Friday, December 25, 2009

The Faithful Christmas Cactus


A friend gave me a small Christmas Cactus several years ago. This is the perfect plant for me, because I don't take great care of my potted plants. In fact, I keep only those I know will survive without my continuous, tender loving care. Often, we're away for days or weeks, and I don't want to bother neighbors with watering my plants. The plant at the top is not mine, but it's a very good facsimile. Mine is actually larger than this one, and it does have the beautiful pink flowers.

 If you're interested in a Christmas Cactus, you might pick one up from a nursery or Home Improvement store. All of them had these plants for sale. Or if you have a friend with one, all you need is a large pot with potting soil, making sure it drains well. You see the small divisions? Each one can be propagated. Pinch off several and simply lay them on the soil and add water.
The Christmas Cactus is not a cactus at all. It is an epiphyte, meaning it is found in the same environment as orchids. Don't let this scare you, because they're not that delicate to grow. An epiphyte lives naturally in the forks of tree limbs where decayed leaves and other natural debris collect.
While directions say to keep it in a cool room--50 degrees F--this can easily be adjusted.
MY FAITHFUL CHRISTMAS CACTUS
I keep mine on my coverd back porch almost year 'round where it gets plenty of morning sun. By the hot afternoons--often 100 F in Texas!--it enjoys the shade. I often forget to water it, but never fear. It perks right up. Probably, the plant should not be kept wet.
DECEMBER 1
On this day, I bring my plant indoors next to a window so it will get a little sun. In just a few days, the tips turn dark, and very shortly bright pink buds appear. Today, on Christmas Day, the numerous tips hang heavy with glorius pink flowers. New flowers will continue for at least a month. As soon as the weather warms in March, it returns to the back porch.
I love poinsettias, but I don't bother buying them any more because I can't keep them properly. They die. But the Christmas Cactus is an independent sort of plant, just the kind I love.


Blessings on this beautiful Christmas Day.

Celia Yeary
All My Hopes and Dreams--The Wild Rose Press-now
Showdown in Southfork--the Wild Rose Press--now
Texas Blue-The Wild Rose Press--January 29, 2010
Texas Promise--Desert Breeze Publishing--September 2010
Texas True--Desert Breeze Publishing--February 2011


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Perfect Excerpt

Excerpts—we love them, don’t we? There’s no better way to sample an author’s writing style than to read an excerpt. One entire Yahoo Group is devoted to “Excerpts Only for Romance Writers and Readers,” and many authors and readers post there on a daily basis.


However, there is a right way and a wrong way to post the perfect excerpt. Many writers have their own methods, from very long, to very short, somewhere in-between, at times concise, and at others, rambling. What is the best method of selecting a sample of your writing? How can you entice a reader to read your full excerpt? Choose one that contains dialogue or action, not just narrative, and keep it short and simple.

Consider the short story. The guidelines are: limit to a specific time, place, event, interaction, or character’s evolution. It is, in fact, a mini-novel, complete with a beginning, middle, and an ending, i.e., an abbreviated novel.

Attention span is the amount of time a person can concentrate on a task without becoming distracted. Continuous involvement without any lapse at all is as short as eight seconds. The average adult who is engaged in an interesting activity or topic will remain focused for twenty seconds. People are also capable of longer periods up to two and a half hours when they are doing something enjoyable or motivating, such as watching a movie. Researchers have found that the modern adult’s attention span shortens as time goes on. The phenomenon of instant gratification in our technological world deters the attention span even more.

Now consider the excerpt. The guidelines are perhaps the same as those for a short story: one idea, one interaction, in one short time frame, wrapped up with a beginning, middle, and an ending, approximately three hundred words—a mini-short story with a hook at the end.

Here’s a test for you. How many words are in this article to this point? (310) How long did it take to read it? (Average adult-one minute.)

From a short novel for the Wayback, Texas Rodeo Series-Title: Showdown in Southfork.

Excerpt: Cody and Marla

Smiling lazily, he looked her up and down, at her short white shorts, pink stretch T, and red flip-flops. With that salacious grin, he continued back to her hair, hanging to her shoulders in a tangled mass of curls, but right now, there was no time to brush it properly. Some day she would just get it all whacked off and stop worrying about it.

“Stop staring,” she demanded.

“Well, I can hardly keep from it since you’re standing right in front of me.”

“Oh,” she muttered, straightened, and moved to the side.

Cody kept staring at her even though she’d moved out of his direct line of vision.

He drawled, “You know, if there’s anything I like in this world, it’s a woman with red hair.”

“It is not red. And if there’s anything I hate in this world, it’s a man saying my hair’s red. For your information, it’s strawberry blond.”

“Strawberry blond. Whadda you know? Now, I like that even better.”

Narrowing her eyes at him, she said, “Well, I’m just as pleased as punch.”

***

This short excerpt has three parts: Beginning: Cody stares at Marla while she watches him. Middle: they have a short argument. Ending: She has the last word. It contains 260 words. Reading time: 20 seconds.

Celia Yeary


www.celiayeary.com

Book Titles:

All My Hopes and Dreams

Showdown in Southfork

Texas Blue
********
The Wild Rose Press

http://www.thewildrosepress.com/all-my-hopes-and-dreams-p-1060.html

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fruitcake Gets Bum Rap






“Fruitcake Gets Bum Rap”-a quirky individual who gets shuttled off to jail on an imaginary charge.

No, not that kind of fruitcake. I would never use such a politically incorrect term to define someone who might resemble my Great-aunt Lizzie who made pies out of left-over jams and jellies. I’m referring to the type of cake made from candied fruits and nuts that some insist on baking or buying to give as Christmas gifts. You’ve heard Jay Leno make fun of a family tradition of giving this cake, where one recipient says, “Why, thank yew sooo much! I just love fruitcake.” Then that person proceeds in wrapping it anew and giving it to someone else. The same cake is passed around for years—and never deteriorates!

I, for one, really, really do love fruitcake. Admittedly, some are better than others, but even the cheap ones that come in a decorative tin and sold in your local discount store have something to offer. At Christmas parties, someone always contributes a plate of dark sliced fruitcake, perhaps a little dry, forlorn, skipped over by guests as they select a tidbit here, a morsel there. Me? I’ll take a piece of the cake every time.

My mother made an excellent fruit cake back in the fifties and sixties. She used the common candied cherries and pineapple and citron, sometimes dyed green, raisins, and lots of good old Texas pecans. She would buy a big sack of pecans as early as she could in the fall, and Daddy cracked every one and picked out the nutmeats. Fresh pecans make a big difference. Since we were teetotalers at home, Mother would tell Daddy to buy a bottle of whiskey—she said whiskey, but probably meant bourbon—when he next had to work over the state line in New Mexico. Most of the South Plains counties were “dry.” After soaking the 10-inch-tube-pan cake two weeks in the alcoholic beverage, let me tell you, that was a good fruitcake. I especially enjoyed it for breakfast with a hot cup of black coffee.

Years later, I found my own recipe for fruitcake. I’d like to share it with you.

