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Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

For writers: How to deal with “Too Many Characters” Syndrome

For readers: A peek into the warped brain of a storyteller

http://suzannewoodsfisher.com/author-spotlight/author-spotlight-with-beth-white/

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Guest blogging today at More To Life Magazine! Where life intersects fiction…People ask me all the time, “Where did the idea for the novel come from?” Well here’s the truth….
https://mtlmagazine.com/the-story-behind-the-story-in-beth-whites-novel-a-rebel-heart/

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Sometimes I stop and answer questions about the writing process. Here’s one that posted yesterday at Interviews and Reviews:
https://www.interviewsandreviews.com/interviews/beth-white-interview

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Beth 1/1/18

I’m supposed to be composing fresh material for untitled Book Two of The Daughtry House series, so of course I’m going to spend the last afternoon of 2017 doing something else. My children and grandchildren have vacated the house for their own pursuits, leaving me a little melancholy and reflective. Which, I guess, is how you’re supposed to feel on the last day of the year. To ward off the blues, I’m eating sweet potato fries with ranch dressing, one of my favorite things on the planet (right up there with banana pudding)—one of the many tricks I learned from my daughter this year. She’s handy that way.

Also I’m waiting for my toenail polish to dry so I can put on my socks, and my feet are cold. But, you know, priorities.

This has been a very strange year. Second year of a new teaching job, which basically means the honeymoon is over. Everything is upside down and reality sets in. A classroom in a more than fifty-year-old building has collected its share of peeling paint, resident rodents, arthritic air-conditioning units, and 1970’s-era television sets in the closet. Teenagers act like teenagers, grownups say the wrong thing and refuse to back down, and policy makers create paperwork. Teaching is no different from any job in the universe. It’s just all packed into 10 months of the year.

I have nothing to complain about. In fact, I’m blessed beyond measure to have a front-row seat to watch young artists take leaps and fly. To see the “Oh, I get it” look in an intelligent pair of eyes. To reap the fruit of laughter and camaraderie where hurt feelings and anger had threatened to take root.

Back to the strange part. I wrote A Rebel Heart this year, turning it in in early August (a full year after its original due date). Started over three times, and pretty much hated it until I was in the last chapter, which is not the ideal way to tackle a book. Of course I now love it, and the fact that it was so emotionally draining is a good sign. At least I hope so. The Reconstruction Era in American history was a defining time, a confusing time, a forgotten time. I learned a lot, winced a lot, and found some heroes I never knew existed. I hope my readers will be challenged and uplifted. I hope they’ll identify with my hero and heroine. We’ll see.

Then there’s my journey with personal discipline. I read through most of a Chronological Bible. Mainly I just chugged it every day without trying to contemplate too much. But I did find pieces winding themselves into my everyday walk, often informing and explaining and smoothing the quandaries in which I’d find myself. Or creating mysteries for further contemplation.

And I continued into a second year of daily exercise and balanced nutrition. I found this system in June of 2016 through the examples of my two youngest sisters. I’m a notorious lazy-butt, but the physical energy and general sense of emotional chill that settled on my undisciplined life made a believer out of me. Beachbody.com, if anybody is interested. I started with 21 Day Fix and have moved on from there. Really, habits matter. I lost 25 pounds and 3 dress sizes. I’m 60 years old, and this is the best I’ve ever felt in my life. Yes, it’s a sacrifice to get to bed by 9 PM and get up by 4:30 AM to work out for 30 minutes before work. But the alternative is unthinkable. Seriously. People ask me how I get everything done, so there you go.

Next day…Here we are in 2018! I look at my calendar for the year, already largely planned, and it’s frankly overwhelming. I’ll finish Daughtry House Book Two at the same time I’m launching The Rebel Heart. I’ll assist in producing a high school musical. I’ll take students to All State Chorus, County Honor Choir, Show Choir, State Choral Performance Assessment, and Solo and Ensemble. I’ll keep up with a variety of family and church events and activities and hopefully read a few good books.

Some of that will go smoothly, perhaps even brilliantly, but I always brace myself for the unexpected. The weird. The disastrous. The joyous.

Bring it on!

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Ahem. I have a confession to make.

