Posts Tagged With: MFRW

The Thing that Makes Me Laugh Out Loud–My Family #MFRWauthor

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This week’s blog topic for the MFRW blog challenge really made me think. What does make me laugh out loud?

There are several things that do, but the three stories that immediately came to mind are centered around family.

First, would come from my dad. I actually come from a line of storytellers, though I’m the only one who’s put anything to paper. My grandmother fanned the flame of my love for history with her wonderful stories of growing up in the twenties on a small farm in the mountains of West Central Pennsylvania. My dad, her son, also inherited this story-telling gene, but his is more toward comedy. I love visiting him and he telling stories of some of the antics he pulled as a kid. I’ve laughed more times than I can count as he tells one of his stories, even if I’ve heard the same tale many times. One of my favorite stories happened when he was a teenager and had come home late from his job. His mom had been watching two of her sister’s boys who were pre-teen age. When he got home that night, she asked him walk his younger cousins home–to one of the neighboring farms. Dad and his older cousin, who he worked with and had planned to help Dad work on his car because it stopped running, started walking the boys home. When they got about half way there, the other cousin ran back to the house and stole a sheet off the wash-line. He dressed as a ghost and jumped out at the lane leading to the boys’ home. But their trick backfired because the two boys ran the whole way back to my grandparents’ home instead past the “ghost” to their own home. The boys were so afraid of the the “spook” that they crawled in bed with my grandma and granddad and refused to leave the house. Apparently, my granddad  was so mad at my dad and his friend that he made them both do the worse jobs on, not only his farm, but the boys’ parents’ farm, and the farm of the cousin who’d played the part of the “ghost.” I think what makes this story so funny is just in the way Dad tells it. But whatever the reason, it makes me laugh every time I hear it.

The second thing that makes me laugh out loud is my kids. Thinking of this topic has brought to mind many funny episodes with them. If you’d read the other week’s post, you know I have a son, who has just finished up his second year of college on Wednesday, and a daughter, who is going to her Junior Prom tonight. They still say funny things, but two of the funniest happened when they were little. When my son was about nine, we were all sitting at the table eating dinner and were talking about the day’s events. My son was telling us about his day at school when he reached for the salt to sprinkle some on his mashed potatoes. I’d usually only let my kids use a tiny bit, but for some reason none of us were paying attention to what he was doing, including my son. As he spoke, he sprinkled salt, and kept on sprinkling salt until all of us at the same time realized several minutes had pasted and Marc was salting away. When he finally stopped, his potatoes had little piles of white crystals on top like fresh snow on a frozen mountain. We all laughed so hard, I thought we’d break something.

The story involving my daughter happened in the car while driving home from church. She was between the age of three or four and had just discovered the virtue of counting. She loved to count her fingers while someone said the numbers with her. So from the front seat, I counted as she held up a finger and said the number with me. When I got to eleven, she stopped me and held up all ten outstretched fingers and said, “Wait, Mommy, I don’t have anymore fingers!” It was such a distraught statement that my husband and I just looked at each other and cracked up laughing. I looked back at her looking at her fingers while my son rolled his eyes at her as he tells her not to be such a dumb blonde and just start over with her first finger as number eleven. At this my husband and I laughed even harder, because Laura is blonde and her response was a such a classic blond joke punch line it still makes me chuckle even to today. And of course her older brother, has never let her live it down.

So, those are three stories that has made me bust a gut. What about you, what makes you laugh out loud?

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My Top Five Dream Vacations — In photos with funny captions #MFRWauthor

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This week’s topic is a fun one–The top five places I’d like to visit.

I’ve decided to do this pictorially in countdown fashion, just like the Travel Channel, but with some humor thrown in.  So grab your suitcase and come along with me as I fly away (at least virtually) to my dream vacation spots.

Coming in at #5—

Rome and Vatican City!

As a Catholic, I’d like to someday make a pilgrimage to Vatican… As a history buff, I’d love to see the place so much history is packed.

Vatican City–Looks empty. The Pope must be away…
https://pixabay.com/en/photos/

Old Rome–FEEL the history!
https://pixabay.com/en/photos/

Colosseum–Hear the cheering….Oh, wait that must be the crowd, not the gladiators. 
https://pixabay.com/en/photos/

Coming in at #4—

Alaska!

