Tag Archives: writing

Learning to write, featured writing instruction resource, and a lesson.

The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile

Please join me at my new web home JessieGunderson.com and don’t forget to like the Blog Schmog Facebook community HERE.

Learning the craft of fiction is sometimes a tricky and expensive business. But we are on a single income budget with a whole passel of kids to boot, so expensive and my own ambitions (no matter how noble) don’t go together.

That’s why Amazon, the library, and author/agent blogs where the craft of writing it taught and discussed are places I like to frequent.

Although, the howling toddler flopping at my feet as I attempt to type this quick post is making me reconsider the other options; check into a loony bin, fly to the moon….

The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman is a hand-me-down book from an author friend of mine. But don’t let my worn copy deceive you. It is well-loved! This is a great instructional resource to keep and refer back to.

Each chapter addresses a topic aimed at “staying out of the rejection pile” with examples of errors, ways to fix trouble spots and then ends with a lesson to apply to your own work in progress. From presentation to dialogue and on to more advanced techniques like pacing, this is an invaluable resource. It also happens to be concise and chapters move along quickly so you can learn a lot in a short amount of time especially if you apply the end of chapter lessons.

Your Mission #1: Here is a lesson from my reading that I enjoyed. Join me if you like by leaving your “homework” in the comments below or on a blog post and linking back.

Lesson from the chapter on setting:

Lukeman challenges writers to train themselves to be attentive to their surroundings, and by learning to better observe, infuse richer settings in their writing. Find ten unusual details in the room you are in and write them down. It doesn’t matter how small. Then see if you can convey a feeling or leave an intentional impression about the setting using these details.

Here’s mine:

  1.  Dust clung to the blades of the fan.
  2. A candle tipped out of rank on a wall sconce of otherwise tidy, crimson candles.
  3. Laundry spilled out of the hamper, slumped like an old man, weary and tired.
  4. Neatly stacked books occupied every flat surface, holding up random wads of this and that.
  5. A well-loved quilt was spread over the stilted log bed.
  6. Pages from Parents Magazine littered the floor.
  7. A white scratch marred the wall painted with midnight forest green.
  8. Grandmother’s old rugs made a cozy place for feet to land on the hardwood floor.
  9. The faint smell of heated rice and lavender filled the small space.
  10. A lone wooden block lay abandoned in the corner.

Your Mission #2: What can you gather from my surroundings?



Filed under Book Blab, Journey to Publication, Twenty Something

Do you like the new theme?

I needed a change. Loud is so much older now than he was in the header picture. Not to mention my forest landscape is quickly changing to a more cold looking scene. Sooo…. I am trying out this theme but I’m not sure I like it. It seems a little busy. But I do like the drop down menu’s for pages, which I might take advantage of. I’m not sure if I like dates on the posts or not.

I might have to go back, I love that little nose!

What do you think? What are your favorite blog features?

Talking about blogs and such, I’m setting up a website for my writing. What would you like to see on a website (not an ongoing blog)? Or if not what “you’d like”, what would you include if you were me? 🙂 I can have up to 5 pages. One is the homepage and I thought I’d do a guestbook, other than that it’s a free for all.


Filed under Random, Reality, Ruse

Fun with Characterization and Casting

I’m having a blast casting for my latest novel. A work in progress (WIP). I’ve come up with some creative ways for me, a visual learner, to get a better glimpse into the different personalities so that the characters aren’t all mirrors of one another, ultimately mirroring only my thoughts and personality. How boreing would that be? 🙂

So here is a colague I made of a minor character in the story named Hope. You can see that it is in a spiral notebook. The notebook folds completely flat and had fairly thick pages that I paint on, colague on and write on. It goes everywhere with me and even keeps sermon notes, research, sometimes a shopping list or two.

I used magazines and elmers glue so it isn’t expensive but gives me a quick reference when I need a reminder. I will put notes and thoughts on this character in the handprint later.


Filed under My WIP


I just couldn’t resist.

If you put much stock in how people reach your blog, you might be a bit disheartened. Either that or you’ll get a good laugh!

