Writing Your Roots

By Suzanne Williams

Familiar writing advice says to “write what you know.” I have taken this to heart.

Growing up in the same county in Central Florida as my parents and grandparents gives me roots here. It helps too that my grandmother was a history buff. She could rattle off who married who for ten generations in the family tree. So I grew up knowing how interconnected my life was to the past, to the people who struggled for a living here, to parents and children in old photographs she’d saved.

This photo is my favorite. It is a perfect depiction of how things were and where I come from. It is the land, the families that survived it, and the children who’d grow up on it.

 

the combee gang 640

 

If you’d have met my grandparents, you’d understand. Never were there two more kind, gentle people. He was a farmer, growing corn, beans, tomatoes, and any number of other vegetables, and toting them to market on weekends. My grandmother could cook you up a meal like you wouldn’t believe, most of which came straight from the garden.

All of that, I have applied to my writing, most often in the form of dialogue, but also in descriptions of the more rural areas around me, in the wildlife – the birds and reptiles particular to this area – and in the history, what happened in the late 19th century, how towns grew here or failed.

In the example below, an excerpt from my upcoming novel Love & Redemption (out March 1st), a girl named Anne Sawyer has gone for a swim at a natural spring.

“Lowering herself into the water’s clasp, she emptied her mind of the day’s troubles. This was her special place. Here, life was different, better. Here, her papa’s anger faded in light of the beauty around her. Her golden hair spread out in a fan, and tiny fish dancing on the water’s surface tickled her skin. Extending her fingers one by one, she watched their silver tails flicker in and out.”

 “A bird called, and her gaze went upward to its angular shape traced against the white sky. Wings held aloft, head crooked sideways, the bird absorbed the sun in muddied feathers.”

 “Her body cooled in the icy water, and she flared her palms upward, counting the ridges in her fingertips. Ducking her head below the surface, she swam into the spring’s depths. White sand and wavering grasses spiraled downward, ceasing only at the great crack split in the earth. Here, bubbles leaked from her nostrils, and she dug her fingers into the soil, delighting in the rush of water flitting over her flesh.”

All of that comes from who I am, from my roots here, otherwise I couldn’t write it.

But this thing within me, this Southern side of me, also emerges in my dialogue sequences. I write in dialect a lot. Love it, in fact, despite how it bothers some people. More than once, I have been told it is passé, that I should write with “good grammar.” However, speaking like that, in long Southern tones is what I know. It’s what I hear around me. It’s the voices of my past speaking in my ear.

In another scene from Love & Redemption, the main character, Michael O’Fallen, an Irish boy from New York, is fighting against a wicked man named Ferguson, who holds his life in the balance. Notice the use of dialect to give the character flavor.

“Ferguson yanked his horse around, and the group of men followed. Pausing briefly, he glanced at the house. The girl’s father lay unmoving on the earth.”

 “‘Pleasure doin’ business with you again, Milton,’ he laughed. He gazed at Michael, and his eyes glittered.

 “‘What’s this about?’ Michael asked. ‘And what do I have to do with it?’ His horse paced sideways, and the girl slid in the saddle. With a yelp, she reached out for his arm. He wrapped a hand around her waist to steady her. ‘You gonna tell me or not? I’ve kept quiet ‘til now. I never signed up for this.’”

 “Ferguson’s voice emerged a low growl. ‘You signed up to save yourself, and ye’ll do as you’re told. This here’s your wife, and we’re about to have us a weddin’.’”

Now, dialect comes in a million forms. Just as Ferguson is southern, Michael’s Irish roots come out in the story. For this, I had to do extensive research into Irish Gaelic. I also have segments where he’s remembering his mother talk. I used dialect to indicate her strong Irish roots. In another book I read recently, the characters were from Maine. The author did a fabulous job of writing dialogue to indicate their pattern of speech. It was as if I could hear them in my ear.

And that is precisely my point. As authors, we all individually have a background to share. Whether you’re from the West, the South, or the North, whether you grew up on the plains, the Rocky Mountains, or in the big city, you have something of you to include on the page. Don’t be afraid of the rules so much you fail to share it.

Because in the end, reading is traveling places in your mind that you’d never go, to eras you didn’t live in, with people you’d have loved to meet, and taking the reader to there is for an author the greatest sign of success. If my books never receive rave reviews but one person says it took them here, for me that’s the greatest pleasure of all.

