from Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken, one of my favorite poems. 

Once when it was just me, myself and I
I dug out a box of pictures I took
back in my college days, and thought over the
choices I'd made and how this one or that one
would have changed things more or less.
Then I happily realized the road I’d traveled
brought no regrets – and I’m ready for whatever else might come on by

 

There you have it - my short overview of acrostics. What do you think? Were any of these formats new to you? Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for a chance to win a book of your choice.

And if anyone wants to try their hand at writing their own acrostic, I'll give a $10 gift card to one of the authors of those as well. 

 

A Checklist For Writing Your Happily Ever After

 

A Checklist For Writing Your Happily Ever After

Hi everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Today I want to discuss one of the components that is absolutely essential to any romance story - the Happily Ever After ending (HEA). And for this discussion I’m going to lump Happy For Now (HFN) endings under the same umbrella.

From the outside looking in, this element of your romance seems simple enough to write. After completing their story journey, the hero and heroine discover they truly do love each other, they profess this sentiment in a heart-tugging, romantic manner, and then—figuratively or literally—thy ride off into the sunset with the blissful intention of never parting. Easy-peasy, right?

Wrong—at least not if it’s done right. As with most things, getting it right is much harder than it looks.

So how do you make sure your ending is satisfying and memorable? Below are some things you should take into consideration when crafting your story’s HEA

A Checklist For Writing Your Happily Ever After


Don’t rush the ending.
There are certain scenes, even in the fastest paced stories, that have a huge emotional payout for your reader - these are the scenes you most certainly DON’T want to race through, that you want to dig into in order to provide depth and texture and sensory richness. These scenes are the heart and soul of your book, the emotional lynchpins that, when structured well, can land a book on many a reader’s keeper shelf. In a romance, the HEA is one of those scenes.  This means that you should take the pains to immerse the reader in whatever emotions are applicable - hope, joy, anguish, poignancy, rage, passion, or a deep and abiding commitment, or some combination of these.
Just one note of caution here. While you don't want to rush your ending, you don't want it to drag on either. Make sure you give it the emotional depth it needs and then wrap it up.

The HEA should never appear to be cookie cutter or generic.
An ending that has nothing to do with the characters and their story journey will always fall flat. Rather, your HEA moment should be informed by these specific characters and the specific growth and healing they experienced throughout the story. This is their payoff for all of that angst they endured (and the payoff for the reader as well) so make it fit!

Don't make the HEA moment feel like it comes from ‘out of the blue’.
We’ve all read at least one book where the characters had a relationship that went something like “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, oh wait-I love you.”  Not very realistic and also not memorable (except in a bad way). For the HEA to be satisfying the reader needs to feel it came about over time and as a result of personal growth and the recognition of qualities in their .

A Checklist For Writing Your Happily Ever After


Your protagonists should show that they’ve earned their HEA.
They do this by exhibiting growth through overcoming obstacles both external and internal throughout their story journey. It should be clear that the people they were at the beginning of your story could not have made the commitment necessary to grasp their HEA, that it is only by undergoing the changes experienced through their story journey that they are finally ready to make the necessary leap of faith.

 

There should be a sacrifice of some sort on the part of both protagonists.
Again they need to show they deserve this reward. The sacrifice they each make won’t be the same or even carry the same weight. Instead the sacrifice will be tied to who they are and what their wound is. And a good rule of thumb is, whoever has the biggest problem with commitment should be the one to sacrifice the most, to make the biggest leap, to make himself/herself vulnerable in order to reach for the HEA in the end.


There should be indications that this HEA is truly a new beginning for a rich and fulfilling life to come.
Now that they’ve committed to each other the reader wants some indication that this commitment will stick, especially if one or both fought really hard against it for a large portion of the story. In many romances this is done with an epilogue, but that’s not the only way to do it. It can be shown in the depth of the sacrifice, in the willingness of a proud protagonist to humble himself.

A Checklist For Writing Your Happily Ever After


So that’s my HEA checklist. If you've reached this point in the writing of your story, you've invested a lot of blood, sweat and tears in its creation - make sure you don't fumble the ending. Give your readers an ending that makes them sigh with satisfaction and think about your story long after they've closed the book.

Can you give an example of a book or film that you thought had a particularly memorable HEA? Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for any book from my backlist.

Talulla

 

Talulla

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. I’m so excited - the release day for Talulla, the ninth book in the multi-author Love Train series, is almost here - it releases on August 1st.

As I posted last month, multi-author projects are always fun. The chance to bounce ideas off of each other and do some collective worldbuilding, even when the books are standalone, brings an extra layer of excitement to a project. One of my contributions to the worldbuilding aspect was to speak to a curator at a railroad museum and get a copy of a timetable that showed travel times and stops along the Union Pacific route in the 1870s. Others dug out information on Pullman cars, dining options, how sleeper berths were set-up and stored away and many other little details that went into making the train travel portion of our stories as realistic as possible.

As for the stories themselves, other than details about wordcount and other administrative issues, each of the ten participating authors were given the following set-up for the books:    

  • The books will all be standalone
  • Each story will have the hero and heroine encountering each other while traveling on a Union Pacific train, engine number 1216. The train travel will happen on page for at least part of the story.
  • The time frame will be 1869 or later.
  • A matchmaking conductor will be featured in each book. (character sketch provided).

Given these identical parameters, it was really interesting to see how VERY differently each story turned out. 

