Here we are Writers, 2016 and like me, I know you ushered in the new year with well written goals. Great! Writing hooks is an area that each fiction writer should tap into. Readers want to know shortly after opening a book or within a few minutes of reading a short story, the theme of the story. Reel them in quickly and keep the interest and momentum going. https://patriciafuqualovett.wordpress.com/2015/11/17/writers-readers-and-hooks/
Blogger Meg Dowell Novelty Revision (Putting ideas into words) gives detailed advice on meeting your writing goals for 2016. http://wp.me/ppJ8e-10S
Hearing the musical doorbell tones, Beth rushed downstairs just in time to see a late-model black SUV speeding out of her short but slippery driveway. Peeking through the side glass panel next to her front door, her eyes fell on a plain brown shopping bag leaning against a partially rusted metal rail. Slowly opening the door, she immediately felt light snow rushing towards her bare feet. Using the full reach of her slender body she managed to snare the bag and pull it inside the toasty room all without her feet ever touching the cold brick porch. This smooth gymnastic move proved that her early morning workout classes were well worth the 5 a.m. start time.
“Do not open ’til Christmas,” she read aloud. How silly is that, she thought. Who opens Christmas presents before Christmas? As she pushed the green and white tissue paper aside, she saw a small box encased in velvet wrapping and red trimmed ribbon. She gently took it out of the bag and placed it on the kitchen table,
With a knowing smile, Beth allowed herself to remember her last conversation Calvin. He made it crystal clear that they would not be able to talk until he finished his secret military mission. Could it be that he was back and they would be allowed to see each other on Christmas Day? Knowing Calvin as she did, she couldn’t help but consider that this could very well be his idea of a practical joke, however. For all she knew, the pretty red box with all its beauty just might only contain a small silver bell, or the box could be stuffed with bubble wrap, but surely it was a gift of significance. She would just have to wait until morning.just as the note read.
Just as she was heading back upstairs to resume her evening with Netflix, her cell phone jangled in her night robe pocket. So much for a quiet Christmas Eve.
“Hello. Hello. Hello. Is anybody there? ”
“Beth,” the voice on the other end said.
“Yes. Who is this?”
“I know you saw the truck. I know you picked up the package and I know you will wait until Christmas to open the red box, right?”
“Who is this?”
Just then the phone went dead.
“I know that voice, but I can’t place it.” she whispered.
Beth was not the type to frighten easily but with the arrival of the unexpected gift and now the crazy phone call she wondered if this Christmas was laden with problems. She just wanted a relaxed holiday. She just wanted to take time away from deadlines, traveling and managing projects. She had made plans to relax and enjoy a day of back-to-back Godfather type movies.
Going back to the kitchen Beth decided to call her next door neighbor, Dusty. He was retired, but he typically stayed in a ready police mode. After explaining her unusual evening events to Dusty she agreed with him that she should call the city police and perhaps stay with him at least til morning. But it’s Christmas Eve, she thought.
After drinking about 2 cups of Dusty’s strong black coffee, Beth gave in to her need to go to the bathroom and her phobia of using a single man’s bathroom. She feared that although Dusty was a good man, maybe he needed a little help with house cleaning from time-to-time. Her fear subsided the minute she made her way down the hallway. Everything was cleaner than she had hoped for but just as she was about to open the bathroom door, she couldn’t help but notice a roll of red Christmas wrapping paper next to a small pile of red and gold ribbon. All of it, just like the gift that she pulled out the package that had been delivered to her front door earlier that day.
Just as she was about to turn around and run out of the house, she heard blaring sirens outside. “Dusty, she yelled. The cops will be looking for me. Meet me outside in the front,” she said just as she dashed out the rear kitchen door.”
“Ma’am don’t move.” She heard a cop yell. “Put your hands in the air.”
Fruitcake is a delicious sweet treat that has been a southern U.S. Christmas holiday tradition for many years. The Claxton Bakery (company) located in Claxton, Georgia has been making their version for more than 100 years. The U.S. Army contracted the company to bake the cake for the military when the bakery first opened and they are still making the cakes available.
Kay At the Keyboard – has a wonderful post about fruitcake and the post also includes Eudora Welty’s recipe. There are as many fruitcake recipes as there are lovers of the confection. The more common ones are Japanese, white, icebox, light and my favorite is the dark. Traditionally you bake them and soak the cake in bourbon, sherry some other achohol about 4 weeks before the first cutting. To get you started on baking your own fruitcake. Here is a very simple recipe to follow. Bake it now and in about 4 weeks you will have a crowd pleaser! Let me know how it turned out all you fruitcake lovers.
