Tag Archives: Books

The Never-Ending Heart

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farm houseHello, I thought today I would post a ghost story for Halloween.  It is a true story, but I did take some fictional liberties with it. This story was told to me by a friend and Michael in the story was his uncle. Strange things happen in this world and this is only one of them.  I hope you enjoy the story and please leave me some feedback.

I do have a book just for Halloween on Amazon called “Shirley’s Book of Horror.” I am giving away ten copies. If you will let me know you would like an ebook of short stories.

 

 


The Never-Ending Heart

The sobs coming from the people standing around the grave were heart-wrenching. Especially those coming from Andrea’s husband, Michael. Even the dreary gray clouds with the light drizzle intensified the mourning that the Barton family and friends were going through.

Andrea Barton was a vivacious woman who loved her life. The entire family cherished her. There didn’t seem to be a bad trait or habit of any kind. She’d told her family often how perfect her life was and how God had blessed her.

Michael met Andrea in the sixth grade, right after he’d been moved from Michigan to Eufaula because his parents wanted to return to Oklahoma. They became fast friends and were together from that time forward. They knew in their hearts that one day they’d be married.

They worked and saved their money while they were dating so they could buy the farmland out on Route 4.  It was located halfway in-between their parents, so it was the perfect location for the young couple.

As a surprise for the couple, both families got together and bought the land and gave it to Michael and Andrea as a wedding present.  The money they’d saved could now build a house on their property. Life remained perfect for the couple. They made their dream farmhouse with a wraparound porch and lots of windows.

Love radiated from this couple.  If you were around them, you didn’t have a choice but to smile and feel their happiness. On October 31, 1987, they became one legally. In their minds, they already belonged to each other. They didn’t go on a honeymoon so they could buy furniture for their new farmhouse. Their wedding night was the first time they had spent the night together under the same roof and, it was their roof.

Every night, when Michael got in from work, Andrea had a hot bath run, and dinner was cooking on the stove. Michael never liked a shower; he liked soaking in the warm water to help his aching muscles after his hard day at work. They pampered each other in every way possible. This ideal life continued for 30 years. Michael and Andrea had raised two children, who were now gone from home.

Michael left for work after kissing Andrea and saying the words he spoke every morning. “I love you, woman. I always have, and I always will.”

“Not as much as I love you,” Andrea called back. The happiness and love she felt for Michael never left her.

Andrea decided she’d clean off the shelves in the cellar, where she kept all of her canned food and supplies. They were full of junk and disorganized.

The cellar steps were steep without a handrail, and it had no electricity.  She’d been after Michael for years to fix everything, but it never happened, so she used two coal oil lamps for light.

She hated going into the cellar because of not having light, and there had always been a problem with scorpions. She shivered just thinking about them.  It took all of her determination to go down into the cellar, but she did.  She lit both lamps and looked at the shelves dreading what she needed to do.

There wasn’t enough light on the far shelf to see. Andrea picked up a lantern and held it high so she could see the back of the shelf.  She felt something land on her arm.  When she looked it was a large scorpion which had apparently fallen from the ceiling. She screamed and jumped, dropping the lamp. It broke splashing the coal oil up onto Andrea’s pants. Flames went up her legs. She screamed and made a run for the steps but didn’t get far before she was consumed by the flames. The coroner’s report stated death was caused by fire, which destroyed the body due to the synthetic clothing being worn.

Michael was devastated at the death of his wife and experienced severe depression. All he could think about was Andrea and how much he missed her. His children were genuinely concerned.  They even hired a housekeeper to come in daily to clean the house and talk to their dad.

After five years of deep mourning, Michael decided he liked having the housekeeper around. She was kind and talked to him even when he didn’t want her to.  The best thing was Darlene was single. He may not have his mind off of Andrea, but he did listen to things going on around him. He decided he would marry Darlene and keep her around for the company.

