Tuesday, November 29, 2011


When Writing a Synopsis

By Molly Noble Bull

A synopsis should begin with a hook just like many others types of writing. At the same time, it must get to the point of the story. Quick.
However, women in general have a hard time getting to the point in normal conversations. According to my husband, I have that problem in particular. How many times have I heard him or one of our sons say, "Get to the point." Or "Can we hear the short version?"  
The conversation below makes this problem clear--at least in my mind. Hope you agree. I also hope it will make tight synopsis writing easier. 

"Would you like to drive into the city?" the man asked.
“I’d have to go to Target first,” the woman replied. “No question about that. And I need to have my nails done.” She showed him her hands. “Just look at these. Have you ever seen fingernails this bad? Well, my toenails are worse, if you can believe it. And of course, I’ll have to phone Anita. I promised I would.” 
“Get to the point, honey.” 
“Oh, I almost forgot about Pretty Cat. We can’t leave her behind when she's expecting kittens. I guess we could leave her in the back seat with a window down a little.” She shook her head. “No, she could become overheated. We’ll just have to leave her at home in the air conditioning. Besides—”
“Honey, I asked you a questions twenty or so paragraphs back, and there can only be one of two answers—either yes or no. So, would you like to drive into the city?” 
“My goodness, sweetie. Weren’t you listening? I already answered that question.” 

Did she or didn’t she? You can only give one answer. Either yes or no.
Does this dialogue sound like it came from the mouth of you and your husband? It sure sounds like countless conversations my husband and I have had.
The gift for gab is fine when writing a novel. But when writing a synopsis, you need to get to the point. In other words, write it the way your hubby would.
“Would you like to drive into the city?” the man asked.

Don't forget to leave a comment. We want to hear about your "get to the point" hubby.

Speaking of getting to the point, I have another one.
Check out my first non-fiction book that I wrote with four other authors titled The Overcomers: Christian Authors Who Conquered Learning Disabilites by Margaret Daley, Ginny Aiken, Jane Myers Perrine, Ruth Scofield and me, Molly Noble Bull.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


by Molly Noble Bull

I would like to introduce my newest book—The Overcomers: Christian Authors Who Conquered learning Disabilities.

Yep, I’m dyslexic.
My previous books were novels. This one is non-fiction and written by five published novelists—Ginny Aiken, Margaret Daley, Jane Myers Perrine, Ruth Scofield and me, Molly Noble Bull. All five are multi-published.
My father and my maternal grandfather were real for sure Texas cowboys, and I spent part of my growing up years on a big cattle ranch in Kenedy County, Texas, living there during until January of my first grade year. I had a wonderful mother, but she was not a schoolteacher. Nevertheless, she was my home-school teacher, while we lived on the ranch, and not being in a regular school might have delayed discovering that I had problems.  
The book, The Overcomers, is divided into five parts, and each of the five published authors tells how their learning problems affected them as children and teens. For years, I tried to keep others from knowing my secret—that I had a learning problem. However, with the writing of The Overcomers, all five of us came out of the closet.
In my part, I share what it was like to seem normal but be the dumbest kid in my elementary school, and if you can image pushing a one hundred pound rock up a hill with nothing but a toothpick, you have some idea how difficult it is for a child with a learning problem to read or spell ten simple words. I also share some of my experiences as a teen and young adult, living on the Santa Rosa and the La Paloma Ranches. 

This photo was taken on the Santa Rosa Ranch, and I am the twelve-year-old girl on the left.

The next photo is of my grandfather, Seth Woods, in a lineup with the ranch cowboys. He is the cowboy to the left of the man on the wagon, and the child is my late uncle, Mack Woods. Seth Woods ran the Santa Rosa Ranch in Kenedy County for almost forty years. Mack Woods was once president of Polled Santa Gertrudis Breeders Association.  

To find The Overcomers and my other books at Amazon, write Molly Noble Bull in the search slot. You will need to scroll down to find The Overcomers. But you can’t miss it with that bright yellow cover. The Overcomers is available as a Kindle e-book for $3.99. To go to Amazon and see the e-book now, click below.
A printed copy of this book will also be available soon in time for the holidays.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

First things First

Today I spent some time with an aspiring writer overwhelmed by the idea of beginning a book, let alone writing the whole thing. She considered our meeting a God moment since she'd been praying about what to do with the stories that had been rattling around in her head for years.

