If you can touch one life, make a difference for one person then you have led a successful life. I am just one author who has benefited from following Sarra Cannon’s Heart Breathing YouTube channel. I fell in love with her honesty, her openness and her willingness to share the bad as well as the good parts of being a published author. As an indie author, we have to be our own boss, manage our own business, do everything from plan the stories to marketing our books and making sure all the bills get paid. It can be overwhelming. That’s why I am so glad Sarra offers her Publish and Thrive Course. As an alumni, I can take the course for free anytime she offers it. The next round begins Monday, February 7th and I’m going to be front and center. Sarra has some new things she wants to share and I am so excited.
I understand that $399 is a huge investment. Sarra allows students to break the payments down in a couple of ways, $75 a month for 6 months or $38 a month for 12. If you can’t afford to take Publish and Thrive at this time, believe me, I understand. I’ve raised six sons and had to do some creative bookkeeping to make ends meet. Check out Sarra’s YouTube channel https://youtu.be/7vMuLBV-TIU
I have been following Sarra’s YouTube channel for several years. It wasn’t until I met her in person at a Heart of Carolina Writers’ Conference that I got brave enough to take a chance on myself. That is what this investment is, it’s about believing in yourself, your craft and doing whatever you can to be the best you can be. I am so thankful for this program and for the chance to take a refresher. There is so much I need to learn, re-learn, be reminded of, and I’ll be honest with working full time, sometimes I have to make a choice on what I’m focusing on this time. Each time I feel like I’ve gain another piece of the puzzle.
We’ve been talking about writing fight scenes the past couple of weeks. Last night I gave my presentation for the Pamlico Writers’ Group via Zoom.
Writers don’t have the luxury of film and music scores to set up their battle. It is up to us to take the reader on an emotional journey with us as we embark on our “battle.” Whether it’s a full blown battle scene like Star Wars or a scene where you are trying to get a toddler to bed, there are several degrees to each battle scene.
The Battle from a distance or preparing for battle. Imagine being on a convoy ship going into your first battle. The commander is watching the battle from a monitor aboard ship. The soldier beside you is a seasoned warrior, battle scarred and old before his time, he is praying. You were excited about your first fight until you see the warriors hands shake.
In my story Red Steel I have several small battles. In the first one, Melanie is going to confront her ex-boyfriend, the leader of a biker gang.
Chapter 1: Melanie, Into the Fire
New Year’s Eve
Melanie gripped the steering wheel, her knuckles turning white. Panic turned to dread as the realization of what had happened to Jonas finally hit her. She pressed the gas. The little clunker sputtered as she sped towards her ex-boyfriend’s farm. “Boyfriend,” she snorted. Tears blurring her vision. She’d met the biker outside Jacksonville, Florida at the hole she’d been working. He’d been handsome and kind. He’d seemed like the perfect knight to rescue her from her life of waiting tables and giving guys blow jobs in the backseat of their cars for extra money just so she could have enough money to pay bills and feed her kid. Out of the frying pan into the fire as her grandma would say. She should have stayed with Jonas’ daddy. He wasn’t that bad. He was controlling and he’d hit her but…
Her head connected with the roof of the car as she hit another pothole. She cursed the long winding dirt lane that passed for a road. This one was big enough to bury a dog, a very big dog. She prayed she didn’t mess up the car before she reached Midas. Cursing, she swerved around another pothole and swiped at the blinding tears. “That sorry son-of-a-bitch has a lot to answer for.” The pistol in her purse shifted as she jerked the wheel to avoid another pothole. She grabbed the purse to keep it from sliding out. This road was not designed to be taken at top speed, but Melanie had no time to lose. She’d wasted too many precious hours already. Her stomach lurched as fear threatened to consume her. The phone call with her ex-husband kept playing in her mind. “How could you lose our son?” She couldn’t allow her fears to freeze her into inactivity. Guilt, fear, dread mingled with the exhaust of the ragged little car. She would not be ill. She would have answers tonight or someone was going to die. A shiver ran up her spine. She knew by confronting Midas at his farm, she would probably be the one to die but she hoped she wasn’t alone.
Finally, she pulled into the yard. A line of motorcycles stood in front of one of the old barns. The bikers had converted several of the outbuildings into barracks. One served as a brothel. Melanie shuddered knowing she’d barely escaped that fate. Winston, before he’d become Midas, hadn’t been that bad. It was only after he’d joined the bikers and started working his way up that he’d truly became an asshole.
