Keeping it Short #MondayMusings #OpenBookBlogHop #Inspiration

Abbie wears a blue and white V-neck top with different shades of blue from sky to navy that swirl together with the white. She has short, brown hair and rosy cheeks and smiles at the camera against a black background.

Photo Courtesy of Tess Anderson Photography

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Two Pentacles Publishing.

 

Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. Today’s question is: “Do you ever write short stories? What do you see as the biggest difference in the writing process between a short story and a full-length book?”

As a matter of fact, I’ve written a lot of short stories and am putting some into a collection I’m calling Living Vicariously in Wyoming. These stories are set mostly in Wyoming. The idea behind the title is this. When you read a short story or novel, no matter the setting, you’re living vicariously through those characters.

In a short story, unlike in a novel, there’s little room for character or plot development. You can’t take time to provide a lot of background information about characters. The reader only needs to know enough about the character that is relevant to the story. A short story’s plot can’t be too long and drawn out.

For some, writing a short story can be a challenge. But for others like me, who have an idea that doesn’t work as a novel, the short story form is perfect. In fact, a couple of my short stories started out as novel ideas but had to be downsized because there wasn’t enough of a plot. On the other hand, my first novel, We Shall Overcome, started out as a short story. But I realized there was more to it. To each, one’s own, and whatever floats one’s boat.

How about you authors out there? Do you write short stories, and what do you think is the biggest difference between writing a short story and writing a novel? You can click here to participate in this week’s hop and read other bloggers’ responses.

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If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to my email list to receive my twice-yearly newsletter and other announcements. This is a one-way announcements list, meaning the only messages you’ll receive will come from me. So, you can rest assured that this list is low-traffic. Send a blank email to:  newsfrommycorner+subscribe@groups.io  You’ll receive a confirmation email. Reply to that with another blank message, and you should be good to go.

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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.

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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All About Marti #MondayMusings #OpenBookBlogHop #Excerpts

Abbie wears a blue and white V-neck top with different shades of blue from sky to navy that swirl together with the white. She has short, brown hair and rosy cheeks and smiles at the camera against a black background.

Photo Courtesy of Tess Anderson Photography

 

 

Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. This week’s question is: “How do you avoid giving readers TMI (too much information) about a character? How do you decide what to share about a story’s characters?”

With some characters, especially main ones, you can’t give too much information. The reader needs to know as much as possible about the character in order to understand her throughout the book. Let’s take, for example, Marti from Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me. In Chapter 2, told from her first-person point of view, she tells us about herself in the hope we can understand why she does what she does. Here she is now.

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I loved my parents but hated the name they gave me: Martha Louise Sherman. It sounded so stuffy, and my friends agreed.

Growing up in Sheridan, Wyoming, I was an only child.

When I was in high school, I changed my name to Marti after being cast in a school production of Grease as a girl by that name. The drama teacher pointed out that it was a shortened version of Martha. So I decided to use it in real life as well.

Dad and my teachers and friends went along, but Mom did not, of course. She claimed that I’d been named for my great–grandmother Martha, and it would be disloyal to shorten it. I let it go, having already learned to pick my battles.

During my freshman year in high school, I fell in love with literature. My English teacher had us read such books as I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, Black Like Me, and The Grapes of Wrath. These books fascinated me. When I was a senior, I decided I wanted to be a writer—or maybe an actress.

By the time I graduated from high school, I’d received a theater scholarship to the university in Laramie. After a year, convinced by my parents that writing and acting weren’t lucrative careers, I changed my major to English and got a master’s degree.

During my last year there, I met and fell in love with my husband, Daryl Vincent. At least I thought I was in love with him at first.

He was in his last year of law school and was also an only child. His parents lived in Laramie, but after we graduated, he found a position with a firm in Sheridan, as luck would have it. So after we were married, we moved back to my hometown, where I found a teaching position in the English department at Sheridan College, resigned to a life in academia.

At first, I had plenty of time to write. For a while, before funding ran out, the college produced an annual literary journal. I was in charge of editing that, and some of my stories and poems were published there. I even had ideas for a novel.

