The Art of Conversation

Hello, Thursday Morning friends! What a wild ride the weather has given us so far this year! We’ve had nearly 70 degrees, now plunging into the twenties or lower. Brrr! I’m pouring another cup of hot coffee, as we speak.

Speaking—conversation—is my topic today. Conversation can be interesting and fun, or it can be deadly dull. Have you ever sat next to someone who couldn’t stop talking? Is it a nervous thing? After a while, I tend to tune them out (survival tactic) and hope it ends soon.

Even though that is definitely considered talking, it’s not conversation. A conversation is at least two-sided. It’s like a game of ping pong or tennis. There’s a lot of back-and-forth. And, like a game, it can be exciting. Even scintillating, depending on the content. My favorite books are those with a lot of conversation. We learn about people as they speak to one another, especially when there’s friendship and camaraderie between them. They are comfortable being themselves.

camaraderie: mutual trust between people who spend a lot of time together

My all-time favorite book is Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë. Most of the story is in Jane’s voice, singular. She’s a definite introvert, though no reader doubts her mental and spiritual strength of character. But the moments in conversation with the rugged Edward Rochester gives the reader insight into more of her character (and his). We learn that she can be witty and wise. We learn that though sour and almost ugly, Rochester can be warm and caring. And we find out what has soured him on life.

When we’re comfortable (at ease) with someone, we tend to ‘fess up about stuff. That’s the interesting part. As in a game, it’s a balancing act. A writer needs to balance narrative with great conversation to keep a story moving forward.

What’s your favorite novel? Does it contain a lot of conversation, or is it mostly narrative? What draws you in?

I remember some of the early conversations with my spouse before we were married. We’d talk for hours. It was seldom boring. We still have those moments, when we hit on a topic that interests us both. Real conversations can bridge gaps and bind hearts. Relationship is a process. I don’t know if we can ever learn all there is to know about one another. But, we enjoy each other’s company—that’s conversation.

When I write, I try to develop my characters in this way. My main character meets a man, but she doesn’t really know him until they spend time together, talking. Through their conversation, they get to know one another better. Maybe at first, they’re bantering or arguing, but through contact and over time, they find similarities. They connect.

Jane and Rochester connected mentally and spiritually through their conversations. Those connective moments built a strong bridge that held them fast, even when all seemed lost.

So, next time you find yourself seated beside a chatterbox, try to look at the bright side and pick out interesting tidbits they may drop about themselves. Think of the game of ping pong. Try to jump in at some point and redirect. Make it fun. That’s conversation.

Click to Tweet: When we’re comfortable (at ease) with someone, we tend to ‘fess up about stuff. That’s the interesting part. As in a game, it’s a balancing act. The Art of Conversation with @batowens #ThursdayMorning #ThursdayThoughts

Back to the Land of Ruth

Happy Thursday morning! Coffee needed and keep it coming! We’ve had an extremely wet week in our neck of the woods. I’m hoping for sunshine and maybe a little more summertime.

I’ve spent several weeks in memory mode, contemplating my future writing. Now, it’s time to return to the story of Ruth. Once again, I’m immersing myself in the beautiful Biblical story. Once I’ve studied it, I’ll re-read Annabelle’s Ruth and Sutter’s Landing.

This past week, I’m also researching my setting for the third and final book in the Kinsman Redeemer series. Something caught my interest, and may find it’s way into the story line. If you are of a certain age, and lived in the southeastern region of the United States, you may remember what happened in the late fifties/early sixties.

Jackson, Tennessee, just a short drive south from my rural setting, was often in the news in those days. It’s the home of Lane College, a traditionally all-black college (during that time), associated with the Methodist Episcopal Church. Several brave young men and women took it upon themselves to force the desegregation issue by staging “sit-ins” at area drug store soda fountains (like the one in my stories).

This, and several other “powder-keg” events happened during the timeline of book three. So, of course, I need to find a way to incorporate it in the story.