She'd bought the right books, even signed up for a conference aboard a cruise ship with Karen Kingsbury this coming March. But still she was overwhelmed and unsure of what to do about all those stories. We had a great time talking. I shared a few experieces along my journey to publication and did what I could to encourage her. But other than a pep talk and reassurance that she was doing what God designed her to do, she needed something concrete that would help her get that story out of her head and onto the paper.

My advice for the very first thing to do was join some online writing groups and connect with other writers. During the next few months while waiting for her cruise I suggested she get those characters out of her head and give them life of their own. Take notes, organize plot lines, sketch a few characters, and don't edit, regardless of how strong the desire to do so.

All she had ever done was think about her stories. She'd never written the first word. Sometimes the first word is the most intimidating. We've all been there. That blinking cursor mocks and the voices in our heads tell us we don't know what we're doing so why even bother. But we have to ignore the negative voices, surround ourselves with encouragers who've been where we strive to go.

Happy writing, Janet. I wish you all the success in the world.

What about everyone else? What advice would you give a fledgling writer who doesn't know where to begin? What first thing would you do first? Please share so others may grow and be encouraged in their walk?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


by Molly Noble Bull

                                             Molly Noble Bull 

          Remember those birthday party invitations we all got as children?  One that I recall had a cowboy on the cover, signaling that the party had a cowboy theme, and I will never forget what was written on the inside of that card.  I call the cowboy on the cover a sort of hook, encouraging friends to attend special events, but the meat of the invitation was found inside. 
The W Rule
          What do party invitations have to do with writing chapter and scene openings?  More than you might think.  To make my point, below is an example of a typical birthday invitation. 
          Who? Tom Brown 
          What? His tenth birthday party
          When?  Saturday, September 25, 2012 
          Where?  308 Creek Drive, Rockdale, Texas; 
          Why?  Because we want to celebrate Tom’s birthday, that’s why. 
          Like the cowboy on the cover of party invitations, every chapter should begin and end with a hook, and every chapter and scene should start with a problem.  However, I have also found that successful chapter openings and scene changes are identical in many ways to the format used in writing party invitations. 
          As an author, my goal is to invite the reader to a party of words, my words.  In order to do that, I must send him or her an invitation answering all the who, what, when, where and why questions--henceforth known as the W rule. 
Full-Bodied Sentences
          A full-bodied sentence is one that answers the W rule questions, but writing full-bodied sentences at the beginning of every chapter and scene opening might not be the best way to coax readers to taste one’s work.  However, I have learned that when I include the information found in the full-bodied sentence, my scene openings become more inviting to the reader. 
          The man went to town is a simple sentence, but it can become full-bodied.  To answer the “who” question, I gave the man a first and last name, Jim Cooper.  Jim Cooper went to town.  Naming my character improved the quality of my sentence, but more information was needed before it became full-bodied.  
          The full-bodied sentence below answers all the W rule questions.  Here’s how. 
          (When?) “Early on an October morning, (Who?) Jim Cooper (Where?) left his small farm in rural Mississippi and (How?) drove his team of mules (Where?) to Oakton Corners (Why?) to buy medicine for (What is the problem?) his sick wife and child.” 
          “How” is an emotional question and optional.  The reader might also want to know “what” the weather is like?  The final version of this sentence, answers the “how” question and tells about the weather.  “Early on a (What is the weather?) cold, windy morning in late October and (How is his emotional state?) trembling with worry, Jim Cooper left his small farm in rural Mississippi and drove his team of mules to Oakton Corners to buy medicine for his sick wife and child. 
Openings vs. Scene Changes
          Every novel is divided into three parts: the beginning, the middle, and the ending.  I once read or heard that the beginning part of a novel ends when all the W rule questions have been answered. 
          These questions can be answered easily in one full-bodied sentence.  However, it often takes a page or two to allow that same information to flow smoothly into the text of my novels. 
          Scene changes are different from chapter openings in that all the beginning questions need not be answered a second time.  For example, if the reader knows all about Jim Cooper, scene two could begin with “An hour later, he finally got to town.” 
          All my manuscripts don’t have a cowboy on the cover to hook the reader, but I never fail to issue invitations.  I have learned that when I invite the reader to choose my novels by beginning with a hook and a problem and then answering all the questions listed above, readers attend my parties and read my books. 
CBA author, Molly Noble Bull, lives in Kingsville, Texas, and her novels have been published at Zondervan and Steeple Hill and two were reprinted by Guideposts, the Book Division. 
The Winter Pearl, her Steeple Hill long historical, was set in Colorado in 1888 and was published in trade paperback in 2004 and in mass-market paperback in 2007. It is now an e-book. Brides and Blessings, another of Molly's Love Inspired novels, is also an e-book. Molly's newest book, The Overcomers, will be published in December 2011. 
Note: This article by Molly Noble Bull was first published in the Christian Communicator magazine in 2005. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mind Over Madi by Lynda Lee Schab