4 ounces glaceed or dried apricot, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (1/2 cup)
4 ounces glaceed or dried pineapple, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (1/2 cup)
8 ounces dates, pitted, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
4 ounces dried cherries (1/2 cup)
4 ounces chopped pecans (3/4 cup)
8 ounces Brazil nuts (1 1/2 cup)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour, (not self-rising)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup light-brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons rum, plus more for dousing
Heat oven to 300 degrees. Brush 8-inch spring form pan with soft butter. Line bottom and sides with parchment; brush with butter.
Combine fruit and nuts in a bowl; set aside. Sift the flours, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed; add eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add vanilla and rum.
In two additions, add dry ingredients to butter. Scrape down bowl between additions. Fold in fruit and nuts. Pour batter into pan. Bake until golden and set, about 2 1/2 hours. Cover with foil if it colors too much.
Cool on a wire rack. Remove from pan; discard parchment. Wrap in cheesecloth or muslin. Douse with 1/2 cup rum. Store in a cool, dry place; douse with 1/2 cup rum weekly for at least 1 month before serving.
In just a few short hours my husband and I will load up the Patmobile and drive miles away from home to join family members for Thanksgiving dinner. On this day we will feast on thoughtfully prepared food made from heirloom recipes or newly found one pulled from Martha Stewart, Pinterest or one of own family’s heirloom wonders. No matter whose recipe we follow in preparing the great feast, no doubt Thanksgiving 2015 will make an indelible impression in someone’s memory bank. As I prepare to join my family, I can’t help but remember how my family celebrated Thanksgiving when I was going up in South Georgia.
My mother died during the month of November, when I was 2 years of age, so my recollection of Thanksgiving pivots every year to a single event that happened (fairly routinely) on Thanksgiving day. Various families in my countryside community gathered at the cemetery plots of their love ones. This was a big but somber tradition. The way the day evolved began shortly after breakfast when the family piled cleaning tools in the trunk of my daddy’s Ford sedan or the family’s farming truck, and then head off to join other families in pulling weeds, sweeping off grave markers or stones covering a grave site. In a year’s time, leaves, grass and other sorted debris settled in the cemetery and would inevitably come to rest on the family member’s gravesite.
Not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving with the traditional turkey, dressing and all the other wonderful trimmings. It is true that you may hear crystal glasses clinking in the distance but not necessarily to celebrate the joy, love and peace of family and friends. For all we know the pinging sound could be the last drop of a libation used to ease the pain of sorrow or to celebrate the hope of a better tomorrow.
What are we really celebrating at Thanksgiving? Traditionally it was about the harvest season for farmers. They had spent the warmer months planting, gathering and preserving food that would carry them through the upcoming cold winter days and for that they set aside a day of prayer and thanksgiving. They shifted into a mode of thanking God for another year of harvest.
I think as a nation and as a culture we have evolved so much in our choice of worship, belief systems and just as notable we have shifted from an agricultural society to that of technology. Consequently, the question bears us to ask … have we forget our inherent celebration of an ample wheat crop harvested for bread, the harvesting of cotton for wear and countless other uses, the harvest of tobacco for riches and pleasure, the harvest of fruits and vegetables for sustenance?
Since we have shifted away from the original purpose and meaning of Thanksgiving, perhaps there is an opportunity here to teach the meaning of Thanksgiving to new newcomers to this County or to those who have forgotten or just simply never knew the true reason. The other option is to enjoy the freedoms we have and just allow the reason to celebrate Thanksgiving to continue to drift away from its original meaning. After all, Christmas starts the day after Thanksgiving, right?
Thanks for taking the time out of your busy Thanksgiving schedule to read my post.
Books, books and more books. They are everywhere: in the bookstore in your local public library, in your home library, on-line and of late, cute little bird house models are a popular in many neighborhoods!
I want to read a good book, you say.” So you look at the genre, the book cover, the title and a few other things that are specific to you. Then you open the book and begin to read the first few lines. You are more than likely hooked and want to read more or are you? As a writer, your reader is more than likely going to give your book only a few minutes to draw them in and read from the beginning to the end of the story.
