Thursday, October 8, 2015

Back-and-Forth Drama With Ruthy

I am a practical person.

I have an analytical nature.

I am a people pleaser.

These things are at odds most of the time. I'm telling you this because I H-A-T-E DRAMA.

And I write fiction.

It's a conundrum of the highest order, it's a Rubik's Cube with missing colored tabs, it's mass confusion, and if it's that way for me, I have to believe it's that way for most of us!

Ruthy here, so excited to be celebrating another birthday in Seekerville!!! Cue the lights! Start the confetti drop! Hit the music!!!!


Our theme is #nolimits.

No limits means that you must be willing to come crawling out of your self-imposed shells and see the light of day to a certain degree to be successful in this business. It means you have to be willing to s-t-r-e-t-c-h to achieve goals.

It doesn't mean that you can't pace yourself.

It doesn't mean you can't do things your way, in your time. That whole tortoise and rabbit moral?

I'm a tortoise, but I'm a tortoise who crawls ahead every day... and that helps ace the goal!


But you do have to work. And you have to work knowing you can go as far as you want and do as much as you want which equals: No Limits.

Lots of writers/authors are introverts.

If I asked for a show of hands, how many of you would call yourself an introvert?

How many would say "I'm shy." or "I'm not good with people." Or "I'm reserved. I like the sanctity and anonymity of my writing cave, leave me the heck alone, Ruthy!!!"

Honestly, you've come to the right place, because despite the whole social media push these days, and the fact that you can connect with people and other authors in wonderful places like Seekerville, writing is a solitary job. You write it. You fix it. And these days, you can even publish it!

Times have changed my friends, and in light of our NO LIMITS theme, I want to celebrate our 8th birthday with you by doing something I haven't done in a couple of years here... Instant Editing With The Ruthinator!

You haven't lived until you've survived a day with the Ruthinator in the house, with the back-and-forth of this and that as we work to polish an idea, a line, a paragraph or a page... And then you take the advice given by me (and anyone else who wants to chime in, EEEEK!!!!!) and you can take it...

Or leave it!

And don't let this happy Grammy-face fool you! When it comes to critiquing and editing...

The gloves are off.

The gauntlet has been THROWN. Be afraid. Be very afraid.


So here's what we do. You post an excerpt, and we'll talk about it.

And I'll be here all day, all evening, with youse, (except when I have to get my hair trimmed) and we'll talk about the strengths and limitations of that page.

Now you don't have to agree with what I say or with what anyone says, but this will give you an idea of what's working for me and what I'd like to see polished.

"Now, Ruthy," you say. "Why do I care what you think? Why would I do this and risk embarrassment in front of thousands of people?"

To which the Ruthinator responds, "Go big or stay home, Cupcake!" :)

We don't have to be extroverts to be successful authors, but you do have to be willing to take some brave moves. There is risk involved. Your delicate little feelings are likely to get hurt from time to time (okay, TRAMPLED is more accurate, but I don't want to scare anyone! Too much.)  and you know what I'm going to say to you, don't you???

It's time to take those forward steps you hear about all the time. So today, I want you to take that forward step here, with me, and any other Seekerville friends that wander by. I want you to be brave enough to post something, courageous enough to take a chance, and then you can see what folks say and either take the advice or don't! No harm, no foul.

Easy peasy, right?

You don't have to be brave to be an author, but you do have to have the courage to try and fail, because that's the most common scenario... and those who end up succeeding are not the best! No, sir!

They're the ones who DID NOT QUIT.

Eventually, the cream rises to the top.

So that's our birthday mission today, my gift to you. I will critique with you for the entire day, and I brought along some very tempting morsels to go with our theme!

Limitless Coffee!

Dark chocolate frosted homemade cupcakes, with or without sprinkles!

Hot tea, sweet tea and Snapple for my tea-lovers!

Chicken Salad sandwiches for lunch, with lettuce on toasted, fresh, Manhattan bagels.

Hey, I know how to party, and this is all quick, pick-up food, because when I'm editing or revising, I don't worry about the kitchen... I worry about the page.

And that's what we're going to do today, in honor of this 8th birthday. A day of critiquing with the Ruthinator...

And we'll see who lives when the day is done!

And in honor of blatant self-promotion which I excel at because yes, it's part of the job!!!! Today I want to turn your attention to our newest collections, releasing in TWO DAYS as part of our holiday gift of faith, hope, love and sweet romance!

"A Heart Full of Christmas", a collection of sweet and inspirational romances that assure us we can go home again... and might find a little angelic help along the way! This collection was so much fun to work on that I can't even begin to tell you! So yes, you should run, not walk (well, button push, actually) over to Amazon and grab this one... and while you're at it, grab the historical, too, because I had so much fun being in that one as well!


AND CLICK HERE FOR "HOME FOR CHRISTMAS" a delightful group of old-time Christmas stories from me, Janet, Pam and Julie! So much fun!!! Old-style fun, and there's nothing wrong with that, is there?

I love this, Tina thought I'd forgotten to add the birthday meme in (AS IF, RADCLIFFE!!!!) so she tucked this here for me....

Thank you, Tina!!!


  1. How fun, Ruthy. What, no baby hugs, just hair trimming? I'm not a writer, but hey, you need us readers for those reviews we post! I'm looking forward to reading those comments today! Thanks. And here's coffee and cinnamon rolls...what, you're tired of cinnamon rolls?

  2. Hi Ruth:

    No limits means one could post a complete novel. Even a total trilogy. So perhaps, in this one case, you could suggest an ideal word count for our no limits writing example. I have eight first draft WIPs. Do you have any preference for type of story or subgenre? Please let us know. I'll select something to post in the morning.

    I don't fear a critique. What I fear is a critique without limits. Now that is scary.


  3. Thanks, Ruth for always helping us to be more brave in what we're doing! Those cupcakes were too devilish, though. Please send.

    Love the football analogy. I'll have to send Tina an idea given our family's involvement in fencing! I've written about being "en guarde!" ready to be at our best at a moment's notice. My post tomorrow will be in keeping with this, too! And being flexible is important, too, so as to not be injured.

    Your Christmas books look so enticing! Best wishes in your work and thanks again. A good way to end the evening's writing spurt.

  4. I'm up way late, unable to sleep. And Vince has me laughing about critique without limits. :) :) Now I'm even more awake.

    I love the football photo, Ruthy! I look forward to the Ruthinator critiques. But maybe I'll sleep just a little first...

  5. LOL, Ruthy --it's like they say, nothing worth it in life is easy? Keep it up future authors! There are a lot of readers waiting to read your books! =)

  6. Great post Ruthy!I will have to come back later with an excerpt...after I get off work, which is where I am heading too now. I'm all for #nolimits with a critique. The more brutal the more I learn.

    Happy Birthday Seekerville!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


    Vince, you skimmed!!!!! I did post the limits somewhere in there, some cute sentence about an excerpt, a line, a paragraph, a page..... So yes, we can't do a whole book, but we can have fun examining bits and pieces, right? And feel free to chime in today, you know I love and value your opinion!

    And do you know how hard it was to fit my big head into those pads? They belong to an 8 year old.... Oy, the things I do for youse!!!!! :)

    Marianne, go over to Yankee Belle Cafe where I've posted SWEET BABY PICS and a great recipe for making Asiago Garlic Bread!!!

  8. Love your posting, Ruth...great way to start my day.

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  9. Elizabeth, you're welcome! Always a pleasure to see you here!!!!

    And yes, a great en guarde! pose would be perfect!!!

  10. Jen, right back at you! School's a crazy time, and your work and talents are diverse, but remember Sara Ella the other day, and take/grab/steal a page from her book! Go get 'em, Tiger!!!

  11. Cindy, I'll be especially brutal just for you, darling!!!

  12. I think I like Grammy better than the Ruthinator.

  13. KarenK, good morning, sweet thing!!!!!!

  14. Mary Preston, LOL!!!!! :)

    You should have seen the pictures I DIDN'T post! Oy, they were so far beyond bad as to be...


    Won't go there!

    The pads rocked it!

  15. What an opportunity. AND she brought cupcakes. This is an offer even I cannot refuse.

    Pull up those panties and toss 'er out there.

    No guts. No glory!

  16. Hi Ruthy,

    Congratulations on the beautiful new baby! #NOLIMITS!?!

    I work 10-8 today, so it looks like I'll have to be brave and send you an small portion of my WIP. Here goes...if it's too long feel free to ignore. It's the opening paragraphs. Okay Tina, here is me being gutsy...

    “There’s nothing to worry about, Hunter. They are only puppies. Probably don’t even have their teeth yet.” Natalie Moore squeezed her eight-year-old nephew’s hand as they walked the grassy path to the barn. Maybe she should have researched a little more before driving out to adopt a puppy.
    Yips sounded from the shadowy barn.
    “I hear them.” Wonder laced Hunter’s words, and his steps quickened.
    “Yeah, that sounds like puppies.” Natalie increased her pace even though part of her wanted to drag him back home and rethink her crazy idea about adopting a puppy to help Hunter open up. Her research showed border collies were fun, energetic, and kid friendly. When she heard about this litter at Amanda’s Bakery and Café, she knew it was time for action.
    A deep dog bark froze Natalie to the spot.
    “Aunt Natalie? What’s wrong?”
    “Um, nothing’s wrong.” She could do this. Nobody would sell puppies if they had a vicious attack dog around waiting to pounce on an innocent woman. She forced one foot in front of the other. “Let me lead the way into the barn.”
    “Sure.” He shrugged his little shoulders.
    She paused to study his sad face. His sad shoulders. His sad countenance. Yes, she could handle one little puppy if it meant lifting Hunter’s spirits. She’d hit a solid wall and prayed how to help him, and the image of a puppy had come to mind. So here they were.
    “Hi.” A deep male voice greeted them from the shadows of the barn.
    She squinted and grasped Hunter’s hand tighter. “Hi.”
    A tall, dark haired man stepped into the sunlight. Wow! One look at him told her he wasn’t the normal kind of guy she went for, but her heart did a little flip anyway. He knelt in front of Hunter. “Are you looking to adopt one of my puppies?”

    Thanks so much, Ruthy!

  17. “I hope you will understand that I was only trying to help. Years in this kind of business told me you would need more funds so I had to speak up. You’ll be glad for the extra money if they come through for you. Good luck with your program.” Scott smiled at Ginny with a hopeful look that had nothing to do with musicals.
    “Thanks, I’m sure you’ll provide us with all kinds of helpful advice.”
    Ginny was sure that this time some of her sarcasm must have come through because the professor raised those interesting sandy eyebrows and coolly excused himself after commenting, “No thank you. I have enough other projects to keep me busy, including my summer theater camp.” Sliding on his pair of dark sunglasses, the intimidating man stalked from the room.
    Scott couldn’t believe what had just happened. Guessing that outward appearances were definitely misleading he shook his head over the thought that the intriguing woman in question certainly had an edgy personality or on second thought…maybe she was just defending her project. She wouldn’t be the first person to feel that way, nor the last. Come to think of it, he had been a little defensive himself about some of his earlier projects. Maybe it would be an interesting challenge to find out some more about Miss Ginny Cline and give her the benefit of the doubt. He would definitely have to give some more thought to Edmund’s suggestion of heading up the project. Oh well, he had better get his mind off of the distracting female and get home to prepare some things for camp tomorrow.
    As Ginny watched the retreating professor, she breathed a sigh of relief and then it struck her like a ton of bricks. Without the beard she hadn’t recognized that not only was Dr. Hallmark the man at the pool, he was also the person she had run into in the hall at school. His dark glasses had been the last clue to finally unmasking the identity of the man. Too bad his good looks didn’t make up for his bossy opinions when it came to musical theater.

  18. Hi, Had to limit my post...Set up is she is trying to pitch a community musical. He knows more than she does and conflict is ensuing. Eventually they'll have to work together to satisfy a financial backer. Bring on your best advice

  19. Thanks Ruthy for doing this. I have a feeling you are going to be very busy today.

  20. Those cupcakes are making me hungry! Andthe Christmas books look like they need to be on my TBR list!

  21. Jackie!

    First, you have a sympathetic heroine, a heart-grabbing kid, and wonderful emotion throughout.

    So here's my thought:

    I think the opening paragraph needs to be more of a reader set-up. Then you can transition to the barn and the hunky puppy seller more quickly. And let's not tell Hunter there's nothing to worry about, because the minute we tell kids that, they start to worry!

    Here's your opening paragraph:

    “There’s nothing to worry about, Hunter. They are only puppies. Probably don’t even have their teeth yet.” Natalie Moore squeezed her eight-year-old nephew’s hand as they walked the grassy path to the barn. Maybe she should have researched a little more before driving out to adopt a puppy"

    I think a set up like this might be a stronger intro and a better reader/agent/editor grab:

    She'd come this far. Now it was time for her to be the adult and lead the way into the big, red, well-kept barn. She bent low and gazed into her sweet nephew's face. So sad. So bereft. So much gone, and from his solemn, eight-year-old appearance, the little guy had absolutely nothing to look forward to.

    Natalie prayed a new puppy might change some of that. She extended her hand. "Ready?"

    Tiny noises erupted from the barn, a chorus of yips and yaps.

    "I hear them!"

    Ruthy note: Now you can continue down the walk... you've shown that there's deep sadness, and you have the reader wondering what and why... you've set up Natalie as a sympathetic, nice person, so when you show her fear of the sudden bark, the reader knows her heart already! They'll totally sympathize with her reaction, and again, be raised in awareness.

    The other thing I'd change is the detail with the hero meeting. I don't care what her normal type of guy is, so dump that... I want her to "see" him once he steps out. His face, the scar on his chin, the gentle gaze or worried eyes, the "w" between his eyes, the hair, a gesture. Give me the rich detail that makes him come alive, right away. (And yes, I often have to go and ADD THIS IN because I forget to do it myself!)

