Introducing Our Newest Crew Member-Allie Owens Crockett

IMG_0272-003Today we welcome our newest crew member, Allie Owens Crockett.

(1) Welcome to the Writing Prompts Crew. Tell us a little about yourself.

Allie: I’m a wife and mother of a funny, three year old, curly-head boy. I spend most of my time trying to keep up with him. If I’m not dreaming-up something worth reading, you can usually find me piddling around on social media, listening to John Mayer or attempting to wrangle the mountain of dishes in my sink. (All the while, praying my son will take a decent nap.)

 (2) How did you become interested in being a writer?

Allie: I remember making a list of aspirations when I was about 12. One of the top to-do’s was writing a novel. It’s something I’ve always thought I’d like to accomplish. There is just something amazing about the entire process; from coming up with names and places, to imagining how they interact with the plot twists and turns from scene to scene. 

 (3) Can you tell us three unique things about you that we may not know?

Allie: I have a secret love for horse movies. Yes, this includes Westerns. Unless you know me personally, or have a habit of stocking my profile(s), most probably wouldn’t know that I play two instruments: piano and guitar. I started piano and voice lessons at age 5.  I have also been in love with Yanni since I was six years old. I saw him once on a PBS special at the Taj Mahal, I believe. The rest is history. I really hated practicing for piano, so I think I owe it to him for reawakening my sense of awe and love for music.

Thank you, Allie, and welcome to the Writing Prompts Crew!

Allie Owens Crockett resides in the great Bluegrass State with her husband and their son. She is a singer/songwriter, wannabe actress and part-time naturalista. She loves photography and all things eclectic and also happens to be a professional day-dreamer. Her favorite day dream involves living on a farm with horses, ducks, sheep and two stunning German Shepherds named Maverick and Ace.

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Fay Lamb

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Today we welcome Fay Lamb, author and acquisitions editor, to 3 Questions Wednesday.

(1) What is your favorite book? [excluding the Bible]

Fay: Okay, I’m going with “currently” here with each of the questions you’ve asked because I do have an all-time favorite for each, but lately I’ve had some new experiences. So, favorite book would be … A Fistful of God by Therese M. Travis. This is a young adult coming-of-age novel, and the reason it has become my favorite is because Therese M. Travis draws readers of all ages into the story. I have been fortunate to be a part of this story through edits, but at each stage of the production process those who edited and read it wrote back to me that this book spoke to their hearts. In fact, when I read the story, I dared our editor-in-chief not to cry at the very last line. She wrote me back and said, “I cried.”

What’s it about? You just have to pick up a copy and read it. I will say that the subject is something that many individuals have faced in their life in some shape or form, and well, I readily connected with the young heroine.

(2) If you could walk into any book, what literary character would you want to be?

Fay: This character was actually a real individual. She was a gutsy woman who made mistakes in her life, but she wasn’t afraid to move forward. In fact, she made her way down to the Gainesville, Florida, area, in 1928. There she met and fell in love with, and had some trouble, with the locals. One woman she befriended sued her. Marjorie enjoyed her surroundings, and she found stories in them, especially at Cross Creek. She even wrote a book about her adventures entitled Cross Creek, but she is best known for her story The Yearling. I love to delve into the lifestyles of those places I love: Western North Carolina and Florida beach and island towns, and bring out characters. And in the end, Mrs. Rawlings left her home to the University of Florida. Now, who wouldn’t want to be so famous for what they’ve written that the University of Florida wanted their home?

(3) If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Fay: I have an overall place I want to travel, but late in 2013, I had to do some research about Paris, France. I’d never wanted to visit there. Like New York, it was too much for my timid soul, but as I began to realize that the town is symmetrically designed and there are unique parks and architecture, I decided to add Paris and the Eiffel Tower to my bucket list.

Thanks, Fay, for joining us on 3 Questions Wednesday! Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of her latest book, Libby.

Libby Final front coverLibby Overstreet can’t see herself as anything but shy and socially awkward. She’s nearing thirty, and she’s never even been on a date. Then she meets the man of her dreams, but Libby knows he would never be interested in a wallflower like her. All she wants to do is to buy that garden nursery on the outskirts of town and settle down with the life she has always dreamed about. Evan Carter has been watching the sweet woman in the coffee shop for weeks when his friend tells him that the object of his affection plans to buy a garden nursery and needs Evan’s expertise as an architect/contractor. When they meet, Libby is more enamored of Evan and even more convinced that he would never look at her as anything but a friend. However, that’s far from the truth. Evan would love to get to know the innocent beauty God has placed in this path. Trouble is, he fears that a lovely flower like Libby will wilt under the sins of his past, and he’ll do everything in his power to keep that from happening.

