Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Writing Wednesday: Quick Editing (Repost)

Some of you have seen this before, but I hope this helps you all! :)

Remember too, I have articles at my website on the craft of writing if you haven't read them already.

1) Look at the beginning of your sentences. Do the first two or three words need to be there? If you eliminate them, does it make the sentence stronger?

By the time we arrived at the graveyard, rain poured down all around us.

We arrived at the graveyard in the middle of a downpour.

Do the same for the end of your sentences:

I needed the food or I would starve without it.

I needed the food or I would starve.

2) This is part of the previous--if you have the word "it" in your sentence, "it" might mean the sentence can be better constructed:

When the repair man came to fix our washing machine last time, he serviced it without a complaint.

The last time the repair man came, he fixed our washing machine without complaint.

Get rid of the "it" whenever you can.

3) Last, run a search for these words in your manuscript and see how many you can eliminate because they are unnecessary:


Often times, the following context shows what those words mean, or the sentence simply doesn't need the word to be there at all. Words like "almost" generally indicate that a stronger sentence can be created.

Do NOT eliminate all of them--that's been a complaint every time I share this list. My advice is meant to get rid of words hindering, not enriching, your story or style.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Hey everyone ;)

I'm looking for a few good readers out there. I'd like a pair of fresh eyes for general opinions on the opening four chapters of an urban fantasy I'm thinking of pursuing.

If you could email me at if you're intrested, I'd be truly grateful for any thoughts you might have after reading.

Thank you so much!


Monday, July 27, 2009

I'm Interviewed :)

Hey everyone :)

Just dropping by on a Maybe Monday to let everyone know I've been interviewed today:

Book Tall with J&J

Anyone who leaves a comment is entered to win an autographed copy of Stark Knight and a free personalized book thong ;)

Stop on by and say hi!


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Saturday Serial: #6 A Royal Journey

Episode #6: A Royal Journey
By Bella Vida and J.R. Turner

When last we saw Julie, she and the warriors traveled to Sky Bridge where the Wira birdmen attacked and they fought for their lives...

Warriors to the back and front cried out in rage, frightening the birdmen for a mere second. Stunned they could be so easily freaked, all of us shouted and slashed until we reached the end of the bridge and raced for the cover of the trees. The Wira didn't follow and I sank to my knees, trying not to wretch as I used a fat leaf to clean the blood off my hands. Tears blurred my vision.
Inti placed an uncertain hand on my back. "The Queen will be proud of you."

"I don't care about the stupid queen. I want my Grandma and I want Mom and Dad and I want to go home."

"Yes. I take you to your Grandma, the queen."

"The queen is Grandma?" How dumb could I have been not to put it together sooner? "Grandma's alive?"

Joyously I hugged him. He patted me awkwardly. "We go now."

I pulled back. "Yes. We go now."

He smiled. "You make fun of me?"

"No," I said. "I'm in a hurry, too."

"Good. We should make it in three moons."

We walked down the mountainside, silent and somber in the hot humid jungle. Two warriors died defending me. Though going downhill was so much easier than walking up, the noises here seemed louder, more wild.

Later that afternoon, between pretty, but really stinky red flowers, I spotted a boat on a wide river below us. A man with the whiskers and yellow slicker of a sea-faring captain waited on a pier. When we got closer, I saw one arm ended in a bright orange crab claw.

When he spoke, sandy water gurgled in his neck. He covered a hole in his throat and said, "It is my honor to have her royal princess aboard my ship. Seas the Moment has weathered every storm, every battle and I, Captain Cabral, shall personally see to your protection!"

I gave the weary vessel a once over and wondered if there were any storms or battles left in the old thing, or its captain. Spic-n-span clean, though, and so much better than walking.

Inti said, "Thank you, Captain. We are most grateful."

"We must leave quickly," he said. "My claws itchin', means a storm brewing. We leave now, we'll make it out before it hits."

"We are ready when you are," Inti said.

"Well, then, all aboard!" The captain yelled in his crusty voice, "Shake a leg, prepare to haul anchor."

The boat stunk of fish and Digel dropped his nose to the planks, sniffing happily in every nook and cranny.

Cabral Jr., his claw not yet full sized, smiled at me. "Princess, I'll take you to your room."

I followed him down a short stairway and ducked into a room with four hammocks attached to the wall.

He gave me an apologetic grin. "This is the best room. The other is where we keep the fish in season. It's not much, but the ropes are solid. You can leave your bag here. Are you hungry?"

I nodded. "Thanks."

"We have your meal ready your royalness," He bowed awkwardly.

Okay, embarrassing! "I'm Julie. Just Julie."

"Yes, Princess Just Julie. Whatever you say." He smiled and I shook my head.

We had fish for dinner.

Below decks again, Inti offered me the top hammock and I climbed a little ladder to get in. Digel barked until Inti picked him up and set him by my feet.

"Rest now," Inti said. "The boat will take us around the Grave Desert and leave us on the shores of the Black Forest. The Crystal Castle isn't far. The Queen is waiting for you there."

How did he expect me to fall asleep after that? To think, I'd see Grandma again so soon. Excited, I lay a long time until the swaying hammock rocked me to sleep.

The sound of a violin woke me. I sat up in the pitch black. Digel was gone, too. Carefully I climbed down, wrapping the thin blanket around my shoulders, and followed the music onto the deck.

A small group of children dressed in pajamas sang and danced as a young boy played the violin faster. They joined hands, spinning in a circle.

Fat rain drops fell and the faster the boy played, the faster the rain came down. Instead of rushing to get out of the rain, a little girl turned and dove overboard. To my horror, another went, and another.

"Wait! Stop!" I ran toward them.

By the time I reached the boy, the others were all gone. He ignored me and kept playing. I raced to the railing and looked over, but no child bobbed, crying for help in the black waters below.

Digel barked, his fur soaked with rain.

"Julie!" Inti shouted. "Do not move!"

At the sound of Inti's voice, the boy stopped playing and turned his gaze on me. He opened his mouth wide. A yellow light streamed from his eyes and mouth, his slim body melding into the form of a huge snake. He coiled, head bobbing above me.

Shocked, I froze and his tail wrapped around my legs, squeezing. I screamed.

He leaned close, hissing. "I will have you for my supper."

His jaw unhinged, then awful hot orange blood sprayed me everywhere. Inti had chopped off his head. I gagged. In reflex, the boy-snake's tale tightened around me. The other warriors rushed to my rescue. They hacked and pulled on the rain-slick flesh. I turned my face to the sky, gasping for air and letting the rain rinse off the gook.