 

Suzanne-900Suzanne D. Williams is a native Floridian, wife, mother, photographer, and writer. She is Crossreads author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She writes a monthly column for Steves-Digicams.com on the subject of digital photography, as well as devotionals and instructional articles for various blogs. She also does graphic design for self-publishing authors.

 

To learn more about what she’s doing visit http://suzanne-williams-photography.blogspot.com/ or link with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/suzannedwilliamsauthor.

Love & Redemption

(The Florida Irish #1)

 

Take a trip into the past and fall in love with an Irishman.LAR-FRONT

 

Released March 1st

 

Michael O’Fallen simply wants to survive. A poor Irish boy living in post-Civil War New York, the events of one horrible night send him running­–far south to unsettled Florida and an unplanned marriage with a girl he doesn’t know.

Now, he must protect her from the lust and greed of evil men and figure out how to make their escape. Will the dangers and perils they face tear their marriage apart? Or will he finally find true Love & Redemption?

 

 

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Christmas Angel

By Suzanne Williams

I wrote Christmas Angel with three things in mind: a Christmas-time murder mystery, a historical fiction story set in my home state of Florida, and a light romance between two young people. I also had the main character, Angel Taylor, pictured in my head – a tomboy with no idea of her femininity and yet a certain charm for a boy named Elias Harper.

Raised in an all-male household, the loss of Angel’s mother at a young age caused her to form certain opinions of love and life. She’s decided what she will and won’t do. Yet faced with her attraction for Elias Harper, she has no idea how to behave and no one to ask for help. On top of that, she is plunged into the midst of a town tragedy and given responsibilities she wasn’t expecting – ever. Yet she’s learned something of herself growing up, that she has an inner strength that will see her through it.

Christmas Angel was originally slated to be part of a compilation book of Christmas mystery stories. This led to its length and word count range. However, the book idea fell apart, so I found myself with a great little story that I really liked and thought people would enjoy. I have found my niche in writing historical-fiction/romance stories. I think setting them in Florida, a spot I love and know so much about, gives them something different from what else is out there, and I hope readers will like my style of writing well enough to check out my other work, especially the books I have coming out in 2013.

BLURB:

Angel Taylor had her life all figured out until her best friend shoved Elias Harper off on her. What’s she need with a boy anyway? But Marta said he liked to dance and somehow that was appealing. However, something strange is happening in town and this right before Christmas. Is Elias involved? What is the secret he keeps from her? And what should she do when her life changes for good?

EXCERPT:

I admit Elias was exactly how Marta described him, and standing there for a moment, I forgot how to speak. His dark hair framed a square jaw with tiny whiskers sprouting on his chin. Yet it was his scowl, which awakened me from my daze.

She berated me for ten solid minutes before I got a word in. “Take a breath, Marta,” I fussed, and I slung the turkey onto the table in the barn. “I get it.”

She covered her eyes at sight of the turkey’s broken neck. “I don’t know how you can do that!”

I shrugged. “Man’s gotta eat.”

“But surely, your brothers could dress it.”

I gazed at her face, and Elias caught my eye. I puzzled at his expression. If he wasn’t totally repelled by now, he soon would be. I went back to my work on the turkey.

“They could, but they won’t. I caught it, so I have to clean it. Rule of the hunter.”

“Rule of the hunter, my eye.” Marta plopped onto a bale of hay, leaving Elias standing awkwardly before me.

I offered him the knife. “You wanna cut or shall I?”

A boyish grin lifted on his lips. “Never had a girl offer me a knife before.” He stared at the handle.

I extended the knife further. “I guess I’m not your ordinary girl. My apologies for being late.”

He took the handle, running his thumb over the smooth wood, and gave a curt nod towards the turkey. “You really shoot that?”

“Oh, she shot it.”

Our heads swiveled toward the doorway where Brian stood. “Sis is a crack shot,” he remarked.

“She’ll split your hair in half at one hundred paces.”

I raised the rifle to my shoulder and aimed just past his head. He didn’t flinch. With a laugh, I lowered it. “What do you want anyway?” I went back to plucking the turkey.

“Papa says to clean up. He’ll do the turkey.”

I wrinkled my brow. Clean up? He’d given me the day off and generally, he didn’t care what I did with my free time. “Whatever for?” I finally asked. Feathers floated around the room and stuck to my fingers.