Only a half dozen or so bikes were out at the barn. That was good news, maybe she could survive this night. She wondered where the rest of the bikers were. It was unusual that they all weren’t celebrating the holiday together. She didn’t have time to worry about biker politics as she sped into the clearing that served as parking for the mildewed, old doublewide. Stopping the car inches from the front porch, she threw the shifter in park and pocketed the keys. Snatching her purse from the seat, she started towards the porch only to have her way blocked by Midas’ second in command, Nick Golden. She would find it funny that a man who called himself Midas would have an enforcer called Golden, but she suspected that there was a link between the two, and at the moment, the only thing Melanie had time to think about was her son. Pulling the pistol from her purse she pointed it at Nick’s chest. “I got business with Midas. If you try to stop me, I will shoot you.”
Nick put his hands in the air and called out, “Midas, company. Mel’s here.” He grinned at her showing surprisingly white teeth. “And she’s pissed.” He stepped out of her way and nodded for her to proceed him into the trailer.
Shouts, laughter and fireworks came from the field beside the house. The bikers were drunk, but she had no illusions, if she threatened their boss, they wouldn’t hesitate to kill her. Melanie’s heart sank, she didn’t regret dying to avenge her son, she only wished she could have seen him one last time. If I’m not getting out of here alive, I’ll take as many of them with me as I can. Even if someone heard a gunshot, they’d just think it was part of the New Year’s celebration.
A young blond had her head in Winston’s crotch, giving him a blow job. Mel rolled her eyes and dropped her gun into her purse. She walked over and kicked the girl in the foot. “Leave.”
The girl looked up, her dark eyes startled. She couldn’t be more than fourteen. Melanie’s stomach heaved. The child hesitated. Midas pushed her away. “Go on, we’ll finish this later.” He didn’t bother to put his dick in his pants. He watched the young girl go and asked. “You planning to take her place. You always were better at giving head.” He leaned back in the well-worn recliner.
“Fuck you Midas, where’s my son?” Melanie tried not to let her fear show.
He shrugged. “How should I know?”
“I just got off the phone with my ex, he’s been deployed for the past ten months. He’s not seen or heard from Jonas. So where is my son?”
Midas, real name, Winston Jarvis, righted his clothes and stood. “I told you Mel, I don’t know. I sold the kid…”
The crack reverberated surprising them both. Melanie didn’t remember moving, only the sting in her hand and the imprint on Midas’ face gave proof that she’d slapped him. With a shuddering breath she demanded, “When? When did you sell him?”
Rubbing the side of his face, Midas shrugged. “Right after you went to the hospital.”
Tears filled her eyes. “You bastard.”
“Yeah, what else was I going to do with a kid? I’m not into boys.”
Melanie pulled the pistol from her purse. “Who did you sell him to?”
“Put your toy gun away Mel, you know I have bigger guns and more of them.” He nodded behind her, but she refused to look.
Keeping the pistol trained on Midas she demanded, “Who has my son?”
He laughed. “Well see, that’s the thing, we don’t know. My buyer got misdirected and the person who bought him, well, they still owe me money…”
She felt the air shift behind her and pulled the trigger.
“I can’t believe you let her bring a fucking gun in here,” she heard Midas scream as the butt of a gun connected with the side of her head. The pain in her head exploded in a blinding light, then everything went dark.
While this scene wasn’t a big battle, it was life changing for Melanie. In truth she should have died and perhaps she wanted to commit suicide believing she’d never see her son again but she planned to take Midas down with her.
Your Point of View character is the most important element in telling/showing this scene because it is through her eyes that we see and FEEL the battle.
Whether it is an epic battle or a smaller fight, the character should be changed. If it was an all out war, more than just the character should have suffered change, the place it happened should be scarred, the economy affected, people sick and dying, shortages on food and medicine. If this was a personal battle, who else suffered? Did anyone gain anything?
I hope you are enjoying my writing tips on fight scenes. I’d love to hear some of yours. I’m always looking to learn more.
Happy Writing y’all!
If you enjoyed this excerpt from RED STEEL, it is on sale for 99 cents through Amazon and other ebook retailers.
I hosted a Writer’s Block Meet Up on RWA’s virtual conference. It was a great, small meet up group that allowed us to discuss different subjects. Although the main focus was writer’s block, the discussion made me realize that there are a lot of things that can cause writer’s block.
How has Covid effected your writing? Are you in quarantine writing more or are you like me, working and feeling exhausted? My writing has suffered during the virus. I’m considered an essential worker. I manage a liquor store. People are working from home or are staying at home. But it wasn’t just the increase in sales but the worry and concern over what this virus could do to me or to my family. Working with the public, having extra responsibilities to keep us safe, fear of bringing it home, all of this made it difficult for me to write. I finished Janie’s Secrets during Covid, it was nearly a month later than I’d planned but I did finish it. Unfortunately, that put me behind on other things I wanted to write like the novella for the Heart of Carolina and The New Romance Café. Covid has just zapped me.