When I started brainstorming the story for my book, Talulla, I started by reading through my idea file.  You know, that place where an author stores those ‘someday’ ideas, snippets of character sketches, plot points, what-ifs that are intriguing enough to grab your attention, but not fully formed enough to earn a story just yet. And the one that tugged at me was an idea I had pitched to my editor in my early days of writing for LIH. It was rejected, and rightly so, it wasn’t developed enough at the time. But that was over a dozen years ago and with the advantage of a little more experience under my belt I could see the weak spots and figure out how best to rework it.

I was very excited to be able to finally breathe new life into this story and get it ‘out there’ in the world at large. I know this may sound silly, but whenever I develop a story to the point of having a proposal pulled together, I get invested in the characters and feel I’m letting them down if I don’t get the story written.

 

Here’s an excerpt. For context, Tally and Max were childhood friends but a tragic accident that resulted in the death of her brother changed all that. She went away to boarding school and it’s been twelve years since they’ve seen each other. Max is now a widowed father and he and his seven-year-old daughter Bonnie are traveling home on a train in the crowded coach car when Bonnie falls prey to travel sickness. The conductor finds a passenger with extra seating in her Pullman section who agrees to share her space with the sick child. Here is how the first meeting goes.

 

A split second before Henry made the introductions, recognition kicked Max in the gut. Tally!

Henry waved to the woman. “Mr. Maxwell Wallace, this is Miss Talulla Alden. Miss Alden, this is Mr. Maxwell Wallace and his daughter Bonnie.”

Max saw her stiffen, as he was certain he had. He gave a short nod. “Tally.”

“Max?” Her tone conveyed shock, as if she’d just bitten into something that was unexpectedly sour.

Henry looked from one to the other of them in obvious delight. “So you two know each other?”

Max nodded. “We do. Or at least we did, many years ago.” Tally Alden—the flesh and blood reminder of one of the lowest moments and biggest regrets of his life. No wonder she’d seemed familiar out there on the platform and that he’d thought of her earlier.

The conductor rocked back on his heels looking very pleased with himself. “Well this is excellent. You can get reacquainted and there won’t be any of that awkwardness strangers experience when meeting each other for the first time.”

Max barely managed to keep from rolling his eyes. If Henry only knew.

Then Max shifted, settling Bonnie more comfortably in his arms. Tally seemed to collect herself at that. She waved to the upholstered seat across from her. “Please, lay your little girl down. And have a seat as well.”

She glanced from his daughter to the conductor. Anywhere but at him it seemed. “I know you’re not a porter, but would it be possible to get a blanket for Bonnie?”

The conductor touched the brim of his hat. “I’ll see to it right away. And if there is anything else I can do to make this new seating arrangement more comfortable for the three of you please let me know.”

Max hesitated, not sure he was truly welcome. But another fretful movement from Bonnie settled the matter. He took the seat across from Tally, laying Bonnie gently down with her head in his lap. “I know you and I didn’t leave things on the best of terms when we were last together.” A definite understatement. That eyes-blazing declaration that she hated him had been the last words she’d spoken directly to him before today. “But I’m very grateful that you’re doing this for Bonnie.”

She folded her hands in her lap. “Your daughter is an innocent and she’s suffering. I wouldn’t be so cruel as to turn her away.”

Her tone and cold look said that the characterization of innocent didn’t extend to him. It seemed she still hadn’t forgiven him.

“You look good Tally, all grown up. I wouldn’t have recognized you as that gangly, freckle faced girl I remember.” This poised, graceful, fashionable woman was nothing like the little tomboy who used to follow him and her older brother around with sometimes annoying persistence, wanting to be included even when her presence wasn’t welcome.

She smiled, though it didn’t extend to her eyes. “No one’s called me Tally since I left Windflower.” A shadow crossed her face. She was no doubt remembering Jamie, the one who’d given her the nickname.

“Would you prefer Talulla?” he asked quickly. “Or Miss Alden perhaps?”

She waved a hand. “Tally’s fine.”

He leaned back, careful not to jostle Bonnie, and studied her a moment as she fiddled with a chain at her neck, her gaze once more focused elsewhere. Max finally decided it was up to him to carry the conversation. “So what takes you home after all these years?”

She tucked a tendril behind her ear, her expression closed off, just short of hostile. “There’s an heirloom I’m supposed to inherit on my twenty second birthday, which happened this week. My father is holding it hostage until I come to personally collect it.”

Good for Rupert. “Then let me offer you a belated happy birthday. And I’m sure your father will be happy for the opportunity to see you again, whatever the reason.” He couldn’t resist adding “It’s been some time since you were last home, hasn’t it?”

Tally’s eyes narrowed at that.


I hope you enjoyed this sneak peak into
Talulla. Leave a comment with your thoughts to be entered in a drawing for a copy of Talulla, to be delivered once it goes live.

 

Talulla

TALULLA

Talulla

Will returning home bring Talulla the peace that’s eluded her for half her life?

Ten-year-old Talulla watched in horror as her beloved brother fell through the ice while trying to save her. Thanks to the quick actions of Max, her brother’s closest friend, she survived. Her brother didn’t. 

When she overhears Max and her father discussing that she’s to blame, Talulla feels betrayed by those she thought she could most trust. A boarding school becomes her refuge, and she never looked back. Until now.