“Gloria Pinser’s in labor, and she’s askin’ for you.”

Elias spoke up then. “Don’t tell me you’re a midwife?”

I focused on his face, and a moment passed between us. “My boy,” I said, and I patted his cheek. “There’s a lot you don’t know about me.” With that, I headed for the house.

Christmas Angel

Only 99 cents during December!CHRISTMASANGEL

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A4N7CKO

Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/253416

640-DSC_3916Suzanne D. Williams is a native Floridian, wife, mother, photographer, and writer. She is author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She writes a monthly column for Steves-Digicams.com on the subject of digital photography, as well as devotionals and instructional articles for various blogs. She also does graphic design for self-publishing authors.

To learn more about what she’s doing visit http://suzanne-williams-photography.blogspot.com/ or link with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/suzannedwilliamsauthor.

Found

By Suzanne Williams

When I set out to write MISSING, it was a basic concept for a single story – that of a soldier missing in action and how his wife would move on. Little did I know how it would blossom into not one story, but three, spanning different generations, and subsequently, into a second book.

War and the effect of war on human beings is a tough subject no matter how you approach it. I thought long and hard on how to write each story, how to best represent the sacrifices of so many, and made my goal for you, the reader, to identify with the characters and in some small way feel like you were there.

I learned a lot through my research; I watched difficult films and had difficult conversations with those who served. I stood at the feet of the Vietnam Memorial Traveling Wall and cried when my father said, “There but for the grace of God am I.” And it has become my goal to never forget.

Yet as much as there were heartbreaking moments, there were joys as well. To represent God’s love on any level – the enduring love of a husband and wife, the love of a father and son, the love of a man for a woman – is a wonderful thing.

I am so excited about the release of FOUND. It represents the culmination of a life-long dream and a stepping stone to more books and more writing.

In celebration of this upcoming holiday season, I’m having a two book giveaway. To receive a print copy of both MISSING and FOUND, leave a comment below with your email address, and I will pick one random winner.

BLURB:

When Molly Sanders answered the phone, she wasn’t prepared for the person on the other end – her husband’s past had come back to haunt them. Yet a tragic accident and the unplanned visit of a boy from France will bring them something unexpected. Forgiveness.

Stephen and Adele Sanders’ never quite overcame the memory of John Davis. When personal tragedy threatens to tear them apart, it will take the divine move of God in a stranger’s life to bring healing.

Tad never fit into society until Beth Sanders loved him. Yet despite their wedded bliss, all is not as it seems. Looking back, Tad tells the tale of the mysterious threats that almost destroyed them, and of love that spans time.

EXCERPT:

(From Steven and Adele, Story #2, FOUND)

August 3, 2010, Hanoi, Vietnam

The Vietnamese marketplace teemed with life. Pressed in on every side, the young American girl sailed down the aisles wide-eyed, soaking in the incredible sights and sounds. She was a long way from home, yet found kindness in the friendly Vietnamese faces smiling at every turn. The sea of humanity sucked her in, and she surged forward.

The market held an impressive array of items: plastic baskets filled with fresh fruit and vegetables, tables of seafood – fish, crabs, and eels – racks of colorful clothing, even crates of live animals. A basket of ducklings peeped vigorously as she passed. Twisting and turning amongst the crowd, her gaze scanned the spectacle, and the crowd propelled her farther.

Her only break from movement came when the snake-like horde of people deposited her in a nook underneath a blue canopy. Here, she sucked in her breath and exhaled in a slow stream. She brushed her hair away from the sides of her face and adjusted the blue cloth ribbon of a conical hat she’d purchased.

An elderly Vietnamese woman extended her hand, a spiked fruit in her palm.

“For me?” the girl asked.

And the old woman smiled widely and nodded.

Lifting the fruit in her hand, the girl admired it, wondering as she had so many times this day what it was and how it tasted.

She reached into her pocket for a few coins, and a flash of light from around the old woman’s neck blinded her. Curious, she leaned forward. What was it? The flash repeated, casting two disc shapes on the ceiling and walls of the tattered canopy.

The girl’s eyes, already large from the day’s encounters, took on a completely new size. “Where did you get that?” she asked, and unthinking, she reached out for it.

But the old woman bowed her head, burying the necklace beneath her blouse.

