Writing Tip — Guest Blogger, Ronnell Kay Gibson

GIBSONTo wrap up the month, I have author Ronnell Kay Gibson visiting for the first time. Although she has published many devotionals and short stories, “Those Who Stay” is her first story to appear in an anthology. Glad to have you here, Ronnell!

What inspired you to write “Those Who Stayed”, a drama set during a hostage crisis in a store?

“Those Who Stayed” was based on a dream I about just that, a gunman who walked into my local Christian bookstore and posed the same ultimatum, deny Jesus and you can live, but those who stay will be shot. In the dream, I was the 17-year-old boy frozen in place watching the events unfold. All the other details and characters were created as I wrote the story.

 Why did you choose a teenage boy as your main character?

I write a lot of young adult fiction and as I was writing, it just felt the most natural.

 Did you find any special challenges when you wrote your story?

The biggest challenge was trying to keep it real and not preachy. What would a person do if this were a real situation? Would a mother really let her young son stay behind? Most moms wouldn’t, so why does this one? I didn’t want to have trite or pat answers.

 What excited you the most about this story?

Each of the character’s unique voices came easily, and that almost never happens when I’m writing.

Since we’re in a holiday mood, what’s your favorite Christmas tradition? And/Or what’s your favorite Christmas story?

One of my favorite Christmas stories is the children’s book, Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect. Just a sweet story about compassion and selfless giving.

My favorite Christmas tradition is our “Tree Trimming Night.” A night where our family gets together to put up and decorate our tree. Afterward we have pizza and everyone gets to open one present (wrapped in wrapping paper with Christmas trees on it, of course). As my kids have gotten older, we haven’t always been able to have our special night, but this year I’m hoping to bribe my daughter and her friends to come help.

I love trimming our tree, too, with my kids. Thanks for stopping by!

*****

From Christmas fiction off the beaten path:

“Those Who Stayed” by Ronnell Kay Gibson. Years ago, a gunman and a store full of hostages learned some important lessons about faith and pain and what really matters in life — and the echoes from that day continue to the present. 

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, 24Symbols, Kobo

*****

Ronnell surrounds herself with words and teenagers. She specializes in young adult contemporary with a sprinkling of the mysterious. She also writes youth and adult devotions and is one of the editors for HAVOK Publishing. Self-proclaimed coffee snob and Marvel movie addict, Ronnell has also titled herself a macaroon padawan and a cupcake Jedi. High on her bucket list is to attend San Diego Comic Con. Ronnell lives in central Wisconsin, with her husband, two teenagers, and two Pomeranian puppies. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and on her website, ronnellkeygibson.com.

 

 

Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts: Nature’s Small Wonders

naturew-3142272_1280This month I am focusing on using nature to inspire our writing. This prompt encourages you to slow down and study nature.

Pick one of nature’s small wonders, such as flower or insect. Watch it for five minutes. Then take notes on it. Be sure to observe it through as many of the senses, if you can.  (I do not recommend tasting the flower or insect.)

From your notes, write a paragraph or poem or something else. Please share below!

Writing Tip — Guest Blogger, Carole Brown

33782005_10216631991940246_8994067546852294656_nToday my guest is Carole Brown, another writer I met through ACFW. Carole writes in multiple genres — cozy and romantic mysteries. But today I am interviewing her about her series set during WWII.

MeWhy did you select World War II as the time period for your novels?

Carole: Mostly because my interest was piqued after listening to my mother’s tales of living through that era, the pictures I saw, and the small book that was loved in our family and written by an elderly gentleman with whom we were friends. It was said he was the civilian spy in the book, but he never confirmed or denied it. 

Nevertheless, I fell in love with the era. The fashions and hats, the music, the courage and sacrifice so many gave. All of it is such a drawing to me.

 Me: Which comes first – research or storyline?

Carole: Probably the story line then research. I have to know a basic plot structure before I can fill in the blanks with my research. I love research—such a world of interesting material out there to be learned and used for my writing purposes. It’s second only to the writing itself. But if I don’t know the storyline, for me, it’s hard to know what to research.

Me: What resources do you rely on for research?

Carole: Lots of internet study, books I buy or use from the library, some personal information from others, information I’ve learned through our own travels and any other way I can find what I need to be as correct as I can be.

 Me: What is the most unusual resource you have used?

Carole: Hmm. Not sure. Maybe learning that my husband has a tad bit of Blackfoot Native American in him. That sparked my interest in including a BNA in the first, full-length book I wrote. It’s not published yet, but I hope it will be someday.

Me:What advice would you give to someone interested in writing historical fiction?

Carole: The first thing that comes to mind with historical writing is getting the facts right. Historical readers—many of them—are picker readers. They want to read a good book that is historically accurate and interesting. Play it safe and do the research.

Example: One man I know wrote a western book. The thing that stuck out for my husband was the season—things happening in the spring that just didn’t vibe. A little thing like that completely turned off the reader.

 Thank you so much for inviting me to visit your site. Always a pleasure.

33532238_10216625140648968_4893989344005586944_nBoth rebels in their own way, Josie and Jerry Patterson must figure out how to keep the other’s love…and keep the German enemy at bay.