Back to the present: the church I attend is culturally and racially diverse. Though comparatively small, our congregation has a wonderful balance. Right now, under the leadership of our pastor, we are studying The Third Option by Miles McPherson. It’s a book about honor and respect, and learning to love your neighbor without prejudice.

The timing couldn’t be more perfect. One of the main reasons I’ve been able to handle the racial issues in the first two books in this series with grace, is the balance in my life. I believe it is directly tied to interaction and fellowship with my church family—a vibrant group of men and women united by their love for God and each other.

At one time in the south, it didn’t matter whether a person was Polynesian or Haitian, or African, or even Latin or Native American. They were considered a lesser race. Even a person of mixed race was denied the privilege to marry a Caucasian at one time. So my main character in books one and two had a couple of hurdles ahead of her.

Why even include this in my story? Why did I need the racial element in Annabelle’s Ruth? Consider the original story. If you’re familiar with the book of Ruth, you’ll remember that she was a foreigner, a Moabitess. She left her home, where she was in the majority, and traveled to Naomi’s homeland, where a Moabite was definitely a minority, and subject to prejudice. It is obvious from content that a Moabite looked different.

Ruth earned something dear—God’s blessing—through her loyalty to Naomi, one of God’s chosen.

As I complete this series, I need to finish with a bang and tie up all the loose ends. I believe I’ll find what I need in the pages of the original story. I can’t wait to find out what happens!

Counting Down the Days

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! I don’t need coffee this morning, I’m so excited! Wait, what am I saying? Of course, I need coffee!

Confession: It’s been difficult for me to concentrate on writing the final book in the Kinsman Redeemer series, because of the mounting excitement over the release of Rebecca’s Legacy. I’m even having trouble sleeping, I’m so hyped!

Early on Tuesday morning, August 7, you’ll be able to download the Kindle version of Rebecca’s Legacy for only 99¢ —ONE DAY ONLY—and on that day, you can also download Amelia’s Legacy, the first book in the series, absolutely FREE.

I want to make a big splash on that day, so I’m going to need your help. Please consider downloading these two e-books! And help me spread the word by sharing this news on your social media. Text the news to your sister, best friend, distant cousin. Let everyone know. If you don’t want the book yourself, order it as a gift for someone. All you need is their email address.

What’s in it for you? A good book to read, I hope! This book was so much  fun to write, and the early reviews are really encouraging, so I have no problem asking you to buy it for about a dollar. I’m not making a ton of money off a 99¢ download, and I make nothing on the free books. But, you can help me do something I’ve never done—break into the best-seller category!!

Need a reminder on release day? I’ll have a special Tuesday edition of Hello, Thursday Morning, so if you receive my blogs via email, you should see it. You can also sign up for my newsletter—click the black Newsletter Sign Up in the sidebar—or you can click this link: Betty’s Newsletter Sign Up. All new sign ups also receive a brand new novella, Lake Frigid Aire. NOTE: After the release of Rebecca’s Legacy, you’ll only hear from me via newsletter three or four times a year, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Lake Frigid Aire

This novella is a bit of a departure for me. It’s a quirky suspense story. I can’t tell you much about it without giving too much away! My wonderful publisher did a beautiful job designing the cover. Thanks so much, Marji Laine Clubine of Write Integrity Press.

So, sign up for the newsletter to get your free copy. Lake Frigid Aire will be available later for only 99¢ .

What’s the story about? It’s set in a fictional area near Russellville, Georgia, there’s a lake involved (also fictional), and a bunch of quirky characters you’ll love. At just under ten thousand words, it’s a quick read.

Here are a few other places you’ll find me and probably way too many reminders of the release: Join me on my Facebook author page, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Instagram, Amazon Author Page.

If you’re on Goodreads, please consider adding my books to your TBR (To Be Read) list.

