Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Gallery


In the Agora
by Nadine Keels

It very well could have been only moments before I awakened
that I dreamed

I opened my eyes
and found myself standing in the middle of a bustling square
with what must have been various vendors, lining the streets
Potential buyers walked in every direction
searching, examining
wanting, needing
and hoping: hoping that, perhaps this time, what was truly required and longed for would actually
be here

It was mystifying to me, however
that in the midst of all of the bustling
behind the din of the negotiating and bargaining
another sound, somehow unfitting for that scene and situation
reached my ears
But what was it?
I soon recognized it to be the sound of voices—
other voices:
the voices of children
calling one to another in the marketplace
No one had danced to the ebullient piping of their flutes
no one had grieved along with their funereal songs
and so the children called, and called—
present, but essentially
unheard

I opened my eyes
and found myself traversing on foot
through the pages of a massive book
Chapter after chapter unfolded before me
as the storyline drew me deeper and deeper
into someone else’s world that had, somehow, become my own
The individuals I could scarcely call characters
must have lived, and must have breathed
for as long as I dared to imagine their experiences
and to listen to their conversations
And when the story reached a conclusion
somehow it was not over
as my journey through the turning of those remarkable pages
led to the turning of something in my soul
I realized, as the pages settled and the book closed
that I had been touched
by glory

I opened my eyes
and found myself sitting in a great amphitheater
empty, save for me—the lone member of an intrigued audience
and a cast of brilliant actors
owning the stage that they performed on
and transforming it into a different place entirely
until it was no longer a stage, but a vital microcosm
illustrating a sampling of the dynamics and intricacies
that make up what is known
as life
The production came to a close
and I stood to offer my appreciation
with my best attempt at thunderous applause
I bit my lip, unsure if I was biting back a smile
or holding back a tear
or two
as what must have been a play
had been more than a play:
for it left me with the distinct, stirring awareness
that I had just been touched
by glory

I opened my eyes
and found myself in an art museum
studying profound pieces of creative genius
I opened my eyes
and found myself in a lecture hall
listening to a cultured professor’s discourse
as I feverishly typed notes on my laptop
I found myself sitting in a boardroom
as the president of an expanding company
outlined the company’s next strategic moves
to the other members of the board
I found myself standing in the middle of a legislative assembly
watching as elected officials
debated about which new bills should be passed into law:

And each time, whenever I left—
the art museum, the lecture hall
the boardroom, the assembly—
I left with the strange, but appropriate feeling
that while witnessing all that I had witnessed
I had actually been touched
by glory

It very well could have been only moments before I awakened
that I found myself, once again, standing in the bustling square
where various “vendors” lined the streets—
in libraries, in theaters
in restaurants, in studios
in universities, in courtrooms—
offering their goods and services and expertise
to the potential “buyers” in need
And I was thrilled, suddenly, to hear the sound of voices—
other voices:
the matured voices of inventors and masters and leaders
who were children no longer
and who proclaimed compelling messages of faith, and of hope, and of love
and of an eminent, magnificent reign so far beyond the terrestrial
in whatever languages, spoken or unspoken, that the buyers could understand
And the buyers saw, and they heard
and they listened, and their hopes stretched toward fulfillment
as the good reports of the Creator greater than the universe He designed
filled the marketplace
with what could only be described as
and classified as
and declared to be
His glory

On went the bustling, the negotiating, the bargaining
and then
I opened my eyes
and I awakened

Taken from her book, Hope: Lyricized.

Author Bio: Nadine. A French name, meaning, "hope."
Spreading hope to her readers and audiences, author, editor, and speaker Nadine C. Keels of Seattle, Washington is well-known for The Song of Nadine, the powerful lyrical poetry seen in four of her several books, heard in her dynamic spoken word presentations on both local and national platforms, and found on her spoken word album, Hope. Lyricized. Drawing from her lifelong passion for highly enjoyable and transformational fiction, Nadine has written Love & Eminence: A Suite of Stories as well as two novels and a novella, Love Unfeigned. In response to inquiries from other aspiring authors, Nadine put together a simple reference entitled Write Your Genius, Genius! A Rather Quick Guide to Book Writing. Being the founder of Prismatic Prospects, a communication company based in Seattle, Nadine has served as editor and co-editor for a number of titles, and it is her aim to be a proven wellspring of inspiration for creativity and innovation in the marketplace. Find Nadine online at: www.prismaticprospects.wordpress.com and her book list is on Amazon

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Forever Valentine

Two years before my beloved husband was called home to Jesus, he made this valentine for me. He wasn't able to drive and we had decided not to give cards.

My sweet husband had a beautiful and romantic heart. He couldn't let Valentine's Day pass without notice. Truly this is the most treasured valentine I ever received.

