Walk?

Walk?: A Dog Drama in One Part
Based on the Riveting True Story

INT. CHAOTIC YET WELCOMING HOME OFFICE – A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT

Scene opens on peaceful OWNER at her computer. DOG sits behind her.

DOG
(staring at back of OWNER’s head)

OWNER:
What? We already went for a walk.

DOG
(tilts head quizzically)

OWNER
No, we did. Remember? Twice.

DOG
(tilts head other direction)

OWNER
We walked for a half hour this morning. And then just this afternoon,
we walked for almost two hours.

DOG
(tip of tail wags tentatively at word “walk”)

OWNER
We went all the way to the dog park. You sniffed. You peed. You chased the ball.

DOG
(tail wags harder at word “ball”)

OWNER
It’s nine o’clock at night. We’re not going out again. No. Go lay down.

DOG
(ears flatten, eyes turn liquidy soft)

OWNER
Argh!

DOG
(jumps up because obviously “argh” means “yay walk time!”

THE END
(until tomorrow morning)

begging

NaNoWriMo next step

This post is for my writer friends. Readers, look away unless you want to see the vulnerable underbelly of writing.

I like writing a fast first draft. The Force is strong in my Internal Editor (as it was in young Anakin, and look how well that turned out) so I have to outrun her or the story will never get written. But then comes the “what next?” stage. How do I turn a hot mess hot draft into the next phase of a finished story?

1. Let it cool a bit.

Like a cookie fresh out of the oven, I always want to start snarfing right away. But giving the cookie a moment to cool on the pan develops some flavors I wouldn’t otherwise notice while scalding my tongue on molten choco chips. Same with the story. Most writers I know don’t have time to let a story sit for months, but taking even a short step away gives me a new perspective.

2. Re-read and see what’s on the page.

I usually make some notes as I’m going through, but I don’t slow down to do actual revision. I just want a sense of what the story turned out to be, and I want to hold the whole thing in my head at once before I go back again and make some real notes.

3. Know what I forget.

There’s a bunch of things I always forget to put in the first draft. Like, um, the romance. Derp, I know. But the romance is hard, so I usually have the plot beats (first kiss, first love scene, first realization of love) but I don’t slow down enough to get the feelings on the page. That comes later. Also, my characters are never dressed. Not because they spend the whole story in bed, but because I never bother to clothe them until a later draft. Also, I use an unholy number of ellipses… Knowing what I always do wrong makes it easier to look for those things during revisions, so hopefully I can spare my critique partners asking, “Does the hero ever put on pants?”

4. Don’t edit yet.

After the first draft is when a lot of writers want to start editing. Not yet. Revising comes first. To me, editing is fixing the words. Revising is fixing the story. Almost always, I find I come back to three key points:

  • Why should I care?
    This is about the stakes of the story. What’s at risk and why should that move me?
  • Why does the character care?
    This is about the main character’s issue, arc, and motivation. The trick here is to keep asking: “But why?” Go deeper until the character’s bedrock is revealed.
  • What keeps me reading?
    This is about pacing, making the plot and character revelations unspool in a way that keeps the reader emotionally invested in turning pages.

If I can pin down the stakes, character growth (to a resonant conclusion), and pacing, I’ll feel good enough about my story to send it out to my critique partners for some real savaging.

But first, I have to get my Christmas presents made!

Congrats to everyone who participated in NaNoWriMo. However many words you got done is more words than you had before!

99¢ Holiday!

‘Tis the season of long, cold winter nights (at least in the Northern Hemisphere). When the winds are howling and the lights are turned down low, snuggle up with some hot romance heroes. These amazing deals are limited time only, so get ‘em while they are cinnamon-schnapps hot! Click on the banners to find your winter book boyfriend.

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Make your winter getaway a beach read! KISSING DRAKE, a sexy contemporary from my alter ego Jenna Dales, is just 99¢ for this special sale.
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Pie!

There’s never quite enough chocolate at Thanksgiving but I’m always thankful for friends and family. I’m also thankful I have no mice in the house this year, which I typically do when the weather turns cold. So here’s this cute rodent for you. Happy!thanksgiving

Amok on Monday with Paty Jager

paty jager and horseNote from Jessa: I’m so psyched to have author Paty Jager on my blog today. She’s perfect for an Amok post because she seems like such a nice, quiet lady, and then you find out she’s, like, actually a real-life rope-‘em cowgirl! She has horses and cows and cute dogs and hay and other cowgirl things. A hat and boots even! Check out her blog and social media links at the end of this post to follow her and see all the amazing pictures of what life is like for a modern cowgirl. And then enjoy all her western-themed romances plus mysteries and adventures. Thanks for being with us, Paty!

  • Which is your favorite myth, legend, urban legend, Aesop fable, fairy tale, or superhero, and why?

I have always been interested in the story of the Wallowa Lake monster. This is the lake in the area where I grew up. As a child I stared at the lake and vowed I’d never go in. The story was told that a great antlered beast lived in the bottomless lake. Growing up and learning more about the area, I discovered the myth or legend started with the Nez Perce Indian band that lived in the Wallowa Valley in the summer time. One winter was so cold that when elk tried to swim across the lake they froze and their antlers remained above the ice’s surface, this is how the myth started of the antlered monster. The adults in the Nez Perce band used this as a means of keeping the children in line. It was their “boogie” man. They told the children if they weren’t good and didn’t listen to their elders, the antlered beast of the lake would come to their lodge at night and take them down into his watery home. I used this concept for one of the Nez Perce spirits on my Spirit Trilogy books. He is a shape shifter who lives in the form of an elk in Wallowa Lake.

