Monday, July 30, 2012

Beware! Image Copyrights

There's been a flurry of interest in blogging circles about copyright of images used from the internet. Check out Roni Loren's post about her law suit over use of images on her blog. Another great summation of the problem and some creative methods of using images can be found at Denise Covey's L'Aussie Writer.  I know I don't have the expertise to add to their wonderful info. Both suggests using Creative Commons or other photo sharing sources.

You may have noticed some changes on In the Shade of the Cherry Tree. Gone is the main image of sunlit cherries on a tree. I've replaced it with my photo of leaves from my own tree with some store-bought cherries. This version is on my mahogany dining table. I've took several different versions and some that are just a plate full of cherries to use in various ways. I've also taken down the pics I've used throughout my blog. I think the one I hated losing the most was the Marines in their dress blue uniforms. There is some question about badges for awards and blog contests, too. I don't know the answer to that yet. If I hear a definitive word, I'll let you know.

That said, I wholeheartedly believe in copyrights. I depend on them for my words and I can't fault photographers and other artists for wanting the same for their creative output. So from now on, unless I can take the picture myself, I'll forgo using an image.

What have you heard about this issue?
Do you have any ideas about sources of images that are okay for use?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Awards Season

I saw the Prime Time Emmy Nominations last Thursday morning little knowing that I was in Award Season myself. ; ) Both Deniz at The Girdle of Melian and Lara at Romance with an Edge have awarded me lately. Thanks to both of them for thinking of me. ; )

First up is the The Booker Award for blogs that talk about books, reading, or writing at least 50% of the time. The recipient must share their five favorite books, and pass the award along to five other awesome blogs!
  • The Outlander series (Yes, all of them) by Diana Gabaldon
  • The Vorkosigan series (Yes, again, all of them) by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • The Challion series (You know the drill by now) by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • On Folly Beach by Karen White
  • The Skolian Empire series by Catherine Asaro
So sue me, there's more than five books in the list. ; )

Next, is the Be Inspired award. This award comes with 10 questions

1. What is the name of your book? FRIENDLY FIRE
2. Where did the idea for your book come from? A dream--I'm not kidding! I woke from a nap with the first scene fully laid out in my mind.
3. In what genre would you classify your book? That's a hard one. It's either mainstream or women's fiction. I'll have to fine tune it later.
4. If you had to pick actors to play your characters in a movie rendition, who would you choose? Laura Grace is Kathy Bates and her romantic interest at the end of the book is Paulo Szot.
5. Give us a one-sentence synopsis of your book. Those closest to us inflict our deepest wounds, and none are so obvious as the ones of Samantha Smith, an abused foster child, or so hidden as those of Laura Grace Chandler, the retired widow, who will help her adopted daughter heal, finding healing for her own wounds as well. (I've been told that the first clause should get lost!)
6. Is your book already published or represented? No, I've got to finish it first--that and the three other books that follow it in the Cherry Hill series.
7. How long did it take you to write your book? Can I get back to you on that one? So far, four years and counting.
8. What other books in your genre do you compare it to? Or, readers of which books would enjoy reading yours? Some of Jodi Picoult's books or The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
9. Which authors inspired you to write this book? That's hard to narrow down. For the short list, I have to include Diana Gabaldon.
10. Tell us anything that might pique our interest in your book. FRIENDLY FIRE is set in a small Georgia town, but the problems its citizens face are universal--abuse in all it's many forms. That healing is available is the real lesson.

Last, but not least is the Fabulous Blog Ribbon. There are 3 sets of 5 questions for this one: 5 of your most fabulous moments, 5 things you love, and 5 things you hate.
5 most fabulous moments:
-my wedding day 35 years ago
-meeting one my all-time favorite author
-holding my two devotional books in my hands for the first time
-snuggling with kitties and puppies
-retiring so I could write

5 things I love:
-my husband
-my mother

5 things I hate:
-weak wrists
-that there are only 24 hours in a day

Finally, here are the blogs I'm tagging for all these awards:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Setting--Finding Cherry Hill (And a new blog to check out)

Not matter how great a character is, he or she has to be somewhere. That's where setting comes in. Much of the time, the setting isn't a real place. So, how do you describe a town that isn't there? I got the chance to hear Patricia Sprinkle talk about this very craft point on Saturday at the Turner Cassity Literary Festival. Here's a summary of her points:
  • Novels need to be about a small community even if set in a large city--the apartment building, or a work place, etc.
  • Be sure to include all the senses in the description
  • What's unique about the setting?
  • What contemporary issues impinge on the characters?
  • What universal themes are the characters facing?
All of these help define the setting.

