It’s Pure Sterling!

Everyone loves Winnie the Pooh. His fuzzy rotund body, his waddling walk, his enormous appetite for honey. Er, excuse me, hunny. And that voice. That incredible, funny, lovable voice. Who can look at an image of Pooh without remembering it? winnie 2
If you’ve ever seen actor Sterling Holloway in a movie or on TV, the first thing you notice is his voice. His is the original voice of Winnie the Pooh! winnie
Sterling Holloway was born in Georgia in 1905. His father was a grocer, but there was a distant relative in England who was an actress of some renown in her time. Holloway left home young to start his acting career, and he traveled with an acting company, performing The Shepherd of the Hills. Of course he eventually went to Hollywood. His first movie was The Battling Kangaroo, a silent, released in 1926. He made other silent movies, and at once point was told by a director he was “too repulsive” for the screen. He quit for about five years. sterling silent
When the talkies came out, it seemed Holloway’s voice might be a huge stumbling block to his continuing in movies. But with a somewhat goofy face, scrawny build, curly shock of red hair, and that high-pitched voice, he soon found himself cast in a variety of comedic roles. He co-starred with actors such as Spencer Tracy, Gary Cooper, and Joan Crawford. At one point, he turned down a contract with Louis B. Mayer “because he didn’t want to be a star,” but stardom didn’t bypass him. He became a familiar face and voice to generations. moron than off
In 1933, he was the voice of the frog in Paramount’s version of Alice in Wonderland. Nineteen years later, he was the voice of the Cheshire Cat in Disney’s version of the same story. He was the voice of the snake in the Jungle Book and the adult Flower in Bambi.
In July of 1942, Holloway was drafted in the Army. His records affirm that he was 5’9 and weighed all of 124 pounds. After the war, he returned to acting in movies.
During the Golden Age of television we were able to enjoy Holloway’s presence. He played a regular on The Life of Riley, and at least one episode of many sit-coms, including Hazel, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet Show, Gilligan’s Island and, my personal favorite, The Andy Griffith Show.
Holloway was in his last movie, Thunder and Lightning in 1977. In 1991, he was named a Disney Legend.
In November, 1992, at the age of 87, the world lost the voice, the look and the unforgettable character that was Sterling Holloway. sterling older

Slogging Through the Mire of the Unnecessary, Unneeded and Unwanted

I am slogging my way through a novel to glean a few necessary tidbits of information buried somewhere within the text. When I say slogging, I mean slogging. I’m forced to read things like, “She turned on the light. Then she turned on the furnace.” OK, not so bad, really, but then the author shows the character doing every little detail when simply writing She got the house ready for company would have been far shorter than the two pages of dish-washing, bed-making, vegetable-chopping, table-setting, etc etc etc.

There is also a lot of this type of snooze-fest:
“Hello.”
“Hello.”
“How are you?”
“I’m fine. How are you?”
“I’m fine.”
“Please come in.”
“Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Please sit down.”
“Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.”

 

This is not what you want your reader to do when he’s reading your book.

None of this led to anything other than a guest coming into the house. If you are going to go to this much trouble with so many mundane bits and pieces, there needs to be poison in the soup, or a long-lost relative waiting on the sofa, or some other reason to build tension. If you’re going to spend time turning on each light and the furnace (and I mean more than a passing mention) then the furnace needs to blow up or in the now well-lit room we should see something significant, new, or frightening.

Most of us write this way, especially when we are first finding our way. I am guilty of it myself from time to time. And there is nothing wrong with it in a first draft. But if you leave these details in rather than edit them out, you will bore, bore, bore your reader until they put your book away, never to pick it up again – or anything else you ever write. When you edit, please think of your reader and double-think these details.

The Next Big Thing

It is my pleasure to have made a wonderful online friend who is a terrific writer and a genuine good guy. Gordon Bonnet (https://skeptophilia.blogspot.com) asked me if I’d like to be part of an “author-centered ‘blog hop.’” He explained that it is something like a “chain letter for bloggers” that is passed to three authors, and those authors pass it along to three of their own author friends. No, you don’t get $50,000 by next Friday. Your luck will not markedly improve. I seriously doubt mayhem and maladies will befall you if you don’t participate. What it does do, is let authors share a bit about themselves and their writing lives with anyone who cares enough to read.