There is just something about seeing one of the last true frontiers that makes Alaska not only romantic, but dangerous too.

The Alaska Wilderness… Nothing around for miles and miles and MILES…
https://pixabay.com/en/photos/

More Alaska Wilderness…Okay, I’m starting to feel a little lonely out here…. Is anyone out here!?!
https://pixabay.com/en/photos/

Hey, there’s someone to talk to! “Hi, guys, can you tell me how to get back to civilization?”
https://pixabay.com/en/photos/

Coming in at #3—

The Bahamas!

What can be more fun or relaxing than the white sand beaches of a tropical paradise?

Oh, the Bahamas! I want a chair under that palm tree…Maybe with an adult beverage in my hand…
https://pixabay.com/en/photos/

When I get tired of sitting under the palm tree, I’ll go to the pool….And sit under a different palm tree. https://pixabay.com/en/photos/

Or maybe I’ll just go back to the resort and see what trouble I can get into…I love resort hotels!
https://pixabay.com/en/photos/

Coming in at #2—

Texas!

I know, I KNOW… I really need to take the time to go already. After all, I do write about this great state, you’d think I’d soon visit!

Dallas! I’d mostly want to see this city because I loved the TV show with the same name.
https://pixabay.com/en/photos/

Ah…the beautiful Rio Grande…. Before the Wall… Okay, bad joke, I know. Please no political comments.
https://pixabay.com/en/photos/

A real Texas ranch! Saddle up and let’s ride! What? A storm’s brewing? Gad-dang it!!
https://pixabay.com/en/photos/

 

Coming in at #1—

The British Isles:  Wales, England, Ireland, and Scotland. (I know, this is cheating, but it’s my dream vakay!) Even though I have more Welsh, Irish, and English blood in me, those few Scottish genes are calling me home…. Oh, wait, it’s just my fascination with everything Outlander.

First stop on our tour of the British Isles—A Welsh town. Don’t ask me which one… because I can’t pronounce anything around here. I think the Welsh think they have to use the whole alphabet in each place name. In fact the longest town name is a Welsh town: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogogoch.
https://pixabay.com/en/photos/

Second stop– An Irish house by a lake. Not sure I’d want to stay there. Looks like it’s about ready to fall down…
https://pixabay.com/en/photos/

Third stop– England and of course, while there I’d have to go to London, and while there, I’d have to see Buckingham Palace. Wonder if the Queen takes visitors for tea?
https://pixabay.com/en/photos/

Forth stop– Scotland! Finally! Is that the Loch Ness Monster I see out here? Oh, wait those are just mountains… Bummer.
https://pixabay.com/en/photos/

The Standing Stones on Lewis Island–I wonder if I touch that middle stone would I get thrown back in time to 1743 and meet my very own Jamie Fraser? No, you say! Darn it!
https://pixabay.com/en/photos/

I hope you enjoyed my wishful vacations stops!

Where is your dream vacation?

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First Kiss Opps! HEARTSTRINGS… SALE $0.99 #MFRWHooks

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I’m joined the Marketing for Romance Authors weekly meme BOOK HOOKS.  

Here’s my first entry from my Heartstrings, book 1 of the Singing to the Heart series.  Now on sale for $0.99 across all vendors….

 

Heartstrings, Singing to the Heart, Sara Walter Ellwood, Contemporary Western Romance, Cowboys, Texas Romance, Native American Romance, Lyrical Press, Kensington Publishing

“Momma?”

They both froze at the softly spoken word. When she looked past his shoulder toward the door, Emily stood there peering at them with her mouth hanging slightly open, eyes wide.

Abby immediately untangled herself from him and tried to shove him away. “Seth is helping me with the horses.”

Seth and Emily gawked at her with nearly identical expressions of bemusement, and she shoved at him harder. He let her down, but positioned himself behind her and held her close. She glanced questioningly at him. He raised an eyebrow, grinned, and leaned in to whisper in her ear, “I don’t think you want me to move right now.” She closed her eyes and trembled at the low rumble of his voice. “I’m hard as a rock.”

“Oh. Don’t move,” she whispered and made sure she was directly in front of him.

Swallowing hard, she turned to face her daughter, feeling very much like a teenager caught by a parent. Who would have thought the same embarrassment could be inspired with the reversed situation?