Fay Lamb’s emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Fay has contracted with Write Integrity Press for three series. Stalking Willow and Better than Revenge, Books 1 and 2 in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series are currently available for purchase. Charisse the first release in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series has been released.

Future Write Integrity Press releases from Fay are: Everybody’s Broken and Frozen Notes, Books 3 and 4 of Amazing Grace and Libby, Hope and Delilah, Books 2 through 4 from The Ties that Bind. Also, look for Book 1 in Fay’s Serenity Key series entitled Storms in Serenity.

Fay and her husband, Marc, reside in Titusville, Florida, where multi-generations of their families have lived. The legacy continues with their two married sons and six grandchildren.

Links for Fay:
http://faylamb.com (Fay’s website and blog: On the Ledge)
http://facebook.com/fay.lamb (personal FB page)
http://facebook.com/AuthorFay (Fay’s fan page)
http://twitter.com/FayLamb (Fay’s Twitter address)
http://faylamb.com/innersource/ (Inner Source Blog)
http://tacticaleditor.faylamb.com/ and http://facebook.com/TacticalEd
http://faylamb.com/ontheledge/on-the-ledge/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1482814.Fay_Lamb

Got Plot? Resources

booksThis month, we’ve explored several aspects of developing plot. I’m going to end our time together by sharing a few good articles on developing plot and also some wonderful books. Enjoy as you dig deeper into plot…

Articles on the internet

http://www.examiner.com/article/plotting-vs-seat-of-the-pants-writing

http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/improve-my-writing/rescue-your-story-from-plot-pitfalls

http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/snowflake-method/

http://livewritebreathe.com/plotting-procedure/

http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/improve-my-writing/how-to-let-plot-guide-your-short-story

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plot_(narrative)

Books

Noah Lukeman

The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life

James Scott Bell

Write Great Fiction – Plot & Structure

Write Your Novel From The Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers and Everyone in Between

Donald Maass

Writing the Breakout Novel

Martha Alderson

The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master

“Hooking Your Readers”

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Is your hook sharp enough to snag and reel in your readers?

By Don White

The needle-sharp point snagged the flesh and a shiny barb burst through the scaly cheek with a firm tug. Secure on the hook, his fate was sealed. Fresh fish shall sizzle on the stove tonight, sprinkled with pepper, glistening with butter.

That is what we call a “hook.”

However clever your plot, however unusual, no matter the ingenious twists and surprises, readers will never experience your story if you do not set the hook. Below you will find four types of effective hooks: drama, description, character, and curiosity. There are variations in each category, and good story hooks (like fishing hooks) may be created from tying together two or more types of hooks, but so long as they are sharp and securely set, your hook can keep your readers hopelessly snagged from your first sentence through the entire chapter, until your next hook is firmly set.

1. THE DRAMA HOOK.

Begin with the story unfolding so that readers will feel they’ve jumped in the midst of it from the very first line. Ideally, they cannot back out of the story because they are already in it.

Carefully compare and study the way TV shows begin. Newer shows often forgo opening themesongs or character introductions and go right to the story action, subtly displaying the opening credits as the story unfolds, all this to hook their viewers from the start and persuade them to remove their thumb from the remote control button. This is called a “cold open,” and once the viewer is hooked the network will cut away to the commercials, confident the audience will remain as their sponsors sell their floor cleaners and doggy snacks.

A drama hook may be the very event that drives the entire story (what we call the “inciting incident”), the first domino to fall which begins the entire sequence, pushing the reader forward all the way through to the last page. It may involve danger, inner conflict, personal challenge, conflict between characters, or a host of other dramatic actions. Whatever it is, the drama hook must put the reader in the middle of a story they care about. Give them something to worry about so they will read down the page and turn to the next and the next.

Stopped at a red light on a rainy, windy morning last December, fire battalion chief Mark DeBruyckere looked up to see a large truck barreling toward the intersection, heading right for him.

From: “Bringing Down a Bank Robber,” by Caitlin O’Connnell, Reader’s Digest, Oct. 2013.