Widowed father Max is traveling home with his young daughter. Unfortunately, a bad case of travel sickness overtakes the little girl, and Max turns to the conductor for help. When the man finds a passenger willing to share her Pullman section, Max is relieved—until he discovers their benefactor is Talulla, a woman whose last words to Max were an impassioned I hate you.

Can these two find a way to push past their mutual distrust to regain the friendship they once shared. And perhaps something more…

To pre-order, click HERE



Multi-Author Projects with help from guest Pam Crooks

 

Multi-Author Projects with help from guest Pam Crooks

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. I just finished setting up the pre-order for my book Talulla (yaaayy!!) This will be Book 9 in the Love Train Series, a 10 book multi-author project or MAP. And while things are still fresh in my mind, I thought I’d talk a little bit about MAPs.

First, MAPs are a collection of stories written by multiple authors around a unifying thread. This can be a concept, a location, an event, a season, a trope, or some other element. They can be author led or publisher/editor led. And they can be any length from short story to novella to full novel.

Over the course of my career I’ve participated in several of these.

For example I’ve done author-led short story collections, one with a recipe theme (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1942505000) and one with a Christmas theme (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076DCWMPD).

I’ve done Editor-led novella collections, one based on Thanksgiving (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005HRPY1G) and one whose theme was merely Journeys (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00YMEE2D6)

I’ve participated in an editor-led novel collection with an Irish Brides theme (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074C68VV2

And also some author-led novel collections, one with the theme of Bachelors and Babies (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07SYD3BKF) and the current Love Train series (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09TRM31MK)

But as many of these as I’ve participated in, I’ve never served as admin/coordinator on one. So for some insight into how to step into that role, I turned to writer friend and one of the most organized people I know Pam Crooks. So take it away Pam.

 

Multi-Author Projects with help from guest Pam Crooks

  • How many of these projects have you coordinated/managed either alone or as part of an admin team?
    I was invited to participate in my first MAP back in 2018, the Widows of Wildcat Ridge series, the brainchild of Charlene Raddon and Zina Abbott.  I was thrilled and honored and even more excited!  By the time my invitation came, the project was already underway, and my book was the 8th one, right in the middle.
    Since I came in late, I had very little to do with the organizing, but I have learned since that WoWR was different and more difficult in that there were a lot of moving parts.  Maps, flora, wildlife, characters, the same town and villain, and so on. It took a lot of coordinating, a lot of emails, a Drop Box account for files, etc.  It was a fun series, though, and I loved being a part of it.
    I was then invited by Charlene to do another series, Bachelors & Babies.  Somehow, I ended up being much more involved, and we kept the series much simpler.  Then came the sequel, Cupids & Cowboys.  Finally, my current MAP is Love Train, of which I’m pretty much the head honcho. 
    You could say organizing is my thing.  😊

  • Do you believe in using any kind of formal agreement for participants to sign? Why or why not? 
    We had a contract with WoWR, and we eventually found it was difficult to enforce.  By the time the next series came along, we decided against having a contract, and everything has worked perfectly fine.

  • How do you select which authors to invite to participate?
    Charlene and I worked together on the earlier series inviting authors, mostly her friends. Most of them were new to me, or I hadn’t worked with them before, so when we decided to do Love Train, I was much more selective in who to invite.  We researched the authors, checked their rankings and reviews, how active they were online, if they were diligent at promoting, that sort of thing. 
    Of course, the bigger name of the author, the busier she is, so I got a couple of ‘no’s’ initially.  But I’m so proud to have four of my sister fillies from Petticoats & Pistols in the Love Train MAP with me – Shanna Hatfield, Kit Morgan, Winnie Griggs, and Linda Broday.  I’ve known these ladies for years and know I can depend on them.  But more importantly, I know they are popular historical western romance authors, and that’s huge.

  • Besides the connecting thread, which parts of the project should the coordinator(s) control, if any (for example: wordcount, cover design, heat level, release order & frequency, titles, consistent formatting, etc.)?  
    That was all determined before we ever issued our first invitation, and I included all the information I had, including who had already agreed to participate, in my invitation letter.
    Never did we ask for input from an author.  Too many opinions, I’m afraid.  Much simpler to present the final idea and roll with it.
    An author needs to know what she’s getting into and if she’ll have time for the project.  In our case, since Charlene has been a cover designer for years, she handled the covers, chapter headers, scene breaks, etc., and charged us a fair price.  She was wonderful about giving us a nice selection of models to choose from and allowed us input on her designs.
    Once all the authors were in place, I composed a formal document of Guidelines and a few character sketches of the recurring characters and posted them in our Google Sheet.  Everyone had access to this document, and it contained a wealth of information besides just the Guidelines.  Things like h/h names, preorder dates, release dates, buy links, order of release, that sort of thing.
    NOTE: Winnie here - two other things that the coordinator specifically provided on these projects were platform and pricing info.

  • What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered in working on these projects?
    The biggest challenge is keeping all the authors on schedule.  Some authors are involved in other MAPs or their own standalone books, so they don’t always pay attention to where they are supposed to be and when in my series.  Also, a few authors are not techy and need more help with formatting, planning their release parties, working with Google Spreadsheets, etc.

  • What lessons have you learned over the course of your experience with these projects?
    I have learned that one person (not necessarily two unless you really, really work well with each other) needs to keep her thumb on the pulse of things.  That means keeping track of preorder dates, release dates, and staying in touch with each author.  Which entails lots of behind-the-scenes communication! 

