The right pairings of anything can make a spectacular combination. Mouth-watering combos that prove the point include pretzels and ice cream, peanut butter and chocolate, and apples and caramel. Duets that combine musical artists of different genres, such as country singer Kenny Chesney with rocker Pink (Setting the World on Fire), can create wonderful results as well. In writing, plot points are also paired, and the combinations can make or break a story.
Winning and Losing – A Game of High Stakes
Well-defined plot points, or plot elements, are what give a story depth and stir emotions in a reader. The most important element that a character needs is a goal or problem, which must be resolved by the story’s end. A goal cannot stand alone. It is paired with another element, consequence. Failure to attain that goal or solve a problem leads to the consequence. If a character is willing to do anything to avoid failure, a story will have high-stakes tension. Life and death situations are an example of a high-stakes goal/consequence.
A Good Rollercoaster Ride
Along the way to conquering a goal, a character must have smaller successes and failures. These plot points are called requirements and forewarnings. The combination of these is what gives a story the rollercoaster effect—humps to get over, picking up speed downhill, sharp turns—the fun stuff that leaves a rider (and reader) on the edge of their seat. Requirements give readers a sense of relief that the protagonist is well on his/her way. Forewarnings are setbacks that make a reader turn the pages to see if the protagonist is going to get out of another jam.
Pairings: Dog Quiz
Now for the fun stuff. Speaking of things that go well together, some pairings in the dog world can make adorable pooches. Take the following quiz to see if you can determine what these hybrid canines are. Answers are at the bottom of the blog. No cheating, and yes, there are duplicates.
On a side note, most of the pictured dogs were rescues. Rescued does not mean damaged—it just means a wonderful dog hasn’t met the right person. Consider a rescue when you are ready to adopt. I can personally give you five good reasons why, and four of them are pictured here.
A Jack-A-Ranian (Jack Russell Terrier/Pomeranian)
B Aussiedor (Australian Shepherd/Labrador Retriever) looks like an Aussie
C Aussiedor (Australian Shepherd/Labrador Retriever) looks like a Lab
D Chiweenie (Chihuahua/Dachshund) Also known as the Taco Bell dog meets a Weiner Dog, no her ears aren’t Photoshopped!
E Morkie (Maltese/Yorkshire Terrier)
F Doxiepoo (Dachshund/Poodle)
G Goldendoodle (Golden Retriever/Poodle) A large, standard poodle and light golden mix
H Chiweenie (version 2) This one looks more like a dachshund
With the arrival of fall, the 110-degree temperatures have passed in Vegas. It is time for my annual ritual of planting fall flowers to liven up the outdoors. A dozen flowers are a cheap hobby, great therapy, and make the yard pretty. If you thought this was a blog about cannabis, it’s not.
A Thought Steamrolled into a Blog, #amwriting
As I prepared the soil in a large plastic pot, I had a thought—several thoughts actually, but I frequently can’t stay on task. I’m supposed to be working on my website right now, so don’t tell my husband I’m planting and writing a blog instead. Anyway, the pot of dirt didn’t serve any purpose. It was plain, boring, and didn’t do anything.
I chose to plant three different flowers in the pot. I could’ve put only one type of flower, and the pot would’ve been pretty; however, the chrysanthemum, morning glory, and geranium are very different in shape, size, and color, and mixed together, they made the pot more interesting and beautiful.
Flowers Are Cool
The flowers do their own thing in the pot, regardless of what the other flowers do. They have plenty of room to grow to maturity and will provide a great service while they thrive. They will grow just as well in a $5 pot as they would in a $100 pot. Pots may look different on the outside, but it’s what goes on the inside that makes the difference. The flowers are what make the pot beautiful, and not the other way around.
Bees and hummingbirds will stop by the pot for food. Ladybugs, mantis, and other bugs will probably visit for shade and protection, too. The flowers will give off oxygen to benefit everyone. Of course, my friends and family will enjoy the beauty of the flowers when they visit, and I’ll take pictures of the flowers to post on ViewBug.
Fun Tip, Ceramics Idea, #OffTopicAgain
If you don’t know what to do with all those little ceramic pieces your children or friends’ children made and gave you, they add a little something extra to flower pots. They are weatherproof, so they won’t get ruined, and it makes them functional.
When the sizzling 110 temps return, it’ll fry their leaves, and they’ll shrivel up. Sometimes, they leave seeds behind, and the seedlings take over the pot. Until then, the flowers will wave in the breeze, lift their heads to the sun, and dance in the rare Vegas showers. It doesn’t matter to the flowers if some people do not see their beauty or their contribution to nature. The flowers will continue to do their own thing in their own space and make the yard a better place while they’re in it.
If you liked reading about my flower pot, you may like to read one of my books. I’d really like that. If horror and paranormal is your preference, Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell will be on sale for .99 on Amazon from Oct. 5 – Oct. 9. That’s a bargain you shouldn’t pass up!
Being eaten by cannibals was just a setback for one of the most feared pirates in history, François l’Olonnais. The 16th century French pirate’s name may not be as well known as Blackbeard, Calico Jack, or William Kidd, but his evil reputation has hung around long after his demise in 1668.
