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Magic Wand Words

Remember the Disney production of Cinderella, when the good witches waved their magic wands of blue, red and green? Their glitter flowed like Fourth of July sparklers, creating magic.

That’s what my blog is about today—the magic that happens with words. In an entire novel, only a few or at most several dozen of them may appear. When they do, they connect us to the characters, embed us more deeply in the setting and emotions of the scene, and increase our enjoyment and understanding of the story. They linger in our memories.

These are a few of my favorite magic-wand words. Enjoy! May these words that so inspired me also inspire you to dig deeper in your creative reservoir. May your current work in progress sparkle!

Nora Roberts, Spellbound:  

… an exquisite simile

And she was there, just there, conjured up out of storm-whipped air. Her hair was a firefall over a dove-gray cloak, alabaster skin with the faint bloom of rose, a generous mouth just curved in knowledge. And eyes as blue as a living star and just as filled with power.

Nora Roberts, Public Secrets

… another one

She would remember the feel of the air against her face, air so moist from the sea it might have been tears.

 Nora Roberts, Sanctuary

… a character-enriching analogy

She walked to the water’s edge, let the surf foam over her ankles. There, she thought when the tide swept back and sucked the sand down over her feet. That was exactly the same sensation he was causing in her. That slight and exciting imbalance, that feeling of having the ground shift under you no matter how firmly you planted your feet.

Katie Schneider, All We Know of Love  

…melding scene and character

The clouds are pulled thin like cotton. I understand how they feel, out in the middle of nowhere, unsure of quite where they’re heading.

Laura Kinsale, Flowers from the Storm

…skillful use of the senses

“I saw you in India.” Mrs. Humphrey had about her the slightly sour tang of an unchanged baby. “You took my clothes off.”

…expression of fury, revenge, stunning rhythm and great example of back-loading

He thought of the look on the Ape’s face, the relish of terror, the time it would take; he’d once seen two men hanged and quartered—the expression of the second condemned traitor as he watched the executioner cut down and butcher the first: that was the fear, that was the struggle, the prolonged kicking and spasms, that was the cringing, weeping, purple-faced, swollen-tongued, bloated sickening twitching entrails-sliding agony he was going to inflict.

Mary Jo Putney, Loving a Lost Lord

…fresh imagery

He wouldn’t need her, and that was as it should be. … When she was old and gray, the time she had known Adam would be the merest ripple in the lake of her life.

Annie Proulx, Close Range-Wyoming Stories

This passage slams the reader into the scene

“Hey, you’re old enough almost a be my grandmother. I rather eat rat jelly than—”

But he was edging closer and Mrs. Freeze saw his trick and the red-flushed neck swelled like that of an elk in mating season, the face beaded with desperate sweat.

…succinct characterization

“Think about it, give me a call.”

“I don’t need a think about it,” said Mrs. Freeze. She dropped the cap of the whiskey bottle, kicked it under the chair. She didn’t need that, either.

Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

Memorable, humorous, backloading

“I don’t know where you keep finding these Mexican strawberries,” he said, referring to the beans. Bolivar … mixed them with so many red chilies that a spoonful of beans was more or less as hot as a spoonful of red ants.

Barbara Bretton, Just Like Heaven

…exquisite rhythm and backloading

…she clung to his shoulders so she wouldn’t slide off the face of the earth and into some vast unknowable universe of shooting stars and fireworks and whispered warnings that some things are too good to be true.

Jacquelyn Michard, A Theory of Relativity

…another memorable simile

He had never been able to think of that except as “innocent,” as guileless and tender as a childhood Christmas.

Tina St. John, Lord of Vengeance

…word choices

The answer came swiftly, softly at first, a dark whisper that curled around him, anchoring his soul to the earth with shadowy tethers.


UPDATE: I’ll be presenting a “Magic Wand Words” workshop at RMFW’s writing conference on Saturday, September 9 at 2:30 pm. You can learn more at http://bit.ly/2xQsKk8 (on page 16 of the brochure).

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Happy Mothers Day Poem

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! Here’s my poem this year, and love and happiness to all moms, always!

FOR MARY BEATRICE, IN HEAVEN, FOR DOROTHY, IN FLORIDA, AND FOR ALL LOVING MOMS
Much love, Janet

For all the boundless love you’ve shared
For all the encouraging smiles
For all the troubles you whisked away
For walking that extra mile
For all the times you propped us up
And gave us cause to hope
For the “Oops, try again’s” and the “You can do’s”
And the lessons in how to cope
You were there for us in times of challenge and also in times of play
And my heart’s a-burstin–you’re so deserving–Have a Happy Mother’s Day!

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Crimson Secret wins IPPY award!

Just announced April 18th!  Crimson Secret, my novel set during the War of the Roses, won the bronze award in the Best eBook Romance category!

IPPY Awards identify the best books independently published in the U.S, Canada, All 3 medals cropped 1.5 inAustralia/New Zealand, and Europe.
 
I haven’t received the award yet, but it looks like the larger award to the right in the photo.
Thanks to my critique friends, my beta readers, editors, and my cover designer and daughter, Jalena Penaligon!

