Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Get a G.R.I.P. with Guest Lorna Seilstad

Do you remember your first paint-by-number set? The dab of oil paint in each of the tiny plastic tubs which bore the all important numbers on top. Can you recall the scent of paint thinner sitting in a glass to the side? And who could forget the painting itself? With each crevice marked with a number, you carefully added the prescribed color with the enclosed paintbrush. If you filled the whole picture in exactly as you’re told, you, too, produced a Rembrandt.

If only writing fiction were as simple. Instead, a writer must mix plot, character, pacing, editing, sentence variation, and much more and create something the reader will be so enamored with that they can’t wait to turn the page.

While I can’t give you a paint-by-number for fiction, I can give you four things you can count on to  G.R.I.P. your reader in your opening chapter.  

4 Ways to G.R.I.P. Your Readers

The first page of your book has to grab the reader and not let go. The first chapter serves as emblem of the book as a whole. Readers will often give a reader the first couple of pages to decide if they’re going to continue. If you’re lucky, they’ll give you the first chapter. However, in today’s world, where a reader can change to a different book on their Kindle or Nook with the click of finger, gripping them is even more important than ever.

 Any study of first pages and chapters tells us that this can be accomplished in a number of ways. However, the most effective methods can be simplified to four basic ideas, the first letters of which make up the word “GRIP”. Using one of these can offer a great start. A combination can make a book impossible to put down.

1.  Generate an emotional response. One way an opening scene can grab the reader is by making them feel an emotional connection to the character. For example, the reader might find themselves sharing the grief of a character, relating to a character’s joking about his or her weight issue, or sharing the terror of the character as they run from danger.
In my books, I want the reader to laugh on the first page. It’s a sort of promise of what’s to come.

Here’s the opening of Making Waves, the first book in the Lake Manawa Summers Series.

If forced to endure Roger Gordon for five more minutes, Marguerite Westing would die. Dead. Gone. Buried. Six feet under Greenlawn Cemetery.

Her parents would need to purchase a large headstone to fit all the words of the epitaph, but they could do it. Money wasn’t an issue, and after bearing this unbelievable torture, she deserved an enormous marble marker complete with a plethora of flowery engravings. She could see the words now:

Here lies Marguerite Westing.
Only nineteen, but now she’s resting.
Strolling through the park with Roger Gordon,
Once full of life, she died of boredom.

2. Rock the reader’s world. Mary Connealy says she tries to start with a bang and this is exactly how she rocks the reader’s world. A writer can do this in any way that surprises the reader and shakes up what they expect. 

This is a great way to get the reader’s attention. As soon as possible, though, you’ll need to show the depth of the character and the context.

Remember, our goal in the first chapter is to introduce not just conflict, but a character that the reader cares about. Rocking the reader’s world works so well for Mary because she also draws amazingly engaging characters.

3. Ignite their sense of justice. There’s nothing like a little righteous indignation to make the reader hang on to every word of the scene. We naturally want things to be fair, good, right, and true, and when we see they are not, we read on. We are instantly on the character’s side.
In When Love Calls, I wanted to create this sense of injustice, but in a humorous way. Here’s the opening.

Did she dare?

Hannah eyed the wheeled grocery store ladder resting against the shelves. If she went up that ladder again this week, she might give poor Mr. Reilly heart failure.

Despite the risk of Mr. Reilly’s demise, Hannah wrapped her hand around the ladder’s rung. If the little man had a conniption, that was his fault. He should have kept his shelves better stocked or at least offered to help her. After all, she’d been waiting for nearly five minutes, and her sisters were home waiting for dinner.

One can of stewed tomatoes, and her meager grocery shopping list would be complete. From its position on the upper shelf beyond her reach, the can taunted her with its flashy red label and bright green letters. It practically goaded her to come and get it.

Her gaze darted to the plaque hung from a nail on the center shelf: “Please Let Us Assist You.” She’d be happy to if Mr. Reilly noticed anyone in the store besides the customers with money. As it was, she had no choice but to take matters into her own hands.

Hannah glanced from the sign to the stout, long-nosed grocer. Behind the counter, he continued his chatty dialogue with the banker’s wife, turning a blind eye as her five-year-old son skipped around the mercantile like a child at the fair.

It’s a small injustice, but most of us can relate to a time when we felt we were being treated unfairly because of our lack of money or how we looked. I’m counting on the reader to connect with that feeling of injustice when they read this.

