Unlocking the Passion

by Author S. Dionne Moore

Almost twenty-one years ago, my daughter was born. The light of my life. As every first-time mother will tell you, she was perfect. A gift. Except, she was born too early. At one pound and fifteen ounces, her condition was fragile at best. We spent seventy-five days in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) as she struggled to breathe, much less suck and swallow, a reflex natural to full-term babies. 

Good days were always tinged with sorrow, and bad days sometimes became the stuff of nightmares. Those times when you entered NICU and saw an empty bed where an infant had been the night before, your emotions rolled between grief for the parents, relief that it wasn’t your child, then guilt over your relief. 

When the day came that we brought our baby home, it was glorious. We were filled with joy. We willingly dragged along the heart rate monitor just to have her out of NICU, and a chance for normalcy. Granted, our days were filled with more worry than most new parents, more concerns about our child’s growth and development, but the question of life and death had at least been settled.
In the midst of all this I came to the slow realization that I needed an outlet for the coiled knot of hope and fear that had become my constant companion. A hobby that I enjoyed. I turned to writing. A hobby I had not dabbled in since my teenage years. 

I started small. The Preemie Experience was my heartfelt tribute to mothers of premature infants, and the culmination of experiences of other young mothers with whom I swapped stories during our stay in NICU. In that day, Geocities was the way to publish a blog on the Web, and that’s what I did with my tribute. To my surprise, I was contacted by an editor who was compiling stories from other parents. She asked if she could use my article as the prologue for her book, Living Miracles: Stories of Hope from Parents of Premature Babies. It was a thrilling moment, and one that made me reconsider old story ideas I had developed in my teens, with a mind to writing a book. 

Brides of Wyoming

My new journey to write fiction began with a lot of learning. Mastering the rules of writing, the best ways to help your publisher market your book, and all about developing story, conflict and characters. After a few years of conferences and meeting with editors and agents, I received feedback from a professional encouraging me to use my sassy, mature, secondary character as a heroine. LaTisha Barnhart was born. Within a year I had finaled in a writing contest with the opening chapter of a cozy mystery in which LaTisha held the starring role. It was for this book, Murder on the Bunions, that I received my first contract.

My journey in writing continues in the form of my newest release, Brides of Wyoming (11/1/2016), an anthology of three romances featuring heroines who must overcome physical and emotional dangers to learn to live and love to the fullest. And as my daughter turns twenty-one and studies for a degree to become a Paralegal, I have to stop and smile. It’s amazing how terrible circumstances can unlock an unrealized passion that brings such joy and dimension to our hearts and minds. And my daughter? She has become a beautiful young woman with a sharp mind a quick smile. She is my heart. My joy. My gift.

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Unlocking the Passion by Author S. Dionne Moore (Click to Tweet)

I needed an outlet for the hope and fear that had become my constant companion.~ S. Dionne Moore (Click to Tweet)

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S. Dionne Moore
S. Dionne Moore resides in the historically rich Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, where she indulges her pleasure for history and vacillates between the need to write and the desire to play. Brides of Wyoming is her newest release from Barbour Publishing. 

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Non-Fiction vs Fiction

post by Michelle Griep


If I were to sit down across the table from you, cups of java in hand of course, and ask you how writing non-fiction is different from writing fiction, how would you answer? Think on it.

Ready? Answer in mind?

You are wrong, Bucko.

Today I’m here to blast out of the water the three most common misconceptions the average humanoid believes to be true about non-fiction vs. fiction.

Myth:
In fiction you get to make things up, but in non-fiction you can only list facts.

Busted:
Would you seriously want to read a novel wherein nothing is true? Fiction needs to have facts incorporated in order to be believable.
And conversely, in non-fiction you need to creatively express your facts so that a reader doesn’t shrivel up and die from literary dehydration.

Myth:
Story is fine for fiction but forget about it for non-fiction.

Creativity is needed for fiction and non-fiction alike.

Busted:
We all live in some kind of story. Maybe your life is a drama right now. Or perhaps you’re living in a sit-com. Whatever, story grabs hold of readers because that’s where writing connects with their heart. This is every bit as much true for non-fiction books as well fiction.

Myth:
Writing fiction is harder than non-fiction –or– writing non-fiction is harder than fiction.

Busted:
They’re both hard. Each requires attention to detail, word choices, writing tight, and content that scoots the reader to the edge of his seat.