Today I logged in to find an inquiry search that ended up here at little ol’ Blog Schmog. And I’m going to insert a picture to drive home my point. This is my beat up, rickety little chicken coop. Actually it’s quite a cool story what came along with that coop but the point here is the internet search.

I’m hoping this summer to remodel it. More blue tarps and more baling twine.

Speaking of blue tarps. You also might remember my blue tarp barn. Or my babies running around outside with nothing but boots on. NO, their mother doesn’t condone it. I should have said toddlers. You know, they are the kind that can put their own shoes on but nothing else! 🙂 

What else? Well, a friend of mine dreamed that she came to visit and in the front yard, my hound dog was chasing a raccoon. Not too far fetched. Are you sensing a theme?

We are a bit redneck.

Truly, if you met me at Wal Mart you might not get that sense. After all, I’ll be hefting a 50lb bag of dog food into  a cart that is spilling over with kids all by my lonesome while my hubby shops for ammo.  Haha, I’m kidding, he doesn’t own a gun.

I do! 😉

Not only that.If you could follow us out to the rig, and let me tell you, it’s classy, you’d see I can multitask! I usually have a load of garbage for the dump. We don’t let that stuff hang around the yard! I drive a great big ol’ poo brown suburban. I call it Latte colored! The kids say I need to wash it but that’s what the rain is for. Hey, I’m just being frugal!

So, with all that being said, I can’t imagine why someone came here of all places to learn “How rednecks say hello.”

It’s a mystery.

I bet they were researching for a novel on the classy people of North Idaho.

What r’ the funniest searches ya’ll’ uv’ seen on yur blogs?


Filed under True Tales

Who knew I could write romance.

My first ever attempt at writing romance won a contest. It’s G rated people so don’t get uppity! I thought you might get a kick out of it.

The rules were, make a case for love using a lawyer as one of the characters, in 1500 wds or less.

So without further ado, here is my Case for Love contest entry.

“You did what?” Alice shrieked.

Trial lawyer Clive Stellers never balked in an argument but somehow this felt different. He had to make her understand, yet disappointing her made him feel the same crushing pressure he had when he’d failed the Bar that first go around. I did this for the both of us, why can’t she see that? Not wanting to be accused of interrogating her, Clive resorted to begging. “Please Alice, I don’t want to fight.”

“But, how could you?” She threw her hands up pacing the room like a racehorse anxious to run.

He didn’t want to frustrate her but she sure was cute when she got mad. Unruly blond tresses dangled just below the shoulder, a pink flush painted across her nose and cheeks. And the fire in her deep blue eyes sent shivers of desire tingling up his spine, numbing his intellect. That’s why he loved her more with each passing year. Home from the challenges of a day in court, he could hug his wife and be transported instantly to a simpler time. With Alice, Clive felt young, ornery, irresponsible. That’s why he’d done it. It was because he loved her, because she made him giddy with desire to please her. Why can’t she see it’s because I need her?

“Clive, you’re a grown man! Why can’t you act like it?” She wore the oversized Anaheim Angel’s shirt he’d bought her on one of their first dates.

“Alice be reasonable, please. I thought you’d enjoy the company. Especially when I’m gone weekends.”

The creases in her brown softened slightly. “How many years till you can retire again?” She stopped pacing and collapsed onto the couch, resting her chin on her hands. “I don’t want company, I want you Clive.”

Taking up position beside his wife, Clive wiped the sweat from his palms on the soft micro suede. “Hon…”

Alice slapped the back of his hand and shot to her feet like a jack-in-the-box. “Don’t DO that to the couch!” She put her hands to her head tangling her fingers in the mass of curls.

Clive’s toes felt like they sat in a bed of coals with both pleasure and frustration playing his resolve. “But Hon, it’s not fair to her.” He nodded toward the garage door. “Can you just give her a chance, it’s very expensive you know.” Instinctively he stroked the couch despite her reprimand.

“Where will she stay Clive, we don’t have the room. I certainly don’t have the time despite your assumption that I sit at home with nothing to do all day. I have a life, I have friends, I have work to do. Did you even think about me?”