2. THE DESCRIPTIVE HOOK.

Any description must be engaging description, the kind that draws readers to hold your book in sweaty hands, eyes fixed and unblinking, pulse quickening, nerves twitching, almost forgetting to breath, transfixed by your carefully crafted sentences and well-chosen words, oblivious to the world about them.

You may describe a setting, an event, or even an object, but your words must stir emotions and draw readers in like mesmerized mosquitos to a bug zapper on a balmy summer night. Like an effective stage setting, your descriptive hook will set the mood, creating the atmosphere for your story as soon as the curtains rise and the lights come on.

A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to the hillside bank and runs deep and green. The water is warm too, for it has slipped twinkling over the yellow sands in the sunlight before reaching the narrow pool.

From: Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck.

3. THE CHARACTER HOOK.

Fish hooks.

Countless variations of hooks.

A young boy with tousled hair and dirty socks recedes into his darkened room, away from the yelling outside the door, cloistered in his corner, surrounded by piles of books, joyfully escaping his cold reality, all because you’ve created a character he cares about.

Open with characters that readers will care about, and they want to see what happens next. Use description, setting, action, and mystery to create an emotional and mental bond between the reader and the person in your book. Your readers want to worry, so give them some people to worry about. When readers care about your characters from the very beginning, they will keep reading

Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. This story is about something that happened to them when they were sent away from London during the war because of the air-raids.

From: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis.

4. THE CURIOSITY HOOK.

This type of hook reminds me of the time that my wife and I went camping, and just after we settled down for the night, far away from all the other campers, we heard a faint scratching noise at our cabin door. It wouldn’t stop. True story, but I’ll tell you more later.

The familiar riddle asks, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” Forget about the why. We couldn’t care less. What we want to know is if he made it all the way across the busy road alive, unharmed, with all his feathers intact.

Questions, contradictions, dilemmas and mysteries, puzzles and clues are all proven ways to capture the curiosity of your readers and keep it throughout the opening chapter.

I was not there, yet I was there. No, I did not go to the trial, I did not hear the verdict, because I knew all the time what it would be.

From: A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest J. Gaines.


VARIATIONS AND COMBINATIONS:

There are different variations of all the above hooks. For example, all of these can be used in a dialogue form:

Narrative style:

She stood at the cliff, sobbing and shaking, watching as pebbles bounced against the boulders below, disappearing into the frothy surf.

Dialogue style:

“Karen! Please, get away from the cliff! We can work this out together.”

Though one is dialogue and the other is narrative, both these openings rely on mystery, danger, and the powerful emotion of fear to snag the reader’s attention, keeping her eyes glued to the page in order to discover what is happening, why it is happening, and how it will all end.


EXAMPLES OF STORY HOOKS:

What types (or combination of types) do you see in the following examples?

Put your answers in a comment below this blog, and see if others agree with you.

  1. “Late on a full-mooned Sunday night, the two figures in work clothes appeared on Highway 27, just outside the small college town of Ashton. They were tall, at least seven feet, strongly built, perfectly proportioned.” (From: This Present Darkness, by Frank E. Peretti.)
  2. “Death was driving an emerald-green Lexus.” (From: Winter Moon, by Dean Koontz.)
  3. “The last drops of the thundershower had hardly ceased falling when the Pedestrian stuffed his map into his pocket, settled his pack more comfortably on his tired shoulders, and stepped out from the shelter of a large chestnut-tree into the middle of the road.” (From: Out of the Silent Planet, by C.S. Lewis.)
  4. “I have been afraid of putting air in a tire ever since I saw a tractor tire blow up and throw Newt Hardbine’s father over the top of the Standard Oil sign.” (From: The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver.)
  5. “The sun was already sinking into the deep green of the hills to the west of the valley, the red and gray-pink of its shadows touching the corners of the land, when Flick Ohmsford began his descent.” (From: The Sword of Shannara, by Terry Brooks.)
  6. “The office had no windows, only electric lanterns to light the hundreds of spines standing in their cherry wood bookcases.” (From: Thr3e, by Ted Dekker.)
  7. “I was born in 1904, so that when I was pregnant in 1943 I was near enough to be past the rightful age to bear children.” (From: Jewel, by Bret Lott.)

Hook them early, hook them securely, and keep them on the line, reeling them in all the way through to the end of the story.

Oh — that scratching at our cabin door? I never did find out what it was. Probably a chipmunk. But my wife and I eventually slept soundly and safely through the night at that church camp near Yakima, Washington.