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Author Archives: J.S. Keim

About J.S. Keim

My husband and I are fairly new to Boise and love it! In addition to writing adult novels with romantic elements, I write middle-grade fantasy adventure and contemporary. Winston, our long-haired Dachshund rules our household with a yip, a yap and a lot of love.

Riding the Roller Coaster with Friends

One of the things I love about other writers is their ability to climb on the roller coaster with you. It isn’t always fun. The highs are highs and the lows are very low and they usually come close together.

The other day I was trying to explain to a new friend about the process of writing. She’d like to write a book and said she’d started and it was very, very hard. I, of course, assured her it was very hard indeed, producing ups and downs to a crazy degree that non-writers might not understand.

Long after we parted, I thought about it. I’ve laughed, cried, been delighted with my words, and wondered how I could ever keep going when it all looked terrible. But as I’d explained to my new friend there is something inside me that is willing to work hard to get my stories out. I can’t stop doing it, even though there’ve been many times I’ve wanted to.

The following day, a writer friend showed me a revision she’d made to her book. I was and am totally thrilled by the changes she made, taking the story to a whole new level. I might be even more excited by the book than she is because I truly think it will be her breakthrough novel.

That got me to thinking about fellow writers and how we’re willing to climb aboard a ride that we never seem to be able to stop. But sharing the ups and downs of writing is a wonderful thing. It brings out the best in you, even when you’re hanging on for dear life and swooping down before making another climb up.

Being part of a group is essential for writers. Who do you get your inspiration from?

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Posted by on October 15, 2013 in Idaho

 

Anticipation

Today, my husband and I will be attending the last of the Shakespeare Festival’s summer plays. I’ve looked forward to this for weeks. If you’ve never attended one of these outdoor events, it’s a wonderful evening of theater preceded by a picnic with wine, cheese, and bread or whatever you choose to bring.

 As I was trying to think of a subject for the blog, the word anticipation popped into my head. And, naturally, because it’s a blog with writers, I thought of how important anticipation is in any story. Many of my writer friends have gone from writing romance or women’s fiction to writing erotica. In talking to one of the more successful erotica writers, she told me, for her books, it isn’t about the actual acts but about anticipation.

Roller Coaster

 My books for children don’t take on the same subjects, of course, but anticipation is a big part of the stories I write for them (at least that’s what I’m aiming for). Why? Because anticipation builds tension and tension moves the reader forward. Sounds easy, huh? It isn’t.

In a class I took, the theme was building tension through each scene. I’m a pantser, so classes like this are agony for me. But if I force myself to try and think of my story in scenes instead of flowing moments, I sometimes see how I can build a better story.

What do you do to make a better, faster moving story?

 
10 Comments

Posted by on September 12, 2013 in Idaho

 

A Magical Moment

This past weekend, Peter and I drove to Seattle to see Josie, our oldest grandchild, in a play. The drive is eight solid hours. We left on Friday morning and arrived in Seattle in time to fight Friday night traffic made worse by construction and hotel personnel who gave us wrong directions. Our hotel, the only one where Peter could use hotel points, was not at all what we expected. Grumble. Grumble.

Later, we were able to make it to our dinner reservations and had a wonderful seafood dinner at Etta’s, by Pike’s Market. Nice.
Saturday morning we had to walk three blocks through spitting rain for a Starbucks coffee because in the hotel dining room, which appeared half-empty to us, there was a twenty-minute wait for food. Was that okay? we were asked. No, it was not.

The rain left and we had a rare, sparkling day during which we could walk around. First, we had to park our car. We found the perfect lot–close to shopping, close to the market. $8.00 was posted. For a few hours, we thought. But we soon learned by reading the small print, the price was $8.00 every thirty minutes!!! An enterprising young man directed the crowd of grumbling people to a lot a block and a half away where you could pay $8.00 for three hours, plus tips to him and his fellow enterprising worker.

We had fun walking around and enjoying the cooler air. After the allotted three hours, we picked up our car and headed out of the city to a new hotel closer to where Josie was performing. The major highway one would normally take to the new location was closed, due to construction. Fortunately, a front desk clerk at the hotel, knew back roads to get to our new location plus how to get from the new hotel to the theater where Josie was performing.

After an early dinner, we headed out to the theater. The performance was at 7:30 and we were due to arrive at 7:00 PM. We did not want to be late. We pulled out the directions for back roads and followed them carefully– until we reached a sign that said, Summer Festival. Road Closed Ahead. Grumble. Grumble.

We arrived at the theater just after 7 PM, where we met with family. Nice.

Josie Theater

Two plays were being performed. We watched the first one, anxiously waiting for the moment when our star would be on stage. Josie has always had a beautiful voice (not from me!) but has been shy about performing. At 14, she’s found a niche where she can act and sing and not worry about the teasing she often gets about being so small. (She was a 2 lb. preemie and is still small – perfectly proportioned but small).