    Now we've got a romance set-up... We empathize with her, we want to help the little guy, we know puppies are a handful and she's going to have her work cut out for her, and the hero needs a new lease on life. :)

  22. What a relief to hear I don't have to work at your pace, Ruthy. I can't keep up with you.
    Congratulations on your new granddaughter! She's beautiful.

    Here's my opening paragraph...feel free to shred it up and thanks!

    "After a cold day on the slopes, come for a warm stay at The Black Bear Inn, Canaan Valley's most popular bed and breakfast." Joshua Carlson smiled as he listened to the radio advertisement. Finally, his life would change.

    His grip tightened on the steering wheel, the sun would set within the hour. The mountain roads were unfamiliar. He spotted the sign for the Red Fox General Store and pulled in for a cup of coffee.

    "Sam, where are you? Sam!"

    Joshua sprinted toward the frantic scream coming from inside the store. "What's going on?"

    "It's my daughter, Sam. She slipped out the back door while I was helping a customer. There's been a stray kitten hanging around the store. I'm afraid she might have chased it into the woods. It's going to be dark soon."

    Caught off guard by the young woman’s striking features, Joshua forced the lump down his throat. It had been a long time since he noticed another woman. Her chestnut hair, pulled back in a loose ponytail, caused his heart to come alive for the first time in years. "Try to stay calm, we'll find her before dark."

    “Obviously you don’t know Canaan. We have black bears and coyotes all over. She's only five and she's small for her age, she..."

    "Try and stay calm." Joshua rested his hand on the woman's forearm."Get a couple of flashlights and we'll start looking."

    Her eyes widened. "You said we'd find her before dark. Why do we need flashlights?"

    His arms dropped to his side. "The sun is getting low. We might lose light the deeper we go into the woods. It’s just a precaution. You better run, we're wasting daylight."

  23. Ruth always speaks the truth! Lots of great Ruthy advice today. Love the bit about having the courage to try and fail! Prior to selling, I "got" the word courage. At the time, I didn't realize its significance, but I still go back to that word because courage is what every writer needs...courage to write the story and then write the next story and then repeat the process over and over again.

    Reaching for a cup of coffee! Thanks, Ruthy!

  24. Bettie, I love the idea of warring musical entities! This gives us a glimpse into something we don't often see, the arts world.

    Helen Gray did a nice job of injecting music into some of her work, I loved it. And thank you for being so very brave, I'm like stinkin' proud of you!!!

    Okay, now this entry (and YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO HATE ME!!!) is using way too many words to make your point.

    Think: TIGHT.

    Think: Less is more.

    Think: Action/Reaction.

    I have never been able to "see" scenes the way most craft books describe, it makes no sense to me, so I don't read them. But I DO understand the basic scientific principle of "Action/Reaction": Every action has an opposite and equal reaction. And that's what we need here.

    I need this to be the actual "scene" where they meet and squabble with dialogue, interspersed with her rising emotions. In your words, of course, but more like this:

    "I'm only trying to help, Miss Cline." The cool, calm professor didn't seem to care that he was holding her heart in his hands and slowly, deliberately squeezing every ounce of life from it. "A musical like this entails more than most debut producers envision when they come to me with grandiose ideas. Like most businesses, we need to learn to walk before we run."

    Condescending. Patronizing. Overbearing.

    Ginny recognized all three attributes easily. She'd been raised around them, she understood that inflated egos peppered the music business like Tchaikovsky danced notes on a page.

    So if we begin the story like this, we instantly see conflict, need, and emotion. I added the part about her background as an idea, it's good to instantly clue the reader in that life goes far deeper than the initial musical conflict. We want the reader to relate to family or job or life issues, because we're all people and we recognize that! That's a solid way of involving the reader into the story from the opening words. Think emotion: Regret, sorrow, joy, loss, gain, daring, courage... the reader needs that instant connection that only you can give!

    So then, when you've started a scene, the natural back-and-forth will give the reader what they need. As the conversation ensues, she can recognize him, or I might scrap that altogether. If these two are going to end up working together, then she doesn't need to have seen him before. Think basic conflict: She needs funding and a great grade for her doctorate, he needs to do pro bono work to get tenure.

    Something so their needs reflect their goals, so they need each other, even though they'd have never sought one another out on their own.

    1. Thanks and I don't hate you. You've given me some great instructions.

  25. I love your books Ruth. I've read them all.

  26. Awesome, Ruthy! Thanks for helping, and tell the kiddos thanks for sharing you with us today!


  27. Looks like a fun day ahead, Seekerville! How many will step up to meet the Ruthinators's challenge! :) I see we have a few brave souls among us!

    LOVE the new grandbaby pic, Ruthy!! And I can't wait to get my hands on those Seeker Christmas novellas!

  28. Good Morning, Ruthy!

    How DO you stay so trim with all of those goodies at your house????

    Have fun critiquing.

  29. First, I haven't read the entire post yet. I haven't even gotten past paragraph two. When Ruthy said Rubik's Cube, I was instantly transported back to working day and night for weeks to get my Rubik's Cube perfected. Someone suggested just peeling the stickers off and sticking them on. ARE YOU KIDDING? No, no, no. NO.

    I finally did got all the colors lined up and was ecstatic. My mother even took a picture, and I left my Rubik's Cube in all it's color-coded-perfection glory for several days, too happy that it I'd DONE it to risk undoing it.

    One day while I was gone somewhere, one of my cousin's came over and proceeded to UNDO all my hard work, and when they couldn't get the colors lined back up, they PEELED OFF THE STICKERS AND TRIED TO RE-STICK THEM.

    Apparently, I'm still not over it.

    Excuse me while I have a meltdown.


  30. Hi Ruthy,
    I know this is writer critique day, but I just have to chime in. If this writing thing doesn't work out (haha, too late for that, you're soaring) you could always become a coach.

    Not only are you a great writing coach, but a great life coach as well.

    Everyone needs a friend like you who will tell you the truth, for your own good, because they care about you, whether you like it or not (you'll get over it) and then you'll be glad for an honest and true friend, because they are RARE! I know that's a run-on sentence, but I was making my point :)

    So now I'll sit back with my coffee and some of that chicken salad I snatched off the lunch tray and enjoy my Seekerville morning. Your critiques have been so good, I love seeing how this process works!

  31. Hi Ruthy, This entire post was not only inspiring but hilariously funny! I see where the Mighty Finn gets his fearlessness!

    I have to say you spoke to my heart today. This entire writing journey has been about stepping out of my comfort zone. Although I may be the a-typical extroverted writer, I lived most of my life worrying about what everyone else thought of me--my job, my husband, my children, my every waking move, thought or action that I slowly morphed into someone just about afraid of her own shadow. I was living a small, inconsequential life. I remember my Pastor preaching on Gideon. He said that Gideon's tribe was the least in all of Israel and Gideon was the least of his tribe. He went on to say that God delighted in using the ordinary among us to do extraordinary things. I began praying that day for God to break the chains of fear that surrounded me and for Him to use me how He wished. I have to say that I didn't see the writing thing coming and I'm not sure if acquiring a publishing contract can be considered extraordinary, but what He has done in MY life is. I'm forever changed and forever grateful to God who gives dreams and sees them through. God has brought me to fearlessness my friend and He's shown up for me time and time again.

  32. I'm up 2 hours earlier because my oldest called and woke us up asking if we had an extra set of keys to his truck. His wife has his and she was working the night shift 30 minutes away.

    So, lack of sleep, blurry eyes and after RELIVING a 35-year-old-trauma, I read Ruthy's first critique....

    Ruthy said: Now we've got a romance set-up... We empathize with her, we want to help the little guy, we know puppies are a handful and she's going to have her work cut out for her, and the hero needs a new lease on life. :)

    I read that as the hero needs a new LEASH. Obviously, I need more coffee and/or to go back to bed. lol

  33. Ok, here's me coming out of my introverted introvert shell. Shred this to bits, Ruthy! I write, but am still learning how to get everything in a scene. This is the story I've been working on. The hero, Bruce, is a lead investigator for abused animal cases. His older sister has died and left him guardian of his niece, Jessica. The heroine, Sarah, is opening a shop in town.

    “Jessica, where were you today?” Bruce just came in from seeing Sarah at the pond and checked his voicemail. He must have been so distracted by Sarah he didn’t feel the buzz of his phone vibrating. “The school called and said you weren’t there again. I dropped you off. What happened this time?” Maybe if he listened he’d find something that would explain Jessica’s behavior. He just didn’t get it. But maybe that was because he didn’t understand teenagers. Oh, Susan. Why did you have to die and leave your little girl alone?
    “Oh, Bruce. It’s ok. Some friends and I took off. We needed a break. Haven’t you felt that way? With everything going on, it’s just too much for me.” Jessica flipped her hair over her shoulder and plucked an apple off the counter.
    “I know a lot is going on, but you still have responsibilities. Going to school is one of them. If I ran away every time the going got rough, I wouldn’t get anything done. You’ve got to remember that.”
    Crunching on the apple, Jessica looked at Bruce. “It’s just really hard for me right now. You know? I don’t know what to do.” Tears were swimming in Jessica’s eyes.
    Bruce wrapped Jessica up in a warm hug. He kissed her forehead. “I am so sorry you have to go through this. It’s been hard for me too. Unexpectedly losing my sister way too soon in an avoidable accident. I worry about you. Hang in there. It’ll get easier. We’ll get through this together, okay?”
    “How can you know that? Why would God take my mommy? I need her.” Jessica sobbed softly into Bruce’s shoulder.
    “I know sweetheart. Life happens, but God is here to protect, comfort, and love each of us. We can trust in that.” Bruce gathered Jessica into his arms and patted her back while brushing her tears away.
    “Bruce, I just don’t know if I can. It’s too hard right now.” Jessica hiccupped and reached for a towel on the counter to wipe her tears.
    “I know it’s hard, baby. But I’m here for you. You can do this. Your mother would be so proud of you. But the next time you feel the urge to run away, be strong. It scares me when I can’t find you. I just want to keep you safe.” Bruce hoped he was getting through to her. She didn’t realize the dangers of running off. Someone could pick her up or anything and he’d have no idea where she was. He couldn’t handle losing his sister and his niece. He didn’t know what he’d do if something happened to her as well.
    “I will promise to try. Can I go to my room now? I have homework to work on.” Jessica sniffed.
    “Yes, I’ll fix some dinner and call you when it’s ready.” Bruce patted Jessica’s shoulder as she walked down the hall toward the stairs and her bedroom. Turning to go into the kitchen he prayed, God help me help Jessica. Comfort her heart. How could he explain to Jessica about God taking her parents when he didn’t understand it himself?

  34. HEY RUTHY! Great post. I also AVOID drama as much as I can. It can suck you in to a deep dark hole in which there is no return. It also adds some spice to a mundane existence. Is there a LIMITLESS supply of chocolate and Snapple?! Great photo of you and the new grand baby!

    Please add me to the draw. Have a fabulous day!

  35. Jill, I'm still happy dancing about your call!!!! YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!!!

    Okay, this opening line... Unless it's intrinsic to the story, unless the B&B is where people are being murdered and it's not going to be warm and fuzzy as promised, I would change it, and mostly because it's a lead in to the second line. Would any man really think a weekend away (or a week) would change his life? And if so, why? We want to show the reader why right off, at least a tempting glimpse...

    So I'd want more from his perspective, to grab my interest, to give me a hint why he needs his life changed, without telling me it's going to be changed. Like this, but in your own amazingly wonderful way:

    Serenity. Peace. Solitude. And great coffee.

    Clean, crisp mountain air filled the car as Josh Carlson wound his way up the unfamiliar roads. The Black Bear Inn promised all four in its advertisements. It didn't promise hope. He'd have to come up with that one on his own, but maybe this time away would get that ball rolling, too.

    A rustic sign announced a general store up ahead with a steaming cup of coffee pictured alongside.

    Coffee now. Coffee later. Perfect.

    He pulled in, and almost had time to appreciate the name "Red Fox General Store" when he heard the first scream.

    (moving down)

    Where she says, "She slipped out the back door", we've got to amend that because if she knew the kid went out, she'd have gone after her, customer or no customer, right? So if we add "she must have" to "slipped out the back door", Mom sounds smarter and more on the ball. We love smart moms and we know kids are slippery little suckers!

    Then I'd delete the second "try and stay calm" and just have him put his hand on her arm. More powerful that way.

    And she just told him that he "didn't know Canaan". (Great name, by the way!) So why would her eyes widen when he mentioned flashlights. This is her place, her land, her mountain. That's part of her fear because she knows what could happen. Falls, impalements on jagged roots, animals... I'd like to see him recognize her understanding internally, and not try to placate or comfort her... because he's the new guy, and he's on her turf.

    You can do that and still have her be dependent, and guilt-stricken for a momentary lapse of judgment.

    I'm so glad you jumped in and played today, Jill!!!!!

  36. Debbie, isn't that the truth? We don't realize how much you need that (and it's God-given, He loves to hand out courage, way more than that Wizard of Oz guy!!!!) until you're there and realize that self-doubt, disparagement, reviews and editors' takes can wear on the spirit...

    But they can't wear on the soul! The soul is ours and His, no one else gets to claim it, so I rely on that soul when I get red-inked all over the place, or life intervenes and the juggling act ensues! Thank you for your wisdom, Deb!

  37. Cathy Ann, what a nice thing to say!!! Thank you!!!

  38. Jackie is still speaking to me... This is GOOD!!!!

  39. Glynna, thank you! Lanie Ruth is stinkin' adorable, and she looks like her Mama!!! And she smiles a lot, already, which makes me wonder if she's going to have MY BIG TEETH and she's practicing???? :)

    The Christmas Novellas!!!!!

    I am so excited that we got them ready and out a month earlier than last year, and that these are all delightful and new stories. I'm totally psyched!

