Monday, October 21, 2013
Beverly Stowe McClure - A Pirate, A Blockade Runner, and A Cat - Guest Post
When I was teaching, I was very organized. My lesson plans were made in advance. Worksheets and tests for the students were run off on the copy machine ahead of time. I recorded grades daily or whenever needed. At home I set aside certain days to clean the house, wash the clothes, iron, shop at the supermarket, and run my boys from ball games to friends’ houses and other places their busy schedule demanded. Yup, I was an organized lady, until I started writing.
When I made the big decision to write stories and articles, the word “organized” disappeared from my vocabulary. “Chaos” replaced it. With my schoolwork and housework, I stayed busy from sunup to sunset. Finding time to write was a challenge. I hear many of you nodding “yes.” Chores and left-over things to do danced in my head at bedtime, keeping me awake instead of getting my beauty sleep. As I grew older, I needed sleep more and more, and I especially longed for the beauty part. I couldn’t go on moving like a Zombie for long. Something had to give. I needed to organize my writing. What? Wouldn’t organizing my house be easier? Actually, a cluttered house doesn’t bother me too much. A cluttered story does. So I had to figure a way to change from my haphazard method of writing and stop wasting my time. I read articles on getting organized and time management, especially for writers. I looked at what other authors were doing, copying down the ideas that I liked. Now, to organize my stories and characters, I do these things.
One: I interview my characters. The normal stuff like name, age, school, family, likes, dislikes, pets, sports, music, favorites, etc. When I ask the characters questions, what they don’t say sometimes is more informative than what they do say. As the story progresses and I learn more about the characters, I add to the interviews.
Two: Since I usually work on more than one manuscript at a time, I like to use index cards for pertinent information in each chapter of each story. The book title, chapter, page numbers, and word count go at the top of the card. Then I add the setting, like school, Kate’s room, beach, etc. I also list the characters in that chapter. And very important for me because my memory lasts about as long as an ice cream cone in my hands, I write two or three sentences about what happens in this particular scene. I tape the cards to poster board so I don’t misplace them. With the cards and interviews, I can quickly look up eye/hair color, determine whether these characters have met before, the character’s goal in a scene, and anything else my brain has hidden away in a secret corner.
There are many different ways to sweep chaos out of your writing room and invite organization to come in. I’m still working on mine. Now I have a sort of “organized chaos.” How do you stay organized?
About the Book
Thirteen-year-old Erik Burks’ life is falling apart. When he discovers a lace bra in the glove compartment of his dad’s car, his mom leaves his father and drags Erik from being king of the hill in Texas to the bottom of the pits in South Carolina. No Dad, no baseball, no friends, just Starry Knight (a girl who reads minds) and her equally weird brother, Stormy, the twins that live down the block.
Just when Erik thinks life can’t get any worse, while hanging out at the beach one evening, he and the twins notice lights radiating from the lighthouse. The only problem is the lighthouse was deactivated years ago. Stranger still, a ship materializes in the moonlit harbor. Curious, the twins and a reluctant Erik investigate and discover the ghost of a blockade runner, a phantom cat, and a pirate who prowls Charleston Harbor, all searching for rest.
A former nonbeliever in the existence of ghosts, Erik cannot deny the proof before him. And he has a revelation: The ghosts may be the answer to his desire to return home. Erik soon makes a deal with the ghosts. He’ll help them find what they’re looking for so their spirits can rest in peace. In return, the ghosts will scare Erik’s mother so she’ll be on the next flight back to Texas. Star thinks his plan stinks, but Erik wants his life back, even at the cost of his mother’s sanity.
Prices/Formats: $5.50 ebook
Genre: MG/Tween Paranormal
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing
Release Date: January 4, 2013
Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, MuseItUp Publishing
“Have you seen the lights?” Star asked.
On the day we met she told me to call her Star or Starry. Either way she was from outer space. I glanced over my shoulder at the football field length of tall grass separating the beach from the nearest houses.
“You mean those?” I pointed at the hazy glow around a street lamp. “What’s the big deal?”
“Not those. Over there.” Star tipped her head in the direction of the water. “Look.”
“I’m looking. I’m looking.” Why was she so excited? All I saw was a faint beam of light floating across the inlet. “So? It’s a reflection of the moon.”
Star shook her head. “No moon tonight.”
She was right. Yet stars (the heavenly kind, not the girl) glittered between the layers of gathering clouds. “Okay, it’s only the starlight.”
“The light comes from the lighthouse,” Star said.
“You can see it blink on and off,” Storm added.
Morris Island Lighthouse stood several hundred yards into the water. According to Mom, who was big on history, the water was land during the Civil War. Over the years the sea had eroded the shore and water now surrounded the lighthouse. I couldn’t deny the yellow glow flowing from the top of the building. I couldn’t explain it either.
“Impossible. Mom said the lighthouse has been out of commission for years. The lantern was removed. Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse across Charleston Harbor replaced it.”
“Then tell us what it is, Erik,” Star said. “You see it. Storm and I see it. This isn’t the first time, either. On cloudy, rainy nights the light flashes on.”
“It’s not raining,” I said.
“It is raining.”
Star had barely said the words when a gust of wind whipped across the beach. Sand spiraled like a Texas dust devil. Something wet slapped me on the nose. Several somethings wet—raindrops. The space girl predicted the weather. So what? Dark clouds usually brought rain. “Yeah, it’s raining.” Under my breath I mumbled, “And I’m getting wet.”
In a lame attempt to pep me up about my new home, Mom had promised many adventures waited for me in Charleston. Adventures? Yeah. If you called ocean waves slurping against the shore and neighbors with two grains of sand each for brains adventures, I was up to my wet nose in adventures.
The twins stared into the gloomy night, watching the light fading into a dim sliver.
The rain seeped into my T-shirt, gluing it to my skin. Lightning raced across the sky. I shivered. I’d had enough. I shook Stormy’s shoulder. He kept his eyes focused across the inlet. Star didn’t budge. They could drown if they wanted. I was outta there. I jumped to my feet, turned, and took one step, before Star snagged my ankle.
“Wait. Where are you going?”
“Home, before I turn into a duck with webbed feet,” I yelled above the whistling wind and growling thunder.
She freed my ankle and stood. Raindrops plastered her carrot-red hair against her face. “Besides the light, we’ve seen a ship, Erik. It always comes during bad weather.”
Stormy sprang up. “We think someone in the lighthouse is warning the ships.”
“Who? How? They can’t.”
About the Author
Beverly Stowe McClure, a former teacher, is now enjoying a second career: writing. She never planned to be a writer, but in the classroom she and her students did such fun activities in art and science that she decided to write about some of them. Luckily, a few magazines liked what she sent them, and her articles have appeared in Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, Ladybug, Focus on the Family Clubhouse, Jr., and others. Nine of her stories have been published as books, the latest one a MG/Tween eBook: A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat. She also has two stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies.
Beverly enjoys discovering her ancestors in her genealogy research. She plays the piano. (Thank you, Mom, for making encouraging me to practice.) She takes long walks where she snaps pictures of wildlife and clouds, and of course she reads, usually two books at a time. She teaches a women’s Sunday school class. Watching baseball (Go Rangers) is another of her favorite activities. Retirement is fun.
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