Finally the tail came free and together, the warriors threw the piece overboard. I gulped air. Digel licked my leg and I patted him on the head. "I'm okay boy."

"Those are water spirits, lassie. They get you to play and then it's down their gullets you go." Captain Cabral said.

"I'm fine," I said, humiliated now. "Nothing happened."

How foolish of me to go up there and get tricked. Inti would scold me now and I didn't want to hear it. Back in my bunk, I hurried to fall asleep so he wouldn't make me feel worse than I did.

No one came to wake me in the morning. Only Digel lay with me, keeping my feet warm in an icy room. Why had it turned so cold? Bright sunshine streamed in through a round window. "Where is everyone, huh, Digel?"

He uttered a little whine.

Inti came in with warm clothes, a coat, boots, gloves, hat and scarf. Already bundled up, he reminded me of a tattooed Eskimo.

"Thank you," I said and accepted the clothing. "Thank you for saving me last night."

He nodded once. "The journey will end and you will soon be with the Queen."

He left me to dress and I hurried to see why everything was so cold, and because I was starving. On deck, Cabral jr. handed me a hot biscuit—filled with fish. I ate as I stared at the huge forest pines and firs as big as skyscrapers all around us.

By the time we docked, Digel decided he liked sitting between my warm boots. We said goodbye to the Captain and his son.

"We are honored to have been a part of your journey." Captain Cabral bowed low, hit his son in the belly, and the boy joined him in the bow.

"Thanks," Julie said, unsure what she was supposed to do.

Inti saved her and urged her to fall in line behind the warriors ahead. Not far from port, and old man and his wife waited with seven horses. Inti introduced me, "This is Goodman Tall and his wife. They've brought you these horses as gifts."

The older man's eyes twinkled as he came forward, dragging his cap off his head. "For the princess, for you your royalness."

"Uh, thanks," I said. I totally wasn't getting the hang of this. Grown ups ordered me around, they didn't give me gifts. I couldn't imagine my mom bowing and saying thanks after giving me a ride to the mall.

We didn't stay long, to my relief, but got on the horses right away. Inti helped me onto mine and Digel trotted beside us, shying away from the horse's hooves.

We wound deeper into the darkness and Inti whispered, "Stay close. These are unfamiliar woods to us."

I nodded. Even Digel seemed to understand the need to stay quiet. He didn't bark or yip or anything. We rode until a huge mound of snow covered the path ahead.

Inti hopped down and gathered a big chunk, breaking the snow apart in his hands. He gave me a glowing grin. "We are almost there."

Out of the darkness, a fox with three tails dashed in front of the horses. Mine whinnied and reared back. When she came down, wolves emerged slowly, their eyes glinting in the growing dusk. They made a ring around us, with Inti at the center and without his spear.

Tune in next week for the exciting continuation of Letters to the 5th Direction!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thrilling Thursday: The Office To Die For

I'm thrilled today, because I got my laptop back! Yay!

For those of you who don't know, a flying mouse smashed my screen on July 6th and I had to have it replaced. (Next on my list: a wireless mouse so my wire won't get caught on the edge and snap out of my hands again!)

There is something to be said for mobility—and not being stuck in my basement, as lovely and charming as it is. I always wanted a real office, with book cases lining the walls, and now I have that—even a wonderful fireplace for those long cold winters. The only thing my office is missing? Windows.

I am a floor-to-ceiling window type of gal. If I ever had the opportunity to design my own house and build anywhere I wished, I'd choose a spot with huge trees, a windy little river nearby—for swimming, fishing and canoeing, and I'd have awesome windows all throughout the house to let in natural sunlight and allow us to enjoy the view.

That, for me, would be thrilling ;) In the meantime, though, I've got my laptop and I can make anywhere my office—well, as long as I'm not getting rained on ;) Here's the view I'm enjoying this morning as the sun comes out:

(Excuse the wonkiness, the screen doesn't help the clarity)

What about you? What would be your perfect office? Do you have one already? Got pictures we can see? Share what you think is the perfect workspace for all you do ;)


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Writing Wednesday: Nuts&Bolts Stuff

Okay folks, it's time to understand sentence constructions. We often get tied into a patter of two or three of our favorites, maybe offering up something different now and again when the green squiggle of grammar grumpiness shows up.

I learned 20 different sentence patterns and how to combine them in 10 different ways from a great book I highly recommend: The Art of Styling Sentences by K.D. Sullivan

The most common sentence constructions I've seen in fiction writing are:

Jimmy walked to the store. (Simple)

Walking to the store, Jimmy whistled. (Beginning with a gerund)

Jimmy, while whistling, walked to the store. (Parenthetical asides.)

Those three can become monotonous and beginning with a gerund is a construction that should be used as sparingly as possible as it lends itself well to telling, rather than showing. So today, we're gonna learn about prepositional phrases!! Ooo goody!:) No, really, this will be fun, if you don't let the grammar grumpies ruin the experience.

Just remember, PRE-positions. That's it, not hard at all, right?

So here are the rules:

The "pre" means it comes before the object. It's always got a buddy with it because it has to show the relationship between the word it modifies and itself:

All through the house, not a creature stirred.

So the prepositional phrase here: all through the house—modifies where its buddy, the creatures, didn't stir. Where didn't they stir? In the house of course!

Let's try another:

All across the country, Joe is an excellent mechanic.

Hmm… Something seems odd with that one, doesn't it?

Sure, maybe Joe is a traveling mechanic, but the sentence doesn't seem to match. This PREposition isn't really Joe's buddy. Now, if we make them buddies, see what happens:

Despite missing three fingers on his left hand, Joe is an excellent mechanic.

Now we've got a relationship going! The relationship between the PREpositional phrase and Joe here is obvious: Joe is overcoming a difficulty to meet and exceed the demands of his career.

So give it a whirl, begin a sentence with a prepositional phrase and share it in the comments. This is a great construction to switch starting a sentence with a gerund. After all, every solid writer needs a strong toolbox!



Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saturday Serial: #5 Battle at Sky Bridge

Episode#5: Battle at Sky Bridge
By Bella Vida and J.R. Turner

When last we saw, Julie was taken to the village in the jungle trees and met her dog totem, Digel. The Monboy's injured Inti and stole her grandmother's letters. She went out on a limb to get them back, grasping them just before she started to fall...