BRANDY NUT CAKE

3 cups chopped Texas pecans
1 ½ cups halved maraschino cherries
1 cup dark raisins- ½ cup light raisins
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup white sugar
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
3 eggs
2 Tbs. apricot brandy

½ cup apricot brandy, for soaking

Combine nuts and fruits. Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add to nut mixture, tossing to coat well. Beat eggs till frothy; add the 2 Tbs. brandy. Pour egg mixture over fruit mixture; mix well. Pour batter into greased and floured 9 x 5 x 3 loaf dish or pan. Bake in 300 degree oven 1 hour and 45 minutes. (If you use a dark pan, perhaps lower the temperature a few degrees or test for doneness a few minutes early.)

When the cake cools, wrap in clean cheese-cloth. Dribble apricot Brandy over all sides until soaked. Wrap in aluminum foil. You may add more brandy later, if you wish. Store the cake at least a week.

Enjoy! And Merry Christmas.


Celia Yeary

SHOWDOWN IN SOUTHFORK: eBook available at:
http://www.thewildrosepress.com/


ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS-a Cactus Rose—
Print and eBook available at: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/ http://www.celiayeary.com/

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Review of Texas Authors Day


Welcome To Texas Authors Day
at
San Marcos Public Library

Celia and friends:
Celia Yeary (left), Diana Castillleja (middle), and Terri Clamons (right)
Diana lives near San Marcos, and she and I have visited more than once. I was so glad to see a familiar face! Terri, my good friend, is a new author, and she stopped by to say hello during her book-buying spree.

This is a small portion of our beautiful, spacious library. The staff keeps the library well-stocked, organizes children's programs, offers computer classes, schedules musical programs in the public room, and allows volunteers to use the computers to help residents with tax returns.
NOTE: The lovely young blond woman is Julliette Kruger, who writes children's books.


The young man is a fourth-grader who attends Crockett Elementary School. He was a reporter that day, interviewing a few authors, asking thoughtful questions, listening intently, and meticulously writing his notes. He impressed me!
NOTE: I'm seated at the table with Diana behind the man with the blue shirt.


To showcase the variety of authors who participated in Texas Authors Day, I'll introduce three of them, including myself.

Left Seated: Diana Castilleja--stay-at-home mom who is IVed to her computer, author of sixteen romance novels: Paranormal, Fantasy, Contemporary--available from Tease Publications.

Right Seated: Phil Irwin aka The Whiskey Rebel--part-time writer and musician, author of "Job Jumper," available from Phil, PO Box 1781, San Marcos, Texas 78666.

Right Standing: Mr. Bill Soyars--retired cattle rancher, born-again Christian, a true Texas gentleman, author of "A Passionate Trail," available at Hastings in San Marcos.

Left Standing: Celia Yeary, an accidental author, life-long Texan, author of Western Historical Romance novels, available from http://www.thewildrosepress.com/ or celiayeary@yahoo.com .

Thank you for checking out our Texas Authors Day. Forty-four authors of every genre from several cities participated. Visitors came and went, with a surge around three o'clock. The event was organized by library staff member, Robin Wood. She also created the lovely posters for us, provided bottled water, as well as punch and cookies. It's Texas, spelled H-o-s-p-i-t-a-l-i-t-y!
Celia Yeary

SHOWDOWN IN SOUTHFORK: Western Contemporary Romance:
eBook available at:

www.thewildrosepress.com

ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS-a Western Historical Romance—

Print and eBook available at: www.thewildrosepress.com

www.celiayeary.com

http://www.celiayeary.blogspot.com



     

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving: That Was Then, This is Now



I love this painting, a depiction of the First Thanksgiving in America by a famous artist. That was then.



This is Thanksgving, circa 1942. Everyone dressed up, sitting around a beautiful, well-appointed table.



Twenty-first Century--football on Thanksgiving Day. This is a University of Texas football player, holding a Longhorn banner (actually this is from their win at the Rose Bowl.)

 
This is now. Since all our family live too far away, we celebrate in our own way, by ourselves, and thoroughly enjoy our day. First, we go to the movies. This year, we'll see The Blind Side. (It's about football.)


After the movie, we'll go to Johnny Carino's and have Italian Nachos. No turkey for us.



And last, the grand finale: University of Texas plays its arch rival, Texas A&M, in Austin, Texas in Memorial Stadium. It's a night game, so we watch it on television. Perfect ending to a great day.
We're thankful for all we have.
Remember our military men and women and their families.
Remember all other service and medical personnel who work on Thanksgiving Day.



HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE!

Celia Yeary

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

TEXAS AUTHOR DAY





TEXAS AUTHOR DAY


Meet 40 great Texas writers and illustrators! Books will be

available at the event from the Texas State University Bookstore

and the authors themselves. Autographed books make

wonderful holiday gifts for friends and family!

Readings

2:15 Diana Castilleja 3:45 Allan C. Kimball

3:00 Jacqueline Kelly 4:30 Shelley Seale

at the San Marcos Public Library

625 E. Hopkins St. 512.393.8200

www.sanmarcostx.gov/library

Book Signings & Readings

Sunday, November 22, 2009
 
I will be a participant this year in the Texas Author Day. If anyone is in the vicinty of San Marcos, Texas, please drop by our library and visit! This year 40 authors will attend, and all will have books you may decide to buy, or just come by and visit with us. It's a fun time, no pressure, just come and enjoy!
  
Celia Yeary
Western Historical Romance Author
Book: All My Hopes and Dreams

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Happiness State


What makes you happy? Can your level of happiness depend on your home state? Could moving to another state be good for your soul? Three-hundred and fifty thousand residents of all 50 states were asked the same set of questions to determine their level of happiness.

Don’t expect me to list the happiest states or the least. Not for the world would I step into that argument. Probably, most of us love our home state, and we wouldn’t care where some innocuous study placed it. Besides, many of our friends live in other countries, and I wouldn’t want to leave them out.


However, I can use generalizations and discuss the five types of Well-Being the study used.

1. Overall evaluation of your life.

2. Emotional Health

3. Physical health

4. Healthy behaviors or life-styles

5. Job satisfaction.

You could rate yourself using these five elements. On a scale of one to five, how would you rate yourself—living in the “state” or state you do.

For me, my overall evaluation of my life would be a five. Emotional health, oh, 4.5. (I do worry and fume and fuss over things I cannot control.) Physical health, probably a 4, simply because I’m not 21 anymore and do have a few tiny health issues I can easily control. Healthy behaviors or life-styles, definitely a five. I don’t smoke and never have, I’m not an addictive personality to anything, I eat healthy so that my lab tests always get a happy face (really, my doctor draws a happy face on my lab sheets), and I get moderate exercise. Job satisfaction? I’m retired and happily so. But when I did work, I’d give myself another five. In total, I am a rather happy person.

Right now, I’m reading a novel by Emilie Richards titled “Happiness Key.” I love her books, and this one is about four women living in concrete block ramshackle cabins on a spit of land in Florida called Happiness Key. One owns the cabins, and has fallen from a wealthy life when her husband went to prison; one is a foreigner who finds herself married to a man she doesn’t know; one is a middle-aged woman who yearns for her husband who pays her no mind, so she finds one who will; and one is an older woman who has become forgetful and sad. They come together to solve a problem.

