Thursday, August 30, 2012

Got Fun?

Do you ever engage in word play? Or is writing strictly business all the time?

I'm a fan of playing with words - really playing, not just the everyday stuff.


I believe word-ly fun stretches skills. Word games, activities, writing prompts, freewriting, you name it, they engage our mind and offer fresh angles and inspiration.

A few of my favorites...


Bricolage means "odd jobs" in French, and for this activity is interpreted as using what's on hand. Set the timer for 2 minutes (or more or less) and take a common item, such as a marble, bobby pin, paper clip, or raindrop and consider how it could be used to improvise.

Can the bobby pin open a padlock and help someone escape? Would the marble offer entertainment to an ailing child? Might the paper clip be rigged to repair a faulty engine, one that's needed to rescue lost travelers? One raindrop might be the catalyst that ended a drought.

You never know where Bricolage might take you, whether in problem solving or a "fly on the wall" type narrative.

Board games like Taboo and Balderdash

These games require creativity and interaction with others, sure to help you think fast on your feet. Anyone remember Password? Taboo is similar, making you skirt around certain words while making your partner guess the correct one. Balderdash's options offer tale spinning opportunities, just the thing to trigger the imagination.

Hemingway's Challenge

Hemingway was asked to write a six word story. His story?

For sale, baby shoes. Never used. 

How's that for practicing word economy? 

For more fun with words, check out Jean Fischer's recent post at Something to Write Home About.
There's a great assortment of links and ideas sure to suit any writer. Thanks Jean, your timing is impeccable! :)

What are your favorite ways to play with words? Have any Labor Day weekend plans?

Have a great weekend,

Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Monday, August 27, 2012

Word Painting

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.

Edgar Degas

Whether we write flowery prose or poetry,

novels, client copy, articles, blog posts,

or all of the above,

I believe we paint pictures.

We "make others see"

whether we feel our words are art-worthy

or not.

Indeed. We create.

Stirring the reader's mind

through thoughts and images.

Placed there with our paintbrush.

What work of art are you creating this week?

Happy writing,


Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Monday, August 13, 2012

News and Notes

Happy Monday! 

Hope you had a good weekend. The weather was lovely here in north central Kentucky. It was breezy with highs in the 70's, a fall preview, I'm thinking.

It's been a toasty summer, so the reprieve was welcome. How has the weather been in your neck of the woods?

Here are a few announcements to start the week:

Congratulations to Rhonda Schrock, winner of The Gifted by Ann Gabhart!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to see Ann last week. It was a fun interview; Ann discussed the book cover process, among other things, so if you missed it, click here for details.

Before I knew Rhonda Schrock won the giveaway, I was going to mention that she has her spiffy new website up and running. It's very nice, and I am excited as she takes this next step in her writing journey. She's relocated her blog there too, so if you enjoy her witty and insightful posts, hop on over!  Click here to check it out. 

Got a short story? Writer's Digest Popular Fiction Awards is accepting entries. Grand Prize is $2500 and a trip to the WD conference in New York City. Deadline is September 14, 2012. Visit their site for details.

Don't forget, September brings more goodies here at Write Now, including a visit with authors Cathy Gohlke, Sarah Sundin, and Alex Cavanaugh. Lots happening through the fall - giveaways, guest posts, interviews, and more. Hope you can join me! :)

I've several projects that are calling my name so I am taking a blog break. See you on August 27.

What's on your plate for the balance of the month?

Happy writing,

Photo Credit: Zinnias in Karen Lange's garden taken with her super cheesy little digital camera. She's hoping to get a non super cheesy camera soon. :)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Guest Post - Is History Boring?

Author Michelle Isenhoff has several books for children and young adults to her credit. She's stopping by today to share her experience and wisdom in this wonderful guest post.

Michelle says,

"I write for kids.  In my books, you can expect adventure and substance, but I'll always respect the innocence of our children."  

I like that! I remember how challenging it could be to find good books for my kids when they were young. Michelle is currently conducting a blog tour for her latest book, Beneath the Slashings. It is specially priced at .99 for the month of August. (See links below.)

Windows to the Past

“History is boring.”

Oh, those words make me cringe! Especially when I hear kids say them. You see, I’m a teacher at heart. I haven’t taught in an official capacity, outside of homeschooling my own children, for a decade now, but that teacher in me never seems to go away. I’m stuck with it.

