A Kick-Ass Beginning #OpenBookBlogHop #Inspiration #Writing

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. This week’s question is: “Which part of your book do you spend the most time on? Beginning, middle or end? Something else?”

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I try to spend equal amounts of time on all parts of my books. Some authors prefer to write scenes out of order, but to me, it makes more sense to write novels from beginning to end. I start my stories with a hook and end with a bang. Speaking of hooks, here’s an excerpt from the beginning of my new book, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me, told from the point of view of sixteen-year-old Natalie. I hope this will entice you to read more.

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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.

The blare of television sets from just about every room we passed, laughter and chatter from the nurses’ station, and announcements over the PA system made me wonder why Dad called this place a rest home. The sharp aroma of disinfectant reminded me of the monthly trips I’d made to the dentist years before to have my braces adjusted. I nearly gagged as I remembered the goop they put in my mouth so they could take impressions of my teeth before the braces were put on. The stench of poop and piss from some of the rooms was overpowering.

We finally reached Grandma’s room, and for once, there was silence and only the smell of her perfume. Her bed was next to the window, and she sat in her wheelchair, wearing white pants and a blue, checked blouse. Her curly gray hair was cut short and pushed away from her face. She had a roommate, but the other lady wasn’t there. It was just us.

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How about you authors out there? Do you spend more time on one part of your books than you do other parts? You can sound off in the comment field or click here to participate in this week’s hop and read what other bloggers have to say.

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New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

Front cover image contains: elderly woman in red sweater sitting next to a window.

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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Books

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On Dialogue #OpenBook BlogHop

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. This week’s question is:  “Do you use said or asked after a ? (quotation mark) or tag your interruptions? Any punctuation that bugs you? What’s the hardest for you to get right?”

What a coincidence this topic should come up now. I recently read Crafting Dynamic Dialogue, edited by Cheryl St. John, which I reviewed here. In this book, several fiction authors provide great advice on writing dialogue, some of which I already put into practice.

First of all, I try not to use elaborate dialogue tags such as “he announced” or “she proclaimed.” These distract the reader from what’s being said. It’s better to stick with “said,” “answered,” or asked” and let dialogue speak for itself. Unless there may be some confusion as to who is speaking, I don’t tag interruptions because that disrupts the story’s flow.

That having been said, there are times when it’s better to use a stronger verb than an adverb in dialogue tags. For example, instead of “I hate you!” my teenaged daughter said loudly before dashing upstairs and slamming the door to her room, I would write “I hate you!” my teenaged daughter yelled before dashing upstairs and slamming the door to her room.

I don’t have trouble with punctuation. So, let me share one more thing I’ve learned about dialog tags. It’s more natural to place the person’s name or a pronoun before the verb. Take this passage from The Red Dress.

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“Oh, look at this!” said Charlene.

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I should have written this.

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“Oh, look at this!” Charlene said.

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I’m not about to republish my novels just so I can correct dialogue tags. But I plan to incorporate tips I’ve learned in my future work.

How about you? Do you like elaborate dialogue tags, or, like me, do you think they’re unnecessary? How do you feel about the use of adverbs and the placement of names or pronouns and verbs in dialog tags? I look forward to reading your answers in the comment field. If you’re a blogger and would like to participate in this week’s hop, click here.

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By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Image contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

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Books

My Amazon Author Page

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Advice on Writing Great Dialogue #FridayFunReads

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Crafting Dynamic Dialogue: The Complete Guide to Speaking, Conversing, Arguing, and Thinking in Fiction (Creative Writing Essentials)

Edited by Cheryl St. John

 

What Amazon Says

 

Write authentic dialogue that invigorates your story!

 

Exceptional dialogue isn’t just important when writing fiction–it’s essential. In order to impress an agent or editor and keep readers turning pages, you need to deliver truly standout dialogue in every scene. Crafting Dynamic Dialogue will give you the techniques and examples you need to impress your readers.

 

This book is a comprehensive guide to writing compelling dialogue that rings true. Each section is packed with advice and instruction from best-selling authors and instructors like Nancy Kress, Elizabeth Sims, Steven James, Deborah Halverson, James Scott Bell, Donald Maass, Cheryl St. John, and many others. They’ll show you how to:

 

  • Bend the rules to create a specific effect
  • Understand the role of dialogue in reader engagement
  • Use dialect and jargon effectively
  • Give every character a believable, unique voice
  • Set the pace and tone
  • Reveal specific character background details
  • Generate tension and suspense
  • Utilize internal dialogue

Whether you’re writing flash fiction, a short story, or a novel-length manuscript, Crafting Dynamic Dialogue will help you develop, write, and refine dialogue to keep your readers hooked.

