Friday, June 25, 2010

Today, My Horoscope said....

In the paper this morning, my Horoscope told me this: “Pick a small, simple idea, and take it from start to finish in a few hours. As you work, you’ll be reminded that you can juggle and finish many projects simultaneously.”

I like this bit of motivation, so I immediately began to think of a “small, simple idea” I could begin right now and finish in a few hours. Since I don’t have a “few hours” to work on a simple idea, I’ll narrow that down to one hour, two max. Today, I need to buy curtains, find a special top to go with my new black Capris that actually fit, and go out to lunch with my husband. (this is always his idea, because my idea of lunch is a cup of yogurt and three Ritz crackers with peanut butter.) He’s never understood what happened to the “three square meals” a day idea when he married me.

I digress. A small simple idea. Here it is: the reason some of my WIPs flop and I never finish those particular stories, is simple: I do not know my characters. If I know my characters, I can more easily imagine and create a setting, conflicts both internal and external, and of course, a solution to their over-riding problem.

For example, one WIP is titled Gentle Hearts. No, I don’t like that title either, and that’s one more thing wrong with this document-in-progress. The heroine is Miss Katherine Dewhurst, a unwed school teacher in the small town of Trinity Hill in 1880. I know this lady, because she is a secondary character in The Cameron Family Genealogical Chart which I created when I finished my Texas Trilogy centering on Jeffrey “Buck” Cameron, the woman he marries, and the two daughters they produce.

Kathryn rescues a stranger, a “dandy” from the East who is in a ditch, scraped up and bruised, his wire-frame glasses shattered and bent, and his law books scattered over the ground. So far, so good. The problem here is the gentleman from the East. Who is he? Why is he riding west and carrying law books? Yes, I gave him a name, but I changed his real profession and goals at least four times. Parts of the story move along, but when he enters center stage….blank. Blah. He has no history; therefore, I have failed to flesh him out until he seems like a real person to me. The story bogs down.

The Cameron Family Geneology Chart still has at least a dozen characters, waiting for me to pull him/her out. Since I know these people, I should easily write their story.

Another example is a secondary character that has been swirling around in my head for two years. I barely have one paragraph about her. She is Starr Hidalgo, daughter of the neighboring rancher next to the Romero Ranch, the setting for All My Hopes and Dreams. Starr almost upstaged Miss Cynthia Harrington, so I had to make her the bad girl, and redeem and enhance Cynthia.

But Starr Hidalgo still lives. I must write her story. But that is a WIP for another day.

In conclusion, my Simple Idea turned into: (1) this week’s blog, and (2) a new WIP.
Celia Yeary
Romance…and a little bit o' Texas
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Friday, June 18, 2010


Got Game? When I turned forty, I decided to learn to play golf. Every woman’s magazine and self-help book urged me to “broaden my horizons,” because at my age, life’s progress from now on would be all downhill. Learning a sport seemed like the perfect avenue to stay fit and involved with the world.

I knew absolutely nothing about the game, but it fascinated me. Instead of watching football or basketball on television, I watched golf tournaments. The players became almost like friends; I knew each name, his place of residence, marital status, and family. I kept up with the World Rankings of the top PGA players, hoping “my guy” stayed in the top ten, or the rookie contender whom I followed managed to win against all odds.

The game looked relatively easy. The entire process resembled a ballet, slow and easy, no running, jumping, or tackling, all acted out in an atmosphere of polite actions and rules and decorum. Spectators remained politely silent as a player took his stance. Best of all, the sport required the player to hit a ball that stayed in place. This seemed much better than trying to hit or catch a moving ball. I don’t particularly like the idea of an object flying toward me that I must hit, kick, or catch.

By observing a game and listening to the commentator, I knew the golfer used several clubs. Besides the putter, the exact role of each one eluded me, but that seemed like an easy thing to learn. Like any game, it was replete with rules and penalties.

So, I asked my good friend and women’s golf coach, “Will you teach me to play golf? Even though I haven’t an athletic bone in my body?”

“Sure, I will,” she replied.

She took a small set of student’s clubs--and me--straight to the course, bypassing the driving range. “We’ll just start and see how you do,” she said, patting me on the back.

“I know the object is to get the ball in the hole, but what are the procedures, the rules? And how do I hold a club?” I asked.

“It’s simple,” she said. “Just hold the club by the grip, hit the ball toward the direction of the green, go find it, and hit it again.”

She was dead serious. Some coach she is, I muttered to myself.

In a nutshell, though, that’s it.
I’m a fast learner, so after a couple of years of playing and improving, I beat her almost every time. She always complained she’d taught me too well.

Years later—did I say how many?—oh, good, because I didn’t intend to—I thought to try my hand at writing a romance story. I wondered how one wrote a novel, and if one did, how could one have it published. I remembered my coach’s plan concerning golf, so I applied it to writing: “Write a story, send it to a publisher, then write another.” Easy-peasy.

Writing is like playing golf.

In a game of golf, the player uses a variety of methods to get the ball in the cup--drives, fairway shots, chipping, and putting. If the player utilizes all the methods correctly, he’ll enter a good score.

In writing, the author uses plot, characterization, point of view, pacing, and climax. Then, she submits and hopes for a contract.

Doubt will kill a golf round. The minute a player decides her ball will go in the water, I assure you, it will. When she chastises herself for making a wrong choice or missing an easy putt, she’ll add more strokes. If she decides she’s the worst player in the field, then she probably will be. Once a golfer—or writer—allows uncertainty to creep in, her game and attitude vanishes.

Many pro golfers, especially the world’s best players, subscribe to the mantra, “Never lay up.”