Today we're so excited to welcome Lynda Lee Schab to Writer's Rest. Lynda's first book, Mind Over Madi, is being released this month by Oak Tara Publishers. Lynda, welcome to Writer's Rest and congratulations on the release of Mind Over Madi.

What is the book about? Tell us a little about the plot.

Madi McCall is a 38-year-old mom of three whose insecurities are destroying her marriage. When she suspects her husband Rich is cheating with the mother of one of his fourth grade students, she kicks him out of the house and he moves in with his bachelor brother. Madi is then forced to take a deeper look at herself and her insecurities. She does this with the help of a counselor, her best friend Sylvie, and a few cartons of Edy’s Dibs. At a 20-year get-together with former high school classmates, Madi runs into “the other woman” and things come to a head. It’s a lighthearted story about taking a true look at ourselves and accepting God’s grace when we think and do dumb things.

Which character is most like you, and why?

There is a lot of me in Madi. Insecurity is something I’ve always struggled with. As a child, I was very shy. As a teenager, I was insecure about everything, which resulted in a lot of rebelling and contributed to hundreds of my mom’s migraines, I’m sure. As an adult, early in my marriage I experienced some of the insecurities Madi deals with, regarding her husband and his faithfulness. That isn’t something I deal with anymore today, but I still have similar insecurities about what others think of me, as well as doubts about God’s love for me. Other ways I’m like Madi is that we share bad eating habits, a love for coffee, a tendency to waste hours of time playing computer games, and an insane fear of spiders.

I absolutely love the book's cover. I'm sure it will influence a lot of shoppers. On the cover, “Madi” is wearing a tiara. What is the significance in that?

Madi’s therapist challenges her to think of herself as a princess – the daughter of the King. Madi has never thought of herself this way, and throughout the story, there are references to various Disney princesses as Madi tries to figure out which one she most relates to. I had fun with the theme, even giving “the other woman” the fairy tale-ish name of Fawn Witchburn.

What do you want readers to take away from reading Madi’s story?

An understanding of just how infinite God’s love is. That no matter what we’ve done, God will never stop pursuing our hearts or desiring a relationship with us. His mercies are new every morning and His grace covers our weaknesses, our mistakes, our ignorance.

Are you planning another book? If so, what is the story?

I am currently working on book #2 in the Madi series, titled, Madily in Love. Now that Madi and Rich are working things out, she attends a class at church to try to put the romance back into her marriage. But with her mother-in-law living with them, Madi’s new job, and issues with her kids, things don’t exactly go as planned. It’s a fun book that will look at finding peace –and romance - in the middle of chaos.

There will also be a book #3. I have the title and the premise, but I’ll save the details for later, when I have the plot worked out.

Yay! We can't wait. Now that we know a little more about the book, I'm always curious to hear about an author's publishing journey. When and how did you get interested in writing?

