Author Archives: Erika Beebe

Writing Smelly Scenes #AuthorToolboxBlogHop #amwriting

Author Toolbox Blog Hop

The Author Toolbox Blog Hop is “a monthly blog hop on the theme of resources/learning for authors: posts related to the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, blogging tips for authors, reviews of author-related products, anything that an author would find helpful.” Want to jump into the writing tool box? Search #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join via blog, click here.

Fragrance is everything, a quote by C. JoyBell C.

 

“Mention a smell, and the scene comes to life. Mention two or three, and the reader is pulled into the scene as if it were real.”

~Ryne Hall from DIY MFA  

 

While scanning through some of my writing articles this week, I saw a quote from Stephen King on writing smell into  suspense. I couldn’t remember the article, but I do think it’s an important reminder for all of us to explore the senses, especially smell and sound.  

Why is smell so creepy?  

Ever come across a moment in your own life when you walked into a new atmosphere immediately overwhelmed with the smell? A house reeking of cat urine odor? A park with a sprouting garden of roses? The smell of an old fountain from the metal to the green moss in the water? What about the chlorine in a swimming pool and how the strength of it sticks to your skin long after a swim?

An unusual smell can unsettle our mind and our stomachs. We make associations with certain smells with specific memories both good or bad. I’ve heard from firefighters how important a can of coffee grounds is when facing emergency scenes on the road. Take away the smell and the mind releases some of the emotion and the scene doesn’t necessarily seem so bad.

According to the article by Ryne Hall, the best place to insert smell “is immediately after the point-of-view character” shows up at a new scene. Most of the time, the first impression is the exact place to insert your description. To help show you what struck me as vivid smelly scenes, I have three books with three small excerpts from Daughters Unto Devils, Hannibal, and IT.

In Daughters Unto Devils, one of my absolute favorite suspense novels by Amy Lukavics, chapter seven introduces a very hard turn of events. A family is traveling by covered wagon to hopefully find an abandoned cabin to refurbish as their own. The cabin they find appears great from a distance, but when making an up-close inspection, everyone in the family wants to immediately abandon it except their dad.  

As we approach the door, it’s difficult to ignore the putrid stench that seems to be growing heavier with each step. “Ugh,” I say and inch my nose. “What is that?” It’s too much for Hannah. She begins to scream, clawing into the air as if she wants to swim out of Ma’s arms and away from the door, and we’re forced to wait in the odor while mom runs to set the baby back in the wagon … (CHAPTER SEVEN)  

In IT by Stephen King, chapter two talks about the fear of a little boy George in the dark:

  “He did not even like opening the door to flick on the light because he always had the idea—this was so exquisitely stupid he didn’t dare tell anyone—that while he was feeling for the light switch, some horrible clawed paw would settle lightly over his wrist … and then jerk him down into the darkness that smelled of dirt and wet dim rotted vegetables.” {page 6}

In Hannibal by Thomas Harris, a great scene in chapter one uses smell to illustrate how alone Agent Starling feels in the center of her male coworkers while they wait in a van for the crime scene to unfold:

“Starling felt pierced and lonesome in this goat-smelling surveillance van crowded with men. Chaps, Brut, Old Spice, sweat and leather. A mental image: her father, who smelled of tobacco and strong soap, peeling an orange with his pocket knife, the tip of the blade broken off square, sharing the orange with her in the kitchen. The taillights of her father’s pickup disappearing as he went off on the night-marshal patrol that killed him. His clothes in the closet…

Yep. So smell is my tip this month. Use it. Scatter it in.  

“The mere mention of a smell evokes memories and triggers associations in the reader’s subconscious. “ ~Ryne Hall from DIY MFA

Be Happy Where You Are #IWSG #AMWRITING

[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here

Thank you to our awesome co-hosts this month:Feather Stone, Beverly Stowe McClure, Mary Aalgaard, Kim Lajevardi, and Chemist Ken!

Check out our IWSG homepage for recent news and events.  And as always, thank you to founder Alex J. Cavaugh 🙂 

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Happiness depends on what you think quote

 

Does writing make you happy? Is it the process of writing, the creative juices that flow as you find yourself spinning a new world, new characters, and all the possibilities? What is it about the craft that draws you the most?

I think for me, its the time I spend in another place, another head, and envision all the lessons I can share, or wish I would have learned for myself.  I think it’s diving into a problem solving world, and one I know I can control and change. 