That won’t do. I must see it.

“No, no. Please,” the girl begged. Her hand grasped the old woman’s shoulder, and at her touch, the woman hesitated.

“Please, I’ll … I’ll buy it.” She scrambled her fingers into her fanny pack, plucking out several crumpled bills.

“Here, take all of it,” she said.

At the sight of so much, the old woman’s face broke into a grin, yet she didn’t act.

***

The old woman stared at the money, her heart in her throat. The necklace meant so much to her for it reminded her of her children, though they were dead many years ago. However, the amount of money in the girl’s fist was a lot, and it would help she and her sister much. They only had each other.

Her hand went to her throat, and she clenched the discs tightly. She would, after all, always have her memories of them. She shut her eyes and heard their laughter again, bubbling in the air. She counted their sweet faces, smiling back at her.

The young American girl’s voice broke into her thoughts. Peeling open her aged fingers, the girl pressed the money into her palm, and instinctively the old woman’s fist curled around it.

She sighed. Perhaps it was time. If the necklace meant this much to her, then so be it. Looping the metal chain over her head, for a second she stared at it and her memories rushed past. Then, crumpling them into a heap, she placed them into the girl’s outstretched fingers.

The Cadence of Dialogue

by Suzanne Williams

There is a commercial on television that instead of playing the standard background music has a poetry reading. My husband and daughter find it annoying, yet for me it holds a certain beauty in its cadence. I like the flow of the words, how they fit into each other, each creating a rhythm perfect for the next. I’ve never been big into poetry, mostly because I don’t understand the meaning of what’s being said, but I can close my eyes when it’s read well and enjoy the pulse of sound.

I have learned to use this same idea when writing. I am a proofreader as well as a writer by trade. It’s my job to find spelling errors, sentence structure problems, and incorrect punctuation. I can read anything and do this without thinking. Yet when I back up from that task and listen to the movement of the words, it often changes what I think is right.

The easiest way to explain this is through writing dialogue. My first task when I approach dialogue is to decide the goal. What is the purpose of the conversation? Next, I ask how each character feels about that goal. Often, the answers create the dialogue on their own. However, when I ultimately start to put it down on the page, I have a semi-systematic method. First, I write the conversation itself, what each character needs to say. Then I return and work on the cadence of it.

Cadence, or pacing, does two things. It allows me to share with the reader the characters’ feelings, and it controls the speed at which the scene is read. This is best seen through an example. The scene below contains two characters, a young Irishman named Michael and his friend Patrick. Michael has taken it upon himself to help Patrick’s love life along, and Patrick wants him to know he doesn’t need his help. This is the final cut.

“You look perky,” Michael laughed. “You toss around all night?”

Patrick pulled a face at him. “Less than you and the child.”

The corners of Michael’s mouth twitched. “I’m sorry about that. I don’t know what got into the little fellow.”

“I suspect he has his father’s lungs.”

Michael waved his hand in defeat. “Touché.”

 

The conversation itself has nothing to do with the ultimate goal, that of Patrick going on a date, yet in it, Patrick wants Michael to know, “You have more responsibilities than I do, and I can handle this.” The cadence of the dialogue comes with the beats between the words. If I leave them out, it reads like this:

“You look perky. You toss around all night?”

“Less than you and the child.”

“I’m sorry about that. I don’t know what got into the little fellow.”

“I suspect he has his father’s lungs.”

“Touché.”

You still see the idea of the exchange, but you lose the rhythm behind it. The words become rushed. In order to slow the scene down, I need to add the beats. Now, I could go with the standard “he said/she said,” but that would lose some of the characters’ personalities.

“You look perky. You toss around all night?” Michael asked.

“Less than you and the child,” Patrick replied.

“I’m sorry about that. I don’t know what got into the little fellow,” Michael said.

“I suspect he has his father’s lungs,” Patrick said.

“Touché.”

Boring, huh? And stilted as well. These two are best friends, but you don’t get a picture for that at all.

When I initially add beats, I often use brackets to fill in for my final choice of words. My biggest reason for doing this is to avoid repeating myself. There are only so many times you can have a character displaying certain behaviors before they become odd. I remember in one book, the character’s eyes changed color a lot. I began to think they were a chameleon.

Well, reworking the example scene and including brackets, it looks like this:

“You look perky,” Michael [did something]. “You toss around all night?”

