Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Storytime Blog Hop: Oh Baby! by J.Q. Rose

Logo Credit: Katharina Gerlach
Founded 2015 by students of “How To Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writer’s,” 
writing course created by writer and teacher Holly Lisle.
Hello and Welcome to the Storytime Blog Hop! You're probably expecting a story titled "Oh Baby!" I changed my mind and decided to share this story, "Hello Again."  

Take some time to escape from reality by visiting writers participating in this blog hop filled with stories to enjoy. I'm always amazed at the variety of genres and the imaginative characters and plots in the offerings. Click below on the bloggers links to hop around cyberspace and explore these talented writers. You're invited to leave a comment and share your experience with friends.
January Storytime Blog Hop
White rose
Hello Again by J.Q. Rose
Valerie removed the enclosure card from the vase filled with exotic greens and stunning white roses.  Her eyes narrowed as she studied the signature, “With love, T.B.”  Replacing the card in the holder, she turned to her daughter, Rebecca. “Do you know who T.B. is? I can’t think of anyone who would sign a card with those initials.”
Her beautiful Rebecca, dressed in a stylish black suit and white silk blouse, slipped her arm around her mother’s waist.
“I don’t recognize the initials either.” Rebecca’s brown shoulder-length hair flowed around her face when she shook her head.  “Come on, Mom, they’re waiting for us in the family room.  The service will begin soon.”         
Valerie turned from the display of floral tributes and smoothed her simple black dress that snugged her trim figure. She was thankful her daughter and son were by her side. 
Tears surfaced in her eyes.  How could she have any more tears left?  She had cried for days. . How was she going to say good-bye forever to her husband of thirty-five years?  Her best friend. Her lover.  Her life.
 She dabbed her nose and wiped her eyes with a tissue. Taking a deep breath to strengthen her for the difficult day ahead, she squared her shoulders vowing to make it through this service, the cemetery, and luncheon after.
Sitting at her kitchen table a few days later, Valerie stared at the enclosure card enclosed with the white roses.  She couldn’t find a clue to the identity of T.B.  This was the only acknowledgement card left to be written, but she had no idea where to send it.  No one in her family could help her. The local floral shops had no record of the flower delivery.  Mr. Mc Grady, the funeral director, told her he had found the vase sitting on the table in the entryway. He had seen a man leaving the building, but Mr. McGrady only caught a glimpse of his back.
Valerie couldn’t explain why, but she felt close to the sender. She couldn’t stop thinking of the beautiful roses and the card simply signed T.B.  There was something very special about the sentiment, she knew.  But what was it?
* * * *
Spring eventually emerged after the dark days of winter and death.  Valerie had endured.  Seeing the snow melt, the daffodils bloom, and the earth green up helped to lighten her heart.
That spring afternoon Valerie felt the warm sun’s rays on her back as she dug into the soil to plant pansies in the flower bed by the front door of her house.  A large white limousine pulled up to her neighbor’s home and out jumped a teen-age boy in his fashionable tuxedo.  Behind him two young couples piled out. 
The boys seemed so young with their fresh haircuts and fine looking tuxes and the girls dressed in elegant evening gowns of red, black, and deep purple. Their long, thick tresses were cleverly styled in up-do’s for that traditional evening event in high school, the prom. 
The teens’ nervous laughter and banter echoed through the neighborhood.  Residents gathered to watch as the young people posed for photos with the neighbor’s daughter under the flowering crab apple tree in the front yard.  Soon the three couples entered the limo again and were off to make memories.
Valerie returned to planting her flowers remembering her high school proms, dresses, and friends. She smiled as she tamped the soil down around the colorful flowers. Suddenly she threw down her trowel, ripped off her gardening gloves, and raced up the front steps to her house.  When she entered the family room, she didn’t stop to wash her hands or remove the floppy straw hat on her head.  Instead, she grabbed the phone book and turned the pages to a number that she deftly punched into her phone.
“Hello, Valerie.”  A man’s voice greeted her.  Her eyes sparkled as a smile spread from cheek to cheek. It was the same voice she remembered from forty years ago when they had attended her senior prom together.
“Hello, Teddy Bear.”  