    And I will add, I'm over-the-moon in love with my Sewing Sister Society series in the historicals (more to come on those in 2016!!!) AND the third Karralis cousin (totally hot Greek heroes) in the contemporary! Jake Karralis... and identical twin sons... oh, sigh...

  40. Rose, I love you, of course I'm not trim, I'm just kind of "medium".

    Medium is okay, right? And gosh, when you spend so much time in a sitting job, it is tough to maintain weight... Missy gave me a tip last year that really helped, that moving for 20 minutes for every hour or so of typing. THAT HAS BEEN A HUGE HELP!!!!

    Thank You, Missy!!!!

  41. Pam, I'm dying laughing at that!

    My oldest son Matt nailed it because he wouldn't give up. He never gives up. He was my great problem solver, puzzle doer, and now he's a math whiz doing audits and accounting as a CPA because he loves to ferret things out. That tenacity has served him well. So when one of my kids here solved the puzzle, I was all over him!!!!! YAY! Until I found out that you can GOOGLE the stupid solution.


  42. TRACEY HAGWOOD!!!!! First, thank you. Second, I'm printing this off and sending it to each of my children who are not nearly as impressed as you are, LOL! But then, they've had me and my "wisdoms" for a very long time, and the polish has worn off that silver, for sure!

    Thank you, my friend!


    And I can't wait to see what you think of the collections, Tracey. I love writing Christmas stories, and these just made my day!!!

  43. The teasers you just gave about the continuation of the Sewing Sisters Society and another Cousin Jake Karralis has whet my appetite for these new collections, moving anything else on my weekend reading list aside!

  44. Thanks Ruthy! Ha murders in this story, but the B&B does play a major role in the conflict between the hero and heroine, so I'll have to rework that. I appreciate your input...I didn't catch that I had repeated the "stay calm" line. Bad!


  45. Here goes...chapter one / page one (thanks in advance):

    My chattering teeth woke me up. A glance at the wall told me the pilot light on the gas heater had been out for a while. The waffle styled array of porcelain behind a hockey mask of metal appeared a dull yellow. I rolled with my sleeping bag, off the bed to a standing position. Why lose body heat if I don’t have to? Shuffling across the wood a frigid draft blew around my head. I’ve really got to find a new place. Denver is not known for being a hot weather mecca but this cold snap seemed brutal. Seems to be a common theme in my life. The places I called home were never warm and cozy.

    Growing up my momma brought home a different man almost every night. When the cat’s away, the mice will play. Only there was only one mouse; me. About my fourth birthday I realized that all Momma’s didn’t leave for days and come back hanging on a different man. I’d eaten ketchup and Chinese take out for three days when Momma and the mister came barreling through the door. I ran for Momma and so happy to not be alone but I only made it a few steps. I remember waking up crumpled by the sofa. The only sounds came from Momma’s room. Momma was yelling but her voice was somehow happier than when she screamed at me. No anger; no hate. Momma’s hate for me never let up. Ms. Williams came around that summer to make sure I was registered for Kindergarten and Momma understood that it was the law for me to go school. Momma told her to take her school to hell and if I was all that important, Ms. Williams could just take me with her and do as she pleased.

  46. Sally!!!!! I'm so proud of you being brave enough to do this, I am happy dancing that you took the chance! GO YOU!!!!

    There is so much amazingly wonderful potential in this set-up, that I'm already in love with it.... But here's the first problem I see: He's wavering and Jessica is waffling.

    You've got to nail these people into who they are and how they would react according to their age and the type of person they are.

    So let's look at Bruce: Is he tough? A softie? Questioning? Rugged? Lost his faith when he lost his sister? Lost in love and life? A loner? Once you nail him down, then each time he thinks or talks, he'd answer in a specific way. Yesterday Raela talked about "surprising" the reader, and that's a great strategy, but we can't surprise the reader if we don't have the character really, truly solid. So he needs to be in the moment. Is he mad that she cut school? Overwhelmed? Worried sick that he's losing a handle? Or is he too busy trying to be her friend, and doesn't realize he needs to actually now be a parent?

    And for Jessica, she sounds like fifteen year old at times, then a kid, then fifteen again. She needs to be anchored in anger or grief or shrug-off-the-old-uncle I don't care what you say stubbornness, doesn't she? Sure, we'd see respites from that, but first we need to see it...

    Here's a few suggestions:

    Jess had skipped school again, and this time the principal's voice mail didn't err on the side of understanding. She sounded totally and irrevocably ripped-out angry. Which meant he was in trouble along with his orphaned niece.

    He strode in the house to grab his keys and hunt for her, and there she was, calmly sitting at the breakfast bar, munching an apple.


    (now this would be according to her character arc, how you see Jess acting, this is just one way)


    She didn't look up, she didn't look down. She stared straight ahead, as if nothing mattered, and Bruce was pretty sure that right now, it didn't.

    "You weren't in school again today. I've got an irate message here from the principal, and I stopped getting irate messages from principals in third grade, kid. I didn't like them then." He slipped into the seat next to her. "And I sure as heck don't like them now."

    She shrugged and kept chewing.

    Obstinate. Bullheaded. Stubborn and angry.

    Don't forget grief-stricken, his conscience prodded. She lost everything in that crash. It's not like you were some beneficent uncle who made the effort to see her often. Checks at Christmas and birthdays aren't like being there. Just sayin'...

    He hadn't seen her often. He didn't see anyone often, he was busy, working, building a career, like everyone else his age.

    Only now he was a father-- guardian, according to the courts, but it was virtually the same thing-- and he was messing this up, royally.

    When we set it up like this, with really firm character parameters, the reader can read/feel/hear the conflict growing and brewing because of how we dice our words. That timing, spacing and pacing can put a great polish on a story because the reader feels every tick of the clock with your characters, and that's exactly what we want!

  47. Caryl, you're in, sweet thing, and yes, limitless supply! We are here for you!!!!!

  48. Jill, I do that stuff all the time, even after several read-throughs!

    A line from Neville Shute's "A Town Like Alice" has always stuck with me. Joe (the hero) is talking about Australia, and he's remarking that he's only seen one artist "get it right...An Abo, painting outback... but then, he was an Abo, and he was painting his own place"...

    That stuck with me because our characters need to be that aborigine in our stories. They need to be confident in their own place, unless they're unfamiliar with it.

    I think that's what gives feel-good stories the warmth people take away from them, because we feel that they're painting their own place.

  49. Wow! What a difference. Thank you so much, Ruthy! Now to go apply this to other parts of my story. Thank you for taking the time to go through this me. I appreciate it!

  50. STEPHANIE!!!!! Thank you for jumping in!

    Okay, I love tortured souls and children who rise above the craziness life sometimes dishes out. This is gripping and soul-searching. I'm so glad you gave this a shot today, that rocks!!!!

    So here are my thoughts, and take them for what they're worth.

    Is this the opening of the book and is it YA or adult?

    The reason I'm asking is that it could go either way. The opening paragraph line about the hockey mask... I don't get it. The glimpse of yellow, pottery/hockey mask. I'm missing the allusion. But now on to the heart of this, I know I'm just getting an excerpt, but I'd treat this differently depending on genre, I think.

    I think we're telling too much info here. If you go from her waking up cold, and hating the cold, to something present day, then she can remember bits and pieces of her childhood to tempt the reader in. I did this in "Winter's End" my debut novel, a heroine with a wretched childhood, a prostitute's daughter, but I only let the reader glimpse hints of her past because she'd worked so hard to ensure her present, that she never dwelt in the past. And when she did, it overwhelmed her...

    So I would parcel this out in bits and pieces if this is romance.

    Now, if it's YA, I might do it differently. I might tell a little of this here, and then let friends "see" more of her as time goes on.

    It's gripping information, but we can make it more so if we deliver it in calculated amounts. We want the reader to see and sympathize with the heroine as she is right now... and then to understand why she is the way she is as the story moves forward. So her mother's disregard is a huge part of why she is who she is... but I'd rather see her as she is today, in the opening lines so I can bond with her right away.

  51. Sally, you're welcome, I'm so proud of you for jumping in! I know it takes guts, sweet thing!!!!

  52. Hi Ruthy Your posts are always so much fun. And I do know how well you punch because you have critiqued my work and let me have it.

    Much to my manuscripts betterment I might add. In spite of my resistance. smile

    Thanks for the reminder to get into no limits.

    Love the photos of grandbaby. How exciting for you. I just know you are a wonderful grammy just like you are a wonderful mom. And friend. smile

    Have a great day.

  53. Hey, if anyone is reading through these comments and thinking there is no way I'm putting my writing on Seekerville for everyone to see, it's time to get rid of that kind of thinking.

    Take the plunge! This is a safe place to test the waters off Unpubbed Island. Go for it!

    Thank you, Ruthy, for all the times you've done this same thing for me :)

  54. Wow, Ruthy is going to be one busy lady today! But anyone brave enough to give the Ruthinator a shot at your writing will come away with some solid help with your wip!


  55. It's an adult book and I'll go back and 'sprinkle' away the information. I felt like I was bogging down but wasn't sure what to do about it. Thanks!

    I guess the gas wall heater is a regional thing...

    Thanks again. You and all of Seekerville brighten and encourage me daily!!


  56. Sandra, those were the days, weren't they????

    We've come a long way, baby, LOL!

    But Sandra was good and tough for me in return, and showed me how to "straighten" a path, so I didn't make Loop-de-loops around the story, which is exactly what I used to do! And i was so sure I was stinkin' brilliant!!!!

    I learned the hard way!

    I tried to post this and I was signed in as Ruth Blodgett and a HUGE CODE THAT SAID FORBIDDEN came up.

    Really, Blogger????

    That's a little over the top, doncha think?

  57. Whew! I'm always breathless after reading one of your posts, girlfriend, and I feel impelled to follow every one of your directives. Collections ordered? Check. Big girl panties on? Check. And since you saved my bacon with such great advice on Dreams of My Heart, I've included the opening of the sequel, Love of My Heart. Feel free to rip it to shreds, Ruthinator. Your advice? Priceless. Excuse me while I curl into a ball in the corner and bite my fingernails.

    Boston, Massachusetts
    May, 1877

    A deafening clap of thunder rumbled down the South Slope of Beacon Hill as Josh Carpenter leapt out of the hired hansom cab into the driving rain. Holding on to his black Stetson in the high wind, he paid the driver, grabbed his worn carpetbag, and took the marble steps of the mansion two at a time. Impatiently, he banged the brass knocker against the red front door.

    When lightning struck a tree at the end of the block, he didn’t wait for an invitation. Instead, he barged into the foyer, nearly knocking down the elderly butler.

    “Reginald!” Josh, unexpected tears welling in his deep-blue eyes, threw his arms around the servant he had known since childhood.

    “Master Joshua!”

    Josh pulled back and grabbed the butler’s shoulders, his raven-black hair dripping water on the floor. His old friend had grown frail since he had left more than ten years ago.

    Tears glistened in Reginald’s eyes. “We had given up hope.”

    “It’s a long way home from Montana Territory.”

    Looking over the servant’s shoulder, his gaze locked with a tall woman dressed in black who had the warmest pair of brown eyes he had ever seen. Four children, whom he presumed to be his nieces and nephews, stampeded to the front door and surrounded him, all talking at once. The youngest boy threw his arms around his waist and looked up in wonder.

    “You came! Please don’t let him take us away.”

  58. Jan Drexler has braved the Ruthinator and lived!!!! :)

  59. What a blessing! Thank you! Mine is a YA. Jesse is the protagonist that lives with an alcoholic mother. It's a book of hope with some romance.

    Jesse realize that one of the students was waving her arm wildly in an attempt to catch her attention. Darin Aames was the only girl Jesse could talk to with little fear of judgment. Darin had been in and out of classes with her every year since she moved into the area. This was the first year they did not have a class together, but both felt the same pain of suffering through Mr. Harris, the government teacher, only during different periods. Darin’s sandy blonde, shoulder length hair was the same shade as her twin brother’s, who was standing next to Darin, his eyes fixed on Jesse as Darin’s rushing river of words enveloped her.
    “I’m glad I caught you, Jesse. Please tell me you took notes for Harris’s class? I’m desperate,” she huffed.
    “Um, yeah, I have them,” Jesse replied.
    “Great. Can I borrow them, please?”
    “Sure, mine aren’t very legible, but I can rewrite them.”
    “Thanks, you’re awesome. Just give them to Derek in 4th period, OK? Or better yet, why don’t you sit with us at lunch today?”
    Jesse felt bad always turning down Darin’s offers, but what choice did she have? Mustn’t let anyone here get too close.
    “I have stuff to do, but thanks,” she replied.
    The last tardy bell rang. They scattered to their various classes, the memory of Derek’s gaze left her feeling exposed. It was one thing to talk with Darin, but being in the presence of her brother was a whole different story. He was the star basketball player - and with good looks to match the talent. He had every girl in school vying for his attention. She felt so self-conscious standing there with his eyes riveted on her. What was all that about? she thought. Jesse’s heart pounded as she recalled those piercing hazel eyes. She only glanced at him twice as Darin chattered, and tried to pretend he wasn’t there, but she could feel his eyes on her like the warmth of the sun.

  60. To get a Ruthy critique is worth the risk. Don't miss out on this fabulous opportunity to get fresh eyes.

    I'm nibbling a cupcake and reading manuscript excerpts, impressed at the good stuff they've written and with the tweaks Ruthy suggested. An interactive workshop in a blog. Love it!


  61. I'm beyond excited that the Seeker Christmas novella collections are releasing Saturday. I'm thrilled to be part of the historical collection with wonderful authors Ruthy, Pam and Julie! Can't wait to get both!


  62. Oh my goodness, so much Ruthy GOLD in Seekerville today! Wow.

    First off, cupcakes. WANT. ONE. NOW.

    Second, I am so PROUD of every person who has posted something for the critique opportunity! Be brave and bold--that's how you move forward! I actually just put a quote on a sticky note and stuck it to my desk this week. "If you just keep moving forward, you'll amaze yourself." My seven-year-old looked at it last night and said "Mom, that's really smart advice." KEEP MOVING. BE AMAZING.