What do you think is the biggest cause of writer’s block? I rarely have trouble thinking of things to write. I have trouble finding time to write. This year has been difficult with the extra stress, work and grief. I have a large family, a home, a mother who depends on me, a husband who’d like a little attention occasionally, and then there is the marketing and promoting that also takes time.
The worst time I had with writer’s block was after we lost our home to fire followed by losing my dad the next year, then Hurricane Irene destroying my mother’s home, and she falling and breaking her hip. I had a difficult time getting back into the swing of writing. Chrome Pink took several years to get written, but writing it was what helped me out of my writer’s block. One of the first things I did to help with my own writer’s block was take online classes. I also attended a local writer’s conference. I began my own writer’s group. I pushed through the block and just started writing. I wrote less than 500 words a day at that time and not every day then. Making it a habit, as often as I can a daily habit, pushing myself to write more, competing in Book in a Week and NaNoWriMo has also helped fight through the writer’s block.
Do you have any hacks to help you combat writer’s block? Normal writer’s block, i.e. fatigue, stress, lack of time, I fight in a variety of ways.
I love to dance. Sometimes a little music and movement can shake something loose in the muse.
A walk. My town is the inspiration for my series, a walk around town puts me in touch with my muse. I often take photos which I use on social media, so my walk is a two-for, or three-for as it’s also good for me.
Playing with my grandchildren, two of my grands live next door and whenever they call for grandma, I can’t say no. I mean, who could say no to two adorable little boys?
Write something different.
Try poetry. Write a poem or song, try writing it from your character’s POV.
Write an interview with your characters. Ask them the hard questions.
Write an article, blog post, advertisement, or synopsis.
Write until you have a breakthrough.
Maybe you need to read over what you’ve written and see where you’ve gone off the rails.
Rethink, replot, or rewrite until you see your way out of your schlump.
Read a craft book to help you write better.
Read and relax.
Listen: this was suggested in our discussion this morning and I cannot believe I didn’t think of it because I do this.
Audio-dramas or books: listen to your favorite performances or authors and pay attention to how they write or put words together; or listening to craft books on writing.
YouTube videos or podcasts: there are several tutorials on the craft and business of writing. They can inspire you to write better or give you new ideas.
I’d love to hear how you combat writer’s block. Share your tricks and hacks.
Today I have the great
honor of welcoming Andie Wood, the founder of The New Romance Café Facebook
Group and the heart behind the spring and summer anthologies, “Love in Bloom”
and “Hot Summer Nights.” Welcome to North Carolina and Creekside Café.
Andie: I’ve never been to the States. I have many friends there and
would love to visit one day soon.
Sherri: It means so much to have you here today. I am so honored to be
included in the “Love in Bloom” spring anthology. Is this the first time you’ve
coordinated an anthology?
Andie: When I started the group (The New Romance Café), I wanted to
help empower and provide a platform for aspiring and unpublished writers, as
well as connecting them with their readership. More established authors joined
as well, and I felt this led to a greater sense of community and purpose. Since
it is a romance focused group, it felt natural that the output should be a
romance collection or anthology. This also led to the idea that the profits of
this should all go to charity.
I’m very excited that The Romance
Café will be launching its first anthology of short stories created by author
members. I see the anthology as the first step in generating as much exposure
for them as possible, all towards a great cause: breast cancer research and
care. Several members’ lives have been affected by cancer one way or
another. Many are survivors themselves. We’re honoring all those whose lives
have been touched by cancer.
Sherri: That is one of the things that attracted me to the anthology. Eastern
North Carolina has one of the largest groups of death by cancer in the United States.
Where are you from?
Andie: I’m originally from Romania but I’ve lived all over the place. I
lived in the UK (United Kingdom) for 11 years, had a stint in Spain and
Gibraltar, and for the past 2 years I’ve been in the other side of the world,
in New Zealand.
Sherri: I’m so jealous. I’ve never been anywhere except the US and
Mexico. I traveled some before David and I married, but haven’t had much chance
to travel since. Are you married? Do you have children?
Andie: I’m married, I have a 3-year old
son and I’m currently 32 weeks pregnant, expecting a baby girl in April.
Sherri: That’s exciting. I had all boys, six of them but I’ve been
lucky to have great daughters-in-law and some awesome granddaughters.
You are so active in The
New Romance Café, do you work full-time?
day, I roam the virtual streets of digital marketing. By night, I’m a voracious
love to read but have less chance to do so now with trying to publish and at
the moment I’m eye-ball deep in conference preparations. Who are your favorite authors,
what genres do you like to read?
