Wednesday, August 17, 2022

WEP August 2022 Short Story Challenge: Moonglow by J.Q. Rose #WEP #shortstory #writeeditpublishnow #WEP2022challenge

 

The challenge writing prompt for August is Moonlight Sonata.

Welcome to the Focused on Story Blog!

This week I am participating in the Write-Edit-Publish (WEP) Challenge to create a story of less than 1000 words! This is the first time I have stretched my short storytelling muscles with this group.  

The August Challenge is scheduled for Wednesday, August 17- Thursday, August 19.  But I will leave the short story up until next Tuesday.

The prompt is Moonlight Sonata. 

The Write Edit Publish Now Site offers participants a few ideas to spark their muse---

There are a million potential ways to interpret this challenge - use the title to define your setting, a water body, a full moon, a floating craft, a romantic evening...

Use it to devise your character - a werewolf, a vampire, a modern-day witch/wizard...

Use the backstory to create your flash about circumstances scuppering a relationship...or a nickname coming to define something/someone...

Beethoven's life itself can inspire a thousand stories - listen to his music composed 200+ years ago and go where the muse takes you. And take us right along with you for the ride.

Click here to find out more about WEP and the challenges.

 I'm looking forward to reading tales of humor, romance, mystery, paranormal, historical and more.

Click here for a list of participating bloggers. Click on the name to take you to their story submissions.

* * * *

Moonglow Tagline: Romance and danger on a moonlight stroll through a college campus.

MOONGLOW by J.Q. Rose

Wham! What felt like a load of bricks smashed into my back, slamming me into the shelves of library books. Sprawled on the hardwood floor showered by books from above, I rolled over on my back. A gorgeous man stood over me. Bright, green eyes registered his surprise. He was the clumsy idiot who knocked me over?

Mr. Green Eyes bent his tall frame down to my level and searched my face. “Are you hurt?” His hoarse whisper evidence he had remembered we were in a library where loud conversations are not allowed.

I didn’t care about conversations or that everyone in the room was watching us. I wanted to connect with the handsome guy with thick, black hair pulled back in a ponytail. A black t-shirt stretched across his broad shoulders. His left arm, circled with a sleeve of tattoos, clutched a pile of books to his chest.

I offered him my hand and he tugged me back to my feet. Smiling sweetly, I fluttered my lashes to hold his gaze. My expression transitioned from awe to distress as if I were in a lot of pain. I rubbed my shoulder to keep his attention.

“I think I fell into the entire series of Harry Potter books.”

Ignoring my silly remark,  he reached the reading table behind us in one stride and unloaded his books, then pulled out a chair. “Here. Sit here a minute.”

“Okay. Don’t worry. I’m fine.”  I stopped massaging my “hurt” shoulder and gave up the injured girl charade. His concern was real.

He grabbed the chair next to me and folded his body onto the seat. Jerking an eyeglass case from his front jean pocket, he slipped on thick glasses that magnified his green eyes. Adorable.

He lifted my chin with a gentle touch. Mesmerizing me with those green eyes, he said, “I am. so. sorry.”

Heat flushed my face. I stammered, “No problem. I’m feeling better now.”

He grinned. “I should’ve had these glasses on so I could see the call numbers on the books instead of squinting so hard and not paying attention to where I was going.”

“Yes, you should have.” Leaning my elbows on the table, I flashed a gentle smile to signal I had forgiven him.

“Let me take you for coffee tonight as an apology for crashing into you. It’s a great evening to stroll across the campus in the moonlight.”

I straightened up at that idea. Handsome guys asking me to go to coffee was not an everyday occurrence for this girl.

Evidently, he liked me with my auburn hair loosely piled on top of my head and my freckles dotting my nose and cheeks. Or was the reason for the invitation because he felt guilty for mashing me against the bookshelves?

“Thanks for the invite, but I have a paper due tomorrow.” This was a test, offering him a chance to get out of buying me coffee.