Today is the first Valentine's Day without him by my side. There will be no more card giving or receiving. But this valentine is framed and hung beside the bed where I see it every morning and every night.

Jesus said, "I am the bread of life... This is the bread that came down from heaven,...the one who eats this bread will live forever." (John 6:48m, 58) NRSV

I know through the promise that my beloved husband and I will be reunited one day. When God brings soul mates together, their love can withstand all trials as long as God is included in their hearts. Our love was bound in faith and though we are temporarily separated, our love and our lives belong to God who has promised us eternity.

Happy Valentine's Day!



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How to Continue to Improve Your Writing After College

How to Continue to Improve Your Writing After College: Utilizing Online Tools that Help You Write Better
By
I graduated…
           After you walked out of college with your English or writing degree, did it cross your mind that all the great advice, the helpful commenting at workshops, and critically-important proofreading skills would just vanish? Who would replace all your eager creative writing companions? Who would be the seasoned, smart, and savvy professor-like role model that would push you to become a better writer? When you graduate as a writer, it’s important to fill the gaps of the strong writing community you’re leaving behind. Writing every day can help, but there’s a lot more to learn about writing, editing, and publishing.
Now what?
           I’ve known many writers who regularly attend community workshops, conferences, and publishing events. They meet other writers, form editing and workshop groups, and create contacts that can help them either get better or get published. Aside networking, however, there are many other ways to improve as a writer. It may be financially difficult for recent college graduates to afford conferences and workshop communities. For a writer hoping to break out of their 40-hour-per-week job and into full-time writing, it may be problematic to ask for time off. So, where or to whom can a writer turn for help?
The Tools:
           As publishing and writing have moved to many online platforms, so have the tools and communities. There are millions of websites devoted to writing, writing better, writing faster, self-publishing, writing communities, and editing. There is even online proofreading. With all the choices, though, which are the diamonds in the sea of cubic zirconia?
  • Ginger: Ginger is an online proofreader that includes a grammar checker, text reader, sentence rephraser, and personal trainer. It covers every facet of the technical side of writing. To help a writer improve, the personal trainer catches mistakes, teaches the writer how to fix them, and pushes the writer to improve his or her technique.  A writer who wants to quickly proofread an article can use the grammar checker to identify mistakes and the sentence rephraser to build a better, more eye-catching. Ginger is a great online proofreader that gives the sentence-structure help of an editor.
  • Grammarly: Grammarly is an innovative combination of all things writing. It provides an online proofreader, grammar checker, context-optimized synonym generator, question-and-answer boards, online community, and style improvers. It catches errors that Microsoft Word misses and it adapts to your style to better help you spice up your writing. Grammarly’s teaching section can bring you back to some basics you forgot, or teach you how to correct complicated grammatical mistakes. It can proofread quickly or provide you with a platform for writing help from other writers. An expansive tool like Grammarly makes up for the lack of a keen professor’s eye.
  • Writer’s Café: Writer’s Café is a free online writing community where writers can post their work for review, get advice from thousands of users, enter free writing contests, or search for publishers, agents, or magazines. It provides a huge database for writers to gain experience editing others' work while concurrently having their work reviewed. Additionally, Writer’s Café offers writing courses that can help you continue to learn about writing without paying the costly fees of conferences. Anything you had in college, you can find through Writer’s Café for free.
  • Poets and Writers: The Poets and Writers website is a humongous wealth of information for any writer. It provides agents, magazines, and publishers with tools, a published magazine, MFA program information, and heaps more. If there were a list of all its features, it would take hours to read. As the nation’s largest nonprofit organization for creative writers, Poets and Writers connects writers with everything they need to succeed. I love reading the magazine and always leave inspired to keep writing and learning about writing. One of the best results a resource can give a writer is inspiration to keep going. Poets and Writers answers any question a writer may have, in addition to its immense community of writers.
Keep Writing, You Will Get There:
          Without the support of a community of writers like you had in college, it can be immeasurably difficult to write on your own. Joining an online writing community, utilizing an online proofreader, or reading a daily writing-inspired email blast can help you continue to feel connected to the writing atmosphere. College may be over, but the learning is just beginning to bloom. Take advantage of all the online tools that can help you write better, associate with other writers, and keep you motivated; no doubt you’ll succeed.

Q 4 Our Readers: Which online writers tools do you use?

Friday, February 7, 2014

What Defines Success?

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am a writer.

There are quotes from famous authors about being ruthless with your time to be successful. Ruthless scares me.

If you view your writing as a career, you must approach the keyboard with that attitude. But to be honest, how many of us have the freedom to sit at a desk for eight hours or more, pouring our hearts and souls into the worlds we create?