Within three months Michael and Darlene were married, and she moved into the farmhouse with Michael.  Things remained quiet for several days, but then it changed.  Every night for a week, Darlene would wake Michael from a sound sleep to tell him someone was crying or walking in the house.  Michael could hear nothing, but he’d get out of bed and look.  It finally got to the point he told Darlene to go back to sleep because nothing was there.

This continued for almost a month.  Darlene was becoming more agitated and unhappy as time went on.  Michael decided he would try to cheer his wife up and took her out for a wonderful dinner and a show.  Darlene relaxed and felt comfortable for a little while.

When they arrived back home, they immediately knew something was not right.  There was a smell of food cooking, and they could hear water running.  “I’ll find the water,” Michael said as he took off down the hall to find the running water.  It was in the bathroom. The stopper was in the tub, and hot water was running into it. Thankfully it was not running over.

“Ok, I’ll check out the kitchen.” Darlene was standing in the kitchen, screaming at the top of her lungs. When Michael got there he grabbed his hysterical wife to hold her. He immediately noticed the pots cooking on the stove.  He continued to hold onto Darlene as he moved them to the stove so he could turn it off.

Nothing prepared Michael for all the emotions he was feeling.  Everything about Andrea was brought back to his mind.  Darlene calmed down enough to talk and told Michael she was leaving this house and not returning. “I love you, but I’m not staying here another night.  There was a woman in this kitchen when I came in. She looked at me and told me you were hers. Then she disappeared. I’m not living with the Ghost of your dead wife.”

“What are you talking about, Darlene? Ghosts aren’t real.  There has to be another explanation.”

“Look, I know what I saw, and you won’t change my mind about leaving. I’ll be out of here within thirty minutes.  You can come with me or stay, but I’m gone.”

“What did the woman look like?” Michael asked Darlene as she was throwing clothes into a suitcase.

“She was about five foot three inches tall, weighed about 120 and had fiery red hair. She looked like she was in her twenties.”

In a subdued voice, Michael asked, “What was she wearing?”

“You know, I couldn’t tell because of the flames that were covering her body but not burning her. It was your wife! I’ve seen the pictures you have of her.”

Michael sank onto the bed, and his mind couldn’t wrap itself around what he was told. Darlene grabbed her suitcase and left the house. True to her word, she never came back.

From that night on, Michael always had a hot bath and supper cooked for him. He never saw it happen, but it was there for him daily.

About a week before Michael died, he told his daughter he’d seen her mother out by the cellar. “I called to her, but she only smiled and waved to me before she disappeared. I know it has been her taking care of me all the time. It won’t be long before I’ll be with her. I just know it.”

Michael lay on the bed. He had recognized none of his family for the past two days. His eyes were closed, and the loud death rattle sound could be heard into the kitchen. The family gathered around the bed with several shedding tears as they waited for Michael to draw his last breath.

Michael opened his eyes, sat up in bed, and talked to someone at the foot of the bed. The family tried to get him to lie back, but he refused. A rose-colored mist covered the foot of the bed as Michael laid back and let out a show agonal breath.

The family couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Then a female voice spoke, “We are together again, my love,” as the light faded.

 

 

Short and Flashy2 with Bonus Short Story

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Short Story Cartoon2

 

Short and Flashy may be the new in thing with writing and I’m so glad to hear it because I love writing short stories and flash fiction.  I found that out about myself when I was writing my first book, The Tower.  When I needed to have a brain change because I couldn’t find the words I needed to say for the book, I would write a piece of flash fiction or a short story so I could think about something else besides the book I was writing. It helped reset my brain.  It made it easier for me to come up with what I needed for my book.

Over the fast few years, people have read more of my short stories and flash fiction. I am assuming it is due to lack of perceived time to read.

Do you know what flash fiction is? In case you don’t, I will try to explain.  Flash Fiction is a complete story (has all the components of a story) in a limited number of words. They can be challenging to complete.

