Cupid and The Fairy Godmother

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photo by PIxabay

 

This month, here on Inspired Prompt, we are sharing pieces of our writing. The scene below was deleted from my novel Truth Be Told. Though I loved the scene, it didn’t fit with the pacing of the story, so out it went. But I kept this wonderful exchange between these two older women in my file.

One item I learned from a more seasoned writer was to save all your words.

Now, years ago for me that would have looked like hoarding, but thanks to technology, we can keep most of our written words without any storage issues.  Since hearing that tip, I started saving deleted scenes and tidbits of paragraphs and sentences that I thought might bloom into something new.

So, with that in mind, enjoy this little extra from Truth Be Told.

Adele closed and locked the door as the headlights from Kyle’s vehicle washed into the room. Betty’s house felt quiet now that everyone was gone. 

Kyle and Daisey had been the last to leave, taking the remnants of lunch with them. Adele worried Kyle didn’t see how much Daisey cared for him. She didn’t want him to lead her on, but they were grown. Well, almost.

She figured Betty would be in the small office. She spent more and more time there the closer it got to her surgery.

“Hey, do you want me to fix you something for dinner? I think there’s still some Chinese from the other night.” Adele asked. She waited in the doorway for an answer.

Betty pulled her feet up beside her on the love seat. “No, I’m not hungry but help yourself if you are.”

“I think I’ll wait a while. I’m still stuffed from lunch … and pie.” Adele moved to the chair and lowered herself into it. She drummed her fingers against its arm, trying to decide if she should say anything or not.

Betty set aside the magazine she had been thumbing through and leaned her head back, closing her eyes.

Adele had held her curiosity in check all day since Sarah’s appearance, but she couldn’t go home without knowing.  

“Didn’t you think it strange that Sarah showed up today to ask Haden to take her to the ball.”

Betty opened one eye, then closed it. “Yes, very.”

“I mean since we just talked about that very thing the other day. The day we were planning our strategy on how to get Claire to go with Haden.”

“I remember.” Betty, alert now, reached for the blanket that laid along the back of the love seat.  She spread it over her lap.

“You had said I was the Fairy Godmother and you were Cupid.”

Betty smiled. “I like playing Cupid. You usually get that part as the resident matchmaker. I’m rather enjoying it.”

“Uh huh, maybe a little too much. How did Sarah know Haden didn’t have a date?”

Betty’s eyes widened. “Are you accusing me of telling her?”

Adele didn’t answer.

Betty squirmed under her gaze. “Let’s just say Cupid might have let it slip, to the right people.”

“Out with it. Who did you tell?” Adele leaned forward in the chair with her elbows on her knees.

“I might have inadvertently sent an email to Carol White, saying Haden may or may not need a date to the ball.” Betty moved the magazine and stretched her legs out on the love seat and fussed with the blanket. “I don’t appreciate the third degree. It all worked out didn’t it?”

“Yes, but I thought we had agreed not to involve Sarah. That it’d be too awkward for Haden.”

“I know.” Betty frowned. “But I didn’t see any other way. And since I’m Cupid, I made a judgement call. I thought it was better for him to feel a bit awkward then to miss out on one of the best things that’s come into his life.”

 Adele leaned back with a thud. “I don’t want him finding out we’re meddling and blow his top. Or think Claire had anything to do with this.”

“Oh, I hadn’t thought about that. Surely, he wouldn’t think Claire was part of this.” Betty’s brow furrowed into a tight knot, and her gentle brown eyes filled with concern. Eyes that Adele thought looked a lot like Haden’s.

“If he finds out we’re helping, I don’t know what he’ll think.” Adele signed. “But I’m sure he won’t find out, and even if he does, I think he might be grateful. He’s so smitten with Claire.”

“And Henry.” Betty added.

“Yes, and Henry.” Adele chuckled. “but promise me from here on out you’ll let me know what you’re up to. I don’t want any more surprises.”

“You’re right. We’re in this together, and maybe if I had talked with you first, we could’ve found a way without Sarah.”

Adele detected a gleam of mischief in Betty’s eyes.

“However, it did work beautifully. Didn’t it?”

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Betty and Adele a little better. They are two of my favorite characters. I’m so glad they are around in book two of the series Seeds of Love coming out this spring.

If you’d like a chance to win a free copy of Truth Be Told, leave the name of one of your favorite characters, from a favorite book in the comments.