The best point about this novel is the character-building Emilie Richards so capably weaves. I want to keep reading, not to find out how the problem is solved, but to learn how each of these women find happiness.

How do you find your happiness? Surely, it’s not because you live in Vermont, or California, or Utah. Each of us is different, yet all the same. Women in a world of men, finding our own way.

Keep writing. Much of my happiness comes from writing and creating, and I’ll bet it’s the same for you.

Celia Yeary

SHOWDOWN IN SOUTHFORK: eBook available at:
http://www.thewildrosepress.com/

ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS-a Cactus Rose—
Print and eBook available at: www.thewildrosepress.com

www.celiayeary.com

http://www.celiayeary.blogspot.com

Friday, November 6, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire--What's the Point?


While on a recent road trip from Texas to Michigan, we stayed in motels along the way and at our destination. Since we do not subscribe to HBO at home, watching it on TV is a treat for us. Our lives do not revolve around movies, in fact, we may see two a year—sometimes not that many. As I checked the schedule one night, I saw that Slumdog Millionaire was a primetime feature. Great! I wouldn’t have to stay up far past my bedtime to watch a movie.


I told my husband the movie we’d see (he doesn’t care, and allows me to be the film critic of the family.) Indeed, we watched the entire movie, enjoying some parts, distressed at others. When it ended, my husband asked: “What was the point of the story?”

Very good question.

Plot: A Mumbai teen who grew up in the slums becomes a contestant on the Indian version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” Because he knows answers he shouldn’t with his non-existent education, he is accused of cheating. The police arrest, interrogate, and torture him. During the interrogation, he tells the story of his life, including specific events that explain why he knows the answers.

Summary: The story is a fairy tale with great imagery and a happy ending—exhilarating, in fact. The movie will invoke pity, sadness, anger, fear, disgust, surprise, and happiness. You will want to cheer at the end. This combination is a perfect mix of emotions for every superb story.

But what is the point of Slumdog Millionaire? It is “How do we come to know the things we know about life and love?” (One comment about the movie gave this reason. I agree.)

The two young brothers in the story had no chance to learn anything about love except from other slum children and each other. Certainly their environment gave them pain, hunger, filth, extreme poverty, and fear. And yet, even after they lost their mother to a murderer, they seemed happy and cocky, fearless in many cases, and accepting of their surroundings. How could such a thing happen to these pitiful, hapless children?

Those of us who write about life and love draw on our human experiences. Each person has a unique story, and our beliefs and memories help shape our novels, our short stories, and us as adults. Even when a normal person like Stephen King can author such horrific tales, something along the way shaped his belief system and his memory bank.

The older brother in Slumdog acted as friend, teacher, and protector to the younger one—the brother who becomes the contestant. But as they neared the teen years, the older brother turned criminal the day he picked up a Colt 45 and realized he had power after all. He turned against his brother—or did he?

Watch the movie.

My published novels are a Western Historical Romance and one Western Contemporary Romance. My Coming Soon novel is also Western Historical. But…I also have several novel-length stories in my files. Some are women’s fiction with a light romance. A couple of them border on Inspirational romance. One is almost a YA novel. Whatever category they may fit, each one contains what I have learned and absorbed in my lifetime.

What I know about love and life appears—to some degree—in my stories. What about yours? Do you agree?

Celia Yeary
SHOWDOWN IN SOUTHFORK: eBook available at:
http://www.thewildrosepress.com/

ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS-a Cactus Rose—
Print and eBook available at: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/

http://www.celiayeary.com/
http://www.celiayeary.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

California Cousins-A Tale of the Fifties


Growing up on the South Plains of Texas in the forties and fifties might have been the best thing that happened to me. No place on earth had such down-to-earth people, American values, and Golden Rule principles. My family thrived on the flat-as-a-pancake landscape, the dry clean air, and the friendship of neighbors who shared our hopes and dreams. Why, we thought we had the best there was, the lifestyle probably everyone in the United States wished they enjoyed.

That was in third grade, before the cousins from California came to visit.

Mother talked to us one night at the supper table. “Girls,” she said, “we’re having company next week.”

We sat up straight in our chairs, and with wide eyes, asked, “Who?”

“Your California cousins.”

The idea of visitors all the way from California seemed about the most exciting event we could imagine. Someone might as well have told us that Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were visiting, we were that thrilled. My little sister and I anticipated the arrival of Carrie and Donny with great enthusiasm. We talked and planned the games we would play and the sights we would show them.

A week later, a big, blue Cadillac pulled onto the packed earth driveway and parked behind our ancient black Ford. All four doors opened. We squealed, hollered, and ran out the door. Mother hurried, too, taking care to remove her apron, and smooth her curly black hair away from her face.

Our aunt stepped out, untied her headscarf, fluffed her tight curls, and looked around. Then—I swear—she lit a cigarette. Right there by the side porch. Mother hurried to her. “Sharon! It’s you! I’m so happy to see you.”

Right then, we knew the cousins would be different.

Donny stepped out of one back door, then Carrie came out the other. They stood and looked around as if they’d landed on Mars.

I walked up to them, and said, “Hidey, y’all. I’m Cissy and this is Jeannie. We’re your cousins.”

Donny squinted his eyes, sneered, and said, “Hidey? Y’all? You some kind of hillbilly?”

Well, this visit just got off to a rocky start.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Y’all isn’t a word. Don’t you know that?”

“Well, what should I say when I mean you all?”

“You.”

“But….”

This conversation went back and forth, until my slow brain understood that ‘you’ meant one…or more. Donny explained, “Or you could say ‘you guys.’”

“You’re wearing boy’s pants,” Carrie said. She looked at my blue jeans with the hems rolled into thick cuffs, my plaid shirt tucked in, and a belt cinched around my ten-year-old non-existent waist.

Carrie wore a pink dress with hardly any top. Shoulder straps held it up, and the short skirt had a ruffle around the hem. I wondered if I should run in and change clothes, except all of my dresses had complete tops and puffed sleeves.

Since it was late in the day, all we accomplished was to stare at each other as the adults carried in suitcases, pillows, and paper bags. Then all of us squeezed around the small table to have our supper.

The California cousins looked at the big bowl of black-eyed peas cooked with ham-hock, the cornbread, and the sliced onions. Donny exclaimed, “I will not eat cow food. What else do you have?”

My sister and I looked at each other. Neither of us knew black-eyed peas were food for cows, and here, we’d eaten them our entire lives.

“Eat your dinner, Donny,” his father said sternly.

Dinner? This was supper. I guessed our uncle didn’t know what time it was, since he’d been riding in a car for three days with nothing to do but drive.

My sister and I had to give up our narrow bed we shared and sleep on a pallet of quilts in the front room, crammed between the end of the divan and the wall. There were people all over the house. I heard a lot of griping and bellyaching before everyone finally fell asleep.

The next morning, Saturday, Daddy took our uncle out in the old black Ford to show him the town, the cotton crops, and the oil fields. I heard Daddy tell Mother they’d be gone the entire day, and not wait supper on them.

