Showing posts with label Toni Noel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Toni Noel. Show all posts

Mar 5, 2013

On Cracking Open Pandora's Box

Today we have with us the lovely Toni Noel. She talking to us about adding emotional layers to your scenes. Welcome, Toni!


After hearing a manuscript passage read aloud describing a character spreading paste on a craft project, a critique partner confessed she'd tasted paste in her mouth.

That's one example of an author opening Pandora's Box a crack simply with words. No need for the writer to say whether the paste was lumpy or smooth. She let the reader make her own connection. We all have memories of spreading paste, some good, some bad, whether the paste was store bought or the sticky homemade stuff, and the author was counting on those recollections to draw the reader in.

In Decisive Moments, I wrote about a precocious five-year-old. Sifting through my memories, I found plenty of child-rearing experiences to share. Like Marta, the winsome kindergartner in my novel, when she was turning five, my firstborn invited every stranger she met to her birthday party. The mantra write what you know was my motto throughout the writing of that book.

Parenting provides an author a myriad of things to write about, and each event has the very real potential of opening Pandora's Box for your readers. Just think about the emotional rollercoaster a parent rides while teaching a teen to drive. My husband took our coming of age daughter out one quiet Sunday afternoon in his Volkswagen Beatle for her first lesson. On their return, I heard the screech of tires that left black skid marks still visible on our driveway after over thirty years. And I heard in my head their raised voices and the slamming of car doors as I wrote the driving-lesson scene in Fragile Bonds.

Once he'd cooled off, my husband informed me he'd decided I would be the one to teach our reckless daughter with an apparent death wish how to drive. That's why I had such fun writing the driving-lesson-scene in Fragile Bonds, a secret baby story Desert Breeze Publishing recently released. I had bitten my tongue till it bled while teaching our daughters to become skilled drivers, and knew just how torn Dawn felt. Every time I reread the manuscript during edits, I mentally cringed, remembering the numerous times the Volkswagen's mistreated gears complained as my inexperienced drivers shifted, and the stench of burning rubber caused by panic stops. On that long ago Sunday our first inexperienced student luckily managed to stomp the brake pedal in time to avoid driving right through the closed garage door. In my novel, Kelly is equally lucky.

We didn't buy a car with automatic shift until after the last hopeful driver had earned her license, so we suffered through eight long years of griping that all their friends were learning to drive in cars with automatic shifts. For years Driver's Ed teachers brought their students to our quiet street to practice turns. Now Sears' Driving School has become the preferred source of private instruction, but every time I see a car labeled Student Driver, I'm reminded of the way my fearless teens recklessly drove through empty church parking lots and circled the deserted stadium at speeds that made my heart race. Once Pandora opens her box and the memories come flooding back, it's hard to stuff those memories back inside. Your readers aren't likely to try.

While writing Fragile Bonds I poured the memories of my first high school sweetheart onto the page -- the tears and heartbreak, the angst, the fear no one would invite me to the holiday dance. Raising her daughter Kelly brings back Dawn's memories of high school, too, painful memories she'd rather forget. Through events mostly beyond her control, when almost sixteen, Dawn was forced into Witness Protection with her parents, and not allowed to tell her high school boyfriend she'd conceived and given birth to his baby.  Now, she fears their teenager will make life-changing choices, too.

I included a gut-wrenching runaway scene in Fragile Bonds, too. What parent hasn't awakened to discover their teen's bed has not been slept in? Or frantically called their offspring's friends late at night hoping to learn the whereabouts of a dependable son or daughter who has missed curfew?

An author doesn't need to give many details to trigger a memory. In fact it's best not to. Just mentioning sailing or cinnamon rolls baking in your story and the lid on Pandora's box cracks opens in your reader's mind.

My current WIP is about a lawyer whose boyfriend sweeps her away from the courthouse on the back of a Harley. I have no idea why I decided to write about legal matters or motorcycles, as I don't know doodly-squat about either one.