4. Provide a cause to fight for.  If a writer can give his or her reader a cause to fight for, they are well on their way to providing a great reading experience for the reader. Done well, you give the reader a reason to join the character in his or her fight.

For example, when you give the reader a man fighting to find his wife’s killer, a doctor who leaves a big medical practice to works in low-income clinic, or a family who’s fighting the railroad to keep their farm, then you give your reader a reason to join your character’s fight. 
I just started reading Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley’s new release, The Dance. In the first chapter, the wife leaves her husband. Dan and Gary do an excellent job of making us want this marriage to survive right from the start. That’s our cause, and we’re willing to fight for it right along with the characters.

When we are able to G.R.I.P. the reader, we are reaching them on an emotional level. Whether we make them laugh, cry, or shiver in fear, they are connecting with the reader in the most powerful way possible on a gut and heart level. We allow the reader to make an investment in the character and what happens to him or her.  

It may not be a paint-by-number picture, but these four ways to G.R.I.P. a reader will have you well on your way to creating your own masterpiece.

 What are you using to  G.R.I.P.your reader in your current manuscript? What emotional level are you trying to connect with the reader on? What books have gripped you from the first chapter and not let go?

 Bio: A history buff, antique collector, wedding coordinator, and freelance graphic designer, Lorna Seilstad is the author of Making Waves, A Great Catch, and The Ride of Her Life. A former high school English and journalism teacher, she has won several online writing contests and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Lorna lives in Council Bluffs, Iowa, with her husband. They have two children in college and one still at home.

Visit her at, on Facebook, on Pinterest, and on Twitter. 

When Love Calls

Hannah Gregory is good at many things, but that list doesn't include following rules. So when she is forced to apply for a job as a telephone switchboard operator to support her two sisters, she knows it won't be easy. "Hello Girls" must conduct themselves according to strict--and often bewildering--rules. No talking to the other girls. No chatting with callers. No blowing your nose without first raising your hand. And absolutely no consorting with gentlemen while in training.

Meanwhile, young lawyer Lincoln Cole finds himself in the unfortunate position of having to enforce the bank's eviction of the three Gregory girls from their parents' home. He tries to soften the blow by supporting them in small ways as they settle into another home. But fiery Hannah refuses his overtures and insists on paying back every cent of his charity.

When one of Hannah's friends finds himself on the wrong side of a jail cell, Hannah is forced to look to Lincoln for help. Will it be her chance to return to her dreams of studying law? And could she be falling in love?

With historic details that bring to life the exciting first decade of the twentieth century, Lorna Seilstad weaves a charming tale of camaraderie and companionship that blossoms into love. Readers will get lost in this sweet romance and will eagerly look forward to championing each sister's dreams.

Today Lorna is generously giving away a When Love Calls gift box full of fun stuff including a print copy of When Love Calls and a $10 Starbucks gift card (Hannah Gregory loves coffee).

Just comment and also let us know you want to be entered in the giveaway. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.


Tina Radcliffe said...

WELCOME LORNA!!! I stole another Mary Connealy BFF and I am proud of it.

I am loving this G.R.I.P methodology!!!!

Helen will be here soon with the java. I have overly buttery and flaky croissants and Nutella to share.

Vince said...

Hi Lorna:

I believe Betty Neels employed your G.R.I.P. approach in all her books. At least she did in the nearly 100 of her books that I’ve read.

The books start with a grave injustice to the young heroine. She is forced out into the world. Sometimes at night in the rain with no money and her two pets. She has no destination. Her dishonest relatives have stolen her home or patrimony. She is almost always a plain Jane. But she is virtuous. She is kind to others. She never gives up. She loves her pets.

A rich doctor offers to give her a ride. She is most often a nurse. The doctor needs her services to take care of a relative. The doctor, always a lot older than the heroine, sees her inner beauty and genuine goodness and marries her.

This actually happened in large part to Betty Neels. I know full well what is going to happen in each book but I still can’t put them down. The approach you are talking about is that powerful when done to its maximum extent. This is the first time I've seen such an approach spelled out.

Great post.



P.S. I’d like a chance to win “When Love Calls”.

Natalie Monk said...

Hi, Lorna!

With my opening pages, I'm hoping to G.R.I.P. the reader with an emotional connection to the hero involving a humorous, good-natured prank. Surprise comes next in the news of the death of a loved one. The sense of injustice is for missing the chance to spend the last moments with that close relative. The cause to fight for is not introduced until the very end of the first chapter, but it's my read-on prompt.

