Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Famous Authors' Advice on Writing First Drafts by J.Q. Rose #writing #firstdrafts #writingtips

 

HAPPY SUMMERTIME!

Welcome to the Focused on Story Blog! I'm your host, JQ Rose. 

Practice, practice practice. I bet you heard that when you were a kid whether it was to practice the piano, throwing and catching a baseball, shooting free throws, driving the car, or ice skating. 

We seem to continue practicing all our lives. When we were kids our parents or coaches or someone was always telling us to practice. Now we are grown-ups and can decide if we want to practice or not.

Have you noticed when you focus on practicing something you are passionate about your skill improves? 

How about cooking? I've come a long way from only knowing how to fry a hamburger and open a can of green beans when I was first married. Now that I have time, I have "practiced" cooking and trying out new recipes, especially with produce from our garden. I love this new found passion, so I am practicing a lot.

Yesterday, I tried a recipe for stir-fried snow peas. Yes, I've made stir fries, but this one had some new ideas. I was very proud of myself when the recipe tasted fine even if I did have to substitute items listed in the ingredients. Since I am now a more confident cook, I was brave enough to try it.

Writing stories is something that takes practice. Don't expect to write a masterpiece with your first draft. It's going to be ugly, trust me. Every first draft is!

Neil Gaiman has good advice for writers dealing with their first drafts.

“For me, it’s always been a process of trying to convince myself that what I’m doing in a first draft isn’t important. One way you get through the wall is by convincing yourself that it doesn’t matter. No one is ever going to see your first draft. Nobody cares about your first draft. And that’s the thing that you may be agonizing over, but honestly, whatever you’re doing can be fixed…For now, just get the words out. Get the story down however you can get it down, then fix it.” — Neil Gaiman

Fix it is the best advice. Yes, you can fix it. 

“Good stories are not written. They are rewritten.” — Phyllis Whitney

Some writers become obsessed with the opening line of the story. Not the first draft or the first chapter, but the first line. Then they become paralyzed and cannot move on. You too?

“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.” — William Faulkner

After writing five novels, countless short stories, non-fiction articles and books, I can understand how scary it can be. Sitting at your desk facing that blank screen or empty lines on a sheet of paper is daunting. But---

“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box, so that later, I can build castles.”  — Shannon Hale

Yes, you can write it. You also do not need to share it with anyone else. You are the only person who will read it. So? Why not begin?

If you are anything like me and many other writers, that first line or first chapter will have to be changed by the time you complete your story or book or article. So don't agonize over it.

Please remember that practice is important in writing. Every time you write, you are strengthening your writing muscles. You are learning your art.

Embrace your passion for telling stories or informing readers about a topic you love. Have fun with your writing. 

If you would like to read 26 encouraging quotes from famous writers about first drafts, click here for the link to the article at the Writing Routines website.

* * *

About J.Q.Rose

Whether the story is fiction or non-fiction, J.Q. Rose is “focused on story.”  She offers readers chills, giggles and quirky characters woven

Author JQ Rose

within the pages of her mystery novels. Her published mysteries are Deadly Undertaking, Terror on Sunshine Boulevard and Dangerous Sanctuary released by Books We Love Publishing.  

Using her storytelling skills, she provides entertainment and information in articles featured in books, magazines, newspapers, and online magazines. With her non-fiction book for girls, Girls Succeed! Stories Behind the Careers of Successful Women, she returned to her first love, writing about real people. J.Q. taught elementary school for several years and never lost the love for teaching passed down from her teacher grandmother and mother. She satisfies that aspect of her character by presenting workshops on Creative Writing and Writing Your Life Story and creating a book for life storytelling, Your Words, Your Life Story, based on her workshops. JQ decided to take the advice she gives to her workshop participants to sit down and write their stories. BWL Publishing released her memoir, Arranging a Dream, in January 2021.

Blogging, photography, Pegs and Jokers board games, and travel are the things that keep her out of trouble. She and her husband spend winters in Florida and summers up north with their two daughters, two sons-in-law,  four grandsons, one granddaughter, three grand dogs, four grand cats, and one great-grand bearded dragon.

 Click here to connect online with JQ Rose on Facebook


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Tuesday, August 2, 2022

IWSG Blog Hop: Meet Readers' Expectations but Add the Unexpected to Cozy Mysteries #IWSGbloghop #writingcraft #storytelling

 

Insecure Writers Support Group Blog Hop
#IWSGbloghop

What is the Insecure Writer's Support Group?
Founded by author Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group offers support for writers and authors alike. It provides an online database, articles and tips, a monthly blog posting, a Facebook and Instagram group, Twitter, and a monthly newsletter. To find out more, click this link:  Insecure Writer’s Support Group

The purpose of the group is 
* to share and encourage. 
* Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. 
* Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. 
*It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! 
You're invited to become a member of this supportive group. 
Click here to sign-up and/or to visit the bloggers this week.