For the rich and famous, this might work. Perhaps having someone else take care of the house, the errands, and screen phone calls, would make it easy to carve out eight uninterrupted hours to devote to career writing.

For me, this isn't workable. Even living alone doesn't allow me to approach writing with such zeal. Those unexpected phone calls from friends and family are welcome, heartwarming breaks. With my slightly OCD personality, the house must be in order, my desk must be clear, laundry must be washed and dried, emails must be answered,  and, of course, there are my morning posts on Facebook, my blogs, my loving cats who crave attention. First thing in the morning is my time with God. Reading His word and preparing myself for the opportunities He will provide, giving thanks for so many things, and praying for those who are in need.

Most of us are serious about our writing. It is a career. However, we must approach our job with flexibility and how it fits into our lives. Everyone is in a different situation. Find a happy balance between life and career. Make the most of the time you find to write. Be joyful in using your God-given talents in whatever ways God provides. Don't let the world dictate what success should mean for you.



    Excerpt from JOSHUA'S HOPE
Loud voices drifted up the stairwell. She opened Joshua's door and slipped inside. His eyes were open. He stared at her, silent tears carving paths down his cheeks. She put a finger on her lips, urging him not to talk. She lifted him and he wrapped himself around her like a small monkey.

"Mommy," he whispered.

"It's all right. Mommy is going to take you home with her now. But you have to be very quiet. Can you do that?"

He nodded against her neck. "I need white doggy."

Hope reached for the stuffed animal she'd given him on his first birthday. The neck fur had been rubbed off in two places from Joshua's fingers. "Mommy will carry white doggy for you. Don't be scared and don't look up. Just hold on tight."

He nodded again, his arms squeezing tighter.

She kept one arm firmly around him and eased the door open. So far, so good. She only needed to get downstairs without being seen.

She closed Joshua's door and began a slow descent.

The hairs prickled on the back of her neck, alerting Hope someone was watching. Swiveling her head, her gaze locked with Anna's. For endless moments, Hope's heart stopped.

Then Peter's study door crashed open and she feared she'd been caught.

Joshua's small body jerked and he began to tremble. His fingers dug deeply into her skin.

The nanny rushed down the stairs, and as she passed, she whispered, "Run." Her hand waved Hope toward the front door.

****
Buy now on Amazon. Visit Carol Ann Erhardt's website.

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Great Synopsis Leads to a Great Book

Every Great Synopsis leads to a Great Book
Guest Post by Nikolas Baron

A synopsis is commonly mistaken for the teaser, printed at the back of books to give readers an idea of what it is about. Though similar, a synopsis is submitted to the publisher and is typically one page, sometimes bleeding into two, but submitting a 3-page synopsis is not unheard of, but definitely not recommended.

Though seemingly humdrum as compared to the rest of the action-packed novel, the synopsis carries with it a considerable amount of importance. In many cases, you’ll first need to submit a query letter to a publisher, which is usually followed by a synopsis, and if they like your idea, publishers will request for the first few chapters of your book. Of course, this is all rather standard procedure and many publishing companies have very specific requirements that will be listed on public domains. But here’s the thing. If the synopsis doesn’t get the green light, it stops there.

As part of my work at Grammarly, I get to speak to many professional and amateur writers, and through picking their brains, I’ve come to realize how the feat of writing a great book can actually be much easier if you first start with a great synopsis. And as a bonus, if you start with that first, you even get one of the most dreaded tasks of publishing out of the way without all the other clutter.

To support this hypothesis, just the other day, I was speaking to an author who seemed to churn out book after book without much of a hiatus in between. He was publishing almost every year, and mind you it was selling! I had to get in on his secret. Turns out, he had his entire synopsis done before he wrote a single word of his book. ‘Doesn’t the story develop as you write?’ I asked. He told me that the story will definitely change along the way, but the main points, the climaxes, and the characters should be carefully crafted before you even begin. In this way, it makes for much clearer writing without having to deal with which information should be included or excluded in the synopsis.

Although this method wouldn’t suit all writers, there’s no harm to give it a shot. In a nutshell, a synopsis should have a few vital components of which I’ll cover in point form:

  • A start, middle and an end. Seems rational enough? Remember, this isn’t a teaser; your potential publisher will want to know that you’ve thought this out, they definitely don’t want to be left hanging at the climax.
  • Not only introduce the main characters, but a brief description of their personalities as well
  • Emotional connection to its reader. Yes, I understand you’re trying to squeeze all of what would possibly be 400 pages into 0.0025 of the original amount, but it’s paramount that your publisher understands that you are capable of invoking some kind of empathy into your writing
  • Flawless grammar. The last thing you’d probably want is for your potential publisher to tell you how awesome the plot was, but how she simply couldn’t invest in a writer that couldn’t nail the language. Don’t risk it. Always put your text through programs such as Grammarly that can check for imperfect grammar and every single mistake before submission. You could also seek a second opinion, but whatever you do, never submit your work with a simple edit on a word processor
  • Less is more or KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid), is your mantra for writing your synopsis
So now that you’ve got some great tools under your belt, writing a synopsis shouldn’t be equated to your worst nightmare anymore. It’s all about practicing and employing the right methods.