Right now, I’ve spent the last ten months working with my editor to develop my manuscript into something I know I”ll be proud of one day. I’m not as far as I want to be, only 31K in. I wish I had twice the world count, but right now life is a balance. I can’t write all the time. I can have a schedule to help myself, but my schedule is sort of blown. 

This month’s IWSG question asks: : “Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE? Care to share?

I’m finding new routines. I don’t write as much as I want. But when I do write, I write with purpose and each minute is maximized. 

My routine goes as follows:

I have to have a cup of coffee.

Then I grab a few necessary props:  A favorite book in my same genre and same voice as my own work, my rough plot outline, and most recently my iPad. Lately my dogs can’t seem to let me work at my computer station, howling and crawling up my leg until they are both plopped in my lap with one of my fluffiest blankets.

Once I am in my perfect spot on the couch, I always begin writing the same way. If I’m creating new content, I first read a chapter in my favorite book and decipher what works and what pace the author set successfully. After I’ve read the chapter I turn to mine. I analyze my plot sketch.  I study my own flow and consider whether I’ve been too wordy and need to cut description in order to maintain a reasonable pace. I reread and adjust words. I adjust dialogue and add writing tags. I usually go paragraph by paragraph, writing then rereading, editing, and then on to begin another new paragraph. This technique seems to keep the character motive fresh in my head. It also helps me analyze whether or not what I’ve written is true to character.  

I write maybe a couple of days of week. Would I like to write every day? Definitely. But I don’t beat myself up.All we can do is be happy and do what we can with where we are and with what we have.

Happy IWSG Day 🙂

Make the Best of Today

Author Toolbox Blog Hop

     The Author Toolbox Blog Hop is “a monthly blog hop on the theme of resources/learning for authors: posts related to the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, blogging tips for authors, reviews of author-related products, anything that an author would find helpful.” Want to jump into the writing tool box? Search #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join via blog, click here.  

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin." Quoted by Mother Theresa    

     Recently, life has taken on some sort of intangible new shape and I’ve got nothing brilliant to post this month. Next month, I promise to be back. I wish you all happiness, health, and good spirits as we continue to trot through these strange swirly times.

     Happy Hop Day.

Living the Waiting Game #IWSG #amwriting #SciFiTimes

[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]

This month’s awesome Co-Hosts feature other fabulous writing friends with me:

CDiane Burton, JH Moncrieff, Anna @ Emaginette, Karen @ Reprobate Typewriter,  and Lisa Buie-Collard!

Check out our IWSG homepage for recent news and events.  And as always, thank you to founder Alex J. Cavaugh 🙂 

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A reflection on my life based on the IWSG Question this month:

In early March, my mother began to take the warnings of the spreading virus seriously. I gave some thought to it, and started being more careful going out and about, and strangely, I also started buying cleaning supplies. Spring Break quickly approached, and I knew several families including my own had plans to fly out of the state. Never the country. Thank goodness. Though I did hear of a few families who were adamant they would keep their plans to fly overseas and relief came when the greater government entities stepped in and forced them to stay put.

On the work front, I’m in the field of Education. Though buildings have closed through the end of April, I’m in Public Relations and currently called in to work because it’s an essential need. Administration is busy prepping food, serving families in school parking lots, and organizing online and paper Education packets for all grades. My fiancé is also called in to work, employed in a pharmaceutical plant. We’re nervous, glad to have steady work though, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say the drive down the road to work and back isn’t scary.

So what is my plan now? I’m homeschooling the kids several days a week. They maintain a schedule with bedtimes and rising times, and thanks to my youngest daughter’s teacher, I have an hour-by-hour or topic by topic powerpoint to follow. Bless the teachers! I made my first online grocery order for a curbside pickup. It took four days to schedule the pick-up, but I feel better about the arrangement. I’ve rearranged my basement so the kids and I can get online exercise every day. Amazon Prime has some great free options for workouts, no matter your preference.

On the writing front, I just started editing and writing again this past week. I’ve been so worked up I haven’t been able to find the creative flow. I guess I figured I better try, because it feels like this is a longer road than any of us know. So I wear gloves, I carry hand-sanitizer in my car, my desk, and in every room of the house. We’re certainly living science fiction times, and I pray everyone says safe and follows guidelines for the sake of others. On a lighter note, I’ve found several great quotes to consider:

The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. — Barbara Kingsolver
You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. ― Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter  
To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless. ― G.K. Chesterton  
Everything that is done in this world is done by hope. — Martin Luther