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Goodreads reviewer lists me as favorite new author of 2016

 

Am so happy to share! A Goodreads reviewer named the Coin Forest series in her 2016 review, and listed me as one of her favorite new authors of 2016! She wrote, “Her heroines are of strong character and strength, her heroes are honorable and she adds wonderful history into the tale. The themes she writes about are unique and daring.”

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Chapter One of Etti’s Love

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This is Etti’s view when she looks outside her gypsy wagon. When the story begins, eleven-year-old Etti and her kumpania of fifty relatives and friends are traveling to the horse fair in France. The year is 1401. (Photo compliments of pixabay.com.)

I’ve started writing my new novel! The working title is Etti’s Love. I always find the title to be as much of an adventure as the story, and I know there will be many attempts until the perfect title finally comes to me.

Etti’s Love is a prequel novella in my Coin Forest series. It’s Etti’s story, and she is a fascinating character. She has chosen a most unusual pet, and it’s causing conflict and ill feelings among her family members.

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Quick escape from Writers Block

My BFF is my key to new ideas

Dear Pam,

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To escape writer’s block, first douse the raging fears and find a route to fresh thinking. To do this, I write to my friend, Pam, and explain what’s blocking my writing.

 

 

Here I am again, writing to you because of writer’s block.  Have I ever told you what magic it is, tapping your powers to   unblock my thoughts and words?

When I have overwhelming doubts about my writing, the blank page stares at me. The curser blinks, taunting me, and I can’t move forward.

What works for me, every time, is to start writing to you, just as if we were on the phone, only on paper. I know I can joke with you, confess my fears and stumble along, and something happens. It’s like the doubts and fears that have been plaguing me vanish. My pen and paper melt away and I am in tune with my novel.

It’s been a long, successful habit of mine, spanning decades.

It started in high school during study hall. I’d be procrastinating, avoiding work on an essay or report, unable to decide on a theme or position despite the looming deadline. In lieu of disaster, I stumbled upon this method of turning to you, and you have never failed me.

Let me count the ways you have helped me.

#1. Reassurance.

Dear Pam, I have discovered fiction, and am so excited I’m paralyzed. I’m writing my first novel. It’s a time travel. I know the setting is England, but I can’t decide on which time period I’d like to visit. What makes me think I can write a novel?

#2. Making decisions. Dear Pam, On the advice of a literary agent who loves my writing but doesn’t represent my genre, I’m leaving the time travel genre to write a straight historical romance. I’m agonizing over dialogue. If I try to be accurate to the fifteenth century, only a few people will understand it. If I write with contractions will I be a laughingstock?

#3. Finding focus. Dear Pam, I’m writing a contemporary women’s fiction novel loosely based on my mother’s trauma with Alzheimer’s. I’m scared, so scared I can’t plot the darned thing. What I’m sure of is …

#4. Trusting my vision. Dear Pam, my first book released! I’m writing about Gypsies, in a non-arm-candy way that’s never been done before in historical romance. I want to make it a character-related series, but this second novel just sits there, frozen after the first chapter. I worry that the hero is too bigoted to be likable.

#5. Moving forward. Dear Pam, I’m in the saggy middle and sinking fast. I think I’ve written myself into a corner, and I’m trying to find the way out. I can trash all I’ve written and start over. There has to be another option. Let me see. I could…

So, you get the idea. It’s a simple strategy that works. I’ve heard of other ways to break writer’s block that may also work for you. One friend of mine relies on showers to get the thoughts flowing. Works almost every time, she says.

Another has a special tea she brews and places on her desk with three lit candles.

Another walks in the park. Yet another meditates.

Many of my friends believe in the power of BIC (butt in chair), not budging until the words flow and if desperation sets in, writing stream of consciousness or drivel until ideas are nudged into motion.

 

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Crimson Secret Releases Tomorrow!

What a morning! Just 24 hours until Crimson Secret releases! This is the fourth novel in my Coin Forest historical romance series set during the War of the Roses! I’m fascinated by Queen Margaret of Anjou and King Henry VI, her long-suffering king. Too mentally addled to rule, he was pushed aside by his queen. Clever Margaret stepped in and took the reins of power, creating chaos, financial disaster and a civil war that lasted over thirty years.3DCrimsonSecret200x236

My hero and heroine are polarized–she and her family are deeply devoted to Margaret, and he carries secret plans and provides financial support to the Duke of York, who wants to take the throne and power from King Henry and return order and fiscal responsibility to England.

To their dismay, the hero and heroine meet and experience an electrifying attraction to each other. Nothing is sweeter–or more forbidden for them, but they are smitten and can’t control themselves.

I loved exploring the marvelous push and pull of their relationship, and they surprised me at several critical times.

Now, they’re poised to go out into the world of readers. The suspense is unbearable!

FREE GOODREADS GIVEAWAY!

FREE NEWSLETTER GIVEAWAY!  I’m giving ten signed copies to ten lucky winners of my Goodreads Giveaway! Sign up for that giveaway.

AND, I’m giving away another three free copies to those who join my newsletter (see the form to the right, above), so you’ll have several chances to win!

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