Shortly after Gordon invited me to participate, so did Andrew Butters (https://potatochipmath.blogspot.ca/2012/12/the-next-big-thing.html), who just proves there’s a good reason (reasons) that I love Canadians.

The questions that follow are all related to “my next book.” This is rather tricky for me to write about because I write for several different publishers, and I have several “next books.” For the purpose here, though, I have chosen to talk about only one.

So here are the questions put forth in this “blog hop extravaganza.”

1. What is the working title of your next book?
I have several books in the wings, but I think the next one I will be working on when I’m finished with my current WIP is Charlotte and Mr. Abernathy. I hope to turn it into a new series of kids’ books.

2. Where did the idea come from for your book?
I’ve had the idea for this series for a long time, so I really don’t recall where it came from initially. However, I like ghost stories, and I thought a story with plenty of humor and a lonely, dearly-departed who has all kinds of human frailties teaming up with an artistic, gutsy kid could be a lot of fun to write.

3. What genre does your book fall under?
I’m pretty sure it will either be considered “tween” fiction or young adult.

4. What is your synopsis or blurb for this book?
When Charlotte Porter spots Mr. Abernathy at her breakfast table one morning, it doesn’t take long to realize the grumpy old guy in peculiar clothes died long ago, and he can’t “move on” until he finds out why someone killed him in his own kitchen almost ninety years earlier. Is Charlotte up for the challenge? You better believe it!

5. What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Until the book is written, this is a question I can’t answer.

6. Will your book be self-published, or represented by an agency?
I am represented by Jeanie Loiacono of Loiacono Literary Agency, and she has sold a lot of books for me. She is all excited about this new series and is pretty sure she’ll be able to find it a home.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Let’s step away from Charlotte and Mr. Abernathy for this question, and talk for a moment about the very first book I ever wrote. It was 600+ pages and took me only 7 weeks to write. That’s because I’d bottled up my stories for so long that when I finally let the creativity flow, it came in a massive flood. I understand this happens a lot with first books. The novel was awful, but most first books are. That’s OK. Writing an entire book is a significant accomplishment.

8. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Inspiration is everywhere. It’s far easier for me to answer “What did not inspire you?”

9. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I honestly do not have an answer for this. The other children’s series I wrote, The Confessions of April Grace” involves a spunky heroine who plays detective a lot, but no ghost is involved, and the setting is rural, not city. The books will not be silly, or slap-dash. I hope they will be humorous but also have heart and some redemptive value. That is, I hope when a kid finishes reading, he or she will have learned a little something about life.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
How a girl of the 21st century can relate to a stodgy old banker from the 1920s and how they help each other ought to create a dynamic that appeals to others and draws a reader in. Each book will have a mystery that Charlotte must solve, along with the help of Mr. Abernathy.

11. Who’s next in the Blog Hop?
The lovely and talented mystery author, Lin Waterhouse https://www.linwaterhouse.com
The beautiful Dr. Fab, Shay Fabbro https://www.linwaterhouse.com
The gorgeous author of romance, Valerie Haight www.thewriteoneval.blogspot.com

Valerie Gets Published!

A couple of years ago, I met a sweet young lady who was working hard to become a published author. She wanted to go the traditional route, and I was happy to encourage her. Lots of work and many anxious days, weeks, and months later, Valerie Haight finally met her goal when Happenstance was released in mid-December.

She’s not stopping with just one, though, and continues to write like mad on her next book. I can’t wait to see what this girl is going to offer the world in the coming days.

Thank you so much, K.D., for the awesome honor of guest blogging here today! I’ve long admired your works and to be here is just HUGE for me. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be in your company, to walk in your footsteps and to learn from you. If that sounds a bit like a speech after winning an Oscar, it’s because I feel like I have! I still think back to the day when my friend Michael Willis pointed you out in a newspaper article and said I should look you up. I carried around that article for two days wondering, what will I say to this lady? “Hi, I want to be like you” just didn’t sound…authorish. “Hi, I want to be you” however true it was at the time seemed…stalkerish. And, “Hi, can I have your autograph?” didn’t really go as far as I wanted it to. In the end it was Twitter that provided the bridge I needed to approach you.