I’ve always loved to read, which seems to be a precursor for all writers. I don’t remember exactly when I picked up a pen and started to write, but I remember writing a story in 6th grade called The Summer I Went to Honolulu (no, I’d never been there – and still haven’t!), complete with caricature drawings. I moved on to writing plays for my cousins and me to perform for our parents, then tried my hand at poetry. In high school, it was all about poetry – some of it was pretty good, but some was very, very bad. I still love to write poetry, but prefer to create funny, rhyming poems for retirement parties, milestone birthdays, bridal or baby showers, and other fun occasions.

What is the writing process like for you?

Honestly, I don’t have a typical process. As this is my debut novel, I’m on a learning curve. While writing MIND OVER MADI, I basically wrote when I felt like it, with no set schedule. Now that I have contracts for the next two books in the series, which my editor wants to publish 6-9 months apart, I’m doing everything I can to learn how to organize my time effectively. But I do tend to work better on a deadline, so hopefully that will work out for me. We’ll see!

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

Favorite: The creative process. Thinking a story through from beginning to end and then seeing my vision come to life through the characters and situations I create.

Least favorite: Definitely the self discipline it requires. Time management is something I’ve always struggled with. Making myself sit down and focus when I know the basement needs cleaning, laundry is piling up, my office needs to be organized, or I want to watch the episode of Survivor I missed the night before is my biggest challenge.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

That’s easy: Apply the Butt Glue and just write. Discipline has never been my biggest strength, but that book won’t get written unless I park my behind in the chair and start typing. Even when I don’t feel like it. Even when I have a million other things to do. One of my favorite quotes on writing is “You can fix bad, but you can’t fix blank.”

Who or what inspires you?

People in general inspire me. Whether it’s hearing a moving testimony or just witnessing someone’s positive outlook on life, I find inspiration to be a better person by various people I meet. A good message from my pastor, a pep talk from a friend, or a song I hear on the radio. Inspiration is everywhere. All that’s required is a heart to receive it.

What would be your dream job if you weren’t a writer?

I would probably being doing something in the field of mental health, whether as a counselor or in research or something. Why people do what they do fascinates me and I love learning about human behavior. I’m constantly analyzing people and my husband is always telling me I should have been a psychologist. He’s probably right. In writing, I think this helps me in character development.

Or an ice cream tester. Now that would be a dream job.

Wouldn't it?! If you find one, be sure and get me an application. But seriously though, could you tell us what Bible verse is Mind over Madi based on?

Well, I have a couple of scriptures on which Mind over Madi is based. First, Isaiah 26:3 tells us that it’s only when our minds are stilled, we’ll have peace. “You will keep in perfect peace, those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”

Another one I think is especially fitting with Madi’s insecurity and trust issues is: “… It (Love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:7

Thanks so much, Lynda, for spending some time with us today, and congratulations again on the release of MIND OVER MADI. Could you let us know how readers can connect with you and more importantly get their hands on a copy of the book?

My website address is www.lyndaschab.com. I also have a blog with various writing and reading-related material at www.on-the-write-track.blogspot.com. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, November 7, 2011

THE WAY: A Movie Review

By Jane West

It’s not often a movie comes around that you’d recommend to friends. The Way (based on a pilgrimage called The Way of Saint James) is such a wholesome experience, and I want to tell you about it.
The Way is the story of a father’s love for his son, which heals his heart and changes his life. Martin Sheen portrays the father with sensitivity and pathos. On the pilgrimage Way, which he would never have taken on his own initiative, he begins to clearly see the beauty of our world, which puts other things in perspective. Walking this long, difficult pilgrimage over the Pyrenees Mountains, gradually his busy, scheduled life fades, relegated to a lesser place in the importance of life. He meets other pilgrims on the Way, and finishes his route with three of them who trek with him. Totally different from him, they become companions, making an unusual foursome.
The photography is wonderful, with wide, sweeping views of valleys and villages and people who live in Eastern Spain past the western slopes of the mountains.
The powerful, yet simply story draws you in right away, and one scene has a pro-life message, but not blatantly. Because The Way is the story of a man’s pilgrimage to commemorate his adult son’s life, the movie is not one that young children would find interesting.
A wholesome movie. What a refreshing surprise; what a nice gift for the moviegoer. The Way is not highly advertised, and most people have gone because of word of mouth from a friend, as I did.
Click below to see the trailer,

