Friday, November 6, 2015


Working title GREEN BRIAR LIES: Who's lying in Green Briar? Everybody!
    After what happened when they requested access to police records on Lilli's closed case, Jacob Chandler had promised to help Morgan find out what they could about her mother’s mysterious disappearance. It was obvious to them both, that the local constabulary could not be trusted in this matter. So he found himself conscripted into Morgan's service as chaperone, chauffeur, and middle-man between the city girl and the mountain people who populated the Appalachian township of Green Briar.
   Not that he minded. 
  He pulled up to the weathered cabin, put his truck in park, turned off the ignition, and stepped out onto the grass. Morgan followed.
   “We’ll I’ll be.” Willie Johnson did not rise from his rocker. “If it ain’t Miss Lilli come back from the dead.”
   “Not Lilli.” Jake corrected. “Her daughter, Morgan.”
   The old black man pulled a pipe and a pouch of tobacco from his pocket. “I knows who she is.”
   “Willie, how long you lived on this mountain?”
   “Near bout seventy years I’d say. But cain't say I seen you up this far more’n a handful of times your whole life. This must be ole home week." He packed tobacco into his pipe and tamped it down. "I’s git’n right poplar these days. The Mayor Hisself come to see me yestiddy.” Willie raised himself from the rocker. “What brings you?”
   “Lilli Alexander. What do you remember about the time she disappeared?”
   “Mor’n I care to.”
   Jake watched Morgan’s face light up. Her new-found longing to understand what happened tugged at his heart, and he vowed to do everything he could to help her. She tried so hard to be strong, but ever since a recent discovery convinced her that foul play had indeed been involved in her mother’s disappearance, the knowledge that Lilli had not abandoned her, as the Sheriff's dept insisted was the case, had filled her with guilt. The feeling that she had betrayed her mother's memory gnawed at her heart relentlessly. She had been unable to hide this from Jake. And she couldn't hide it from Willie--her mother's dear friend--either.
   It was obvious he knew something, and Jake, hoping for a break-through, was a bit excited himself. But he was careful not let his excitement show. “Why do you say that Willie? Everyone says she abandoned Morgan. That she ran off with a mysterious man. Even sent a good-bye letter from the mid-west.”
   Willie clenched the unlit pipe between his teeth. “I knows whut dey say.”
   “The case was closed on her disappearance.” That was true enough. No need to let on, yet, that the case had just been re-opened. “The investigation proved she left of her own accord and did not want to be found.”
   “Uh huh.”
   “You know something you’re not telling, Willie?”
   Willie took the pipe from his mouth and said, “I done tole all I know...and been called a liar for my trouble. I said all I got to say seventeen years ago.”
   “Willie,” Morgan's quiet interjection drew his gaze. “I always believed my mother abandoned me, but now I don't. I know you don’t know me anymore, I've been gone for many years. And I don't blame you for hating me. But if you know anything about her disappearance that would help me understand what happened to her, I would be indebted to you. Will you help me?”
   Jake watched as memories and a long-suppressed-affection for a small girl, rose in the old man's heart and shone from his eyes. His countenance softened along with his voice, “You best be gittin along. Go on home, lil gal. Back where you come from. Green Briar ain’t no place for you. It ain’t no place for nobody no more." He emptied the tobacco from his still unlit pipe, carefully pouring it back into the pouch. "Not for a long time now.”
   Morgan persisted. “The day I arrived in Green Briar, those men at Buchanan's obviously knew my mother. Do you think they can help me?”
   Willie stepped closer to her. “You'll have to ask them. But I can save you the trouble. It won’t do you no good. They ain’t goin talk to you.”
   “But why not?" The hitch in her voice, betrayed just how close her emotions were to the surface. "What do you know?”
   He fixed his eyes on his unexpected guests but directed his words only to Morgan. “Lil gal, this town is livin a lie and dyin of a disease called fear. That crowd done sole their souls to the devil. They cain’t be helped, and they cain’t help nobody else.”
   “What about Mr. Buchanan, he seemed nice enough?”
   “He won't talk to you neither.”
     “All I want is the truth.”
   "That's jist whut they's afraid of." Willie spat on the ground. "You ain’t wondered why they’s no citified chain store across the highway from Buchanan’s?  Ask'im bout that if you want—not that it’ll do you no good." His tone softened again. "You best listen to me and hightail it back where you come from. Cause there ain’t nuthin but heartache here for you, and maybe worse.”
   “I can’t do that Willie." Admiration filled Jake's heart, as he watched determination march across her delicate features. "I am not leaving until I get to the bottom of what happened to my mother."  Her voice took on an indelicate edge as she asked, "How did Addie Stanfield end up with my mother’s half of our interlocking lockets? I believe her when she says she found it in her driveway a few weeks back. But how did it get there? And how did it stay in perfect condition for seventeen years?”
   “Can’t say as I can answer that, lil gal.”
   “But you know the answers to other things," her eyes narrowed, "don’t you Willie?”
   Willie crammed the pipe and tobacco back into his pocket as his gaze wandered to the copse of trees separating his property from the Garvey Place. Jake knew there would be no more conversation today, but Morgan wasn’t giving up.
   “I’ll come back, Willie.” 
   Without a word, he turned his back on them and disappeared into the cabin. The slam of his screen door signaled  the interview was over.