At the breakfast table, we ate Cheerios. Donny poured cereal level with the top of his bowl, and his mother didn’t say a word. When he added milk, he had to lean over and cup his hand and wrist around the edge of the bowl to keep the oats from spilling over. When he finished half his cereal, he began to talk. And talk, and talk. After many minutes, his mother calmly and sweetly said, “Donny, sweetie? More eating and less talking, please.”

Donny cracked up. He told her in a loud voice, “More talking and less eating, Mom!”

Mom. We’d never heard the word. The odd part was that Donny wasn’t scolded or anything. His “mom” just smiled and said to Mother, “He has a genius I.Q.”

My head was spinning with all the new information.

After breakfast, my sister and I put on dresses so we’d look as good as Carrie. Our hair was not the same, though. She asked, “Why is your hair so short?”

“Mother cuts it this way,” I informed her, “and gives us permanents.”

Carrie sniffed and turned up her nose. “My hair is fashioned like Shirley Temple’s. Mom takes me to the beauty parlor to have it done up.”

My sister and I looked at each other and shrugged. I made a mental note to talk Mother into never cutting my hair again, and taking me to a beauty parlor to have my hair “done up.”

Our mothers shooed us out the side door onto the dirt driveway between the houses. “Go play,” they said, as they poured more coffee, opened a big box of photographs, and set out the fingernail polish.

We took our cousins to the back yard that had no grass, just powdery, South Plains dirt. In the back corner, we had a low metal shed meant to be a garage, but it was too small for a car. It had become a storage shed and a playhouse.

“What do y’all…uh, you guys…want to play?” I asked hopefully.

While the cousins pondered, my friend Jack who lived next to us slammed out his back door and ran over. “Hey! Cissy! Wanna play cowboys and Indians?”

Well, I was in a dilemma. I’d put on a dress this morning, but now, Jack wanted to play our favorite game. While I thought on the matter, he suggested another game.

“We could play Superman. I’ll go get my towel!”

Off he ran to his house. When he emerged, he had a towel tied around his neck like a cape, and he carried his Red Ryder BB gun, too.

“Jack,” I said, “my daddy told you not to bring your BB gun into our yard. You know you could shoot somebody’s eye out, and you might even kill a person if a BB went into the heart.”

“It don’t have no BB’s in it, Cissy. I’ll just pretend it’s loaded.”

“Well, okay. I guess that’ll be all right,” I conceded.

The morning wore on. My sister and I tried to entertain our cousins, but they showed little to no interest. After a while, the five of us wandered about the dusty yard, trying to work up some enthusiasm for a game. My sister went to the porch and sat down with her elbows propped on her knees and her chin on her fists. Carrie sat on the swing and pushed herself back and forth, listlessly. I was mortified our cousins were bored and unhappy. I was afraid they’d never want to come to Texas again.

While I was cogitating, Jack leaned a ladder on the side of the shed. He announced he was Superman, and he was going to fly off the roof of the low shed. I ran to the ladder. “No! No, Jack, you’ll break a leg!”

“Well, okay,” he said and climbed back down.

He picked up his gun and hoisted it to his shoulder. “Pow! Pow, pow, pow!” he yelled, pulling the trigger each time, thinking there were no BB’s in there.

All of a sudden, I felt something hit my shin, and it began to sting. I looked down, and blood ran down my leg. The California cousins ran over and dropped to their knees to stare at my wound. I felt paralyzed with the pain, but I didn’t scream or cry. So, I sat down in the dirt and studied the purple lump in my shin. Jeannie ran over and squatted down to look. Jack stood over me and said, “Golly, bum! I shot ya, Cissy!”

He looked like he was about to cry, so I said, “It’s not that bad, Jack.”

Donny stood there, looking at my leg and the Red Ryder. “Let me see that gun,” he told Jack.

“Uh-uh,” Jack said, holding the gun close to his side. “Nobody can touch my Red Ryder.”

“Give it to me,” Donny insisted, and when Jack shook his head, Donny grabbed the gun and ran, laughing and laughing, like a lunatic, my mother might say.

After a few minutes of running around and chasing the other, Jack and Donny stopped. Both were huffing and puffing, out of breath.

I sat on the back stoop, with my little sister standing there, not knowing what to do, about to cry.

Donny walked up to Jack and said, “You want this BB gun? Then, take it, you yellow-bellied coward.”

In the blink of an eye, Jack grabbed the gun, ran to the shed, and climbed the ladder to the low roof. My sister, Carrie, and Donny ran over and stood in a little huddle, looking up, wondering what Jack would do. I limped to the group and stared at Jack.

Jack walked to the edge of the roof, looked down, and announced, “I’m gonna fly!”

And he jumped off. Instead of flying like he intended, he fell with a “whump” onto the hard-packed earth.

He lay there on his back with his eyes closed.

Donny dropped to his knees. “Jack! Jack! Wake up, buddy! Are you hurt? Are you dead? Get up, now!”

Jack sat up, moved his head from side to side, looked at Donny, and said with a grin, “Gosh darn. That hurt.”

Donny began to laugh and slapped Jack on the back. “You’re a real hero, a real, live Superman! Damnation, if you aren’t something.”

If I recalled correctly, ‘damnation” was a curse word.

At the end of the week, the California cousins packed up, ready to go home. Jeannie and I hovered near the car, almost in tears. Carrie hung out the window, saying, “Bye, now! Come to see us in California! We’ll all go to the beach!”

Donny asked his dad, “Can we come back next year?”

My sister and I stood in the driveway as the blue Cadillac pulled out onto the street, and sped away.

Jeannie asked, “Cissy, what’s a beach?”

I shrugged. “I dunno, but I can’t imagine what they do in California for fun.”


Celia Yeary


SHOWDOWN IN SOUTHFORK—eBook

ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS-a Texas Historical
eBook: The Wild Rose Press
Print: The Wild Rose Press print-store, or
Amazon.com


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Top Ten Romance Novels



I love Top Ten lists. About anything. Movies, novels, games, foods, cars—you name it and I will read it.

A recent list I found had the title “Top Ten Romance Novels of All Time,” by birdsherry. While I can’t agree these are the best of all time, I do like the selections and heartily agree with two or three.

The problem with some lists is that the title is too broad. Best romance novels of all time? Classic or Contemporary? Regency or Western? Sweet or Erotic? Time-Travel or Vampire? Most Popular or Best Plot? The possibilities are endless.

Here is "birdsherry’s" list:

1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

2. Knight in Shining Glory by Jude Devereaux

3. It Had To Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

4. The Bride by Julie Garwood

5. Dream Man-Linda Howard

6. Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale

7. Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer

8. McKenzie’s Mountain by Linda Howard

9. Nobody’s Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

10. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase.

LaVyrle Spencer’s novel have stood the test of time. She wrote, I believe, 26 novels and retired. They were old when I discovered them, and now, each is being re-released with new covers. I have all her novels collected and safe in a cabinet. Most have the old covers, and now, I’m in the process of collecting every one of them with the new covers. I’m a real fan.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ novels are wonderful. There, too, I have read every one. She is a unique author, with an unusual voice and way of writing that keeps the reader moving. Her sense of humor and timing is impeccable.