 

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Haden Sawyer, owner of Sawyer Construction, didn’t mean to lie to the whole town of Miller Creek, but what was he supposed to do when his fiancé left him two week before the wedding.

Now, Claire Reed and her son Henry have entered his life, and with another lie, he’s placed them both in the center of his world.  Add to the mix his matchmaking Aunt Adele, and a mom who’s desperate to be a grandmother, and Haden’s not sure which way is up. All he knows is what started out as a lie of convenience has transformed into something worth fighting for.

Can Haden win Claire’s trust and heart, or will she see him only as the man who took the easy way out?

If you like a little zing sprinkled with humor, you’ll love Truth Be Told. A sweet contemporary romance with family at its heart.

Available on Amazon, Kindle eBooks, and free on Kindle Unlimited.

Description: How Much Is Too Much?

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By Bonita Y. McCoy

Description in a story has two jobs. It helps the reader to understand the scene and allows them to use their imagination to picture the action in their minds.

But have you ever picked up a book and found that it went on and on and on about how a character looked or how the room was decorated?

Reading a novel that contains too much description is like listening to a monotone teacher on a warm afternoon, guaranteed to bore. The reader will flip pages trying to locate the action.

However, a novel that doesn’t contain enough description can leave the reader wandering around the story, lost and confused. It also leaves the reader feeling cheated, thinking he only got half of the novel and that the other half is still stuck somewhere in the writer’s brain.

So, how do we measure how much is enough?

Since there are no hard and fast rules, I put together a few questions that can be used to determine if your description is hitting the mark or if it needs some TLC.

Does the description slow down the pace of the story?

If the description acts like a speed bump in a scene, it is either too long or put in the wrong place. There is a reason why most of the description of a setting is done at the beginning of the scene. One, it puts your reader right in the heart of what’s going on, and two, its out of the way once the dialogue and action starts.

You never want your description to slow down the car chase or interrupt an argument between characters. Action beats are one thing; a long drawn out description of the forest is another.

Does the description add to the plot?

If you tend to tell every movement of a character in minute detail, you are doing what I call housekeeping. You are giving your reader a laundry list of everyday activities that they can fill in for themselves. These don’t add to the plot. They instead lessen the readers involvement in the story.

However, description can be used to add flavor to the plot. In Call of the Wild, one of the characters has no name; he is only known by the description, the man in the red sweater. The description shows the reader that the man is a stranger to the point of view character, and being a scoundrel, he isn’t worth getting to know.

Good choices in what to describe and how to describe it, not only draw your reader into the story but can add spice to your plot.

 Are you over using adjectives and adverbs?

The first lesson I learned in novel writing was to use adverbs and adjectives sparingly. The irony that they use an adverb to explain to us about not using adverbs is not lost on me. However, the advice still applies.

If you use adverbs and adjectives to prop up your word choices, you are cluttering your story. It shows that your nouns and verbs do not convey your meaning, and you are feeling unsure that the reader will understand.

Most of the time, your word choice works fine without the adverb or adjective, but if you aren’t sure, try using a thesaurus to find a word that better shows your meaning. An example of that would be Carol was very angry compared to Carol seethed. One word was able to take the place of three, and the reader got a clearer understanding of Carol’s emotions.

When in doubt about a word choice, check your thesaurus.

Are you trying to use the research you love?

As writers, we all do research, and sometimes, we fall in love with it. We become enamored and want to share all that we have learned with our readers, even at the expense of too much description.

Be honest, does your reader need to know all there is to know about llama care? Even if it’s interesting and you adopted a llama, if it’s not moving the plot forward, it needs to be cut.

Click to tweet: Use only the research that adds depth to your characters or enhances the plot. Everything else is llama liability. #llama #amwriting

These questions are only a start, but they should give you a clearer picture of how you are doing with your use of description. Knowing how much is too much is tricky, even those who have been writing for years find it hard to tell, but with practice, it will get easier to spot its over use. At least, that’s what I hear.

 

Prompt: The editor wanted half the description gone. Martha wanted to throw the piece of work out the window, but she knew that wouldn’t do any good. She had spent months researching the Appalachian Mountains and hated to leave out any of the imagery and colors she had seen on her trips. Frustration filled her. How was she supposed to decide what to keep and what to cut?