A hand grasped my ankle and yanked me back into the hut.

Inti had saved me, but he looked angry. "I'm not healed yet and you are in trouble."

"How did you know?"

Digel barked.

You little tattle-tale!

He whined and I wanted to apologize. If he hadn't barked for help, I would have a busted skull from a ten-story fall. I petted him, scratching behind the ears. "You good doggie, you."

If fuzzy puppy teddy-bear dogs could smile, Digel did then.

"You have the words," Inti said, nodding to the letters I held in my free hand. "Good. Do not speak those words until we reach the queen. I will take you."

He didn’t sound happy. "Are you mad at me?"

"No." He sighed. "My army must wait now."

"While you take a kid to see her grandma. I get it."

"You are no ordinary child." The skin over his wound puckered as he straightened. "It is an honor."

"When do we leave?"

"In the morning. Today you will work and tonight need your rest." He went to the door. "Come. We have much to do."

He took me to a round hut with no windows. Much larger inside than expected, I stared in awe. Bows, spears, knives, swords, and a bunch of weapons I didn't recognize covered the walls.

"Your weapons choose you." He smiled. "Close your eyes. It will help you hear."

"I don't think I can hurt someone."

"To save the children, you must close your eyes."

Okay, I closed my eyes, but that didn't mean I would actually use a weapon. "What now?"

"Be still and listen."

"I don’t hear anything."


I figured I better not argue. Music played far off, like a flute, and the melody got louder the more I listened. The music sang, turning me, spinning me and I was glad my eyes were closed.


I opened my eyes. My left hand clutched a spear, painted with the red designs from the shaman's face and ending on a sharp tip. In my right, I held a shiny dagger, its handle sparkling with green and purple jewels.

Inti's eyes were large. "It is true. The blood flows in your veins."

Six tattooed men filed in and stood around me. Inti addressed them. "She has come. You must prepare her while my wound heals. We leave in the morning."

They nodded and Inti turned to me, then walked out. No one would ever say he talked too much.

Unsure what they wanted, I asked, "You want me to help pack?"

They responded with horrified looks, like I just asked them to slice off their ears or something. A taller one said, "You are to be prepared by us."

That didn't sound good.

By sunset I understood just how bad it was. My arms ached, legs burned and shoulders had turned into balled-up bruises. I never knew I had it in me. While I learned to use the spear, I remembered forcing the trolls out of our house. While I practiced with the dagger, I heard Grandma telling me what a big help I was in the kitchen.

From time to time, I caught a warrior staring oddly at me and wondered if I shocked them in a good or bad way.

Hot, tired and sweaty, Digel and I gladly went with the three women who came to get me. They looked so much alike, they had to be sisters. The youngest smiled and said, "Time to rest and eat. We will care for you now."

I yawned and nodded. If I hadn't been so tired, I would feel weird letting the women clean me up. My tummy rumbled as the youngest helped me into a soft dress that almost touched the floor.

A huge feast on a wide platform sent off waves of mouth-watering aromas. The three girls sat near an old man with a huge beads and gold around his throat. "Welcome," he said to me. "I am Chief Tuyen. My daughters have treated you well?"

I nodded, embarrassed.

"Good. Sit and eat now. You have a long journey when the sun rises."

I sat on the nearest empty mat. Everyone brought something to eat and more food lay before me than at Thanksgiving. A bowl of soup gave off the most tempting scent. Without a spoon, I did like everyone else and raised the bowl to sip from the edge.

As it came near, I saw more was in the bowl than the soup. A reflection—not of me—but of Mom and Dad talking to police officers glimmered across the surface. My mom looked so sad as the cop handed her the orange ribbon, the one I lost at the cemetery.

Chief Tuyen said, "I will send her a message. She will understand."

"Understand?" I cried. "You don't know my mom. She freaks if I'm even one minute late. I have to go back."

Inti appeared beside me, the wound on his neck gone. "The Queen will care for your mother and father. Finish your food. You need your strength."

He wouldn't budge. I scowled and shoved a huge chunk of bread in my cheek to make him happy.

They didn't let me sleep late. Before dawn, the sisters woke me with a gift. Soft leather shoes, pants and a vest that left my arms free. They even gave me a belt for my dagger.

"Thank you," the youngest sister said.

"For what?"

The middle one said, "For saving the children."

"I miss my daughter and sons," the eldest sister said, tears in her eyes.

No pressure there.

Inti came into the hut. "Time to leave."

Ten warriors, three of them women left with me and Digel. Even at this early hour the jungle floor felt hot and sticky. We walked in a quiet line, half the warriors in front and half behind me, Digel at my side. The two men in front used machetes to cut a path and as the sun hit the dewy plants, I imagined them slicing through the thick humidity.

Just when I decided I couldn't take another step, Inti demanded we rest. I sat on a log and he handed me a weird balloon of water.

"Drink," he said. "We need to cross the sky bridge soon. Can you walk faster?"

I drank and gave Digel some before I returned it to Inti. "I don't know. How far away is it?"

"We need to be there by dark." He raised a hand, fingers spread, and everyone immediately got to their feet. "This way."

He led us uphill. In an hour, breathing became hard. Digel suffered too, slowing to keep pace with me. Inti pointed to a spot beside a large boulder. "We are almost to the sky bridge."

Thank goodness! I could make it that far. "C'mon, Digel. Almost there."

At the top, the amazing view halted us. Rolling hills, winter lands, a spray of colorful trees, and in the distance, a waterfall made me wish Grandma could be there with her favorite camera. Only she died and now there would never be anymore pictures.

The sky bridge spanned a chasm miles deep. I squeaked, "We have to cross that?"

He laughed. "We are lucky. Sky bridge has ropes to hold."

Nothing lucky about this.

Three men started across. I wished I had a leash or something for Digel, just in case. A woman went next. Inti motioned me forward. "Do not look down."

I grasped the ropes slightly above waist height and tested the first board. Solid. A few feet in I got the hang of the sway and bounce of the bridge. This wasn't so bad, really. Digel whined and started after me. I waited for him to catch up and when he did, he began barking and growling.

Inti joined us. "Please quiet him."

"Hush, Digel," I said. "Why does it matter if he barks?"

"The Wira," Inti said.

Before I asked what the heck a Wira was, one of those birdmen from the lagoon swooped down and Digel barked more frantically. Above, a whole flock of Wira took to the sky. I watched in horror as one dive bombed the man behind Inti.