Think about how our reading world has changed since the computer came along.  The time was we had no choice but to go to the book store or the library to get our reading material.  Now we have small portable screens that let us have a book zipped to us over the airwaves.  We can get anything we want to read from Amazon including short stories which we might read while we’re sitting under the hairdryer or waiting in a doctor’s office.

According to Anne R. Allen, one of the authors of How to be a Writer in the E-age: A self-Help Guide, short stories make money and hold their value.  Kindle Singles often sell for the same as a novel-length book.  Ellery Queen and Woman’s World still pay top dollar for genre stories.

Short stories are great for practice.  Learning to write short stores can keep your writing from getting sloppy.  Having short stories in your portfolio might give you another book to publish or an opportunity to publish in a magazine.

I put the majority of my short stories in an eBook called Shirley’s Shorts and Flashes. The book was published on Amazon.  Publishing my work of short stories was something I didn’t want to pass up.  You may also have an opportunity to see what you can do.

Below you will find one of my short stories called Angie’s Secret.  Please comment with a critique and let me know the good and the bad.

Amazon link to Shirley’s Shorts and Flashes:  http://amzn.to/15HB87j


 

Angie’s Secret

 

“Are you going to tell him?” Mattie asked.

“Heavens no, this is my secret. I told you because you’re my best friend, and I know I can trust you.” Angie sat at the table with her cup of tea. She was pale around the eyes and mouth. “I am doing this on my own. I’m thirty-four years old, and I know this is the right thing for me.”

“It may be right for you, but girl you look like crap. Do you want another cup of tea?”

“Sure.”

Mattie went to the stove and brought the teapot back to the table. She asked Angie if she’s eating enough.

Mockingly Angie replied, “Yes, mother, I am. I can take care of myself. Stop worrying about me.”

“How do you think you’re going to pull this off when he barely lets you out of his sight?”

Angie thought of the days ahead as she sipped her tea. Her excitement showed.

Mattie looked at her, seeing the smile, said, “Ok, girlfriend, spill the beans. I want to know what’s making you smile.”

“I have to go home.”

“Angie, remember, no matter what, I’m your friend.” Mattie grabbed Angie, hugged her tightly.

“I’ll be in touch, and don’t worry,” Angie said as they broke apart. She walked back to her house. Her bedroom light was on. Crap, he must know I’m not in my room. I’ll walk through the front door as the grown woman I am.

After she entered the house, she almost made it to the stairs before she heard her father’s harsh voice.

“Angie, is that you?”

“Yes, father, it’s me.”

“Come here immediately,” her father, bellowed.

Angie walked into the library, ready for battle. Her father kicked back in the recliner, with a drink in his hand, asked, “Where have you been?”

“I went to Arlene’s for tea. I left your dinner on the table.”

“It was cold. You are one lousy cook.”

“Yes, father. I’m going upstairs to my room, goodnight, father.”

***

The clock advanced slowly, but 2 a.m. arrived. She pulled her suitcase from beneath her bed, took one last look at her room and left. Her father appeared to be asleep when she opened the front door. As she stepped out into the night air, she took her first deep breath of freedom.

She whispered, “John, are you here?”

“No, he’s not here,” her father said laughingly.

4 Tips for Creating A Fantasy Series Character

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HarryPotterHello everyone, I thought today I would share an article on creating fantasy characters. I love reading and writing fantasy. It literally will let my mind go to this creation of fantastic times, people, and creatures.

I’ve written one fantasy book, Princess Adele’s Dragon, which is a medieval adventure story, but I couldn’t count how many books I’ve read in the fantasy category. I love to read those three to five book series that continue to lead you down those wild and wonderful paths. I have to admit I have read all of Harry Potter and the Outlander series which are far more than three to five books.

You have thought of a subject for a new fantasy book. The first thing you have to do is ask yourself if your protagonist is better suited to a series or a stand-alone novel. In Princess Adele’s Dragon, I have two protagonists, Princess Adele, and Prince Anthony. This book could very easily be made into a series because of the storyline I used. The main conflict is resolved but other conflicts have been brought up that can be carried forward.