    Third, I have to go spend some serious time in the writing cave today. Ruthy, can I just take you with me? :)

  63. Last spring I entered the blurb to book contest. I did not make it past the first round. A few weeks later I was reading a book and realized a better beginning for the book. Here is my new opening. What do you think?

    Looking through his rear view mirror, Dr. Jackson Harding spotted the car speeding towards his red Jaguar. He must think and act quickly. His mind already racing and reeling from the earlier news. He quickly jerked the wheel and moved onto a dirt road that he knew would take them on a short cut to his waiting jet. Dirt, grass, and gravel flew into the air as the car spun a three sixty. But he quickly had it back under control. He did not want to frighten the woman sitting beside him. Especially when he saw the way Melissa was gripping the seat and dash a very frightened look on her face. He lost sight of the Toyota that had been following them. He breathed a sigh of relief.
    “We are taking a slight detour to the airport. This is what I call the scenic route.”
    “Is that because of the car that was speeding toward us? I have been praying for the Lord to protect us. How soon till we get to the airport?”
    “We are almost there. Thank you for praying.”
    As they drove the rest of the way to the airport, the couple silently reflected back on the earlier events of the day.

    Walking into Doctor Jackson Harding's office after the exam, Melissa couldn't believe all that was going on in her head. It was a jumbled mess along with the butterflies -or more likely bumble bees- in her stomach. I just know he didn't find anything wrong. No one ever does. Boy, he sure is handsome. I didn't see any ring. I sure would like to get to know him better. Jackson Harding's thoughts as he focused on the case before him, were anything but professional. What a beautiful lady! She is extra sweet too. I love the way she smiled even with the health issues. My oh My, I must get my thoughts reigned in and focus on her medical needs.
    “Come in Miss Morris. Have a seat. First of all let me say that all those doctors have been wrong. There was damage done when you were attacked by the patient nine years ago. I would like to run some additional tests to confirm this initial diagnosis.”
    There was a knock on the door as the receptionist poked her head in the door. “Excuse me, but the district attorney in Nashville is on the phone and wants to speak with both of you.”
    “Will you put it through please?...Hello! Yes, I can put the phone on speaker.”
    “My office just learned this morning that Melissa's former employer Pine View Hospital knew that we sent her to get a second opinion. In an attempt to make your diagnosis and my case ineffective they got both of your social security numbers and forged the necessary documents so that you're now married to each other.”
    “What! Is it legal?” Jackson and Melissa asked at the same time.
    “I am afraid it is. I have been checking all of this out. The only way out of your marriage is a divorce. I am afraid there is more. There is a contract out on Melissa's life. She cannot return to Nashville until this case is over and maybe never. I think that the two of you need to assume a new identity and travel as a married couple to places where you do not know anyone. Your marriage must be kept a secret for now as far as either of your families or friends are concerned. Your cell phones must be left behind so they can not be traced. For now your children appear to be safe. I will put some steps in motion to see that they are protected but they must not know what is going on. I have someone I trust who will work on your new identity. I know this is a lot to take in. Now I need to know what you found out in your examination of Melissa.”

  64. Ruthy, Thank you for the chicken salad sandwich. It is delicious. I appreciate the fact that you are doing this. By the way even though I did not make it through the Blurb to book I am still working on it. I am wanting to get something ready for next year's Love Inspired contest. I am not giving up.

    I went to copy and send the opening for the book I started last for Nanwrimo but it has totally disappeared from my computer. It is a good thing that I have a hard copy of it. Also that I had only written the first chapter. If it is okay. I will send you the opening when I have a chance to type it out. I am thinking about continuing with this one for Nanowrimo this year. I am so glad I checked. I am also glad that I have a hard copy of all my writing. As I finish what I have typed that day I print it out.

  65. Jeri, I'm going to tell you what Melissa has told me, something I hadn't thought of before... When we use gender neutral names for heroes and heroines, it can get really confusing for the reader. So Jesse is a girl, and Darin is a girl, but Derek is a guy, and he's Jesse's twin but sounds like he should be Darin's twin because the names are so similar. You know, like Mike and Michelle, Jason and Jana, Xavier and Xenia... So you're used to it because you have a great gender-neutral name, but for the reading public, we have to make sure that clarity is foremost for them. So the first thing I'd do is change up names, and make sure there's only one gender neutral name involved. Name similarity is another thing. I would suggest changing either Derek or Darin to something else.

  66. Okay, wait, Darin and Derek are the twins, and happen to have the same color hair...

    But I'd still change names to feminine and masculine to avoid confusion.

  67. I'm in the beginning stages of another story, Ruthy, so no contributions today. But I wanted to say I LOVE those novella collections...most ardently! :-) They are terrific for both the writers and the readers. Thank you, Seekerville!

  68. Jeri, let's move to the back-and-forth. Jesse is hesitant about letting Darin get to close, but up above she said she was the only person she could talk to without fear of judgment and that she'd been in and out of classes with her repeatedly. I don't think you can have one with the other.

    And I'd like to see the attraction between Jesse and Derek played out as she talks with Darin. It's always better to see it in the moment, rather than hear about it later. Here's what I'm thinking, but in your own words and style, of course!

    "Um, yeah, I have them," Jessie replied. She looked at Darin, but it was Derek's gaze that studied her. Warmed her. "I was hurrying, though, like usual, and they're fairly illegible."

    "Can you copy them? Please? I've got so much going on. Then you could give them to Derek fourth period, okay?"

    To Derek. Derek, who was standing so close that one glance up would bring them eye-to-eye, therefore she wouldn't glance up. "Sure."

    The bell rang, sharp and clear. Lockers banged shut and students scurried into rooms, through doors that swung shut behind them.

    She had a study hall third period. She could copy the notes then, and give them to Derek in fourth period like Darin suggested, but the thought of that-- of approaching Derek on her own-- set her heart moving faster.

    This was silly. It couldn't happen, it couldn't be something because Jesse Smith knew the truth about who she was and what she came from and she'd decided a long time ago that no one, not even her friend Darin, would ever know the whole truth. And that meant keeping a shade of difference.

  69. The Ruthinator,
    I love all your suggestions. Okay, I have to play along.
    This is the first time I've let anyone else read this so why not everyone at once?

    “Silas, I’m home. Where are you son?”
    Josiah strode through the dark house with the present tucked under his arm. “Silas.”

    He entered the living room with a smile. His trip had been a profitable one, but on his way home he had been caught by an early fall snow storm in the mountains and delayed over five months. He’d be lucky to recognize his three-year old son.

    “He’s not here.”

    His uncle sat in the chair next to the window, the curtains drawn.

    “Where is he?” Josiah didn’t think he could wait another minute. “Did Aunt Liz take him out somewhere?”

    The old man’s eyes squinted into a line. “She died last fall of pneumonia.”

    Josiah’s breath caught in his throat. If she had died then what did his uncle do with his son? The man’s looks was hard as ice. “What?” He tried not to let his voice give way to the emotion bursting to come through. “Silas didn’t get sick too?”

    The old man turned toward the corner and stared. “No, he was fine the last time I saw him. Didn’t figure you were coming back.”

    Josiah grabbed the back on the wingback chair, his fingers digging in for support. “I said I’d be back in the fall.”

    “And you weren’t.”

    “I was trapped. I broke my leg. Even then I attempted to cross the mountain. It wasn’t on purpose.” His voice hitched. “Where’s Silas? Staying with a neighbor?”

    “Brought him to the orphanage. Heard tell they put him on the train.”

    His nails ripped into the worn material. “You put my boy on the orphan train?

  70. Super idea! What will be even more fun is when I read some form of every one of these submissions in published books and think, "I remember when they shared this at Seekerville, and Ruthy critiqued it for them!"

    Looking forward to a long read of comments (and a lot of learning) later today.

    Nancy C

  71. Ruthy, I have to run out for lunch with two of my author buddies, Gwen Ellis and Nancy Rue, but I'll hop back on Seekerville as soon as I get home. In the meantime, I've been stress eating all your dark chocolate cupcakes. Sorry people. There's only one left. ;-) Can't wait to get your comments!!

  72. Thank you again for your generosity, Ruthy. In between your writing, babysitting, painting, repairing, baking, remodeling...forgive me if I'm forgetting something, but are you available for hire?

  73. Janet, isn't it exciting to release those/these collections??? I love it, it never gets old!

    And thank you for those nice words!!!

  74. RUTHINATOR the Great! Here Goes!! I'm having the most trouble with the 1st paragraph. Fyi- It's in a daily devotional/prayer format. And THANK YOU!!!

    I guess I always assumed that David grabbed five stones because that’s how many fit in his hand as he scooped them up or maybe it gave him a few extra in case he needed them. After all, no soldier would go into battle with just one bullet.

    Well, here’s a shocker!…

    I just read (ok, I read it on the internet, but I read it from several reliable sources) that David picked up five smooth stones because Goliath had four brothers. Now that’s Confidence in God! Five stones. One for Goliath and four for the other brothers in case they came charging in to avenge Goliath’s death. That’s it. One a piece. I’d have come armed with 25 stones (and a bullet proof vest, a rocket launcher, and a hummer)!

    Incredible Confidence! Fierce Faith! But not in himself. Faith in “the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel!” (1 Samuel 17:45).

    Explain: (**This is a quote from the bible. Just included it for fyi.)
    “David answered, ‘You come at me with sword and spear and battle-ax. I come at you in the name of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel’s troops, whom you curse and mock. This very day God is handing you over to me. I’m about to kill you, cut off your head, and serve up your body and the bodies of your Philistine buddies to the crows and coyotes. The whole earth will know that there’s an Extraordinary God in Israel. And everyone gathered here will learn that God doesn’t save by means of sword or spear. The battle belongs to God—He’s handing you to us on a platter!’” 1 Samuel 17:45-47 (the Message)

    I depend on myself way too much. I need more confidence in “the LORD Almighty”. What about you? What battles are you fighting that you need to have Fierce Faith in “the LORD Almighty” and in His strength?
    Pray and ask God to give you Fierce Faith to fight those battles today.

  75. I just copied & pasted all the comments from today to study them later & it was 24 PAGES long!!!
    RUTHY!!!! You get a GOLD MEDAL for helping all of us today!!!!

  76. Ruthy, help please. This is the opening of a contemporary. First draft. I'll add emotion, take care of buried dialogue, etc. How do I help the reader understand who is speaking, especially that the first line of dialogue is Randy? Where do you suggest sliding in description of the locale? Other suggestions? I'll be back at Seekerville late this afternoon -- THANKS!


    “Little gal was in here yesterday looking for a place.”

    Sloan Knox paused with his hamburger almost to his mouth.

    He should have known better.

    Should have known better than to stop by The Wandering Steer during the quietest part of the day.

    And for sure should have known better than to talk anything but beer and football with Randy, who had nothing but time on his hands. Somewhere after Sloan’s compliments about the fries and Randy’s insistence they were better sprinkled with vinegar, Sloan had let slip about the ranch’s money problems.

    Yep, he should have known better.

    Now Randy was out to help.

    Sloan sank his teeth into the hamburger bun. Through the mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, sharp cheddar cheese, and chiles, right into the juicy, smoky grass-grazed beef.

    A little gal looking for property was none of his concern. The land wouldn’t pass from family hands on his watch.

    “I’m not looking to sell.”

    “Didn’t say you were.” Randy leaned his chair on its back legs and folded his hands over his tan, full-body apron. “Didn’t say she was looking to buy.”

    “Not leasing out any land, either.”

    “Didn’t say you were.”

    “If she doesn’t want to buy or lease, why’s she looking for a place?”

    “She didn’t come right out and say.” Randy stuck two fingers in his apron pocket and produced a business card. With a flick of the wrist he sent it skittering across the tabletop to plink against Sloan’s root beer bottle.

    Sloshing more catsup on his fries, Sloan eyed the card. Pale yellow background with embossed brown letters. Jewel Grayson. Bergen, Texas. Phone number.

    So just what did Jewel Grayson of Bergen, Texas do? He flipped the card over.

    Blank as a cow’s stare.

    “And your point?”

    “She’s looking for a place, and you’ve got one. That’s my point.”

    “And you expect me to call her? Just like that?”

    Randy leaned forward until his chair’s front legs clunked against the floor. “Just like that.”

  77. Kristen Ethridge!!! I'd take an invite to your writing cave anytime, honey!

    And the cupcakes are dwindling, so I brought hazelnut/fudge brownies!

    Keeping the chocolate flowing and the words moving!

  78. Wilani, I'm so sorry you lost it! Oh, gosh, I hate when that happens. :( But I love your attitude, honey, it's exactly what you need to have to succeed in this business.

    You send it whenever!

  79. Wilani, I found it posted there, so here goes, and thank you so much for trusting me with your hard work!

    Okay, first this needs mechanical work. It's tricky to transpose it onto a blog comment, I know, but I think if we can clean up some mechanics (you know, the nitty gritty of stories) we can polish the writing. The first step for that is staying in one POV (point of view).

    I want you to stay solidly in one person's point of view for at least 5-10 pages... So if it's Jackson seeing things, we need to see them as he would, from his perspective. And 30 years ago, a lot of romance authors weren't doing this, but these days we all do and editors expect it.

    Here's an example:

    Melissa was drop-dead beautiful. He wanted to be immune.

    He wasn't. But he needed to be because he was her doctor and it wouldn't be right to mix their roles.
    (and then we go on, seeing things through his eyes...)

    Now through Melissa's point of view, her perspective:

    The guy had gorgeous eyes, and a gentle, caring bedside manner. But she wasn't here to become smitten with her doctor. She was here to check out niggling health concerns that refused to go away since moving here from Nashville.


    She raised her eyes to his. "Yes?"

    Jackson sank into the seat across from her. "There's been a totally unexpected development."


