Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Is Your Story Too Big or Just Right?

What's the difference between a "big story" and a "small story?"
Remember "Gone With the Wind?" Wouldn't you agree that it was a "big story?" The plot had several facets: war and peace; emancipation of the slaves; a time period of years; love and betrayal; jealousy and revenge; theft and deceit; embattled sisters; victory and defeat. 
Absolutely, GWTW is  BIG story.

During the Thanksgiving Holidays, my husband and I saw the new movie Lincoln. Just as I had been enthralled with GWTW, I was fascinated by the movie Lincoln. The two movies share some characteristics--the Civil War, of course, the emancipation of the slaves, and the surrender of the South to the North.

But Lincoln lacked a love story and sibling rivalry. And even though this, too, was a long movie, the time frame was only one year in the life of President Abraham Lincoln. Also missing was a large stage upon which to carry out the plot. For the most part, it took place in Washington, and much of that in the House of Representatives.

When an author begins a new story, she/he must establish whether it will be a big story or a small story, carried out over a long period of time and over a large section of the land, or..over a short period of time and basically in one place.
If this is not decided, the author can wander about in the wilderness of her imagination, wondering just where the focus of the story should be.

Case in point--my own WIP tentatively titled Texas Gold. The characters are only partially set, and I began the story in Houston in 1906--give or take a few years. My intention was to move the story to the Western part of the state, near the Panhandle. The plot is a nebulous plan at the moment, but early on I realized the problem of getting my characters across the state. And why begin it in Houston when most of it would take place in the West? Or would it? Maybe I could center the action in and around Houston and still tell my story.
The problem grew--big. During the ramblings in my head, the story became murky and messy.
But wait--I'm writing a romance novel--not an epic tale of war and peace. For this reason, I have decided my story will be more on the small side. Oh, it'll be a full-length novel, but the stage won't be so big, and the time frame will be short.
There. That's settled--somewhat.
It won't be a GWTW or a Lincoln, but it will be another Texas story.

 Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
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Sunday, November 25, 2012


99 Cents, 22,000 words, and a big seller. Miss Adriana Jones has been a very popular character, and so has her hero, ex-gunhawk Jude Morgan. Still up in the rankings, and still available.
Ex-gunslinger Jude Morgan lands in jail in a far-flung West Texas town. On the fourth day in his cell, the sheriff arrives with a beautiful woman dressed in men’s pants and toting her own six-shooter. Adriana Jones claims he is her worthless husband who married her but never came home.
The young woman makes a bargain with Jude in front of the sheriff. Jude is to come home where he belongs, and she will have him released. When they’re alone, she explains his job is to pose as her husband to thwart the marriage advances of her neighbor, wealthy rancher Horace Caruthers. The older man wants her ranch to join his, because the Pecos River runs through her property.
To seal the bargain, Jude wants a kiss. During the next few weeks, however, Jude and Addie learn that the kiss meant more than they meant it to be. Then, Addie's life is in danger. Will Jude rescue his Addie? Or will Addie save herself and her gunslinger?



9 Cents, 20,000 words, and second best seller to Addie. Marshal Diego Montoya has been the most popular hero in all the Dime Novels. Kat Garrison is a good match for him.
U. S. Marshal Diego Montoya rides into Old San Antonio on an assignment to track down and arrest a swindler and killer. That's his job. But his first goal is to visit beautiful Katherine Garrison, the woman he loves, to learn if she will welcome him.
Kat Garrison answers the door, thinking her gentleman friend has arrived early. When she sees Diego Montoya instead, she can't believe he's standing on her front step. All she can think of was the encounter in the barn that cold December night, while her brother and new bride occupied the house.
While carrying out his mission, Diego becomes involved with Kat. But can a beautiful society lady really love a homeless rough lawman enough to take a chance on a life together?
Marshal Montoya always gets his man, but can he capture Kat's heart?