One of the ways to get a reader hooked is the opening few lines. Actually the opening line is your best shot. I read a short piece one of my new favorite blogs and I was immediately hooked. I was ready sit for a spell and continue reading author Sherry Sylver’s blog post. The first few words drew me in. Read Sherry’s post and then let me know you think about Sherry’s hook. I am anxious to also hear your experience in writing a great hook or may you don’t focus a lot on the hook
Writing ideas are all around you but you have to seize the moments and write what you feel, see or hear at the point of inspiration. One problem that you might encounter is that you may find it difficult to narrow down and hone in on a specific topic. Objects, people, places, events and personal interest all lend themselves to a great short story, poem or novel. Try this one: look at a not so familiar movie or an old video clip and let your mind wander and allow your fingers to float across the keyboard and amaze yourself as you begin to create a new work of art.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Million-Dollar Question.” Blogging allows me to journal out loud! I am currently writing a period piece (which I never expected to do). So I am using blogging (1) to increase my fiction writing skills and (2) to interact with people who provide an important measure of feedback, comments and encouragement. Also, with blogging I am learning a new craft and I want to share my love of creative writing with those who may want to publish or who just want to feel good about whatever amount of writing they are doing. So in summary I blog to build my creative writing skills and to serve as a resource for other writers.
There you are again seated in a comfortable chair but you are just staring at a blank piece of paper or continuously watching the blinking cursor on your screen. How many attempts have you made in the past few days to move words from your head onto a simple piece of paper. Go ahead, don’t be afraid to tackle a new writing project. Perhaps all you need are a few writing prompts to get you started. Using your favorite notebook, a pen, pencil or keyboard give it a try.
Select from one of the topics listed below (or create your own) and write as quickly as you can. Don’t go back and correct and don’t worry about punctuation–just continue writing. Time yourself for 15 minutes of writing then go back and review what you have written. Set aside time everyday to write and you will begin to see improvements in your writing skill level, commitment to your craft and you will also begin to allow the writing muse to flow with more ease and less effort.
Suggested Writing Prompts:
1. Your best date ever
2. The best meal you ever prepared and ate alone
3. Your best day at work or at school
4. The first time you met a famous person
5. Your best volunteer effort
Now that wasn’t so bad was it? You probably had a few laughs, a lot of fun but most of all you wrote for a solid 15 minutes. Don’t focus on the quality of your writing, content or word count. Your goal is to spent time each day doing some free flow writing.
Share some of your writing hangups and what have you done to overcome the problems or share a few of your personal writing prompts. L
The day after Thanksgiving usually marks the beginning of the Christmas season (Black Friday). Yet when I went into the local department store, after Halloween, I saw Christmas goodies all over… everywhere! Christmas trees, stockings, santa and elves were displayed everywhere. Where did Thanksgiving go, I wondered.
Off I went to the household goods section of the store in pursuit of a white, traditional platter to put my traditional Thanksgiving turkey on at the traditional family dinner. You know – the one that is oval shaped, pilgrims and pumpkins in the middle and nuts and other outdoor scenes encircling the rim. I looked through all the brand name and store brand collections and to my dismay I found plenty of Santa and Christmas tree shaped platters but not a single one with my much sought after Thanksgiving motif. Not to be be out done, I asked the nice, friendly assistant if I had, perhaps, overlooked the Thanksgiving platters. “Oh! Let me check. I think I saw one on the discount table on yesterday. We usually put a few of those out after Labor Day and what doesn’t sell by Veterans Day, we put them away for the next year.”
By now, not only am I disappointed, I am seriously concerned that we have merged Thanksgiving with Christmas and (you guessed it) Christmas won the battle of the market share race.
Lesson learned: next year, shop early for my Thanksgiving wares and maybe, just maybe, I can save Thanksgiving.
Goal setting is one of the tasks we typically do at the beginning of a new year. We may not know all the words to Auld Lang Syne but shortly after ringing in the new year, we get busy writing down our new year’s resolutions. In 2014, did you resolve to write more or to just simply begin writing?
With excitement and a new resolve I set about establishing the following writing goals for 2014: (1) amp up the frequency of my writing to the tune of writing at least 500 words a day (2) finish some of my short stories and publish them as an anthology (3) take a few writing classes (4) develop a blog for writers (5) read more books and printed materials (6) interact with other writers and (7) get published! Do any of my goals sound like some of the ones you had on your 2014 list?
As we approach the end of 2014 and begin to focus on 2015, I will share my 2014 scorecard and, of course, begin to focus on writing goals for 2015.
What were your 2014 writing goals? Take the time to review how far along you are on your 2014 writing goal timeline. Share your scorecard fellow writers!