A Valentine’s Day Sonnet by Catherine Castle

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While searching for a quote about love to jumpstart my Valentine’s Day blog post, I came across this saying by Aristotle:

Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies. – Aristotle

It prompted a poem, a sonnet to be precise, and I thought I would share it. Sonnets can be tricky to write because they require a meter and a rhyme pattern. I’m particularly fond of Shakespeare’s sonnets which are written in iambic pentameter, or 10 syllables to a line, with every other syllable accented and a rhyme pattern of abab cdcd efef gg. The rhyme is the easy part, defining iambic pentameter, quite another, but I try my best to conquer it. I always had trouble with that part of poetry.

Why am I talking about poetry, you ask, when I’m a writer of romance? Aside from the fact the poem is about love, I think writing poetry is a great exercise to create lyric and precise language. All writers, in my opinion, should practice writing poetry to help hone their skills.

Besides, it’s Valentine’s Day, and I need something to write on the inside of my hubby’s handcrafted Valentine’s Day card.

I hope you enjoy my Valentine’s Day Sonnet based on Aristotle’s quote.

 

 

Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies. – Aristotle

A Valentine’s Day Sonnet ©

By Catherine Castle

 

Love is two hearts snared in a solitary soul

who sings harmonic duets that ring

a solo tone. One voice. One mind, who knows

the other’s hopes, sees hidden needs and things

kept deep inside. A cloistered, sheltered soul

bound to another’s frailties. A keeper

of all secrets both shared and those untold,

whose vow of silence binds forever,

detained with silken cords of passion’s flame.

A single soul with deep desire to love

and cherish, hold from harm, swear truelove’s name

is but their own—an oath blessed from above.

A lone soul is Love, bound in two frail shells.

Soul mates now and till comes heaven and hell.

 

 

How are you expressing love to  your Valentine ?

 

 

Catherine CastleCatherine Castle is a multi-award-winning author and the author the The Nun and the Narc. When she isn’t writing she loves to garden, sing, and quilt. You can visit her at her blog Romance For the Ages
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SYNOPSIS

After four desperate tries for my latest writings, a sequel to my Indigo Sky, I finally nailed down ideas in the form of a synopsis. I know, I know, a synopsis is supposed to be, well, sort of like a short story–beginning, middle and end. How do you write this thing without the story? Created as the preliminary to an outline, I left out the unnecessary, and kept in the necessary. In other words, my synopsis left out the B-ST.

Stephen King

Maybe what Stephen King says in his book,”On Writing” in his Second Foreword, is true, This is a short book because most books about writing are filled with B-ST. Fiction writers, present company included, don’t understand very much about what they do–not why it works when it’s good, not why it doesn’t when it’s bad. I figured the shorter the book, the less the B-ST. King suggests that every aspiring writer should read The Elements of Style. Rule 17 in the chapter titled “Principles of Composition” is “Omit needless words.” I tried to do that in my short synopsis, maybe three pages double spaced, based on someone’s probable expectation. Enough of this, I can see your eyes rolling from here.

So now how to create that outline? I am about to–finally–learn how to use Scrivener, created for us (writers) to outline. Wish me God’s speed . . .

http://amzn.to/2ji2Gda (Audio)

http://bit.ly/29xUJ1H (Trailer)

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http://amzn.to/2j0LXLE (buy link)

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Are You Using Texture in Your Writing?

Texture is a method of including the influence of the environment in descriptive writing, using the five senses to draw readers into the scene and help them feel a connection to the setting.

Every time your character is in a different location, you need to describe the scene, but lengthy descriptions can distract the reader, and slow the pace of the writing. Most writers learn early on that the ‘information dump’—long passages of explanations often given by a third person—is the worst method of imparting data to the reader, and that background information is best filtered in through dialogue and short paragraphs.

On the other hand, descriptions lacking in texture can cause a disconnect, and the reader may lose interest in your work.

The five senses are our primary source of knowledge about the world. Therefore, writing that  incorporates strong verbs and vivid sensory detail is more likely to engage and affect the reader. You may not need to use all five senses in every scene, but do include as many as you can.

This sample provides an example of how sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste work together with the character’s environment to strengthen writing.