I may be the last romance reader on the face of the earth who has not read Diana Gabaldon. I’ve noticed anytime someone mentions her as one of the greats, her novel Outlander is usually named. A vow to Ms. Gabaldon—I will read Outlander.

Celia Yeary

www.celiayeary.com

http://www.celiayeary.blogspot.com

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thebookspa

http://twrpcactusrose.blogspot.com

ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS-a Cactus Rose—

Print and eBook available at: www.thewildrosepress.com

SHOWDOWN IN SOUTHFORK: eBook available at: www.thewildrosepress.com

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mini-Interviews: Bess McBride, Mona Risk, and Keena Kincaid


Welcome Bess, Mona, and Keena. I’m pleased you agreed to participate in my second Mini-Interview. When I count all the Five Star reviews you three have received, the total is awesome. While you each write a different genre, your talent and success are equal in excellence.

Visitors to my blog, welcome, also. I have asked the same three questions of each author. You will enjoy reading their responses! Celia Yeary

1. What particular challenge do you remember from writing your first published novel?



BESS: Learning how to see my editor’s criticism, comments and (massive…in my mind) edits more as constructive help and less as a personal affront. I remember asking her if she even liked the story at one point, so numerous were the edits!  But I learned a great deal from her and continue to appreciate her brisk handling of this starry-eyed new author.


MONA: TO LOVE A HERO was my first book and the book of my heart, based on my business travels to Belarus, but I was told by several editors that the setting, a Russian country, would be too difficult to sell. In spite of the lack of encouragement, I was so determined to have that book published I spent four years editing my manuscript, entering contests to have judges’ feedback, asking mentors and critique partners to read it. At least, twenty writers and published authors offered help and useful critique. I took their advice to heart and edited non stop until it won a perfect three scores in FTHRW Wallflower contest. I knew that unless it was very well written, it wouldn’t stand a chance.





KEENA: My challenge was figuring out how to market ANAM CARA to agents and editors. Like many authors, I spent the bulk of my time making the story sing, and it took a slew of rejections before I realized I needed to work just as hard on the marketing side.


2. What’s the toughest part about competing with other writers?

BESS: Learning (or trying to learn) not to compete with other writers, but to assume (and hope) that there is room for all of us in readerland. I’m still working on it though!

MONA: Except in contests, I don’t compete with other writers. I write because I enjoy telling stories. I cry and laugh while writing and live my characters’ emotions. I think every story is unique and depends on the author’s voice to make it an interesting book that grabs the reader’s attention. You cannot compare authors’ voices. Either you love them or you don’t.

KEENA: This may be na├»ve, but I don’t view myself as being in competition with other writers. This business is so subjective that there’s no way to compete. An editor and/or agent likes your voice or doesn’t. The readers like your story or they don’t.
I consider myself my own competition. I need to be better with every book. I have to always challenge myself as a writer and a storyteller, yet still offer that “thing” that captured readers’ hearts in my previous books. And that “thing” differs depending upon whom you ask.
One of my readers loves the fact that my hero and heroine in ANAM CARA are older and more stable, if set in their ways. Their relationship evolves differently than it would if they were younger. There may be less drama, but the stakes are higher because both of them suspect this is their last chance at finding abiding love. This reader, who also read an advance copy of TIES THAT BIND, the sequel to ANAM CARA, didn’t like the more emotional, self-centered attitude of my much younger hero at the beginning of the book. Yet another beta reader loved the emotions, actions and raw passion that came with his youth, and loved his character arc. So, my take away is I need to write authentic stories in which readers can connect with my characters’ emotions, regardless of what that emotion is. If only there was a magic formula for doing that. 

3. Which genres interest you most when writing? Would to try a completely different genre?

BESS: I’m more interested in contemporary than other genres, but I actually end up writing more light paranormal…that is to say, contemporary with a bit of something different…be it a lovelorn ghost or a mysterious pirate who exists beyond his time. And I just love time travel though I’ve only written one. I’ve actually tried most of the genres. I think I would enjoy including time travel, contemporary, historical, light paranormal and romantic suspense.

MONA: I like writing contemporary stories, romantic suspense, set in foreign countries, or medical romances, in the genre of Gray’s Anatomy and ER. By the way, all my heroes are foreigners and all my heroines are American career women.
Recently, I have been daydreaming about a new story totally different: a hilarious paranormal, slightly erotica, set in several foreign countries. The story is developing in my head and I wrote 1000 words so far.

KEENA: I write historicals, sometimes with paranormal elements. My scholarly career was pretty much limited to the centuries between Rome and the Renaissance, so it’s no surprise I write that. I plan to pen a contemporary one of these days, if only to take the shackles off my dialogue.

Thank you all!
Celia

Direct buy links:

BESS:
On a Warm Sea of Love: at TWRP
http://www.thewildrosepress.com/on-a-warm-sea-of-love-p-3673.html?zenid=f0c9c5b8caee25c00b8e3c68704ce935

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
MONA:
Babies in the Bargain: at TWRP
http://www.thewildrosepress.com/babies-in-the-bargain-p-1298.html
*********************************************************
KEENA:
Anam Cara: at TWRP
http://www.thewildrosepress.com/anam-cara-paperback-p-3287.html?zenid=1088171c1f80892c6b314a16f94288e0

Thank you all, Celia





Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Memories of Autumn Leaves


“This heat and humidity is killing me,” my husband mutters as he carries out yet another loaded box to the van. “Can’t wait to get on the road.”

The calendar reads October fifteenth, but in Texas the ever-present heat and sweltering humidity still tortures us.

“Um-hum,” I answer, when he re-enters the kitchen and I hand him another filled box. “Me, too. I hope the trees have turned real pretty. Do you have plenty of memory on your camera? My card holds only two hundred and fifty shots.”

“Yeah, I think I have three hundred or so. We can always get more.”

“Well, remember, half of my photos will be of the boys. Aren’t all three of them at cute stages?”

He walks out the garage door carrying the box without answering. Upon return, he replies, “Sure they are. I just wish they didn’t live in Michigan.”

“You do?” I ask, surprised. “I love the three-day drive. Even northern Arkansas will have pretty autumn trees.”

“No, that happens more in November. Remember the year we drove up there just to see the leaves? It was November.”

I pause and think. “Oh, that’s right. Well, I bet we start seeing some color by the time we’re half-way across Tennessee.”

“Most likely. I love our live oak trees, but they don’t do anything. Just stand there and stay green all year. At least it’s better than West Texas or the Plains. I grew up not knowing a thing about trees and certainly nothing about autumn leaves.”

“Me, too. When I was in grade school, I loved autumn because we got mimeographed pages with different outlines of leaves. I had no idea what kind they were, but I knew to use my orange and yellow and red crayons, because I had seen them in picture books.”

My husband leans his back on the kitchen counter and crosses his arms. “Isn’t it funny? Our son sees those beautiful leaves as nuisances. I guess I’d understand it, though, if I had to rake them all up and dispose of them.”

“I suppose. Oh!” I exclaim happily with my hands clasped under my chin. “I can’t wait to see them! And for three whole weeks.”

He throws his head back and laughs. “What? The grandchildren or the autumn leaves?”