I'll have to remember these fantabulous tips! Love the acronym! Thank you so much for sharing this with us! And I'd love to be put in the drawing for When Love Calls.

Jessica Nelson said...

Wonderful post! I loved it and your book with Hannah sounds adorable.
I do try to grip the reader. I like the injustice tip...I don't know if I've used that or not but it sounds effective. :-)

Susan Codone said...

I love acronyms, and I simply LOVE this one. That stands for Lorna's Originality Vigorously writing. Thanks Lorna!

Debra E. Marvin said...

I'm plotting an opening scene today (yes, it will look like i'm listening intently to an all day staff meeting but I'll be plotting).

So... ahhh! perfect timing for this post. I'm going back and forth between H/H to determine who has the most at stake and what kind of 'boom' to create. Thanks Lorna!

I'd love to be in the drawing!

Jackie said...

Happy May Day everybody.

Welcome Lorna!

I try to not start my stories with back story. I try to jump in with action. Thanks for sharing tips to help with that.

I hope you all have a great day!
Jackie L.

Elyssa said...

What a fun post! I enjoyed reading it. =) Please enter me in the drawing... I've never read any of Lorna's books, but they look amazing!


Jenny Blake said...

Wanted to post before I leave but to tired to read the post right now. I leave in the morning for the city not sure how much access I will get and fly out Sunday (about 11.30pm Saturday night). Really looking forward to Monday

Rose said...

Good Morning, Lorna!

What great advice and wonderful prose examples.

I've told you this in person, but it bears repeating, your cover is beautiful!

Lorna said...

Good morning, Tina! Thank you for having me her on Seekerville. Maybe Mary won't notice I'm here and this can be our little secret. You can always tell her that she and I get to see each other in person, but you and I only get to see each other here in Seekerville.

Lorna said...

Vince, what a great example of G.R.I.P.-ping the reader. I've not read Betty Neels, but now I'm going to have to look her up.

Kav said...

Hey Lorna!!!!!!! I just finished When Love Calls and I'm in love with the Gregory sisters!!! I'm so enthused I'm near to bursting and it's spilling out in !!!!!!!! Hope the Grammar Queen ain't around. :-)

This is great advice and so snappy and easy to remember. I followed Mary's advice and killed someone right off in my WIP. LOL

Amy C said...

Congrats, Lorna, on your release!
I would love to be entered for the giveaway!
Thank you!
campbellamyd at gmail dot com

Lorna said...

Hi, Natalie! A humorous prank is an awesome start. Who could resist reading how it turns out. I like how you went from the humorous to the serious. You're already promising your reader that you're going to give them a roller coaster of emotions.

Lorna said...

Thank you, Jessica! Hannah’s story was a lot of fun to write. I can’t wait to hear what readers think.

Lorna said...

Morning, Susan! Acronyms help me, too, and LOVE the one your made!

Lorna said...

Hello Debra! Plotting during a meeting is quite an effective use of your time, I’d say. I’m glad this post was timely for you. I can never write the rest of the book until I have the beginning down.

Lorna said...

Jackie, I love May Day! Did you grow up making and delivering May Baskets? I did, but I find a lot of people from other parts of the country look at me like I’m a little crazy when I ask them about it.

Lorna said...

Hi, Elyssa! Make sure you get some of those yummy croissants with Nutella. If you’re not a Nutella kind of girl, I have some homemade crabapple jelly. I promise. It’s delish.

And Jenny, praying for your safe travels. Thank you for taking time to stop by.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning Lorna and welcome to Seekerville. Love acronyms. GRIP is gripping. And Susan yours was right on.

Yes, I agree Mary has a way to grab the reader from the start.

I think the one I'm on is I. Hope so anyway.

Have a fun day. And the crabapple jelly sounds wonderful. Thanks

Tina Radcliffe said...

Susan Codone!! Dudette, missed you!!! Hope all is well in your world.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Elyssa!! Welcome to Seekerville. May the writing force be with you.

What do you write??

Tina Radcliffe said...

Oh my, crabapple jelly. Seriously have never had that. Had a crabapple tree growing up.

I could be a heroine of injustice.

Julie Lessman said...


ESPECIALLY THIS EXCELLENT POINT: "Remember, our goal in the first chapter is to introduce not just conflict, but a character that the reader cares about."

I will admit, your first page of Making Waves made me laugh and hooked me in so fast, I was capsized in fun in no time -- LOVE that book and all your others too!