 

BLURB:

 

EBOOK on Sale for $0.99

 

Available in EBOOK and PRINT

.lyrical press    amazon b&nitunes     Kobo   

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He’s determined to set things right, no matter the cost.

The last person Abby Crawford wants to face down is country music superstar Seth Kendall. Last time she did, she flat-out lied so he’d go to Nashville without her. She’s never understood why their mutual best friend proposed, but she went with it so her baby wouldn’t be fatherless. Now she’s a divorced mother of a teenager, and secretly Seth’s biggest fan.

Seth is home in McAllister, Texas for his father’s funeral…and a chance to meet the daughter he’s never known. He’s willing to face the music of his own making and admit he’s known about his little girl all along. For fifteen years he’s kept his distance because Abby told him to follow his dreams without her, insisting she didn’t love him. But now he won’t leave until he knows his daughter and she knows him, even if it means facing the woman who broke his heart for good.

Confessing she’s lied about her daughter’s paternity all these years won’t be easy for Abby, especially with her ex blackmailing her to keep the secret. And Seth doesn’t know the hardest truth of all: Every love song he plays on his guitar still plucks her heartstrings.

 

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My Biggest Dream….. #MFRWauthor

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As an author who hasn’t made it “big” yet, this topic for the blog challenge is a bit of a no-brainer. I think if you ask any writer, published or not, and they’d tell you they want to their names at the top of the best-seller lists and make money at writing–a lot of money.

I would say this is my biggest dream, but it’s not the only one I have.

I hope for a better future and I pray for peace.

One of my other hopes, since it’s spring and I’ve been planting, is that my garden (both vegetable and flower) do well.

Now, that my children are young adults, I hold their dreams for the future in my heart.

My son is finishing up his second year at Penn State as an engineering student. I hope he is able to, not only finish school doing as well as he is now (he’s an Dean’s List student), but also is able to find a good job, doing something he enjoys.

My daughter, who will be a high school senior in the fall, wants to become an environmental scientist with an emphasis on ecology and wild-life conservation. We’ll be looking at colleges this summer. My hope for her is that she continues to excel at everything she sets out to do and achieves her dream of travailing the world. Of course, she better take me along on some of her adventures…. <grin>

What are your dreams?
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Hanging Out On Social Media #MFRWauthor

take by me in my garden

This week’s blog topic is an interesting one.  Social Media.  I’m not a “social butterfly” by any stretch of the imagination. I actually dislike most of the social media platforms out there. With that being said, I do love Facebook. I’ve reconnected with so many old friends from high school, past co-workers, and even a few long lost cousins. I’ve even remained in contact with several of my old pals from the Star Wars forum I’d posted fan fiction on back in a day.

So, with that being said, where do you find me fluttering around….

Facebook:  

*Profile—  https://www.facebook.com/sara.w.ellwood

*Page—  https://www.facebook.com/sarawalterellwood.ceradubois/

I will usually friend anyone on my profile–if the person has at least a few friends in common and their profile doesn’t look fake (ie: no friends or an obviously fake profile picture)

Twiter:  https://twitter.com/sara_w_ellwood

Not my favorite hangout simply because it changes so fast and because of the limit on words…. I’m a wordy person and 140 characters just ain’t enough!

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/saraellwood/

I mostly lurk on here. I love getting gardening ideas from the boards I follow.

What’s your favorite social media sight and why?

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There Are Story Ideas Everywhere…When I’m Paying Attention #MFRWauthor

Have you ever wondered where authors get some of their plot ideas? It isn’t as mysterious as you might think.

Inspiration can come from just about everything. Some of the most common are from events that happen in real life, dreams, songs, phrases from other books, and a thousand other places or things can spark a story idea. For example, it’s no secret Stephenie Meyer got the idea for The Twilight Saga from a dream. Then a single line in Eclipse (book 3 of the saga) inspired me to write A Hunter’s Angel, a paranormal romance about a small town police chief and vampire who is an FBI agent so that he can hunt vampires.

My first contemporary western romance Gambling On A Series was sparked when I watched a butterfly hatch from a cocoon. But my hero is an accumulation of things I’ve learned from the soldiers I’ve worked with over the years. While the idea for the rags-to-riches, ex-prostitute heroine, at least partly, came from a Rachel Gibson novel I’d read a few years ago.