Maybe it’s the teacher, maybe it’s the writer, but I love traveling to historical sites. They are hotbeds for imagination. The individuals who once lived in those places call out to me, begging me to set them on paper, and that little story generator in my brain goes crazy. Often I’ll immerse myself completely in a place or an event so I can gather a real sense of what it was like, what people may have experienced or felt. I want kids to experience that sense of wonder!

This is how I came to write my very first novel, The Color of Freedom. My husband and I took a vacation to Boston, Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts. I saw where the American Revolution began—I felt it—and I set that experience down in the story of Meadow MacKenna, a young indentured servant from Ireland who found herself caught in the tensions that tore the colonies apart. Meadow’s story is compelling in itself, but as a teacher and history buff, I love that it gives kids a window into the past. They get to experience history, though they hardly realize they’re learning.

A similar thing happened as I researched a vacation to Gettysburg. I came across a man by the name of Seymour Finney who owned a hotel in Detroit and manned a station on the Underground Railroad. While slave hunters were checked into his hotel, he escorted runaways to freedom. That story fueled my book The Candle Star. But one story began to feel rather narrow, so I expanded it to three, choosing to follow one state though the entire Civil War decade. The Divided Decade Trilogy was born.

I choose Michigan because it is my home state as well as Mr. Finney’s. It turned out to be an ideal setting. Though never the site of a battle, Michigan was an important participant in the events surrounding the war. Strongly pro-abolition, several of her counties were active in the Underground Railroad, with seven documented routes to freedom and two hundred safe houses (The Candle Star, book one). The Michigan home front was also vital to the war effort, supplying food, materials and men for the northern Cause. But unmanned farms created challenges all their own, and unscrupulous characters were ever ready to take advantage (Broken Ladders, book two). And after the war, families were left broken, and America needed to rebuild. The lumber camps of Michigan’s vast wilderness lured many who were looking for a new start (Beneath the Slashings, book three).

By creating three engaging adventures featuring three twelve-year-old girls, I was able to surround this period of history. The setting moves from city to farm to wilderness, viewing the war from different angles, immersing readers in different years, different challenges, different viewpoints. My goal, as always, is to create high-quality literature that provides an entertaining reading experience for children. I want to tell a great story. My hidden hope, however, is that my readers—young and old—might glean a little insight along the way.

I’ve just finished the final book of the trilogy, Beneath the Slashings. Within, young Grace is carted off to a lumber camp as soon as her father returns from the army. It’s frightening enough being the only girl in a camp full of men, but then a series of “accidents” prove intentional. Grace wants only to put the war behind her, but the camp doesn’t seem at all the sort of place where her family can heal.


Michelle Isenhoff is an elementary teacher and the author of several middle grade and young adult novels. Ever the teacher, she also likes to make classroom materials available to accompany her novels. They can be found on her blog

Stop by and see Michelle at her website, blog, on Facebook, or Twitter. She'd love to see you!

For more info or to purchase Beneath the Slashings, click on the following links:

Do you have any questions for Michelle? When you were in school, did you think history was boring? 

Have a great weekend,

P.S. Ann Gabhart's book giveaway ends tomorrow at midnight. Click here for details.

Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Visit With Author Ann Gabhart

I first read one of Ann Gabhart's books when I lived in New Jersey. I thought it interesting that Ann lived in Kentucky, not far from where a good friend lives. Little did I realize that I would soon move to Kentucky, and have the privilege of meeting this talented author. She is one sharp and gracious lady!

Ann is here to share a bit of writerly wisdom. She's also offered a giveaway of her newest book, The GiftedCheck out the details following the interview.

Karen: Welcome back Ann. Congratulations on your newest book!

Ann: Thank you, Karen. It is always exciting to have a new book out for readers.

Was there any special inspiration for your main character, Jessamine Brady?

Ann: The Gifted is my fifth Shaker novel. I never intended to write that many Shaker books, but then I kept heading down new story trails at my Harmony Hill Shaker village. And with each new book, I wanted to avoid cookie cutter characters and try to make my main female character come to life in her own unique way. So the question for Shaker book number five was what girl could I find in my imagination who would be different enough. And I found Jessamine with her joyful spirit and curiosity bubbling out of her every pore. Not someone who was going to fit in easily with the rule oriented Shakers. My first “what if” question that led to the plot of this story was “What if we have a girl who so struggles with conforming to the rules that the elders and leaders are always asking, what are we going to do with Sister Jessamine?” Echoes of The Sound of Music there, but that question and that thought was my first step down the story trail and my first peek at my new character, Jessamine.