Myths and Merits of the Romance Genre

by Bonita Y. McCoy

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So, you think you want to write romance. I don’t blame you. The romance genre holds many wonderful opportunities for writers. Within romance, you can do serious, funny, suspenseful, or quirky stories, and the real plus, the readers always want a happily-ever-after ending. My favorite.

However, there are some myths about the genre that are floating around like bubbles on a sunny day, and they need to be popped before you settle on this genre as the one for you.

Myths

  • The Romance Genre is the easiest genre in which to write.

Wrong. All the same grammar rules and industry standards apply to the romance genre. It is no easier or harder than any other genre being written in the market today.

What should determine your genre of choice is what type of stories you love to read? If you love romance and stories that have a romantic subplot then you are a great candidate for becoming a romance writer, but if you lean more to adventure or science fiction and skip over the romantic sections, you won’t enjoy writing it any more than you do reading it.

  • With Romance, you only need to develop two characters.

Again, wrong. You may only write from the two main characters points of view, but just like any other genre, all the major characters need to be fully developed and well thought out.

Another aspect of romance writing that we forget is world building. If you write small town romances, you as the writer will have to build the small town. If you write about a character’s apartment or place of work, you will need to map out these places, so you can easily describe them in your novel.

  • The plot is not as important in a romance as the characters.

Do I need to say it? This too is a myth. No matter what type of story you write both the characters and the plot need to be believable. Though some genres are more character driven while others are more plot driven, both must run like a well-oiled machine. No holes, no clogged parts, no missing pieces.

  • The love will carry the story.

Emotional tension is the essence of good story telling, but the love in a romance can not be the only conflict or tension in the story. Your characters need baggage. Emotional, physical, mental, and any other type in order to make them real to the reader.

The love story should be powerful, but there must be more depth to the characters for the reader to be willing to go on the journey with the hero and heroine. Be creative in this area. Bring in something new and different for your characters to deal with in their daily lives. A handicapped relative, a retired parent, a critical diagnosis from the doctor, a crisis of faith, something that your reader may be dealing with in their own lives.

Now, that we have looked at the myths in the genre, let’s look at the merits. There are several advantages to writing romance.

Merits

  • It is the largest genre in the industry.

According to a Bookstr article in January 2017, romance was the number one best-selling genre clearing somewhere around 1.44 billion dollars. It is a large pond and plenty of room for newcomers to join in the fun.

  • Sub genres and tropes make the difference.

Another positive about writing in the best-selling genre is that there is a small sub genre for almost any trope you would like to write. If you want to write matchmaker romances, there is a sub genre for that. If you want to write billionaire romances, there is a place for that one too.  How about cowboy, boy next door, or fake relationships? They all fit as well.

  • Hope can be found in romance novels.

One of the best aspects of writing romance revolves around the encouragement romance writers give to their readers. Romance novels give hope. They uplift, encourage, rally, and entertain the reader through hard places in real life. They transport the reader to a place where even when its tough love conquers all. And for some, that is a place they need to visit to find a seed of hope for their own lives.

  • A Bond develops between the reader and the writer.

The romance genre weaves the threads of lives together to create a lasting bond, not between hero and heroine, but rather between reader and writer. Romance writers have a sacred trust with their readers. We will write a story that meets readers expectations of hope, love, and a happily-ever-after, and our readers will be loyal to return again and again to go on the journey with us. Romance readers are a loyal band.

Writing romances can be demanding just like any other genre of fiction, but the rewards far outweigh the frustrations. Once you’ve identified the myths that surround this genre and embraced the truth that any writing is work, you can better decide which genre is the right fit for you and your goals as a writer.

Remember, there are myths and merits in any genre. However, if you adore a sweet romance and you can’t wait to see how the hero and heroine end up together, then you might just be a romance writer who has found her home in the fiction world.

Click to tweet: The romance genre weaves the threads of lives together to create a lasting bond, not between hero and heroine, but rather between reader and writer.  #romance #amwriting

 

Writing Prompt: Maggie felt a little blue. She knew the next two weeks during Christmas would be hectic, but she consoled herself with the thought of the books she would take with her. Her own private world tucked in her suitcase.

Heart of Christmas bookAnnouncing five new stories filled with faith, hope, forgiveness, and of course happily-ever-afters. Each story focuses on an element of the Nativity, from the angels to the wise men. Be swept up in the love of the season and the promise of forever that the Christ child, the true Heart of Christmas, brings.  Available on Kindle and in Kindle Unlimited.