If you like a cozy mystery, romance, murder, humor, and animals, check out Dangerous Sanctuary available in ebook and paperback at amazon.

Buy Links for Dangerous Sanctuary

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Plan Your Own DIY Writing Retreat by Nan Sanders Pokerwinski

I am a Writer!
Hello and welcome to the J.Q. Rose blog. 
I invited my good friend and writing partner Nan Sanders Pokerwinski this week to share her plan for her own DIY (Do It Yourself), writing retreat. Don't we all wish we could escape and focus on our writing? Nan explains how she did it.  
Nan lives in West Michigan where she reads, writes, wanders the woods and makes collages. She's a former Detroit Free Press science writer and contributing editor at Health and Alternative Medicine magazines, with freelance articles also published in print and online media. Her journalistic work, under the byline Nancy Ross-Flanigan, has garnered awards and a Pulitzer nomination. 

Thanks, Nan, for sharing your DIY retreat with us! 
My DIY Writing Retreat by Nan Sanders Pokerwinski
Every time I open one of the writers' magazines I regularly read, I see ads or articles about writing retreats and residencies. Ten days in a rustic cabin in Denali National Park. Up to twelve weeks in "the secluded hills overlooking the Temecula Valley in southern California." Two months on a 450-acre estate in New Hampshire, with private room, studio space and meals provided. Two to four weeks at Steepletop, the former estate of Edna St. Vincent Millay in Austerlitz, New York.

Ready to write.

​I imagine myself in one of these settings, free of all responsibilities, with nothing to do but write, take walks, think and write some more. What a blissful and productive existence! Then I think: Wait a minute. I live in the woods, in a relatively secluded setting. Why can't I have my own writing retreat right here? 

Responsibilities at home

​Well, for one thing, "right here" is home, and home is where bills appear in the mailbox, demanding to be paid; where laundry piles up; where groceries must be bought and meals cooked; where the telephone rings and the UPS guy knocks on the door; where household projects, hobbies and other interesting activities beckon; where I have a mate who gives me plenty of time and space to pursue my interests, but still deserves my attention.

​Still . . . what if I could take a break from at least some of those things for a whole week? How much time could I free up for writing? I decide to give it a try.
Schedule your dates
​I take a look at my calendar, find a rare week in November with no appointments or meetings, print "WRITING RETREAT" across five days and make a plan. I'll do-ahead as much as I can—laundry, grocery shopping, bill-paying—and I'll figure out quick-to-prepare meals. I can even write and lay out that week's blog installment in advance and schedule to  post automatically on the appropriate day.

Write out your goals

​I set a few goals (or at least intentions): revise and send off a chapbook-length piece I want to submit to a writing contest, finish a read-through and light revision of my memoir manuscript before starting a new round of queries, make headway (any at all) on my novel-in-progress, which has been moving slowly. Notice I don't impose any word-count goals on myself. I realize that works for some writers, and I certainly know how to crank out the pages when I need to, but I want to work more deliberately and thoughtfully during my retreat.

Yoga and exercise included in the plan

​Then some decisions to make. Besides writing, what will I do—and not do—during retreat week? Keeping up my yoga practice and exercise routines seems essential—I don't want to turn into a slug—and not only my daily regimens, but also Monday morning group practice with the Woodland Yoga Women and Friday afternoon's hike with the Wander Women, which will give me doses of social activity as well. (None of this is such a departure from what writers do at "real" retreats, some of which have hiking and yoga built in.)

​TV-watching won't be an issue—we don't have it—but I'll allow for one or two Netflix movie breaks. As for email and social media, I'll try to answer only essential emails and ignore Facebook and Twitter as much as possible. Ditto online news stories, which have been snagging my attention lately.
​So far, so good. The next decision takes some thought, though. Some years ago, I read Clarity Quest, a book about preparing for and taking a week-long mini-sabbatical. It stressed the importance of letting all the important people in your life know that you're taking time out to focus on something that matters to you. I get the rationale: announcing your plans not only serves notice, it also strengthens your resolve by making you accountable.
Don't broadcast you are planning a retreat.