‘Damian gave a half wave as he left the house. He stopped under the porch light, swatted the bugs away and fished his cigarettes and lighter from his jeans pocket. The naked flame seared his hand for a moment before he lit up and sucked hard, savoring the sweet flavor. The familiar buzz filtered through him as he watched the smoke curl upwards towards the light.

The air hung hot and heavy—a typical summer night in north Florida. A car drove by slowly and he listened until its engine throb faded and only the shrill chirping of crickets, a few frogs, and the dull thuds from a distant thunderstorm broke the silence.’

Happy writing and wishing you lots of sales.

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Villains, Heros and Heroines

In 2005, the cold reality of violent domestic abuse portrayed in a film propelled me into writing fiction. Since then, I figured out that every villain has a wound and showing that wound incites some level of sympathy or, at least, understanding.  No one illustrates this better than Phillip Roth, whose characters are despicable but I still can’t put his books down (if I can summon the courage to pick them up). I’ve been making my way through Philippa Gregory’s historical novels about the the Kings and Queens of England and their courts. Her treatment of Katherine of Aragon, in particular, paints a very complex portrait of a villainess who, despite her devout religious beliefs, descended into a personal hell and brought as many along with her as she could.

Two of my urban fantasy short stories feature villains as protagonists, and they were very difficult to write. I make my living working with the ill, the vulnerable, the defenseless, and the desperate. And sometimes the despicable, but I focus on the wounds not the words and actions.

Villains have been very much on my mind these days as I struggle to finish Storm Watch, Book Three in the Unfinished Business Series.  I fall asleep over my keyboard almost every night trying to meet the 500 word daily minimum goal. Not only does personal angst create more emotive fiction, it distances me from the writing enough to be more objective and less attached to the “darlings” I need to cull.

I hope to have it polished and off to my editor by the end of the month. Only three months overdue but, not unlike the characters, my focus, timelines, and priorities have shifted due to a variety of personal, professional, and political challenges.

Liz, Mike, and their friends are in the direct path of a Category Five Hurricane.  At a time when they most need to be together, the spectral storm it has generated is threatening to tear them apart.

Storm Watch, Book Three in the Unfinished Business Series:

Seven days. Things could change a lot in seven days. One week ago, the Barrett Inn was full of guests and had four good weeks of the summer season to go. Fully booked, with a waiting list, Liz had counted on that income to help recover from last year’s financial woes, and give them a comfortable edge for the long fallow winter months.

One week ago, she and Mae had gone for their mammograms. They had their boobs squeezed, then went to lunch, shopping, had a mani/pedi and massage to reward themselves for doing the right thing. One week ago they were both healthy, and the sun was shining, and the shops and beaches were packed. The Barrett Inn had been having its best year since they’d taken over. The beaches—and her marriage–had been restored after winter’s cold and storms.

One week ago, everything was good, too good, but Liz didn’t like to be a pessimist. She and Mike, with the financial pressures relieved, with their ghosts quiescent, were trying to forget they’d been separated in March, that she’d run off in desperation, driven by Elisabeth Barrett’s re-awakening and taking over her body and mind.

Seven days ago, Mae and Kevin had taken Eddie for the weekend so she and her husband could have some time to themselves. They’d made love on his boat as the sun rose and it rocked gently in the waves beneath them. After an early morning walk from Breakwater to Paine’s Creek to celebrate their anniversary, they had bacon, eggs, and corned beef hash at the Brewster Diner—without worrying about the cholesterol or calories since they’d just completed all the recommended screening and blood tests with not a thing of note to worry about. They’d returned home to pick up Eddie, refreshed, she relaxed, ready to cater to Inn guests and Mike fired up, excited about a week of fishing that would make his restaurant accounts very happy.

Seven days later, Mae and Kevin paced the parlor. Mike distracted Eddie, and Liz just sat by the phone and worried. The doctor had promised to call as soon as Mae’s biopsy, the one they’d called her back to have two days after the mammogram, was ready. Liz and Kevin had gone with her, held her hand while they injected her with painkiller, found the offending area on an ultrasound and pierced it with a hook on the end of a giant needle—six times. “Just like getting punched,” Mae had assured them. “No big deal.”