Want to know what happens? Subscribe to updates for the release of the Inspirational Romantic Suspense novel, Green Briar Lies, by Christian author, Jocelyn Andersen

Friday, July 10, 2015

How to Write a Novel? Just Write!

Isn't it good to know there is no set formula  for writing YOUR novel? 

Best selling author, Tess Gerritsen says that she does not outline, she does zero editing through the first draft (takes her about 8 mos), and she never knows the end of the story until she has been writing a while and created all her characters. Here is her most important piece of advice for the beginning novelist: "So my number one piece of advice for a writer is, find an idea that focuses on a character’s predicament. Not on generalized concepts like sex trafficking or serial killers or global catastrophe. Start your story in a very personal place, with a character who is facing a crisis."

Read the entire interview with Tess Gerritsen here:

Monday, June 22, 2015

The rhythm of writing

Have you thought about it? Like poetry, prose has rhythm too. If it doesn't it should have. Rhythm is one of the things that helps your writing flow and will engage readers whether they understand this aspect of writing or not.

Below is a good description of rhythm:
 Rhythm is achieved by varying the length and type of sentence structures. (See the Handbook section that describes the four basic sentence types.) The aims here are 1) to avoid overusing any one sentence structure in a way that becomes a distraction to the reader, 2) to move gracefully back and forth between the clarity of simple sentences and the richness of complex sentences, and 3) to evoke the rhythms of your own vocal style, with the same rising and falling of pitch, the same ebb and flow of phrasing between breaths. The only way to achieve a natural rhythm is by reading your work aloud. If your writing is "hard" to read because you run out of breath in the midst of too-long phrases, or because a turn of phrase strikes your ear as oddly out of character, nothing you would ever really say, then the rhythm just isn't right. If, on the other hand, the words on paper are really you, you'll know it by how pleasing it is for you to read out loud . . . even if you're so shy that you do your reading in a closet! ~~

The words set the backbeat and the fingers follow the melody in your mind --David Boles

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Do readers enjoy spending time with your characters?

   After 13 years and 20,000 words worth of work on my novel (can you tell writing fiction has been a very part time hobby with me?), I discover that I really do not know my characters very well. No wonder my story gets bogged down so often!
   I confess. I have been a lazy writer.
   So, I resolved to remedy that, and invested quality time into getting to know my characters better. My goal is to shape them into people readers will want to spend time with.
   Recently, I was inspired by watching a sit-com where one of the characters described a personality defect of another character in the same show. As character number one spoke derogatorily about character number two, I caught a  vision of the actual creation of character number two. In my mind's eye, I could see the playwright jotting down notes concerning a major personality flaw of that character. This flaw was so distasteful, that it made her recognizable when she was being spoken of, even if she was not called by name in the conversation.
   That playwright did their job well.
   I also want to do my job well. So to that effect, I have researched some resources to help in character building activities and have found some really good ones.
   Thanks to Sherry Wilson, who has provided some excellent resources for the fiction writer, I feel my characters are on the way to becoming well rounded, believable, people my readers will (hopefully) become insatiably curious about.

Sherry's worksheets can be accessed free of charge at the following link: .

Choosing a Writers Group

Writing can be very isolating work.  So, I found some writers groups--both online and off--and have enjoyed interacting with other writers. But, I also found the interaction cut into my valuable writing time and found myself frittering away too much writing time while enjoying, and definitely profiting from, the interaction.