    Her mind went straight to worst-case scenario. Chemo. Radiation. Surgery. She swallowed hard and stared straight at him. "I can handle it."

    Doubt clouded his gaze. He leaned forward, took her hand and said, "I just got a call from Nashville. It seems, through some crazy, technological glitch and the gift of Internet technology, that you and I are married."

    Ruthy here: Now for this to work, we have to have something linking them together. Something in the past or something in their work relationship, something tangible that would make it likely for them to be hacked together.

    Wilani, this was so much fun and has earmarks of suspense and romance! Go you!

  80. Meghan, we do to! Thank you so much for saying that! The fun of a novella collection is that they're affordable for readers and they give readers a chance to see/sample other authors.

    How fun is that?

    Folks are much more likely to sample an author for $2.99 than for $9.99. That's a blessing for both sides, right????

  81. Bettie, good! Go back to the opening lines of my post, where I noted that I'm a people pleaser.

    I want people to love, love, love me!

    But I also want them successful, just like when I coached soccer for years. Sugarcoating reality helps no one!

  82. Connie Queen, I love this!

    What a great set-up, what a marvelous idea!

    Okay, there are only a very few light changes I'd make to this, and it comes to "mood".

    I'd like to see his impression of the farm/house/home a little darker, because it would look or seem a little different, wouldn't it? No flowers, or the rugs unbeaten, gardens neglected, dishes piled up, things out of place.

    That setting not only prepares the reader (which this excerpt already did) but it shows us the reality of what he saw.

    No toys.

    No little boy presence. Too quiet, too still, too shuttered.

    The line "The man's look(s) was hard as ice." There's an extra "s" in the excerpt.

    And I want to feel Josiah's dread, the hard knot in his belly, the floor dropping out from under him, the anger mixed with anguish that let him think things stayed the same over long, cold months in a harsh land.

    But that's simple deepening, the idea of this story is absolutely marvelous!

  83. Eric placed the yellow legal pad on the table where they both could see it. At the top he wrote:

    Rules of Engagement

    “This isn’t some joke about the conditions under which we might become engaged, is it? Because I’ve got a lot of serious writing to do and I don't need any of your nonsense.”

    Eric put on his serious face.

    “This is about us sharing this cabin under conditions that will let you finish your book and allow me to edit my sister’s manuscript. Also, I am going to need some quiet time to think about how my life is going to change. I have to decide whether I will get out of the Army at the end of my leave. I can’t have a million romantic distractions if we are to succeed.”

    “I don’t even think that is possible!" Diana said. "Even you doing nothing will be the biggest distraction I’ve ever faced when writing a romance.” She leaned back in her chair so that it was balanced just on its back legs. She was risking a crash.

    “Then I’ll help you write your book when I get my sister’s finished. I’m a great CP. I know every writing rule in the book and I know how heroes think.”

    “How heroes think is the last thing my readers want to read about,” she said.

    “Look, if we are going to share this cabin we have to avoid the standard problems of being stranded. Fortunately, we know in advance what dangers to expect.”

    “Like what?”

    “Let me show you. I’ll start by writing down a rule and then you can add any rules you want to them as we go along.”

    “Rule 1: Be aware that I’m not going to marry you after the ten days are up. So don’t get any fancy romantic ideas.”

    “You call that a rule? Boy, don’t flatter yourself. I’m not one of those women who goes jelly-kneed just looking at a hunk in a uniform.” Diana's face began to turn pink.

    “That’s good because I didn’t bring my uniform and I sure don’t want you going all to pieces and provoking my protective instincts. It's not fair to make me feel protective of you.”

    Diana straightened up in the chair.

    “I have a rule of my own.

    “Rule 2: If we happen to kiss, you absolutely promise not to say, ‘that was a mistake and that it won’t happen again.’ I could not stand that kind of rejection.”

    Eric tilted his head: “I think I can live with that rule. If we kiss, I can promise it will definitely happen again. How’s that?”

    “No, you miss the point. It wasn’t a mistake to kiss me but it is up to me to decide if we ever kiss again.”

    “What kind of unilateral rule is that? If the enemy shoots at me, the enemy doesn't get to decide if I shoot back at him!”

    “You don’t get it, Captain, kissing me is not like shooting and waiting to see what happens. Kissing happens to both sides at the same time. All I want is the option to say it was a mistake. You keep your opinion to yourself.”

    “That sounds like some hormonal driven rule,” Eric said with his best evil smile.

    “Well, then you will like this rule even more. Rule 2 ½. In the unlikely event I’m the one who says the kiss was a mistake, because it really was a mistake, and as a woman, I’ll know if it was really a mistake, then you must never make a challenge like this: “I won’t kiss you again until you beg me to…no, that’s too strong…until you ask me to.” Diana seemed quite pleased with herself.

    Eric smiled as he got it. “OK, as I understand it you don’t want to be in a position where after you told me never to kiss you again you decide that you really want me to kiss you again but your pride won’t allow you to beg, or ask, me to kiss you.”

    “Yes, and in this situation, it will be your duty to simply kiss me again without me having to ask you to.” Diana acted like this was the most reasonable request in the world.

    “And how am I supposed to know when this magical change of mind takes place in your little head and I have the green light to kiss you?”

    “Come off it. A guy with your intelligence will know it’s okay to kiss me even before I do.”

    “You drive a hard bargain lady.”

  84. This comment has been removed by the author.

  85. Thanks for the pointers. I am speaking to you by the way. I survived people! And I learned from the great Ruthy.

  86. Nancy, thank you! It's like WAY FUN, right? To be totally embarrassed and torn apart in a public forum????


  87. Thanks for the suggestions Ruthy. And your dead on! This will make it so much better.

  88. Hi Ruth:

    Sure happy there are no limits!

    My excerpt is from "Stranded In A Cabin With A Romance Writer." After the hero and heroine come to the realization that they are stuck in the cabin for a week or two, the hero Eric Hanson, decides to draw up 'Rules of Engagement' so that they won't risk having their hearts broken by falling in love. The heroine, Diana Hunter, is an ex-nun romance writer. Eric is an Special Forces Captain who edits his sister's Military Romances. Both are romance genre savvy. (BTW: There are 14 rules. I am only giving 2 1/2 of them here.)

    Because Blogger has limits, I'm putting my little excerpt in the following comment.


  89. Jill Weatherholt, love you story premise, where is Sam?

    Barbara Scott, who is trying to take the kids away? You hooked me!

    Connie Queen, I WANT TO KNOW, what happen to Silas? You hooked me, too!

    I guess missing kids, or kids in peril get to me. I'm enjoying all the different storylines, it's like reading previews for new releases, and I want to buy them!

  90. Excerpt:

    "Stranded in a Cabin With A Romance Writer"

    Eric placed the yellow legal pad on the table where they both could see it. At the top he wrote:

    Rules of Engagement

    “This isn’t some joke about the conditions under which we might become engaged, is it? Because I’ve got a lot of serious writing to do and I don't need any of your nonsense.”

    Eric put on his most serious combat face.

    “This is about us sharing this cabin under conditions that will let you finish your book and allow me to edit my sister’s manuscript. Also, I am going to need some quiet time to think about how my life is going to change. I have to decide whether I will get out of the Army at the end of my leave. I can’t have a million romantic distractions if I am to succeed.”

    “I don’t even think that is possible!" Diana said. "Even you doing nothing will be the biggest distraction I’ve ever faced when writing a romance.” She leaned back in her chair so that it was balanced on its back legs. She was risking a fall.

    “Then I’ll help you write your book when I get my sister’s finished. I’m a great CP. I know every writing rule in the book and I know how heroes think.”

    “How heroes think is the last thing my readers want to read about,” she said.

    “Look, if we are going to share this cabin we have to avoid the standard problems of being stranded. Fortunately, we know in advance what dangers to expect.”

    “Like what?”

    “Let me show you. I’ll start by writing down a rule and then you can add any rules you want to them as we go along.”

    Rule 1: Be aware that I’m not going to marry you after the ten days are up. So don’t get any fancy romantic ideas.”

    “You call that a rule? Boy, don’t flatter yourself. I’m not one of those women who goes jelly-kneed just looking at a hunk in a uniform.” Diana's face began to turn pink.

    “That’s good because I didn’t bring my uniform and I sure don’t want you going all to pieces and provoking my protective instincts. It's not fair to make me feel protective of you.”

    Diana straightened up in the chair.

    “I have a rule of my own.

    Rule 2: If we happen to kiss, you absolutely promise not to say, ‘that was a mistake and that it won’t happen again.’ I could not stand that kind of rejection.”

    Eric tilted his head: “I think I can live with that rule. If we kiss, I can promise it will definitely happen again. How’s that?”

    “No, you miss the point. It wasn’t a mistake to kiss me but it is up to me to decide if we ever kiss again.”

    “What kind of unilateral rule is that? If the enemy shoots at me, the enemy doesn't get to decide if I shoot back at him!”

    “You don’t get it, Captain, kissing me is not like shooting and waiting to see what happens. Kissing happens to both sides at the same time. All I want is the option to say it was a mistake. You keep your opinion to yourself.”

    “That sounds like some hormonal driven rule,” Eric said with his best evil smile.

    “Well, then you wont like this rule even more. Rule 2 ½. In the unlikely event I’m the one who says the kiss was a mistake, because it really was a mistake, and as a woman, I’ll know if it was really a mistake, then you must never make a challenge like this: “I won’t kiss you again until you beg me to…no, that’s too strong…until you ask me to.” Diana seemed quite pleased with herself.

    Eric smiled as he got it. “OK, as I understand it you don’t want to be in a position where after you told me never to kiss you again you decide that you really want me to kiss you again but your pride won’t allow you to beg, or ask, me to kiss you.”

    “Yes, and in this situation, it will be your duty to simply kiss me again without me having to ask you to.” Diana acted like this was the most reasonable request in the world.

    “And how am I supposed to know when this magical change of mind takes place and I have the green light to kiss you?”

    “Come off it. A guy with your intelligence will know it’s okay to kiss me even before I do.”

    “You drive a hard bargain lady.”

  91. Jana, I love this! I love devotionals, I love writing them and reading them.

    And you're thinking there's a problem....


    Here is the only thing I'd suggest, because I'd like a little more of "you" in the "Engage" portion, because the light of your voice shines through everything you do. When you do a video, or write anything, (even a grocery list, I expect!), your light and love draw people in.

    So I'd love to hear more of you and your thoughts or lack of thoughts on why David marched into battle.

  92. Tracy,
    Little Silas winds up in Texas where's he adopted by a young lady. I don't have all the details worked out on why she must adopt him (I have several ideas...), but she has no intention of giving Silas us when his daddy shows up after months of trying to track him down.

    And I agree w/you. I love kids in peril stories.

  93. Connie, your story has all the elements that pull me right in. Love it!

  94. Kelly Goshorn, that was so beautifully said! Thank you for sharing your personal journey.

  95. I'm loving these excerpts and the feedback from Ruthy! I'm learning as I read.

  96. What a day in Seekerville! So many great stories in the works! VINCE's Stranded in a Cabin scenario has had me curious for a while now.

  97. RUTHY, any thoughts yet? Truly, I trust your judgment despite my vow to curl up in a corner.

    Tracey, you wrote, "Barbara Scott, who is trying to take the kids away? You hooked me!"

    Yay!!! That's music to my ears. Now I just need a publisher for this series.

    Even though Josh's sister and her husband designated him in their will as guardian to their children, the brother-in-law's cousin has stepped in to claim them. The children's parents were killed in a train wreck, and a hefty inheritance is involved. The plot thickens. ;-)

  98. Very nice of you to do this Ruthy. Of course it would be the day I left for work at 7:45 and won't be home until 9:30. If I can I will submit something then. Can it be from anywhere in the book or should it be the opening? Thanks.

  99. Just to clear things up.

    Ruthy is NOT an introvert. I say this as a TRUE introvert
    And she's NOT a tortoise. I say this as someone who had Ruthy's RABBIT PAW MARKS on my back.

    But she is a hard working rabbit. So unlike that lame rabbit who took a nap in the middle of a race. Ruthy just keeps fact she's an Energizer BUNNY!

    The rest of her blog post is okay though.

  100. Wow! This is so great today, Ruthy.
    SSSSSSSSSSSOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO glad it's you doing all this work and not ME!!!

  101. I've been looking forward to today ALL WEEK LONG. And, with boys home for fall break, well, this is my first chance to stop by. I love that you're doing this, Ruthy. And I love your critiques. Don't give me the easy-peasy stuff. :)

    I decided to paste up the beginning of a scene I'm revising. It's rough, but I'm open to suggestions. :) Have I said THANK YOU for this amazing gift?

    And thanks for lunch. I just got home a bit ago and am famished. :)

    When had Tiana’s friendship become so important to him? Carter knocked softly on the wooden door standing between him and warmth. And the giving of an apology. A cellophane-wrapped bouquet of flowers rested on his arm.
    A dog’s staccato barking pounded from the house. A wintry gust, almost as cold as the abandonment he’d felt this afternoon, blew down the back of Carter’s open jacket making him shiver.
    Tiana had said he could swing by. She’d even given him her address. Had she changed her mind about talking with him? He had considered apologizing over the phone, but that seemed insincere.
    He couldn’t stop thinking about his words and tones this afternoon. When something stuck in his mind, it usually meant God had unfinished work in Carter’s heart. He glanced at the dim front porch light. Tiana should place an outdoor bulb in there so she could see who stood on the other side of her door. He shifted his weight.
    As he raised his hand to knock again, the door swung open.
    Tiana blew bangs from her eyes and gripped Buck’s collar with one hand. Her hair was pulled back in a messy pony tail. “Yes?” She blocked the doorway.
    Carter rubbed his arms to warm them up. “Hey. Thanks for letting me stop by.”
    “Come in.” Her words welcomed him in, but her eyes looked flat.
    Yep, coming and apologizing in person was the right thing. He stepped inside her warm home. “Nice place.” Carter wiped his feet on the rug lying just inside the door. Tiana shut out the cold night. He extended the flowers.