  • What do you see as the benefits of participating in these projects as opposed to writing your own stand-alone or single author series?
    The obvious benefit is sharing the project with other authors.  Lightening the load, so to speak.  As long as every author promotes her book, generously mentions other authors and helps to promote them as well, enthusiasm for the project will stay high.  Assuming the books are written (and edited) well, sales are about guaranteed.  Ditto with a higher number of reviews.  And that means more profits for everyone.

  • Other information you’d like to share?
    For anyone who is thinking of starting their own MAP, run, don’t walk, to buy “How to Run Successful MAPs: An Author’s Guide to Multi-Author Projects and How to Make them Profitable” by romance author Cheryl Wright.  The book just came out earlier this month and is chock-full of information presented in an easy-to-read, quick-to-read format.  You’re guaranteed to learn something new and important!

 Thanks Pam, that's really great info.

Pam and I are in the Bachelor & Babies series together - her Trace is  Book 1 and my Sawyer is Book 6. And I'm excited to announce it's going on sale for three days. 

Every book in the series will be reduced to 99¢ starting this Friday through Sunday, Father’s Day!  Three days isn’t very long, so you’ll have to hurry to take advantage of our sale! 

Multi-Author Projects with help from guest Pam Crooks

To see every book in this series, click the Bachelors & Babies Series Link on 
Amazon

Multi-Author Projects with help from guest Pam Crooks

So let's talk about Multi-Author Projects. 
As a reader do you enjoy them? What do you think are the optimum number of books? What sorts of connecting threads do you like to see?

Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for your choice of any book from my backlist.

Multi-Author Projects with help from guest Pam Crooks

Multi-Author Projects with help from guest Pam Crooks

Bestselling romance author Pam Crooks grew up in the ranch country of western Nebraska, so it was inevitable she’d eventually write lots of books about cowboys.   Pam still lives in Nebraska with her husband (who is not a cowboy), four married daughters and a whole slew of perfect grandchildren. 

Over the course of her writing career Pam has written 30 romances, most of them historical westerns, but she's proud of her contemporary sweet romances as well!  Stay up on the latest news from Pam at
www.pamcrooks.com


 

 

 

It’s Almost Here! New Release and a Giveaway

 

It’s Almost Here!  New Release and a Giveaway

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. I’m so excited - the release day for Her Amish Springtime Miracle, the second book in my Hope’s Haven series, releases on Tuesday May 24th.

Her Amish Springtime Miracle features Hannah, the youngest of the three Eicher sisters, as the heroine. When I developed her character I looked to her biblical namesake. Hannah Eicher is a young Amish woman who has learns from her doctor that she will likely never be able to bear children. When an infant girl is abandoned in her family’s barn with a note pleading with Hannah to raise her, Hannah knows it’s an answered prayer. Now, a year later, Hannah is on the cusp of finalizing her adoption of baby Grace.

The hero, Mike is an paramedic with unwanted ties to the Amish. His parents were Amish but when he was a young child his mother died and his father left with bitter feelings toward  the community and embraced a more worldly lifestyle. This meant Mike was raised in the English world from age seven so for all intents and purposes he is an Englischer. But now he has to go back to his childhood community to find a lost-to-him nephew, the last member of his English family.

Both Hannah and Mike are seeking to build family ties in an unconventional manner but this commonality is only one of the things that draw them together. Their differences, though, are more profound. Because neither is ready to set aside the lifestyle and beliefs of the world they inhabit.

When I first conceived this story I never imagined the difficulty I would have in writing the final third of the book (It would have helped if I was more of a plotter and less of a pantser ). Trying to give Hannah and Mike their HEA when they had so much to overcome was definitely not easy. I did eventually manage to resolve this in an organic and believable manner (I hope!)

Here’s an excerpt (slightly modified for space and to remove spoilers). For context, Hannah is a baker and Mike, who's trying to get back in her good graces after they find themselves at odds over somehing, has offered to help her with one of her orders

 

Mike turned to Hannah. “What can I do?”

She waved dismissively. “There’s no need for you—”

He raised a brow. “Don’t you think I can be of any use?”

Hannah didn’t answer for a moment, and he wondered if this would be one of her stubborn moments. Then she nodded. “All right.” She retrieved a roll of parchment paper and stack of sheet pans. She set the pans down and handed him the roll of parchment paper. “You can line each of these pans, edge-to-edge, while I prepare the work surface.”

“Starting me off with the hard jobs I see.”

That earned him a grin.

While he worked on lining the cookie sheets, she cleaned and dried the table. Then she grabbed a canister of flour and dusted her work area.

A few minutes later he’d finished his task. “All done. What’s next?”

Hannah tilted her head and met his gaze. “You’re sure you want to keep going?”

“I am.”

She gave him a mock-warning look. “Don’t say I didn’t give you an out.”

Good, she was relaxing.

“If you’ll get two discs of cookie dough from the refrigerator, I’ll get the rolling pins.”

Once that was done, Hannah went into instructor mode. “We need to roll out this dough to a uniform thickness of about a quarter inch.” She demonstrated. “If the dough begins to stick, you can sprinkle on more flour.”

He enjoyed watching her when she was in her element, confident and relaxed. Standing side by side as they worked was nice too. Was she even aware that she hummed softly when she worked?