Celia Yeary

www.celiayeary.com

http://www.celiayeary.blogspot.com

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thebookspa

http://twrpcactusrose.blogspot.com

ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS-a Cactus Rose—

Print and eBook available at: www.thewildrosepress.com

SHOWDOWN IN SOUTHFORK:eBook available at: www.thewildrosepress.com




Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Our Beloved Cats--RIP


When our daughter was in the sixth grade, she said to me one day after school, “Mom, I want a kitty.”
My dissertation on the fact that we were a dog family and already had one of those did not deter her.
“Poco’s my brother’s dog,” she said matter-of-factly.
We relented, of course, because she was a child who rarely asked for anything. Some children might beg and cry for a certain toy, doll, or game, but she simply did not do that. How could we deny her the pleasure of a sweet little kitty? The only stipulation she stated was that it not be a Siamese cat. “I’ve heard they’re mean,” she explained.
As soon as the local paper arrived later that evening, she spread the Classifieds out on the kitchen table. With great excitement, she ran her finger down the columns until she found “Pets.” We told her it should be a free kitten. She carefully read each ad, but all of them were about dogs. Finally, she located only one ad that listed cats, and it said “Kittens-Free.”
I watched as her narrow shoulders slumped. She was near tears. “There’s only one ad for kitties, and they’re Siamese. They have six.”
As any wise mother would do, I consoled her by saying we would look each day until we found the right one. But she decided then and there that she would take one of those, after all. I knew she did not want to wait.
By eight o’clock that evening, she was the proud owner of a small, beautiful, male Siamese kitten. From that moment, they were inseparable at home. She would lie down on her bed or lean back in a recliner, and the kitten jumped in her lap. If he saw a button anywhere near, the kitten sucked on it, soaking the surrounding fabric. Our daughter tried to break him, but it was a no-go. They only thing she could do was to wear clothing without buttons on the front. Of course, he became Buttons.
Before the year was out, a friends of hers said they had a new litter of kittens—Russian Blue. The first thing she ever begged for was one of those tiny balls of blue-gray fur. We relented once more, as loving parents sometimes do against their own rules; in this case, one dog, one cat per household. She chose another male, which she named Simon. My husband, ever the comedian, tried to convince her to name him Bows—so her cats would be Buttons and Bows. She did not think this was funny. So, he suggested she change Buttons to Garfunkel—then she would have Simon and Garfunkel. With a long-suffering sigh, she said, “Ohhh, Dad. That is not funny.” He gave up.
Buttons became a hunter of the first order. His daily mission became stalking a poor hapless bird, lizard, garter snake, or field mouse. With his wiry, fast body and smart brain, he was excellent. Very often, he caught something, but rarely did he kill or even maim. His goal in life was to wag it to the patio door and sit patiently with it squirming in his mouth until he received his hard-earned praise. Any one of us would step out to the patio, tap Buttons on the head, and he would release the small animal. Thank goodness, most of the time it scampered, slithered, or flew away. I asked my daughter once, “Why doesn’t he eat the animals he catches? A stalker usually does that.” Her answer was that he preferred Little Kibbles.
Simon, on the other hand, grew to gigantic proportions. The Russian Blue is naturally large, and when one is neutered, he adds more weight. He attempted to stalk, but he was far too lazy. I always said he needed “remedial stalking lessons,” because he ran his version of “full out” toward his prey. Actually, our lovable sloth lumbered along, giving the animal plenty of time to escape. In fact, a bird would watch and continue pecking at something, teasing until Simon was almost upon him. The cat never in his life caught anything.
There is always an ending to a story. Our beloved three animals behaved themselves very well and got along beautifully. I can’t say they were ever chummy, but they stayed near each other and did not fight. We were all family.
Our son and daughter grew up, graduated, attended college, married, or roamed the world. My husband and I became the caretakers of the animals. The dog was only a couple of years older than the cats, so they all became elderly together. In fact, I told people that my husband and I ran a nursing home for a dog and two cats. The three of them lived to be very old, for animals. During their lives, we spent as much money on veterinarians as pediatricians, so anyone could see that we took very good care of them. Each one lived with various old age ailments and met his demise simply from a deteriorating body. My husband, grown children, and I cried each time, as if we had lost a member of our family. Their photos are in an album with the caption, “Rest in Peace—Poco, Buttons, and Simon.”

Celia Yeary
http://www.celiayeary.com/
http://www.celiayeary.blogspot.com/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thebookspa
http://twrpcactusrose.blogspot.com/
ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS-a Cactus Rose—
eBook available at: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/
Print available now at: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/
SHOWDOWN IN SOUTHFORK at: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New Release--Showdown in Southfork

Greetings: This Wednesday is a wonderful day. My newest release is on the main page of The Wild Rose Press--title: Showdown in Southfork. This is a 100-page novel and part of the Wayback, Texas rodeo series--"Where a cowboy falls in love every eight seconds." When I first signed on with Wild Rose, the Wayback series caught my attention. The editors had created an entire fictional town named Wayback, Texas--located somewhere out in West Texas in a triangle sided by Abilene, Lubbock, and Odessa, or something like that. The creators of this little town intentionally kept the exact location a mystery--actually they had no idea because they made it up--which added to the intrigue.

Early in my getting-acquainted period with the Wild Rose authors, two very wonderful ladies helped me learn the ropes. They became my first on-line friends.


One is Rita Thetford, a West Texas girl herself, and she wrote the very first Wayback story, titled Hot Night at the Blue Bug Saloon. Now, doesn't that sound intriguing? And the little story was as hot as Rita herself! Rita has a personality that knocks your socks off. She is a little outspoken, a little naughty, and a whole lot of "pure-d-Texas good ol' girl!" Love the woman!


The other lovely lady is Judith Rochelle, another Texas girl by way of Michigan. Her home is not too many miles from mine. She is an amazing writer, extremely prolific, and dedicated not only to her craft, but to her Texan husband--she married him so she could live in Texas! She wrote the second Wayback story, titled Shadow of the Hawk. I am honored to know her.


If any of you buy the book, please read the dedication page. You'll never guess who!


Now, you know a little history of Wayback, Texas. I've lost count of the number of novels in the series--more than a dozen, I think. The idea for this series was a stroke of genius, and I'm not certain exactly who thought up the plan. Can anyone give us an answer?


Here is a short excerpt from Showdown in Southfork.

*******

Smiling lazily, he looked her up and down, at her short white shorts, pink stretch T, and red flip-flops. With that salacious grin, he continued back to her hair, hanging to her shoulders in a tangled mass of curls, but right now, there was no time to brush it properly. Some day she would just get it all whacked off and stop worrying about it.

“Stop staring,” she demanded.

“Well, I can hardly keep from it since you’re standing right in front of me.”

“Oh,” she muttered, straightened, and moved to the side.

He kept staring at her even though she’d moved out of his direct line of vision.

“You know, if there’s anything I like in this world, it’s a woman with red hair.”

“It is not red. And if there’s anything I hate in this world, it’s a man saying my hair’s red. For your information, it’s strawberry blond.”

“Strawberry blond. Whadda you know? Now, I like that even better.”