“That’s the one thing I was thinking about.” Clive burst to his feet feeling like a geyser about to erupt. Clenching his fists he stepped into her path. “Alice, I did this for you.”

She stopped pacing and allowed him to pull her into his arms.

His heart erupted instead. Oh how I love you Alice Stellers.

“Clive, it’s just so sudden.” She pulled herself back from his embrace just enough to look into his eyes. He could see that the fight had left them. Passionate blue brimming with love stared back at him.

“Will you just hear me out?” He stroked her shoulders then leaned in to plant a kiss on her forehead. “Wipe those creases and give me five minutes to convince you.”

She cocked her head to the side and set her jaw in an “I know you” smirk.

“Clive?” Raising her eyebrows like she did whenever he switched into “lawyer mode” she placed her small hand on his chest just above his pounding heart and tapped the exact rhythm with one long red fingernail.

Alice had the uncanny gift of making his head spin.

“Two minutes.” She flashed him a seductive smile.

“Fine, two minutes.”

Scratching his thinning hair as he attempted to scrape away the numbing effect of her beauty, he mentally prepared his brief.

“Are you out of words for once in your life?” Amused, Alice reclaimed her seat on the couch, crossing her ankles, waiting for his plea.

All he saw were those wiggling bare toes and he wanted to crawl on his knees and kiss them. That wouldn’t start them on a path to resolution. Sighing, he placed a hand on his chin then traced his neck all the way down to the choking collar of his dress shirt. He released the top button.

With a playful smile Alice giggled. She loved to make him squirm.

Looking at the ceiling, he tried not to imagine those faded blue jeans hugging her legs. They had once fit loosely but a couple of years and a few too many glasses of the sweet wine she enjoyed with her tiramisu, helped ensure a form fit. He didn’t mind one bit. Then there were those pale curvacious ankles peeking out from the bottom of her pants. His heart beat triple-time. Never had he imagined the intensity of his desire for her could grow, not wane. Only at home would she dress so casually. Only for him. And undress too. I’m a lucky man. He swallowed hard.

“May it please the wife. I intend to show that the purchase in question is evidence not of wanton passion as you might surmise, but the symbol of my eternal, unending love and affection for you, my lifelong companion.”

“I freely stipulate that several of my previous anniversary gifts have been lacking in personal touch, culminating in last year’s silk sheet debacle. I pondered long and hard concerning a more appropriate course of action to take on this, our thirteenth year of wedded bliss. No mere trifle token could possibly express the depth of my love and appreciation for your patience and devotion when I am unable to return at your beck and call.”

“When I saw the lacy collar in the store window and her heart was beating with effusive admiration, inspiration struck. This would be the year that I present a gift that keeps on giving even when I’m detained at the office. What could be more appropriate when I cannot instantly appear, than a companion whose only desire is to please her master?”

Purposely fainting back onto the couch Alice rolled her eyes and laughed. “You are over the top, Clive.”

“I beg the court for a change of venue and just thirty seconds more.” Without waiting for a response he grabbed her hand, eagerly steering toward the garage and her waiting escort.

Once in the spacious garage Clive turned toward his wife willing her to perceive the genius of his plan. With both of her hands in his he proceeded with his closing argument.

“In summary, Hon, I beg you to give Wilhelmina Fratchell Stellers just one look and opportunity to meet you to pour out her waiting affection.”

“You are so strange. This is only a dog we are talking about.”

“Not just any dog. Look at her, Hon.” He opened the kennel and out bounded the wrinklest little long eared puppy who struggled to avoid stepping on her silky black ears as she headed straight for Alice. He stole a peek at his wife’s expression and saw a look of surprise.

“I’m not gonna fall for this she’ll poop and chew…” She couldn’t continue her argument. Wilhelmina stumbled and rolled onto the cold cement floor.

Years of suppressing a motherly instinct caught up with her in an instant just as Clive had calculated. She scooped the puppy into her arms as he threw in his last plea. “Don’t you just love her? How can you say no to that face?”