After the girls were born, I didn’t have nearly as much time to write. I kept telling myself that once the girls were in school, things would change, but they didn’t. Maybe when the girls were in college, or maybe when I retired…

When our younger daughter, Sarah, was six, Dad died of a sudden heart attack. A few years later, I had to move Mom to a nursing home because of her dementia. I thought it was important for our daughters to continue their relationship with their grandmother. I wondered if this was such a good idea after Mom stopped recognizing Natalie. But as a parent, I had to be consistent, right?

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What about you authors out there? How do you keep from providing too much information about your characters? You can click here to participate in this week’s hop and read other bloggers’ responses. By the way, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me can be downloaded free from Smashwords this month. See below for details.

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If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to my email list to receive my twice-yearly newsletter and other announcements. This is a one-way announcements list, meaning the only messages you’ll receive from this list will come only from me. So, you can rest assured that this list is low-traffic. Send a blank email to:  newsfrommycorner+subscribe@groups.io  You’ll receive a confirmation email. Reply to that with another blank message, and you should be good to go.

***

And now, I’m pleased to announce that until the end of the month, all my books on Smashwords can be downloaded ABSOLUTELY FREE as part of the Smashwords  summer/winter sale. You can visit my Smashwords author page here to download these books. Happy reading!

 

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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From Wyoming to California #Open Book Blog Hop

This week’s question from blogger Stevie Turner is this. What elements of your life have you woven into your latest book? In The Red Dress, one of my characters, Jon, grew up in Wyoming but lives in California, where he does sound effects for movies. He’s based on my uncle, who has the same name, background, and occupation.

The following scene was inspired by a time when my late husband Bill and I visited my uncle and aunt in Valley Village. Here, Eve, my main character, gets to know Jon a little more.

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In the kitchen, she found Jon at the stove. Ashley and Brenda were sitting at a nearby table,  eating.

“Hi, Mom,” said Ashley.

Jon turned from the stove. With a broad smile and a Southern drawl, he said, “How about some  fresh–squoze orange juice? I done squoze it myself.”

Eve laughed and said, “I didn’t know you were from the South.”

“I’m actually from Wyoming,” he said, reaching for a pitcher on a nearby counter. “I got bitten by  the film bug and ended up here.”

“And he’s tired of just doing sound effects for movies,” said Brenda. “He wants to get cast in a  new production of Gone with the Wind.”

“Now, you hush up, girl,” said Jon, again in his Southern accent.

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Who is Brenda, and what is Eve doing in California? Read The Red Dress and find out.

By the way, from now until July 31st, you can download My Ideal Partner and The Red Dress absolutely free from Smashwords as part of its annual summer/winter sale. Click here to visit my Smashwords author page.

Also, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. Thank you for reading. Stay safe, happy, and healthy, and may you always have positive experiences.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover 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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Organizing Characters and Plots #Writing

When I write short stories or novels, I’m what’s called a pantser. I don’t do outlines. I make up the story as I go along. I don’t worry too much about character traits until I’ve finished the story and am ready to edit.

I submit chapters of my work to a weekly critique group. When other participants make suggestions about my characters and plot that I like, I make a note of them at the beginning of the chapter. That way, when I go back and edit, I know what needs to be done in that chapter.

When I’m ready to publish a book, I try to find a cover that matches my main character. With The Red Dress, I had to do it a little differently as far as the cover was concerned. Originally, my main character, Eve, had blond hair. But when Leonore Dvorkin, my editor at DLD Books, found a picture of a lovely young woman with black hair, I decided to change Eve’s hair from blond to black.

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I believe my cover got more rave reviews than the book itself. By the way, The Red Dress, along with My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, are available this week absolutely free as part of Smashwords Read an eBook Week sale. Click here to download the books.

How about you writers out there? Do you outline your stories ahead of time, or do you fly by the seat of your pants? Thanks to Stevie Turner for inspiring this, and thanks to you, of course, for reading.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover 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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My Amazon Author Page

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WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.