Patrick [reacts]. “Less than you and the child.”

[Pause here while Michael does something]. “I’m sorry about that. I don’t know what got into the little fellow.”

“I suspect he has his father’s lungs.”

Michael [completes the exchange]. “Touché.”

Notice, I made the brackets the same approximate length as what I wanted the rhythm to be. Now, I don’t always put brackets everywhere like this. Sometimes I know what the character is doing. I knew Michael was laughing. He’s a bit of a tease throughout the story. Patrick is more reserved by nature, so that affects what he will or won’t do. But you get the idea through how I’ve written it. Also, I moved the brackets around. Rather than leaving them all at the end, as in my “he said/she said” example, I broke the thoughts up.

The biggest key to writing dialogue is to picture the scene as if it was happening. By doing this, I can usually figure out how the characters move as they speak, if their hands shift or remain still, if their facial expressions change, and that becomes fodder for the pace of the scene. Yet my ultimate aim is always to move this scene into the next smoothly and thereby forward the characters’ goals.

Reading is about the pulse of sound, and dialogue is only one facet of that pulse. This same technique works with all other forms of writing. I read and re-read everything to see how its rhythm works, and I change words to fit that rhythm. In the end, striving to give the reader a wonderful experience that makes them want to return and read more of my books.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This first book in the Sanders Saga tells the intimate stories of three generations of one family.
Adele Davis’ husband, John, is missing in action. A chance encounter with Stephen Sanders, himself also a Vietnam veteran, brings love back into her life. Yet is it right to start over or does that dishonor John’s memory?
Amos and Elizabeth Sander sent their sixteen-year-old son, Andrew, off to fight the War Between The States. However, he never returned. In their searching, a strange twist of fate will change their lives and the lives of those around them forever.
Molly Pratt has a secret. But then so does Doug Sanders. Will his secret from World War II and her personal tragedy ruin their chance at happiness forever?
This book is dedicated to all who have served and most especially to those who didn’t survive

An Ode to the Hopeless Romantic

By Suzanne Williams

I am becoming a hopeless romantic, and I thought that’d never happen to me. You see, I am the girl who watches all the guy movies, the ones with car chases and explosions, gory battle scenes where heads get lopped off. I’m the one who says, “I love that!” when at the end of the movie the good guy decimates the bad guy entirely.

Chick flick? Puh-lease. You can’t get me to watch them. What’s the purpose of a movie where the entire plot is “Will he get with her or not?” No, I need action. I want to be on the edge of my seat, gripping the couch cushion. Well, to a point. There was this one movie where the good guy just couldn’t get his act together until the last scene. I didn’t care for that so much. But I think you get my point.

Yet here I am a year into writing fiction and I, lover of suspense and action, am writing romance novels. Whodathunkit? It’s funny really because it fell in my lap all at once, and I truthfully didn’t see it coming. I had this idea for a novel with a war theme. I ran it by a friend who said, “Write it.” Trouble was it had a distinctly romance theme, and I didn’t know beans about writing romance. For that matter, I didn’t know beans about writing fiction. Two chapters into the story that became painfully evident.

So I did what I always do when up against a wall, I began to study. Now, there are two forms of study a writer does. The first is reading articles on how to write. I’ve read tons of those and have bookmarked them all for future reference. The second form is reading. Reading is by far one of the most important things any writer can do to learn their craft. And not simply reading the good novels, but also the bad ones. Of course, you don’t know until you begin to read it if it’s good or bad, but it’s in the reading you start to see story structure, plot  lines, and all the nuances of what works or fails more clearly.

One of the worst books I read taught me the most about what not to do. The further into it I got the more I knew what I wanted to avoid in my own writing. Another book I read more recently partially succeeded. It had a great storyline and believable characters. However, the author made some minor mistakes that if corrected would have greatly improved the story. I learned from that book as well. But I think the best thing about reading is when I find a real gem. That’s the book I would never have read except I wanted to know if the author could pull it off.

My most recent gem is “Descended” by Dana Pratola. I’ve never been a paranormal romance fan. There’s something weird about semi-human/supernatural beings falling in love when I still struggle with the “falling in love” part in humans alone. Yet she did something in this novel that I was not expecting. She made me believe. I was sucked in from page one and believed every word she’d written. This despite my brain’s need for facts and truth (I’m a history nut). Somehow through her words, I threw out all my concrete knowledge of life and said, “Yeah, this could happen. I can see it.”