I don't know if you are still running your "LIKES" contest on your FB author page, but if you are, we need to go in and offer an extra point in the drawing for anyone who likes your FB page, so I will talk to Tina about that, but let us know if the contest is still going, okay?


Jeanne T said...

Wow, Lorna, I love your ideas for GRIPping a reader from the get-go. Thank you for sharing these ideas! The acronym is always good.

JACKIE--Happy May Day to you, too. We have rain and possible snow today. It's one way to bring in May. Did you ever dance around a May Pole? We did as children, and we made May Day baskets to deliver to our neighbors.

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Lorna! Thanks for the tips for getting our readers into our G.R.I.P. and never letting go. I hadn't thought of using injustice as a way to bond readers to our characters though I've done it. Now I will be more aware of ways to do that. Thanks!

I loved your excerpts so know I'd love your books! Still chuckling at Marguerite's epitaph. :-) Humor delights me.

Thanks for the croissants, Tina! And for bringing Lorna.


Lorna said...

Good morning, Rose! I’m so grateful to Revell’s art team for this cover. I have very little to do with the cover, but I did get to pick the hat for this one. They sent me several to choose from.

Brenda Anderson said...

So fun to see you here, Lorna. :) Love the GRIP method--no wonder your books always grab me from the start! Now, to employ that in my first scenes...

(I already have copies of When Love Calls--Fabulous book!--so don't enter me.)

Lorna said...

Hello, Kav, my friend! I loved writing about sisters, Kav. It’s funny how they each took on their own personalities in line with their birth orders even when I wasn’t trying to do it that way. I got stuck in one my manuscripts and followed Mary’s advice of shooting someone. I wrote the whole scene. I had to delete it, of course, but I sure had fun writing it.

Lorna said...

Morning, Amy C! Good luck and grab a croissant.
Thank you for the welcome, Sandra. The crabapple jelly is really good. My sister-in-law made it from the crabapples in her backyard. The fruit is a pain to work with because it’s so small, but it makes the prettiest jelly.

Lorna said...

Julie! Good morning! Creating that character the reader can root for is so important. YOu do that so incredibly well.

The LIKE-fest contest is over, but if readers want other opportunities to win When Love Calls, "like-ing" my FB page is the best way to be in the know.

Jan Drexler said...

Hi Lorna,

Hmmm, going through your checklist with my WIP.... G.R.I.P...I think I have all of them, but I'll need to ramp up the sense of injustice...

Oh, sorry! I got sidetracked there.

Thanks for the acronym! You're right - we have so little time to grab the attention of the reader (or agent, or editor, or contest judge), so we need to do it well.

You book sounds fabulous - thanks for sharing with us.

Cindy Regnier said...

I love this past and the G.R.I.P. concept. My first line, page, chapters really need a lot of help. Better get a grip. Please enter me - I love coffee too! Thanks Lorna

Lorna said...

Jeanne T., I did do the May Pole thing. It was some college tradition, and we have snow in our May Day forecast, too.

Janet, when I handed Andrea Doering, who was Revell’s acquisitions editor at the time, the first three at my first ACFW conference, Marguerite’s epitaph was part of that. I sat there while she read the chapters, and I kept thinking, “If she doesn’t laugh, I’m dead.” Thankfully, she did, and she asked for a full at the end of meeting. I nearly fell off my chair.

Lorna said...

Good morning, Brenda, my awesome crit partner! You make sure my characters have clothes and my scenes have conflict, among many other things. Everyone needs crit partners like you and Shannon.

Marianne Barkman said...

I just got When Love Calls in the mail, so I'll leave the winning for someone else. I love the books that grip me from the first page, but I think, according to Best Seller lists not everyone else does. Thanks for a great post

Lorna said...

Hi, Jan! If you’ve got three of the GRIP elements, then you’re doing great. You might not need to create the sense of injustice because the other things are already creating that gripping beginning.

Happy May Day, Cindy! Hannah, the heroine in When Love Calls, really loves coffee. It’s her weakness. The funny part about that was one of my crit partners, Shannon Vannatter, knew I didn’t drink coffee. Shannon, however, loves coffee. She even eats those chocolate covered coffee beans. I told Shannon to watch Hannah’s feelings and descriptions about the brew to make sure they were on target.

Elizabeth Dent said...

Congrats Lorna on your book . I love to reads a good book . review sounds good. I would love to be entered in the giveaway. Thanks.

Elyssa said...

LOL! Thanks, Tina! I'm just an amateur writer- it's more of a hobby than anything serious.