Toni Noel's published novels are available for download here:
or from Amazon and B&N.

And to read more about Toni go to her website:


While growing up in the South and completing seventh grade Toni Noel, writing under another name, laboriously typed each copy of the newspaper she published and circulated at church.

When she was fourteen Toni began an autobiography, but after only three chapters realized she had not lived long enough to give her life story an arc. She ended that effort in the fourth chapter by giving her heroine an incurable disease.

She edited her high school and one of her editorials earned her membership in Quill and Scroll. She also wrote a weekly fishing column, perhaps her first published work of fiction, for at that time she had never held a fishing pole.

For two of those high school years a weekly column about the happenings of her school friends earned Toni a byline in a Scripps-Howard daily newspaper and a neighborhood weekly, the first income earned from her writing, money her father faithfully set aside for her to attend college.

Toni thrived on spending time in the library, loved to do research and write term papers. She would finish her theme well ahead of the due date so she could type the papers of classmates, a lucrative way to add to her college fund.

She met her husband of sixty-one years her first week on campus and at the end of her freshman year gave up her dream of teaching to marry the first-year teacher who had captured her heart. 
The couple later moved to San Diego, where Toni actively worked to secure a library for her neighborhood and earning an Honorary Membership in the PTA.

When her last child left for college, Toni resumed her college education, earning a business degree with special emphasis in System Analysis. Hired by a government contractor specializing in research and development of underwater vehicles, she supervised the accounting department software and payroll until the company closed and she retired to write romance.

Toni continues to hone her writing skills by attending Romance Writers of America national conferences and local RWA-SD meetings. She loves to take on-line classes and reads every book she can get her hands on, regardless of genre, now enjoying them on her NOOK. Currently Toni devotes her time to writing stories like the novels she loves best, and currently has eight books available for download about searches for safe havens for the heart.

Nov 12, 2012

Writing Dark Stories


Writing Dark Stories
By 
Toni Noel

I pitched To Feel Again to Leslie Wainger at a writer's conference, my first pitch for my first completed manuscript. The editor listened to about half my spiel and then commented, "This isn't a romance!" True. In the Harlequin/Silhouette sense, it is not a romance, but it is a love story about a man who helps a reclusive abused woman regain her confidence, a story I felt needed to be told that has a happy ending when the couple falls in love.

My editor at Desert Breeze Publishing agreed the story needed to be told and released To Feel Again on November 11th. The subject matter may be dark but the message is clear -- escape from an abusive relationship is possible. There is hope. Reach out for help.

Decisive Moments is my novel about a photographer and a reclusive architect. During their childhood the hero's brother had been abused by his father. A repeat of the abuse forces his mother to kill his father. Then she turns the gun on herself. Yes, this is a dark romance, but the hero finds a loving woman who brings the sunshine back into his life, so it, too, is a story of hope.

In Restored Dreams, Treasure was date-raped in college and begs the hero Buck to help her overcome her aversion to sex by making love to her. He refuses, and instead makes her fall in love with him.

I write about another kind of darkness in Fairy Dusted, my novel about a childless couple's efforts to conceive. While Jill suffers from empty-arms-syndrome, her husband Drew prays they never have a child. He secretly fears fatherhood until the near drowning of his nephew changes his life. Yes, this is a love story about imperfect people living unfilled lives deprived of goodness and light.

Authors can write dark stories without writing about serial killers and rape. The secret is in not going too dark, and in allowing your characters to come back into the light for the resolution.

In Homeward Bound, scheduled for release in 2013, the hero becomes the unwilling CEO of the family conglomerate when his father suddenly dies. A CEO is the one thing he vowed he'd never become when choosing his career path, but he can see no way out. His family is depending on him. The only change he's free to make in his life, he reasons, is in his living arrangements. Convinced a bachelor has no need for such a big house, he decides to sell and hires Krista, a novice interior decorator who grew up in foster homes, to stage his house for quick sale. Luke escapes the bonds of home ownership, but the sale of the home she poured so much of herself into shatters Krista's happiness.

