Friday, September 27, 2013

Hey, I've Moved!

I'm pleased to announce the unveiling of my new website where my blog, My Front Porch, will move to.

You can still view old blog posts on the blogger address, but all new posts will be published on my new site.

Visit www.racheldmuller.com for news about me, my bookshelf, my articles, and how to contact me. Thanks so much for being a dedicated reader. I hope you will hop over to the new page and see what new beginnings are happening over there.

God Bless!

~Rachel

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Rear Window to Writing



This past weekend—while I was surfing Direct TV channels—I came across a favorite old movie. Immediately the classic movie stars who starred in the picture came to mind. I can hardly pass up a good movie with Grace Kelley.

Rear Window was the picture—with the unmatched, Jimmy Stewart and flawless, Grace Kelley.

Alfred Hitchcock’s depiction of nosey neighbors lands Jimmy Stewart in a mystery—only he knows who did it, but not why and how. The film progresses and Jimmy Stewart’s character, “Jeff”, finds himself in danger as he tries to untangle the motive and prove his mysterious neighbor across the way is guilty of murder.

How does this connect with a writer’s rear window?

Well, for one, did you know writers are people watchers? Not the get-in-your-business, snooping type watchers, but watchers of emotion which eventually leads a writer into thinking about all the what-if possibilities. Before long a story is developing inside that secret apartment in the writer’s mind.

Thickening the plot:

Just like turning up the heat on the stove will thicken sauce, a writer must find something incriminating to create conflict in the story. It must be believable so why not sit in the local park and scope the premises?

The Scenario:

A woman jogs along the pathway.

A man walks his dog.

A man dressed in a dark suit and sunglasses checks his wrist watch while waiting at the bus stop.

A black Mercedes makes a quick stop at the curb, the man in the dark suit gives a nod, and the car drives off.

Reality check: In real life, this situation happens all the time and is usually nothing more than everyday life…BUT—

Back to the scenario…

What if the park was being scouted by mob men?

What if the innocent woman jogging through the park was a timed signal for a pick-up or delivery to be made to the dark suit man by the leader of a mob ring in the black Mercedes?

Do you feel the need to panic yet? What if you’re the innocent bystander who sees all this happening and are spotted. Suddenly your life becomes endangered and now you’re the one who’s running.

Reality check:


No, none of these things are really happening except in the mind of a writer—from our rear window to the world.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Famous Wartime Speeches and Quotes

General Douglas MacArthur

Researching is one of my favorite parts of writing. I have enjoyed it since my 11th grade year of high school when I wrote that dreaded research report. However, it’s because of my 12th grade report that I now write World War II novels. My chosen topic—Pearl Harbor. I’ll forever be grateful to my English teacher for his insight on history.

Yesterday, I was browsing the Military, History, and HBO channels for a wartime movie. I came across the story of Douglas MacArthur and his campaign in the Philippines. One infamous speech he gave brought to mind an idea for this article today—famous World War II quotes. So I did a little digging and found a few that stood out above the rest. There were many incredible speeches made by admirable U.S. Military Officers, however due to the overrun use of slangs and curses I chose to leave those out. A simple search on Google will bring up innumerable speeches made my our military leaders of the time. 

The following quotes are the ones I thought best for this article. Most will be familiar but some may be new to you...


“Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

“The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific….

“…With confidence in our armed forces-with the unbounding determination of our people-we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.

“I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.” –President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his famous, “Day of infamy” speech. December 8th, 1941



"I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” --Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto











“To have the United States at our side was to me the greatest joy. Now at this very moment I knew the United States was in the war, up to the neck and in to the death. So we had won after all!…Hitler’s fate was sealed. Mussolini’s fate was sealed. As for the Japanese, they would be ground to powder.”--Winston Churchill


"I came through and I shall return." –General Douglas MacArthur


"Give us the tools and we will finish the job."—Winston Churchill as he addressed FDR in February, 1941















“Shoot me in the chest.”—Benito Mussolini (A quote directed at the people who later execute him)






“I don’t think of all the misery, but of all the beauty that still remains.”—Anne Frank











“As long as there are sovereign nations possessing great power, war is inevitable.” –Albert Einstein.






