The Aroma of a Fresh Box of Crayons (Melissa Robbins)

It’s that time of year, back to school shopping! But Mel, it’s only July. My kids go back in the middle of August. If we don’t get our supplies now, the required blue folder with the brads won’t be there.
To my children, Drama Queen (DQ), Boy, and Little One, school supply shopping is bittersweet. They enjoy picking out their spiral notebooks and binders. Who my age doesn’t remember getting their new Trapper Keeper? New supplies are a sign that summer is almost over, the camps are completed, and the neighborhood pool closes. Our trip resulted in joy and tears. Little One bawled. Unlike her older siblings who could choose whatever color folders they wanted, her sheet instructed that she bring yellow, blue, and greens folders. Her favorite color is purple and hello, when a seven year old has a choice between a folder with a cute tiger or a plain yellow, which one do you think she’ll want? I bought both.

I love school supply shopping. I buy stuff for me too. One can never have too many nice pens (mine all grow legs and wander off) and a notebook to fill with all sorts of notes for stories. Don’t forget that smell of a fresh box of crayons. Talk about an aroma that stirs up the memories of school and first days. I try so hard to remember to add the sense of smell into my stories, because where one scent evokes joy and excitement, in someone else, it drudges up fears of bullying and poor marks. Don’t forget the scents in your stories. Think of all the emotions they can stir up! 

Happy Belated Independence Day (Kathy Pritchett)

      Happy Belated Independence Day. Life intervenes when we have our plans firmly in place. 

                 Democracy is the most important export of America, says the main character in More Than a Point of Honor. Because brave men and women stood up for their beliefs 239 years ago, we are now free to write what we want, when we want and how we want. But with that freedom comes responsibility. Even if what we write is fiction, we owe it to our readers to write truth.
              We need to make sure that we thoroughly research what we write, so that our readers can trust our words. Not only the facts but the emotions need to be real. We can’t always experience the same things our characters do, but we have probably experienced something that can relate. I’ve never been hit by an electrical power line, but I do know what it feels like to fear for the recovery of someone I love. I’ve never been to North Korea, but I do know what it’s like when your job and your very future are held in the hands of politicians. And how the decisions made by our elected officials depends on so many more factors than what appears in the news.
            And if you want to read a moving novel that puts you in the heart of the various conflicts surrounding the Revolutionary War, seek out a copy of Walk in the Light by my late fiancĂ© Charles Durham. His second novel, it was well grounded in the locales, history, artifacts and emotions of the time. The main character is a woman who was forced to stand on her own, and in the end, she saves the day.

My Process for Writing (Z Minor)

Doesn’t matter if it is a short story or a novel – they all start with an idea. Some ideas are big like an historical fact or could be just a couple of words. Anything to start me thinking of characters, plots, and what if.

Once I take the idea I start thinking title. I have to have a working title, I think it keeps me grounded in the story. I must admit the title usually doesn’t change over time it takes to write the story – be it years, months or just weeks. In some ways I believe the title is most important as it can draw readers to your finished book.

After the title comes the characters, big and small. I heard one teacher call them fat characters - very developed, and skinny characters - they come on to the page and go off without much fanfare. Names of my main characters I have to have before I start writing. Other characters names I find as I write them into my story. I get names from phone books, there still is a use for phone directories besides being a great door stop. I also use magazines and baby books names. I have a good assortment, some even tell the origin of the first name and what nationality they are from. Last names I find in phone books or sometimes I find them looking at the assortment of books in my office. Many times I might not even need a last name, it all depends on the story line.

I also do an in-depth interview of my main characters before I start writing. I want to know something about them and their lives up to the point the story starts. Gives me ideas as to how they would react under certain circumstances. I ask about their families, what they like or don’t like. What is their pet peeve? - you can bet whatever it is will find its way into the story one way or another.

I usually write two to three chapters to see if I think I have a good work in progress. If so, I write the first draft straight through. By the end of the book I really know my characters and how they reacted to the plot etc. I go back and start the rewrite process and many times I use information found in the later chapters to flesh out the story more and in the process it can give it more depth. I have also started to do a little more plotting with the rewrite. I make sure all the loose ends are tied up, is the plot believable, and add anything that seems to move the story to a strong conclusion. All this works for me. Best of luck with your writing.  

Z. Minor
Author of Historical Romantic & Contemporary Suspense Novels

July -- Hot by J Vincent

When I went to the blog topic list I discovered there was so July topic in the list. So what to write?  It’s July.  It’s 100 degrees out today.  What comes to mind?  Heat.  Hot.  

How would you describe each of the following pics to bring the heat alive for your readers without using the word heat? Please comment with one of yours before you read my attempts below.  


After you've posted a description of one of these pics you can go to Descriptions to reead my attempts. Belated greetings for a Happy 4th!