 

8 Steps to Writing a “Shout from the Housetops” Devotion

by Bonita Y. McCoy

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Do you love writing? Do you endeavor to encourage others, to lift them up in their daily walk with Christ? If so, then you may be a perfect candidate for writing devotions for such publications as Guideposts, Upper Room, Light from the Word, and Devo’Zine.

However, if you’ve never written a devotion before you might be wondering how to get started, so today, we are going to cover eight steps that will take the mystery out of devotional writing.

  • Everything starts with God. Before you pick up that pen or put that first letter on the screen, seek the Lord. It’s the only way to be an effective instrument in his hand. A daily time of prayer and reading will give you resources from which to pull and allow you to see the circumstance in your own life as potential avenues to help others.
  • Keep a journal. Using a journal to jot down experiences and events that happen in your day will give you ample material for anecdotes and stories for devotionals. Seeing how God’s word applies to your own life will help you to share how it can be applied in the lives of others. A journal is also a good place to keep scriptures that resonate with your own heart until there is a time that you can use them for the inspiration of others.
  • Keep them short. A devotional should be somewhere between 100 and 225 words in length (check individual guidelines – some require higher word count). Since these are short, every word has to count. So, use strong verbs, descriptive nouns, and leave out the unnecessary adverbs.
  • Focus on one point. A devotion should make one point and no more. If you find yourself trying to handle more than one point, break them up and write several different devotions with only one focal point each.
  • Write a beginning, a middle, and an end. Like in a good essay, you want the first paragraph to go from broad to narrow. You want the middle to show the story or add meat to your point, and then you want the ending to restate the main point or wrap up the story with a clincher.
  • Provide a buzz phrase or word. A buzzword or phrase is something catchy for the reader to remember. It can be a verse of scripture, a repeated word throughout the story, or a phrase that stands out and contains the point of the message. Something like: Saved by grace, loved by God. It’s catchy and easy for your reader to carry with him into his day.
  • Choose key verses. Most publications ask for several verses to be listed for that days reading. You will need to provide those verses as well as the key verse for the devotion. When choosing these verses, you may want to read them in several translations to see how they differ and which ones best go with the focus of your lesson. Sometimes doing this will give you wonderful insights you otherwise might have missed and added depth to your writing.
  • End with a call to action. A call to action is just what it sounds like. It is you, the writer, asking your reader to engage with you by following through with an action like prayer, journaling, answering a question, or simply reflecting on the thought of the day.
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Shout from the housetops the good news

As with any good writing, you always check your facts, be diligent with your grammar, and give credit where credit is due.

The eight steps presented here will help you get started with your devotional writing; however, always be sure to check the submission guidelines for the individual publications. Each one is a little different in word count and how they want submissions sent.

“What I tell you now in darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear.” Matthew 10:27 (NLT).

May God whisper in your ear, and may He give you devotions to shout from the housetops!

Writing Prompt: The smell of the roses reminded Susanne of the verse about prayers being a sweet savor to the Lord. Perhaps this could be used as a devotion. Then she pricked her finger on a thorn, and the idea began to form.

Click to Tweet: 8 Steps to Writing a “Shout from the Housetops” Devotion by Bonita Y. McCoy via @InspiredPrompt #devotional #WritingTips #HowTo

Traditional, Indie, and Everything in Between

by Bonita Y. McCoy

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More publishing choices for writers

Writers often hear the experts comparing the differences between Indie and Traditional publishing. They have classes at conferences and tons of blogs on this topic, but in today’s publishing world, the publishing question isn’t that simple. As the old saying goes, all roads lead to Rome.

We are in a wonderful new age of publishing and just as the building of the Roman roads opened up a whole new world of trade and exploration, the onset of digital eBooks in 2007 and the explosion of small presses across the country have given writers more publishing options than ever before.

In Jane Friedman’s article “The Key Book Publishing Paths:2018”, she references not two but six paths that writers can pursue in order to publish their work.

Those paths include large to mid-size publishers, the big five, small presses, hybrid publishing, Indie publishing, and publishing on social media.

So, the question is no longer how do I publish, but rather, what are my publishing options and which one best fits my goals?