I asked myself afterward why that was. What did she do that other authors had failed to do? And the answer came down to two things. One, she made paranormal romance Christian, clean, and morally right. I didn’t think that was possible. Two, the attraction between the characters was as much physical as it was in their heart. I have a distinct problem with romance novels where “he” is looking for a “wife” as if she’s a vase of flowers.

And while I’m on the subject, I also have a problem with a romance novel where the physical overtakes what’s in the heart. Now, I’m sorry folks, but sex (yes, I said the “s” word) is not the end all in a relationship. As a Christian, love and marriage, commitment and the uniting of two hearts, comes first. There isn’t any other way to write a good romance novel because the physical soon fades away, and then you’re left with what?

I’m enjoying my foray into fiction – loving it, in fact – and I like to think it’s making me a more well-rounded writer because I know now what I like to write about and how I like to write it. I can write it better, and I understand what I’m doing more often than not. I’ve also made great writer friends, met some wonderful, supportive readers, and expanded my bookshelves incredibly. But most of all, I’ve become a hopeless romantic. I see now the value of, “Will he get with her?” And to me that’s worth more than words.

But don’t expect me to give up my action movies.

MISSING. The story of three generations of one family tied together through love, loss, and war.

Adele Davis’ husband, John, went missing in action in Vietnam. Five years later, she meets Stephen Sanders and falls in love. Yet should love again? Or does she dishonor her husband’s memory?

Amos and Elizabeth Sanders’ son, Andrew, left home to fight with the Union Army in the Civil War. But he never returned. A strange series of events returns him to them along with something far greater.

Doug and Molly Sanders both have secrets. What happened to him when he parachuted into France on D-Day? And what happened to her? Will their secrets destroy them both?

Romance and a Cup of Tea

by Suzanne D. Williams

So there I was, Kindle in hand, ready to read, and my thoughts went something like this:

Ah, a romance story. This should be good. Chapter one, enter main male character. Rugged cowboy who used to live here. Gotcha.

I clicked. Next page. Enter female character. Oh, I like her. She has a bit of a past to overcome. That’ll keep it interesting.

Chapter two. Male character stumbles across female character. Chemistry. Yes. I see where this is going.

Chapter three. Wait! He has a past too, and his traumatizes him. Fun. Will he overcome it? Will it drive them apart? (Of course not. It’s a romance novel. They’ll get together.)

Click. Chapter four. Chapter five. Chapter six. Yawn. Wait. I’m bored? What happened? Click. Chapter seven. All is resolved between them.The family thinks he’s great. He’s overcoming his obstacles. I glance down at the percentage meter. Thirty percent? What happens in the rest of this book?

Chapter eight. Stop. Why am I reading from her brother’s point of view?

Chapter nine. I don’t care he’s eating catfish.

Chapter ten. Hold up. She does charity work? You’re just now telling me this? What does that have to do with him and her?

Chapter eleven. Big cataclysmic event. I rub my hands in glee. Maybe the author will drive them apart. Make this more interesting. No? What? The streets of the town lay which direction? The little old lady had what happen to her? Volunteer fire department? And who’s the blonde girl?

WHERE’S THE COUPLE AT?

Oh, that’s right. They’re great. We fixed them by chapter seven.

That’s when it hit me. Writing plot in a romance novel is like brewing a good cup of tea. (You say, “How about coffee?” But I don’t drink coffee and I’m writing this, so I say “tea.”) A good plot boils the story down to the perfect concentration. Too weak and the reader becomes lost. The story rambles. It’s no longer a romance. It’s a … story about an entire town. It’s not him and her fixing what lies between them. It’s “and then we went here, and then we went there, and then this happened.”

My favorite plot advice uses the words “but” or “therefore” to determine what happens next. Never slip into “and then” or the story will fall flat. The biggest “and then” problem in a plot is usually spanning time. If the story covers many months, it’s not necessary to fill in all the gaps. Often, it can be done subtly. They met in the spring, but aren’t married for a year. If nothing happens during the summer, I don’t need an entire chapter that serves no purpose. Instead, concentrate the flavor.