As a writer, you can make the conflict as dark and unbearable as you like. Just be sure you create a character strong enough to withstand the pain.

You can hang out with Toni here:

http://twitter.com/toninoelwriter  
http://www.facebook.com/AuthorToniNoel
http://www.ToniNoelAuthor.com/blog.html  
www.ToniNoelAuthor.com

And download her books here:


Or from your favorite eBook store.

Blurb: Reclusive Jenny Hamilton wants only to be left alone. Afraid to venture far from her modern cabin in the Eastern Sierras, this widow and writer endures a solitary existence caring for her animals until Tom Driscoll washes up in the creek. She rescues the unconscious man, and when his injuries heal, he helps Jenny overcome her fear of men, the result of an abusive marriage.

Tom saves her from the burly intruder intent on rape who traumatizes Jenny. Her earlier fears come flooding back, convincing her there is no man she should trust. She sends Tom away with the sheriff who comes to pick up their prisoner.

When Jenny realizes Tom has taught her to feel again, she reaches out to him. He rushes back to her side, and she promises never to send him away again.





Excerpt:  "What are you making?"
            The words caught in Tom's dry, throat and growled across the distance with such harshness those dainty fingers he'd enjoyed watching so much froze in midair. The attractive young woman pivoted her golden head and peered in his direction, her doe-like eyes widening. Wetting her lips, she blinked at him, making him regret he'd interrupted her weaving.
            "You're awake." Her whispered words fell from trembling lips.
            Dummy. You scared her with your sudden outburst. A smile might ease her fright.
            He tried to lift the corners of his mouth, but his dry, cracked lips stretched across his teeth. He winced, flicking out his tongue to circle his mouth, raking his parched lips with needed moisture.
            He cleared his throat and tried again. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to startle you."
            Her hands settled in her lap. She clasped her fingers. Puzzled, he watched her knuckles turn white. She moistened her lips again, then chewed on the bottom one, her somber gaze never leaving his face. Those expressive eyes held a disturbing wariness he couldn't comprehend.
            "You hurt your head," she whispered.
            He tried to touch the spot that ached. Both his hands came up, connected by rope.
"What in blazes?"
            The fairy rose, her golden head moving from his line of vision. He lifted his head to follow her movements. Rockets exploded behind his eyes.
            He shut them again.
            Her footsteps faltered, then moved toward him. He opened his eyes.
            A pair of trim leather boots stopped beside him. The knees above the boots bent as she knelt in his line of vision and leaned back on her heels, considering him with a wary look.
            "Your fever made you delirious, so I tied your hands."
            Her words brought a bright flush to her cheeks. With the sun no longer shining on her head, her hair took on a darker shade, encircling her shoulders in a cape of chestnut satin.
            "Did I hurt you?"
            She nodded. "Last night. A little. Here, I'll untie you."


Bio: Toni Noel's love of books started in childhood, when her mother first read The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew to her. She helped start church libraries in two rural Tennessee towns and appeared before the City Planning Commission and the San Diego City Council to urge a site be purchased. As the neighborhood spokesman for the new library the City Councilman for her district invited her to turn the second shovel of dirt at the groundbreaking for the new library. Toni's fondest dream, to see one of her safe-haven-for-the-heart novels available for checkout there may soon be fulfilled. Desert Breeze Publishing will release in print form in November the author's first published novel Law Breakers and Love Makers.     

Toni Noel's Novels... Safe havens for the heart.

Sep 1, 2012

Do You Believe in Ghosts?


Do You Believe in Ghosts?

By Toni Noel


I do. I always have, not because I've had any close encounters with ghosts, but because I'm more gullible than the average reader. This may be the reason ghosts keep showing up in my novels. My September 1 eBook released by Desert Breeze Publishing,  Fairy Dusted, has the latest ghost.