The awesome co-hosts for the August 3 posting of the IWSG are Tara Tyler, Lisa Buie Collard, Loni Townsend, and Lee Lowery!

Question for the Month of August
Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

August 3 question - When you set out to write a story, do you try to be more original or do you try to give readers what they want?

Readers of genre fiction have expectations when they begin reading a story. I did not know that when I first began writing. I write cozy mysteries. The "rules" for this special kind of tale in the mystery genre are:

**The protagonist is a smart, strong woman determined to solve the mystery. However she is not in law enforcement, but usually has a connection to someone who knows about crime like a detective, policeman or Private I (Eye?). 

**The location is in a quaint town and often the main character has pets.Pastor Christine in Dangerous Sanctuary has a cat, a pig and a kangaroo.

**The cozy mystery is more of a fun, entertaining read rather than hard-core, gory crime scenes 

**No open-door bedroom scenes. However, according to cozy-mystery.com, a spicy scene seems to be more acceptable to readers these days.

**The fast-paced plot is filled with twists and turns and has to have red herrings and surprises so readers can enjoy unraveling the mystery. 

**As with any story ending, the author has to tie up all the loose ends with believable explanations.

As long as these criteria are met, I think there's lots of room to play with and have fun writing original ideas anytime.


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Thank you for visiting!!

The Rose Courier Fall Edition 2022

If you have not signed up for the fun, newsy, informative quarterly Rose Courier,
do it now. Click here and discover the shiny, new Fall edition in your e-box in a few weeks!

Click here to visit the IWSG bloggers this week.
Have fun!







Tuesday, July 26, 2022

A Vegetable Garden Tour and a Recipe for Zucchini Cake! #recipes #vegetable garden #freshveggies



You just need a garden and a library!

 What a special time of year for people who love fresh veggies. July and August are the prime months for harvesting vegetables from our garden. This is the time of the year when we get paid back for all that hard labor in planting and nurturing those lovely plants. 

We are reaping the rewards now.

Not only does gardening provide rewards of fresh, healthy food, but the labor also is more satisfying than going to a stinky dark gym to exercise. Planting, digging and weeding the plot is one of the best ways to keep a happy, strong heart.

Warning!! It's zucchini time. Zucchini is a prolific plant. Once it gets growing, the harvesting goes on and on and on. You'll need several recipes to have some diversity in your diet.
I'll share a zucchini cake recipe at the end of the article.


Green tomatoes. Fingers crossed we'll have a long enough season for the tomatoes to ripen.
We had a late spring. The weather was so cold and rainy, Gardener Ted thought he would never get any crops from our garden. Unfortunately, many seeds rotted in the cold ground and had to be replanted. The good news is the sun finally came out and warmed up the ground so we will be making a pot of beans for dinner tonight--green, yellow and purple greens boiled together with potatoes, onions and bacon. Lip-smacking good! 

The peppers are producing now! I love, love, love green peppers. You too?

The potato plants are blooming. They show promise of producing tasty spuds.

Lettuce on the left. Romaine and Magenta. We have had to give lots of lettuce away to friends and family and to the local food pantry. What a rewarding experience when people smile when we hand them the fresh lettuce. Nothing like it.
I've made several batches of cole slaw from crisp heads of cabbage. Nothing like the sound of the crack of a head of cabbage when you split it with a sharp knife. I cut the head in halves or quarters, cut out the core, then soak it in salt water for about 15 minutes.
The salt kills any insects hiding within the layers of leaves.

I know, the black-eyed Susans are not veggies, but oh so pretty.
****

In my scary story, Terror on Sunshine Boulevard, the main characters are Gloria and Jim Hart from Michigan. They spend winters in a retirement community in Florida.
Terror on Sunshine Boulevard
Half-price through July 31
at Smashwords

Jim is a year-round gardener with a garden Up North and one in Florida. He grows waaaaay too many vegetables so they give them away to friends and family. Gloria is always searching for delicious ways to cook vegetables so she has a choice of dishes for their dinner table. 

Hmmm...these characters are suspiciously similar to the author and her husband. LOL...Yes, I based them on my life, but Jim and Gloria are a bit more fun and quirkier than we are!