Lorna, I'm a Nutella type of gal, so I'll definitely be joining you in that! =)

Laura Frantz said...

Lorna, You are a born teacher. Love your GRIP as I edit this next book. Also love your excerpts, lol :)! Bring on the custard filled donuts...

Lucy said...

Congrats on the new book. Can't wait to read it, as I enjoyed your others immensely. Would love to be in the drawing. You did GRIP me, especially with your sense of humor. Refreshing.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Elizabeth. Are you a writer or reader or both??

Lorna said...

Good morning, Marianne! I hope you enjoy When Love Calls as much as did writing it.

Laura! Thanks for taking time to stop by. I know you’re busy right now—very busy. However, I can’t believe I didn’t know you liked custard filled doughnuts. I’ll run out and get some right now.

Lorna said...

How sweet of you to say that, Lucy. When I first started writing stories with humor in them, my husband asked me what I was doing. When I told him, he said, "Why? You're not funny." I told him it was easier to be funny on paper because I could think about it.

Elizabeth, What are your favorite books to read? Did they grip you?

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Lorna,

Thanks for the great tips today!

I love a bit of humor in a story, especially with spunky heroines!

Will keep the GRIP points in mind as I edit, edit, edit!

Love a chance to win your latest book. The cover is beautiful!

sbmason at sympatico dot ca

Bookishqueen said...

I would love to win!

Vince said...

Hi Lorna:

If you read a Betty Neels book, I think it is best to start with her first books. They are pure, unadulterated, Betty Neels.

Sister Peters in Amsterdam (1969)
Amazon in an Apron (1969) aka A Match for Sister Maggy / Nurse in Holland
Blow Hot, Blow Cold (1970) aka Surgeon from Holland / Visiting Surgeon / Visiting Consultant
Tempestuous April (1970) aka Nurse Harriet Goes to Holland
Damsel in Green (1970)
Fate is Remarkable (1970)
Tulips for Augusta (1971)
Tangled Autumn (1971)
The Fifth Day of Christmas (1971)
Tabitha in Moonlight (1972)
Wish with the Candles (1972)
Saturday's Child (1972)
Uncertain Summer (1972)
Victory for Victoria (1972)

Betty Neels didn’t publish until she was 60 years old and yet she wrote 134 novels! Look how many books she wrote in the first three years! She’s a virtual Mary Connealy (Though I don’t think Betty wrote any books under a pen name like Mary does.)

Betty Neels shamelessly exploits the emotions of the reader. She’s an emotional hussy. And her fans love it. Harlequin is still reissuing her books in their Betty Neels Collection. (I have all her books but one or two and that’s because the same book was issued under more than one title). I think every writer should read at least one of Betty Neels first ten books. It’s an education!


BTW: I bought “Making Waves” because of the cover art. Do you really think women in the 1890’s really looked that beautiful? I saw a picture of my grandmother that looked just like the woman in “When Love Calls”. I mean the same style hat, dress, broach, and coiffure. But granny had a stern look. That model is gorgeous. Why are women who are covered up from head to toe so attractive? I’d say your cover art is second to none.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome to Lucy and Bookish Queen.

Great, great, great to have you in Seekerville today.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome Brenda! Great to have you in Seekerville.

Coffee pot is brewing.

Lorna said...

Hello, Susan! You’re in editing mode, huh? Fun times. For that, you deserve an extra croissant.

Bookishqueen, thank you for stopping by. Good luck.

Lorna said...

Vince, an emotional hussy? Love that. I check my library's online catalogue and they have most of the books you listed. Soon as I meet my deadline, I'll take your list with me.

I give major kudos to Revell for the cover art of all my books. They've done an outstanding job. I do think there were beautiful women just as there are today. However, I think we have better photographers. :)

Wendy Newcomb said...

I would really like to win this book, thank you for hosting this giveaway and all you authors do for us readers.


Julie Hilton Steele said...

Great post to print out. Put me in for the drawing!

Peace, Julie

Melanie Pike said...

Lorna, thank you for this! Another post where, as soon as I saw the opening, I knew I wanted to print it out! And that is what I've done.

Going to be using the G.R.I.P. method as I revise/edit my ms. Love it :)

Would love to be entered in the drawing for your book--thank you for that, too!


Helen Gray said...

Like the white rabbit, I am LATE.

Crashed last night.

Thanks, Tina, for taking care of the coffee pot.

Great tips, Lorna. Thanks.