  102. Oh, I forgot to mention, I'm an extrovert . . . most of the time. :)

    And, if you need more background on this scene, I'll fill you in. It takes place about seven chapters into the book. ;)

  103. MARY said: "SSSSSSSSSSSOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO glad it's you doing all this work and not ME!!!"

    I've been thinking exactly the same thing all day!

    Also the parts about introvert and the tortoise. Whom does RUTHY think she's kidding???

  104. Ruthy's "People Pleaser" comment was also news to me!

    But then I'm afraid of her. She probably doesn't waste time trying to please me, why would she?

  105. Somehow I think Ruthy is more of a people motivator than people pleaser! I can't wait to get off work so I can read more of these comments. It's fun to watch her at work :)

  106. Ruthy, Thank you so much. I did not know about the rule of POV. I will rework this and use that in all future writing. I have had no formal training for writing. Just reading craft books and Seekerville as well as a couple classes from Seekerville last year. I know I have a long ways to go, but I am not going to give up. I will keep working and learning. Hopefully I will one day be ready for publication but if not I will have learned a lot and grown so much. I appreciate your taking time to do this.

  107. I am definitely an introvert.

    Here is my excerpt:

    Logan turned into the Dip and Flip parking lot and cut the engine, but didn’t move to get out. Jessie wasn’t herself today. Maybe bringing her along as a buffer from Alicia hadn’t been a good idea. She was usually such a bubbly person she could lighten the mood in the room. Instead, today had been hard on her. First she’d cried in the lobby of his apartment and now it looked like she was about to cry again.
    He angled himself toward her and rubbed her arm with his hand. If only he could take away the pain he saw in her eyes. Maybe he could find her Grandma Vera. He clenched his jaw. He wanted to have a few words with Diane Lambert for telling her daughter that her only link to her father was dead. It was downright cruel to do that. A niggling of an idea formed in his mind. “Where did you live before you moved here to Lafayette?”
    “Is that where your grandma lived, too?”
    “No, she lived in Timber Ridge.” She looked at him hard. “Why?”
    “Just nosey.” He flashed her a smile. No sense getting her hopes up yet. “Are you ready for some ice cream?”
    She gave him a shaky smile. “Sure.” She pushed the door open.
    “I’m sorry for dredging up painful memories.” Logan came around the back of the car.
    Jessie shook her head. “They show up when they show up. It wasn’t your fault.” She smiled at him then. “It’s easier to deal with them when I’m not alone, though.”
    “Well, if you ever want someone to help you deal with them, let me know.” He pulled her into another hug.
    “Thanks. That means a lot to me.” She dropped her arms from his back. “So can I get the Dangerously Delicious Double Dip?” She peered up at him.
    “If you want to get the 4D, go for it!”
    “Naw, I was just joking. I don’t think I could eat it all. Although it does look good.”
    “Want to split one?”
    “Sure.” She grinned at him and raced him to the door.
    He let her beat him to the door, but not by so much that he couldn’t hold the door for her to enter. “Sorry. Maybe I should be rude and let you open the door for yourself so I don’t make you sad again.” She swatted his arm. Logan liked joking with her.

  108. Ruthy's a saint! I can edit a full novel, but critique one? Not so much. That's why I always avoided doing them at writers conferences. I'm sooooooo glad you're doing this, Ruthy ... and not me.

  109. WILANI, single POV was one of the first things I remember learning about as a new writer. The difference it made just never occurred to me before my writing instructor at the time pointed it out, but ever since, I really notice when authors skip around with multiple POVs in a single scene.

    You're in the right place for learning the writing craft! Keep plugging away!

  110. Almost 6pm EST time and just able to get here. Was busy with Guppy today. He got his cast taken off, arm checked and another cast put on to give his arm just a bit more time to heal. Little lefty broke left arm and has requested that people start calling him Nate instead of Nathaniel (because spelling out Nathaniel takes much more time than Nate, especially when wielding a pencil in casted hand *heh*).

    will be reading through comments next. I'm not sure what part of my writing I want to be Ruth-inized, but I hope to get something here before time runs out on this short term offer...

    Have I mentioned lately how much I adore Seekerville???

  111. I have another question. Is it all right to have more than one pov about the same scene as long as each is five to six pages in length. Does it matter which one I put first? I love the opportunity to learn.

  112. I'm no writer (happy to be an avid reader), but your advice can apply to other areas of your life, I think anyway :-) Don't be afraid to go for something, no matter what the critics say. Even if you get shut down, dust yourself off, get back up and do it again :-) And I love how you want to take the time to help critic others writing, everyone needs someone to come beside them & help them along on their walk in life (in this case, a writing life). Just like I love it when another Christian woman can come along side me, walk with me, & encourage me along the way. I'm sure it's got to be the same for other authors!
    Happy 8th birthday Seekerville!! Here's to many more :-)

  113. Who knew there were so many brave writers in Seekerville!!

    I am so glad I didn't say cluck,cluck,cluck!!

  114. Vince, I love "Rules of Engagement"!!!!

    SO FUN!!!!!! Honestly the only thing I'd suggest for this super clever reparte is a few actions to cement what they're thinking, feeling, looking as they talk. Nothing major, but if this was "Castle" and Beckett, she'd be making some kind of face, he'd be (depending on season) doing some kind of facial contortions or sensing a light bulb moment, or puzzling... so that's what I'd like to see here, just a few to lock us into the actions with the dialogue....

    Here's an example of what I'm thinking: She leaned back in her chair so that it was balanced just on its back legs. She was risking a crash.

    She leaned back in her chair, then leaned farther... and farther... and still farther, until the chair balanced on its back legs, as though tempting the chair to fall. No, maybe daring was the better word.

    It didn't fall, she kept the tightly strung balance perfectly balanced, and he realized she wasn't just a risk-taker, she liked to control the uncontrollable moment. Which meant he was in trouble. Big trouble.

    I think a couple of fun action "beats" like that would fit perfectly into this fast-paced story.

  115. Bettie, we might be able to do this again over the winter if people don't THREATEN MY LIFE or plan my demise, darling! :)

  116. Nancy, I'm so glad you jumped in!!! I had baby and her brothers here for the afternoon, and pumpkin customers, so this is the first moment of relative quiet in about four hours!!!

    Okay, let's look at this. You've sold me already, because I happen to like disembodied voices. It's a ploy that works well, I think, and Joan Golan liked them... But she must have been the only fan, so I've had to stop using them in my LI's....

    We see them all the time, and I actually appreciate when an author credits me with the intelligence to understand what's happening, but let's look at this:

    “There were a little gal was in here yesterday, looking for a place.”

    Sloan Knox had almost gotten the burger to his mouth, so close he could smell the charred flavor of a good grill and the essence of Vidalia onion topped with a generous slice of Mert Waller's hand-packed cheddar. And then Randy Speer had to open his mouth.

    He should have known better than to stop by The Wandering Steer during the quietest part of the day, when Randy and a couple of others solved the problems of the world while watching a fair shake of it pass by the broad, etched glass window overlooking the dust-dry town.

    And for sure should have known better than to talk anything but beer and football with Randy the other day. Somewhere after Sloan’s compliments about the fries and Randy’s insistence they were better sprinkled with vinegar, Sloan had let slip about the ranch’s money problems.

    I think the rest of it is as good as it gets, Nancy!

  117. Okay, this is weird... I've got comments in the early part of the day when I was here the whole time, that didn't show up on my end. Kelly Goshorn (The only reason I noticed now was because Missy mentioned your name, and I knew I hadn't seen you here! How weird, right?)

    I fully believe in what you said. Jesus didn't suck up to the Pharisees. He didn't court the rich. He didn't sit and break bread with people in power...

    God sent his only son to be born in a stable, and a bunch of cold, tired, ragamuffin shepherds came to pay their respects, alongside the sheep.

    God has a plan for us, the simplest among us, the most mundane.

    We are part of that plan, always.

    When I read Max Lucado's "The Crippled Lamb" to children, I always get choked up, because I totally believe that the least expected among us can become the light others need.

    We have that gift, we have that power.

    I'm so glad I saw your comment finally! It means such a great deal to me to witness your words! God bless you!

  118. Ruthy, I'm a practical person too! Loved your post! I always knew you were a "ruthless" person underneath all that "cuteness" - ha ha, pun intended! Thanks for your words today! It looks like you love being a grammy just as much as I do!

  119. Barbara, you're next, you poor thing!!!! :)

    Well, I love this set-up already, the returning hero, times changing (very Poldark-friendly!!!) and the widowed sister-in-law with FOUR kids! Of course I love it!

    I think the opening is a little hurried. You've got the storm, and that's a nice set-up, and the barging in is a maybe, but what starts the story off with a bang is seeing Reginald has aged, that time hasn't stood still. I've got an idea, it's a little different, and if you like it, run with it and you know I'm okay if you don't!

    A deafening clap of thunder rumbled down the South Slope of Beacon Hill as Josh Carpenter leapt out of the hired hansom cab into the driving rain. Holding on to his black Stetson in the high wind, he paid the driver, grabbed his worn carpetbag, and took the marble steps of the mansion two at a time. Impatiently, he banged the brass knocker against the red front door.

    When lightning struck a tree at the end of the block, he didn’t wait for an invitation. Instead, he barged into the foyer, nearly knocking down the elderly butler.

    “Reginald!” Josh, unexpected tears welling in his deep-blue eyes, threw his arms around the servant he had known since childhood.

    “Master Joshua!”

    Here's where I'd like to see the emotion of the moment stressed for the reader's benefit:

    Rain, and not just any rain, pelted Beacon Hill with rare insistence. A Nor'easter, a widowmaker, some said, when the waves and the rain and the clouds churned together to turn the world into shades of gray.

    The kind of rain Joshua knew as a boy, then as a man, before he left.

    But he was back now, back home, such as it was. Such as he was. He paid the hansom cabbie, grabbed his seam-worn carpetbag and dashed up the wide stone steps. He banged on the door.

    No one answered.

    He banged again, with more purpose.

    Still nothing.

    He was just about to crash through the door when it swung open, whining on a creaking hinge. It didn't open quickly, either, but with a meekly measured pace, slower than expected.

    He moved forward, expectant, then stopped. "Reginald?"

    He thought he breathed the name, but he wasn't sure.

    The old man faced him as if he didn't know him. Then the eyes shot open wide, and his mouth went loose, and he opened his arms like he'd done for so many years, long ago. "Master Joshua!"

    "Reginald." Joshua stepped into the hug that felt older and weaker, because it was.

    The old man stepped back, stared up, into his face, then clasped his hands against Joshua's cheeks. "We'd given up hope long ago."

    Anguish vied with joy for the old-timer's features, and Joshua understood both. "I've come home, Reginald." He thought he glimpsed hope in the elderly butler's eyes, but then a commotion drew his attention..... etc, etc, etc.

    The reason I like this kind of opening is because I know you're working on a longer book, so you can get away with this, and it sets up a heartfelt moment from the very beginning for the reader. The reunion of a faithful manservant and his young charge, after being apart for so long, for whatever reason... That's a heart grabber!

  120. I'm laughing at Connealy.

    This is a common state of affairs.

    Mary, thank you for explaining my lack of introversion. (Is that a word????)

    I'm a true extrovert with the occasional introvert moments, mostly when I'm tired and want to punch people.

    But I've learned that going to bed and getting a few hours of sleep makes everything ALL BETTER!!!! :)

    And I'd forgotten how much fun this is, it's like teaching a class and not having to LEAVE THE HOUSE!!!!!

    Although, folks managed to come find me today, and bought pumpkins and corn stalks and eggplant and squash and gourds and eggs and firewood.

    While I was helping watch The Mighty Finn and his brother Zee Zee while their mama nursed the new baby princess.

    I don't have time to be an introvert because no one will leave me alone long enough to practice!!!!!


  121. Sandy Smith, submit it anytime that works for you tonight or tomorrow morning. I'll check back then because our west coast buddies often chime in after I'm curled up with a very beloved pillow!

    And it can be from anywhere in the book. I am an equal opportunity destroyer.

  122. I've been gone since early morning (driving six hours round trip to attend a funeral), and I'm just now stopping by. I hope I'm not too late! I'm shaking in my boots, but I know the only way I can become a stronger writer is to take advantage of critiques when they are offered.

    This is from my Blurb 2 Book manuscript. One thing I need to do in my revisions is to add more background info about my hero. This is just a small section where I've tried to insert it into an existing scene. I didn't include the background info, just the conversation that leads to it. :) Thanks, Ruthy!


    Bridget couldn’t remember a time when she had been more mentally and physically exhausted, but she couldn’t complain, not after she had cost them so much time.

    A chill swept over her, and she rubbed her arms.

    “I promise, we’re almost there. I know you’re cold, tired, and hungry.” Sawyer walked beside her quietly focused on finding the small cave Hoyt had directed them to for the night. They’d had to hike three quarters of a mile off the trail, but the effort should thwart any plans the killer might have and hopefully provide them with a somewhat restful night.

    “I’m fine.” She insisted even as the rumble of her stomach gave her away. Chuckling, she admitted, “Okay. I am cold, tired, and hungry.”

    They walked on in silence, and Bridget contemplated how to bring up her questions about Sawyer’s family.

    Her mouth opened, and she snapped it shut. What right did she have to pry? Zero. Zip. None at all. She sighed.

    “You might as well spit it out.”


    “Whatever caused that heavy sigh.”

    “Couldn’t it simply have been an I’m tired sigh?”

    “Ahhh. . .no,” he scoffed.

    Stopping in her tracks, she asked, “Why not?”

    Sawyer turned to face her and shrugged. “You have a very expressive face. When you’re deep in thought, your forehead wrinkles and your eyes get a far off look. Like you’re trying to visualize the solution to all of life’s problems.” He grinned. “Also, you mumble under your breath.”