“How did you find a hound? I expected some ratty little terrier.” The puppy answered her with a sloppy kiss to the nose.

“A drive to the Valley was hardly a second thought once I heard they had them. I know you love hounds.”

“Yes but, you’ve said our yard was too small.”

“A little inconvenience and creativity is nothing compared to your happiness.”

Alice grinned, her face giddy with youthful glee. “Ah, I love you, you old sap.”


Filed under Short Fiction

Redneck Story Board

writing, craft, plotting, story board, fiction, fun

“What’s this?” You ask. (By the way how do you punctuate that little sentence?)

This is my Redneck Story Board! I’ve been learning a lot about the craft of writing a fiction novel and I realized that my story needed drastic revisions. So, like Walt Disney, I took it to the drawing board. This little exercise resulted in cutting out 10 thousand words from my 30 K manusript but I do believe the result is a much better story. Now to fill in the gaps.

Say hello to Taz, who is looking in the window and wave at my three horses. Nevermind the standard issue (in redneck land) blue tarp barn.

Bye for now.


Filed under My WIP

The doctor served me lemonade.

The doctor, my neighbor and friend who’se been trapped inside his own body over a year now, spoke volumes to me yesterday when I visited. Reading to him weekly has been my custom since the day of God’s harebrained plan about reading. If you’ve missed the two posts explaining what has happened so far be sure to read up.  The link takes you to the first post and from there you can read the second.

I showed up a little late after wolfing down my dinner. Every day I’ve visited before I have relied on my chatty nature to get us through the evening. Jane takes her daughter to youth group while the Doctor watches me talk and eventually read. Many times he tires, whether from my droning 🙂 or the mental taxation of keeping active when everything you once knew is so unattainable.

The extent of his movement has been one uncooperative arm and occasionally fidgeting of his feet. He rarely has moved his head though he can when being deliberate. I’ve received one goulish smile and during the first ever visit he attempted to whisper “Hi”.

Setting down my bag I walked over to the 60yr old Doctor’s wheelchair to say hello. It shocked me when he began to talk. Labored and extremely quiet, but talking none the less!  I shook my head and laughed. “You’re talking! Just a minute let me get my jacket off.”

I had to lean in close to hear what he was saying but the short conversation that ensued left me baffled, feeling blessed and encouraged.  “How are you?” He smiled broad and beconed me closer.

“I’m great. You don’t know how excited I am to hear you talk! I’ve been praying for you.”

He shook his head yes and smiled again. I couldn’t help myself, my heart bubbled over, elated and a little scared. I leaned in and gave him a huge hug! He wrapped both arms around me and hugged me back!

I pulled back and looked into his eyes now sparkling with new life. “You look great. Is this hard for you to talk. What I mean is, is it physically taxing?”

Shaking his head vigorously yes he scrunched up his face as if to protest the work! He made a FACE! Do you know how huge this is? The man had a massive stroke over a ago. Doctors say that after a year a person’s progress is pretty much stunted and yet each time I visit, he gets better and better.

I never read to him last night instead we visited. Sometimes pointing, sometimes with whispered words from him and a waterfall of words from me. Sometimes he made faces that explained his meaning. At one point while talking about the difficulties of breaking through the barrier that the mind imposes on him he mouthed to me, “We all need to slow down.”

In other words, life it so short. This is a man who had everything the world could ask for… success, financial stability, a beautiful family. One moment in the middle of the night took it all away and he was forced to slow down. Yet, he says “We all need to slow down.”

Forced into his situation I have a hard time believing I would have that perspective. I fear I would beg God to let me die and become bitter with time. Please Lord, let it not be so!

My Bible Study this morning reiterated that message with this passage…

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough touble of its own” Matt. 6:33-34

I am witnessing a miracle!

God, change my perspective as I seek to let go of my tomorrow’s.

How will you slow down?

This post is featured at Blog Schmog’s Fuget ABout it Carnival. Read how others make lemonade out of lemons HERE!


Filed under FAB Friday Carnval, Random, Reality, Ruse, True Tales