"Behind you," I cried and drew my dagger.

Too late, the Wira clawed at the man's eyes. Blinded and forced off balance, he fell from the bridge, his scream drowned by others as the flock attacked.

Inti pushed me even as those in front ran back to help. "Do not stop. Get off the bridge!"

A Wira landed on my head, his long beak stabbing at my face. I cried and thrust my dagger into his chest. He squawked and I flung him aside. Digel barked, then bit the taloned leg of another coming after me. He shook the ugly, human-faced beast over the edge, but it flew back.

We rushed as fast as a jumble of people could. A woman fell, her back shredded by three Wira. I turned away, sickened.

One flapped in front of my face and I slashed its throat in a move taught to me by the dead warrior. Blood covered my hand and I wanted to weep as it raggedly flew sideways, then fell from view. The other side looked so far away. How would we ever make it there?

Tune in next week for the exciting continuation of Letters to the 5th Direction!

Previous episodes: #1 #2 #3 #4

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thrilling Thursday: 10K Day

Hey everyone ;)

I'm thrilled to announce that I'm finishing the sequel to DFF: Dead Friends Forever today.

I'm nearing the end and doing a 10K with Milli Thornton, author of Fear of Writing to get this puppy off to the publisher. School's Out 4Ever is true thrillfest. I'm lovin' how this all turned out.

Okay, if you want to come join in the fun for the 10K day, it's never too late. Come on over:

Hope to see you there!!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Writing Wednesday: Show vs. Tell and POV

I've seen a lot of bad advice floating around lately on what showing actually means. From everything to adding details to using italics, it's getting insane out there.

Showing is really very simple once you understand and focus on one simple, single word:


That's all you need to know to show.

Now, to show in different perspectives is another thing and this is where people get REALLY off track. First person, omniscient or third person, whatever POV you're working in, you adding details and using italics won't turn a telling sentence into a showing sentence.

Let's take the most popular form of fiction writing: Third person. More specifically: close third-person, or close narrative from the third-person perspective. This is when the character is in charge of the story and the writer is only a conduit between him or her and the blank page. Most often the criticism of too-much "telling," is based on a lack of narrative closeness.

Here's an example of the differences in narrative distance:

She couldn't wait for the bus to get moving so she could see all the sights.

The bus rumbled and she silently urged the driver to get moving as she craned her neck, hoping to catch sight of the huge Hollywood sign.

Keeping in mind the single word imply can you see how I changed from telling/far to showing/close?

If we add details or italics, it doesn't change the "Far" example from telling to showing:

She could hardly wait for the rumbling, shaking and smelly bus to roll down the road. I'm dying to see all the magnificent sights awaiting me.

The above is still telling, especially if the character wouldn't think (the italics) so formally.

There's another school of thought that wrongly believes any form of telling is breaking POV, that the writer is pushing aside the character and interrupting the story to talk directly to the reader. This is no more true than a voice-over of a character's thoughts (as in Look Who's Talking) breaching POV, it is true, however, if it is the writer breaking in to tell the reader something the character doesn't know, can't see, hear, feel, taste or touch.

So, the "Far" example above is still in the POV of the character—it's simply offered from a distance. If this were narrator intrusion, it would look like this:

Beverly's long blonde hair sparkled in the sunlight as she bounced in her seat, wide blue eyes fringed with dark lashes glistened with excitement.


Beverly didn't know her excitement was on hold because the bus driver had to wait ten minutes to stay on schedule.

In the first example, ask yourself the last time you were excited to do something and the only thought you had was how your hair sparkled or the color of your eyes?

In the second example, ask yourself how many times you read a bus driver's mind? :)

I think I'll stop here for now, but if you have any questions, please ask!


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Talent Tuesday: Echelon Press in the Hot Seat!

Tonight Echelon Press is holding an open chat for the public:

Title: Hot Seat with Publisher

Date: Tuesday July 14, 2009
Time: 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm EST
Repeats: This event repeats every month on the second Tuesday.
Notes: This chat will take place in the "Current Events" Room.
Everyone is invited to come!

This is a great opportunity for everyone to get the chance to talk about how the industry works, what Echelon is like and basically ask anything you've been wondering about the process of publishing and a career in writing.

Hope to see you all there!



Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saturday Serial#4: Merciless Dreams

Episode#4: Merciless Dreams
By Bella Vida and J.R. Turner

When last we saw Julie, the Lady of the Water saved her from the birdmen, she was chased out of the crystal caves by a dragon-headed snake, and taken to safety by a warrior named Inti. The village shaman gave her a potion to help her see the truth.


I drifted in a weird place full of shadows. First, her song came from far away, but then drew closer.

Take the key and lock her up…

Lock who up?

Lock her up…


Yes, baby, it's me.

Why did you leave me?

So you could find me.

I spun in a circle, trying to find her in the shadows. Through the mists, I saw my parents come home. The mess freaked them out and they shouted for me. I tried to answer, but no sound came out of my mouth.

You've passed into the fifth direction, honey. They can't hear you.

Why not! You weren't supposed to go, Grandma. You left me all alone! Where are you?

Before me, her face, young again and beautiful came forward. The blue in her eyes swirled, moved like oceans beneath billowy clouds.

The old man rattled something I could hear, but couldn't see and the mist closed over her face.

Wait! Stop! Don't go!

A gust of wind burst into the hut and my eyes opened. The curtain broke apart, dried leaves spinning into the shape of a hideous face with an open mouth. A cackling, harsh and nasty laughter hurt my ears so bad, I covered them.

The shaman shook what looked like the rattler off a snake the size of a horse.

The laughter stopped and the leaves drifted down like burnt snowflakes all around us. He slumped and sat back on the floor.

I checked my palms for blood, but they were clean, though my ears still rang some. I asked, my voice shaking, "What was that?"

"Mercy," he said with a scowl.

I began to think whoever Mercy was, she had been totally misnamed. "Who's Mercy?"

He squinted, his face sad. "She is older than any, born when your earth was brand new and life sprang free and beautiful. In everything, there is light and dark, up and down, north and south, east and west. The beauty of your earth matched the ugliness of Mercy. Her children were hideous creatures and their children gave birth to bats, snakes, and the nightmares of your land.

"Greed and jealousy boiled inside her, the evil within rising like smoke. She used her magic and trickery to steal what she wanted. Then she began to steal knowledge from humans, plucking their minds like feathers from a bird. This is why humans cannot remember their own birth or much of their early times.