Narrowing her eyes at him, she said, “Well, I’m just as pleased as punch.”

Celia Yeary

http://www.celiayeary.com/
http://celiayeary.blogspot.com/

http://www.thewildrosepress.com/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thebookspa
http://twrpcactusrose.blogspot.com/

ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS-a Texas Historical
Available in eBook: The Wild Rose Press
Available in print: Amazon.com, B&N
Showdown in Southfork-- http://www.thewildrosepress.com/

Friday, September 11, 2009

Two Winners!

Congratulations to Judy Cox and Linda LaRoque for correctly identifying the actor and actress I chose to play my hero and heroine in the "movie version" of All My Hopes and Dreams.

The actor is Gael Garcia Bernal, a young Mexican actor who began his career at age one. In Mexico, at age nineteen, he was on his way to becoming a soap opera hearthrob. However, he moved to London to study acting. His biography lists starring roles in numerous movies, awards, and nominations.

The actress is Kate Bosworth, a young American actress who has several roles in movies to her credit. She is also a model.

Judy and Linda--please e-mail me at celiayeary@yahoo.com and list your preferred win. All My Hopes and Dreams is a Western Historical Romance, 278 pages. Showdown in Southfork is a contemporary short novel, 112 pages. It is part of the Wayback, Texas rodeo series. (Release date--September 16, 2009)

I hope you enjoy your read.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Gorgeous Hero, Stunning Heroine, and Free Books!




Who are the actor and actress I’ve chosen to play the role of my hero, Ricardo Romero, and my heroine, Cynthia Harrington? (More later about the identities of these movie stars.)
How does Cynthia Harrington see Ricardo? Here are a few of her thoughts, randomly selected. Maybe you will learn a little about this young man who eventually captures her heart, and if my actor fits the character.
“Why doesn’t he wear a Western hat like all the other men in Texas? Why does he have to wear those tight, brown pants with the silver conchos down the outside seams? And why must he wear those fancy-stitched boots, instead of nice, serviceable ones like everyone else?”
“He stood next to the mare with his arm slung over her back and his hat hanging down his by the cord. He looked young with his inky hair, mussed and errant strands falling over his forehead. He wasn’t as old as she thought.”
“Cynthia caught her breath when she perused his body, now clad only in cotton drawers. His appearance was almost wild, as if he was a savage who lived in the forest, but his smile was gentle, teasing, as he held his hand out to her.”
“She laid her hand upon his face and looked into his black eyes, made even darker with desire, and they seemed to bore into her soul, and even her heart.”
“Land sakes, alive; he was so different. Even his skin was dark, and his eyes resembled shining pieces of obsidian. And oh, such arrogance and haughtiness!”
How does Ricardo see Cynthia? Here are a few of his thoughts about her.
“Ricardo was an expert at handling women and horses. The little mare watched him with big baleful eyes, as if she dramatically and silently willed him to touch her. Women often looked at him the same way. This woman, though… This one was different. She was one reserved lady, and he knew without a doubt no man had ever laid a hand on her.”
“Carefully, she held the knife with the fruit on the tip, leaned to the side, and bit off a small chunk of sweet peach. The juice ran down her chin, but she daintily wiped it away. Again, her delicate, feminine lips wrapped around a bite. Ricardo held his breath each time, his eyes riveted on those lips and mouth. His heart beat hard and heavy in his chest, something it had never done in the presence of a beautiful woman.”
“Whatever she was doing, it unnerved him. Why was he tense and too aware of her? She had a way of smoothing errant strands of hair away from her face with her small, elegant hands. Her movements were slow and easy, as though she performed a private dance. So far, she hadn’t lost control or become hysterical, and for that, he was grateful. Couldn’t stand high-strung women.”
“He kissed her through the wet fabric, and instead of pulling away, she pushed toward him. She rolled her head back with her eyes closed. He saw a desirable woman. He saw her as his wife, his partner, his companion. Most of all, he felt the sensation of…falling under her spell.”
******************
For this contest, give me the names of the actor and actress I chose to portray Ricardo and Cynthia. If you don’t recognize them, go to Love Western Romances where I am in the Author Spotlight for the month. Read my interview and find the names. Please do not post the names on this blog; instead, you may e-mail the answers to me at celiayeary@yahoo.com I’ll choose winners from those who leave a comment. Thank you !
The link for Love Western Romances: http://www.lovewesternromances.com/
I’ll choose two winners—in the event of multiple correct answers, I’ll make a random selection. The winners may choose a pdf of All My Hopes and Dreams or a pdf of my newest release, a short novel titled Showdown in Southfork (A Wayback, Texas novel.)

Celia Yeary
http://www.celiayeary.com/
http://www.celiayeary.blogspot.com/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thebookspa
http://twrpcactusrose.blogspot.com/
ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS-a Cactus Rose—
eBook available at: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/
Print available now at: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Review Your Own Book--An Insider's Tips


A reviewer uses the same guidelines as any good writer, so allow me to explain that there’s nothing secretive or magical about the process of reviewing. In my opinion, a good reviewer points out a few weaknesses in the novel, as well as the strengths. Depending on the way the scales tip, a reviewer will give a mediocre, fantastic, or a poor score. I can safely say no reviewer wants to give someone’s special project a low score.
I had the distinct pleasure of reviewing for a short while. The only drawback to the task is the time factor. A reviewer uses much of her/his valuable time to read the book and write the review—usually with no or few perks. But I enjoyed it, and I may take on another review task when I feel I have extra time to do the assignment justice.
Receiving free books is one perk of the job. I read novels I never would have, because some of the genres weren’t my usual reading fare. In essence, I broadened my horizons in a positive manner.
I learned as much from reviewing as I did by reading how-to books, studying, or attending a writer’s group. Why? Because the Reviewer’s Guidelines impart a wealth of knowledge.
When you finish a manuscript, what methods do you use to self-check your writing? Self-editing guidelines? I have a set downloaded and use it all the time. Ask a partner to critique it? I do that, but on a limited basis. Another good method, to put the icing on the cake, is to consult a set of reviewer’s guidelines.
So, sit back, or grab a notepad and pen, and learn how to review your own book.
1. Is the title appropriate? I like titles that give a hint about the book. Have you ever picked up a book, read the title, and not have a clue about the contents? Titles may not be important to one person, but they may be to another. Also, a reader doesn’t want a title that sounds like peaches and cream, but turns out to be a murder mystery.
2. Are the hero and heroine multidimensional and interesting? Are their goals apparent? Will a reader understand details and reasons for their behavior? Are their actions believable and not forced or contrived? Does each have internal and external roadblocks?
3. Does the plot gather momentum as the story moves forward? Pacing can make or break a book. Think of one you’ve recently read. Did the action slow to a crawl, bogged down in backstory? Is the pace appropriate for the targeted line?
4. Does the story evoke emotions? As a reader this is extremely important. If I don’t shed a tear, have chills down my back, sit on the edge of my seat, can’t put it down, laugh, or sigh—then the book has not touched me. I must like the heroine, or if she annoys me a little, I must see a reason for this behavior and believe she’ll change.
5. Is the storyline interesting and exciting? Storyline—the skeletal framework of a novel. Does the basic plot invoke some sort of feeling? Is it interesting and does it unfold naturally? Could it stand alone as an interesting book? Number five is the basis of a synopsis. You simply tell about the story—without the dialogue, the action, or the internal dialogue. This is why an editor wants a synopsis—to read the entire novel condensed into three pages.
6. Is the book original, different . . . or perhaps a bit too familiar? Ahhh, this can be tricky. You’ve begun to read stories that sounded too familiar, haven’t you? Probably, you weren’t certain you wanted to continue. Don’t you look for something original—a little different? So does a reviewer.
7. Are the transitions smooth during the storyline, or are there gaps? This one is the most difficult. What is a gap? I think it’s a lack of smooth transition. If the writer jumps from one scene to something unrelated with no warning, that takes me away from the story.
8. Does the ending leave you satisfied? Sigh! Cry. Pump your fist and say, yes! Comment to oneself—this was so good.