​I get it in theory, but in practice I find that advertising my intentions doesn't always work the way it's supposed to. Sometimes it seems that broadcasting my unavailability makes people all the more determined to interrupt me ("I know you're busy,but ... ") and me all the more irritable when they do. So I don't talk much about my DIY retreat beforehand. I mention it in passing to my hubby Ray and a couple of friends but don't elaborate.

​The designated week arrives. How does the retreat work out? 
VerdictLike a good book, this week had a satisfying ending.
In some ways, retreat week was not so different from any other week in the writing life. Many writers put in this much time—and a lot more—week in and week out. I certainly did when I wrote for a living. Yet something did feel special and retreat-y about this week. I gave myself a time-out, granted myself permission to ignore things that normally distract me from writing, and committed to squeezing writing into as many spaces in my days as possible. 

​At the end of the week, I felt satisfied that I'd met my goals, modest as they were. Even more than fulfilling objectives, I'd discovered I can have a productive retreat without leaving home and husband. Now I know I can choose another week and repeat the process without turning my life and usual routines upside down.

​Can you? Maybe it's not writing you want to focus on, but some other passion or project that gets pushed aside by daily demands. How can you carve out a little more time to pursue it? If you create your own DIY retreat, let me know how it goes.
# # #
Thank you, Nan! If you would like the full account of her retreat, click here to go to Nan's blog, HeartWood.  Spend some time there exploring her witty and warm stories about cultivating creativity, connection and contentment wherever you are.

Writer Nancy Sanders Pokerwinski

Nan is working on a novel and a series of autobiographical collages. She is currently seeking publication of her memoir, Mango Rash: Survival Lessons in the Land of Frangipani and Fanta, excerpts of which were finalists for two literary awards

Here's the blurb for her excellent memoir, MANGO RASH:
With a mix of in-the-moment teenage sass and decades-later perspective, MANGO RASH chronicles an American girl's stumbles through two alien landscapes at once: adolescence and the remote U.S. territory of American Samoa, which was experiencing its own growing pains in the 1960s, while undergoing "modernization," American-style.

You can catch Nan online at these links:
TWITTER: @nansanpo

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

My Favorite Books on Writing by J.Q. Rose, Intentions for 2017

Make it happen!
Welcome to the J.Q. Rose Blog!

This is the year you are going to make things happen in your life! I know you've thought about and perhaps already written down your resolutions, goals, or intentions for the year.

If you're a writer, new or experienced, or even thinking about writing, I hope the list of books on writing will spur you on and keep you going to achieve your 2017 writing goals.

I presented a month long workshop on creative writing for our county schools' continuing education program. Working with these terrific, creative groups of adults inspires me. Their enthusiasm for writing is contagious. Their questions and ideas energize for my own writing projects. And my constant research to present the different elements of writing was an adventure in discovery.
I tried to introduce and expand on as many topics as I could in that short time–character development, dialogue, plot, theme, setting, conflict, POV, show, don’t tell, and more. On top of all this, we devoted time to writing and sharing.
For the class I relied on Stephen King’s book On Writing and Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones as resources. I'm including the list of books I gave to the participants. They would be great additions to a writer's library. Do you have outstanding books you would suggest for new and veteran writers?
Books on Writing

Compiled by J.Q. Rose
Author: Anne Lamott
Chicago Manual of Style
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Author: The Editors of Writer’s Digest
How to be a Writer: Building Your Creative Skills Through Practice and Play
Author: Barbara Baig
The Elements of Style
Author: William Strunk and E.B.White.
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Scribner
On Writing Well
Author: William Zinsser
Author: Francine Prose
Writers on Writing: Collected Essays from The New York Times
Editor: John Darnton
Author: Natalie Goldberg

The Art of Memoir

Author: Mary Karr

The Emotion Thesaurus

Authors: Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

The Story Template

Author: Amy Deardon

Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story

Author: K.M. Weiland

The Insecure Writers Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond (FREE)

Compiled by Alex J. Cavanaugh

Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing: Tips on the Writing Process, Publishing and Marketing

Compiled by J.Q. Rose with15 author contributors 

AND there's MORE! Blogger and author Joan Y. Edwards lists books on the craft of writing. Get the list here. Thank you, Joan!