I’ll also tweak things that actually happen to create subplots in my books. On such inspiration from real life (as real as reality TV can get anyway) shows up in Heartstrings, but the main idea came from a song. At least somewhat from a song. Let me explain. About six years ago I wrote a Star Wars fan fiction novel using the country song “God Blessed the Broke Road” by Rascal Flatts as my inspiration. The story was about a female who had been in love with two men, who were friends, at different times in her life and who ended up married to one of them, and then to the other after her first husband was killed. Her second husband then raised her daughter to her first husband as his own.

Fast forward two and a half years later. After I wrote the first book of The Hunter’s Dagger Series, A Hunter’s Angel, I got the idea to write a story about a country singer coming home for his father’s funeral to find out he had a daughter. The original story plot, then titled “The Long Road Home” (a sort of play on the song “God Blessed the Broken Road”) was a little different then the story that eventually became Heartstrings. Despite the fifteen or so revisions and rewrites I’ve done to “The Long Road Home” to create Heartstrings, the main plot is still loosely inspired by my old fan fiction and the country song “God Blessed the Broken Road.”

For Heartsong, I got the idea of a country singer married to his much older manager and the marriage failing in part from the real-life

tabloid candy story of Randy Travis and his first wife and manager. In Heartsong, the heroine’s rise to fame at a young age, and eventual fall due to drugs was inspired by several real-life young actresses and singers.

In the second Cowboy Up anthology (which is currently out of print), my story A Cowboy’s Heaven, was inspired by a news article I had read a few years ago. The story was about a man and woman who never believed they’d find love again. Both had been widowed soon after getting married to the person they’d believed to by their soul mate. But thanks to a friend, they met. A friendship grew out of their mutual loss, then after a few years of dating, they realized they had fallen in love and were married. It really was a true-life romance and I knew I had to write a book to pay homage to this beautiful story.

But really, inspiration for me can come from anywhere or anything. If you are a writer, where do you find inspiration?

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My Greatest Weakness–Procrastination @MFRWauthor

Last week the topic for the challenge as to describe my greatest strength. This week prompt is to talk about my greatest weakness, and as with naming my strength, coming up with my less desirable trait was hard. But I think figured it out as I’m typing this article late Thursday night to go live in the morning. Despite determination to succeed being my strength, I have a tendency to put things off until the last moment. I’m a procrastinator.

Believe it or not, this weakness is getting worse as I age. I never put things off when I was in college. I studied for tests days before the exams. I did my papers as soon as they were assigned. Now, I don’t even think about a project until it’s down to the wire. I’m better with my stories, but the day job or something like this blog challenge–not so much. I wait until the last possible moment. Part of the problem I know is I’m juggling so much: day job, housework, family relationships, and just time for me.

Even with writing, I’m able to concentrate better if I have a deadline. If I know I have to get something done in a limited time, I’m able to buckle down and ignore most of the distractions. But even then, I get angry with myself for putting things off; however, I still do it.

So what is your one weakness?
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My Greatest Strength–Determination to Never Give Up #MFRWauthor

Have you ever thought about your greatest strength? What makes you…well…you? This is also a very hard question to answer. After a lot of introspection, I think my greatest strength is my determination to not fail.

If any of you have followed me for any time at all, you know I’m dyslexic. My learning disability was discovered when I was in third grade after a reading teacher noticed I tried to sound out words backwards and my eyes wandered all over the page. I spent the rest of my elementary grades in special education classes to learn to read.

In junior high, I was delegated into the lower tract and spent two miserable years with bullies who called me names and picked on me. For the most part, all of my friends were in the highest tract. Now when I look back, I think this was the best thing that ever happened to me. It was my need to prove these people I was nothing like them and my new found love for history (a subject I’d never had before seventh grade) that made me determined to succeed.

During the second half of seventh grade, a new spirit awakened in me. I studied in a way I never had and my hard work–and believe me it was hard–paid off. By the end of eighth grade, I had As in every subject with several of them being 100%. I was determined to prove to, not only my classmates that I would make it, but to myself that I’d get to where I want to be. I elected the college prep curriculum for high school and by the time I graduated, I was in the top quarter of my class.