 

My Thoughts

 

I like how many of the authors who contribute to this book provide excerpts from published works to emphasize certain points about dialogue. Some of the novels and stories referenced I haven’t read at all, and others I haven’t read in years. Some contributors suggest exercises, one of which, in part, inspired last Thursday’s six-sentence story post.

Although some of the advice is conflicting, it’s still advice you can take or leave. I hope to use some of these authors’ techniques in my own writing. I’m a firm believer in showing and not telling. If you want to learn how to write effective dialog that shows your reader your story, this book is for you.

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By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Image contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

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Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website

 

 

Twenty-Six Letters #Open Book Blog Hop #Wednesday Words

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. This week’s prompt is: “It never fails to amaze me that ALL the books ever written are made up of just twenty six letters.”

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Actually, this doesn’t surprise me, especially since there are only twenty-six letters in the alphabet, a fact for which I was grateful when I was growing up. Because of my visual impairment, I learned Braille before being taught to read and write print. In Braille, a dot or series of dots stands for a letter or word. Some words like “and,” “the,” and “of” have their own symbols. Since Braille dots take up more room than print letters, contracting such words saves space. The down side is that after learning all the letters of the alphabet, you need to learn all the contractions. But the benefits of using Braille, for people like me, outweigh the inconvenience of learning a bunch of new symbols.

I started learning to type when I was in the eighth grade and discovered, to my dismay, that I now had to write out such words as “for” and “like” instead of using their contractions. By this time, I was in a public school, and it was important that I provide assignments to teachers who couldn’t read Braille without relying on my mother to transcribe them into print after I wrote them in Braille. So, I adjusted. Now, I write with both a Braille and standard computer keyboard and utilize all twenty-six letters of the alphabet.

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By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Image contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

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Books  

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook  

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A Story of Love, Heartbreak, and Everything in Between #Friday Fun Reads

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Better Luck Next Time: A Novel

by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Copyright 2021

 

What Amazon Says

 

“Do you want to read something funny? Let’s say, a novel set at a divorce ranch in Reno in the 1930s? A book with memorably eccentric characters, sparkling dialogue, a satisfying plot twist, and some romance and sex?  A feel-good literary comedy/western? Here it is, then, the book you’ve been looking for: Julia Claiborne Johnson’s Better Luck Next Time.”—Julie Schumacher, author of Dear Committee Members and The Shakespeare Requirement

The eagerly anticipated second novel from the bestselling author of Be Frank with Me, a charming story of endings, new beginnings, and the complexities and complications of friendship and love, set in late 1930s Reno.

It’s 1938 and women seeking a quick, no-questions split from their husbands head to the “divorce capital of the world,” Reno, Nevada. There’s one catch: they have to wait six-weeks to become “residents.” Many of these wealthy, soon-to-be divorcees flock to the Flying Leap, a dude ranch that caters to their every need.

Twenty-four-year-old Ward spent one year at Yale before his family lost everything in the Great Depression; now he’s earning an honest living as a ranch hand at the Flying Leap. Admired for his dashing good looks—“Cary Grant in cowboy boots”—Ward thinks he’s got the Flying Leap’s clients all figured out. But two new guests are about to upend everything he thinks he knows: Nina, a St Louis heiress and amateur pilot back for her third divorce, and Emily, whose bravest moment in life was leaving her cheating husband back in San Francisco and driving herself to Reno.

A novel about divorce, marriage, and everything that comes in between (money, class, ambition, and opportunity), Better Luck Next Time is a hilarious yet poignant examination of the ways friendship can save us, love can destroy us, and the family we create can be stronger than the family we come from.

 

My Thoughts

 

I like how the author tells the story from Ward’s first-person point of view. It’s as if you’re visiting him fifty years later, and he’s telling you his story. Some of it is funny, and some of it isn’t. This book offers a variety of life lessons on not just marriage and divorce. The ending will surprise and move you.

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By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Image contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website