The Write Stuff August, 2019

COME PLAY WITH US

Kristine Hall

What fun we’ve had rolling out this new author branding! I just love talking books of all sorts but especially the best books about Texas, and Texas authors.
Our first Bluebonnet Book Box giveaway was such a success! Thank you to everybody who played. Mr. Green drew the winner out of the hat, and we were very pleased he didn’t eat it before we could see who won. Congratulations, Kristine Hall from Lone Star Literary Life!

Now as the Dog Days of summer descend upon those of us in sweltering Texas, what better way to beat the heat than to read a good book. Check out Rhett DeVane’s take on Southern fiction in our Writers’ Corner. Her novel, The Madhatter’s Guide to Chocolate, will be included in our August gift box, so you get a twofer on books along with Over the Pass, and Other Stories. And lots of fun wine and dog stuff as well. Don’t forget to enter!

I’ve been writing away this summer, and am so pleased to have finished the first draft of another novel. Now, while my agent is shopping The Angels’ Share to publishers, the real work begins on this new one. If you write, you know what this means 🙂 But I’m one of those weird authors who loves revision.

If you’re a writer, we’d love to hear what you’re working on. If you’re a reader, we’d love to know what you’re reading.

So, come play with us and stay cool out there!

Mr. Green Picks a Winner of the
Texas Trinkets Contest

And of course you can join us

WORDS FROM A FRIEND

Rhett DeVane
Rhett DeVane

Musings from the Florida Panhandle
(Rhett DeVane writes Southern Fiction, which Texas Letters is loosely a part of):

We guard the heart of the Old South, good and bad, which provides ample material for my novels.

Like my fellow scribes in Texas, I watch, listen, and feel for the things making my area unique. It’s an obligation and pleasure, to call to mind lightning-bug evenings, vegetables plucked fresh, fried okra and teacakes and chicken ’n’ dumplin’s. Oh, and not to forget our cathead biscuits: old-fashioned, hand-formed, made with lard and buttermilk. They rise up brown and as big around as a cat’s head. Leave them out overnight, and you can pitch one across the room and take someone off the planet.

It’s also my obligation to expose the dirt swept beneath the rugs. Racism. Bigotry. Bleached family secrets. All the ways we fall short of goodness.

Like many of you, I grew up at the feet of storytellers. With each recall, the fish grew larger, the women sassier, the men braver, the losses more heartbreaking. Tales brought forth tears and guffaws, sometimes both.

While my North Florida self is different from my friends in the Lone Star State, we are alike. We sit with pads of paper, or in front of computer screens, and stretch to capture the essence of our homes. At times, it feels urgent—before the distinct qualities blur into bland miles choked with chain stores, fast food restaurants, and voices the same as everywhere else.

Be careful what you tell us, whether in North Florida or Texas. It may show up in a book. For sure, don’t ruffle our pen feathers; you’ll be the shiftless, stool-pigeon that shows up in chapter two and is stone-dead by chapter fifteen.
We are the gate keepers.

Author bio and links:
Rhett DeVane is the acclaimed author of eight published mainstream novels, two middle grade chapter books, and two coauthored novels.

WINE DOWN

Bryan Anderson, Jody Springer,
Kim Livingston and Susan

August in Texas is hot! No better time to stay indoors, visit with friends, read a famous Texas author, or try a new vintage from our fair state.

And since this is officially the Dog Days of Summer (named because of Sirius, called the Dog Star, being the most visible star in the season’s night sky), what better way than to join a couple of my Labrador-breeder friends for some good ol’ Texas wine!

Vintner Bryan Anderson (winemaker for Cowtown Winery, Grapevine Springs, and Cork This) graciously let Jody Springer (retired, Cygnet Labradors) in back, Kim Livingston (Briarglen Labradors) in front, and me (BearPaw Labradors) tour his wine-making facilities. We learned some about winemaking, laughed a lot, and tasted many vintages.

The Cab Franc was nice, with bright berry fruit and a bit of herb. Though not actually included in the tour, Bryan graciously allowed us to sample his new-release Cabernet Sauvignon, with bold black-cherry flavors and notes of violets, the tannins silky on the tongue. I did take home a bottle, to be shared at some point with more friends! 

Of course then we dined and kibitzed about dog breeding, as I am planning a new litter soon! God save me. But no better wisdom than from long-time breeders and friends.
What have you done to beat the Texas heat and Wine Down?  We’d love to hear from you!

THE WRITERS’ CORNER

Do you love to read Mysteries? They come in all categories, and so many folks gravitate toward specific ones. And if so, have you ever thought about writing one? No matter which category you choose, they all have traits in common. Here are 6 tips for writing a Mystery novel:

1. The Murder/Crime Happens Quickly
In other words, the dead body needs to be found on the first page  That gets the story going lickity split, and we’re off and running.

2. Our Hero Still Resists the Call
During this time we are introduced to our hero, along with some of his real life and background. And why he can’t possibly go chase the bad guy!

3. The Pacing Is Pretty Darn Quick  
Page-turning plots are now all the rage. I blame John Grisham 🙂 But all sub-categories of Mystery move fast now.

4. Every Plot Point Relates to the Crime
Even if you have something that occurs off-stage that greatly affects the protagonist (say, his father dies in the middle of the story action), this still needs to contain a seed of the mystery at hand.

5. Your Reader Wants to Solve the Crime
But—they don’t want it to be easy. Your reader wants to solve things seconds before your protagonist does.

6. Twists and Turns and Surprise Endings Are Great! 
But, they must “fit.”
Yes—we want to be surprised. But in an ah-ha! way, not an oh-brother! one. 
For a fuller discussion, see 6 Tips for Writing a Mystery Novel

GOOD NEWS

Mr. Green

August in Texas ushers in the dog days of summer, so we’ll be including some dog items in the giveaway!
The phrase originated because during this season, Sirius is the brightest star visible from any place on Earth. It’s part of the constellation Canis Major, the Greater Dog. So it’s also known as the Dog Star. The ancient Romans believed it actually gave off heat, which added to the long stretch of sultry weather, and referred to this as the “dog days.”
And anybody reading Texas female authors and the best books about Texas needs to stay cool! So this month you’ll have a chance to win:

  • An autographed copy of Over the Pass, and Other Stories
  • An autographed copy of The Madhatter’s Guide to Chocolate, by Rhett DeVane
  • A stemless wine glass, with a dog saying
  • A really cool wine/book t-shirt
  • A special dog-bone wine charm
  • Homemade bluebonnet soap
  • And, a few more special treats from me

Click here to enter

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You can see a fuller discussion of this here.
I’d love to hear about your own writing challenges. And let me know any topics you’d like to see discussed! 

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