“How’s this?” he asked when he had it rolled out.

Her mouth scrunched to one side as she focused on his dough. “The center seems a little thicker than the edge. Otherwise I think it’s ready.”

Mike studied his dough critically, then rolled gently from the center out.

This time Hannah nodded and gave him an approving smile. “You’re doing so much better than I did on my first attempt.”

“Why, thank you. I have a good teacher.”

“Of course, I was six my first time.”

That surprised a chuckle out of him, and he saw an answering grin on her face. Promising. “So what’s next?”

She checked her ever-present notebook. “These are for a graduation party and I’ll use three different shapes” She retrieved the appropriate cookie cutters and handed him one. “You can work on the rectangles.”

Did she know she had a smudge of flour on her cheek? Even though he thought she looked absolutely adorable, he couldn’t resist reaching up to brush it away.

As soon as his hand touched her face, sensations jolted through him with the force of a flashover—sudden, overwhelming, undeniable.

She felt it too. He could see it in the way her eyes widened and darkened, in the sound of her breath catching in her throat. For that moment in time everything shifted.

They weren’t rivals any longer.

They weren’t Amish and English.

They weren’t Ohioan and Missourian.

They were just a man and a woman.


I hope you enjoyed this sneak peak into my plotting process (or lack thereof) and my story. Leave a comment with your thoughts to be entered in a drawing for a copy of Her Amish Springtime Miracle.

It’s Almost Here!  New Release and a Giveaway


HER AMISH SPRINGTIME MIRACLE

It’s Almost Here!  New Release and a Giveaway

An orphaned baby brings together an unlikely couple who learn the true meaning of family

When Hannah Eicher discovered sweet baby Grace in her barn last spring, the adorable infant seemed like the answer to her prayers. The young Amish baker has always wanted a familye of her own and now that she’s fostered Grace for nearly a year, her adoption application is almost certain to be approved. But an unexpected visitor to Hope’s Haven could change everything . . .

Englischer paramedic Mike Colder is only returning to his childhood hometown to locate and adopt his late sister’s baby boy. But when the trail leads to Hannah and Grace, Mike’s determination falters. With Hannah, the simple life he left behind suddenly seems appealing. Despite their wildly different worlds, can Mike and Hannah give each other the greatest gift of all: a life together?

For more information or to purchase, click  HERE

Writing the Book Blurb - Part 2

 

Writing the Book Blurb - Part 2

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Back in January I posted about writing book blurbs (you can read that post HERE) and promised you a Part 2. So today I'm delivering on that promise.

First a caveat - this is just my thoughts on what makes up a good blurb. There are likely other methods that are as effective if not more so.

 

First let’s talk about what goes into a blurb.
I consider that these the four components are the minimum of what you need.to create an effective blurb. 

  • The Tag Line
  • The Characters:
  • The Conflict:
  • The Close:

 

For the purposes of this series of posts, I’m going to use the blurb from the first book I had to craft a blurb for all on my own. We’ll look at what I did right, what I did wrong, and what I might do differently today. It’s for my book The Unexpected Bride, an April 2019 release. It reads as follows: 

 

Writing the Book Blurb - Part 2
Fleeing an arranged marriage, socialite Elthia Sinclare accepts a governess position halfway across the country. But when she arrives in Texas she finds more than she bargained for - more children, more work and more demands. Because Caleb Tanner wants a bride, not a governess. But marrying this unrefined stranger is better than what awaits her back home, so Elthia strikes a deal for a temporary marriage. She says I do and goes to work—botching the housework, butting heads with her new spouse, loving the children.

Caleb isn’t sure what to make of this woman who isn’t at all what he contracted for—she’s spoiled, unskilled and lavishes her affection on a lap dog that seems to be little more than a useless ball of fluff.  But to his surprise she gets along well with the children, works hard to acquire domestic skills and is able to hold her own with the town matriarchs.

Could the mistake that landed him with this unexpected bride be the best thing that ever happened to him?

 

 

So today I want to dig into the first component.

The Tagline.

Technically, the tagline is optional, but I think having one adds a little extra punch to your blurb. The Tagline, also called a log line, is a very short teaser, designed to hook the reader and introduce the tone of the book. There are several different ways to approach this.


  1. You can do the A meets B format. Here’s an example
    Jane Austen meets Sherlock Holmes in this new Regency mystery series
    (from Erica Vetsch’s Jan 2022 release The Debutante’s Code)

    Another version of this format is to simply reference to the genre/tropes you’re mashing together – i.e. A regency era female turns detective in this new mystery series. (My apology to Erica if I didn’t properly capture the tone of her book)

  2. You can pose a question, as in this one
    As her plans unravel, can she give her children what they truly need?
    (from Mindy Obenhaus’s Nov 2021 release Their Yuletide Healing)

  3. Then there’s the contrast method.
  4. She mixed danger, desperation, and deception together. Love was not the expected outcome.
    (from Mary Connealy’s March 2022 release The Element of Love)

  5.  And lastly, you can simply showcase the heart of the story as was done in the blurb for my upcoming May 2022 release Her Amish Springtime Miracle.
    In this delightful and heartwarming novel, an orphaned baby brings together an unlikely couple who learn the true meaning of family.


Unfortunately, I didn’t include a tagline for The Unexpected Bride (shame on me!). So if I were to try to craft one today, how would I go about it? Well, let’s see how it might look using each of the four methods above.