9. Is the dialogue well-balanced with the narrative, and believable and unique to each character? Example--the narrative written in a formal literary style, while the dialogue is breezy with many contemporary slang words. Or perhaps a character speaks in a formal manner to his best friend or wife, but speaks naturally and easy to his co-workers.

If you’ve ever entered an RWA contest and received critique sheets, you’ll find the same questions as you might find on a reviewer’s guide sheet. If you don’t like these suggestions, take the ideas you think are important and make your own review guideline sheet. In the end, you can review your own book. What score will you assign? Five Stars? Four Lumps of Sugar? Three Lattes? Try it. You may discover flaws in your book you never caught before. Then, you can repair the damage before a real reviewer gets her hands on it.

Celia Yeary
http://www.celiayeary.com/
http://www.celiayeary.blogspot.com/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thebookspa
http://twrpcactusrose.blogspot.com/
ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS-a Cactus Rose—
eBook available at: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/
Print available now at: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Chocolate Layer Cake? Must be my birthday!!

Every birthday, Mother baked a chocolate layer cake for me. In my family, no one had a party or received gifts—we got a cake with candles and had our picture taken with a Kodak Brownie box camera. I never attended a birthday party as I grew up. Did anyone during those years have parties? I don’t know. I never knew anyone who had a party.

These three photos are samples of me holding my cake. I actually have one for every year until I graduated from high school, but I didn’t want to bore you with all of them. You’ll get the idea from these three.

The first snapshot (upper left) shows me on my fifth birthday, and obviously, the cake was heavy, for the plate leaned precariously to the side. You notice I’ve already had my first permanent, because my hair is naturally straight as a stick. Daddy had taken a job with an oil company, and we moved twice a year for six years in a big circle on the South Plains of Texas. So, this might have been our first location during those six years.

The second snapshot (right) shows me on my eighth birthday, and I held that cake listing to the side, too. There must be something wrong with my inner balance, because I can’t hold a plate perfectly horizontally. At least I’m dressed in this photo. Notice the 1940 Ford sedan? That’s ours. We kept that car for fifteen years. You can’t beat those old Fords.
The third snapshot (left)shows me on my eleventh birthday, and thank goodness, I’m dressed properly. But there again, the plate tilts to the side. I wonder if Mother’s cakes cooked unevenly so that one side of the layer cake was heavier than the other side. Probably not—she was an excellent cook. No, it has something to do with my equilibrium.
Weeks ago, my husband and I bought a scanner. We pulled down a couple of boxes filled with old snapshots and photographs, and away we went. In going through the stacks, I almost re-lived those years I was a carefree, happy child. Honestly, I never remember being unhappy.
My teacher friends gave me my first party when I turned forty. That was, undoubtedly, one of the biggest surprises of my life. I had no idea they planned a party for me. All twelve of us sat down at a table in a restaurant, and I noticed that presents filled the middle of the table. My good friends stood, and announced—“Happy birthday, Celia!” My lands, I began to cry and laugh at the same time. They surprised me so much, I became giddy.
But you know? I looked around the table, but I did not see a chocolate layer cake. How could I have a birthday without one?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mini-Interviews: Maggie Toussaint, Liana Laverentz, and Cindy K. Green

Welcome Maggie, Cindy G., and Liana—and greetings to our visitors. This is my first Mini-Interviews blog. Instead of interviewing one author, I thought of having a three-in-one session. Maggie Toussaint, Cindy Green, and Liana Laverentz agreed to be my first guests. I have the distinct pleasure of co-moderating The Book Spa with them. We think we have a super team.
I have asked the same three questions for each author:

1. What is the last thing you do before you submit a manuscript to a publisher?
MAGGIE: I do a final read-through in hard copy before I sub a manuscript. Not that I think I’ll find errors, but to be sure I have my book in the best possible shape.

CINDY: I am a tireless self-editor. It probably comes from my years as a teacher. I go through my manuscript over and over until I’m positive it’s the best it can be. By the time I submit, I am so sick of it that I think I never want to read it again. As I heard from one great author, ‘No one reads a book more than the author himself.’

LIANA: Read it out loud from beginning to end.

2. What do you do when you lose your confidence in your ability to write a note-worthy novel?
MAGGIE: I’ve had white-out moments like this before. They are usually in the vein of “omigosh I have to do this again, what if I don’t have anything relevant to say?” When this happens I do something creative in another field (arts and crafts, photography, landscaping, sewing, etc.). This helps recharge my energy and muse.

CINDY: I read. Reading always puts me back on track. It never fails during the writing of a story or novel that I lose confidence and wonder why I ever thought I could write. Reading helps me find my way back and regain the needed inspiration to finish that writing project.

LIANA: Write something else. Come back to it later when I’m in a more positive frame of mind.

3. Do you think publishers are too tough on submitting authors?
MAGGIE: No way. Pubs are in this to make money. Inferior work won’t sell as well as well-written books. And publishers know their niche. Writers should not be surprised by rejections. They are the nature of the beast.

CINDY: Certain ones definitely are. And then there are others that have lowered their expectations too far. We need to find a happy medium that incorporates high standards but allows individuality and creativity too. Some acquiring editors have settled on a particular style that has closed them off from other talented authors. The rules of writing change from year to year. It’s difficult to be what every editor wants. All you can do is write the story of your heart and find an editor who agrees that it’s terrific too.

LIANA: No. In almost every case, I’ve gone back later and seen why they rejected my work. I don’t believe editors want to reject people. Or even like to. But I’ve spoken with enough of them to understand how they really need to be one hundred percent behind a project to take it on and be an advocate for that author, because if they’re not, if their heart’s not in it, the book’s just not going to get the attention it could with a more enthusiastic editor behind it.

Excellent answers, Maggie, Cindy, and Liana! We’re so glad to have our visitors here, too. Please leave a comment. Below, you will find links to purchase novels from these authors.
Celia Yeary
Maggie Toussaint
No Second Chance, buy a book, help a horse
ISBN 9781601541628 buy it: Amazon The Wild Rose Press Kindle
http://www.maggietoussaint.com/

Cindy K. Green
The Heart Never Lies
Read an Excerpt
Buy for $1.00 at Champagne Books