For you wonderful people who have participated in the Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt and followed through on subscribing to my blog in order to receive a free copy of my novella, Reforming Seneca Jones—what I meant to request was that you sign up for my newsletter on my website home page, which is here:

www.bethwhite.net

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with subscribing to my blog…except that I don’t keep up with it as regularly as I should anymore! Signing up for my newsletter will get you a brief email from me, about four times a year—just giving you updates on what I’m working on, any appearances/book signings, etc, and of course new books! Also, that way I can pass along alerts to special deals run by my publisher, Amazon, or myself.

With that said, I will certainly honor your request for the novella, so I’ll send the download instructions along to your email address as soon as my hair is no longer on fire (it’s that time of year for high school teachers).

Carry on!

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Welcome to the Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt! I am a part of TEAM PINK, and this is Stop #5. If you’re just joining us, there are two loops—pink and purple—and they begin at Lisa Bergren’s site and Robin Hatcher’s site for stop #1 for either stream. If you complete either the pink loop or purple loop, you can enter for a Kindle paperwhite and the 17 autographed books from that loop. If you complete BOTH loops, you can enter for the Grand Prize of a Kindle Fire HDX and ALL 34 autographed books.

BE SURE to keep track of the clues at the bottom of every post in the loop and the favorite number mentioned. You’ll need those clues to enter for the loop prize and every number mentioned in order to enter for the grand prize.

The Hunt begins at NOON Mountain time on April 16 and ends at midnight Mountain on April 19, 2015, so you have a long weekend to complete all 32 stops and maximize your chances at prizes!

ALSO, please don’t use Internet Explorer to navigate through the loops. Some web sites won’t show up using IE. Please use Chrome or Firefox—they’re better anyway!

Without further ado, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to my guest for the Scavenger Hunt, Elizabeth Goddard.

goddard-LR-1 (2)

Elizabeth is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than twenty romance novels. A seventh generation Texan, Elizabeth graduated with a B.S. degree in computer science and worked in high-level software sales before retiring to home school her children and fulfill her dream of becoming an author. She currently makes her home in Minnesota, where she works with her husband in ministry. Find out more at elizabethgoddard.com, facebook.com/elizabethgoddardauthor, twitter.com/bethgoddard.

Here’s the summary of her latest book, BURIED:

Nowhere To Hide…

Fleeing to Alaska is the only option for Leah Marks after witnessing a murder. Afraid for her life, the legal investigator hopes a remote cabin will be a safe shelter. But the killer has tracked her to Mountain Cove. As he chases her into snow-packed Dead Falls Canyon, an avalanche buries them both. Saved by daring search and rescue specialist Cade Warren, Leah longs to tell him the truth. But how can she, without bringing even more danger into Cade’s life? Especially when they discover the killer is very much alive and waiting to take them both down.

Mountain Cove: In the Alaskan wilderness, love and danger collide

And here’s her EXCLUSIVE content, that you’ll only find in this hunt!

Avalanche Specialist: A Day in the Life

In BURIED, my hero is an avalanche specialist. That title covers a wide range of responsibilities, but mainly he’s a forecaster. Until I began research for the story, I had no idea there was such a job! I contacted an avalanche specialist to get details. He shared what he does for a living and his day-to-day activities. An avalanche specialist is an expert who works to keep people safe on the mountains and in urban areas where an avalanche can wreak havoc.

All photos by Bill Glude
He first gets experience on ski patrol, the best way to learn everything about avalanches. Ski patrollers get out early and assess the hazard by digging snow pits and setting off explosives to trigger avalanches in a controlled environment—all of this before the public hits the slopes.

After spending years doing this, a person gets a feel for the mountain, snow and backcountry terrain. Being in top physical condition, along with superior mountaineering skills, is also a requirement. And for a top job as a forecaster, an avalanche specialist needs a college degree in a technical or science field such as meteorology, engineering, geology or glaciology.

The work is grueling, and the pay isn’t always great. He lives and breathes avalanches. Lives are at stake.

But an avalanche specialist spends hours in the pristine mountain backcountry. He sees terrain and scenery that most never see. He skis or snowmobiles. Lives on the edge. Plays with explosives. Best of all, he saves lives!

So what does his day look like? Let Cade Warren tell you:

My day starts at 5 AM. I check temps, look out the window, record the weather and study weather websites as I get ready. At the office I work on the forecast that goes out at 7 AM so people can plan their day. Any changes in weather or avalanche warnings go out by 4 PM, again so people can plan their evening.