Crystal Lake Reunion-a contemporary romance/women's fiction set in Texas.
99cents- for a limited time by publisher--full length novel.
Still on Whiskey Creek Press's
BLURB:  Crystal Lake Reunion.
Twenty-five-year-old Houston realtor, Dana Dawson, has no reason to believe her life is not as it seems. When Ruth Dawson, her mother, travels thirty miles to Crystal Lake for her twenty-fifth high school reunion, she becomes ill. Dr. Grant Adams summons Dana to the small town she has never seen. There Dana begins to unravel a secret about her past she did not know existed.
Dana keeps her suspicions to herself and remains in Crystal Lake when her mother goes home. During the next week, she becomes acquainted with the charming young doctor and elicits his help to discover her true birthplace. There she finds a shocking truth that not only changes her life, but also almost destroys her mother and another entire family.

Available in eBook and print:

WHISKEY CREEK PRESS: 99 cents thru May 31

If you've already read these, thank you very much.
And thank you for visiting!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving in the Fifties--Mother's Way

We basically had the same thing every year. Here's Mother's menu:

The biggest turkey she could afford: She used every tiny smidgen of that turkey before the week was out--maybe longer. To roast, she removed the packet of giblets from the inside the turkey. (If you don't know what giblets are, don't ask.) She rubbed the entire turkey--inside and out--with oil and began the slow-roasting-basting process that took a long time--a few hours.
Stuffing, which we called "dressing." Using coarsely ground cornmeal, she made cornbread and cooked it in a cast iron skillet. That was the best cornbread in the world. It was dense with a crusty bottom. When cool, she crumbled it into a big metal mixing bowl. She added broth from the turkey, chopped onion and celery, chopped hard-boiled eggs, raw eggs, sage and all that good stuff, and stirred. It was sort of soupy but baked in a big oblong pan--lots of delicious dressing!
Cranberry sauce. She bought packages of raw cranberries, washed them, added sugar, and cooked until they popped, let them simmer until the juice turned syrupy, then cooled. The mixture jelled, and oh, how wonderful that was.

Giblet gravy. I told you not to ask, but it's the heart, liver, and gizzard. She chopped it all up, added milk and butter, salt and pepper, and cooked until it was a little thick. This was the one thing I did not eat. I tried to scoop just the gravy part, leaving those little chopped bits of...stuff..in the bowl. Daddy, though, absolutely loved it.

Sweet potatoes. She bought raw sweet potatoes, peeled them and cut in 1/2 inch thick rounds, placed them in a 9 x 13 baking dish with the bottom covered in melted butter, and sprinkled brown sugar and pecans over them. Baked slowly until they almost candied. Sooooo good.

Mashed potatoes. Why did we need these? I don't know, but she made wonderful mashed potatoes--no lumps. Remember how butter makes everything taste extra good? Well, she used loads of butter.

Brown gravy. This came from the "leavings" in the bottom of the turkey pan, and it made wonderful, thick, rich brown gravy. My favorite.

Green Beans. These were canned by her own hands, just plain old boiled green beans. Why did they taste so good?
Five Cup Fruit Salad. The salad became the standard in the 50s at every holiday table. One cup each of: Mandarin oranges, pineapple tidbits, miniature marshmallows, sour cream, and coconut. Yummm.

Homemade whole what rolls. She made the rolls dark, heavy, rich, crunchy on the outside, soft and sweet on the inside. Loved those.
Pecan Pie. There is no better dessert than pecan pie. I will make one tomorrow, but mine is a little different from Mother's. Although hers was fantastic, I still like mine better. I like whipped cream on top, but Mother served it plain.

Pumpkin Pie. Here's where Mother and I differed also. Her pumpkin pie was made with condensed milk, pumpkin, and eggs. Mine--made with pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, and a cup of hot water. Hers was dark and thin, but very good in its own way. Mine is thicker, somewhat fluffier, and lighter in color. But I could never duplicate her homemade crust. I finally resorted to Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts. Trust me, they are good.
Whatever you have for Thanksgiving dinner, just remember how blessed we are. It's very simple.

Love and Blessings to All- Celia

Friday, November 16, 2012

Need? Or Want? What's the Difference

Recently, my husband and I have been in deep conversations about diving into the real world of electronics and buying smart phones. Why? Certainly, we do not need smart phones. Neither of us talk on the phone much at all, and neither of us know how to text, and neither of us need all the extra things that come with the phone. How can we justify the cost of the phones when they are only a trinket to play with?