In it, Drew O'Malley takes his wife Jill to visit relatives in Ireland, a trip he hopes will save his troubled marriage, and finds the two of them sharing their Treehouse Inn accommodations with a ghost.

At first Drew doesn't believe it possible, since only Jill's personal items are being moved around their room, or disappearing. Then his favorite San Francisco Giants baseball cap disappears and Jill's spots her ghost wearing it. The ghost looks so much like Drew's niece Megan, when they checkout of the room, Jill leaves the troubled ghost a note.

Wikipedia explains ghosts this way:
"A ghost is the soul or spirit of a deceased person or animal that can appear in visible form or other manifestation, to the living. Descriptions of the apparition of ghosts vary widely from an invisible presence to translucent or barely visible shapes, to realistic, life-like visions."

Jill clearly sees the translucent red-headed being who seldom appears to men, and believes she is the ghost of Drew's ancestor who died in childbirth. Jill may be right. The Treehouse Inn was built on property the ghost's large family once occupied.

She believes the ghost is searching for the baby daughter taken from her at birth, and tries to put the ghost's mind to rest by leaving her a note.

Many photographs exist of supposed ghosts. The most well known is a  published photo many believe a fake called the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall taken by Captain Hubert C Provand. Ghost sightings have been reported on trains, ship, and of course in haunted houses and cemeteries. The notorious ghost of Whaley House in San Diego's Old Town draws tourists to the clapboard structure where narrow stairs preclude rapid escape, should the ghost decide to put in an appearance.

Sometimes ghosts appear on film, many of those are fakes, but enough repeat sightings exist to make even a non-believe wonder.

I grew up among kids afraid to pass a cemetery at night. Perhaps that's why I included the hint of a ghost in Decisive Moments, my novel about a gutsy photographer and a reclusive architect, but the ghost in that book is not the kind of ghost to be feared. She only wants her traumatized son to find happiness.

You can visit Toni on the following places:


To read more about Jill O'Malley's ghost, download Fairy Dusted from one of these sites:


Or from your favorite eBook store.


Excerpt from Fairy Dusted

If only Jill didn't want a baby so badly.
Better still, if only he wanted a child. Things might work out for them if he did, but he wouldn't change his mind about this. Not when another young life would hang in the balance.
Drew's gut clenched. Sure as day followed night Jill would never forgive him for not coming clean with her on this.
The sudden clang of a pot lid and footsteps moving about in the kitchen ended Drew's reverie.
Exhausted from trying to solve his clients' marital problems, he was more than ready to seek refuge inside. Enjoy a tasty meal seated across from his beautiful wife in their well-appointed dining room.
As if he would.
Dread kept Drew glued to the spot, afraid to open the back door, hesitant to face his one-hundred-ten-pound wife.
The pot lid clanged again. Drew yanked open the door and strode in.
Jill stood at the stove, stirring something in an iron pot, her dark auburn hair pulled back from her face with a silver clamp.
"Gosh that smells good." He grabbed a long-handled spoon and sampled the bubbling stew. "How soon do we eat?"
She glanced at him and smiled, a good sign. Lately, he never knew what to expect when he came home. Fertility drugs played havoc with Jill's hormones. With their relationship, too.
He constantly worried about their marriage. He'd be satisfied if they never had a child, overjoyed, actually. He and Jill growing old together, walking through life hand in hand.
Just because we're married doesn't mean we have to have a child.
To Jill, it does.
She'd make too much of his action if he patted her softly yielding butt. Before his next breath she'd have him stripped and stretched out on the bed.
Fertility drugs changed Jill. Gave her the upper hand in their sex life. Made her lust for him, and had gradually eroded their love for each other in her determined rush to give him a child. A child he was afraid to father.
So far, his prayers had been answered and Jill hadn't conceived, but how long could he depend on his luck lasting?
"How was your day?" he asked, giving her a tight hug, his hands firmly planted at her waist.