Zucchini
Image by congerdesign from Pixabay 


Since I can't pass a zucchini through the Internet to you, I will share a great recipe with you for Zucchini cake. 

ZUCCHINI CAKE
3 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Sift together these dry ingredients into a bowl and set aside. (I don't use a sifter.)

3 c. sugar 
11/2 c. vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
3 c. shredded zucchini
1 c. chopped nuts
Beat together sugar, oil, vanilla, eggs and zucchini

Mix all ingredients together. Fold in nuts.
Spray 9 x 13-inch pan with oil--do you flour your pans?
Bake at 350 degrees C  for 1 hour
Cool in pan, then sprinkle with powdered sugar or frost with cream cheese icing
Mmmmm. Good.

TIP: Use 3/4 c. applesauce and 3/4 c. oil instead of 1 1/2 c. oil to reduce fat

So I leave you with this delicious recipe. I hope you and your family and friends enjoy the cake.
Our Michigan garden

****
BIG NEWS FOR READERS AND WRITERS!
#Smashwordssale


Smashwords is having a 50% off SUMMER SALE through July 31

CLICK HERE to download my mysteries and memoir for $1.50. Find even more great reads from BWL Publishing at half off too!

Click here to be notified when a new article is posted on this blog.



Click here to receive the quarterly Rose Courier edition
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Filled with photos, updates, freebies, new book releases and more! Thank you.











Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Developing a Character in a Story Suspiciously Similar to Your Character Traits #storytelling #writingfiction #cozy mystery

 



Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story Blog. Today I am sharing a post originally published three years ago. This seemed to be a popular one, 
so I thought I'd post it again so I can play in the hot summer sun! 
I hope you are enjoying your summer to the max AND keeping comfortably cool. 

This was the July Question a few years ago at the IWSG Blog Hop.
What personal traits have you written into your character? 

Very personal indeed! My character, Lauren Staab, in my cozy mystery, Deadly Undertaking, is me! Let me count the ways.
Deadly Undertaking
Romantic suspense
On Sale at Smashwords $1.50
  • Yes, she is the daughter of a funeral director just like me.
  • She works hard and is reliable like me. 
  • She eats the same food I do. 
  • Her condo is decorated like a home I would have if I were 35 years old again. 
  • The funeral home she works in is modeled after my Dad's funeral home.
  • She overthinks things like I do.
  • She's smart like me. (wink wink)
In fact, I had a very, very, very difficult time establishing this character because I was too up close and personal with her. When I finally separated me from Lauren and stepped back to get a different perspective of her, I was able to continue writing the book.

I have never had a problem developing a character and using my imagination to conjure her up. But since she was me (I?), I guess I couldn't get the brainstorming/creativity to flow. 

Have you ever had that problem when developing a character or discovered a character in a story who was like you?

Please leave a comment below and let us know your experience. Thank you!!
 ***
BIG NEWS FOR READERS AND WRITERS!
#Smashwordssale


Smashwords is having a 50% off SUMMER SALE through July 31

CLICK HERE to download my mysteries and memoir for $1.50. Find even more great reads from BWL Publishing at half off too!

Click here to be notified when a new article is posted on this blog.



Click here to receive the quarterly Rose Courier edition
delivered to your inbox. It's not too late to sign up.
Filled with photos, updates, freebies, new book releases and more! Thank you.
















Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Are You a Reader? Are You a Writer? #jqrose

 Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story Blog!

I đŸ’—reading!!

Are you a reader? I am. I love reading books. I have become a fan of listening to them also. I use the free Libby app to check out audiobooks from my library. Hoopla is another app you can use to check out books--Kindle and audiobooks. If you don't have a Kindle, you can download the free Kindle app.

Updated--You should be able to use Libby, Hoopla, Sora, and the OverDrive app while traveling internationally.

My daughter and I are taking part in the summer reading program at our library. Read 10 books by July 12. There are rewards along the way too and a grand prize for those who complete 10 books. I'm not reading the books for the prizes. Reading is a prize for me!

I can always write something!

Because of reading, I became a writer. I've always had stories swirling in my brain. My mother pushed me to write when I was in her second-grade class. I must admit I was a social butterfly, so when I finished my assignments, I would tour the room talking to my classmates. My mother lectured me on how I was interrupting my friends and not allowing them to get their work done. 

"Write a story when you are finished with your worksheet," she demanded. "Do not get up and bother your friends." Her beautiful blue eyes were always bluer when she was angry. Not wishing to upset her and get in trouble again, I began writing stories.  Plus I had time to read too, so that made her happy also.