Sure, there are some differences between the two. There is no arc or climax in a non-fiction book, no protagonists or antagonists. Fiction has a theme, but it’s not a useful how-to tool.

The point is don’t be all puffed up thinking non-fiction writers are smarter than fiction authors, nor put fiction writers on a pedestal of supreme creativity because non-fiction writers surely only deal in dust-dry words. Writers are writers no matter the genre. Words are words. The great divide isn’t so great after all.

In my newest release, THE CAPTIVE HEART, I blend historical fact with fast-paced fiction. Here’s a blurb . . .

Now available on Amazon.

       On the run from a cruel British aristocratic employer, Eleanor Morgan escapes to America, the land of the free, for the opportunity to serve an upstanding Charles Town family. But freedom is hard to come by as an indentured servant, and downright impossible when she’s forced to agree to an even harsher contract—marriage to a man she’s never met.
       Backwoodsman Samuel Heath doesn’t care what others think of him—but his young daughter’s upbringing matters very much. The life of a trapper in the Carolina backcountry is no life for a small girl, but neither is abandoning his child to another family. He decides it’s time to marry again, but that proves to be an impossible task. Who wants to wed a murderer?
       Both Samuel and Eleanor are survivors, facing down the threat of war, betrayal, and divided loyalties that could cost them everything, but this time they must face their biggest challenge ever . . . Love.

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Knocking out  the misconceptions about non-fiction vs. fiction~Michelle Griep (Click to Tweet)


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Michelle Griep

ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~ MICHELLE GRIEP

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.

Like what you read? There’s more. WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT is a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.

Make Your Writing Better By Resting

From July 2015 to July 2016, I wrote three books for a total of 250,000 words.

For some super writers, that’s nothing. But for me, it was quite a feat.

While I’ve learned to write faster using the Story Equation, three books was still a bit much.

It started last summer when my editor proposed two books due by December 1st.

I was hesitant. I wasn’t sure I had the emotional energy to write two books! In the fall of 2015 I was just over a difficult year physically in 2014. What if I ran into problems again?

Connecting emotionally to the characters is important to me and that’s hard to do when I have to simply “produce.” Hard to do when a tough year hang over your head.

Yet the Lord nudge me, “Do it. Diamonds come from pressure.”

I did it. It was fun. But no time to rest. On to the next deadline to make this trio in a year complete.

Once I turn in The Writing Desk rewrites, I will have nothing pressing until January. I can take my time to read, dream, plan the next book.

And just be. Drive to the beach. Spend time just sitting at His feet.

Rest. It’s so key to a writer’s life.

In the Old Testament, God tells the people of Israel to “fast work.” We have to labor to enter into rest because it’s our default to work. To want to stay busy. To feel like the more we work the more we’ll get done.

I’ve heard testimonies of successful businessmen who worked 12 – 15 hours a day and still didn’t accomplish all they wanted.

But when they started “resting” before the Lord at the beginning of their day, they accomplished all their work and more in a regular 8 hour day.

I ended up on a two week vacation this summer in the middle of the deadline. I had a few restless nights wondering if I’d meet my July deadline.

How can one rest when there’s work to be done?

I finished. Two days early. On the heels of my father-in-laws passing.

God can multiply our time if we take time to rest and just be!

This fall I can take the top down on the car and drive along the beach if I want. Let the wind blow through my hair and my thoughts.

Take time to rest. Don’t go from one thing to the next.

Work hard on deadline. Rest in between.

You’ll be better for it.

*** 

New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Rachel Hauck lives in sunny central Florida.

A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, she worked in the corporate software world before planting her backside in uncomfortable chair to write full time eight years ago.

Her book The Wedding Dress hit Amazon’s bestsellers list the first half of 2016.

Rachel serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a mentor, conference speaker and worship leader.
Rachel writes from her two-story tower in an exceedingly more comfy chair. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan.

Here latest novel is The Wedding Shop“Spellbinding.” Starred Booklist Review
Visit her web site: www.rachelhauck.com.