"She went too far and stole from the elders. They forgot their own children, forgot their tribes and where they had been, who they had loved. This frightened the heirs and they banded together to banish her and lock the fifth direction. But Mercy was already too clever and without a guardian, she found ways to return and steal what she wanted from your world.

"As is the duty of all rulers to lead their people into battle, a queen came to watch over the gates, to protect the ways. You have this queen's blood in your veins. You are the next heir."

"Me?" I squawked. "I’m not even thirteen yet!"

He smiled. "You will not take the throne for many years. Our queen has not yet had her crowning ceremony." He lost the smile. "Mercy tried to take the crown, but escaped with only a single jewel. Without it, the queen cannot have her ceremony."

I frowned. "If I'm not 'sposed to be queen, then why am I here?"

He shook his head. "No one knew your strength. None before has ever been able to cross this soon. We believe you are here to bring the jewel back. This is why she took our children."

"Because of me?"

"Not because of you, no. Mercy takes what she wants and now she wants a bigger army. The queen protects the way, but without the crown, there are... gaps."

"Gaps I made," I said forlornly. "I didn't know."

"Because Mercy stole that knowledge. She took just enough of what your grandmother taught you to make sure you opened the directions."

"That's not fair! All this happened because an evil lady came into my head and stole what I needed to know? Why do they call her Mercy anyway? There's nothing merciful about her!"

He gave me a sad look. "No. Not merciful, merciless."

Later, I sat on a ledge, in the dark and cried. I couldn't help it. I had seen Grandma, if only for an instant. I had seen her and I didn't even get a chance to hug her, to tell her how much I loved her. No. What did I do? I yelled at her.

Something warm and smooth touched my arm and I jumped in surprise. Beside me, a little brown puppy with reddish fur looked up at me with sad eyes, as if to say stop crying, you're breaking my heart. "Well hello there, little fella."

His ears perked up and he tilted his head. My belly growled and he dropped his front paws on the ledge, tail end in the air and growled back. He yipped, not loud, but like a command. The dog barked, this time louder, and I tried to hush him before he woke the whole village.

Inti appeared, a round loaf of blue bread in his hand. "Here, take this before he shouts at me again."

I took the bread. "You understand him?"

"Enough." He shrugged.

"Is he your dog?" I carefully tore a piece of the bread away and sniffed. Blue meant moldy back at home, but here, it meant fruity or something sweet. After the first taste, I didn't stop.

"No, he's a bush dog. He came after the children disappeared." He hunkered down and stroked the dog's fur. "His name is Digel and he's been waiting for you. He's your totem."

I didn't think I had seen Inti grin so widely before. "Why are you smiling?"

He shrugged. "A dog totem is good. You are loyal, not easy to break and a protector."

A protector? I couldn't even protect the pantry back home.

The next morning I woke to see a monkey staring at me through the window of Inti's hut. I rubbed my eyes, but the monkey didn't go away and he had a boy's face! I gasped in surprise and it must have startled him because he screeched like a chimpanzee.

"Saki!" Inti scolded. "He's a monboy, and they're all thieves."

Digel barked, but before any of us could stop Saki, the monboy took my bag and tossed it to another boy-faced monkey perched in the opposite window. Digel ran between the two, barking and jumping high as the monboy's chattered with laughter.

"Saki, Loki, stop!" Inti shouted. When they didn't, the warrior took Saki by the neck, but the other monboy bared long fangs and leapt onto his back, sinking his teeth deep into Inti's shoulder.

I screamed. Digel barked and growled. Three warriors burst into the hut and outnumbered now, the monboy's escaped out a window. Inti dropped to his knees, blood running down his arm and back from the punctures in his neck. Punctures like a vampire.

The men gathered around, their tattoos striking even through my tears for Inti's wounds. If I was supposed to take the throne one day, they'd call me the Weeping Queen. They helped Inti to the shaman's hut and I followed to help. This was all my fault after all.

The shaman kicked everyone out but me and muttered something that made Inti sleep. As he cared for the wound, he said, "You must get to the Queen."

"But I don't know how."

"You do. The same way you came here."

The letters! Did the monboy's get them? I hopped up and ran back. Digel jogged beside me and I said, "Help me find my bag, Digel. Help me, please!"

He panted, tail wagging at the window where Saki first appeared and I caught a glimpse of blue below. The strap of my messenger bag was hooked on a branch. On my tiptoes, I stretched my full length and snatched it back up, empty.

I threw it aside and covered my face. They took them. The box was gone.

Digel barked at the window urgently.

"What is it?" I went back to look and my heart leapt. They took the box, but left the letters. They were scattered in the branches of the tree far below. As I watched, a breeze took the orange letter from the stack and it flew out of sight. "No!"

I scampered out the window and knelt on the slim ledge. Digel barked like crazy behind me, but I concentrated on reaching the remaining letters. Just a little further and I would have them. I braced myself on a branch ten stories above the jungle floor.

As my fingers touched the top letter, the branch snapped and I shouted in surprise, tumbling forward.

Tune in next week for the exciting continuation of Letters to the 5th Direction!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Thrilling Thursday: To Book It or Not

Today is going to be slightly different. Today I want to address something Martin referred to in yesterday's comments.

If you've read my blogs at all, you know that reading and writing are two of my biggest passions (aside from chocolate!) The written word thrills me—whether I'm the one doing the writing or someone else is. I'm thrilled either by the opportunity to learn—or to help.

Yesterday Martin asked about Writing Wednesday and other random things I'd offered about the craft on my old blog at the Not-to-be-Named-or-Supported internet site. I took a few moments yesterday and looked over the advice I've given over the years and the specific help I'd offered others.

My question to you all is this: If I were to take the time to compile this into an easy, downloadable ebook, would you be interested in purchasing the ebook, if I were to sell it for a few dollars? (I'm up in the air on prices now, depending on how long it takes and how many pages there are, but I'm guessing between three and five dollars.)

Not merely a copy and paste of Writing Wednesday features—but ALL my advice, categorized and cleaned up for clarity, compiled in one simple, easy to download ebook, including my articles (some of them published—and yes, I do own the rights.)

As a bonus, I would include a free copy of Extreme Writing: Crafting the Action Scene.

What do you think?