I went to college and made the Dean’s List all but two or three of the nine semesters of my years at Penn State. But then life happened and with it a major setback. I couldn’t find a full time teaching job and my dreams were crushed. Not for long though, I changed gears and went back to school where I ended up graduating at the top of my class, simply because I wouldn’t accept anything less.

This spirit of never giving up and of unadulterated determination has severed me well during my writing career. I’ve nearly given up more than once, but this need to persevere despite the odds or how difficult it is has forced me to continue. My calling on this inner strength has helped me swim out of the deepest pools of despair and disappointment. I won’t deny it gets harder and harder, but I refuse to ever say “what if I hadn’t given up” because I will give it my all. I will tackle every obstacle with the determination that helped a girl who couldn’t read in the fourth grade, a teenager who hated to read until she discovered Civil War romance in ninth grade, to become a writer of published books. And hopefully this same stubbornness will help me become a best-selling author.
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Plotting….A Pantser’s Guide to Writing #MFRWauthor

As a reader, if a story doesn’t have well executed character goals, motivations, and both inner and external conflicts, then most likely you aren’t ever going to finish that story. All writers use the GMC formula in some way to craft a story. Finding these GMCs is a important part of plotting. Some writers use elaborate methods to plot a story, to the point of practically writing it before they write the first draft. But today I’m going to explain my process, something I call a pantser’s guide to plotting.

 

 

An oxymoron for sure. Since the definition of a pantser (a nickname for “writing by the seat of the pants”) is someone who DOES NOT plot. Anyone who knows me knows I define myself as a tried and true pantser. Most of the time I never know what my next scene will be. I don’t do mind maps; I don’t have bulletin boards with index cards of every action; I don’t like Scrivener, and I don’t have an outline. I like to let the story unfold before me as I fill the blank page with words. However, I always know how the story will end.  I know what has to change in my characters’ lives to bring them to the end, but I don’t always know how they get to that happy ending.  What I do know is something changes in their lives to bring them to this point. I know their character arcs, and what they had to overcome to have that HEA. The hows and whys of them getting to the end comes to me as I write.

Okay, now you’re scratching your heads. Trust me I’ve done that more than once myself.  I may not plot a story, but I do learn about my characters. How I do this is by making sure I have a clear understanding of what makes them tick. Once I decide on an idea for a story, I soon figure out who the key players will be—the hero/heroine and antagonist/s. I figure out what their back-stories are. What led these characters to find themselves in this story idea? Then I think about where I want them to be at the end of the story.  How do I want them to be different from the characters I’ve created from their pasts? I don’t do character interviews, but I write down everything that I can think of about the characters—descriptions, personalities, jobs, relationships, what would bring fear to them, what would bring them joy. I figure out what their goals are, what motivates them, and what would bring them conflict and how they might respond to that conflict. I even decide on the quirks in their personalities, and more importantly, why are these quirks important. I do this for every major character. I still have no idea how their stories will enfold, but I do know that I, indeed, have a story.

The only thing left is to figure out how the characters best want to tell it and let them do the talking.

Of course, I do occasionally take this process a step further and jot down a simple two page synopsis of what the story might be. I still don’t consider this true plotting, since I simply figure out what the turning points are and write them. How the characters get to each turning point is totally a mystery until I start writing. But as an established author, my last two novels were sold on proposal, and I just submitted a third proposal, for which I’m waiting to hear back. For Heartsong, I had a blurb, synopsis and first four chapters. For Heartland, I sold it on a blurb and a very skimpy synopsis.

My process has changed somewhat, but for the most part, I am, and forever shall be, a pantser.
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My Seven Guilty Pleasures… #MFRWauthor

We all have ’em. The things we do that make us happy. Little things that put a smile on our face as we’re doing them.
Here are the seven things that I love that always make me happy when I do them:
1. Taking long, hot, sudsy baths.
2. Sitting on the deck in the summer in the warm sun, just enjoying the outdoors–with or without a glass of wine.
3. Speaking of wine….Enjoying a glass of my favorite–Moscato.
4. Eating chocolate… Anything chocolate.
5. Shopping! I love to shop, especially with my teenage daughter, who actually likes shopping with me.
6. Spending lazy afternoons reading a book or listening to one.
7. Binge watching Netflix or On Demand.
There you have the seven things I consider my guilty pleasures.  Name one of yours.

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