    “I do not.”

    A cocked eyebrow was his only response, the silence deafening.

    “Okay, fine.” Bridget took a deep breath, stilling her nerves. “Yesterday, when I asked about your family, you said it was a discussion for another time. I just wondered if this was a good time?”

    A sad smile marred his handsome face, and if she could have snatch the words back she would have. Lord, when am I going to learn to keep my mouth closed and mind my own business?

    “I wondered when we’d get around to this topic. I guess now is as good of a time as any.” He turned and started walking again. “But only if we continue to search for the cave as we talk.”

  123. Jeanne, I'm so glad you stopped by and jumped in!!! We've played in this park before, and can I just say I love that your writing has just taken off by leaps and bounds in beautiful directions this past year or 18 months??? I'm not sure of the time frame, but there is a new resonance and depth to your work that is just delightful to see!

    Having said that, let's rip this to shreds, shall we???? :)

    You opened with a question, then didn't answer it... When did her friendship become this important?

    And he's here to apologize, and we're a bunch of chapters in, but he's not remonstrating himself for what he did. We want stupid guys to GROVEL a little, because they should, honestly.


    So here's what I'd suggest to deepen this, and some of it has to do with pacing....

    When had Tiana's friendship become so important to him?

    About the time he started dismantling the walls he'd erected a long, long time ago. And then he'd gone and acted stupid.

    Regret lodged somewhere deep and low in his chest, a hard knot of nothing. He tucked the cello-wrapped flowers more closely to his chest, reached out and knocked.

    No answer.

    Had she changed her mind about seeing him? He wouldn't blame her if she did.

    He knocked again as a cold...
    (great descriptive sentence there, by the way, but I'd drop the shiver. We don't let guys shiver unless they're in REAL DEEP TROUBLE. :)

    Boys can shiver.

    Women can shiver.

    I am instating a law that says men are not allowed, okay?

    Now she's come to the door:


    She opened the door just enough to see him. Buck hovered around her legs, whining to get out. She shushed him.

    "Can I come in?"

    She hesitated, and he realized he'd messed up, big time.

    "Please?" He held the flowers up.

    The dog growled, unimpressed, and if it was up to the dog, he'd have been left standing in the cold. Lucky for him, he hadn't come to impress the big, golden Lab. Just its owner.

    She stepped back and opened the door wider. Not wide enough to say welcome, but not so narrow he couldn't fit through, and that meant he had his work cut out for him.

  124. Myra, it is, perhaps, relative.

    I think like a turtle, therefore I am one. But then Mary's rabbit analogy made some sense too, except the rabbit's a JERK.

    I saw a picture of a 182 year old tortoise on facebook yesterday. He was so cute! Around here, rabbits might get a year. MAYBE.

    I'm sticking with the tortoise!

  125. Wilani, you're so very welcome! And here's the thing, 25 years ago, it would have been okay to switch back and forth in the thought process, everyone did it.

    And I can see why it was changed, the point behind it, and "head-hopping" was never a problem for me (I actually like it, it's much less stilted) but the publishing world isn't sitting around, holding their collective breaths for my opinion! Silly them!

    I did the exact same thing when I was starting out, and I had NO DIALOGUE in twenty pages of my first book.

    Wilani, can you imagine that????? NO DIALOGUE!!!!! EEEEK!

    So glad you were brave enough to do this today, and I've never had any formal writing training, either, so you're in good company, my friend! We can forge on together!

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  127. Becky, you did it!!!! You made the leap! And you're going to HATE ME... so prepare yourself, darling, not because it's horrible. It's not.

    But it's worse, it's mundane, and I'm going to tell you why: I'm not emotionally involved with either person.

    Without that connection to their feelings, reasons, psyche, puppy, something to grab me and touch my heart or stir my emotions, I'm not going to turn the page.

    But this is an easy fix!!!!

    You look at this and envision the scene, where they are, what's happened before, and why she's so sad.

    Now the reader might know why she's sad, but you still want to deepen the scene emotion to grab the reader's attention.


    That was the only word Logan could use to describe Diane Lambert's actions. What kind of mother cuts her kid down like that? And to dump the news of Jessie's grandmother's death on her, as if it didn't matter?

    His heart ached, and the hollow-eyed look Jessie shot him only made things worse. He leaned closer. "How can I help?"

    Her eyes grew wider. She shrugged. "You can't, Logan. No one can. I just..."


    Not tears. He couldn't do tears, he just couldn't. He made a quick right turn, then a left, into the Flip and Dip parking lot. "I promised you ice cream."

    She winced. "That was before--"

    "A promise is a promise." He climbed out of the car, wishing he could make a difference, wishing he could make things better. He couldn't, but that didn't mean he'd stop trying. "Can I interest you in a 4D?"


    "You sure?" He leaned into the car, just a little. "A Dangerously Delicious Double Dip sounds mighty good to me, Jess. I'll split it with you, if you want."

    "For real?"


    A hint of the old Jess came through. Not for long, and not too deep, but enough so he glimpsed her old self beneath the walls of self-protection. She paused, sighed, then reached a hand out to him as she stepped out of the car. "Let's do it."

    Now, the reason I did it this way was to bring his protectiveness into the foreground, the front of the scene. We're looking through Logan's POV (point of view) and we're seeing her through his emotions. He's a little protective, concerned, disgusted with her mother, and he has an urge and need to help. So by doing it this way, I can show all of that by just rearranging the sentence order, and keeping some of them short and clipped like you'd find in normal conversation.

  128. Ruthy! I love this --

    Sloan Knox had almost gotten the burger to his mouth, so close he could smell the charred flavor of a good grill and the essence of Vidalia onion topped with a generous slice of Mert Waller's hand-packed cheddar. And then Randy Speer had to open his mouth.

    The play with words -- Sloan almost with the burger to his mouth, then Randy opened his -- made me smile. You packed in a lot of description with the broad window and dust dry town. Gee, it sounds like I'm critiquing you :-) Anyhow, thank you for all the time and knowledge you shared here today. I will be reading your other critiques and learning from them for quite a while.

    And thanks to everyone who shared. A lot of good stories there.

    Nancy C

  129. Thank you Ruth! You have captured Logan exactly the way I want him to be-protective. I am going to save the way you rearranged the scene so I can study it to implement it in the other parts of my book. And here I was thinking I had come so far...Well, I have, I just have further to go ;)

  130. Rhonda, I think you did it beautifully! You went for the direct route, she asked and he's going to answer, and that works well! :)

    There are other ways to do it, to have others fill the heroine in, to have the hero drop bits here and there, like Hansel and Gretel breadcrumbs.... but your way is very effective and helps you get them from place to place without losing reader interest. I say yes!

    The only thing I'd change up slightly is this spot with Sawyer:

    Sawyer turned to face her and shrugged. “You have a very expressive face. When you’re deep in thought, your forehead wrinkles and your eyes get a far off look. Like you’re trying to visualize the solution to all of life’s problems.” He grinned. “Also, you mumble under your breath.”

    It sounds a little scripted to me, so to make it more natural sounding guy-speak, I might do something like this:

    Sawyer shrugged. "Your face rats you out. You wrinkle your forehead when you start to think and you get this far-off, deep-in-thought look, like you're trying to solve the world's problems in a crazy tight time frame." He paused, then grinned. "And then you mumble."

    "I what?"

    "Mumble. Under your breath. Like you're fighting with yourself."

    "I don't." Even saying it, she knew she did. "So, okay, I might, on occasion, mumble."

    And then go on with the rest.

    And this isn't honestly a firm fix, it's totally up to how you've set Sawyer up for the rest of the book, but that one paragraph jumped out at me.

    So well done, Rhonda!

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  132. Hi, Ruth,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to do critiques. I'm working on a contemporary romance and a YA. Here's part of the YA. Any advice is appreciated!

    I must have looked like I had Mr. Potato Head eyes, because the girl’s flushed face matched the red running down her arm. I’d heard that words could sting, but I’d never seen anyone bleed from them.

    “Do you have a bandage?” The boy asked as wiped the girl's arm with his maroon shirt and muttered an apology.

    I nodded, trying to even out my expression. I flung my book bag around to my stomach, thankful the zipper didn't stick for once. Who needed a new backpack when you were saving up for luggage? Sheet music spilled onto the floor as I pulled out a first aid kit. The P.E. teacher thought I should carry one for myself and for anyone I might come into contact with. He dubbed me official gym manager, which meant I was in charge of all things stinky and bulky. The only silver lining was that the word 'manager' would shine on my college applications.

    “One bandage.” I held out the adhesive strip, intentionally keeping it clasped in my hand, so the boy would have to graze my fingers to get it. I needed proof that this was really happening, and that we were still in Kansas, well, small-town Ohio.

    When he'd finished applying the bandage, the girl brought her pale arm close to her eyes. “Caring Cherie?”

    “Yep.” Dad picked the cartoon strips out at the store. He didn’t seem to realize my taste had changed since second grade. I was still Emma, his little M&M.

    “I watched that cartoon this morning. I’d never seen one before.” She smiled so widely that I wondered if a unicorn was prancing behind me.

    “A Caring Cherie episode?”

    “A cartoon.”

    The boy let out a low sigh. “What is lab?”

    I opened my locker with an echoing clang and set to taping a picture of a plane onto the door. “Lab is…”

    “Mixing chemicals. Don’t worry, we’re not experimenting on you, muscle boy.” I recognized the voice instantly. Mikayla Kendall leaned in close behind me, her breath smelling like she’d brushed her teeth with licorice, something I wouldn’t put past her. “By the way, hashtag wow.” She batted thick mascara eyelashes at the boy. “First time I’m interested in chemistry.”

  133. Deb H, give Guppy a hug from Auntie Rooofie!!!!! And my door's always open to you, so I'm extending the hours! :)

    I'm going to check back in the morning, I'm zoning! But I'm leaving you fresh cookies!

  134. Thanks, Ruthy! I like your version much better. I'll play around with it a bit to make sure it fits Sawyer's personality.

  135. Ruthy -- I love all of this. I learn so much from reading everyone's snippets and your comments about them. Definitely the bestest way for me to learn.

  136. Saw an error on mine: the boy asked as he... :)

    If you don't see a lot of potential with this piece, I'd be happy to post the contemporary romance.

    Thanks again! Learning a lot.

  137. Ruthy, loved how you gave my story a longer opening!! Especially loved Josh's tender moment with Reginald--an emotional homecoming that touched my heart.

    After the leisurely opening to book 1 that I scrapped because of too much backstory, I went straight to "the meet" between Josh and the governess Emma.

    Josh's sister and his brother-in-law were both killed in the train wreck, leaving the four orphans in Emma's care until he returned to Boston from Montana. Since there's no telegraph in Deer Lodge, and the mountain passes are closed during the winter, Josh didn't receive notification of his sister's death until the spring thaw. In the meantime, the nefarious cousin of Josh's former brother-in-law has stepped into the picture with a court order from the State of New York to take custody of the children. However, Josh arrives just in the nick of time (sorry for the cliche) to thwart the cousin's plan.

    My research found some intriguing information on laws pertaining to wills, inheritance, guardianship, and adoption in the State of Massachusetts at the time. As you might suspect, Josh marries the governess and adopts the three younger children to protect them should he die a natural or suspicious death.

    How did you know I love Poldark??!! I can hardly wait for the next season. Sigh. That's one swoon-worthy guy. :)

  138. Off to bed. I'm turning into one of those pumpkins you sold today. Night everyone!

  139. Dear Ruthy, Thank you so much for the critique. I've had a long day so I won't be reading your comments until tomorrow, but I am wearing my thick skin and appreciate all advice.

    Until Jessie had been homeless, she had never realized just how important home really was. It had been so long since she’d slipped a key into her own keyhole and stood on her own threshold. She had almost forgotten how home felt, how it smelled. Even the pure taste of her own space. For the record, it tasted like hot buttered popcorn, fresh out of the microwave.
    Thank you, Father, for never forsaking my girls or me.
    “This is it, Bella, our new—“
    A long, piercing animal howl stopped her cold. Jessie scooted in front of Bella dressed head to toe in her Captain America costume. From the copse of pine trees near her new rental emerged a humongous brown blob with long ears and longer legs. Her arms shielded her six-year-old daughter, and the scar tissue around Jessie's shoulder throbbed.

  140. Ruthy, I will get something ready tomorrow morning (Friday morning which it probably will be by the time you see this.) I am a little brain-fried right now and need to be fresh to think about what I am going to send. Thanks.

  141. RUTHY, Thank you! I love what you shared here. I'm still figuring out how to make the emotions stand out, and you showed me. I loved this. Thank you for ripping it to shreds, only not really.

    And, thanks for your kind words. We're all works in progress, yes?

  142. Ruthy, you always give me a laugh. Congrats on the new baby and the new book. You're a great inspiration. Keep the cup cakes coming...

  143. RUTHY!!! I traveled out of town today, so I am just NOW getting into the computer, so I apologize for being late.

    I'll tell you what, girl, you DO have a knack for bottom-lining it in such a crystal-clear and encouraging way that I'm almost tempted to leave a clip to see what you can do for me! :) I have NO DOUBT you would whip me into shape. ;)

    And I echo both Mary and Myra -- sure glad it's not me doing this feedback today because those brave enough to post their clips have been relentless and totally unafraid of the Ruthinator, which slaps a huge grin on my face that it's you and not me. You have SUCH a talent for this type of editing, Ruthy, so I wouldn't be surprised to see you adding editing to your long list of occupations!

    and I totally agree with Jana -- this could be a workshop course in editing, it's that good!

    Hugs and more hugs,

  144. Trixi, I love you! What a beautiful thing to say, you have just absolutely treasured my heart.

    I'm beaming because your words are just plain kind and lovely.

    Thank you!!!!!!

    And you're right, sometimes it's just nice not to feel alone in any walk of life.

