CONGRATULATIONS TO D.L. FINN FOR RWISA RISING WRITER FOR NOVEMBER. MS. FINN IS AN ACCOMPLISHED
AND VERSATILE WRITER. SHE IS A MEMBER OF RRBC AND RWISA.
TODAY SHE IS SHARING AN EXCERPT FROM HER
BOOK, "THIS SECOND CHANCE."
Excerpt from “THIS SECOND CHANCE”
They hovered over the familiar woman in the wedding dress. She looked terrified, and on the day that she should be at her happiest.
“You are getting a chance most do not get. You understand that, right?” Zelina asked.
He meekly nodded at her. Her brown eyes narrowed, piercing his soul. She clearly didn’t like him—not that he blamed her.
“Good. We are clear. You give Rachael her happy ending. Then you can move on and let go of some of that bad you did,” Zelina said, pursing her lips tightly together.
Her pale silver gown flowed around her like an ocean wave ebbing in and out. He never understood how angels’ clothes did that yet, at the same time, kept their form enough to cover them modestly.
“I understand, and I’m grateful I’ve been given this second chance. I won’t let you, or Rachael, down. I’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen,” he replied, more confidently than he felt.
Although it confused him that he was being given this chance, he’d never question this angel. He certainly didn’t deserve it and hadn’t had a moment’s peace since his death.
Everything he’d done flashed before him—over and over. He was relieved to have a break from it and a chance to finally do some good, but he was merely a ghost—a soul, or a man without a body. What could he do to take away that expression on Rachael’s face?
“Yes, it is a break from your much-earned reflections.” Zelina crossed her arms, obviously irritated at him.
He felt his face redden as he nodded back at her. In this form he felt all the physical and emotional reactions he had when he was alive, but stronger. He needed to remember that angels always knew what he was thinking. He had no privacy now.
“I had to watch Rachael make some bad mistakes. I will not do this again; this is too important. You must figure out how to fix this and make your atonement. You know the rules. If I see you doing any harm, I will send you back. This is your only chance to do some good. I will be watching if you need some guidance, but I think you will figure it out,” Zelina finished, suddenly seeming taller to him.
Her black hair glowed as she put her hands on her hips with her wings fully extended. He never tired of seeing the shimmering, feathered wings that reminded him of a peacock tail. They were beautiful. Under all that splendor, he knew, there was a ferociousness akin to a bear protecting her young. Rachael was her cub.
When her wings were tucked behind her, unseen, Zelina seemed perfectly ordinary. She could walk among the humans unnoticed. She turned her gaze on him again and scowled. She oversaw people like him—the tough cases. He sighed. Zelina responded to his sigh with a smirk. On Earth that look would have infuriated him, coming from a woman. Now it scared him.
A sudden chill ran through him. “Is someone else here?” he asked.
“It is not a someone; it is more of a thing, and it is what you are up against. It has no conscience, unlike even someone like you; your conscience peeked out after your reign of terror. This thing has no empathy, no love—only hate. I cannot hear what it thinks. It is the purest form of evil and is called an evildwel. This one has consumed its human—even in death. You had one in control of you, but a part of you remained. Death might have saved you, or you might have fought it off someday. I do not know things like that. What I do know is that this evildwel means Rachael harm. Be careful, and do not disappoint me,” Zelina warned, and then she vanished.
In the corner of the room, there was no form for him to make out, only thick, dark mist. Did the evildwel know he was there? He suddenly wished Zelina hadn’t left him. He was afraid, yet he was going to do what Zelina requested—not because he had no choice, but because he had a lot of things to make up for. It was time to get to work.
Rachael’s detachment from the image in the mirror smoothing the satin, off-white wedding gown puzzled her. After all, this was the same scalloped three-quarter dress, showing off her newly trim waist, that she’d pictured herself in after seeing it on a Bridal magazine cover over twenty years ago. Frowning, Rachael adjusted the tiny yellow roses and baby’s breath in her Gibson-styled, lightened auburn hair with her set of pink, acrylic nails.
“Not bad for age thirty-seven and three kids,” Rachael tried to reassure the pale image in the mirror.
It didn’t work. The urge to rip off the dress and fake nails and make a dash out the back door was even stronger now.
The book title must grab
my interest in just a few words. I believe most readers choose to peruse the book based on its title. I personally do not like titles that are so
long I feel as if I have read the book.
• I want my curiosity to be peaked.
• So that I pick up the book and read the
• Then I will open it and randomly read a few
paragraphs as I flip through the pages.
Here are sample of titles
that are intriguing and eye-catching:
To Kill A Mockingbird
Gone With the Wind
Gift From The Sea
And, I did buy and
enjoyed every one of them. My favorite is Desiree.
