Thursday, April 26, 2012


Or chapter 9 in the book, Self Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King.

Here is where they talk about, well, breaking up—or rather how to break up scenes in your novel to get the best results.

Readers nowadays don’t like one-page paragraphs. I know I don’t. If you just have to have them, stick to one or two per book. But what to do with the rest of the book? Break it up, of course. Lots of white space gets readers from one page to another quickly, and hopefully the scene is moving at that same quick pace. Save the slow, thoughtful narration for the one-pager.

So, remember the old adage: Variety is the Spice of Life, for paragraph size. Then remember, Less is More, for dialogue. Have your character say something with as few words as possible. Even in real life, I think, it gets really super irritating when talking to someone and they go on and on and on and simply take forever to say something simple.

Consider this: “I need to go to the grocery store because Jim drank the last of the milk.” Angela hated how Jim always drank the milk and never replaced it.

Or: “We need milk.” Angela scowled. “Jim was here.”

Option #2 says the same thing with fewer words.

Here’s a tip from Self Editing for Fiction Writers: Flip through your manuscript without reading it. Just notice the white space. How much of it is there?

If you have a lot of one-page or half-page paragraphs, edit them and make them more concise.

Tip 2: If one of your scenes seem to drag, try paragraphing a little more often.

Ask yourself if some of it can be told through dialogue.      

I was going to say more, but I’ve decided to take their advice and leave some white space while I go and check my own manuscript. Happy writing!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

DANGEROUS FAVOR, by Joyce DiPastena

A single silken ribbon. A harmless thing. And yet, author Joyce DiPastena weaves a brilliant tale with this simple charm as the catalyst. Dangerous Favor is categorized as a medieval romance, but it's so much more. In Dangerous Favor, the stakes are higher than the, will they get together, of most romances. The stakes are life or death, and with a madman on the loose, it looks as though death is imminent.

A tournament is being held at Violette De Maloisel’s estate, and she plans to marry the winner. Many knights have lined up for the opportunity to inherit her wealth by virtue of their prowess on the field, but it’s Therri, Etienne’s lifelong friend, that she loves. Unfortunately for Therri, he has a reputation as a scoundrel. That, and the fact that he mistook someone else for his beloved Violette, has angered her. Now, Therri must prove that he loves Violette, and more importantly, that he will be faithful.

At their father’s insistence, Girard reluctantly parts with his silken ribbon as an adornment for his sister, Mathilde’s, hair and takes her with him to the tournament hosted by the wealthy Violette De Maloisel. At the pre-tournament banquet, Mathilde hopes that she will find favor with a wealthy knight, and that he will use his wealth to help her clear her father from a disgrace that happened before she was born.

The first man to see her is, indeed, wealthy—but he is also fat and sweaty, and, she discovers, is the cousin of her father’s enemy—a man she had been betrothed to before he died. Chesnei makes her skin crawl, but he is there, wanting the favor in her hair, and saying he will wear it in her honor during the tournament. As he reaches for the ribbon, Mathilde puts him off, saying she must ask her brother, and rushes away. In her effort to get away from him, she accidently bumps into Therri (the Vision) and his friend, Etienne.

The Vision is obviously wealthy and could help her easily, but it’s Etienne who talks to her and charms the favor from her hair. Mathilde has heard of men like Etienne—men who use their seductive charms to prey on innocent women such as herself. She shouldn’t let him have it—her brother wouldn’t want her to give a token to a seducer. But once the favor is in his hands, Etienne won’t give it back.

This starts a series of assaults on Etienne, and he is seriously wounded during the tournament, but only Chesnei, Girard, and his father’s mortal enemy—the not dead after all Sir Alun d’ Amville—are aware that the ribbon is a significant key in a plot against the crown.

Before Mathilde decides whether Etienne is a seducer, as she originally feared, or actually a wealthy knight in disguise, she has fallen in love with him. Unfortunately, her father is virtually penniless, having had several of his castles and nearly his whole estate taken from him by d’ Amville, and so Mathilde has no dowry to offer a worthy suitor.

Etienne is not a wealthy knight, and realizing that he has no way to support a wife, tells Mathilde that his heart belongs to another.

These are the players. These are the stakes. Dangerous Favor is a whole lot of action, and two romances in one. And when you’re done reading, you’ll know and love the characters so well that you’ll want to go visit them in their castle, or invite them over for dinner just to see how they’re doing. I did anyway.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Hello, cyber-world. It’s Tina Scott here with another author interview. Betsy Love is known for her novel, Identity, and is in the hot seat, um, I mean in our interviewee’s chair. [pets Betsy’s longish hair – it’s longer than mine.] Say hello to our audience, Betsy.

Betsy: Hi, everyone! [waves nervously]

Tina: [whispers] no one can see you, Betsy dear. Put your arm down before you embarrass yourself.

Betsy Love, LDS Author
 Betsy: [lowers arm]

Tina: That’s a good girl. Now, what’s your favorite bit of writing advice?

Betsy: First, I just want to thank you for interviewing me today. It’s such a—

Tina: [presses her hands to Betsy’s cheeks.] Focus. Favorite writing advice. Remember?