 Toni Noel's love of books started in childhood, when her mother first read The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew to her. She helped start church libraries in two rural Tennessee towns and appeared before the City Planning Commission and the San Diego City Council to urge a site be purchased. As the neighborhood spokesman for the new library the City Councilman for her district invited her to turn the second shovel of dirt at the groundbreaking for the new library. Toni's fondest dream, to see one of her safe-haven-for-the-heart novels available for checkout there may soon be fulfilled. Her first release Law Breakers and Love Makers will be released in print in November.     

Toni Noel's Novels... Safe havens for the heart.

Feb 21, 2012

Dream a Little Dream of Me

Everyone dreams. You might not remember them, or may be superstitious and hesitate to tell your dreams before breakfast for fear the revelation will bring you bad luck, but everyone dreams.
I do my best dreaming in the hour before I wake. The minute I open my eyes, the dreams evaporate. All memory of the dream fades, too. I tried keeping a notepad and pen beside my bed, but I couldn't write fast enough and the dreams still fled.
What about the other dreams? The kind you dream when you're awake? I've lived long enough I can safely say all my dreams have now come true. How about yours?

Restored Dreams

In Restored Dreams, my latest eBook release from Desert Breeze Publishing, Treasure Montgomery dreams of fixing her leaky roof, of remodeling her hundred-year-old kitchen, of someday opening a home for abused and unwanted boys on her property. She owns four-hundred acres, room for each boy to raise a colt of his own, but doesn't have money to pay for the needed repairs to her house.
Like so many other homeowners, Treasure is house poor. Her teacher's salary barely covers her property taxes and monthly expenses. Try as she may, she can't save enough money to put a new roof on the century-old Victorian house she inherited from the great aunt who raised her.
Treasure may have an empty bank account, but she has a heart big as all outdoors. She gives free equine therapy classes to abused children, and holds a story hour for children hospitalized with leukemia. On the drive home she dreams of restoring the original beauty of her house. Winning the lottery would be a big help.
Then Bradley Harrington Coleman the Third arrives in town. He prefers the name Buck. This retired rodeo champion has dreams, too. He dreams of making a difference in the lives of the residents of Lakeview, hopes to right some of the wrongs suffered because of his grandfather nefarious deeds. Buck inherited a fortune from his ruthless father, money he refuses to spend on himself, and soon becomes the Bill Gates of the rural community, spreading his millions around where the money will do the most good.
After putting a new roof on a Lakeview church and the community center, Buck sets his sights on Treasure's repairs. The penniless middle-school teacher needs a contractor to replace the water-damaged floor in her upstairs bathroom and Buck, a licensed craftsman, offers to do the job.
Poor Treasure hasn't saved enough to do the repairs right. Yes, she's fully aware her roof still leaks and the next rain might damage the new bathroom floor, and no, much as she'd like to, she won't take Buck up on his offer to replace her roof at no cost. Too proud for her own good, she insists on paying her own way, refuses to accept charity, and rejects outright Buck's offer of an interest-free loan.
Just when it looks like Treasure won't be getting her roof repaired before the next rain she gets an unexpected windfall and tells Buck to go-ahead with the roof. He mistakenly thinks Treasure gave the okay to put on a new roof, promptly buys the shingles and sets to work.
Weeks later, after the new roof is in place and Treasure has fallen in love with Buck, she learns the truth. Her dream turns into a nightmare. Because he overspent, she doesn't have enough money set aside to pay Buck back and she fears he will take her house.
How could he do this to her?
Buck dreams of making Treasure his wife, then helping her establish the home for abused and unwanted boys she dreams of on her property until Treasure angrily confronts him about the cost of her new roof. He never dreamed she'd be so furious with him she'd sell her favorite antique to settle his bill, then order him out of her life.
Can he make amends?
Dreams come to us when we least expect them, teasing and tempting us with tantalizing certainty. My fervent dream is I've tempted you to download and read Restored Dreams. Enjoy.