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Writing Wednesday: Self-Editing

Hey everyone,

Today I'm working on my own manuscript and I thought it would be great fun to show you what I do when I take a rough draft and change it into what it will look like when I turn it in. Yes, this is sort of combining the two 'jobs' I have facing me today, but don't hold that against me :)

Okay, this is the passage I'm working on right now:

(A little set-up: this is Kaylee's first day of real classes at the reformatory boarding school she's been court-ordered to attend and she's just made the most popular girl in the whole school angry by interrupting her three times during her report.)

Destiny managed to stall walking out the door long enough for Kaylee to catch up. Through her smile she said, "Chellee doesn’t like to be interrupted."

"Sorry," Kaylee muttered as they went into the hall together.

Chellee and two other girls were dawdling and when they saw her, straighted and came to her side. The strawberry blonde said, "We decided to escort you to the gymnasium, show you the way, in case you forgot already."

Kaylee sensed an intensity in this girl that went beyond just an expectation that others would worship her. The girl truly believed she was the most beautiful, most intelligent and had better taste than anyone she’d ever met. There was a sense too, that she wasn’t far off the mark as things came easy to her, she was smart and learned fast and had a huge dose of overachievement.

Kaylee’s father would have called her a classic… something or other, like vain, narcyst or something like that. The bag slung over her shoulder, she fit right in with the four girls. Destiny and Nancy she knew from breakfast, Chellee and the other blonde beside her, not so much—but oddly, because of the strict demands on her decorum and the way she dressed, Kaylee didn’t feel out of place at all.

Now here's the rewrite:

Destiny waited for Kaylee to catch up. Through her smile she said, "Chellee doesn’t like to be interrupted."

"Sorry," Kaylee muttered as they left together.

Chellee and two other girls dawdled in the hall. The trio straightened and Destiny made them a foursome. Nancy she remembered from breakfast, the mousy, petite blonde not so much. What did they want from her?

Chellee smiled. "We'll take you to the gym, in case you forgot already."

The girl's intense green eyes inspected Kaylee, challenging her. Would the new girl become one of her posse? Or would she pose a threat?

No way, Kaylee thought, did she want to dethrone the school's queen. She wanted to blend in, not start a feud on her very first day with a girl who obviously thought she was better than everyone else. She sensed Chellee wasn't far off the mark either. Things came easy to her; she was smart, athletic and creative. An overachiever everywhere she went, she thrived on the envy, jealousy—and worship of others.

Kaylee's dad would have called her a classic… something or other, like vain, nar-cyst or something.

In the uneasy quiet, Destiny said, "C'mon, it's not far."

Chellee's mouth twitched, but she didn't lose her smile. "Yes, we don't want you to make us late."

"Okay," Kaylee said. She relaxed some as they walked together. Dressed in the same uniform, their matching BH satchels hanging from their shoulders, she didn't feel so much like an outsider anymore. Maybe there was something to this uniform thing after all.

It will go through a few more edits before it ends up at the printer, but you see the difference right away between the original draft and the rewrite. I'm more inside Kaylee's head in the second one than the first. The second draft is always my favorite because of this. I get to be the character more and worry less about the story--because that part is already on the page.

I learned self-editing through the Adult Creative Writers Club and highly recommend their monthly anonymous contest to anyone wishing to test and hone their skills. (If you're interested, I finally won first place in July of 2003--contest #23 :))

Why don't you all take a moment to paste in a paragraph from your own work, and then how you rewrote it to come more from the character?


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Talent Tuesday: You!

Talent Tuesday

Hey everyone.

My laptop was killed by a flying mouse and I'm stuck in my basement missing all the wonderful sunshine. I'm also missing all my lovely files that I didn't get to transfer to my memory stick before the murdering mouse smashed into my LCD screen and ruined my view—in more ways than one.

So today, I'd like to discuss talent in a different way. Talent is defined as:

"A marked innate ability, as for artistic accomplishment."

Genetic, environment—whatever the situation may be, I don't know for sure. There are some that have a calling and others who hunt for their talents. I was raised in a family of musicians, artists and writers, so it's not a surprise that I developed these skills. Does it mean I was born talented? Or does it simply mean that I've had a lot longer time to practice than those who were raised in environments outside the arts?

Yes, there are people who have a talent for accounting or zoology or some other profession, so I am by no means asserting that only those in the classically designated artistic fields are talented. (One of my favorite things to say is how much I wish I'd been born with a genetic talent for making loads of money! Starving artist isn't really something one dreams to become! ;))

I'd like to open up the comments for discussions about your journeys. Did you have to fight for respect within your family? Was your writing, artistry, music, or other talent denigrated because it wasn't considered a viable option for financial security by parents or spouses? Have you enjoyed the support of friends and family to pursue your innate ability?

What have you struggled to overcome in order to realize your talents?


Monday, July 06, 2009

And the Winners Are! :)

Drum roll please....

Thea Rauth

Maggie Bonham

Dana Bell!

Each of you lovely ladies get to choose one of the three items for your special gift!

A. A personalized autographed copy of Stark Knight for yourself or as a gift to someone else.

B. A 3,000 word Rotowriter Critique (value $20.00) to keep or give as a gift to an aspiring author you know.

C. My famous Double Chocolate Chunk Brownie Cookie mix, comes complete with gift tag should you wish to have it sent to a friend or relative.


Let me know which you'd like in the comments! :)


Saturday, July 04, 2009

Saturday Serial:#3 Waves, Caves and Warriors

Episode#3: Waves, Caves and Warriors
By Bella Vida and J.R. Turner

When last we saw Julie, a talking raccoon helped her lead the trolls to the Eastern Rolling Hills. She fell into the creek and was sucked under by the strong current...

Forced down stream under water, my air began to run out. My chest burned with the need to gasp and I distracted myself by singing a song in my mind, the way my dad had taught me when I was little and got scared.

London bridges falling down… falling down…

I lost my strength, gave up fighting the suction and water rushed faster and faster.

Nona, help me!

Beneath me, the world twisted and turned, a whirlpool reaching upward. I blinked, sure I must be going brain dead from lack of oxygen as a face sped toward me. A lady's face, formed from the water itself, as if every drop had decided to paint dark eyes, a wide mouth, and flowing hair.

She enveloped me and we flew toward the surface, breaking through so quickly the sun struck my eyes and blinded me. I inhaled hugely, filling my starving body with air.

When I could see again, I stood waist deep, the lady of water hovering in front of me. She smiled and beckoned me closer, but where her eyes should have been were only dark holes, as if water couldn’t figure out how to make them right.