Using method one:  A runaway heiress must serve as housekeeper and nanny in this accidental Mail Order Bride story

Using the second method:   Can a klutzy socialite who ends up far from home provide the care and love six orphaned children and their determined uncle so desperately need?

Using the third method:   She ran away from home to escape an unwanted engagement. So how did she end up agreeing to marry a disagreeable stranger?

And using the last method:   In this heartwarming story, an inept runaway socialite must build a loving home for six orphaned children and their much too serious uncle.

So which one would I actually use? The test would be which one I thought provides the best hook while remaining true to the story.  Right now I'm thinking it would be the third one.

A couple of tips:

  • Just because the tagline appears at the top of your blurb doesn’t mean it needs to be created first. If you’re having problems figuring it out, craft the rest of your blurb first and then come back to it. Hopefully the key tone and story essence you want to convey will pop out to you then
  • To figure out what part of your book would make the best hook, ask yourself what is most unique or interesting about your story. 

 

Writing the Book Blurb - Part 2
 

There you have it, my notes on how to craft your book blurb’s tagline. Next time we'll look at the second component, the characters.

So do you have any questions? Do you agree with this approach? Would you have chosen (or crafted) a different tagline for TUB than the one I chose? 

Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for a book from my backlist

And if you're interested in learning more about The Unexpected Bride or ordering a copy, click HERE

 

 

 

 

 


Writing The Book Blurb - Part 1

Writing The Book Blurb - Part 1

 

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. 

Today I want to speak to you about writing a book blurb, sometimes called back cover copy, for your book. I never paid a lot of attention to what went into one until I dipped my toes in the self-publishing pool and had to write the blurb myself. The first thing I discovered was that it was hard! At least for me. So ever since then I’ve been studying them and reading articles and tips on how to write them and I thought I’d share a little of what I’ve learned. To do the subject justice, I’m going to do this in two posts. Today we’ll cover what it is, why it’s important and some DOs and DON’Ts

Writing The Book Blurb - Part 1


What Is A Book Blurb

Just so everyone is on the same page, let me explain what I mean by a book blurb. For the purposes of this post, the book blurb is the short book description you find on the back cover or inside jacket of books you purchase. For an e-book it’s the book description you find front and center on the book’s main page on seller websites.

Why Should You Care

The purpose of a book blurb is to function as a marketing tool or sales pitch. They’re used to attract and entice the reader into purchasing the book. In most cases, the blurb is second only to the cover in what a potential reader uses to make a buy/don’t buy decision. As such, it needs to really be engaging.


So how do you accomplish all of that in such a small word count?

 

Writing The Book Blurb - Part 1

Here are some DOs and DON’Ts. (And keep in mind – THIS IS ONLY MY OPINION. Feel free to disagree if you have found something else that works better for you)

·         Don’t confuse your blurb with a synopsis. You don’t want to focus on the plot or try to summarize your entire story. Instead you want to focus on the characters and the emotional resonance of your story. Provide just enough information to intrigue potential readers.

·         Don’t give up too much of your blurb space to review quotes and accolades. Those can be placed elsewhere. The blurb is a place to let the reader know what THIS BOOK is about.

·         Don’t give away any spoilers. The reasons for that should be obvious, but it can be tempting to show how clever you are with the twists and turns you take with your story – resist! Find other ways to hook your reader enough to want to buy the book and let them enjoy those surprises when they encounter them in the story.

·         Don’t forget to highlight the main conflict, the thread that will carry your story. But do leave out the resolution of that conflict – again, no spoilers.

·         Do keep it tight and punchy – a good rule of thumb is to shoot for 100-200 words and to make use of both power words and words that evoke emotion.

·         Don’t ignore the genre and tone of your book. Whether you are writing a thriller, a fantasy, a romance, a women’s fiction, a cozy or anything else, the genre should be clear from the word choices you use. Is it action packed, suspenseful, humorous, spooky or dark? Reflect that in the tone of your blurb.

·         Do make sure you understand the selling points of your story and then highlight them.

·         Do show what makes your book stand out from the crowd. How is your Marriage of Convenience, Secret Baby, Second Chance Romance, etc. book different from all the other books out there with the same trope? Find those aspects of your story that are unique—be it the conflict, the character occupations, the setting or something else—and highlight it.

·         Do end with a strong hook—leave your reader with an irresistible urge to scoop up your book to learn more

 

Writing The Book Blurb - Part 1

That wraps up Part I. Next time we’ll do a deep dive into the components of a blurb and look at some examples.

So do you have anything to add to my list of DOs and DON'Ts?  Do you pay attention to a book's blurb when making a buy decision?

Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for a book from my backlist.

 

The Van Gogh Immersive Experience

 Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.

Last weekend one of my daughters and I made the four hour trip to Dallas to see the Van Gogh Immersive Experience museum exhibit.  First of all I really enjoyed the road trip itself. It’s always fun to spend one-on-one time with one of my kids. The drive time flew by as it always does when you’re with good company and having fun.

The exhibit itself was amazing. Of course, being a big fan of Van Gogh's work I was predisposed to like it going in. And scattered throughout, along with copies of his paintings, were quotes credited to him. Some were on the practical, even prosaic side, some were thought provoking. And most could be applied to the writer's life as well as the painter's. So I captured a few of my favorites and was inspired to look up a few others when I got home.