Betsy: Oh posh! I’ve been given so much advice.

Tina: Yes?

Betsy: Let me finish [frowns] … Like I was saying, my favorite is: write what you know. You'll find tidbits from my life (or my life as I choose to remember it) in my stories.

Tina: [scrunches eyebrows together] Write what you know? As opposed to writing, say, about Vietnamese chickens? [looks quizzically at Betsy] Or do you know about them? No, no. That’s a story for another day. Have you experienced writers block?

Betsy: DUH! [throws hands up] Who hasn't, unless you refuse to write? I experience it a lot!

Tina: What is your solution?

Betsy: One of my favorite things to do to un-stump me is to interview a character. Or to go for a plot walk where I'LL LITERALLY TALK OUT LOUD TO MY CHARACTER. [smiles slyly] People seeing me probably just think I have a Bluetooth. Nope, that's me chatting with my imaginary friends. I have a t-shirt with this on the front "Writer's block-when your imaginary friends quit talking to you.”

Tina: [whispers off stage—imaginary friends? Isn’t the writer’s therapy session two doors down the hall and to the left?] Okay, moving on. Do you snack when you write?

Betsy: I love dark chocolate or Cheetos. When I'm feeling healthy, I'll slice up some fruit or veggies.

Tina: Dark chocolate and Cheetos? With fruits and veggies? [chews fingernail] It might work. Tell me about your genre. What do you write?

Betsy: Currently YA general fiction. That's where I see myself heading.

Tina: [leans over table] Your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Betsy: [jumps up] YES! [sits back down, and looks around, red-faced] If I have to pick one it would be Cherry Chocolate Bordeaux

Tina: Bordeaux. Okay. [writes in a notebook] Favorite writer’s memory?

Betsy: In high school I had a creative writing teacher who loved everything I wrote. She always gave me such positive feedback.

Tina: [Nods] Sounds nice. Favorite way to get the word out about your book/s?

Betsy: The one I use the most is Facebook. But my favorite is to hand out bookmarks.

Tina: Do you have a new book coming out?

Betsy: Soulfire was released around the first part of April.

From my blog

In the City of Nephi, ruled by a drunken king, and lorded over by wicked high priests, who delight in lasciviousness, Zephenia must stand firm for all she knows is true. She vows she will not succumb to the temptations around her, or to the handsome high priest with his arrogant ways and lustful desires. After the martyrdom of Abinadi, the prophet, she will not abandon her belief in his teachings, nor deny her faith, even at the peril of her life.

Follow this remarkable young woman in her struggles to remain righteous as she confronts a multitude of trials--a proposition of marriage from a wealthy, but lustful landlord, terror at the hands of his evil henchmen, and the lewd advances of an enticing puppet master to King Noah. Join her as she rescues a Lamanite prince and his sister, which threatens the life of another believer, the one she might find happiness with.

Tina: Fess up, did you have this book written before your first one came out?

Betsy: You’re right. I finished Soulfire in 2003.

Tina: I thought so.

Betsy: When the publishing world wasn't taking any more Book of Mormon novels, I put it on the shelf and went on to write Identity, a mystery/suspense, which is different than anything I ever intended to write. [Leans over the table] You look strikingly like my socialite neighbor.

Tina: Why thank you. I guess.

Betsy: You aren’t planning a trip to Mexico anytime soon, are you?

Tina: No, no. I haven’t been to Mexico in years.

Betsy: Good. Stay off of airplanes for a while. [pulls a mirror out of her purse, and applies red lipstick to her lips] So, anyway, most of my works in progress are for young adults. I find it rather "odd" that my first book was something almost completely out of my field of experience. But it was a story that had to be told—even if I was the only one who ever finished it. But that's a story for another inquisition.

Tina: I guess the interview’s over then. [stands to shake hands]

Betsy: I guess so. Ta,ta. [stands, puts on her Jacquelyn Kennedy sunglasses, and walks out the door.]

Tina: [stares at the empty chair] That was different. To learn more about Sweet Betsy Love, go to her blog:

Thursday, April 5, 2012


I'm sending this out early, so that you'll have time to see it before your family arrives.
This Easter, may you remember Him, and hold His truths in your hearts. Enjoy this video clip, and then serve Ham Balls for dinner. They're delish!


1 lb ground pork
1 lb ground, fully cooked ham
2 eggs
3/4 c. milk
2/3 c. crushed Shredded Wheat cereal
1-1/2 C. packed brown sugar
2/3 C. water
1/3 c. vinegar
3/4 tsp ground mustard

In a bowl, combine the pork, ham, eggs, milk and cereal; mix well. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place in a greased 13"X9" baking dish. In a saucepan, combine sauce ingredients; bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 4 minutes. Pour over ham balls. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 60 - 70 minutes, or until browned. Serves 8

NOTE: The ham and ground pork are kind of goopy when mixing everything together, and the sauce seems unimpressive. However, when it's all cooked together, it's really yummy!

Serve with rice or mashed potatoes, vegetables, and a salad.