Where the characters are in the plot, should tie to where they were and where they are going. In a romance, each scene needs to be about them or to affect them. Leave all the little stuff, what other characters may be doing, to the reader’s imagination. After all, people don’t read a romance to know how the family is or what the town looks like.

Use each event to condense their relationship to its finest level and forget the other stuff. Put me in his head and in hers. Make me love them individually, then bring them together, overcoming the odds stacked against them. That, my friend, makes for one tasty cup of tea, and one I’ll long remember.

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother. She writes a monthly column on digital photography for the Steve’s Digicams website. She is an author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She also works in graphic design and is a professional proofreader.

Book Title: MISSING

Author’s Blog: http://suzanne-williams-photography.blogspot.com/

Amazon site for the book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008DFT1VS or http://www.amazon.com/Missing-The-Sanders-Saga-Volume/dp/1475294913/

Create Space site for the book: https://www.createspace.com/3867174

Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSYgV1vWLYY

 

Why I Wrote MISSING?

By Suzanne Williams

I have been a nonfiction writer for years, writing how-to articles and devotionals, so when the idea to write a fiction story came into my head, no one was more surprised than I was. After all, what did I know about writing fiction? This question became even truer the longer I pursued it. However, I was determined. I had a story in my head, and I would put it down on the page.

We hear the phrase “missing in action” all the time and never stop to consider what it means. From the Vietnam War alone there are 2,539 listed as missing. Add to this figure those from both World Wars, the Korean War, and reaching back into history the American Civil War and the figure becomes staggering. Tens of thousands of men left and never returned.

During the American Civil War, the problem was often lack of identification. There weren’t any dog tags. If you didn’t have your name pinned to you, then you were buried on the spot, unmarked. There were also the horrible prison camps. Here, prisoners were left to take care of themselves. In the Confederate South, this meant no food, no housing, and no medical care. Men died from sheer neglect to be buried in mass graves.

Yet following that war one lady, whose name most Americans recognize, Clara Barton formed an organization dedicated to locating the remains of missing soldiers. This organization fielded thousands of letters from family and friends and posted articles with lists of names in newspapers all across the country in the hope that someone might know what happened to a name listed there. This is what sparked in me my initial idea to write.

MISSING contains three stories. “Civil War” is the second story in the book and the first story I wrote. From it, I went on to write the other two stories, “Vietnam War” and “World War II.” I quickly saw that what applied in one war, applied in all the others. Along the way, I did extensive study into each war, learning about everything from gear to locations to gravesites. I watched hours of movies and read countless articles and books to get a grip on the mindset of the soldier and the families.

I admit most of the time it was heartbreaking, yet it founded in me great respect and determination to “get it right.” For what I strived to depict involved the lives of real people. It was their pain and suffering. It’s hard to write about war. War is tragic and awful on every level. Yet those who have been there deserve to have their stories told. Those who lost loved ones deserve to have their stories told. And though my stories are fiction, my greatest compliment comes when someone who’s been there reads them as says, “Yes, that’s how it was.” We as people must always honor the amazing sacrifice of so many who unselfishly gave their greatest gift–their lives.

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother. She writes a monthly column on digital photography for the Steve’s Digicams website. She is an author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She also works in graphic design and is a professional proofreader.

Author’s Blog: http://suzanne-williams-photography.blogspot.com/

Amazon site for the book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008DFT1VS or http://www.amazon.com/Missing-The-Sanders-Saga-Volume/dp/1475294913/

Create Space site for the book: https://www.createspace.com/3867174

Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSYgV1vWLYY

G&F Welcomes Fearless Author, Suzanne Williams

Today I’d like you to meet a lovely woman who has overcome many challenges thanks to God’s help.  Suzanne Williams now runs the Fearless group on FB, helping others to overcome fear issues and live again.

Welcome, Suzanne.  Thanks for joining us!

We’d love to know a little about you.  Who is Suzanne Williams?

I always say my life is ordinary. I am a “born and raised” Floridian. In fact, I live only a few miles from where I grew up. I attended a local high school, graduating with honors. My parents were always active in the church, dragging my older brother and I to every service imaginable. My mother is an ordained minister who teaches in churches across the U.S. and in Bible schools around the world. I have worked for her as the office staff for twelve years doing everything from sound and video editing, to graphic design, accounting, and even typing and filing.