No more than seventy-two hours the doctor had promised it would be before the results were back, but it was now seventy-four hours later and Liz couldn’t figure out if that was good or bad. Seven days ago, there was a tropical depression, this little white blip that resembled the biohazard sign on the needle container in the room where they did Mae’s biopsy. Somewhere off the coast of somewhere, spinning away, churning up the Atlantic, not bothering anybody, except maybe the fishing boats and cruise ships that had to chart a course around it.

The same day that Liz half listened to the weather on the way down to Boston with Mae for the biopsy. Hurricane Caroline, a Category Two storm that had passed over the Dominican Republic, was headed for Puerto Rico, and on track to the Bahamas. They’d said if it didn’t change course or move inland and lose strength, it threatened poor old Miami and Key West. Mae’s biopsy seemed much more important. Miami and Key West were so used to those storms they just dragged out the pre cut plywood from under the back porch and the duct tape in the garage, right next to the sand toys. But the meteorological maelstrom had riled Elisabeth Barrett’s ghost, and she was twisting Liz’s insides like she was wringing out a sodden handkerchief. 

Today, as they waited for the doctor to give Mae the results as it was going on seventy-four and one quarter hours, Hurricane Caroline had veered out to sea, was picking up strength, and was canoodling with Hurricane Dennis. In her mind, Category Two plus Two would be a Category Four, but this unprecedented mating might become a Category Five storm on track to hit Cape Cod and the Islands. And they’d named it Edward, which was why Elisabeth had Liz’s head pounding, insisting her long lost sea captain was returning for her at last.

 

Book One                                                                                                            Book Two

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Reader Conferences

This weekend I’m at a reader conference called Coastal Magic. Most conferences have a theme. Coastal Magic is mainly paranormal romance and urban fantasy.

If you’ve never been to a reader conference, you need to check one out. Usually they have author panels, mixers, and games for readers to be introduced to different authors. We played Family Feud and Mad Libs.  You usually laugh a lot and make many new friends. They also have a book signing. This year I went as a reader because my book isn’t in print yet. I did manage to hand out over 50 bookmarks.

Coastal Magic is in Daytona Beach and is a great reason to leave the snowy weather. We walked to beach before the panels.

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Do you go to reader conferences? Which ones do you attend?

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BLURBING FOR SUCCESS! by Char Chaffin

 

The Back Cover Blurb.

Yes, I’ve said it; spoken that dreaded three-word whammy. blog image

Back Cover Blurb.

By now there are authors blanching dead white and running for the hills as fast as their legs will carry them. Others might pretend they didn’t understand what I said. Still others might pretend they don’t understand English.

As an editor, none of the above surprises me at all.

Ask any author what they dislike most about the writing process, and about half will scream ‘Back Cover Blurb!’ while the rest will sob out ‘Full Synopsis.’ However, that’s a blog for another day. I wouldn’t want to traumatize anyone by blogging you up with both.

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So today we’ll just talk blurbs. After I’ve locked the door and trapped you inside, bwa haa haa HAAAAA.

Blurbs are your readers’ very first contact with your book, other than when you gave a copy of your final galley to Great-Aunt Gert and she inhaled it from cover to cover without even knowing the plotline, other than “It’s about a boy and girl who . . .”

Anyone else wants to be romanced and tickled a bit. Another of your varied author-jobs, you lucky duckies. Just when you think you’re all finished writing the book, they PULL you back in and make you write some more.

For the readers, dang it all.

But in the wide, wide world of BookSales-Land, potential readers are kind of the Head Cheeseheads. You’ve got to feed them slices of Gouda rather than a squirt from a spray can of homogenized/ pasteurized cheese product.

And it’s not that hard to do. Honest.

Probably the best way to start a blurb is to finesse out the finer points of your full synopsis; those tempting bits that reveal just enough.

Uh-oh. You did write up a full synopsis, didn’t you? No?

Well, we can talk during one of my future blogs, where I cover full synopses. ::wink::

For now, let’s start by picking out a few plot-spots that reveal without revealing anything. Make a list of at least three, consecutive spots of your book, three that move your story without spoiling the ending or any big, vital moments. Make sure there is no actual book dialogue, book narrative, or characters’ physical description in the three spots. Your reader will find out the color of your heroine’s eyes or hair when they read the book. They will take in dialogue at the same time.