I loved reading my stories to the class. In seventh grade I wrote my first "novel" that suspiciously reminded one of my favorite story, Black Beauty. My grandmother, Ma, typed the manuscript from my hand-written pages from my tablet, a paper tablet not an iPad.  Seeing that story as if it had been published in a book hooked me into writing more and more stories.

I am reserving my summer to read more rather than writing more. I am taking time to recharge the writing engine. Plus I have dug out some piano music and I am trying to bring back that great time of playing my piano. But it is way, way out of tune. So I can tell my husband those odd-sounding notes and weird chords are not my fault. Wink, wink.

Do you have plans for your summer? Reading or writing? Gardening? Traveling? Let me know!

UPDATES:

Click here to check out a new kind of interview at Connie Vines' blog. The title of this series of interviews is "Almost Live." I should explain, the interview is almost live--not the interviewee. I'm fine!

JQ Rose in front of the Atlanta Public Library
Atlanta, Illinois

I am thrilled to have received an invitation to speak at my hometown library in Atlanta, Illinois, in August. I spent lots of hours in that library as a child growing up in my beloved town. Now, to think I have my book, Arranging a Dream: A Memoir, on the shelf in that magnificent old building makes me misty-eyed. Plus, I get to share my message with my friends and readers to Dream BIG!  

If you are in the Central Illinois area, halfway between St. Louis and Chicago on I-55, stop in on Saturday, August 20 at 10:00 am!!

BREAKING NEWS!

Half Off Sale at Smashwords

If you are looking to load up your reading device this summer, my books from BWL Publishing are half price during the July Half Off Smashwords Summer Sale. That means they are only $1.50 each. 

Click here to find my books at Smashwords.

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Click here to receive the quarterly Rose Courier edition
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Filled with photos, updates, freebies, new book releases and more! Thank you.







Monday, July 4, 2022

IWSG Blog Hop: Happy Birthday USA! Who Were the Signers of the Declaration of Independence?

 

Insecure Writers Support Group Blog Hop
#IWSGbloghop
Belated Happy Canada Day!
Happy Fourth of July!

What is the Insecure Writer's Support Group?
Founded by author Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group offers support for writers and authors alike. It provides an online database, articles and tips, a monthly blog posting, a Facebook and Instagram group, Twitter, and a monthly newsletter. To find out more, click this link:  Insecure Writer’s Support Group

The purpose of the group is 
* to share and encourage. 
* Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. 
* Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. 
*It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! 
You're invited to become a member of this supportive group. 
Click here to sign-up and/or to visit the bloggers this week.

The awesome co-hosts for the July 6 posting of the IWSG are J Lenni Dorner, Janet Alcorn, PJ Colando, Jenni Enzor, and Diane Burton!

"We hold these truths to be self-evident..."
from The USA Declaration of Independence
Happy Birthday USA!

Taking a break from the IWSG Blog Hop. 
I'll participate again in August!



Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Summer Solstice Celebration at an English Stone Circle

 


Castlerigg Stone Circle, England

Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story Blog published on the day of Summer Sostice 2022!

A few years ago, we were in England. We happened to be at the Castlerigg Stone Circle in the Lake District. I bet you have never heard of this stone circle, but you have probably heard of Stonehenge Circle. I was surprised to learn there are 1,303 stone circles in Britain, Ireland and Brittany. 

According to Wikipeidia, "Since the late 20th century,
many of these monuments were adopted as "sacred sites" by adherents of 
contemporary pagan religions." 


These believers were gathered at Castlerigg for ceremonies and rituals during Solstice. We found the celebrants camping along the road and the edges of the stone circle site. What a party!

When we visited the day before the Solstice, the area was quiet with an eerie feeling when I walked about the stones. Some of these circles date back to 3000 B.C.-900 B.C. Knowing I was strolling through the same area and touching stones touched by ancient peoples gave me goose bumps.

Awe and wonder. That is what I experienced. How could these boulders be moved and placed in such a circle? Scholars have differing opinions on why the people constructed these stone circles. Some believe the stone circles may have been spaces honoring their ancestors, Other archaeologists have suggested the area was devoted to deities.

Sheep grazed near the circle adding to my feeling of gratitude
for the opportunity to experience such a place.

Wishing you peace and a sense of gratitude on this day and in future days.

****

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Filled with photos, updates, freebies, new book releases and more! Thank you.




Famous Authors' Advice on Writing First Drafts by J.Q. Rose #writing #firstdrafts #writingtips

  HAPPY SUMMERTIME! Welcome to the Focused on Story Blog! I'm your host, JQ Rose.  Practice, practice practice. I bet you heard that whe...

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