Happy New Year 2017

Last week on my friend Nan Sanders Pokerwinski's blog, she asked her friends to respond to this question--What is one way you hope to enhance (or exercise) your creativity OR increase your connection (with other people, with the natural world, with causes you champion) OR foster contentment (your own or someone else's) in 2017? 

HeartWood--Written from the heart,
from the heart of the woods
--Nan Sanders Pokerwinski
I'm thrilled I could be a part of the exercise. Nan has a diverse group of friends who answered with wit and wisdom. Take a peek at their responses and be inspired to make your intentions happen in 2017! Click here to go to the post on her HeartWood blog.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

IWSG Blog Hop: No Cliches Allowed, Dangerous Sanctuary Virtual Book Tour Continues

Hello and welcome to the J.Q. Rose blog. Today is the monthly meeting of the Insecure Writers Support Group(IWSG) blog hop! 

Internet Writers Support Group Blog Hop
First Wednesday of every month.
What is IWSG? Founder of the  Insecure Writer’s Support Group and author Alex J Cavanaugh explains the group's purpose 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.

The group blogs the first Wednesday of every month The list of bloggers is always available so you can hop around to the author blogs filled with humor, advice, and thought-provoking topics on writing and publishing. You can find the list of participants at Alex's IWSG page.
IWSG Question for the Month
January 4 Question: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard? No Cliches Allowed!
For some reason clichés are not approved by editors when checking my stories. I don’t know why because it makes writing as easy as pie. These familiar expressions are as good as gold when it comes to taking a short cut in your storytelling.

Instead of writing a paragraph about how bad the storm is, I can just say the rain is coming down in buckets. The reader knows exactly how bad that is. However, after sending this in to the editor, the phrase will appear red-lined in the manuscript and a comment will show up in the margin gently reminding me the sentence is a cliché. But seriously, if you have to describe how hot the weather is in a story, why can’t you say it was hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk? That really does explain the heat factor!

When push comes to shove, a cliché is the way to go for me. For instance, when the coroner arrives at the death scene, why can’t he say the victim kicked the bucket? That’s so much more colorful than saying he’s dead.

Deadly Undertaking by J.Q. Rose
A handsome detective, a shadow man,
and a murder victim
 kill Lauren’s plan for a simple life.
Romantic Suspense
It makes me madder than a wet hen when I realize I have used clichés in my writing. For Pete’s sake, I KNOW the editors won’t let me use them, so I try to be conscious about it when I write and re-visit the chapters.

When I was writing my mystery, Deadly Undertaking, I combed through every word, every paragraph, and every page trying to ferret out the clichés. Still and all, once in a while a cliché is missed and once they’re out there, you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. To tell you the truth, I don’t always recognize them. So I submit the manuscript for editing on a wing and a prayer that I have caught every cliché and I won’t have the editor tearing her hair out when she reads it.

There’s no time like the present to change and recognize clichés in my writing. How about you? I plan to be as sharp as a tack when putting words down on paper so I can make it easier for me and my editor to get through the manuscript.

I’m not trying to pull the wool over your eyes. I am vowing to do better on using clichés. Just notice how much I’ve improved already!
# # # #
Dangerous Sanctuary Virtual Book Tour Continues
Come join in and win prizes!

Thursday, January 5, I'm a guest at Sandra Cox's blog. Come over and eavesdrop on a conversation between the book's main character Pastor Christine and her Nosey Neighbor. Find us here at Sandra's blog.

December Stops:
  9Diane Burton

12Foxes and One Hound 

13Marsha West

19Juneta Key 
20Books We Love Insider 
23Janet Lane Walters 
24             Janet Lane Walters

Thank you for stopping in. 

Wishing you a Happy New Year 2017!!

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