This topic came up often when our children were growing up. "Mom, I want a new dress for this weekend." "No, you can't have a new dress. You have plenty of nice ones."
"But I ne-e-e-d one!"
Okay, so now we're down to the nitty-gritty.

When I was looking for a new vehicle, one that would be mine, nice and a little upscale, but not too much...I sat in one that was very pretty and had every gadget known to mankind. The salesman stood inside the open door while I sat in the driver's seat, checking out all the amenities. "So, how do you like this one, Mrs. Yeary?" "Oh, I like it very much. It's just that I don't need all these extra gadgets." He leaned closer, and I swear...almost whispered in my ear, "Oh, but we want all those extras, don't we?"
Ah, the seductiveness of wanting...things...stuff...love? Well, why not?

We need air to breathe; we need water; we need food; and we need a roof over our heads.
We want many things, and yes, most are useful and desirable, but probably our lives don't depend on them.
That's it. The word need denotes neediness--a support system, a dependency, a weakness we cannot overcome without it.

Want denotes desire, a feeling that if we have this thing we will be very, very happy, indeed. In fact, we might very well be happier with something we want than something we need. You need a new washing machine. Yes, you need one to keep clothes and towels and other such things in the house clean. Without it, your life would begin to...well...smell. So, you buy a new washing machine. Good. Now, you feel satisfied and very happy. Why? Because the salesman talked you into one of those enormous machines they're making now that does everything except bake bread, and you are soooo happy with your new machine. I understand--you look at your new fantastic red washing machine and feel like you've fallen in love. You love your machine, the very one you wanted!

How does this apply to human emotions toward one another? A man and woman in love do use all sorts of phrases and terms in wooing the other. (Wooing?) Anyway, we might overlook some stray thoughts that might not seem desirable and proper.

I'm working on a novel I wrote some time ago, titled Lily Marie. It's complete but needs much editing and rewriting. The heroine is a somewhat prim and sophisticated English professor at the university. The hero is the new football coach whom she just met. However, the heroine has a friend, a nerdy professor who thinks she belongs to him. When he learns of her interest in the new coach, he blows up. "How can you think about him, when I need you?"

He needs her? Does he love her? Does he want her? No, he said, "need." A wise woman once said to beware a man who "desperately needs" the woman he's involved with. She said "need" never equates with love and sharing, but instead says, "weak, selfish, and well...needy." She always said.."Do not marry a needy man."
Excerpt from WIP Lily Marie:

“Please, Edward, talk to me about your feelings. If your research paper is not accepted, I want to know how you’ll cope with it.”

“Well, Lily,” he began, in a carefully moderated voice, “you may have a point about a support person, a friend. So, I suggest we decide on a wedding date and go ahead and be married. The sooner, the better. That way, you’ll be there to help me through any rough time that may come along.”

Lily almost gasped. “Wh-what! Edward, we have never even talked about marriage! No, no, I don’t think this is the time.”

“And why is that?”

She waved her hands in the air. “You’re going about this all wrong. Two people get married when they fall in love, and want a home together, and children. Not for a support system.”

“As I see it, you’ve got it all wrong. Supporting each other is what a marriage is. It’ll work, Lily, I’m certain of it. I need you.”

Lily crossed her arms over her waist. “It won't work,” she said as she shook her head back and forth. “I can’t give you an answer. At least, we should think this through and examine our real feelings for each other.”

“Real feelings? I thought you loved me.”

“I’ve never said so, and neither have you.”

“Oh, I’m beginning to see the obstacle. Mark Majors, again.”

Edward stood and shoved his hands into his pockets, removed them to smooth his hair, walked to the window and peered across the street, and finally turned back to her. He pointed his index finger at her face once again and walked very close to her, all the while pointing.

“You’re holding out for that football jock.”

Lily jumped to her feet, mainly to get away from the finger in her face, but also to fume. She paced back and forth a couple of times. When she could speak coherently, she told him, “That...is...obnoxious. That statement is beneath you, Edward, and it’s demeaning of me. What’s wrong with you?”