Would love a print copy of a book, but I don't drink coffee and there's no Starbucks within a hundred miles of me. :)


Myra Johnson said...

Thanks for being with us today, Lorna! I love your G.R.I.P. examples--so helpful!

Time to re-examine the opening of my wip and make sure I've employed one of these techniques!

Missy Tippens said...

Lorna, what a great post!! And I love breaking it down into GRIP, something I can remember.

You've mentioned some things I hadn't thought of before. Thanks for adding that to my list of things to accomplish in the opening!

In my current proposal, my heroine is showing how she secretly cares for her best friend as more than a friend, and hoping he feels the same. But he obviously doesn't. So I'm hoping it generates an emotional response, and almost a sense of injustice.

Lorna said...

Thank you, sweet Wendy, for being a reader!

Hi Julie and Melanie, don’t you just love filling your files with articles? I have a nice collection of keepers.

Debby Giusti said...


Love your characters! Whoot!!! Your heroines caught my attention and my heart...actually they've G.R.I.P.ped me!

Great info today. A keeper, for sure.

With suspense, I open with my heroine in danger. Hopefully the readers stay with the story to ensure she survives until the happily ever after.

Raising my coffee mug in your honor, Lorna! Congrats on your success!

Lorna said...

Good morning, Helen. You, late? Never. We saved a croissant just for you. If you win the book, I’ll send tea or hot chocolate instead of coffee.

Lorna said...

Myra, I’m sure your entry grips readers thoroughly!

Wow, Missy, what a great concept. I think a lot of readers will feel that a situation like that is unfair.

Lorna said...

Thank you, Debby! Because suspense starts with the danger, I think that makes it automatically gripping, but it's caring about the character that makes us keep reading. You do it so well!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Helen. Helen. Helen. No Starbucks for 100 miles. I am writing the company immediately.

Sherida Stewart said...

Lorna, I love the GRIP ideas! Your post give me concrete direction for the opening which I have learned needs to be powerful. I do have those elements in my WIP, but need to work on presenting them at the beginning.

Please put me in the drawing for your book!

And YES, Lorna, Jackie and Jeanne--I delivered May Baskets as a child. I hinted to my husband today about that custom, but I don't think he picked that up...maybe flowers will be at my doorstep this afternoon!

Jenny, praying your trip is perfect! Have fun!

Grabbing luscious treats and a big mug of coffee (with Splenda)as I leave.....

Tina Radcliffe said...

I recently read about May Day. There is also a tradition to ding dong ditch. Ring your neighbor's doorbell and leave a present anonymously on May 1. I never heard of this.

When I was growing up we tied ribbons to a pole and went around the May pole. To this day I cannot figure out why I didn't complain about that useless act of randomness.

But I suspect there was food involved and I never complain when free food is offered. Especially cupcakes.

Tina Radcliffe said...

All you historical writers..LORNA...what is the historical relevance of May Day??

Lorna said...

Hi, Sherinda. Love your name, and I hope your get your basket of flowers on your doostep. Here, they'd freeze today.

Lorna said...

Tina, I think May Day dates back to the Romans. They celebrated spring and fertility and all that.

Here in Iowa, when we delivered May baskets to people, we set them by their door, then rang the doorbell and ran. If they caught you, they got to kiss you--or give you a hug. Not sure how far it goes back in history. It's just the way things have always been.

My 4-H'ers made May baskets at our last meeting. We're taking them to a senior care center after school and delivering them. There will be no knocking and running, however. :)

Debby Giusti said...

Thank you, Lorna!

Sending cyber chocolate and flowers in response to your kind words!

Debby Giusti said...

Waving to Jenny and sending prayers for safe travel!

Can't wait until Monday!

Anyone in the ATL area, we're meeting Jenny for lunch at Ruby Tuesday's near the airport. Join us if you can!

Tina Radcliffe said...

What a totally fun idea. The gifting seniors. Love that. In my past life I was the director of nurses for a retirement center.

So you obviously have your fingers in a lot of pies,Lorna.

What is your typical writing workday like?

Vince said...

Hi Lorna:

Come to think of it, in the first chapter of my WIP “Characters in a Romance”, a meta-romance, the universe explodes in a giant cosmic ‘black moment’ and all the characters in romance novels get thrown into the real world and no one can be sure who is a real person and who is a character in a romance.

All logical attempts to prove this fail. Both characters and real people spend the rest of the book (120,000 words but I’ll cut as needed) trying to get back to their rightful places. The plot is very much like the Wizard of Oz. (I even have a Wicked Witch of the Eastern Establishment.)