I've been working on Cherry Hill, the small town in which my WIPs are set for some time now. It's a combination of three towns in my area--Carrollton, Temple, and Villa Rica--with a pinch of Cartersville thrown in for good measure. If you know Georgia, you have a good idea where Cherry Hill is located. ; )

Two years ago, I was the facilitator for a house party at Books and Writers Forum. In the Writers Exercises, we regularly spend time in a setting created by one of us and have a mad ad lib writing session. Sometimes we discover deep motive in our characters. In the Cherry Hill House Party, I hosted other writers in my setting. After a bit over a week we created 180,000 + words set in my little town and I learned a ton about Cherry Hill. If you want to read a bit of that story, take the link above, but I warn you, you'll be drawn into a wild and wonderful ride.

Lately, I've been using the settings I created for the house party and repurposing them for my WIP. I thought a taste of Cherry Hill on the Fourth of July might be a good way to show "describing a town that isn't there." You might notice a certain Master Gunnery Sergeant in the crowd. ; )

What's unique about your setting?
Do you have any suggestions or resources on setting?
Also, I'd love to announce a new blogger--Joann Dunn at Dispatches After Midnight. Go by and check her out. You'll love her humor.
           The antique bell clanged as I let the door shut behind me. Sweet vanilla, cinnamon, and all the aromas of fresh baked cakes, cookies, and pastry welcomed me.

“Momma, it smells just like home!” Samantha’s voice rose on the heavenly scented air, but her eyes clouded just a minute.

I couldn’t blame her. I hadn’t baked since May. That was one of the doctor’s orders. I didn’t have to like them, but I had to abide by them. My daughter needed me. Joy rose as the thought hugged me along with the scents of the bakery. “The bakery hasn’t changed in the fifty years.” The dark wood paneled walls enclosed over two dozen wrought-iron tables and chairs with curling heart-shaped backs. The wood seats were worn shiny by use.

I stepped up to the counter with its old curved-glass fronts that displayed dozens of choices—six different kinds fudge, thumb cookies with pastel spots of icing in their centers, cream horns, brownies, and petit fours.

“Do they have the little cakes, the ones with the rose buds?” She leaned on the glass, looking for them.
“Yes, there on the end.”
Samantha traced the etching on the glass of the case. It was old because the name was the original—Cherry Hill Bakery. “Why did they change the name?”
“Well bakery doesn’t quite cover it all any more now that they’ve added gourmet coffee and tea.” The front glass used the same old-style lettering, but the name was now Cherry and Bean Fine Pastries, Coffees, and Teas. “I swear they’ve not changed the recipes,” I said, and placed an order for my favorite treat—a cream horn and Irish breakfast tea.

Mona Crossley’s withered face greeted us on the terrace when we emerged back into the July heat with our treats. “Ready for the parade?” She patted the table beside her. “Best seats in Cherry Hill are right here.”

I should have known that Mona would be here early finding the perfect place under the shade of the old oak. “Did you save that for us?”

“I hoped you’d come, but I know Doc Bryant’s got you on a short leash.” She grimaced. “Bet he won’t let you bake yet.” Her eyebrows arched.

I shook my head and lifted a shoulder in a light shrug. What could I say that Mona didn’t know about cardiologists and their unreasonable rules. “He couldn’t say no to the parade. Not when he’s going to be in marching in it.”
We had the perfect vantage point. The bakery sat on the high side of the square decked out in red, white, and blue for the occasion. American flags fluttered from every wrought-iron lamppost. People had spread blankets and folding chairs out on the grass around the gazebo that served as Cherry Hill’s main stage. Little kids ran up and down the walks with flags and patriotic pinwheels fluttering in their hands.

The red, white, and blue bunting on the iron rail lifted a little as the breeze freshened.
Samantha had settled into the chair beside me, but she wasn’t looking at the patriotic decorations or the flowers rioting in the beds around the square. Her head swiveled as she watched the people gathering, a slight frown puckering her brows. Then she lit up.
Dean eased his way among the crowd on the bakery’s terrace until he stood beside Samantha. “Hi.”

“I thought you’d never get here.”
He shrugged, then winked at her. “The car was blocked in by all these folks at the parade.” He slipped an arm around her waist and planted a light kiss on her lips.

Surprise washed over me. I hadn’t seen them kiss since New Year’s Eve. Proximity was building the fire Rosemary and I had wondered about. Well, I’d wondered; Rosemary worried. And there she was a few steps behind the kids, her brow puckered with twin lines. She looked at me, nodding at the kids leaning against each other. What could I say? I nodded and shrugged. Her brows rose, her month firming and I got the message—we’d talk later. It wasn’t like we hadn’t talked this one to death already.