Hook ‘em Tight: One Technique for Writing a Book They Can’t Put Down by Author Janine Mendenhall

So you’d like to write a novel, huh? I can appreciate that. I want to write another one too. In fact, like you, I’d like to keep writing them from now on—a book a year, or maybe even two. But the thing is neither one of us wants to produce an ordinary piece. 
We both want to please our readers so much that they won’t want to put our books down, right?
That means we need to hook our respective audiences not only with an excellent story full of conflict-based tension, but most especially, where people normally think it’s time to stop reading.
So when do readers reach for their bookmark? (I’ll give you one guess.)
That’s it, at the end of a chapter!
Before I go any further, I need to give credit where it is due because, the truth of the matter is, I learned to write (and still am, by the way) by following Steven James’s directions in Story Trumps Structure and from other great Craft books written by James Scott Bell, Jack M. Bickham, and Jordan E. Rosenfeld—to name a few.
Now that that’s settled, let me share three ways to keep your readers reading. 
3 Ways to Hook Readers at the End of a Chapter 
(My examples come from my debut inspirational historical fiction/romance novel. Preview Starving Hearts at http://www.janinemendenhall.com/preview-starving-hearts/.) 
  1. Modify Your Thinking. The close of a chapter is NOT the end. It’s the beginning of your next scene, or one that will follow soon enough. Instead of tying things up in a nice little bow and losing the tension you’ve built up, create some suspense by leaving a string untied. 
Add an extra dose of tension in the language too.
These are the last three sentences of Chapter 2–Savior in Starving Hearts.
        At the far end of the gallery, she entered the deserted renovation area. Honestly, at the moment, she could not care less that it was off limits. 
       Opening the door of the first room she reached, Annette stepped in and lurched to a halt.
Did you see and feel that? 
The door opened, but we couldn’t see what Annette saw. The shocking word lurched created a touch of suspense, and the reader turned the page. 
Once the page is turned, we’re safe, as long as there’s a good hook waiting to catch the reader at the beginning of the next chapter.
  1. Create Nagging Doubt. Our readers have very quick minds. If we offer just enough information to create a slight imbalance, they will get the subtle hint and ask themselves “But did she?” (or a similar contrary question), and that will be enough to make them move on and find the answer.  
Here’s what I mean.
Read the last three sentences of the Prologue of Starving Hearts. See if you feel enough doubt to cause you to ask what I call a contrary question.
         Annette was too overwhelmed to care. All she wanted was Mother’s assurance that she would never see or hear of the fiend again. Mrs. Chetwynd agreed that was best, and she would personally see him immediately dispatched from the estate. And that was precisely what Annette believed Mother would do.  
Of course, readers don’t necessarily realize they are constantly scrutinizing stories as they read them. But did you recognize the subtle “But did she?” that came at the end of that sentence? 
My heroine, Annette, believed her mother would do what she said, but the fact that I wrote it this way caused you to doubt that her mother did what she said.
That nagging doubt is enough to keep the reader going, of course, it also makes a promise, and as Steven James always says, we need to be very careful to keep our promises to our readers. 
If we don’t, they will close our books and never read any of them again. (If you haven’t read Story Trumps Structure, please know, it is well worth your time, and Steven James isn’t even paying me to say this. ☺)
  1. Play Opposites Attract.  I cannot emphasize it enough. Our readers are very intelligent, and they often automatically predict what will happen next. We can take advantage of this brilliance by giving them something negative or scary to worry them without even putting it on paper.
Notice the end of Chapter 4—The Plan. 
You will automatically predict that the opposite of what I’m telling you is really what will happen next. And because that opposite is attractive in a negative way, it’s likely you’ll want to find out how bad things get for my hero, Peter.
Try it, and see what happens.
         Adjusting his evening coat again, Peter willed himself to move to the door. He had made his decision. He would propose tonight, and she would accept him. Then his life would begin, and all would be well.
It did happen, didn’t it? You predicted she would not accept his proposal and that things would not end well, right? That’s because you’re smart, just like our readers.
On that note, it’s time to say goodbye, at least for now. I hope you enjoyed this little lesson on 3 Ways to Hook Readers at the End of a Chapter so they can’t put your book down. Visit me and preview Starving Hearts http://www.janinemendenhall.com/preview-starving-hearts/ to see if I’m successful at keeping your attention. 
If I do, remember, the credit for Craft goes to those I mentioned above, but the real glory belongs to God.   “Whoever abides in (Him) . . . bears much fruit, for apart from (Him) you can do nothing.” John 15:5
Bio:
Janine Mendenhall teaches teens English, of all things! Sometimes she sleeps, but most nights she reads, writes, or watches movies like “Pride and Prejudice” and claims she’s researching her next book. “Splickety Love” and “Splickety Prime” have published her flash fiction. She and her husband, Tom, live in North Carolina where they and their two golden retrievers help gratify the needs of their five children and two cats.

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