On field days, two of us work together for safety reasons, while others remain at the Mountain Cove Avalanche Center to monitor and report weather. We check paths, monitor loading and wind at starting zones, and study paths through binoculars, recording activity and conditions. When we forecast over Mountain Cove, we test slopes next to the starting zone that would affect the houses below. That requires helicopter access.

In case of extreme danger, an alert goes to the city, the National Weather Service, and SAR teams and media. During avalanche season, we’re in the field at higher elevations observing first hand. If we’re caught and a helicopter cannot return, then we have a designated path to ski down. Field work can take all day, taking pictures and making notes before skiing back down. At home I continually monitor conditions, especially during inclement weather. This sounds simplistic, but it’s too complex to explain. Avalanche stability evaluation includes observation, slope and traveling tests, and snow pit studies.

And there you have it—a day in the life of an unsung hero of the mountains!

THE SCAVENGER HUNT SKINNY:

Thanks for stopping by on the hunt! Before you go, make sure you WRITE DOWN THESE CLUES:

Secret Word(s): The

Secret Number: 12, for the number of steps in the chromatic scale

Got ‘em down?? Great! Your next stop is #6, Elizabeth Goddard’s site. Click on over there now. And if you get lost, a complete list of the loop with links can be found at our mother host’s site.

One more thing before you head out—I’m offering an extra treat for anyone who signs up for my newsletter: a free electronic copy of my novella “Reforming Seneca Jones”! Just fill out the subscribe form on my home page.

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young woman adjusting stockings by the windowThe following post is Part Two of an article I wrote for Angie Arndt of http://seriouslywrite.blogspot.com. Angie is posting the first half of the article at the above link, so if you haven’t read it yet, you might want to hop over there for the introductory section, then come back here for the rest. This comes in celebration of the release of my brand new historical romance, The Pelican Bride!

 

I’ve learned my own rhythm of composition. I know when I need a large quantity of time alone in my “writing cave”—and I’ve learned to unashamedly, firmly, but kindly insist on being left alone. I’ll call a substitute for my kids’ Bible study class so I can stay home and focus. I’ll take a day or two off from work (not too often though!) or say no to a Saturday babysitting request.

On days when I know there are going to be constant interruptions—like a three-day off-campus conference with my choir students—I take along research reading material and my iPad for notes, so that when I have a few minutes to myself I can occupy myself with something that doesn’t take as much concentration as composition or editing. And I save monotonous tasks (like updating my website or transferring addresses into a newsletter list) for broken-up tracts of time.

One thing I’ve learned the hard way: if I don’t discipline myself, the work doesn’t get done. Bottom line, if you want to write a book, nobody is going to do it for you. I, for example, have to say no to Sudoku. I have to occasionally turn off my favorite writers’ email loop. I have to limit TV time to an hour before bedtime.

And, as a Christian writer, I must be careful of priorities—or I cannot expect God to honor my desire to write for his glory. Priority number one is devotional and prayer time. Every single day. Priority number two is protecting my relationship with my husband. He gets the best of me, not the leftovers. After that, I listen to the Holy Spirit, as I said earlier. Sometimes the teaching job comes next, sometimes it’s my kids and grandkids, sometimes church responsibilities, sometimes the fiction writing.

A common question I get is How do you do all that and not go nuts? Well, holding those things loosely is one thing keeping me sane. Letting any one of those titles—writer, teacher, musician, wife, mother—define me, take over my life, would be seriously unhealthy. I’ve seen people become filled with pride to the point that they fall apart when the gift is removed.

Another suggestion (besides the obvious thing of staying in church fellowship) for keeping it real is to foster close relationships with other Christian writers who can keep you accountable—both to the work of writing and to maintaining spiritual health. Besides my husband and my sisters and mom, I have two or three very close friends/prayer partners whom I would be lost without.

I hope I haven’t set myself up as an expert in time management. I struggle daily to fit in all that seems important—and still write potentially life-changing stories. All I know is that my life to this point has been one wild, surprising ride. Jesus has been in it with me from the beginning, and I cannot wait to see what he has next. I would love to hear others share things they have learned in the course of balancing this high-wire of life. What say you?

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