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Word Painter

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Two time Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough fascinates me both as a reader and a writer. One of my friends at work asked me if I'd watched the extra features at the end of the John Adams DVD. I typically do watch all the bonus material at the end of these movies but for some reason hadn't got around to it. I don't think I even realized it was on this particular DVD. If you get the chance you must watch it, he's so very personable and inspiring. I found the videos on YouTube and you can see them listed below. I wish I had a version of his world headquarters in my backyard. :) Painting With Words Part 4  This section is wonderful for writers but the entire thing is awesome!

Painting With Words Part 1

Painting With Words Part 2

Writing With Words Part 3

A few thingst I've learned or been reminded of  by David McCullough.

1.)  Find your favorite work space. That may sound simple but it's not for some of us. I recently lost my workspace because we needed an extra bedroom at home so now my desk is in the dining room. Noise cancelling headphones and possibly a room screen will soon be part of my world headquarters.

2.) "You can only learn by doing it. You can't learn to write without writing."

3.) "History is about life, about change, about consequences, cause and effect . . . it's about music and poetry and drama and science and medicine and money and love . . "  This man knows how to make history fun.

4.) "Marinate your head in the time and culture you write in."

5.) Excel.

6.) "The work is the reward."

7.) Develop a list of ideas that you want to write about eventually.

8.) Sing a song even if it is off key. :)

9.) "Count your blessings."

10.) "The pen and the voice died on the same day. Jefferson and Adams died on the same day, July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence."

I think artists of all kinds will love his new book, The Greater Journey. You can see a video trailer here, Author Page, and listen to him talk about the book.

If you could choose any time and place in history to word paint what would you choose?

The Cover for Chameleon

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I love getting cover art. I'm proud to show off the cover for my second novel in The Ravensmoore Chronicles Series, Chameleon. The artists at Charisma Media did a great job. What do you think? If you saw this book sitting on a shelf at Barnes and Noble or Books-A-Million would you pick it up and look a little further? If you scrolled by it on Amazon would you stop and go back? I really hope so.

Those of us who create novels want our cover art to portray to our audience a glimmer of what's inside. I think covers mean a lot. If our readers aren't attracted to the book cover what do you think would be the next thing to pull them in and grab the reader walking by the bookshelf and say, "Hey, get back here. Don't you want to see me? Don't you want to look at the back cover? Don't you want to open the book and look inside?"

Have you read a book that you loved but the cover didn't do it justice? What made you read it anyway? Word of mouth? The title?

Well if you do open the book and turn to Chapter One this is what you will read:

Chapter One

We should come home from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day with new experience and character.  —Henry David Thoreau

London, 29 March 1818

     St. James Park loomed in front of them, shrouded in a heavy mist that created difficulty for horse and driver as the coach and four maneuvered its way into the park.
     Inside the vehicle, Victoria leaned toward the window, straining to see the outline of trees. “Such a disappointment,” she sighed. “This is not what I expected my very first morning in London. I’d so hoped to see more on the ride through the park, something exciting to tell Devlin when we get to his home.”
     “Don’t despair, my lady.” Nora, her maid, pulled a heavy shawl tighter about her shoulders. “’Tis sure to be the same mist that abounds in Yorkshire. This nuisance will lift eventually. It always does.”
     Victoria patted the sleek head of her dog. “Even Lazarus grows bored.” She marveled at her best friend, a behemoth of a mastiff, as he lowered his bulk to the floor of the coach with a loud groan and laid his head across her slipper-covered feet, creating a comfortable warmth. He’d been with her for years, and she couldn’t leave him behind. The poor dear would cry himself to sleep every night.  
     Victoria allowed the clip-clop of the horses’ hooves and Nora’s penchant for humming songs to lull her into a light sleep. Nora’s humming had comforted her all those years she’d been sick at Ravensmoore. While everyone else lived their busy lives out around her, she’d done little but survive, taking comfort in the small things that brought her joy.
     A sudden crash caused the coach door to vibrate. Victoria screamed and bolted upright as Lazarus pressed his nose and giant paws against the carriage window. A low growl rumbled in his throat.
She grabbed Lazarus by the collar. Heart pounding, she turned to Nora. “What was that?”
     “Highwaymen!” Nora’s hand crept to her neck, and fear filled her eyes.
     The coachman drew the horses to a halt and opened the top hatch. “I fear I may have run someone down, my lady, but in this fog I can’t tell.”
     “We must find out at once. Someone may be hurt.” Victoria threw open the door, and Lazarus bounded into the mist. “Lazarus! Find!” She called after him, but he was already well on his way. She stepped from the coach, nearly tripping in her haste.
     “Wait, my lady,” Nora cried. “’Tis not safe. Come back!”
     The driver’s voice echoed through the mist. “You’ll lose your way, my lady. Stop where you are.”
     But the warning wasn’t necessary. Victoria could hear Lazarus snuffling the ground someplace nearby. She bit her lip and told herself to be brave, even as her heart pounded. At the same time Lazarus let out a warning bark, the mist shifted.
     Victoria’s hand clamped over her mouth.