“You should answer that!” he shouted. “I’m not good enough for you! Obviously, you want a big, muscled man! You want a handsome one with all his hair! Right, Lily? Am I right? Compare the two of us. How can I compare to him? Huh?”

Stunned, Lily blinked and stared. Edward never raised his voice. He never cared about his appearance, and he certainly never looked at other men to see how he compared physically.

After a few awkward moments of silence, Edward spoke. His voice was soft and slow. He shook his head back and forth, as he looked into her face. “Oh, Lily, Lily. I’m so sorry. I...I don’t know what’s the matter with me. I...I can’t believe I yelled at you and said those horrible things. Please, Lily, can you forgive me? I don’t want to lose you. Don’t you see? You’re my girl. Mine, Lily. We belong together; we’re alike; we need each other. Don’t we?”
Ahhh, Edward. Such a needy, clueless man. Ewww. Will Lily succumb to Edward's pleas, or will she continue her new relationship with big, confident, fun, handsome Mark Majors?

The difference between Need and Want is very clear.

What do you think? Suppose a man begs and says he "needs" you instead of, I "want" you? Which is best? Suppose a little of both is good?

What kind of heroes do you write? Needy like Edward, or Wanting like Mark? Or is there a common ground between the two?

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/celiayeary
My Website
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Tuesday, November 13, 2012



My good friend Paula Martin tagged me on FaceBook for "You've Got the Look." I was instructed to read through my current WIP and find the word "look"--and post the excerpt that includes the word.
Oh, my lands! The word was right there at the beginning!

Scenario: ~*~Lee King--he appeared in Texas Blue as a small boy who picked his nose and rode imaginary horses around the yard. I'd like to make him an early 20th Century entrepreneur  during the oil boom in Texas--a wildcatter, a risk taker, a rich man with money to make money, a tough businessman who has a big sense of humor. I'd have him run into a real buzz-saw, a serious woman who is investigating oil company monopolies for a New York newspaper.

Lee spent his youth roaming the west, isolated from the rest of his family. Lee is the independent son, a wild risk-taker, the one who left home but now returns to find his brother.
Early Twentieth Century

Lee King looked up at the huge sign splashed across the top of a multi-story brick building in downtown Houston. King Oil Company. Looks like big brother did it right.

With no hesitation, he walked through the enormous glass double doors in the foyer of the building. On the wall to the right was a sign behind glass listing the names of the offices, floor, and number.

His big brother occupied the entire top floor. Unimpressed, he punched the button for the electric elevator. The door slid open and he stepped in.

"Floor, sir?" The operator stood to the side as if at attention.

Lee grinned at the man in the red uniform trimmed in gold braid and the round hat that topped his head.


"Mr. King's offices?"

"That right."

"Very good, sir. Now, if you will just step to the rear, we'll be off."

Since Lee had never been in an elevator, he held his breath while the car moved, leaving his stomach behind. The weightless feeling almost made him gasp. Now, that's impressive.

The main office loomed directly in front of him. Polished mahogany lined the walls, and crystal wall sconces burned softly, illuminating the hall.

He pushed the door open and stepped in to luxurious surroundings, fit maybe for a king. The thought caused him to chuckle.

"I have an appointment with Dalton King," he announced to the receptionist behind the curved counter.

"Your name, sir?"

"Lee King."
I've tagged these five extraordinary authors--please follow the links to their blogs and meet them!
Authors, now it's your turn. Select five authors to Tag and give them the  instructions.

Stephanie Burkhart-Romance Under the Moonlight   

Cindy Nord

Sarah J. McNeal

Laurean Brooks

Kathleen Tighe Ball

Thank you,


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Veteran's Day Parade in San Marcos, Texas