Samantha looped her arm around Dean. Looking over the square, she smiled. “Isn’t it exciting? I just love the parade. Especially all the men who put on their uniforms.” She pointed across the square at a short uniformed man.
I followed her gesture to a Marine in full dress blues. His coat was dark midnight blue, trimmed in red. Its white web belt had a gold waist plate buckle. The pants were a sky blue with a red stripe down the outer seams. Ribbons and metals on his chest winked in the sun.
“He’s a Marine, right?” She glanced at me. “He’s got to be hot! Aren’t their uniforms are usually wool? Look at that high collar.”
Before I could answer, Dean leaned over the rail. “The parade’s here!”

I bit my lip and watched the man. He stood back straight and chest out. Something in the line of his shoulders told me he had served a long time. His right, white-gloved hand stiffly rose to the bill of his white cap as the color guard of National Guardsmen from the major branches of service flanked the flag that led the parade into the square. Its red and white stripes and blue star-strewn field flapped, and the gold braid and tassels hanging from the pole swayed with the marching steps of the flag bearer. Sunlight glinted off the eagle standard on top, and I squinted in the glare. People quickly removed their hats and caps, laying their right hands over their hearts. Sprinkled throughout the crowd, military veterans of five wars stood at attention, their hands raised to their brows in salute.
The crowd leaned out and looked down the street as the sound of the band grew louder. Cheers broke out and applause echoed in waves along the building fronts with the high school band’s blaring rendition of the National Anthem.
The first float was greeted with a collective sigh from the crowd. The centerpiece was devastatingly simple—empty combat boots held an upended rifle crowned with a combat helmet. It was the classic honor accorded the fallen in battle. “Freedom Isn’t Free” as the sign on the side said. Everyone here owed so much to those who had fought for the country’s freedom and it was only right that the onlookers remember the price paid for this day of celebration.
I looked back at the Marine. His lean face was set. The float wasn’t a symbolic reminder of sacrifice for him. It meant fallen brothers.
Then the rest of the parade came into the square. Every church, civic group and business in Cherry Hill had tried to out-patriotic all the rest. But the first float was the best—as always.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Characters: Finding Mack the Marine

Where do characters come from?

When Mack Singer, retired Marine and high school chorus teacher, popped up, I had no clue where he came from. I still don't, but I know why he's in my Cherry Hill books. His steady, protecting nature gives my ladies--Laura Grace and Rosemary--much needed support as they deal with the realities of the abuse their children have suffered. Besides, who can resist a man in the Marine Dress Blues? ; )

As I worked with Mack Singer, I realized that not only did he have a warm, rich baritone singing voice, he was a Master Gunnery Sergeant with extensive service in both Iraq and Afghanistan. So what does a Master Gunnery Sergeant do? Who better to ask than a Marine? Luckily, I had a Marine available in one of my former students.

I expected to get great info to help me write Mack's back story with accuracy--and I did. But I was floored by the discovery that I had conjured Mack up with amazing accuracy before the interview. Mack is a take charge kind of guy. He deeply cares about young people and their proper education in work ethics and honor. Just the sort of thing a Master Gunnery Sergeant is in charge of in the Corps. I had chilled as Bill C. told me about the job of a Master Gunnery and how important the rank is to the Marine Corps being able to complete its mission.

I didn't expect the other revelation of the interview. When I read the following snip to my friend, he had chills, too. Mack's voice is real to Bill as was his reasons for joining the Marines.

Dean reminded him of those bewildered teens he had trained and led. Boys--no young men--who found themselves under life and death stress; like he had been so many years ago. Fingering the globe and anchor he always carried in his pocket, he felt the solidity of his career. But it would have been just as solid if it had been a stack of Broadway playbills; his name bold in the leading parts. That was the career his profs had predicted even though his degree was music education. He was like Dean, with the same huge road block--a bastard of a father who said, 'Hell no!' to the dreams of a son. He hadn't told the women, but he has made a promise to himself--that boy would never live another day within his father's reach. He would take the boy in. Yes, he knew Rosemary would have to agree, but she would. He'd seen the terror in her eyes. Terror that testified to a vision of that fine boy stretched out on a slab, dead at his father's hand. Like so many of the boys he'd trained, dead of the enemies' hate. Or friendly fire. Yeah, it happened. Dammit! But this was one young man he could protect. The miles clicked over as he sped down the highway chasing the kids. He'd find them. He had no doubt. Dean needed him. There was no doubt of that either. When a small man made his way through the big man's world, it made for a tempering of steel like the finest of swords. Yeah, Dean needed him. And Samantha did too. She was the reason men enlisted in the services and public safety ranks. She and Laura Grace.
Where do you get your characters?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy Fourth of July and a great quote!

My sister, the retired English teacher, sent me a quote I just have to share:
"English doesn't borrow from other languages. English follows other languages down dark alleys, knocks them over and goes through their pockets for loose grammar."

Don't believe us? Check out this old post with a great video: History of the English Language

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!