I'm really hoping I have your attention now. If you read a blurb about this book it would go something like this:
Lady Victoria Grayson has always considered herself a keen observer of human behavior, but when she finds herself involved in a sinister plot targeting the lords of Parliament she is forced to question how much anyone can really know about another human being.

Chameleon is the story of Lady Victoria Grayson, fondly referred to as Snoop by her physician brother, Lord Ravensmoore. Lady Victoria journeys to London for the first time in her adult life after battling a chronic childhood illness that kept her home bound for years. She is embroiled in a hornet’s nest of intrigue when her brother is called upon to treat a Member of Parliament after a brutal attack.
The Prince Regent has called Jonathon Denning, Lord Witt, from his home in the country to investigate Ravensmoore’s activities. The Regent isn’t so sure he wants one of his lords working a trade and expects to put an end to what he considers eccentric behavior. Jaded by his profession as a spy, Witt understands that some people are not what they pretend to be. When he meets Victoria his cynical nature is challenged along with his doubts about God.  Together they must confront their pasts in order to solve a mystery that could devastate their future. 

If you don't love historical romance with a heavy mystery/suspense edge to it I'd like to convert you.

Ruth Douthitt/My Inspiring Guest Blogger

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ruth Douthitt with a fan at Madison #1 Elementary School.
So, what inspires you to write?
I know for me, my main inspiration came from my son. He actually enjoyed my story when I told it to him. I was pleasantly surprised!
Artwork always inspires me to not only create artwork of my own, but to write a story.

   The artwork that inspired me to write The Dragon Forest was found in a popular children’s book called Dragonology by Dugald Steer. This brilliant book provides kids all the tools to become dragon hunters for scientific study! How fun is that?
After using the book for ideas about dragons, I also used the illustrations to sketch out my own dragon drawings.
That is the magic of books! Each time you read a book, you can find new and exciting things that may inspire you to fulfill your dreams. 

Because I am a professional artist, art has always played an important role in my life. Today, as I write the first book of my next series, The Warfare Club, I came upon an old print that provided me the inspiration needed to write about the persecution of the early Christians.

 The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer, by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1883).
This old painting was created during the Realism movement in the late 19th century. The artist wanted to show the religious fortitude of the victims about to suffer martyrdom.
As I wrote scenes set during this time in Rome, this particular painting served as inspiration.
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes hit that “wall” when writing a scene. As a visual person, I sometimes can’t see the scene in my head and, therefore, can’t write the scene until I can! Artwork has always been a useful tool for inspiring me when the creativity as dried up.

Sometimes, scenes from films serve as inspiration for me. When writing the battle scenes in The Dragon Forest, I viewed the battle scenes from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers over and over again. I also viewed fight scenes from Gladiator to help me with fight scenes in the Coliseum I needed for The Warfare Club.
God’s Word
Finally, the beauty of a good sermon always inspires me. I take copious notes during sermons and have many completed journals at home to prove it. Along with Scriptures, topics, and other notes, you will see in the margins of my journals ideas I have jotted down for my books. I go back and read those notes when I get stuck on a scene. Works everytime!
So, my advice to any writer is to stop and think about what inspires you to write and jot down what helps you bring that scene to life in your mind and then on the page. Remember those “tools” so that when you hit that wall (and you will…) you have that reserve to tap in to on a day when the creativity well runs dry.
But most importantly….just write!

Your turn: What tool do you use to inspire you to write? How has artwork of any kind helped you complete a scene?

Ruth A. Douthitt’s life took a turn for the better when she returned to college in her late thirties to complete a B.A. in Visual Art from ASU as well as a Masters in Education from University of Phoenix. After teaching college part time, she decided it was time to complete her first book after working on it for almost 20 years. Her son grew up reading C.S. Lewis & J.R.R. Tolkien which served as her inspiration for her own bildungsroman-type, fantasy adventure book designed to inspire boys everywhere to go out and make their own adventures happen. The Dragon Forest is part one in a three-part series of adventure books about knights, castles, and the dragon realm. Now working in curriculum development as well as teaching teenage girls in church youth ministry, Ruth desires to write both non-fiction as well as fiction for teens based on youth issues today.  Ruth lives in Phoenix, AZ with her husband of 23 years, and their teenage son who still inspires her to keep on writing no matter what.  For more information on Ruth A. Douthitt and her art work, visit: and

Also,please visit my author page at!/pages/Author-Ruth-A-Douthitt/245592525512882 
And my blog at:

Thank you for visiting with us this week, Ruth, and sharing your story. I have a feeling you will soon have many fans; I know I'm one!