  • Which Disney princess are you most like? Or least like? Personalities aside, whose hair would you want?

Disney princess…My favorite is Mulan. She pretended to be a male to keep her invalid father from having to go to war. I liked her spunk and showing the boys/men she could do everything they did. I was like that as a youth. I had to do everything my brothers did and better. As for hair… It’s a toss-up between Ariel’s thick, fiery locks and Rapunzel’s long, silky strands. At this point I like anything that isn’t silver. ;)

  • Which romantic lead tropes do you find yourself returning to in your stories?

My heroines have to be take charge women and my heroes have to have a sense of humor.

  • When did you realize you were a writer? What was your inciting incident?

My inciting incident for becoming a writer happened my senior year of high school. Our English teacher gave an assignment to research a person from history and write about an event that happened in their life from their point of view. I chose Joan of Arc burning at the stake. The teacher picked my story to read to the class. When she finished, no one, not even the class clown, made a sound. Having been an avid reader my whole life that was the first time I honestly realized the power of words.

  • If you weren’t a writer, what would you do with all that free time?

I’m a creative person. I’d be making quilts, decorating cakes, possibly painting. Instead I paint visions in reader’s minds with my words.

  • What is your personal theme song today?

Today- The day I answered all these questions my theme song is Celebrate! We (hubby and I) are building a house with the hopes of moving in before Christmas and today we passed all the inspections!! Now we can move forward and only have to worry about the final inspection.

  • Not including the obvious (guns, knives, etc.) which object nearest you would make a suitable weapon in the event of a zombie-ninja-robot invasion?

Probably my dog’s breath! Honestly, I don’t know how something so cute can put off such a pungent odor. All she’d have to do is pant and it would putrefy the zombie completely, weaken the ninja, and melt the robot’s metal.

  • What do you like best about your current work, published or not?

I am having the time of my life writing my new mystery series. The amateur sleuth is a potter who sells her wares as art. She is part Native American and her recently deceased grandmother comes to her in dreams revealing hints to the murderers.

  • Do you do anything special for your readers?

Paty Jager Western Duets ChristmasEvery year about this time I like to “give away” a book or story. This year it is Western Holiday Duets this is a novelette with two short historical western romances. You can find it for free at:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iBooks
Kobo

 

This is Jessa again. Thanks, Paty, for sharing the holiday spirit with us! Want to read more from Paty Jager? You can find Double Duplicity: A Shandra Higheagle Mystery at Amazon for pre-order. Release date is Jan. 10, 2015.

Paty Jager Double DuplicityDouble Duplicity Blurb

On the eve of the biggest art event at Huckleberry Mountain Resort, potter Shandra Higheagle finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. She’s ruled out as a suspect, but now it’s up to her to prove the friend she’d witnessed fleeing the scene was just as innocent. With help from her recently deceased Nez Perce grandmother, Shandra becomes more confused than ever, but just as determined to discover the truth.

Detective Ryan Greer prides himself on solving crimes and refuses to ignore a single clue, including Shandra Higheagle’s visions. While Shandra is hesitant to trust her dreams, Ryan believes in them and believes in her. Together they discover the gallery owner wasn’t the respectable woman she’d portrayed. Can the pair uncover enough clues for Ryan to make an arrest before one of them becomes the next victim?

Excerpt:

“Paula?” A light shone around the edges of the partially open office door. Shandra pushed the door open. “Why aren’t you answer—”

Paula’s arms hung splayed away from her body that was cradled in her leather office chair. A large red patch spread across her body and lifeless eyes stared up at the ceiling.

Shandra backed out of the room. She couldn’t swallow for the lump of fear and vileness she’d just witnessed.

“Think… Call the police.” She punched in 9 as sirens shrieked and grew louder. “Maybe they’re coming here.” They had to be coming here. This town is too small for there to be two incidents where the cops are needed at the same time.

She put her phone in her bag and strode toward the front of the building. The door buzzed, and a young officer she’d never seen before burst into the building with his gun held in front of him.

“Stop! Put your hands in the air!” he shouted.

Shandra squeaked and raised her arms.

“Did you call the cops?”

“No. I—”

He advanced on her so fast she didn’t know what was happening until he wrenched her arm behind her back.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m detaining you until I can search the premises.” He cuffed her and started to haul her to the door.

“Oh, no, you don’t. I’m not going into a squad car and looking like a criminal when I’m not. I just arrived and found Paula in the office. I was starting to call nine-one-one when I heard the sirens.” Shandra dug in her boot heels. There was no way she’d have the whole town see her sitting in a cop car. She’d done nothing wrong.

“Who’s Paula?” He tugged on her, but she refused to be humiliated for nothing.

“The owner of the gallery. She’s in her chair in the office. Dead.” That stopped the zealous officer.

“We received a phone call of suspicious activity.” He changed course, pushing her ahead of him to the back of the building and the office.

Shandra complied. She’d rather stand by the office door while he did his thing than be seen in a cop car.

At the office, Blane, his name tag said, stood her next to the door. “Don’t move. You’re still a suspect.”

She nodded. She’d stay here all day if she didn’t have to look at Paula again.

Pre-order DOUBLE DUPLICITY now!

Bio: Award-winning author Paty Jager and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon.  On her road to publication she wrote freelance articles for two local newspapers and enjoyed her job with the County Extension service as a 4-H Program Assistant. Raising hay and cattle, riding horses, and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Her penchant for research takes her on side trips that eventually turn into yet another story.

You can learn more about Paty at her blog Writing into the Sunset; her website; or on FacebookGoodreads and Twitter.