Our anticipation built as intermission came and went. Then, there she was, a beauty playing Beauty in Beauty and the Beast. The lines were written in verse and sometimes it was hard to hear the kids. But Josie’s voice rang out true and clear, her face showing the emotions of the moment. Truly, a star was born. Our star. And all the difficulty of getting there, and knowing we’d have to get up and drive eight hours to get back home, meant nothing as we greeted her at the end of the show with hugs and tears and flowers.

 
22 Comments

Posted by on August 13, 2013 in Idaho

 

Rules Are Rules…Or Are They?

In going through my emails, I saw that a friend posted a blurb she’d created for a new novella and asked for opinions on it. Was it too long? Did it get the point across? Did it intrigue the reader? Etc. This particular author is experienced–she’s had a number of ebooks published and has self-published some works on her own. Still, she, like the rest of us, is wondering if she’s following the “rules” that we hear and read about so often.

It got me to thinking about all of the rules that plague writers today. Many of these so-called rules come from articles or buzz about what editors or agents are looking for. If you’ve been in the business of submitting for any length of time, it becomes quite clear that what agents or editors say they want or how they want it presented isn’t really true. Why? Because when pressed, most will say that don’t know exactly what they’re looking for; they’ll just know it when they see it. In other words, it has to strike a chord with them—right subject, right time, right place, etc.

The sad thing for me is that publishing has become such a numbers business that the heart of it is lost. There’s almost no professional feedback for the author trying to break through publishing doors. Submissions are made and either a request follows or…get ready…one never hears a word. That’s a new rule we could all do without. Do you agree?

 
15 Comments

Posted by on July 9, 2013 in Idaho

 

Location, Location, Location

Real estate agents have a mantra – Location, location, location! And they’re right. Location can mean the difference between a successful choice or one that doesn’t quite work out the way you’d thought.

Earlier this spring, a mourning dove built a nest in a pot of pansies hanging over part of our patio. I wish I could’ve told her she’d chosen a poor location. The flowers were near the grilling station and next to an area where we sit outside. It was exposed to all the elements. From inside, we watched her sit on the nest through sun, rain and wind. Our excitement grew as the days went by. Surely little birds would be chirping soon. One day, she flew away, leaving three perfect little eggs behind. We waited, but she never returned.

Now a little wren is sitting on eggs in a nest built into a wreath by our front door. The nest is protected from the elements. Her only problem is that people have to pass the nest to get inside. (I’ve posted a sign on a post outside that warns people that Mama Bird is in the nest and we try not to use the front door too often. She seems to understand we won’t disturb her home.

Why this story? So I can tie it into writing. (I hear some of you groaning! )

Choosing a location for your story is as important as a mama bird choosing a site for her nest. A location or setting can often be a huge part of your story. I love reading about places I haven’t visited.

How about you? What stories have you loved in large part because of their location?

 
18 Comments

Posted by on June 4, 2013 in Idaho

 

The Colors of Life

I’ve been enjoying Spring in Boise. It reminds me very much of Springtime in Atlanta, Georgia, where Bradford pear trees bloom white and cherry trees bloom a stunning pink, similar to the ones along Park Center Drive and elsewhere here in Boise. Here, the foot hills inch their way into green and Willow trees droop in pale green, displaying their newness.

My husband and I have moved a lot and have lived in many different places and we’ve found beauty everywhere. I believe that no matter where people live or in what time period—from cave man’s society to ours—there’s something about us humans that makes us strive to find meaning and beauty in our lives.

My husband recently worked on a study for the state government of Wyoming, assessing various state parks. He was blown away by some of the things he saw. He was especially excited to show me pictures of petroglyphs, because in one of my middle-grade fantasies, the kids discover these primitive drawings in a cave and begin to understand the meaning behind them.

Because we’re “foodies” we find great pleasure in creating tasty, colorful meals and sharing them with others—a creation of another kind.

I find music is a wonderful balm to the end of a busy day.

And what person, like me, doesn’t love to stretch out on a lazy, rainy day with a story?

From colors to flowers, to food, to art, to music, to the written word, these are things to enjoy. What “colors” do you add to your life? To your writing?

 
11 Comments

Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Idaho

 

The Power of Spring

I don’t know about you, but from the moment Valentine’s Day was over, I waited and hoped for spring.  After living in the South for many years, it was difficult to see late snow, feel the cold wind and wonder when warmer weather would arrive.

Image

 Now that we’ve had temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s, I’m embracing the warmer weather and enjoying the real signs of spring. There is something about the freshness of the season that fills me with contentment and purpose. I look at the tender green leaves coming out, the daffodils bobbing in the breeze, the yellow forsythia blooms and my heart squeezes with joy at being part of such renewed life. Oh, I know spring will lead to summer, when most people will complain it’s too hot, but I savor each spring day.

 Enjoying this change of season has reminded me to slow down and enjoy each day with the same excitement and possibilities that new spring days bring. And, as usual, my thoughts turn to writing and I wonder how to make readers feel emotions and excitement to the degree I sometimes feel them. It’s one of the many challenges of writing. So, when I struggle with it, I’ll try to remember the powerful emotions I feel when spring finally arrives.

How about you? What do you do to inject emotion in your stories?

 
14 Comments

Posted by on April 11, 2013 in Idaho