Living Vicariously in Wyoming #OpenBookBlogHop #MondayMusings #Inspiration

 

Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. This week’s question is: “What is your process for writing? Plot, then write? Edit as you go or not until you’ve reached the end of the story? Figure out your characters first? Something else?”

Sometimes, while writing, if I notice myself making a typo, I instinctively reach for the backspace key. But most of the time, I write, then edit.

I usually write by the seat of my pants. As long as I have  the general story in my head, I let ideas come to me, as I’m writing. But recently, I decided to try making one of my short stories, “Living Vicariously,” into a novel. Unlike with my other stories, I had no clear direction. I had an idea of how it would end, but I couldn’t figure out where to start, and I wasn’t sure about other details.

So, I tried the Snowflake Method, a ten-step process of outlining your novel before you write it, in the hope that ideas would come to me. But after the third step, I still felt blocked.

The first step is to write a one-sentence summary of the book, an elevator pitch of sorts. While signing books at the Wyoming Writers conference last week, an author sitting next to me asked what my next project would be. I immediately launched into my elevator pitch and suddenly thought how lame it sounded. The other woman said she thought it was interesting. I’m sure she was trying to be polite, since we hardly knew each other.

After giving it some thought, I realized the problem was with the story, not the pitch. “Living Vicariously” works better as a short work of fiction, not as a novel.

However, all was not lost. Several years ago, I started working on a collection of short stories set in Wyoming. I was inspired to write this after reading Ann Beattie’s The State We’re in, a collection of stories set in her home state of Maine. “Living Vicariously” could be the opening story in my collection, and I could even call the collection Living Vicariously in Wyoming.

How about you? If you’re an author, what’s your writing process? You can tell us in the comment field below or click here to participate in this week’s hop and read other bloggers’ responses.

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. Her brown hair is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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A Killer First Sentence #OpenBookBlogHop #MondayMusings #Inspiration

Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. Here’s today’s question.

“The first sentence has to have a solid punch.” —Steve Berry from “Twisty Business” Let’s talk about it.

I agree. Just as breakfast, the first meal of the day, is important in order to start your day right, the first sentence in a novel, short story, essay, or poem is crucial to getting the reader’s attention.

Wyoming Writers, my state organization, holds a conference each year. One of the events during the conference is what they call a paddle panel. Participants present, anonymously, the first page from a work, which is read aloud by a moderator. Panelists hold up paddles during the reading to indicate whether or not they would read more and explain why. I’ve learned so much about how to start a story from this activity.

Here is, not only the first sentence, but the first paragraph from my latest book, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me. If this doesn’t grab you, I don’t know what will. But if it does, see below for details.

***

I hated walking with my mom and sister down that long, bright hallway in the nursing home where my grandma lived. The white tile floor and the ceiling covered with fluorescent lights reminded me of school. The only difference was that there were handrails on either side that old people could hold onto while they walked, so they wouldn’t fall.

***

What about you authors out there? Do you think it’s important to hook a reader with that first sentence? You can click here to participate in this week’s hop and read other bloggers’ responses.

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. Her brown hair is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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Marketing Strategies That Don’t Work #OpenBookBlogHop #Inspiration #WritingPrompts

Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. This week’s question is: “We’ve shared marketing tips that worked for us. What have you tried that didn’t work?”

For the first few books I published, I created cell sheets and sent them to bookstores across the state. I also put together a press release and sent it to newspapers. Although the local bookstore in Sheridan, Wyoming, has always responded favorably and a few regional newspapers have done an article on me here and there, I’ve learned that most newspapers care only about what goes on in the community they represent and don’t give a darn about what happens anywhere else unless, of course, it’s a story of national interest. I even contacted my state public radio conglomerate, to no avail.

Now, when I publish a book, I do what works. I contact my local radio station that has a talk show on community affairs and schedule a spot there. I hold a signing at the local bookstore, and I deliver a press release to my local newspaper. I also use my blog and website to promote the book and appear on podcasts and other online events. These tactics seem to draw the most readers. I’ll no longer waste time on marketing strategies that don’t work.

How about you authors out there? What marketing strategies did you try that didn’t work? You can click here to participate in this week’s hop and read other bloggers’ responses.

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. Her brown hair is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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Nifty Names #MondayMusings #OpenBookBlogHop #Inspiration

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. Her brown hair is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. This week’s question is: “How do you come up with the names for your characters?”

Most of my characters are named after people I know, but the characters usually aren’t anything like the people who’s names I used. Let’s take, for example, my latest novel, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me.

The father, Daryl, has the same name as the maintenance man in an apartment building where I once lived when I was single. I met someone named Marti once through social media and thought that name would be perfect for the mother.

One of my nieces had a friend named Natalie. I only saw her in passing when the girls were together and didn’t know her very well. But I thought Natalie would be the perfect name for a spunky teenaged girl who grows up in the course of the book. I knew many people named Sarah and thought that would be the perfect name for a ten-year-old girl. As for the dog, I thought it fitting Sarah name him Squeakers, since she finds him in the park, cold, alone, and squeaking, in other words whining, to indicate his fear at being abandoned.

How about you authors out there? How do you name your characters? You can click here to participate and read other bloggers’ responses.

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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A Nightmare to Remember #MondayMusings #OpenBookBlogHop #Excerpts

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. She has short brown hair which is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. This week’s question is: “Do dreams/nightmares influence your writing? Do you keep a notebook by your bed to write down ideas?”

Years ago when I was in college, after reading an Ellery Queen mystery, I developed an irrational fear of policemen, which caused me to be plagued by nightmares. One such dream inspired the following scene from my first novel, We Shall Overcome.

***

“Where are you taking me?” asked Lisa as several policemen carried her down a long, dark hall.

“Where do you think?” one of them said.

“Please put me down,” Lisa said. “You’ll drop me. Just because I don’t see very well doesn’t mean I can’t walk.”

The men only laughed, and she was consumed by panic. Lisa fought to free herself from their grasp, which was not easy since her hands were cuffed behind her back. Two of the officers held her ankles while others held her shoulders. She began to scream and continued screaming until she was carried through a doorway and tossed onto a hard bunk. The cell door slammed with a resounding thud as the policemen left her, still handcuffed, lying face down on the bed.

“It is now six thirty am,” said the male voice of Lisa’s talking alarm clock as a cheerful tune was played. She sat up with a start. Her heart pounding, she discovered to her relief that she was not in a jail cell but in her own bedroom. The sheets and blankets were in a tangle on the floor. “Oh, god,” she said and flopped on the bed to wait for her heart to stop pounding.

***

How about you? If you’re an author, do dreams or nightmares influence your writing? Have any of your characters ever had bad or good dreams? You can click here to participate in this week’s hop and read other bloggers’ responses.

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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