Above, a screeching call broke the quiet. We both glanced up sharply. The lagoon was surrounded by huge, leafy jungle like trees. High up in the branches, large nests spanned from one tree to another. Circling above, one by one the ring of birds grew denser and the shrieks became nonstop. One plummeted straight down, his high-pitched scream terrifying me into a crouch.

He swooped by and I cried out in surprise. His wings ended on talon-clawed human hands and beyond a razor-sharp beak he looked at us from a human face. He dove through the lady. A hissing sound, like water on hot metal, filled the air. The bird-man crashed. He curled in a ball as he skipped across the top of the river like a stone.

Clouds of steam billowed from the lady and I watched in astonishment as she split into three, two other ladies appearing on each side of her. Above them, the shrieking turned angry and one by one, the birdmen began plummeting toward me.

The ladies swirled, spinning faster and faster until I felt the suction pulling me down again. Before I went all the way under, I gasped a mouthful of air and prayed it would be enough to make it wherever they meant to take me.

We turned, their arms enclosing me, directing me to an underground tunnel. I shook my head and pointed to my mouth. I didn't have enough air to go that far.

It's okay…

The lyrical voice didn't come from inside me. Instead, it sounded like stereo headphones—from the water in my ears.

You can breathe with us…

I raised my eyebrows at them. Every itsy bit of my being knew it couldn't be true. What if they wanted me to inhale water just so I would drown?

Nona sent us…
We saved you…
Trust us…

Okay, that helped, but still my body rebelled. I'd swallowed water the wrong way before and it made me cough horribly. My air near gone, what choice did I have? Frightened beyond belief, I decided to give it a try.

I inhaled.

Air, beautiful, blissful, precious air filled my lungs, a strange sort of gummy filter over my lips acting like a gill. I opened and closed my mouth, and the film remained—so did my ability to breathe. I grinned and the ladies smiled back, beckoning me to hurry.

I swam with them, our hair floating around our faces, the underwater world full of interesting fish and slanting rays of sun. Until we got to the black tunnel and went inside. I didn't want to get trapped in that blackness and I slowed. As my eyes adjusted, small bluish white shapes became visible ahead.

We went deeper and they turned out to be hundreds of smiling, frilly mushroom-shaped animals stuck to the sides of the tunnel. They gave off a glow, lighting our way. When they thinned out and the water ahead took on a purplish hue, I knew we must be nearing the end.

The ladies twirled around me faster and faster and the filter dissolved off my mouth. Dizzy from their spinning, it took me a moment to realize we had made it through and I stood in knee deep water. We were inside a cave of some kind and my jaw dropped. The walls glittered with beautiful purple crystals.

The gentle slope led to dry floor and I trudged out of the water, amazed by the formations in the vast cavern. The ladies came together, becoming one again. She appeared more real, if still ghostly. She had one violet eye and one green. A transparent hand rose, held the side of my face in a cold wet caress, then she drew away and passed through the cavern wall.

Grandma used to hold my face like that and I placed my hand where hers had been, the skin still cool beneath my fingers. The tears came again and that awful, icky twisty feeling in my tummy I kept getting since Grandma died returned.

I wanted to go home and turned in circles, looking for a way out. I touched the wall where the lady had disappeared and a bit of crystal broke off in my hand. The sparkle didn't fade at all and as I looked closer, it pulsed in rhythm with my heart. What should I do with it? I couldn't just toss it on the ground. I stuck in my pocket.

Oh, no! Grandma's letters!

I knelt and tugged the box free, opening the lid and praying that they weren't destroyed. All of them were wet and I sat back on my heels, ready to cry again. No time for that, I thought, and decided I was supposed to pick the purple ribbon. I took a deep breath, carefully untied the wet ribbon and set it back in the box. The letter itself was soggy and I hoped I'd still be able to read what Grandma had written there.

The ink had run, but holding it close to the wall and squinting, I could make out most of the words.

"In darkness you will seek,
To find your way back home,
While the way may be bleak," I trailed off.

Um… I couldn't tell what the next line was…

Sun where singed cars…

No, that couldn't be it. I brought the paper nearly to my nose.

Run! The first word was run, not sun.

Run where…something…rats –oam.

Run where…singed, ringed… winged!

"Run where winged rats roam!"

I waited for something to happen. Nothing. Maybe I had the wrong ribbon? No, that didn't seem right. I frowned and returned everything to my bag. Maybe it wasn't the wrong note, maybe I just read it in the wrong place?

Before I could head across the cavern to see if that side worked, a horde of bats with long rat-like tails flew into the cavern in a manic frenzy from an opening high in the wall. They dove into another hole about four feet off the ground.

Winged rats.

Bats! Okay, that was the way I was supposed to go. I started across, edging around the water when a slushing sound filled the cave. Across the floor, a monster came out of the shadows. The body of a snake and the head of a dragon, it reared up and considered me with a snarl.

"You? Who are you to call me?"

"I d-didn't," I said and rushed toward the hole the bats had escaped through. On hands and knees, I scampered like a rabbit from a mad gardener.

"You awoke me from my slumber!" The snakelike creature roared behind me, sliding along faster than myself.

The light changed and the rushing noise of a waterfall ahead led me forward. Only, I ended on a ledge far above a river. I spun, clutching my bag tight to me to face the yellow-eyed dragon-faced snake.

"You dare call upon me and run! A human and a child!"

"It was a mistake. I didn't mean to call you. I wanted Grandma." I inched back.

He reared up as high as his head would allow and roared. Down his gullet, the flames rushed upward from deep inside.

I dodged the flames, only to find myself falling, falling, falling…

When next I opened my eyes, I stared into those of a tattooed warrior. The sun behind him had sunk low, the sky orange and gold as night approached. My battered body ached and my head pounded. "Who are you?"

"I am Inti. I pulled you from the river before you drowned. We go now, before the sun sets." He lifted me, throwing me over his shoulder before I could stop him.

My head banged up and down as he ran through the trees. "Oh," I groaned. "Stop, please."

"You angered the beast," he answered between breaths. "She will want blood. We have to get to safety."

Through the jungle he took me until I couldn't hear the river anymore. Night animals called from the dense trees and waxy-leaved bushes.

Just when I though my head would burst with pain, he stopped and stepped onto a raft of branches tied to ropes. We rose in the air and when we neared the top, a whole city of tattooed people stretched in every direction. I remembered the birdmen from the lagoon and had a stab of fear.