Sample of meta-romance dialogue:


“I sure hope I’m not an author.”


“Because, I might run into some of my characters who I tortured for the entertainment of my readers. Who knows what they would do to me.”

“Me, I’d be afraid of running into any of my TSTL heroines who I created in my early years.”

“Not me, I’d be afraid that I put myself in one of my novels and I couldn’t prove who was the real me. The way my characters come alive and take control, they could seem more real than the real me. Being sent to spend the rest of my life inside a romance novel would be like being buried alive -- only I would never die.”

“You better pray, then. By the way, do you believe in God?”

“Me, I don’t even believe in Author.”

“What? You think we wrote ourselves into existence?”

“Just read my rejection letters! Yea, that’s a real possibility.”


How’s that for rocking the world?


P.S. You’d be surprised how many contest judges just don’t get me! If the contest does not allow a synopsis, I’m in big trouble.

Jeanne T said...

Tina, and anyone else who is interested, Mary Keeley over at Books and Such did a quick rundown on the history of May Day. Here's the link:
Sorry. I'm not good at embedding them--I have no idea how to do that on blogger as a commenter. :)

Anyway, I also wanted to ask to be put in the drawing I forgot to mention it earlier. :)

Still snowing here. Getting ready to dive back into revisions.

Lorna said...

A typical day? I don't know if it's typical, but I try to write and do all my writer related things during the day before I have to pick up my youngest daugter from junior high. If I don't get my word count in, I sometimes have to work a little more in the evenings.

Of course, there are always things that get me off track and fun meetings like those withe I.N. Group (the Iowa/Nebraska writers).

Oh yeah, a little housework here and there is always a good thing.

Chill N said...

Okay, here's the problem with Seekerville -- there are so many good writers who have so many wonderful-sounding books that my 'to read' stack is taking over. And then there's the notebook where I have all the posts I've printed. I had to buy another one yesterday ... and now I have to figure out how to divide the posts. Sigh.

Lorna, I love the opener of "Making Waves." Right away I have a clear picture of the heroine, love her humor, and want to know more about her.

My stories tend to open with humor and then the unexpected. You've helped me realize that my heroines tend to fight for a cause or what they perceive as an injustice. What fun insight. Thanks!

Nancy C

Lorna said...

Vince, I can only imagine what happens without a synopsis with that story! You had me laughing, though, about torturing characters for the reader's entertainment.

Once, I came upstairs and told my oldest daughter, "I feel so bad for my characters right now."

She looked at me and said, "Mom,you're doing it to them."

Lorna said...

Nancy, I'm glad I could help. And that TBR stack problem--I think we need a support groups. The good thing is that you can always say, "I'm not a horder. I'm a writer."

Debby Giusti said...

LOL about your daughter's comment. "Mom,you're doing it to them."

So true! How quickly we forget they're characters we've created!

Also love the I.N. Group. Great name!

Lorna said...

Most writers have always wanted to be part of an I.N. Group and now we are!

DebH said...

love this post Lorna! G.R.I.P. will be helping me very nicely. Keeper post!!!

btw, would love to win your newest. i own your other three. i snagged Making Waves for free for my Kindle, read it and then immediately bought the other two because i just HAD to. I loved them very much. guess you could say i was GRIPped *heh*.

Vince: your dialogue is very funny and gets me laughing every time. should it scare me that i get it? (and always have when you've shared)

Piper Huguley said...

Lorna, thank you for your timely post! I couldn't get into the class that RWA is having this week about great beginnings and here is your GRIP post. I have and love your other books and I would love to be put in the crowded cat dish for your new one. Thanks!

Lorna said...

DebH and Piper! Sending you both cyber hugs for being readers of my books! That blesses me more than you know.

Tina Radcliffe said...

OH my gosh. Snowing on May Day in Colorado. There is one mixed up Mother Nature.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Well your typical day sounds pretty structured to me.

Love the IN group.

Being directionally challenged-until I visited Omaha, I had no idea how close -literally a river away-Iowa and Nebraska are.

Eva Maria Hamilton said...

Loved this, Lorna! A must print :)

Connie Queen said...

I'm w/Vince. I bought Making Waves because of the cover and the title. It was just so right. I loved the characters...

I put down so many books after the first few pages. Most of the time because the story is confusing or I just plain don't care. With some, I'm sure if I kept reading it might get better, but I normally don't give them a chance.