Do you like her name? She started out as Isabella, but she wasn’t springing to life in my imagination even though I was walking her through the story. She didn’t know who in the world I was talking about since I hadn’t figured out her name. Once we had that little issue resolved, Jessamine did wonderfully as she spins with joy through her story. She doesn’t say her name to rhyme with cinnamon. She says Jessamine with the last syllable accented and having a long ‘i’ sound.

There’s a flower in South Carolina called yellow jessamine. That’s where she got her name – in a beautiful garden with the sweet odor of yellow jessamine in the air.

Karen: I do like her name, and love where your inspiration came from. I really like the cover, too. How involved are you in the cover process for your books?

Ann: Don’t you just love seeing the new covers that authors post on their FB pages, etc.? I try to wait until close to time for the book to actually be published before I start talking a lot about the cover or the story since my agent advises not wearing the book out before anybody can read it. The cover has to be ready to go months in advance so information about the book can be included in sales catalogs going out to buyers for bookstores, but my agent thinks that if you have the cover out on all your media sites, people will not notice it as a new book when it does finally hit the store shelves. I don’t doubt her wisdom about that, but at the same time, it’s hard to sit on a new cover design. You’re just so excited to have a new book and to see what the art department has come up with to try to entice readers to pick up the book.

But that’s not what you asked me, is it? Every publisher may work differently in regard to the covers. I don’t remember having any input at all on my first two books published in 1978 and 1980 by Warner Books. For some of my young adult books, I had to fill out title questionnaires and include suggestions of three scenes that might make a good cover. I hated trying to come up with those scenes that they never used anyway. LOL.

I fill out cover and titling questionnaires for the books published by Revell Books too. I have to tell what my characters look like and sometimes have to pick out an actress or actor I think could play the part if the book was made into a movie. I’m terrible at that since I rarely watch t.v. or movies anymore and even when I do, I never remember the actors’ names. So, I end up googling “blonde, blue-eyed actresses” or “dark-haired, handsome actors.” The first time I did that I was amazed at the number of photos that popped right up. Then I’d pick a person and hope that actor or actress hadn’t starred in some horrible film that colored the way people thought of him or her, because I was usually clueless as to who they were. All I knew is that they were famous enough to come up on Google and they looked the way I imagined my characters looked.

On the questionnaire, I briefly describe what my main characters look like (along with the visual movie star’s photo) and then have to say what they might be wearing. I’m not so hot at that either, because I don’t spend a lot of time dressing my characters. I just expect readers to know they have clothes on. Of course, with the Shaker books, the Shakers wore similar clothes and so I can come up with the right answer for those books easily enough.

The art department then decides on a background they think fits the book, hires models who look like my characters, and makes it all work. Revell Books does a great job with the covers and have often really captured the exact right look for the models. Angel Sister is probably my favorite cover just because they did pick Lorena right out of that book and then caught the perfect expression on her face as she looks up at her “angel sister.” But my Shaker heroines have been well cast too. Gabrielle on The Outsider couldn’t have been any more perfect. Jessamine on The Gifted cover is right too. You can see that “I want to embrace the world and fall in love” look on her face.

I am sent proofs of the covers for approval and I can suggest changes if anything looks wrong to me. For example, I got them to “paint” the fence on the cover of The Outsider, because I told them the Shakers would not have had a fence with peeling paint.

Karen: Wow, I had no idea it was such a process, but it makes sense. I think all your covers fit your books. Now that this book is out and about, I know you are working on another. Are you able to give us a peek at the next one?

Ann: I’m always ready to pull back the curtain to reveal what’s coming in my writing world. Next up to be published is a re-package of my first inspirational novel, Scent of Lilacs. It will be out next March with a new cover and I’m hoping new readers will discover Hollyhill and fall in love with Jocie and her family and friends.

I just finished a new Rosey Corner book, Small Town Girl. Five years have passed since the story in Angel Sister. Now it’s 1941. Kate and her sisters are ready to find love while the storm clouds of war gather on America’s horizon. Small Town Girl should be out in the summer of 2013.

On the new writing front, I’m beginning a Shaker Christmas book. I’m doing the “what if” questions now and beginning to see some possibilities glimmering ahead on the story path. That too is scheduled for release in 2013 – if I get it written.

Karen: I am sure you will! Looking forward to all your stories. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing with us. It is always a pleasure. :)

Ann: Thanks so much for inviting me over again, Karen. You always ask interesting questions. So let me ask you and your readers some questions. What catches your interest on a book cover? Do you like photographs or paintings best on the covers? Have you ever bought a book just because the cover caught your eye in a store or on-line?