Certainly longer titles
have worked for many successful authors:
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Fanny Hill, or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure
Alexander and the Wonderful, Marvelous, Excellent,
Under the Greenwood Tree or The Mellstock Quire
Often it is the non-fiction books that
have the longer titles. My book is a perfect example: Outshine: An Ovarian
Cancer Memoir. Just having "Outshine" did not seem enough. Just
"Ovarian Cancer" sounded too boring. So, it became Outshine: An
Ovarian Cancer Memoir.
Novy's Son is an unusual title and it is my hope that the title will spark the potential reader to find out what Novy means. So far, the title has been successful.
My latest novel, Davida: Model & Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens clearly states what the book is about. By adding the name of the famous sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, people familiar with art and $20 gold piece will be likely to pick up a copy.
some thoughts to consider:
1.Does the title give at least a strong hint as to
what or who the book is about? 2.Is a character or sentence from the book a clever
title? 3. Is my title original? Google to see if other books
have the same title. 4. Have two or three ideas and then ask friends,
family, or members of a book club for feedback.
If the title is intriguing or informative
enough for the potential reader to pick it up, then it is the right title. The
most important part of selecting a title is that it is meaningful to you. You
must be proud of the title and feel good standing behind it.
On August 6, 2017, author Cynthia Hilston wrote this article. I found it to be very informative and helpful. She is the author of two books, a stay at home mom of three kids, and an avid reader.
There it was for probably the hundredth time on the sign outside my local library: writers group, meeting 8/18 2-4:00 PM. Okay, maybe not the hundredth time, but how many times did I drive past the library, which is about two point five miles from my house, and see that group advertised and not do a darn thing? The sign was one of those LED types that showed all the happenings at the library, from book discussion groups to story times for children. And my library had a writers group.
Of course, every time I saw that sign, I wondered, What do they do at those meetings? Do they just sit there and write? Do writing exercises? Or do they read each other’s work while there and comment on it?
I imagined a small group, maybe four people tops, sitting around a table with pens in hand and paper in front of them. These folks were nameless and faceless and voiceless. Strangers. I couldn’t really believe that there were actually other people in my own city who were writers like me!
I’d been writing for over a year last August. I was content with my progress at creating a finished book and self-publishing it, but I’d had to ask several friends to read it and edit for me. Looking back, I feel like I was pulling teeth in some regards, because only about half of them got back to me, and I didn’t wish to push them into doing something they may not have wanted to do in the first place — except that they probably would have felt guilty had they said no to reading my first draft.
While I was grateful to that group of friends, I knew that to ask my friends again for help of such a magnitude would be too much. I was writing two more books, and let’s be honest — most people aren’t writers and editors.
So I thought, Why not give this mysterious writers group a try?
On August 18, 2016, I approached the library with a mixed feeling of nervous energy and excitement. Every footstep carried me closer to the light brick building I had known and visited plenty of times in the thirteen years of living here. But this time was different. I held tightly in my grip the first chapter of my current work in progress, thinking I needed to bring something along.
I entered the library and asked the lady behind the circulation desk where the writers group met. She directed me to a meeting room near the back of the building, past the computers. When I stepped into the room, at least ten people of all ages (well, thirty and up) were seated around the table and all looked at me at the same time. The chair at the head of the long table was unoccupied, so I took a seat and offered a smile.
The woman to my left and the man to my right immediately introduced themselves to me, and a minute later, the man who ran the group (and worked at the library) told me his name (let’s call him Jack) and asked me to tell them a little about myself. I was at ease in this group, for they were welcoming and pleasant. And I wasn’t the only newbie that day. Another woman (let’s call her Kate) about the same age as me (mid-thirties) was there for the first time. Kate smiled at me across the table. I was at home.
I sat there for the next two hours and got a handle on how the group functioned. Everyone present had read everyone else’s work and had made comments on the content and suggestions for grammatical or punctuation changes. As they went around the table, whoever was next in the lineup got their turn to have their work critiqued by the others. Not everyone spoke, but most did. I could tell most of these folks had been meeting for a while. Their easygoing manner was inviting. There was plenty of humor. No one was offensive or rude. It was like stepping into a group of good friends who were hanging out and enjoying some good food and drinks.
At the end, Jack asked me what I thought and if I’d like to come back. “Yes!” I said. I gave him my email address, and he explained how the group worked: They met every two weeks. I needed to send him up to ten pages of my stuff before the first week was up, so he could then send out everyone’s stuff about a week before the next meeting, giving us all enough time to read and comment.
I was so enthusiastic that I sent him my chapter the very next day, even though I had a week to do so! And so began the tradition that’s continued for almost a year.
People have come and gone from the group over the last several months, but there is a core group that keeps coming. I have had the pleasure of reading what I consider good stories from a variety of genres from these folks: regular and cozy mysteries, romance, horror, nonfiction, short stories, sci-fi, and more. There have been a few recent additions to the group who have become core as well, and it’s been amazing to see how the dynamic has stayed positive and inviting, with the humor never far away, since I joined.