Writers publish for varying reasons. You can see that by visiting different writing groups. Some are interested in literary excellence, others in telling a good yarn, still others want to leave the family stories behind for the next generation.  Then there are those of us who are taking our writing and turning it into a career.

But whatever your reasons for wanting to publish, there is an avenue for you to take.

The large to mid-sized publishers and the big five offer a writer great opportunity. They usually provide editing, cover design, some marketing, and some form of an advance payment for your story. They also shoulder all the financial risk. So, even if the story doesn’t sell well for some reason, you’ve made something for your efforts.

The big guys can also get your book into brick and mortar retailers, be it bookstores or chain stores such as Costco or Wal-Mart, giving your work more visibility.

So, if one of your publishing goals is to see your book on a shelf at the local book nook then one of the mid-size guys might be for you.

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Publishing changes over the years.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is social publishing. That is where you set your work free in the wild on a social media platform. There are many out there for doing just this such as Wattpad, Medium, Write.as, and Writers Café.  These are usually Serial story sites where the writer publishes segments or chapters of his story daily or weekly. This is great for garnering a fan base.

Of course, there is the writers own blog on his website, Tumblr, or BlogSpot for those who want to share articles, data, and content with their audience. These sites build audience trust and let them get to know the person behind the writing.

If your publishing goals are to grow an audience, get quick feedback, and experiment with writing styles, then this is the way to go.

Small presses, Indie, and going hybrid are the bread and butter of the writer’s existence.

Small presses are a wonderful addition to the publishing world. They give the writer a more personal experience with the publishing staff which helps to develop that much-needed trust. They also give the writer accountability for deadlines, help with editing and cover design, as well as assistance with marketing. Publishing with a small press can open doors as a speaker and teacher, allowing the writer opportunities that aren’t always available to Indie authors.

So, if your goal is to speak as well as to write and you want a more close-knit community, then a small press would be ideal for you.

Of all the roads that lead to Rome, Indie is the one many consider the back alley or the shortcut. However, Indie writers are true entrepreneurs. The thought of doing it all themselves and having control over every aspect of the writing and business components does not put them off. Instead, they learn the ins and outs of the entire process, allowing them to make better career decisions based on industry facts and their own experience.

Those who are “going Indie” tend to delegate many of the jobs such as cover design and editing to others who have more experience and talent in these areas in order to assure they put out a quality product. This means the writer shoulders the financial risk.

The Indie writer will also have critique partners, beta readers, and mentors to help keep their writing on track. When needed, they hire accountants and personal assistants for the business side of the writing career. If done well, an Indie author can enjoy a long, profitable career while being at the heart of the decision-making process.

So, if your goal is to make a career out of writing and you want to be in on all the decisions, then going Indie is for you.

In our present publishing market, a writer is no longer tied to doing only one option. Many well-known authors are publishing some of their stories, that don’t match up with the needs of their traditional publishers, on their own, creating for themselves a career as a hybrid author.

Hybrid writers take their experience from the traditional publishing world and combine it with the freedom of Indie publishing. This form of publishing allows an author to try a new genre, get their feet wet with a pen name, or put out works that don’t fit on any of the normal bookstore shelves.

So, if you’re an already published author and you want to try a new genre or put out that unique story that’s on your heart, the option of doing both Indie and traditional might be for you.

Never before in history have there been so many opportunities for the writing community, so many roads leading to Rome. Small press, Indie, or the big five, it’s all about your writing goals and what publishing option best fits your needs. No matter what the experts say there are more than two roads that lead to your publishing dream.

Writing Prompt: The idea of going Indie thrilled Carol; so much so, she was having trouble sleeping. Not wanting to wake Harold, she got up and tiptoed out of the room.

Click to Tweet: The question is no longer how do I publish, but rather, what are my publishing options and which one best fits my goals? #IndiePublishing #amwriting

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Bonita Y. McCoy hails from the Great State of Alabama where she lives on a five-acre farm with two horses, two dogs, two cats, and one husband who she’s had for over twenty-nine years. She is a mother to three mostly grown sons and two beautiful daughters-in-law, one who joined the family from Japan. She loves God, and she loves to write. Her blog and novels are an expression of both these passions. Drop by and visit her on Facebook/bonita.mccoy or bonitaymccoyauthor or at her website bonitaymccoy.com.  Her new release Truth Be Told can be found on Amazon.