Veteran's Day-,November 2012
San Marcos, Texas
San Marcos, Texas--downtown on the square. This is one of the restored Nineteenth Century buildings, Harpers's Hall. It's now a popular coffeehouse and sandwich shop.
Hello, from Celia! I don't know the little girl, but we enjoyed the parade together.
Mounted Color Guard from San Marcos Baptist Academy. One riderless horse to represent those our country has lost.
Grand Marshal. Don't you love that vintage car?
San Marcos Academy marching Color Guard.
The first Company of four of the Corps of Cadets at San Marcos Academy.
Large crowd in downtown, some looking skyward for the flyover of a group of four
WWII prop-driven fighter planes. They were very loud, and very exciting. But we did not get a photo. Additional entries in the parade were the San Marcos High School marching band, a large group that stopped right in front of us and played songs from all the branches of the military.
Also: 4-H groups, boy scouts, girl scouts, old jeeps, and the usual firetrucks and police cars.
The finale:
Miss Outstanding Teen of the Texas Hill Country.
What would a Texas parade be without a baton twirler? She twirled three at once, and several times did a flip and still caught the batons, and did high kicks, too. Amazing young woman.
I hope you enjoyed a parade or celebration, too. It was very uplifting to see all the patriotism and smiling faces.

Friday, November 2, 2012

How Do Authors Begin a Story?

I'm often asked, "How do you think up all these stories?" And most often, I don't have a good answer. Usually, I respond by saying, "I don't know--they just come to me in some way and I start writing."
The person asking, as a general rule, accepts that and moves along. Readers don't really want to hear a long explanation--I'm fairly certain of that. But I should have a good concise answer.

Most readers believe authors have some mechanism inside their brains that turn on the writing gene. Maybe we do, and even though most people believe they could never do that, I bet they could! After all, if I can write novels, so can almost anyone.

To help with the question, I asked a few friends, "How do you begin a novel?" They gave me some wonderful answers. See for yourself.

Maggie Toussaint (Death, Island Style, a Cozy Mystery--Available now)
I begin a novel with an idea. Sometimes a picture or a situation jogs the idea, but the idea won’t let me be until I get it fleshed out. Then I make sure the characters inhabiting that idea are at cross-purposes and have the most to lose by someone else attaining their goal. My goal as an author is to marry plot to character from the start of the novel and carry that uneasy alliance through the story to a satisfying conclusion.

LK Hunsaker (Rehearsal: Of Chaotic Currents, due Dec. 2012, Literary Romance With An Artsy Twist)
My novels always begin with a particular situation, personal or social, and then a character builds around that situation as he or she tries to figure out how to handle it. It rolls around in my head a while as the character starts to breathe, then I open a new file and start writing. Research is done as I need it.

Barbara Edwards (Ancient Awakening, Intense Romance With an Edge-Available now)
My books always start from a vivid dream. I wake up with an important scene playing in my head, usually the  beginning and I know the ending, too. Takes me time to fill in the middle. The best part is I have seen the most important person either hero or heroine, sometimes both.

Cheryl Pierson (Temptation's Touch, Romantic Suspense-Available now)
Every story I've ever written comes from one key scene that I want to write. It can be in the middle, toward the end, or close to the beginning. I don't usually outline until I'm well on my way into the story, and even then it's a "timeline" rather than an outline of the plot points. If I can start with one scene, I can write forward or backward from it. Another thing that helps is having an idea as to what time of year it is going to be set in.

Stephanie Burkhart (A Gentleman and a Rogue, A Steampunk Romance, release date Nov. 11)
I outline a rough plot, knowing there's room for change. I then cast the characters and make character bios. Then I research the setting. Lastly, I plot out the opening, trying to make it "action" orientated with the hero/heroine involved.

Now, I have a better idea of how stories come to me. My stories always begin with a character, either a man or a woman. The person is in some sort of scene--

A man walking along a dusty road--Why is he walking on a road? What catches his attention? How is he dressed? Why is he dressed that way?

A young woman waits for the train to arrive--Who is she waiting for? Is she anxious or happy? How is she dressed? Where is the location of the train depot? 

 A well dressed young woman running away in a horse and buggy--Why is she dressed up to run away? Whose buggy is it? Who is she running from? What did this person do to make her run away?

 Now, I get it. It's clearer now how I begin a story. Always with a character--never the scenery or the weather or any other explanation.

 As varied as these answers are, I suspect each writer has her/his own way of beginning a story.
If you are a writer, how do you begin a story?

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/celiayeary
My Website
My Blog
Sweethearts of the West-Blog
My Facebook Page