Disclaimer: I always read all Seekerville books, it just takes me awhile to get to them because I don't read a lot of books.

Cara Lynn James said...

Great information, Lorna! This post is a keeper.

I love your books and your beautiful covers.

Elaine Manders said...

Lorna, you sold me. I just bought Making Waves on my Kindle. Please drop me in the hat for When Love Calls.

Vince, you crack me up. I'd hate to meet some of my characters. Even the heros might forget they live happily ever after.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Connie Queen-best disclaimer I have ever read!!!

Lorna said...

Tina, if you visit Omaha, you'll have to let me know. I'll come find you!

Lorna said...

Eva and all you printers, may I recommend saving a copy in a file on your computer. It's a lot less paper. :)

Lorna said...

Hi Connie! I'm so glad you liked Making Waves, and your disclaimer was priceless.

Lorna said...

Thank you, Elaine! And I'm with you on meeting some of my characters. That could be rather scary. However, there's a few heroes I wouldn't mind meeting face to face.

Shannon Taylor Vannatter said...

Great post, Lorna. After 4 years of being critique partners, I still learn from you. Glad to inspire a coffee fiend character for you. I've had 7 chocolate covered beans today and I'm buzzing right along.

CentralEast2 said...

It's great getting to learn about everything and would love a chance to read When Love Calls

CatMom said...

Hi Lorna!!! Soooo happy you're in Seekerville today, and LOVED your post. Your G.R.I.P. method will be a huge help (I plan to post a reminder near my computer) and it's also helped me realize some changes I need to make on my WIP.

Please enter me in the drawing, and THANK YOU again for this post today.

~ Since it's already Wed. evening (here in GA) I've got dessert for anyone finished with supper: Peach Shortcake with Whipped cream; and Pecan Pie, right from the oven. Enjoy! ;)
Hugs, Patti Jo

Tina Radcliffe said...

LOL. I think buzzing right along is an exemplary character trait!!!!

Lorna said...

Shannon, I agree with Tina. What's wrong with buzzing right along?

CentralEast, thanks for stopping by.

Lorna said...

Patti Jo! So glad you think the G.R.I.P. method will help your WIP. Don't you just love learning new things? And peach shortcake? My mouth is watering thinking abou it.

Jeanne T said...

TINA, I'm sure you're sooooo bummed that you don't live here anymore.....right? :) Enjoy your warmth and soak in some sun for me. :)

Pat Jeanne Davis said...

Wonderful post, Lorna. Thanks for visiting here. Your G.R.I.P. method makes sense and I plan to use it. I'll be bookmarking this. I love the cover of your novel. It's gorgeous! Enjoyed knowing more about the history behind May Day.

Lorna said...

Thank you, Pat. I'm glad you think you can you the G.R.I.P. method. I'll pass your words on to the Revell art department about the cover. They'll like hearing that.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Lorna, you have been a wonderful guest today. Thank you so much for spending the day with us!!

Mary Preston said...

I live and learn.

Please count me in for the "When Love Calls" gift box thank you.

Edwina said...

Love this method - G.R.I.P.!

Patty Wysong said...

Lorna, not only do you write FANTASTIC books, but you have a great way of explaining the how-to of things. Thanks for a great post.

Cindy W. said...

Thank you so very much for your post Lorna. I try to soak up all the teachings here at Seekerville and this is definitely another one for my Keeper File. Thank you so very much.

Also, I just want to say that the cover of WHEN LOVE CALLS is ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL!!!! I would love to be entered into your giveaway. Thank you for the opportunity.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

Sara Ella said...

Please enter me in the giveaway. Coffee and a good book? What more could a girl want!

As far as as GRIP goes, I really enjoyed this post and believe it is such fantastic advice, I am adding it to my "advice on writing" folder in my favorites bar.

It always grips me when a character is put in the middle of the action. Stakes are raised and I find myself asking "How in the world did this character get here?"

I really enjoy a good prologue. I love getting a glimpse of what will happen later on. It whets my appetite and makes me want to move on.

For my current WIP, I begin with a prologue in which my protagonist is standing over a dead body. Who's body is it and how did they die? You won't find out unless you keep reading.....

Sarah said...

Enter me!
Thanks for the giveaway and God Bless!!
Sarah Richmond

Marissa said...

I'd love to be entered in this giveaway! I can't wait to read Lorna's books-they all look so fun!


Sally said...

Thanks for the great post! Would love to be entered in the drawing!
tscmshupe [at] pemtel [dot] net