He set me on my feet and hung my blue messenger bag over my shoulder. I thanked him and asked, "What is this place?"

"Our shaman said you would come to save the children. You must meet him now."


He spread his arms wide. "There are no children left. They have all been taken."

There were beautiful olive women and men of all ages, but none younger than me. "What happened?"

"Mercy happened." He growled. "My army will take care of her. The shaman must see you now."

He took me to a high point and parted a curtain of dried leaves that smelled like Grandma's spice cabinet. He pushed me inside and nodded.

Designs in red paint dried in the creases of an ancient face. He spoke low and waved me closer. "You are strong to come even before the queen called for you."

"The queen?" What did a queen want with me? "I don't care about a queen. My head hurts and I'm hungry. I want my grandma back and… and it's not fair! She left me with all this stuff and I can hardly read it anymore and I'm all alone and I just want to go home!"

He waved at me to sit on the matt beside him and held up a cup. "This will help."

My stomach growled as I sniffed the warm brew. It smelled like strawberries. "How's this gonna help?"

He lifted a wrinkled, brown hand and pushed the cup toward my mouth. "Drink."

The liquid slid down my throat with a funny aftertaste, like toothpaste or something.

"There now," he said. "You will know the truth."

The last he said I barely heard as I fell asleep to the sound of Grandma singing.

London bridges falling down… My fair lady...

Tune in next week for the exciting continuation of Letters to the 5th Direction!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Friday Fun Contest!

Hi everyone! :)

This is a super quick and easy contest this Friday, so make sure you spread the word and support an emerging author :)

All you have to do is sign up to follow my blog. If you already have, you're already entered! Three people will be drawn from my followers to receive their choice of a lovely gift:

A. A personalized autographed copy of Stark Knight for yourself or as a gift to someone else.

B. A 3,000 word Rotowriter Critique (value $20.00) to keep or give as a gift to an aspiring author you know.

C. My famous Double Chocolate Chunk Brownie Cookie mix, comes complete with gift tag should you wish to have it sent to a friend or relative.

So sign up! Spread the word and let others know and don't forget to come back tomorrow and find out what happens to young Julie in the next episode of Letters to the 5th Direction! ;)

P.S. The winners will be drawn on Monday ;)

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Thrilling Thursday: Myths, Freak Shows and Urban Legends

When I was a kid, I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and said Bloody Mary three times, fully expecting to have some whacked out zombie girl rise up from behind and murder me where I stood. Of course, nothing happened. Part of me though, truly believed it would.

Humankind has always developed (sometimes complicated) mythologies and legends to explain what they can't otherwise explain. The question remains, though—what came first, the chicken or the egg? Did we find things we couldn't explain and therefore did our best by creating these myths and legends? Or did our imaginations get carried away and we created myths and legends that we later believed were (at least) based in truth?

Was there something unexplainable? Or did we just make it up and infected generations of humanity with these stories?

Who began Bloody Mary and how did it happen in the 70s a little Polish girl in Wisconsin stood in her mirror and said those words?

Freak Shows may offer a hint about where some of these stories began. Lacking the science and insight we've gained over time, how must those people born genetically or otherwise 'different' have impacted the people around them?

What did you believe in? Were there legends of a boogeyman under your bed that made you keep your feet tucked safely under the covers all night? Or perhaps one in your closet that made you leave the light on. Was there house on your block you knew was haunted? Or did you believe that ghouls and goblins came out on Halloween or a troll lived under a bridge in your town?


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Writing Wednesday: Alice Orr and Show

(Thanks for the comic!)

Hey everyone ;)

Recently it was suggested we discuss the sort of mistakes an author makes that can lead to a rejection. At the same time, I was in another discussion where I recommended the book: "No More Rejections: 50 Secrets to Writing a Manuscript that Sells" by Alice Orr.

While I didn't get read this book until after I was already published, the advice in here is awesome. I put it right up there with Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King.

In Orr's book, on page 134, she discusses Crossroads, An Author Self-Interrogation and while so much of what comes before is vital to understand, this is one of my favorite sections. She not only offers us the basics of how to write a great scene, she touches on those aspects that make a scene bad.

From the book:

Ask yourself the following questions in reference both to the specific scene you are writing and to your novel as a whole. Your writerly instincts—again, trust me, you do have them—will tell you what choices you must make to strengthen your scene and your story. Check back through this passage for guidance. But, first of all, listen to those instincts of yours. Once you come to recognize your instinct's cadence and pay attention to its message, it will almost never steer you wrong.

From there, Orr offers 14 points to cover, explaining each one. I'll offer the first line from each one here:

1) What does your main character want in this scene?
2) What is this character willing to do to get what she wants?
3) Answer these first tow questions for each pivotal character in the scene.
4) What stands in the way of your main character's goal in this scene and creates the conflict as the character resists this opposition?
5) Do we know for certain which character's consciousness we are in here?
6) Do we see action and reaction between characters?
7) In dialogue, is there ever a question about which character is speaking?
8) Is what is being said in the dialogue interesting, compelling, riveting, maybe even startling?
9) What is the action of the scene?
10) Does something unepected happen in this scene?
11) Is there subtext beneath what is being said and done on the surface of the scene?
12) Does each character's situation change from the beginning to the end of the scene?
13) What is the outcome of this scene?
14) Have you overwritten the scene?

Of course, as I said, Orr explains in greater detail many of these fourteen points, and then ends with a practical exercise you can do to explore these directly in your own writing. (Which is one of the reasons I really loved the book and recommend it highly to anyone.)

Applying these fourteen points to your scenes, especially your opening scenes, will really help you draw a reader in—and that is exactly what an editor is when he or she opens that email or envelope you've submitted. They are a reader with high expectations. You don't want to let them down by writing melodramatic or purple prose in an attempt to cover up a weakness you haven't strengthened yet. For instance, instead of showing, a new writer will try to use power words to hide their lack of understanding. Such as:

Telling: He felt sad and cried out, weeping.

Telling, with power words: His despair cut through his soul like a knife and tears trickled down his grieving face.

Showing: He covered his face and slumped in the chair, barely able to breathe for the thick grief in his throat. His ragged groan filled the empty room, bouncing back to him as the hot, burning tears finally came and he wept.

Between Orr's points of reference for crafting a scene and learning to show, you have a much stronger chance the editor will read more than the opening paragraphs. Whether or not he or she rejects the work will then depend on what they're looking for, rather than poor writing.

Any questions?