When a long shot over a hazard faces the player, he has two choices: hit the ball close to the hazard so the next shot is easy, and he will have a better chance of getting close to the hole. Or if he’s a strong-willed player and faces the same situation, he’ll study the situation, choose the correct club for the distance, take his stance with confidence, and…go for the green!

Each hole is a clean slate. Other holes are history.

Each new blank page is wide open to possibilities.

We all like to win--at golf or writing--but we’re not out to beat the field 100% of the time. We play to challenge ourselves, to best our own last score, to lower our putt average, and to lower our handicap. A professional golfer always strives to win, but realistically, he knows he will lose far more games than he will ever win. Even so, he will gain something from every tournament.

Understand, though. I love to win. Oh, yes, I absolutely do. Whether the prize is one dollar, a golf ball for the week, or the quarter pot, I go all out. In past years, I even won a few local tournaments and received very nice trophies, money, and gifts. Some of the other participants would say, “Wow, you come out here to win, don’t you?”

My answer? “Why would I come out here to lose?”

So, as it is in the game of writing and publishing, I came to play…and to win. But what happened when I went home from a tournament without a prize? Nothing. I always viewed playing golf as a privilege few can enjoy, so if someone else won, I’d congratulate her, go home, and I was still happy. But just wait until the next time.

So it is with writing and submitting manuscripts. If I must be unhappy or angry, I’ll do so concerning something important, such as world hunger or senseless crimes.

Every day, I strive for a win, a contract, a prize, an award, a good review. Why would I do otherwise? But a rejection will not ruin my life.

Take my advice: Go for the green. And smile!
Celia Yeary
Romance…and a little bit o' Texas
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Saturday, June 12, 2010


1. “Angels with dirty faces.” Although all are still children—one taller than I am— my heart squeezes with love when one throws his arms around my waist, tilts his head back for a kiss, and grins like a little devil. I become a blubbering mess when I receive hand-written thank-you letters and drawings; when they say please and thank you; clear their own plates and utensils from the table; say grace with his brother when no one else is at the table; and yelling “Watch this!”, when doing something daring. Are they perfect? Heavens, no! But it doesn’t get much better than this.

2. When every appliance in my house, every piece of electronic equipment, and both vehicles work! I hate it when I have to shop for a new refrigerator, television, or car. It’s always another learning experience and aggravation I can do without. I dread having to call a repairman to come to the house, having them tromp in and out, taking who knows how long, putting me on hold while they take over. Why don’t refrigerators last 30 years like they used to?

3. An all-girls road trip! Once a year, four of us take off, no men allowed, and where we go and what we do is our business. “What happens in….” Don’t worry, we wouldn’t do anything we’d be ashamed about! The Great Escape is all that matters.

4. Finishing a WIP! –especially one that caused so much trouble, refusing to cooperate with MY plans for the plot, going off on its own tangents, creating havoc where there was none, a background character taking over, causing me to stop, ponder, and begin again. Like raising a recalcitrant child, I am ecstatic when the WIP finally reaches adulthood and turns out to be a worthwhile creation after all.

5. An e-mail from a publisher in response to a submitted manuscript saying: “Congratulations! We love your story and wish to give you a contract in its present form. You do not need to re-write the plot, remove any POVs, or add any more internal or external conflict. Your storyline is great, your transitions are wonderful, and your characters leap off the page.” Okay, in my dreams, so I’ll definitely be very happy to receive one that says: “Congratulations. We would like to offer you a contract for your manuscript. While your writing is good, we will need to polish and edit it to some degree. If you’re willing to work with us, Welcome Aboard.” Then, I would do a little happy dance and run to tell my husband my good news.

Celia Yeary
Romance…and a little bit o' Texas

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Victorian Era in America:1837-1901: "Too Much is Not Enough"

After the Civil War to the turn of the century, wealth increased all across America. By 1870, an enormous building boom increased the number of millionaires to one hundred. With the advent of new money, the call for more of everything reigned among the wealthy. “Too much is not enough” became the mantra, as the rich constantly sought out new ways to display their prominence in society.
 From New York to the West coast, a woman of means threw her heart and soul into creating a home befitting her status. This meant building a home that was as festooned as a Christmas tree—inside and out. She stuffed every room with spindly, feminine furniture, until it overflowed with excess. She decorated with abandon, creating grossly decorated rooms, filled with every knickknack and gimcrack imaginable. A person might feel stifled and claustrophobic in the room.
The ladies, young and old, dressed in the fashions of the day. The outfits were as ornate as the homes in which they lived. Pronounced bustles, unnecessary and odd-looking, was part of every well-to-do lady’s dress. One dress might contain as many as twenty yards of silk and satin, and rows and rows of lace and fringe and ruffles decorated the necklines, hems, and bustles.

A lady strived for the most extravagant hairdo she could manage. She piled it high on her head, tortured it into masses of curls and ringlets, and above all, draped it with all manner of gewgaws to frame her face. All in the name of elegance.


In All My Hopes and Dreams, a Western Historical set in the Victorian era, 1880 Texas, Miss Cynthia Harrington lives in a big, white house in Nacogdoches, Texas with her banker father. As she says in the novel, “Nacogdoches is not exactly the social and fashion center of Texas.” However, she strives to be the best-dressed young lady of the small East Texas town. With her loveliness and poise, she manages to attract the attention of visiting horse-buyer, Ricardo Romero. Of course, they marry, and she soon learns that the Romero ranch on the far Western edge of the Texas Frontier most certainly differs in all ways from her usual lifestyle—and that includes dress. By the third day, she finds herself wearing boots, split skirt, blouse, and gaucho hat.

Read about their adventures and how they fall in love. Purchase the eBook and print here:

Celia Yeary
Romance…and a little bit o' Texas

TEXAS BLUE-eBook and Print