Andie: I love romance and gentle crime. In terms of authors, I
have to mention Alexander McCall Smith, Sarah MacLean, Nora Roberts, Tessa
Dare, and Jayne Ann Krentz and her alter egos. It’s a long list.
Sherri: I’m not familiar
with Alexander McCall Smith, but the others you mentioned are some of my favorites.
I’ll suggest Sabrina Jeffries, she writes Regency Romance.
Besides reading, what are your other passions?
Andie: I love reading, of course. My other big love is Pokemon. If you
watch any of my Facebook Live sessions, you’ll notice I have an impressive
collection of Pokemon mugs.
Sherri: I’m a big fan
of Minions. They crack me up. I’ve even made a minion of me.
One of my passions is cooking though I have very
little time to do it with work and writing. Do you like to cook?
Andie: In terms of my cooking, I have a mantra: if it’s not
ready in 45 mins max, I’m not making it.
Sherri: I watch a lot
of cooking shows but mostly dream about cooking. Do you have a favorite recipe
or a favorite food?
Andie: I’m a big pizza fan, ideally with a thin crust. I
remember the first time I saw a pizza, it was being eaten by the Teenage Mutant
Ninja Turtles! I must have been quite young and it’s left an impression on me.
Pizza is one of my favorite things to eat, I’m not good at making it. My first
memory of pizza was when we lived in Hampton, Virginia we’d pick up pizza from
the Giant Open-Air Market and carry it home. The aroma of pepperoni and bell peppers,
spicy sauce and yeast still wafts around in my brain like a ghost. I couldn’t
have been more than seven or eight.
The bad thing about pizza, for me
anyway, is the calories. I need to start dieting and exercising? My youngest son
and his wife are big on going to the gym and running. If I’m running, don’t ask
questions just keep going. Are you an athlete or into fitness?
afraid the most taxing exercise I do is yoga.
Sherri: You talked about
having friends all over the world. Do you keep in touch with them? It must be
difficult with the different time zones.
try to make myself as available as possible to my friends, particularly as
distance and different time zones make it difficult to have set times.
You are the founder and host of several online
writing and reading groups, tell us about them.
though romance is THE most sold book genre, it has a stigma attached to it, as
well as to those who read it. I created The Romance Café in mid 2018 because I
felt that romance readers and aspiring writers were lacking safe,
non-judgemental places online where they could discuss their favourite books
and authors. Join us here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/292243634861501.
Sherri: Thank you Andie for joining me at Creekside Café, I’ve enjoyed our chat. Don’t forget our spring anthology, Love in Bloom goes on sale March 8th, you can preorder your copy. I ordered mine from Amazon US. The proceeds will go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation #BCRF, a US based company that works globally. For more information about the charity, go to their website https://www.bcrf.org/
First Date/Blind Date
Like a blind date I embark on my maiden voyage of NaNoWriMo with giddiness and fear! I am terrified and intrigued by the program. Like any first date the most beautiful thing a person can put on is confidence. While I am usually a wimp frightened of my own shadow, thanks to the Heart of Carolina’s Book in a Week program I am accustomed to pushing myself to make word count. Years of sharing my work, reading my mistakes aloud with members of the Pamlico Writers Group and the North Carolina Writers Read I have acquired a scrap of confidence. Will it be enough to see me through? Sink or swim, true love or see ya…I am going to put everything I have into this month and see what I’m made of.
Cleaning my Office
While cleaning my office in preparation of doing NaNoWriMo I came across the November/December 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest. This edition has several articles on NaNoWriMo, as I began re-reading these articles I began putting the ideas into my own plan.
1. Get your mind in the right place. Believe-Achieve-Succeed! No matter how many words I write it is more than I have right now. Make each goal a reason to celebrate!
2. Start Fresh. Starting a new project is fuel for the muse. The words flow faster when they are in their infancy.
3. Prepare! While I am a pantser and even the thought of the word Outline has me breaking into a sweat I know for this project I need to plan out the novel even if I can’t plot it all.
4. Set goals. 50,000 words in 30 days. 12,500 words per week for 4 weeks. Which equals roughly to 1,667 words per day.
5. Keep going, some days I may be lucky to get 500 words, others I may do 5,000, don’t let one bad day derail me just keep writing.
6. Work ahead, no editing and just write! I tend to write, rewrite and write some more. For this challenge I’ll need to turn off that part of my brain, just hope I remember to turn it back on.
7. Buddy up, thankfully I have a few friends who are also doing NaNoWriMo and I’ve met a few new friends in an on-line class. Having and being a part of a cheering squad is also important.
sherrilhollister.com/Suspense She Writes Bookstore Dismiss