I would like to introduce Jane West, the newest member of our Writers Rest family. Welcome Jane. It’s great to have you.
Jane West is an author and teacher mentor. She has written books, short stories for adults and children, how-to’s, newspaper articles, a manual for her position as Administrative Assistant in Marion County psychologist’s office, and a play which was performed in church. Her poem Tumbleweeds won first prize in the Southern Oregon. Poet’s contest. She  teaches a writing class in Oregon, where she lives, near her children and grandchildren.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Gratuitous language--True to Character or Lazy Writing?

Yesterday I finished reading a book that started out quite promising. It was a secular romantic comedy with a subplot of suspense by an author I’ve never read before. Within the first few chapters I was ready to call my library to track down every previous book by this author. Slowly though two minor characters came into prominence. They were there to offer romantic counsel for the heroine and comedic relief. Unfortunately they weren’t very funny and they became more obnoxious and annoying as the story progressed.

Before long I was skimming sections where these characters turned up. Not only were those scenes only marginally integral to the storyline, one of the characters had a habit of dropping the F-bomb for no reason whatsoever.

I realize in fiction some writers feel the need to give their rebellious characters a colorful vocabulary. It’s especially true in thrillers and military intrigue. I can usually skip over a police officer with less than choir boy diction. But these ladies were hair stylists. Not usually a profession known for its stressful situations.

In a light-hearted moment of recollecting past loves where you or I…or just about anybody for that matter…might react with a “Seriously?” or “Wow.” the character in question dropped the bomb nearly every time she opened her mouth. Our heroine who had just met these women expressed no reaction though she never used profanity herself. Mind you, the story took place in a small Texas town, not a barroom or the Gaza Strip.

In the last chapter while our heroines were hot on the trail of the bad guy, who happened to already be sitting in jail by this time, the second hair stylist began dropping the bomb with every other word. Again, no reaction from other characters. To her credit she was in a stressful situation, but wouldn’t one of the other characters notice the alteration in her personality?

I’m sure there are hair stylists out there who let their hair down, so to speak, when I’m not around. But it seemed so unnatural and out of character for such language in normal, everyday conversation. I can overlook a lot of the language when it’s warranted, at least on some level. But it ruined the story for me and convinced me not to bother reading more books by this author.

What do you think? Am I a stick in the mud who needs to lighten up and enter the 21st century? Or does an author have some responsibility to her reader? Just wondering.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Are They Innocent? Or Something Else?

I don’t know if you have ever received a chain letter, but I have. And I find them bothersome. Do this; do that?
Recently, I have been receiving “so called” Christian chain letters. Again, I was instructed to do this; do that. And if I did exactly as the email requested, I was promised a blessing.  
Now for the big question.
Does the Lord require us to forward X number of messages in order to get a blessing? And if we refuse to do as the message states, does this mean we are a follower of Satan?
As strange as it might sound, one of the messages I got recently put forth that exact question at the end of the message.
The message ended with a test to see who followed Jesus and who followed the evil one. The message suggested that those that forwarded the message to ten people were on the side of Jesus. Those that didn’t were not. The message claimed to speak for God when saying that those that did as the message demanded would receive two (Big) favors.
Does any of this sound like something you might find in the Bible?
Yes, the Lord does tell in scripture that if we will do certain things we will get a blessing. But do Christian Chain Letters agree with those scriptures or any scriptures?
I have no doubt that many if not most of those who forward emails like this are true believers. But what of the person who created the chain letter? Can any of us vouch for that person? Do we even know who wrote it the first time?
Let us keep watch always. Remember the evil one goes out to see whom he may devour. Should we allow our minds and bodies to be a meal for Satan?  
And don’t believe everything I tell you in these articles either. Though I try very hard to speak the truth in love, I can be deceived. 
We all can.
Search the Bible for answers. It is truth. 
I cannot leave without giving you the opportunity to watch a wonderful video on the Names of God. I was blessed by it. Maybe you will be blessed, too.

And don’t forget to leave a comment.