Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey


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There’s no hook in my Nook

nook2

I have a problem. I love to read. Of course my problem isn’t reading, it’s finding the time to read without the guilt. I try to maintain a balance of work, family and writing by reading at night.

There are times when a couple of pages turn into a much needed double dose of caffeine the next morning because I couldn’t put the book down.  I love those times. A page-turner is the type of book I prefer to read and some of us strive to write.

Despite the strict guidelines in the world of publishing, not all books are created equal. Sometimes I reach the end of the first chapter, put the book down and forget to pick it back up. I intend to finish the book, but my reading time is too limited to spend on a book that doesn’t grab my attention and keep me reading.

If you’re a writer, how do you keep the reader from falling into a valium induced coma while reading your book?  I’ve come up with a few ways, perhaps you can add to the list.

1. Don’t forget the hook. I want something to hit me in the face on that first page. Give me some action or a telling secret so I’ll keep turning the pages.

2. Don’t start with dialogue because I get confused. Who is this person talking and why should I care what they have to say?

3. Don’t confuse me by introducing too many characters in the first chapter. I want the spotlight to be on the main character(s) from the start.

4. Don’t make me frustrated by beginning the book with a puzzle or in the middle of a situation. I don’t want to be scratching my head on the first page wondering what is going on.

5. Don’t make me feel like I’ve read the book before by using a clichéd plot line or character.

Am I asking too much?


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Writing: It’s Puzzling

Polar Bear

I get intrigued by a puzzle, and writing a book is the best way to solve it. ~ Anthony Storr

I love working jigsaw puzzles. As a child, I worked the block style puzzles with ten large pieces made of wood. Now my puzzles are more of a challenge, more pieces with only the slightest variation in color. I’m frustrated at first, but as each piece is fitted with the others, a picture emerges and I feel a sense of accomplishment.

Beginning a new puzzle isn’t as simple as sitting down and pouring the pieces onto a flat surface. The colors and shapes are crowded together with no rhyme or reason. It can be overwhelming. For me, the process of starting a new story feels like a jumbled mess of puzzle pieces scattered on the table.

Like my puzzle, my story has many pieces. So where do I start? The most obvious answer would be at the beginning, but that’s not always the answer. My story has many pieces with characters, a setting, a plot, sub-plots, dialogue and pace. All of these pieces must be joined together to form a story, hopefully worthy of publication.

My starting point is always the same. I turn all the pieces over and put the edge pieces together. Next, I attempt to make my first connection. This might seem strange, but I don’t look at the picture on the box for guidance, it’s turned upside down. I enjoy connecting the pieces not knowing where it will take me.

Unlike my methodical puzzling technique, I prefer to be a pantster with my writing, but it’s okay. What’s important is the pieces end up in the right place when I’m finished. Where my story began doesn’t matter. I can write scenes out of order and even write the ending first if I feel like it. All that matters is when I’m finished, I have a great story that contains all of the required pieces and is no longer puzzling.


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Hocus Pocus ~ Now Focus

images[4]“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” ~ Zig Ziglar

Each year rather than making a list of resolutions that will be broken by February, I choose one word as a guide toward reaching my goals. This year my word chose me, it was practically screaming at me on a daily basis during the past weeks.

Since completing NaNoWriMo, my writing life was almost non-existent. My mind was full of ideas and random thoughts that never made it from my brain to my laptop. I was easily distracted. When I got home from my day job I cleaned, exercised or cooked to avoid writing, I wasn’t even reading. It was then, I knew something was wrong.

Last week, as I continued to busy myself with anything but writing, I looked out the kitchen window to identify a bird at our feeder. I wasn’t wearing my glasses, so I couldn’t see very well. I put them on and everything became clear. I immediately saw one of my favorite birds, the Tufted Titmouse. Having the feeder to himself, he consumed the seed at a frantic pace.

Standing at the window, I had my light bulb moment. I had no direction with my writing because I was unable to focus. I had this large list of tasks to accomplish; finish a short story for submission, start a new short story, edit my NaNo project, read my craft books from cover to cover and enter several writing contests. I had become overwhelmed and unable to focus. I had left the narrow path and steered off course. I wasn’t following my own advice to keep it simple.

I realized, just like a race car driver, my focus will determine my direction. So this year, I choose to focus on my focus. I’ll tackle one project at a time, rather than juggling multiple projects. I’m hopeful my word will remind me to slow down, to not fill every second with tasks, and to allow myself to focus on one thing at a time. This is the direction I want my writing life to take so I can continue to grow and learn as a writer.


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Blogging Buds

One of the benefits of blogging is meeting and chatting with fellow writers and non-writers from all around the world. Although I’ve only been blogging since September of 2011, I’ve connected with wonderful people. One of those people, Candace, from Change it Up Editing has a great blog that can be found at http://changeitupediting.com. Recently she was kind enough to nominate me for The Reality Award and The Shine On Blog Award. Be sure and check out her blog, it will benefit any new or seasoned writer.reality-award[1]

                       

Here are the rules for The Reality Award and The Shine On Blog Award:

1. Show appreciation of the blogger who nominated you and link back to them in your post.

2. Add the award logo to your blog.

3. Share 7 things about yourself.

4. Nominate 5 – 10 or so bloggers you admire.

5. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know.

Here are the seven things I’ll share about myself:

1. I got a hole in one in 2002 and now I can hardly hit the green.

2. I am deathly afraid of heights and escalators.

3. I participated and won NaNoWriMo two times.

4. I love doing jigsaw puzzles and once did a 2000 piece puzzle that took up the entire dining room table.

5. I love to read and have been resistant to purchasing an e-reader.

6. Like my fellow nominee Candace, I also played the clarinet for five years, when I was younger.

7. People who know me call me a germaphobe.

Here are some wonderful blogs I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I do:

http://annascottgraham.net

http://jolysebarnett.com

mysticcooking.wordpress.com

starstolenwritings.wordpress.com

mthupp.wordpress.com

http://ericjohnbaker.wordpress.com

shine-on-award[1]Happy New Year!

~ Jill