Book Review: SAWBONES – Melissa Lenhardt


SAWBONES – Melissa Lenhardt

Book Review by Rory C. Keel

Set in the post-civil war 1800s, the main character Cathrine Bennett starts her journey in New York City. Being a female and desiring to practice as a doctor, she is hindered by societal norms of the day. Falsely accused of murder by the wife of a male patient, she sails to Galveston, Texas and begins her dangerous and thrilling escape to the West.

On her trek to start a new life, she faces the loss of loved ones and her own possessions forcing her to survive. Suffering through severe storms and  Indian attacks, we see her tenacity to live and save others.

“I needed to concentrate, to push my personal tragedy and guilt to the back of my mind and focus on Captain Kindle’s wound.”

As a male reader of the Historical Western genre, I really liked this book. I picked this book up on a whim at the bookstore and ended up reading all three in the trilogy.  While characterized by some as a feminist western, I found it to be a thrilling western and offered insight into the female viewpoint of the hardships endured in the historical West.

A snapshot in a time of your life


A snapshot in a time of your life

Rory C. Keel

To find a story idea, think of a snapshot of time in your own life. 

No, I’m not talking about writing a memoir piece, but using something we all have — a snapshot in time. 

We all have those brief moments in life when we see something out of the ordinary, an event, or an interaction between people or things that make us pause for a brief second. Those snapshots of time are story ideas.

Perhaps you heard someone’s voice and wondered who they were speaking to and what did they mean. A story Idea!

Think back in your mind to the last time something caught you off guard, and you thought, I wonder what that was about?

Now make up a story!

Active Writing cultivates new Material.


Active Writing cultivates new Material.

 Rory C. Keel

 

As a writer do you struggle to find new material to write?

For me, ideas often come to mind when I am actively writing as if one idea sprouts from another. As my story moves along, writing one sentence after the next, a scene will unfold unlocking a previous thought. Occasionally a secret door in that scene will open showing me an object or a thought that feels out of place and doesn’t fit. These are what I call my story seeds, seeds for another project.

 Story Seeds                                                           

Story seeds are small bits of information that emerge in your thoughts. They can be simple objects like a single red sock hung on a clothesline: why is it blowing in the wind as if forgotten, or was it intentional and a signal for someone? Maybe an animal such as a small brown dog runs through your thoughts while you write. Why is he alone? Does he have a master? These story seeds may be a specific place you’ve never been before or a mysterious person that suddenly emerges in your mind and then vanishes. When these items appear, I quickly record them to use in a future piece.

 Make a List

Make a list in a small pocket notebook or journal of story seeds when they happen. When you struggle to find something to write, use the list to spark a story. Ask when, where, who, what and how about each item on the list to generate the next story.

Make your list!

Rory C. Keel

 

 

Don’t Forget The Senses As Part of Your Setting


Don’t Forget The Senses In Your Setting

How does the loss of sight affect your hearing?

What color does an orange smell like?

How loud is an inner voice?

Can you describe how the wind feels?

What does sour taste like?

When I am writing, it’s easy to visualize what I want my characters to see and feel or even smell. However putting it down on paper so that the reader can clearly see them is a difficult task. For example, if I write, “He walked into the room and gazed at the beautiful painting hanging on the wall.” What does the reader see? What object is displayed in the painting? What colors make the painting beautiful? How is it framed?

This dilemma came to life for me when the main character of my novel, UNLAWFUL WORDS, suddenly goes blind. Writing what he saw with his eyes came to an abrupt halt. How do I write his experiences now?

A blindfold

Using a blindfold I spent several hours experiencing the darkness. Immediately I began to depend on my hearing, turning my head from side to side trying to capture all the sounds around me. My hands automatically reached forward hoping to feel something familiar and my feet slowed their steps to prevent stumbling. The objects once identified by sight now had to be described by feeling the texture, or the smell. These are the details that help the reader understand what the character is experiencing.

In your writing, use the basic senses such as taste, touch, hear, see, smell. Be careful not to give the reader sensory overload by giving a long string of description using all five sense on every situation, when generally the use of two or more different senses can tie the picture together for the reader.

Rory C. Keel

http://www.roryckeel.com

 

Settings Adds Dimension


This month in our WordsmithSix blogs, we will be writing on the topic of settings.

Settings Adds Dimension

Rory C. Keel

The setting most often is thought of as only the backdrop to a story. However, many times, the surrounding landscape, or a single small item that is touched or seen may be a pivotal point of change for your character.

History and culture are essential in the setting. Whether your story is placed in ancient history or in more recent times, your characters will have an extra dimension that allows them to come alive to the reader as they interact with the culture of the time. Even future or fantasy genres have a culture and history. History and culture help define who your characters are.

Climate and geography play a big part in the setting of a story. Is it winter or summer? Are your characters in a forest or relaxing on a sandy beach?  The climate may determine how your character will dress. Geography will dictate a person’s activities and how they might react to challenges. Running from a bear, or being stung by a jellyfish while swimming, may even change a plot’s direction.

The setting of a story includes the “When” and “Where” of a story. It brings depth to your characters and fills your story with richness.

The Place Where Writing Flows


The Place Where Writing Flows

Rory C Keel

For me, reaching that place where writing flows happens when I put my self into the story. For a reader to be drawn into a story while reading, the writer has to go there first. When I see the setting and know the character’s good traits and flaws, when I feel their emotions, that’s the point when the writing flows. That place becomes very personal because, by putting myself in the story I must reveal pieces of myself, both good and bad.

Thanks for following WordsmithSix!

Inspired By The Past


Inspired By The Past

Rory C Keel

I would have to say that I write in the genre that I read and enjoy. I love reading inspirational Christian stories that encourage the human spirit along with history and the human resolve to overcome adversity. To be able to take lessons from the past and put them into words in order to inspire others in life drives me to write in the Christian, Historical and inspirational genre.