Restored Dreams Blurb:

Her roof leaks, the plumbing, too, but on a teacher's salary Treasure Montgomery can barely pay the taxes on her property, so the list of needed repairs to the grand Victorian house she inherited from the aunt who raised her continues to grow.
Treasure surrounds herself with other people's children, seeking some fulfillment in an otherwise empty life until she meets Buck. A retired rodeo rider turned philanthropist, Buck willingly donates his labor to anyone who needs a helping hand, spending his father's ill-gotten fortune to make amends for his father's bad deeds, but Treasure wants no part of his charity.
            Buck persists. Treasure resists, and he turns to subterfuge to get around the obstacles she throws in his path. She learns the truth and fears she might lose her house to Buck. How wrong can a woman be about the man with whom she's fallen in love?

 
You can find Toni on Twitter ~ @ToniNoelWriter
Toni’s Bio
From Toni’s Website

Toni Noel
             While growing up in the South and completing seventh grade Toni Noel, writing under another name, laboriously typed each copy of the newspaper she published and circulated at church.
            When she was fourteen Toni began an autobiography, but after only three chapters realized she had not lived long enough to give her life story an arc.  She concluded her effort in the fourth chapter by giving her heroine an incurable disease.
            She later edited her high school paper and one of her editorials earned her membership in Quill and Scroll.  She also wrote a weekly fishing column, perhaps her first published work of fiction, for at that time she had never held a fishing pole.
            For two of those high school years a weekly column about the happenings of her high school friends earned Toni a byline in a Scripps-Howard daily newspaper and a neighborhood weekly, the first income earned from her writing, money her father faithfully set aside for her to attend college.
            Toni thrived on spending time in the library, loved to do research and write term papers.  She would finish her theme well ahead of the due date so she could type the papers of classmates, a lucrative way to add to her college fund.
            She met her husband of fifty-nine years her first week on campus and at the end of her freshman year gave up her dream of teaching to marry the first-year teacher who had captured her heart.  He retired in 2010 , ending a sixty year teaching career.
            The couple later moved to San Diego, where Toni became a Girl Scouts leader and troop organizer while actively working to secure a library for her neighborhood and earning an Honorary Membership in the PTA.
            When her last child left for college, Toni resumed her college education, earning a business degree with special emphasis in System Analysis from SDSU.  Hired by a government contractor specializing in research and development of underwater vehicles, she supervised the accounting department software and payroll until the company closed and she retired to write romance.
            Toni continues to hone her writing skills by attending Romance Writers of America national conferences and local RWA-SD meetings.  She loves to take on-line classes and reads every book she can get her hands on, regardless of genre, now reading them on her NOOK.  Currently Toni devotes her time to writing stories like the novels she loves best, books about finding safe havens for the heart.
            With the release of Lawbreakers and Love Makers by Toni Noel from Desert Breeze Publishing, Temp To Permanent and her latest release, Decisive Moments, a dark romance, you have three opportunities to download her novels and lose yourself in a safe haven for the heart novel, too.


From Desert Breeze Publishing’s Website
Since the day my mother started reading The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew to the four of us books have been an important part of my life. As a small child I couldn't wait to learn to read, and in school I devoured every printed page I could get my hands on. Summers in Birmingham I rode my bicycle three miles to the local drug store to check out Zane Grey novels which I shared with my father, a tireless breadwinner and avid reader. As a young wife and mother I started church libraries in two small Tennessee towns. Later, when the Bookmobile no longer satisfied the needs of my growing daughters, with the encouragement of my husband, I appeared before the San Diego City Council and City Planning Commission, urging them to purchase property for a library in our fast-growing subdivision before the preferred sites were snapped up by service stations. I bugged city officials so much I was later invited to assist the Mayor at the ground-breaking ceremony for the promised library. Although that library now needs expansion, it is my fondest dream that they'll save room on those crowded shelves for the romance novels I write.

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