What’s funny is that some people will shy away from joining groups like this out of fear. If you’re a writer, maybe you just write for yourself, and that’s fine. There are, however, many writers who want to get their stuff out there. They write for their own pleasure and to share it with other people. To allow fear of what others might say about your work is debilitating. If you are serious about publishing your work, others will eventually read it…at least I would assume that’s what you want if you’re publishing it!
There have been times when what I submitted to the writers group needed some work, sometimes quite a bit of work. I have gotten tough to swallow feedback, especially when it’s right in the moment. Let’s face it — our writing is kind of like our baby, our kid. We sort of fall in love with it (at least some of us do), and it’s hard to hear someone rip it apart. Okay, that was harsh. I have not had my stuff ripped to shreds. No one in the group has ever discouraged me from writing or said I was wasting my time. No one name calls or says that the work of another is only good for wiping someone’s backside.
Constructive criticism is meant to build up. It may be tough to take, but swallow it down and let it digest a bit. Realize that not everything you write it going to be stellar. Some of it’s downright crap. And that’s okay. Because you know what?
You and I, we work at it again and again. And come back better and stronger for it. I am extremely and deeply grateful for my writers group. I have told them this a few times, and I hope they believe it.
I recently finished a whole manuscript with them. Ten months of edits on that baby have improved the story tremendously, and without this group of amazing people, I wouldn’t have been able to have the finished product I do.
If you’ve been looking for a writers group, check out your local library. If your library doesn’t have one, maybe there’s one in the next city over or in the county. In this digital age, there’s no excuse not to pop online and do a search. If you’re still out of luck, perhaps suggest to someone at the library that they start a group…or even offer to run it if they don’t have someone for the job. If you know at least a couple of other writers who are looking for a group like this and they’re local, start a group that meets in your homes, a coffee shops, or wherever works for you. But make the commitment to meet regularly. Have a routine, a schedule. Hold each other accountable to it.
If none of that works, there are plenty of groups online. It’s not as great as face-to-face contact, but it’s better than nothing. Facebook has loads of groups for writers, but I recommend 10 Minute Novelists. This isn’t a group to share your story directly, but every Tuesday is Buddy Day, and you can ask for someone to read your story and edit, often in exchange for doing the same for them. Don’t expect people to line up to read your stuff if you aren’t willing to give back.
Besides the invaluable feedback on my stories I’ve gotten from my writers group, I have made friends with them. There have been times when the subject matter of a story has triggered something for someone in the group, and real life stories have been shared in that meeting room. Stories of loss and heartache. Tears have been shed. Hugs given. Our hearts bared.
We’re writers. We write about our deepest fears, desires, and our heart’s song, so why wouldn’t we also express those thoughts face-to-face? That sort of genuine interaction isn’t easily come by.
Friendship. Constructive criticism. People reading your story. Improving your writing.
What’s not to love? I’d say it’s a no-brainer. Go join a writers group!
Even as a young
girl and now as a mature adult, I write from my heart. When I began journaling
as a pre-teen I wrote about my unanswered questions, fears, doubts, and dreams.
That process continued throughout the next seventy some years resulting in
three published books and several articles.
about subjects for which I feel passionate. As a preteen growing up in a
dysfunctional home, I wrote about the heavy drinking, abuse, and abandonment with which I was surrounded. Expressing my emotions and dreaming what life could be
like helped me to formulate my goals and hopes. Unconsciously I created the
person I wanted to be which was different from my two primary role models, my parents.
I became a
holistic nurse and developed my own practice as a nurse therapist. My writings
were now newsletters and articles based on health/wellness and
spirituality.I was fulfilling the dream
of helping people to become healthier physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
published book, Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir was definitely written from my heart. It started out as a
journal about my experiences when diagnosed with cancer. It soon became a book,
which has touched the hearts of men and women facing cancer or other difficult
novels I have had published are about family dynamics,
which are very important
influences as to the type of adults we become. The loss of the “Iron John” in
the relationship between fathers and sons is quite evident in many families. Mine included. Men must know how to raise their sons showing and teaching them unconditional
love and respect.
writes from the heart, the author is in touch with those things of which he/she
is passionate about. It comes from the deepest part of ourselves…our soul.
If you are a writer or dream to be one, I have two suggestions:
1. Follow your dream. Do not let self doubt or fear stop you.
2. Read, read, & read more, and join Rave Reviews Book Club.
We just completed our 2017 Writer's Conference & Book Expo. It was a beautiful, educational, supportive, and inspirational event. There were author's booths, seminars/sessions, door prizes, and a scavenger hunt. Most important it was an opportunity to meet and talk to other independent authors.