Thursday, August 1, 2013

Please Pass The Tissues


A movie is known to move people in ways that connect with their hearts and minds; luring them into the plot, connecting them with the characters, and yes, even bringing them to tears as the viewer subconsciously hopes and waits for that forthcoming tear-jerker scene.

I believe this is what every writer hopes to accomplish. The thought of creating a fictitious world and fictional characters with the hope that readers will fall in love with the hero and heroine and become enchanted with their story of fight, love, and endurance. The belief that the reader will delve into the plot and see with their mind’s eye the scenes unfolding in black and white is what drives a writer to create scenarios, build up the plot, leave cliffhangers then give the reader what they are desperately craving by the end chapter—a tearful, but happy (and sometimes sad), resolution to the situation at hand.

Movies that have you ‘passing the tissues’ such as The Notebook, A Walk To Remember, Courageous, or Old Yeller  will always stick somewhere close to the heart—in some cases changing the lives in certain individuals.

But creating these heart-wrenching, emotionally-driven scenes are not easy. Clever usage of adjectives and adverbs are crucial when a writer plays out a scene on paper. There is no movie magic to make that moment come to life. It lies on the shoulders of the writer to make that scene crystal clear so it naturally plays out as the reader turns the pages.

To help with that I’ve included a scene from Hallmark’s The Lost Valentine. Reason 1 because this particular scene plays out raw emotion and is true to life. Reason 2, the dialogue is short—like in books. And reason 3—I love World War II movies!

Please watch at least the first 3 or 4 minutes if you do not wish to view all 8 minutes of the segment then I invite you participate in an exercise using the comments section below.




Did you feel the emotion?

What did you see? How did the characters look, react, feel?

This is what readers crave…feeling.

Now it’s your turn: Based on the scene you just watched, use your creative mind to write out what you witnessed.


(**This is just for fun and will not be critiqued.) 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Hashtags, Friends, and Followers

In today’s technology, building a platform or do-it-yourself marketing is getting easier. Social media has opened doors to the outside world and introduced us to brand new people, places, and even allowed us to interact with some of our favorite celebrities.

For people with stardom embedded in their name it makes it a little more difficult for the ‘average Joe’ to collect ‘friends’ and ‘followers’.
 To begin building my platform I was encouraged and urged by fellow authors to interact on social media sites—which meant opening my own accounts! I mean, who has time to sit at the computer all day anyway?

-Oh, wait…

So with my chin up I dared to enter that scary, cyber world and put my name out there for all to see.

Facebook—all right. I can handle that one. I got to connect with many friends who I hadn’t seen in years and I get to talk on a regular basis with those who had moved away. No problem getting friends.

Blogger—this was my last step of faith. My life is boring, what is there to blog about? I had to dig into my inner soul to find my happy place.
I no longer stress over blog articles. My writing is more important, so I blog during my free time or I set aside one day a week to create posts that have been lurking in the back of my mind.

Twitter—ah, here we go. I was lost when I opened my Twitter account. I had no idea what to do with it, how to use it, or how to implement it into my writing.

This took much time browsing, finding people to follow, and reading what they were tweeting about. Even after I figured out the ins and outs of tweeting I still couldn’t find twitter buttons on some of my favorite articles to tweet. Then came along this app called Buffer.

I downloaded the Buffer app and now I can tweet any article or any website easily with one click of the buffer button. (And it also cuts down on character usage for those who push the character limit—like me)
Even after all that, how do you acquire followers?

Obviously this is a popularity contest. If you don’t get easily upset by not being the most popular, you’ll be fine. But for unpublished writers and authors, what is the best way to build a Twitter following?

I’m still building, but learning as I go…

Here are some helpful tips that I have found to work.

1.    If you follow someone, most likely they will follow back.

2.    Don’t just tweet about what you are doing or where you’re going every hour of the day. Find your calling card (as I call it)—what are your interests? Find interesting articles, pictures, quotes, jokes, etc…

3.    Too many tweets will turn off a follower.

4.    Simply ask for a follow.

5.    Hashtag usage—What is a hashtag? #Hashtags are those #pesky words mashed together with a #pound #symbol in front of them. Hashtags are conversations that have something to do with that word and the more you use them the more conversations you have entered. #nuffsaid

Click on the hashtag to view the conversations. This is one way to find other Twitter users and gain followers, sometimes finding the best of conversations to enter and build friendships.