What you ultimately want is two to three short paragraphs of information, one for each consecutive spot you chose from your story. They need to connect and follow in a manner that persuades your reader they can’t live without buying your book. But they shouldn’t give anything away. At the same time they should promote the overall emotional theme. Did you write humor? Your blurb should be humorous. What about drama, mystery, crime? Yes, yes, and yes. Lust? Oh, heck yes. If your genre contains it, reflect it in your blurb.

Do short blurbs work? Absolutely. It all depends on quality over quantity and if you can get the gist across in a succinct manner. What about a long blurb? Again, it’ll depend on quality versus quantity. I have written both, and both were successful blurbs that sold books for me.

Should your editor help you write your blurb? Not from scratch. As an author you owe it to yourself to try writing your own. Nobody knows your story better than you do, right? However, if you have trouble figuring it out or fret over blurb content, absolutely show it to your editor and ask for help. Your successful blurb helps them, too.

How do you end a fab blurb? Why, with a cliffhanger, of course.

Sometimes posing a question works:  ‘Will Maude ever get over her broken heart, and let love in again?’

Sometimes a trail off (ellipse) gets it across best: ‘He broke Maude’s heart, but she’s not taking it lying down . . .’

If those don’t work, you can always fall back on what I call the ‘I-know-something-you-don’t-know’ cliffhanger: ‘Maude’s broken heart: mended or doomed? Find out in (insert book title here).’

As long as it ends with the reader dying to know what happens next, you should be good to go.

One last thing before I unlock the door and release you from your unwilling participation in this blog:

Never underestimate the power of a back cover blurb. Or your talent in creating one.

Have a great week ahead, folks. I’m just going to hang out here for a bit and see what I can cook up for that full-synopsis blog.

Okay. Now you can run.                  

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Char Chaffin is a Senior Acquiring Editor with Soul Mate Publishing, and multi-published in several genres. She also co-writes under the pen name CiCi Cordelia, with fellow author/editor and BFF Cheryl Yeko.

You can find Char here: 
Website: http://char.chaffin.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/char.chaffin
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/pvscu7w
Twitter: http://twitter.com/char_chaffin
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5337737.Char_Chaffin

 

 

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The Soul Mate Tree Collective Arrives!

It’s Here! After months of waiting, The Soul Mate Tree Collective is off and running.

 

The Soul Mate Tree . . .

An ancient legend spanning eras, continents, and worlds.

To some, it’s nothing more than a dream.

To others, a pretty fairy tale handed down through the generations.

For those in critical need of their own happy ending, a gift.

 

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January opened with Realm of the Dragon   by C.C. Cordelia.

 

Can't Stop the Music (The Soul Mate Tree Book 2) by [Hersh, C.D.]

On February 15, Can’t Stop the Music  by C.D. Hersh, (that’s us ☺) will release, and is currently up for preorder at Amazon .

 

Between Venus & Mars (The Soul Mate Tree Book 3) by [Mitchell, S.C.]

March’s Soul Mate Tree book, Between Venus & Mars, by S.C. Mitchell, is releasing March 15 and is also up for preorder at Amazon.

 

Each of these books will take readers to a different place or era: historical, contemporary, outer space, and different worlds or dimensions. Our book, Can’t Stop the Music, is a blast back to the Sixties and Woodstock.

One of the most asked questions to authors is, “Why did you set your book there?” For us it started with a car commercial. In the commercial, a grandmother is telling her granddaughter that she met grandpa under a tree. Then the two hug the tree and in a subsequent scene are joined by the child’s parents. As they leave the area, the car passes a sign marked Woodstock.

Honestly, we don’t even remember the make of the car that was being advertised, but we did remember the tree hugging scenario and the Woodstock sign. When Donald proposed the setting of Woodstock to me I was like, What???? It wasn’t a place I expected him to go. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. After all, who doesn’t like a walk down memory lane? I was into folk music in the Sixties. I sang and played Peter Paul and Mary songs on my guitar so many times I could have done it in my sleep, and I liked rock ‘n’ roll. And maxi coats and the cool threads. Since we’re both musicians, it was a short leap to making our hero and heroine musicians, too.

We can’t wait to read all the books in this collective and hear from the rest of the authors about how they came up with their setting and stories. Check out the books below for upcoming books. A new book will release each month. We hope you’ll enjoy reading them as much as we all have enjoyed writing them.

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