  145. Nancy, you're welcome, and it was fun! Sometimes I forget how much I love teaching, and this brought it all back to mind... Thank you so much for daring to do it, sweet thing!!!

  146. Becky, darling, you can use the scene word-for-word if you want and build from it. I have found the same thing you discovered, that we can always keep building and sharpening.

    Oh, BECKY... if you could only see the stuff I sent out as a newbie, and I didn't see the problems. But you know, that's how we live and learn, and you were brave enough to jump in and brave The Ruthinator!!!!!

    Go you!

  147. J. Baugh, good morning! I had to crash last night, I'm a middle-of the night writer, so I'm just back in here now... WITH COFFEE!!!! :)

    First, don't be nervous. I love YA and I'm laughing at you nicely for thinking I don't see potential. :)

    Second, THIS IS SO FUN!!!!!

    We need a little clarity, but other than that you've set up a great YA scene of give-and-take and having Mikayla show up just then is like uber perfect timing. I can see it, and feel it, way better than a Disney show!

    So, clarity: We need some names. We have your young heroine seeing this story, and maybe she doesn't know their names, but the over-use of "she" and "he" and "the boy", etc. is hard to follow. Now maybe it wouldn't be if I'd read from the beginning, right? So it might not need that tweaking at all, I'll let you decide that, but then we don't name the gym teacher, either and most kids think of teachers by name. It's inherent. So if in the first reference he names the gym teacher, then he can call him "he" and we've got a little more school-wise depth going on and that's important in YA settings.

    And I would suggest either using an actual brand of cuteness little girl show (My Little Pony or Hello, Kitty) so the reader instantly recognizes the reference, or when the bleeding girl says the name "Caring Cherie", have the heroine reference back mentally right away so the reader envisions the cartoon show. Here's an example:

    "Caring Cherie?"

    "Yep." I winced inside, and maybe outside, too. "It was my favorite cartoon show when I was little, and my dad has me mentally trapped at age eight. With pigtails."

    Something like this that turns her observation into dialogue. With YA there is often the need for a lot of introspection as youth challenges growth, so when you can change it to fast-paced dialogue, the story moves more quickly.

    I think this has great potential, and I love YA so I'm absolutely delighted you dared to do this! Thank you so much for taking a chance today!

  148. Kav, we'll have to do this again in the spring.

    I'd forgotten how much fun it was/is!!!

  149. POLDARK

    Poldark took historical romance into a whole new realm for me and set my mind whirling in multiple directions.

    Poldark was so exquisitely beautifully done that despite the rugged conflicts (like a perfect storm) all I wanted was his happiness.

    And he played the part brilliantly, the stubborn lout! :)

    I liked it more than DOWNTON.

    Dare I say that out loud??????

  150. Tanya.

    You brat.

    I've got nothing.

    I mean it's short, and to the point, and I've already got the idea that home has been a threatened existence at some point, that she appreciates everything, that she must have been attacked by a dog at some point (the shoulder throbbing), and you've tucked that all into this very well-written excerpt without extraneous words.

    You went from point to point to point with great clarity.


  151. Lyndee, you are kindness personified! Bless you!

    And Sandy, whenever you're ready, I think we've got a three-day limit on comments, so I'll check back later.

    We have a no school day today, so all the school kids will be here shortly which means my writing life ends early, and awesome, cookie-baking daycare provider hat goes on!

  152. Julie, this reminded me how much I love teaching. Adults and little kids!

    And there hasn't been much time for it the past two years, and I realize I miss it!

    Isn't that funny????


    So that's good.

    I'll check back later to see if anyone else has dared, and I won't pull winners names until later, so if you stop by, feel free to chat!

  153. If by some chance I missed you, leave a comment here telling me that. I've re-scanned all the comments, but two popped in out of order yesterday (on my computer) and that happens sometimes, so don't think I'm ignoring you... just draw my attention to it!

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  155. Hey Ruthy,

    What a great offer! My book is at the publisher's, so I don't have anything to submit...maybe the next time you offer!


    P. S. Does anyone have an idea as to why I get my Seekerville blog the day after it's published???

  156. Hi Ruthy! I enjoyed your post today.. & I don't get my Seekerville blog post email until the next day either. I need to find Poldark, it sounds like one I'd like!
    toss me in please :)

  157. Hi, Ruth,

    Thank you so much for your comments! Very helpful!

    Appreciate your time!

  158. Wow. I am one day late reading a post on Seekerville in October because I go out of town and this is what I missed!!!

    I'm going back to read all of the wonderful comments. I know I will learn a lot!

  159. Wow. I am one day late reading a post on Seekerville in October because I go out of town and this is what I missed!!!

    I'm going back to read all of the wonderful comments. I know I will learn a lot!

  160. Morning, Ruthy!! I had such fun yesterday, watching you rip us all to shreds, but we love you because...well...because you're you and you're great at critiquing.

    On to POLDARK! Last night I was "forced" to order the first book in the series...AND paid full price. Maybe that will hold me until next season. If they rerun the first season, I'll be "forced" to watch it again...every stinkin' minute.

  161. Ruthy, here is my scene.

    (My copy and paste didn't indent paragraphs, so am leaving lines between paragraphs.)

    Monday morning, Rick felt a sense of dread as he entered the station for a 10 AM meeting with Dave Bell. He knew he had made a major mistake yesterday in predicting the weather, and Dave was not happy.

    Sitting at the large table in the conference room, Rick nodded to Josh Talbert and Isabelle Guerrero, the morning meteorologist. Then Dave walked in the door, shutting it behind him a little louder than Rick thought necessary.

    Dave tossed a stack of papers on the table. “I printed this off this morning. This is a record of the calls we received last night and this morning from disgruntled viewers wondering why we didn’t have the tornado warning on the air until after the sirens had sounded. Our viewers expect to know when the weather is bad, and they shouldn’t have to tune to another station to get it. You know that we lag behind Channel 10 in the ratings of our newscast and especially the weather. This isn’t going to help people tune into our station for the weather, now is it?”

    Rubbing his hand through his dark brown hair, Dave looked around the room, then leveled his gaze at Josh. “You’re the one who was here last night, Josh. What happened?”

    “Our forecast models hadn’t predicted this storm. I came in when it started to look bad and was going to put out the bulletin.”

    Rick knew he couldn’t let Josh take all the blame. “Dave,” he said, looking him in the eye. “I’ll take the blame for this. I should have come in myself when the weather started to change.”

    “Yes, you should have,” Dave said. “You are the chief meteorologist and the one responsible for maintaining the credibility of the weather at this station. And another thing. We just spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to update our radar system. I expect everyone to start using it.”

    Dave stood and leveled his gaze at everyone in the room, ending with Rick. “If this happens again, we will be looking for new meteorologists.”

    Rick let out a deep sigh as Dave left the room. “Well, that went well, didn’t it? We all need to spend time with the new radar and make sure we are as up-to-date as we can be.”

    Rushing from the newsroom, Rick rubbed his temples, feeling a headache coming on. He stopped suddenly when a long, shapely pair of legs appeared in front of him. He looked up quickly to see Marissa Kingsley standing there. Not even noon, yet the evening anchor woman was already dressed to kill in a short skirt and cashmere sweater with a brightly patterned scarf.

    “Hey, Rick,” Marissa said in a silky voice. “That didn’t look pleasant in there.” She put a hand on his arm, leaving it there a bit too long for his liking.

    Rick shrugged his arm free. “It’s nothing.” He wasn’t about to get into his work problems with his curious colleague. “Why are you here so early anyway? Aren’t you usually out working on a story at this time of day?”

    Marissa smiled coyly. “Maybe my story’s right here at the station.”

    Rick frowned.

    “Relax.” Marissa flipped her perfectly styled brown hair over her shoulder with a quick move of her head. “We had a storm last night, remember? I’m editing footage from video shot by weather spotters.”

    “Yes, I’m fully aware there was a storm.” Rick glowered at the teasing hint of his professional lapse.

    Marissa’s face softened and she once again touched his arm. “I’m sorry, Rick. I get the impression you’re in hot water with Dave. But you’re a great weatherman. You will knock it out of the park with the next storm.”

    “Thanks, Marissa. I appreciate that. I only hope you’re right.” Rick stood a little taller. It was nice to know someone was supporting him.

  162. Ruthy, I had tried to include a set-up to my scene, but it was too long to post. Rick is a television meteorologist who has missed a tornado warning until the last minute and his boss is not happy. Rick is also stressed out from problems at home, where his wife is constantly busy with twins born prematurely and having many health problems and he doesn't feel she is supporting him with his work issues.

  163. Edwina, we'll do it again late winter when the snow's too deep for me to PLAY outside! :)

    And Deanna, it was marvelous.

    It was better than Hollywood produced historical fiction. I absolutely loved it and I couldn't even pick it apart, although I always try! :)


    Watch for it in 2016, and I hope they show Season 1 again, or I might have to buy it. Which would be okay because it was on in the summer and my peeps/girls all missed it.

  164. Hi Ruth:

    You are so right about my scene. I wrote that two years ago and I could see its many problems as I was posting it. I didn't have enough physical proxies, I didn't five sense the copy, I didn't produce signs that would reinforce the high mountain setting and I'm sure I didn't do a dozen more things that I don't know yet to do but that I will learn about in the future.

    I think this is why Hemingway said there are no master writers. Journeyman all. Thanks for all you've done on all these contributions.


  165. Vince, how was your surgery this morning???? I've been praying for you!

  166. Donna, we'll do it again, I'm so glad folks liked it!

  167. Hi Ruthy
    Taking you up on late offers... I'm adding a beginning scene of a planned novella that's been percolating in the cavern of my brain for some time. The hero is planning to woo the heroine while introducing her to the Christmas story in a unique way. It's set in the future.

    01 December 2120

    Jo knew something was up by the look Gus gave her as she stepped through the airlock of the orbiting Watch Station 7. She was the inbound workforce for the holidays - he was outbound.

    "Happy Holidays, Jo," Gus rushed the airlock, more than ready to return to his wife and three children Earthside.

    "Bah Humbug."

    She meant it.

    Jo's strong dislike for holidays, especially Christmas, was legendary throughout the Company. She hadn't missed working a holiday in fifteen years. Gus had never given her holiday wishes before - he knew better.

    "Good luck with your Humbug," the airlock shushed closed and Gus punched the intercom. "You're gonna need it."

    His parting words made no sense until Jo headed for her quarters. A Christmas ditty blared over the Station's sound system and the greenery that served as part of the air purification system boasted festive decorations. Everything was decorated to the point Jo feared what she'd find behind her doorway.

    Blessed starkness.

    Jo closed away the visual holiday cheer, but the aural bombardment continued. She ground her teeth as she made short work of putting her belongings in their proper places. Soon enough she'd confront the idiot who dared make the Watch Station festive.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

  168. Note: continuing cuz blogger wouldn't let me post in full.

    Theo bounced in time with the music as he worked. He loved the Christmas season and was thrilled with how the decorations for the Watch Station 7 were progressing. Some were against Company regs, but he knew the Powers-That-Be wouldn't mind. That only left Jo. Theo grimaced, wondering about her first reactions to his handiwork. He'd bet she was fit to be tied and hoped he could withstand her coming fury.


    Her shocked recognition of him sent a hair raising current along his nerves. Theo turned and soaked in the beauty of her svelte, muscular form and short, black curls that framed full lips and emerald green eyes. Just seeing Jo made his five years of schedule manipulation to get this Watch Station assignment with her now, at this particular time, well worth the effort. Except that if looks could kill, he would be a corpse right now. She drifted in the low gravity over to a console to slap a hand against a control.

    Silence roared in Theo's ears at the abrupt squelch of aural input.

    "Control acknowledges Lt. Josephine Almana reporting to Watch Station Zulu Seven," Theo couldn't tear his eyes from the fire burning in hers as he officially noted her arrival for the record.

    "What sort of idiocy are you trying to pull, Oldrik?"

    He feigned ignorance. "Did I not report you correctly?"

    "That's not what I meant and you know it," Jo waved a hand to encompass the room. "What in blazes is the meaning of all this?"

    "Why, Christmas, of course," Theo shrugged. The glare with which Jo lasered him let him know that wasn't the answer she wanted to hear.

    "A commercialized, meaningless day pandering to the selfish and greedy," her jutting chin and stiff body language dared Theo to say otherwise.

    "Have you ever truly celebrated Christmas?" He asked instead.

    "Once." Her answer surprised him. "Some do-gooder group came to the Foundling home and fed us a 'special' meal, sang songs, and handed out generic toys."

    "That wasn't a celebration," Theo snorted. "That was a charity function."

    "And you could do better?"

    "If you'll let me." He wasn't going to let Jo badger him into a bleak, sterile environment for the holiday Duty he'd pulled. They stared at each other for a few tense moments. Jo blinked first.

    "BAH!" She looked away, face scrunched in disgust. At him or herself for losing the battle, he wasn't sure.


    Her head snapped back, eyes rounded with what he assumed was shock at the gall of his attempt to insert humor into the conversation.

    "Blast it, Oldrik!"

  169. Hi Ruth:

    The surgery is at 2:30 today. Still an hour and half away. Thanks for the prayers. This time it should not take very long.


  170. What a beautiful grandbaby, Ruthy. I am late stopping in to read yesterdays post but I know you write great posts so I must catch up, Crossing fingers, are there any chocolate cupcakes left ?

  171. You are such a 'hoot', Ruthy - loved your post!! Since I'm not writing a book, no excerpt for you to critique - would my review of your last release suffice?? I'm sure the first critique would be my extensive use of punctuation, lol!! I've enjoyed reading everyone's posts/comments.

    Please enter my name if a giveaway is included - thank you!!

  172. Love the football picture Ruthy! I love the generosity of spirit I find here at Seekerville and today's post is a great example of that! :)
    Please enter me in the drawing!

  173. Thanks, Ruth for the awesome post. You did great yourself.