6.    Which hashtags should writers use? Here’s a list of hashtags that may best benefit writers and authors:

#Writers
#Authors
#fridayreads
#goodreads
#christianfiction
#inspy
#womensfiction
#fiction
#romance
#historical

You can find me on Twitter @Rachel_DMuller. Give me a follow and I’ll likely thank you with a follow!


Have anything to add? Feel free to leave it in the comments section. I’d love to hear from you!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Book Review Friday: Once Upon A Prince by Rachel Hauck



I love how the aroma of fresh book releases leads me to another great read!
At the beginning of the year I made a point to keep a list of the top 10 books of the year. So far that list has grown, but this month a new leader has topped off that list. 
I picked up Rachel Hauck's Once Upon A Prince because of author's fantastic reviews--word of mouth so-to-speak. I'm not a big reader on modern romances but my mind is always open to something new. And from what I heard, this book was "something new". 
I loved it.
Plain and simple, I could NOT put this book down. I wasn't satisfied until I knew what path the hero and heroine chose to take. Rachel Hauck had all the elements, ingredients, and personalities to create a beautifully written and woven story of secret identities, damsel in distress, and two worlds colliding together in a match that was sure to crash and burn.
If one were to ask me which book to pick up right now I'd have to say, Once Upon A Prince...

Back Cover Blurb:

Susanna Truitt never dreamed of a great romance or being treated like a princess—just to marry the man she has loved for twelve years. But life isn’t going according to plan. When her high-school-sweetheart-turned-Marine-officer breaks up instead of proposing, Susanna scrambles to rebuild her life.

The last thing Prince Nathaniel expects to find on his American holiday to St. Simon’s Island is the queen of his heart. A prince has duties, and his family’s tense political situation has chosen his bride for him. When Prince Nathaniel comes to Susanna’s aid under the fabled Lover’s Oak, he is blindsided by love.

Their lives are worlds apart. He’s a royal prince. She’s a ordinary girl. But everything changes when Susanna receives an invitation to Nathaniel’s coronation.

It’s the ultimate choice. His kingdom or her heart? God’s will or their own?


Have you read this book? What did you think?

What books have you read recently that come in at number one on your reading list?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pinterest Boards Tell The Story



Research.

It's that little thing that separates historical from fiction...and it matters.

In this day and age there are so many ways to research, and most are right at our fingertips. Aside from historical societies, museums, and interviews we have Google, online archives, Wikipedia, and...Pinterest.

Yes, Pinterest. The online site is growing by the day and both men and women are using it to collect photos and historical facts about their passions and interests. 

However, it's not just gaining popularity for household cleaners, clothing, and DIY helps - more authors are now using it to bring "characters to life" and open new doors into their research endeavors.

I recently added a second account to Pinterest primarily for my World War II research. Anything from Army to Yugoslavia is on my Pinterest page. I separated each area of WWII history with 45 boards and over 800 pins. 

Aside from WWII facts, I added boards for men's and women's fashions in the 1940's, Hairstyles, 1940's advertisements, and my newest board, Fictional and Non-Fictional books of the WWII era.

Pinner Authors are also finding inspiration for characters as they find vintage or modern photos of notable people. I have a board for this called, Faces of War.

Books are coming to life as authors share tidbits of information about their novels in the pins they collect and share. Photos depict or play out a scene similar to one a writer has staged. Other photographs of countries, people, gadgets, and beauty are also described by fictional authors as "inspiration" or thought behind the writing. 

A few authors share their own personal pictures from visiting target locations of their research, or posting videos of interviews.

Pinterest has opened the door for readers to become more intimately connected to their favorite characters and books, and discover why the writer chose a particular issue to address.

Here are some authors who have Pinterest pages to promote their books:


Enjoy browsing a bit and learning the back story and inspiration for some of your favorite books...

1940's Slang

Clam: A dollar

Keen: Appealing, Pleasing