 On the whole, though, I found writers groups to be rich sources of support, inspiration, and information.

Experienced writers tend to be generous in sharing their knowledge. The only caution I would give someone just starting out in their writing career or ministry, is to limit time spent interacting with the groups (writers groups tend to be very active) and make certain the overall goal of the group is in agreement with your goals.

Figuring out what your writing goals are might take some time, and you may end up joining some groups that you find are not compatible with your writing goals. No matter, bid a friendly adieu and find a group you are more compatible with.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Show Don't Tell: Texturize Your Writing

  Telling can be good. Showing is always better. So, whenever possible, show--don't tell. 
   If a fiction reader cannot experience what they read using all five senses (as the story allows), they are likely to put the book down and move on to something more interesting. Adding emotion, sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing to a scene is called texturizing.

Consider the following scene before texturizing:

   “It was a brilliant morning for a fishing trip. Jason’s father, Detective Charlie Wright, had promised to take him fishing for weeks, but work had always interfered. Finally, his father managed to take a day off. Apparently it had cost many favors, but he had pulled it off. They were ready to go, fishing equipment tightly packed into their horses’ saddlebags. Just as Jason mounted his horse, he saw the police station’s messenger riding toward them. His heart sank. This could only mean one thing. There was an emergency at the station.”

The same scene after texturizing
   He swung his leg over the saddle and slid his foot into the stirrup. Jason thrilled to the freshness of the dawn and the strength of the horse. Finally! The long awaited fishing trip with his father was happening.
   How many times had it been planned and then cancelled? So many Michael had given up hope it would ever happen. What favors it had cost Detective Charlie Wright to get the time off, Jason would never know.
   He didn’t care.  
   With reins in one hand and fishing poles in the other, Jason and his father urged their horses into a trot. The rattle of bridles and squeak of leather blended with sounds of birdsong, and the pristine morning glittered with promise as movement up the lane caught their attention.
   Jason's chest tightened.
   A patrol car.
   He swallowed, but the bitter taste of disappointment stayed in his mouth. What made him believe he would ever come first before his father’s career? A cloud of despondency descended and wrapped him like a shroud. He stopped for a moment, then turned his horse around. Might as well unpack the fishing gear. Of course there would be an emergency at the station….

Good Article on texture:

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Grand Retirement Road Trip

   “What do mean, ‘Start packing?’ Packing to go where?” 
   Marilyn was irritable. She had a headache. And her fuse was short. Her patience—did she ever remember having any?—was long gone. The stress of losing her job just 5 years short of retirement, with full benefits, had taken its toll, and, through the process, she had somehow been transformed from a fairly easy-going, almost-retired-60-something, into a screaming-mimi-shrew.
   She had planned so carefully for her retirement dream. 
   To celebrate 30 years of accomplishment at a top rated company, that apparently did not have the good sense to keep up with the times, she had spent 27 years planning a dream vacation as a retirement gift/project for herself and her husband. She and George had planned to take a month long drive—no highways—through the scenic back-roads of the U.S. while they photographed images for the coffee table book they planned to write and publish. Together, they had spent hours looking at maps for their trip and looking for and listing gift shops that would carry their book, and for festivals that catered to tourism.
   They had had such plans for a carefree, fun, retirement trip. Early on, George had dubbed it “The Grand Retirement Road Trip.” It had never been referred to as anything else for the past 20 years. With the early retirement forced upon Marilyn, along with the reduced income and zero health benefits, their standard of living had been dramatically lowered. And of course “The Grand Retirement Road Trip” was never going to happen now.
   Marilyn had not taken the loss of her retirement dream graciously, and she did not like herself much for it. But, even so, she felt overwhelmed and buried alive in an avalanche of negative emotions. The heat of her angry outbursts did little to melt the icy tomb she was trapped in. And she was terrified her angst would do permanent damage to the loving relationship she and George had shared for so long. 
    She had to pull herself together.
   “George McCandles, after nearly 40 years, you ought to know better than to expect me to dig through that abyss of a garage of yours looking for a suitcase I have not laid eyes on in 2 years . .. and start packing for a destination unknown no less! Besides, we cannot afford a trip to the bathroom right now.
   “Just pack honey. No questions.”  
  How had he managed to stay so calm throughout this horrendous situation? Situation? This was no situation. Situations could be temporary. Life as they knew it—or at least as they had planned it—had been changed… forever.
   Marilyn was a bottomless pit of anger and disappointment.
   “Pack what? Don’t be silly. I have work to do.”
   “Humor me Marilyn. Go get your suitcase and pack. Pack anything you like. Pack for the weekend. We leave in the morning—at least I’m leaving in the morning, with or without you.”
   George knew how to get his way when he really wanted to.  Grumbling...loudly...Marilyn headed to the garage.
   She had known all along the suitcase was in the attic and reached up to pull the stairs down. The last time it had been opened was probably when she put the suitcase up there 2 years ago, after that last vacation. Since then, all vacation money had been earmarked for “The Grand Retirement Road Trip.”  There would be no more vacations until she retired. Of course, after she lost her job, they had been forced to use every penny of the retirement trip money to pay bills they had planned to have paid off using income from her job, well before her retirement day arrived.
   The attic was hot. Why was that old footlocker where the suitcase should have been? Oh yes, she remembered asking George to bring it up here while she was still anticipating retirement. It had been taking up space in the spare room they were turning into their new retirement office. He had been so excited to remodel the place where they were going to work together on the book after “The Grand Retirement Road Trip.” They estimated the project to take at least a year or two before it was ready for publication. George had even joked about hiring a publicist for them after they became famous.
   Their dream of a lifetime, years of planning, and having great fun while doing it, had been wiped out in a moment because of a bad business decision on someone’s part. She tried to swallow the bitterness and make it go away. But it just sat heavy on her heart, poisoning her from the inside out.
   In spite of the heat, she flopped down in front of the footlocker and flipped open the latches. She raised the lid to a chest filled from top to bottom with photo boxes and albums. The oldest was on top. George must have been looking through it before he moved it from the spare room. She lifted the box of pictures from the locker and began to browsed through snapshots of their earliest days together. There were photos of the two of them before they were married, a few loose shots of their wedding and their first home. They had not had much, but they had been so happy. She picked up the picture of their first car together. She smiled. They’d been so proud of that thing. Then came pictures of their baby girl and the business they had started and built together. The baby had grown into a beautiful, successful, loving daughter. The business had folded. She hadn’t thought of that business in years.
   She remembered that businesses fail sometimes.
   Looking through the photos she appreciated, once again, what a good life she and George had built together. As photo after photo fell from her fingers back into the box, she felt the burden of self pity begin to lift. She felt her heart begin to lighten.
   It didn’t matter where they were going this weekend. Nothing could replace the dream that had been stolen from them, but she knew that she did need to begin acting like the adult she was and accept their present circumstances for what they were. 
   George had. 
   And he deserved better than a grumbling complaining wife for doing what he could with what they had. It didn’t matter what he had planned, she took a breath and determined to treasure it--whatever it turned out to be--and to add it to the photographic memories already stored away in the old foot locker.  
   She realized her behavior of the past few months had been dreadful. And to make things worse, she had taken her anger and bitterness out on the one person she loved above all others, George, who had been her faithful, loving, husband and companion for almost four decades. 
   Remorse bit into her conscience. 
   “God forgive me,” she groaned, “ I have been such a childish fool.”
   Marilyn tucked her memories away, replaced the lid to the old locker, then reached for the suitcase that had been wedged just behind it. With resolve and a new-found joy in her heart, she dragged it down the attic stairs and carried it into their bedroom where she laid it on the bed and opened it. She would pack it full with anticipation for the upcoming weekend she now looked forward to spending with the love of her life.
   She began to empty the case of remnants from the last vacation: a letterhead note pad from the resort, some miniature lotions she always intended to use but never seemed to, a few cream and sugar packets she had neglected to take into the kitchen, and an itinerary from the trip.
   It had been a really nice trip. Knowing it would be their last before her retirement, they had splurged on a trip to Cancun. She scanned the page, “Drive 5 hours to reach old Appalachia, eat only at Mom and Pop cafes if possible, and spend one night at Mountaintop Lodge.”
   Wait a minute. This isn’t the itinerary for the Cancun trip!
   She looked down the page and saw at least a dozen similar entries with a personal message at the bottom.


   You know that I had a dream too. My dream was to own a yacht and to spend lots of time on the water after we retired. I have been saving for it for years (sorry I didn’t tell you about that). But what is a yacht compared to “The Grand Retirement Road Trip,” our dream of a lifetime together?  
    Pack for a month honey.  

   Love George