If you'd like more info on The Gifted, click here. Be sure and stop by Ann's blog, website, or Facebook page. She'd love to see you!

My Review

Jessamine Brady tries to be a good Shaker. She really does, but she often misses the mark, as questions constantly tug at her. Obedience among believers at Harmony Hill is expected, and curiosity, particularly about the outside world, is discouraged. There are, after all, many dangers in 1849 to pull believers from the right path. Yet Jessamine aches for a glimpse of the forbidden life. Unable to quell her interest, she stretches for a peek, thinking it might satisfy her restless heart.

Tristan Cooper cannot remember his name, or why someone shot him in the woods near Harmony Hill. He does recall, however, the beautiful young woman who came to his rescue. While recovering at the Village, his memory returns, but he wrestles with a decision. Should he stay sequestered among the Shakers, or return to society and fulfill family responsibilities?

Jessamine’s and Tristan’s worlds collide in an unlikely way; neither can forget their encounter. Jessamine has nowhere else to go, and has resigned to a life with the believers. Tristan longs for a purpose of his own, but is obligated to his widowed mother. Both go through the motions of accepting the life set before them. Will they continue on the paths others have chosen for them? Or will they step out onto another?

Ann Gabhart stirs a strong combination of personalities in her latest Shaker adventure. The Gifted transports readers to a different world, one where secrets and surprises await. Jessamine’s rocky journey to find her purpose tests her limits and shows her who she really is.

This engaging story will entertain, challenge, and perhaps even pull at your heartstrings. I love historical fiction, and in my opinion, Ann has it down pat. Her books deliver every time.

Giveaway Details   
  • You must be a follower and leave your email address with your comment. 
  • Gain bonus entries (+1 each) by posting this on Facebook, your blog, and/or Twitter. Please total your entries and include link with your comment where applicable.
  • Open to residents of the United States.
  • Deadline to enter is midnight EST Friday August 10, 2012. Winner will be notified via email and will have 36 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. Winner will be announced Monday, August 13, 2012.

Since Ann's tipped the microphone our way, how would you answer her questions? Here they are again:

  • What catches your interest on a book cover?   
  • Do you like photographs or paintings best on the covers? 
  • Have you ever bought a book just because the cover caught your eye in a store or on-line?

Happy reading and writing,

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thursday's This and That

Can't get to a writing conference this year? How about creating a mini one at home? Jean Fischer put together video links for writers at her blog, Something to Write Home About. There are clips for every writer, I'm thinking, so you might want to check it out. Thanks, Jean!

Need fiction help? Jeff Gerke shares 4 Ways to Improve Plot/Climax in Your Writing in this article at the Writer's Digest site. While there, you might want to check out their article archives and other resources.

Looking for ways to expand your horizons? Don't forget that the Coffeehouse for Writers has ongoing classes with topics like historical fiction, blogging, creating characters, and more. If you want a refresher, I invite you to join my class, Basic Boot Camp for Writers, where we discuss grammar and use short writing exercises to stretch and improve. Click here for Coffeehouse details.

How right is your writing? Terry Whalin's Right Writing News offers writing tips, author interviews, products and other treasures. RWN features articles by Whalin, Kelly James Enger, Sandra Beckwith, James Scott Bell, and others. For a free online subscription, click here.

Heard the buzz about the V.I.P. Club? Veteran freelance writer Jennifer Brown Banks of Pen & Prosper started the Club to help writers learn and earn. Jen shares insider info, high paying markets, techniques and tips, along with personalized attention so writers can earn more money with fewer detours on the road to success. Cost for one month is $7.00, three months is $21.00. Contact Jennifer at

Not sure what the difference between hale and hail is? Grammar Girl knows and shares the answer in this post.  GG also tackles Couldn't care less versus Could care less and other tricky grammar stuff. If you haven't been there lately, you might want to check it out.

Do you write for children? Young adults? Then WriteOnCon is for you. It's a free interactive online conference featuring live event forums. Speakers include agents and authors; preregistration is required. Hurry, 2012 dates are August 13 through August 15. Click here for details.

Congratulations to Brenda Hill (misskallie2000)! She's the winner of Keli Gwyn's book, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California. Thanks to all who stopped by to say hello to Keli. :)

Find any good resources lately? What are you doing this weekend?

Have a great weekend,

Photo credit: Stock Exchange