We were allowed to take pictures and both me and my daughter took tons. So today I thought I’d share a few photos with you, interspersed with some of those quotes.  

And as for the applicability to writing, many of the quotes could apply to writers as well as painters. And viewing these images, whether you like them or not, can help refill that well of creativity and help you look at ordinary things in a new way.

The Van Gogh Immersive Experience

The Van Gogh Immersive Experience



The Van Gogh Immersive Experience
Me inside a painting :) 

The Van Gogh Immersive Experience



The Van Gogh Immersive Experience


The Van Gogh Immersive Experience



The Van Gogh Immersive Experience

The Van Gogh Immersive Experience



The Van Gogh Immersive Experience
The Immersion Room


And here are some other great quotes from Van Gogh:

  • There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.
     
  • I would rather die of passion than of boredom.

  • If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.
     
  • Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.

  •  What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?
     
  • The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.
     
  • I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart.
     
  • Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.
     
  • I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.
     
  • I want to touch people with my art. I want them to say 'he feels deeply, he feels tenderly'.
     
  • If I am worth anything later, I am worth something now. For wheat is wheat, even if people think it is a grass in the beginning.
     
  • Exaggerate the essential, leave the obvious vague.
     
  • I am still far from being what I want to be, but with God's help I shall succeed.
     
  • So often, a visit to a bookshop has cheered me, and reminded me that there are good things in the world.
     
  • Don't lose heart if it's very difficult at times, everything will come out all right and nobody can in the beginning do as he wishes
     
  • One must work and dare if one really wants to live
     
  • What is done in love is done well.
     
  • As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed.
     
  • Seek only light and freedom and do not immerse yourself too deeply in the worldly mire.
     
  • Success is sometimes the outcome of a whole string of failures.
     
  • Do not quench your inspiration and your imagination; do not become the slave of your model.
     
  • I long so much to make beautiful things. But beautiful things require effort and disappointment and perseverance.

And just for fun, here is a link to 'Vincent', one of my favorite songs

The Van Gogh Immersive Experience

I hope you enjoyed this quick look at my little weekend adventure, even if the pictures don't really do the exhibit justice. Are you familiar with Van Gogh's work, beyond Starry Night? Did any of the quotes resonate with you?

Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for your choice of any book in my backlist.


Applying Disney's 12 Principes of Animation to Writing

 

Applying Disney's 12 Principes of Animation to Writing

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Recently I came across an article that described Disney's 12 principles of animation and as I was reading over the list I was making mental comparisons to how they might apply to writing as well. So today I thought I’d document those thoughts and share them with you.

 

These principles of animation were first introduced by animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas in their 1981 book The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation. Through examining the work of leading Disney animators from the 1930s onwards, this book shows how Johnston and Thomas boil their approach down to 12 basic principles of animation.

So here they are, along with my writer takeaways.

1. Squash and stretch

This principle states that an object’s mass remains constant no matter how much pressure or tension is applied. So when you stretch something it gets thinner and when you squash it, it gets wider.

My writer takeaway: You need to really understand who your character is at their core, regardless of what image they project.  



2. Anticipation

This principle applies to the fact that you should prepare the audience for action. If you’re going to have a character leap you should show that character bending his knees first.

My writer takeaway: Foreshadowing is important. This goes to that old adage that states if you’re going to shoot somebody in scene 7 make sure you show the gun in scene 3. Foreshadowing is an important device to build tension and suspense, it makes your reader keep turning the pages to see what is going to happen next.

Applying Disney's 12 Principes of Animation to Writing

 

3. Staging

The purpose behind this principle is to direct the viewer’s attention to what is of greatest importance. This can be done by placement in frame, by the use of light and shadow and/or by the angle and position of the camera.

My writer takeaway: Not only is description important, but which elements you chose to describe and the emphasis you place on them is key as well.  When using description it is important to identify what you want to describe, why, and what response you want to evoke from the reader

 

4. Straight-Ahead Action and Pose-to-Pose

This principle states that the artist has two ways to handle drawing animation. The first involves drawing start to finish frame-by-frame resulting in fluid, realistic movements. The second method has the artist draw the beginning frame, the ending frame and then the frames for some of the key motions in between the two. This allows for a little more control in building the dramatic effect in the movement of the character or object

My writer takeaway: There is no one right way to approach writing your scenes. Whether you write linearly, hit the high spots first or approach them in some other fashion, as long as you have command of your process you can pull your reader in and keep them turning the pages then you’re on the right track.

 

Applying Disney's 12 Principes of Animation to Writing

5. Follow through and overlapping action

This has to do with following the laws of physics. Not everything on an object or body will move at the same rate, nor will they stop at the same rate. For instance when a runner stops, their hair or clothing may continue moving.

My writer takeaway: It was a little more difficult for me to find a writer takeaway from this one, but what I finally decided was to liken this to the fact that not every character’s arc will follow the same trajectory or have similar timing. And your character arcs will contribute to but not necessarily follow at the same speed or path as your story arc.

 

6. Slow in and slow out

This refers to the principles of acceleration and deceleration. Most objects need time to accelerate and decelerate to and from a stop. In the world of animation this is depicted by having more drawings near the beginning and ending of a particular action.

My writer takeaway: The set-up portion of a story will require more focus and detail than the rising and falling action of the middle. And to a lesser extent, this may also be true of your wrap-up at the end.