“Hey, you need to take a break after that fall. I bet you can  write better with some caffeine in your system.” His wink caught my heart. How could I refuse?

An hour later, we sat at a small table in the campus café. I sipped the cappuccino slowly to extend our time together.

“Thanks so much for the coffee. I do feel a bit perkier now and ready to get that paper done.” I slapped my hand on the table demonstrating my determination.

“I believe it!” He removed the large, framed glasses and returned them to the case in his pocket.

Taking a breath, he said, “I really enjoyed spending the time with you. I probably shouldn’t say this, but I’m glad I bumped into ya’.” I watched his smile roll across his face.

“Nooo.” I grimaced. “They say a groan’s as good as a laugh, and that is definitely a groaner.”

His eyes sparkled with amusement. “Sorry,” he said with an exaggerated shrug of his shoulders.

He covered my hand with his. The tingling sensation lasted for only a few seconds, but it was powerful as it raced from my toes to the top of my head.

A bit flustered, I checked my watch. “Well, all good things must come to an end. And that paper is not going to write itself.” I stood and grabbed my backpack.

 “Hey, do you have a car? If not, can I walk you to your dorm?”

Was he asking me because he liked me enough to make this sweet evening together continue? Or because the university required students to be with someone after dark because the occurrence of crime and rapes had increased this fall.

“I’d appreciate that. My house is off campus, just a short walk from here.”

“Great. I’d be happy to accompany you, milady.” He bowed dramatically and allowed me to lead the way. I couldn’t help but laugh at his impish smile when he caught up with me.

We left the illuminated campus to take the shortcut to my house through the woods that edged the perimeter of the grounds. The radiant moonbeams lighted our way, the evening alive with romance.

With no one else on the path, we stopped. I breathed in the crisp fall air and rejoiced in the silence of the autumn night. Truly a special night together. He took my hands in his and pulled me close. His musky scent filled my senses. I stepped back to study his face.

Desire flooded through me. I couldn’t resist any longer.

I snarled and leaped, my fangs glowing in the moonlight.

* * * *

Word count: 930 words, NCCO

* * * *

Please leave your comments below. Do you write/short stories? What genres do you like to read? Feel free to leave feedback about this story. Have fun!!


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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Short Story Time: Moonglow by J.Q. Rose #writeeditpublish #shortstory #2022challenge

 


Welcome to the Focused on Story Blog--a short version today!

Why? Because I am participating in the Write-Edit-Publish Challenge--a story of less than 1000 words! This is the first time I have stretched my short storytelling muscles with this group.  

I am entering the August Challenge scheduled for Wednesday, August 17- Thursday, August 19.  The prompt is Moonlight Sonata. 

The Write Edit Publish Now Site gives participants a few ideas---

"There are a million potential ways to interpret this challenge - use the title to define your setting, a water body, a full moon, a floating craft, a romantic evening...

Use it to devise your character - a werewolf, a vampire, a modern-day witch/wizard...

Use the backstory to create your flash about circumstances scuppering a relationship...or a nickname coming to define something/someone...

Beethoven's life itself can inspire a thousand stories - listen to his music composed 200+ years ago and go where the muse takes you. And take us right along with you for the ride."

Now, what story will I tell using this prompt? Check back tomorrow to find out. Plus, you will be able to read all the submissions by the rest of the bloggers. I'm looking forward to tales of humor, mystery, paranormal, historical and more!

Looking forward to your return and your feedback too.

C ya' tomorrow (or if you can't be here tomorrow, the story will be up until next Tuesday).

PS--Click here to find out more about this site and the challenges.


Inspiring-Encouraging-Empowering Book for MG Girls
Girls Succeed! Stories Behind the Careers of Successful Women

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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!

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







WEP August 2022 Short Story Challenge: Moonglow by J.Q. Rose #WEP #shortstory #writeeditpublishnow #WEP2022challenge

  The challenge writing prompt for August is Moonlight Sonata. Welcome to the Focused on Story Blog! This week I am participating in the Wri...

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