Accounts of his life and treachery are sketchy; yet, what little is known paints a gruesome picture of the buccaneer. He honed torturing techniques, such as beheading and popping captives’ eyes out of their sockets, when he wasn’t pillaging or engaging in his favorite pastime, taking revenge on the Spanish. You can find more non-fiction on l’Olonnais, but the rest of this blog focuses on his current, and, of course, fictional activities.
The Pirate Ghost
Four hundred years after becoming a meal, l’Olonnais continues to haunt people as a ghost. All hell breaks loose when his cherished cutlass is removed from the wreckage of his ship, somewhere off the Panama coast. After the cutlass is stowed away in a trophy case out of the buccaneer’s reach, he stops at nothing to get it back. L’Olonnois believes only a special person can reclaim what is lost, and he has his sights on that person.
Cliff Klopt, the Captain
Enter the Klopt family. The patriarch, Cliff, is a mild-mannered, all-around family guy. The college graduate is a skilled mechanic, among other talents, good looking, and environmentally conscious. However, times are tough. He lost his job, wife, home, and most of his ability to reason along with his common sense. The only possession he has left is his old boat, which he decides will make a great pirate ship. Steal from the rich and give to—charity. The Robin Hood pirate, nicknamed Hoody, isn’t the best pirate in history, but he’s handy and tries to be prepared. However, nothing could possibly prepare him for an angry pirate ghost on a mission.
The Crew of the Swashbuckler
Hoody’s crew is comprised of his boys, Connor, Tommy, and Dillon. Connor is quick-witted and cautious, Tommy is creative and reckless, and Dillon is smart and carefree. The three brothers know Hoody has gone off the deep end, but they honor their mother’s dying wish—watch out for each other—and they play along.
For a while, living on the boat is fun, but a brush with real pirates is a wake-up call. The boys come up with a plan to get Hoody to quit pirating; however, the plan is shattered when they encounter l’Olonnais and he chooses one of the boys as his protégé.
The ghostly buccaneer doesn’t negotiate with the boys. Besides, he holds a major bargaining chip—Hoody. He gives the boys and hourglass and says, “The sand will run out in three days. You cannot cheat the hourglass or stop it. You have until the sand runs out to return my cutlass. If you do not, your captain dies.” With their father’s life on the line, the journey begins.
Don’t Trust a Pirate or Make Assumptions
If you enjoy Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, and Goosebumps, you may be surprised that all three series are considered middle grade books. Don’t automatically assume that middle grade means boring and babyish; books are classified that way simply because they lack dirty words, sex, and are a shorter read.
Who doesn’t like a good pirate tale after all? If it’s short enough to read on a plane or train commute—even better. Give Pirates Off the Deep End a try and see what François l’Olonnais is up to.
Book reviews have taken on a whole new meaning for me since I’ve become a published author. Before any of my work was published, I didn’t always write a review for books I’d read. Shame on me. What I didn’t realize at the time is how much the review would mean to those authors—the old quote ‘walk a mile in someone else’s shoes’ caught up with me.
How Reviews Help an Author
I can’t speak for all authors, especially best-selling ones, but I can for myself and a few close author friends. We love reviews and getting feedback on work that we’ve toiled over for years. Bad reviews aren’t our favorite, but I’ve actually had one of my friends laugh off a bad review. He said it made other people want to read what was so bad about the book. One of my favorite reviews was written by a 10-year-old who had read my young adult/middle grade book The Troubled Souls of Goldie Rich: The Zombie Next Door. She gave my book a good review and wrote how much she loved it. Nailing the material for the age group it’s written for is what I strive to do as an author. Her review confirmed that for me.
Accumulating book reviews is also great advertising for authors. Word of mouth can’t be beat in my opinion. Who doesn’t ask family and friends for advice or opinions? Reviews also can translate into increased sales and unlock better promotions for books from sellers as well.
How Do Book Reviews Help Readers
As a reader, I choose a book by its subject matter, which I gather from the back cover and readers’ reviews. Sometimes, I admit, I’m sucked in by an amazing cover, but the book has to pass the back cover test to actually get purchased. For me and many other readers, we use reviews to determine if we really want to spend our time and money on a book. A glowing review can seal the deal for me, especially if someone knowledgeable on the subject recommends it. I was very excited to get a wonderful review from Cindy Vallar, author, editor, and historian of all things pirate. In her monthly maritime history column entitled Pirates and Privateers, she posted the review of my middle grade book Pirates Off the Deep End.
I’ve walked in an author’s shoes and have been seen the light. I actually went back and wrote reviews on Amazon for books I’d read years before. Even if a book isn’t your favorite, there is probably something worth mentioning that is positive about it: good characters, fast-paced, kept my interest. To say a book ‘sucks’ without elaborating doesn’t help an author or anyone trying to learn something from your review. More useful information would be ‘I couldn’t connect with the characters’ or ‘the plot wasn’t believable.’ A simple, three-sentence review can tell a lot. Keep in mind most authors spend several years and countless hours on each book, and granted, we realize not everyone will love our work, but respect and common courtesy is always appreciated no matter what your profession.
I may never reach my goal as ‘a best-selling author’, but as long as good reviews trickle in, I’ve done my job as an author to entertain readers. So keep this blog in mind the next time you read a book, and spend a few minutes typing your opinion of it. It’s not only your chance to make your opinion count, but your time and energy will be appreciated.
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