 

7. Arc

Most objects follow a specific path or arc when they are in motion. Deviating from this projection without a valid reason makes the movement seem erratic rather than fluid.

My writer takeaway: The events and action from one scene to the next should follow a logical path. This doesn’t necessarily mean expected or predictable (that would be boring!) but when something unexpected does happen, the reader can see how it logically followed from what came before.

Applying Disney's 12 Principes of Animation to Writing

 

8. Secondary action

This principle states that by adding secondary actions to the main action (e.g. adding swinging arms or whistling when a character is walking) helps to add more realism and dimension to the primary action. However, the secondary action should never diminish the primary one.

My writer takeaway: Secondary characters and subplots are wonderful ways to add context, dimension and color to your story, but they should always remain just that – secondary.

 

9. Timing

This principle refers to the number of frames dedicated to a specific action sequence which affects the visual speed of that action on film and how realistic that action appears. In animation, timing helps to establish mood, reaction and personality.

My writer takeaway: It’s important to have your protagonist(s) front and center for the majority of your story (a high number of ‘frames’) so that they remain the stars of your story and are not usurped by the secondary cast.


10. Exaggeration

This principle refers to the fact that a perfect imitation of reality can make an animation look static and dull. Adding in just a bit of exaggeration in form or motion adds interest  and makes the piece more dynamic.

My writer takeaway: As writer’s we don’t want to depict a perfect imitation of reality either – no trite everyday dialog or depictions of the kind of coincidence that often occurs. By paring things down, focusing on your core story and characters you can provide your reader with the best experience

Applying Disney's 12 Principes of Animation to Writing

11. Solid drawing

This principle states that before you can succeed in animation, you need to know the basics of drawing, including three dimensional shapes and forms, light and shadow, anatomy in motion and the proper use of symmetry and asymmetry. Consistency in the design of the world being depicted is also important.

My writer takeaway: This one should be obvious – know your craft, the basics of good storytelling. It’s okay to break the rules but only if you understand them first and are subverting them for a reason.

 

12. Appeal

This principle states that the animated character have something that appeals to the reader, a power to captivate or draw them in. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are sympathetic, villains can also have a strong drawing power.

My writer takeaway: Make certain your story’s characters have the power to engage your readers. Cardboard characters that are one-dimensional, whether all good or all evil, or characters that are too passive or too bland give your reader nothing to engage with, no one to root for or against.


And there you have it! My writer takeaways from Disney’s 12 essential principles of animation. What do you think? Have you heard of these principles before? Do you agree with my takeaways or would you have interpreted any of them differently?

Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for any book on my backlist.

 

Opinions Please - The Heart's Song

 

Opinions Please - The Heart's Song

Hi everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Today I’m coming to you with a question.

 

I recently acquired the rights back to the one and only contemporary novel I wrote during the nine years I was with Love Inspired. The book is called The Heart’s Song and this one really holds a near and dear place in my heart. For one thing, it’s  the only book I’ve written that’s set in my home state of Louisiana. It also features a handbell choir which is something I’ve always enjoyed listening to. But my favorite thing about this book is that the story line allowed me to explore the various ways Christians react to the loss of a loved one. Reeny lost her husband in an auto accident. Graham lost his wife and newborn daughter due to complications from her pregnancy. These characters both come from strong Christian backgrounds but the way they faced their losses was very different.

 

Anyway, as I said above, I now have the rights back to this book and plan to reissue it on my own at some point, but first I need to update it – after all this originally came out in 2010, eleven years ago. But as I was thinking about tackling the revisions, I had an idea that I wasn’t sure was inspired or just plain crazy.  Since the majority of my books are nineteenth century Americana historical, what if I reimagined this book in that genre? 

On the plus side I think I could make it an even stronger story and it would be more along the lines of what my readers normally look for from me. And it would be a fun exercise, I could even see how it would be easier to spin off additional stories in that world if it were historical rather than contemporary.

On the other hand, it would take a lot longer to get it revised, would require a stronger edit and at the end of the day it would still be the same story at its core.

What do you think? Would such a reimagining be worth the effort required? Or would I be just as well served to do some minor tweaks and get it back out there?

 I have several author copies of this book still in my book closet so leave your thoughts in the comments below to be entered in a drawing to receive a signed copy.

Opinions Please - The Heart's Song

THE HEART'S SONG

Opinions Please - The Heart's Song


Widower Graham Lockwood hasn't stepped foot in church since he lost his family. So he can't possibly say yes to his new neighbor's request that he lead the handbell choir. But widowed mother Reeny Landry is so hopeful—and her fatherless children so in need—that Graham agrees to help. 

Suddenly, the man who closed himself off is coming out of his shell. And he finds himself acting the father figure to Reeny's sweet mute daughter and loner son. 

But going from neighbor to husband is another matter altogether. Until a loving family teaches Graham to hear the heart's song.

 



Playing With AcrosticsA Checklist For Writing Your Happily Ever AfterTalullaMulti-Author Projects with help from guest Pam CrooksIt’s Almost Here!  New Release and a GiveawayWriting the Book Blurb - Part 2Writing The Book Blurb - Part 1The Van Gogh Immersive ExperienceApplying Disney's 12 Principes of Animation to WritingOpinions Please - The Heart's Song

Report "Seekerville: The Journey Continues"

Are you sure you want to report this post for ?

Cancel
×