 Bio:

Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown childrens’ novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, travelling, and reading.

Thanks for visiting Story and Logic, Nikolas.

To our readers: I recommend writers take the time to check out Grammarly and see what they have to offer.

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Good Old Days

This morning I slipped on the ice by the gate in the back yard while feeding the outdoor cats. My muscles are tender. Everything looks so different under all the snow and ice than in the spring and summer.

This has been a brutal winter, one of the worst I remember since moving to Ohio in 1977. Makes people count days until spring, wishing for warmer weather.

The same holds true for me as a new widow. So easy to look back and long for things as they used to be.  I daydream about simpler times, forgetting those times weren't really simpler...just different.

Sometimes we compare our lives with someone else's and become discouraged. After all, we are human.

Worrying and wishing our lives away instead of being content in the circumstances we find ourselves in is totally fruitless. Even though times might be hard, painful, and filled with fear, God is with us.

If God has called you to write, He will give you the tools you need to get the job done. Don't compare yourself with other writers. You are unique. Doubts come from Satan, not from God. You'll know when He speaks to you. It will be a voice from the Holy Spirit and this voice will ALWAYS follow the scriptures in the Holy Bible. If not, then the voice is not coming from God.

"Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches." ~~I Corinthians 7:17 (NIV)



Low on faith and high on fear, Summer Grant flees from death threats and is involved in an accident which leaves her trapped in Havens Creek, a small town not far enough away from danger.

Though she doesn't trust cops, she has no choice but to accept the hospitality offered by Police Chief Jake Taylor. Staying with his sister and her five-year-old daughter in an isolated mountain home might be the ideal place to recuperate, but if the man Summer's running from finds her, no one will be safe.

Trapped Purchase Link

Visit Carol Ann Erhardt's website



Monday, January 27, 2014

Why You Need Dialog Signatures

We all recognize the significance of our signature.  Certainly John Hancock did. If you glance at the Declaration of Independence, of the fifty-six names, his jumps out at you. He did not want to be missed.  Others, took a difference approach. W. Paca didn’t take up much space, didn’t even spell out his first name, and is generally unnoticed.

Today, with all the audio equipment, there are many people whose audio signature we will recognize.  Most of us would recognize the voice of John Wayne, or Andy Devine, or Phyllis Diller.  They had distinctive audio signatures, as do many singers.  

What does that have to do with writers? Unless we’re doing audio books, the reader doesn’t get to hear the characters.  Right?

Wrong.

You, as the writer, can give your character a distinct sound. When you write passages your character says or thinks, you have the opportunity to make the reader hear the character’s voice. You have the chance to develop a unique speech pattern for that character. In my book How to Write Great Dialog I call this the character’s dialog signature.

What does that mean? It is simply how this character sounds. A good writer can make that determination for the reader without the reader even knowing it was done.

Just how do you do this?  First, you must decide how you want this character to sound.  What impression do you want the reader to have of this character?  Once that is clear, you select a dialog signature that imparts that image to the reader.

Do you want the character to sound educated or uneducated? Young or old? Does this character have a regional dialect? Does she talk with a southern drawl or New York rapid fire? How is the diction, the inflection, the cadence? Does she have certain marker words? (You almost always want one or two marker words for a major character.) What is the flow and volume associated with this character? Will there be a distinct sentence structure, or perhaps no complete sentences at all.  Will you give this character some distinct body language? (A lot of communication is done not with words but with body language.)  Any special mannerisms?  

From those and more, you develop a distinct dialog signature for the character
and use it whenever the character is speaking or thinking. Done well, the reader will begin to recognize the character without attribution, just as we would recognize Andy Griffith or Katherine Hepburn.  As an example, consider Spenser and Hawk in many of Robert B. Parker’s novels. You don’t need attribution to tell who is speaking. They have distinct dialog signatures.



Brief Bio of James R. Callan


After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing.  He wrote a monthly column for a national magazine for two years, and published several non-fiction books.  He now concentrates on his favorite genre, mystery/suspense, with his sixth book releasing in Spring, 2014.
  
Website:                             www.jamesrcallan.com
Blog:                                    www.jamesrcallan.com/blog
Amazon Author page:      http://amzn.to/1eeykvG
Twitter:                               @jamesrcallan

How to Write Great Dialog, (Oak Tree Press, 2014)
On Amazon at :    http://amzn.to/1f2XE9u