My spouse and I have been married for twenty-two years. We have one eighteen-year-old daughter who is graduating from high school this year. He is my best friend and she is my sidekick.  We have one spoiled dog, a dachshund, and two saltwater fish.

I know how active you are on the Facebook page and with writing, but if you weren’t doing that, what might you be pursuing?

If I am not writing, I am reading. I think a writer learns to write better through what they read. I am an avid nature photographer. I take time out at least once a week to concentrate on photography. I see life through the nature around me. I enjoy gardening. I grow everything from flowers to seasonal vegetables. I especially like to plant what draws in insects or birds.

Gardening is not my forte!  I can kill plastic plants, so I have a great admiration for people who can grow things–especially when they can grow things for a purpose like to attract butterflies or birds.  You sound like you lead a very quiet, peaceful life.  Have there been any challenges along the way?

I never thought my life would have a great challenge.  But in 2007, my world fell apart and I became physically ill. I found myself gripped by fear to the point I couldn’t leave home. It was a struggle even to buy groceries or attend church.

I turned to God as the answer. First, I repented. I had bitterness in my heart that required forgiveness. Then I poured myself into the Word of God. I turned off the television, closed all the books, and spent my days and nights feasting on God’s words about peace and freedom. I learned to worship. Worship lifted God back into the place He needed to be for my life to have balance, and through it, God became bigger than my problem.

I will not lie; it was a very hard and slow process. I had to go places I was afraid to go. Often I went sick, but I went. Still today, I find myself doing things out of the ordinary, having little victories. Just yesterday, I drove after dark by myself. That was a huge step from where I was a few years ago.

It’s amazing how we take things like that for granted when others struggle so much with them.  Is there a quote or saying you live by now?  Something that gets you through the hard times?

At the end of my emails, I have a quote made by Peter Marshall, Senate chaplain, on April 18, 1947. He said, “Give to us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for—because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything.”

I believe Christians must live clean, moral lives in the midst of the sin around us. We must walk in the love of Christ, our lives shining as examples of who Christ is.

Boy, AMEN to that!  Are you working on anything new right now?

I am writing a fiction series, the first book to be released through Write Integrity Press in April. I never thought I’d write fiction, but one night the Lord sparked an idea in me that I had to pursue. It has been fun and I’ve received only positive comments from those who have read it so far.

Awesome!  Something to look forward to!  So what about your other writing endeavors?

This month, one of my letters released in the book Love Letters from the Heart, published by Pix-N-Pens Publishing. These letters serve as testimonies to people in a variety of situations – letters from people who have experienced pain and suffering and want to share their heart with someone going through something similar. Love Letters from the Heart is a beautiful book that will touch hearts and has the power to change lives.

Last year, Tracy Ruckman and I began a project for a series of anthologies entitled “Life Lessons.” Our first book in this series, Life Lessons From Grandparents, came out in December. Currently we are seeking submissions for the other books in the series  – Moms, Dads, and Teachers. We are looking for heartfelt stories about how these special people touched your life. Visit Write Integrity Press for information on how to submit.

One year ago this March, I released my book, Fearless. It is my testimony of freedom from fear, words God spoke to my heart that set me free. I am so blessed at the comments people have given of how it has helped them. That was truly my heart in creating the book. I saw so many trapped in the cycle of fear and wanted them to know there is a permanent way out.

I know our readers would love to read that!  Tell us where we can find you on the ‘net to learn more.

I write regularly in my blog. All the links to my places on the web are listed there  – both with my writing and my photography. I also write monthly for Steve’s Digicams.com on the subject of photography. Email subscribers to the blog will receive notice of anything I have coming out.

http://suzanne-williams-photography.blogspot.com/

Readers, Suzanne is giving away two prize packages of books – one digital and one print! Just leave a relevant comment here on the blog about her interview, and then tell us whether you’d like to win the digital package or the print package.

She’ll then draw two winners – one digital package and one print package – each winner will receive one copy each of her books:

Fearless

Love Letters from the Heart

Life Lessons from Grandparents

The print package is available only for residents of the US, but the digital package is available internationally.

Comments must be posted by March 2, 2012 – Winners will be contacted by e-mail, so be sure to put your email address in your comment.

 

 

Thanks for joining us Suzanne.  Best of luck and many blessings on all you do!  Join us next week when our guest will be Judy Hampton.  Until then… Have a blessed day!

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