She has two loves—her skating and Jerry, her husband. But when he returns home looking like a skeleton trying to return to life, she’s scared. What happened in Germany to change a man so much? Has another woman captured his heart?

Jerry has vowed to let Josie live her own glamourous life…especially after what happened in Germany. But when his wife’s life is threatened, Jerry realizes he can’t stand by and do nothing. Jerry has to risk all for the very soul and life of himself—Josie.

These two damaged, rebellious people learn the hard way that leaning on God instead of their own selves and abilities is the only true way to love and happiness.

To learn more, check out A Flute on the Willows on Amazon.

*****

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. An author of ten books, she loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Personal blog: http://sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CaroleBrown.author

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Carole-Brown/e/B00EZV4RFY/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1427898838&sr=8-1

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/browncarole212

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/carole-brown

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/sunnywrtr/boards/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5237997-carole-brown

Linkedin:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/carole-brown-79b6951a/

Google+:    https://plus.google.com/u/0/113068871986311965415/posts

Stitches in Time:  http://stitchesthrutime.blogspot.com/

 

 

 

 

Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts: A Tribute on Memorial Day

bereavementw-1239415_1280Since it’s Memorial Day in America, and we have been talking about research and historical fiction all month, I thought writing a tribute about a loved one who has passed away would be appropriate.

The house of my maternal grandparents was one of my favorite places growing up. No matter when we dropped by their home out in the country on an acre of hillside, they were always glad to see me and my sisters. We had pizza suppers on the weekend and watched old Tarzan movies or the Wonderful World of Disney. Grandma canned throughout the summer in the large, cool basement. In the winter, we had many family dinners down there, sitting around a long table, or if we were young enough, at the smaller, children’s table. Grandpa would work puzzles in the basement, and the wood burning stove smelled of comfort.

When they had to move next door to my parents, I thought I would desperately miss the house I knew as a child. But as soon as I stepped through the door of their new home, it felt exactly like their old one. The house wasn’t special. It was my grandparents.

Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts — Inspiration from Family Stories

girlsw-614914_1280I come from a family of storytellers. One way we get to know people is to swap stories. I am fortunate to have been told stories about my great-great grandparents. Such as I have a great-great grandfather who died in the notorious Civil War prisoner of war camp at Andersonville.

So if you are blessed with older family members with long memories and great stories, interview them. Besides preserving family history, you may find literary inspiration.

What inspiration from family stories have you gained?

 

Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts– What’s Your Favorite Time in History?

shipw-1505929_1280I have several favorite time periods, eras I would enjoy researching if I ever turned my attention to historical fiction.

  • Dark Ages and Medieval Europe
  • The Golden Age of Exploration — I did my research paper for my history major on Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal.
  • Victorian era — Especially Europe, but any location during this time period in which Sherlock Holmes could plausibly appear.
  • Golden Age of Hollywood — Since I love movies from the 1930’s, ’40’s and ’50’s, I’ve already read a lot about the people working in the Hollywood studio system. A mystery set then would be fun to write.

So what’s your favorite?

Writing Tip — Favorite Stories — The Daughter of Time

daughter of timeAs a fan of mysteries, I had come across The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey on lists of the best mysteries ever written. When I finally settled down to read it, I found it to be one of the most engrossing stories I’ve ever had the pleasure to discover. It expertly combines two of my passions: history and mystery.

nypl-digitalcollections-99a6ed7e-0d3c-0e0d-e040-e00a18061e25-001-rWritten in England in the 1950’s, the novel features Inspector Alan Grant, laid up in the hospital with a broken leg and bored out of his mind. His actress girlfriend knows his fascination with faces and brings him copies of photos and portraits to study. When he find the portrait of Richard III, he can’t reconcile the face with the man’s reputation as the murderer of his tween age nephews. The girlfriend contacts Brent Carradine, young man doing historical research, and he and Grant begin to believe that the story handed down for 500 years about Richard III being a merrily murdering monster is false.

Although the characters and setting are fictitious, the mystery is not. Edward V and his younger brother Richard did disappear sometime after June 1483. Their uncle Richard, who became king when the boys were declared illegitimate, is the most likely culprit. But Henry Tudor, who killed Richard III in battle and took the throne, also had a motive.

Even more involving than this mystery is the one of how people interpret history. In the novel, Grant and Carradine stick to contemporary sources and must examine the motives of the authors. Was he a sympathizer of the York family, the branch of the royal house Richard III belonged to? Or did the author favor the Lancaster side, of which Henry Tudor was a member?

The two characters also discuss how people lie about events to further their own agenda. I found all this analysis of history so inspiring that I want to use the novel in my own murder mystery. My main character use the techniques of research outlined in the book to investigate a 70-year-old mystery in his rural West Virginia county.

If you want to learn more about Richard III and his nephews, click here for the Wikipedia article. Many books have been written about the mystery, and it’s difficult to find ones that are biased. As I stated in one of my earliest blog posts, the authors tend to be either ardent Richard III supporters or detractors. Very much like the people who wrote about Richard in 1483.

What other novels have you read that blend unsolved real-life mysteries with fiction?

 

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