*pausing while everyone joins me in a tribute bow to Twitter*

Thank GOODNESS you are so approachable. You opened your arms and your mind to me and taught me things I never would’ve gotten to experience had it not been for that first Twitter chat. You were as lovely then as you are today and I couldn’t be more excited and grateful to call you my friend.

You made me deliver my first pitch session! Which went a lot like this, “Um…my main character—I can’t remember her name right now uh…er…has a problem—I can’t remember what it is right now…and uh…” and you stopped me there before I hurt myself.

Since then, we’ve shared buckets of tea and loads of laughs, some tears and worries, pitch sessions and agent meetings. And I realize how lucky I am to have you on my side. Truly, I understand not many newbie writers have a KD and I’m here today to let the world know I’m keeping mine! 😀

And here we are today celebrating my first release together! I’m so excited so I’m gonna jump in and unload all the details in true Valerie style. Blastin’ it out.

Happenstance, my debut novella was released by Turquoise Morning Press on December 13, 2012! I wrote this story using a corporate setting based loosely on some relationship conflict I witness as an administrative assistant. I take note of the “Peyton Place” happenings and scheme them one (or three) steps further. I have loads of great ideas for future novels but today, let’s talk Happenstance!

Taryn Ballard is happily married and a newly appointed analyst for a prestigious shipping company. Her career upsurges in record time but she’s about to discover the real price of corporate life.
While on yet another business trip, Taryn suffers a brutal attack by a carjacker. Her husband isn’t there, but her co-worker Devin is. The accidental bond Taryn and Devin share pitches them into dangerous and confusing territory. Taryn struggles to discern both her feelings for her sexy protector and Wade’s reaction to it all. Unfamiliar emotions blur the rules of the game and Wade’s ready to quit.
Taryn must rise above disaster to save her marriage. But is she ready to let go of the man who saved her life? In a single moment, Happenstance changes everything.

You taught me to give my main characters three levels of hell and Taryn was not immune. She was so much fun to write because I really played havoc on both Devin and Wade while simultaneously running her through the wringer. Yes, I’m awful.  My favorite genres are suspense and romance so I couldn’t resist sneaking in some tense danger amongst the smooches.
“Devin, it’s Taryn. You were right. The execs want me to meet them for dinner and I feel really foolish because I have a GPS and a connect-the-dot map from the concierge and I’m still lost.”
Devin laughed. “Not a problem. Where are you?”
Taryn took a second to locate the green street sign. “At the corner of First and Third at a tiny, ancient-looking convenience store.”
“Oh, I know the one. You’re right next to us. I could probably see you from the tower window. Okay, which restaurant are you looking for?”
Taryn grabbed the hand-drawn map. “Caminas.”
“I know where it is. Actually, it might be faster by freeway.”
“Of course it would. I just came from—”
An unexpected rush of damp, hot air hit her and Taryn turned, confused to see her door open wide. She sucked in a quick breath and saw too late the arm reaching for her. Terror gripped her as she zeroed in on the gun in her face.

I had so much fun with this story. I hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! Happenstance can be purchased here.
Tweet with me @Valeriebrbr, follow me on Facebook or find out the latest on my Author Page about my upcoming short story Magnolia Brides in a TMP wedding anthology out in June! Thanks again, K.D., for saving a spot for me on your awesome blog!

What’s Wrong With Right Now?

Tomorrow.

Next week.

By spring.

Weekend after next.

Pretty soon.

Later.

So often we put off our lives until those magical days or times appear: We will be happy tomorrow. Pretty soon things will be better. By spring, we’ll have more resources. We’ll take off a few days weekend after next. Later, we can stop worrying and start living.

What is wrong with right now?

It is always right now, today, this moment. That magical perfect time will never appear. We must create it, and the only time to create it is right now.

What have you been putting off? A chore? Spending time with a loved one? Indulging in some comfort? Writing that story? My challenge: do it now, because later will never get here. Time will, always and forever, be Right Now.