Now, for some really important news! Cathy Biggerstaff won the Legacy Series! She’ll receive all 3 books (print version). Congratulations, Cathy! She is a subscriber to my newsletter, and entered the drawing to win last month’s prize.

Coming Up on Tuesday evening: A Facebook Party! It’s Party Time, and I’m celebrating BIG. Here are the details:

After the Conference, Writers

Hello, Thursday Morning!

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ve had a wonderful week. I promised an update on the writers conference, so here it is–

I’m basking in the glow of another successful Kentucky Christian Writers Conference. Most of us agreed, this was the best one yet.

I had loads of fun and met so many new writers, visited with old friends, and made important connections.  We had a lot of fun moments, like this one:My friends and fellow writers, Shirley Crowder (left) and Harriet Michael (right), like to take an annual photo, and we have yet to accomplish this without being photo-bombed by an illusive introvert. Ha ha! As you can probably guess, our friend, Carlton Hughes is anything but an introvert, and we love when he pops by.

How to Write a Book

coffee, cup, laptop, memeIt begins with sitting down. You’re looking at a blank, white space. Empty. Daunting? For me, not so much. I love to fill empty spaces with words, as much as some of my friends like to fill empty air with words. They can’t sit quietly. It’s impossible.

Hello, Thursday morning friends. This week, I’m still processing some of the excellent insight I received at the Mid South Christian Writers conference in Collierville, Tennessee. The conference I almost missed. But that’s another story for another day.

Conferences are like continuing education for the writer. You go, you meet other writers, you hear others’ stories, you’re encouraged to struggle on. Pursue the craft. Keep writing.

writing-1209121_1280If you’re a writer, especially if you’re in the beginning process, I highly recommend a good writers conference. Now, on to the task at hand–

This is how I start: I have an idea. I develop the idea. I hope it works. I hope it’s not another dead end.

Sometimes it begins with a character. I create a character, give that character positive or negative traits, then build their appearance around those traits. Next, I tell their story.

sneakpeekLet’s dissect one of my characters: Amy Julianna Emerson is the daughter of Robert and Nancy Emerson in “Amelia’s Legacy,” book one of the Legacy Series. She’ll make her debut in book three, “Rebecca’s Legacy” (releasing later this summer). She’s named after her maternal great grandmother, Amelia, and her paternal grandmother, Julianna, but her disposition and character are all her own.

Physical traits: Her eyes are a stunning sapphire blue, her hair the color of chestnuts. She’s five-foot-five, and slender. She loves to wear sundresses, hats, and sunglasses. And other outfits her father disapproves, like “rompers” (it’s the late 1940s).

Amy is a beauty, and much like her mother before her, she desires freedom, and intends to achieve that goal. But her road is temporarily blocked, both by her own past mistakes, and by the evil intent of others. She tries to work around these roadblocks, with little success.

So, I’ve developed a character and given her specific traits. Now, I begin to write and let her character develop. Her story begins to unfurl. The words flow. Sometimes. I enjoy the journey when the words flow. Other times, it’s just hard work.

writer-1421099_1280Writing begins with sitting down. Open a brand new file on the computer, insert a sheet of bright, white paper in a typewriter, or pick up a pen. Whether we’re working with pen and ink, a typewriter, or a computer, the challenge is the same: tell the story.

My next challenge is to create a character arc. Changes happen. Lives progress from beginning to end. I hope Amy will grow, learn, and become a better person. I hope she’ll touch lives and inspire my readers.

Writing is my calling. It’s my way to speak to others around me, to challenge and inspire. To leave them with a message of hope. Dare them to believe. I hope to leave my own legacy—belief in the gift of God’s grace. For Amelia, Carlotta, and now, Rebecca—their Legacy is Love.

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. [1 John 4:11]

[Click to Tweet] For the writer, whether we’re working with pen and ink, a typewriter, or a computer, the challenge is the same: tell the story.

Another regional conference:

Kentucky Christian Writers Conference – June 21 -23, 2018