Blog Archives

With Every Season New Growth Emerges

It’s the cycle of life, the way things were meant to be. Like I tell my children, embrace change: it is the only constant in life. And change is upon us here at Women Unplugged. I’ve enjoyed sharing with you and will continue to do so, only elsewhere… BloominThyme for you gardeners. My author website for the romance lover in you. New this year, I’ve begun a children’s series using the pen name DS Venetta called Wild Tales & Garden Thrills — fun fiction for ages 7 – 10 centered around an organic garden. Book #1 Show Me The Green! has been released with book #2 about school gardens on the way this spring.

Venetta, Dianne- Show Me the Green! (RGB)

Also new this spring is book #4 in my popular Silver Creek series. Only With You takes readers on an adventure in the sky as helicopter pilots Roan Phillips and Kelly Jones struggle to save their friends from an avalanche. It’s a mountain adventure you won’t soon forget.

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For the gardening enthusiasts, don’t miss my annual “Authors in Bloom” where your favorite authors share their gardening tips and favorite recipes, plus offer prizes and SWAG! It’s 10 days of nonstop giveaways beginning April 7th.

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Sign up for my quarterly newsletter and be the first to know what’s new and exciting. But wherever that might be, let’s keep in touch. Here’s to a fantastic 2016!

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Do something that scares you

9780778317869_TS_prd_revI’ll admit, when I came up with the idea for The Ones We Trust—a story with a military bent—I was more than a little nervous about writing it. I didn’t grow up in a military family. I’ve never lived in a military town. The number of soldiers I have as friends can be counted on one hand. What did I know about war stories? And more importantly, could I do one any justice?

A military angle is one I knew would hit home with a lot of readers. Fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, cousins, friends or neighbors… pretty much every American family has been touched in some way by war. What if I got it wrong, and offended people along the way?

Because war doesn’t just take place on a battlefield, and our soldiers aren’t the only heroes. What about the parents who send off their sons and daughters, the spouses and siblings and children left waiting at home? They are just as heroic and courageous, their sacrifices different, maybe, but just as great as the men and women fighting on the front lines. Above all, I wanted to be respectful to everyone, not just the soldiers but also the people who love them.

But I wrote the story anyway, and it was scary as hell, but The Ones We Trust is about more than just war. Yes, the story hinges around what, exactly, happened to the soldier on the battlefield, but the real story is about the people left behind. About how they cope and carry on. About how they find hope for the future. That’s what I hope sticks with readers the most–that even after great tragedy, there can be a better tomorrow.

A lesson in perseverance

My second novel, The Ones We Trust, comes out in less than three weeks. Three weeks! I have a million things to do before the launch, and less than three weeks to do them in. You’d think I’d be better prepared, seeing as I wrote the first draft of this book all the way back in 2009.9780778317869_TS_prd_rev

Yes, you read that right. This little baby hasn’t officially been born yet, and already she’s six years old. If she were human, she’d be walking, going to school, and reading at a third-grade level already. She’d have adult teeth! She was also the first novel I ever actually completed.

Here’s a harsh truth about getting published: hardly any writer ever sells their first book. The first one is generally considered a practice novel, the one where you learn as you go and make lots of mistakes along the way, the biggest thinking anyone would ever want to read it besides your mother. You’re supposed to write it, shove it in a box under your bed, and move on to the next one, one where you actually (kinda sorta) know what you’re doing. I was fully prepared to do that, too, except this story wouldn’t leave me alone. It kept whispering to me from under the bed. Fix me, it said. I have a story to tell.

So I rewrote it, and then I rewrote it again and again (and again). I fixed the tone and the voice, matured my main character, Abigail, deepened her backstory to intensify the conflict. I added a subplot and a whole slew of new characters. I killed my darlings and switched genres, multiple times. I lost a lot of sleep and I shed a lot of tears.

In the end, one plotline never changed—the slain soldier’s story. Though we never actually meet him on the page, The Ones We Trust is built around what, exactly, happened to him on the battlefield. His family needs to know in order to move on, and Abigail is determined to help them by uncovering the truth. This plotline was the crux of every single rewrite, a red thread leading the way.

We writers talk a lot about how some stories need to be told. This was one of them. The little story that could. It took me six years and a million wasted words, but when it hits the shelves in three short weeks, all the work will be worth it.

Juggling Act

These days I find myself juggling hats. Genres, actually, and very different ones at that! And when I say different, I mean it. This year, I’ve decided to publish a children’s fiction series that’s been simmering in my heart for several years. Centered around my love for gardening, my love for children and the discovery of all things new and nature, Show Me The Green! is the result. It’s a middle grade novel filled with real-life adventures in the garden, inspired from my years volunteering in my kids’ school garden. Intended as a fun but educational read, I think of it as “Judy Moody meets the Magic Tree House.”

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Kids will learn the basics of organic gardening as they follow the adventures of Lexi and Jason Williams. It’s completely different from my adult romance novels, but equally as compelling a story for me to write. So much so, I’ve three other books already outlined and ready for some keyboard action!

However, the process can be exhausting. The ebook format will be full color which required a lot of thought and collaboration with illustrators. The new website has also proven a challenge, as I had to conceive a completely new look. The good news? It’s been a lot of fun. The bad news? It’s put my current romance series on the back burner which is NO fun. I mean, I’m excited about it, too, but a gal only has so many hours in the day to write and create and, oh yeah, be a mother and a wife on the home front. Enter summer break, and we’re talking serious challenge juggling the three. Can I do it?

Do I have a choice?

Simple answer, no. When the muse strikes, an author will follow. When the family calls, a mother will answer. It’s just the way I’m wired. I will say it keeps me young. (And at my age, that’s a good thing!) Wanna know more about my new children’s books? Check out D.S. Venetta

Writing Exercise: 5 Words into Fiction

There’s a writer’s exercise I believe to be great fun (pretty sure I’ve shared about it here before). I highly recommend!

You’re given five random words by someone, anyone, and must fuse them together to create a vignette or flash fiction piece. It’s a challenging way to get the creative juices flowing, and it can be really satisfying to see what you come up with… even when it’s almost too contrived, as my example below seems when I reread it.

Some years back I was given the words binge, crow, foray, refract, and wile. (I can’t remember now who’d dealt them to me.)

 

Her hair, beautiful and harsh, is the color of a crow. This is by careful choice, and she has it dyed once a month, every third Tuesday. She loves the mystique of the hue, the way it refracts the light as a wile, almost like there’s some blue to it.

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Image courtesy of khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Noah would have adored it, and so of course this is why. It is for him.

It was a month after he disappeared that she first had it colored. His foray into nothingness, hers into vanity. Because it is the single binge she’s found that stills the hurt, quiets the shame. Eating didn’t do it; she felt empty. Not drinking; she felt a waste of herself. And sleeping with Noah’s best friend, Mart, only buried guilt in her stomach and in her dreams.

So it is also for her, the hair and the rest, with the primping and pampering and perfection. It all says she is significant and strong and courageous, that she is and will be okay.

When she looks in the mirror to see what Noah left behind, she is satisfied by what she sees and she tells herself, You will be okay.

 

If there’s one thing I like about this little piece, it’s that the character comes through so strongly. I like her found sense of empowerment, that she has a thing—a simple thing – proving that, really, it comes down to decision and perspective—that affirms her status of being okay.

Now, so many years after writing this, a wholly different person than I was then, I relate to her. I appreciate her resolve, and that she herself has claimed the way it will be.

Do you want to try? Leave a comment below and I’ll give you five words.

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