Secondly, figure out what kind of story arc you want for your series.  Do you want to focus on one problem or mystery per book, along with overarching character development? which means that the characters have more to tell. When you are writing book one you really don’t know how many books will be in the series.

Third, Carry character traits and quirks consistently from book to book. This is true of both your protagonist as well as the support characters in the story. If you can keep all your character details in your head, that is wonderful, but if you can’t make a cheat sheet.  Your readers will catch the mistakes you make.

Fourthly, write characters and books that you enjoy.  Just as readers love characters they can get to know and see, again and again, so do authors. My favorite books have characters that I can either identify with or would like to have a drink with.  All accept Hairy Potter, of course, he is too young.  I just want him to teach me magic. Write about what you like to read.

If you would like a free ebook of Princess Adele’s Dragon, just let me know along with your email and I will send you a gift code from Amazon.  http://amzn.to/25lUOYM

I hope you have a great week ahead. Blessings to all.   Shirley

Princess Adeles Dragon2

It’s Been Awhile

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I seem to lose track of time when my life gets in the way of my blog writing. I really don’t have an excuse. It just gets put on the back burner.

Where to start to get you caught up. My Granddaughter and her husband are living with my husband and me to help us and them.  Livie is growing by leaps and bounds inside her mom, so come November we will have a new Great Granddaughter. One of her cousins already has her nicknamed Liver. There’s something inside of me that hopes that does not stick.  Her full name will be Olivia Margaret Elizabeth. Margaret Elizabeth is named after my mother.

Lee’s cancer is gone and his voice is back to normal, praise God.  It has been a long road but he went through it like a trooper. I have to admit there were times I could have cheerfully removed his head from his shoulders but we both managed to persevere. Now he has to have a scan ever so often to make sure cancer stays away.

My book, Thomas Gomel Learns About Bullying, is still with the publisher. I have not heard a solid date when it will be published.  I am hoping by the end of this month but I have to remain patient. I have had a couple of very good prepublication reviews. I will get them posted before long.

Now I have to say something that bothers me to my soul. This has to do with our government and how they are treating the children and others at the border. This is nothing to do with whether they should be here or not but the fact that they are. It matters not what side you have placed yourself on, but the fact the children are not getting what they need. They are treated like livestock instead of people. I have visions of the Oklahoma feed lots packed with cattle waiting to be loaded up and hauled off to the slaughterhouse.

As a Christian, I find this heartbreaking and can’t understand how any man or group could treat people especially innocent children in this manner. I will continue to say a prayer for the children and the government that God has mercy on them.

Character Change Vs. Character Growth

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Hello everyone, I do hope you are having a great day.  To catch you up on my activities since my last blog write. I’ve sent Thomas Gomel Learns About Bullying to the publisher for approval.  I also did an upgrade on Princess Adele’s Dragon and had it republished in ebook form. I’ve kept myself busy writing and entering contests on Fanstory. After the article below I will be posting a short story called The Lake. I do hope you enjoy this week’s blog.  Until next time have a blessed week.    Shirley

PS. By the way, you can possibly win a copy of Princess Adele’s Dragon by following the link, especially if you like medieval dragons, kings, queens, and knights.

Link: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/065f308c42ab7cba

 

*****

Main characters don’t have to change to grow.  They can grow in their resolve.

It is a common misconception among authors that the main character in a story must change in order to grow.  Certainly, that is one kind of story,  as in A Christmas Carol where Scrooge alters his way of looking at the world and his role in it.  But other stories are about characters overcoming pressures put upon them to change their viewpoint and holding on to their beliefs, such as in Field of Dreams where main character Ray Kinsella builds a baseball stadium in his cornfield believing the old time players (and eventually even his father) will come to play.  In the end, he is not dissuaded from what appears to be a quixotic plan of a misguided mind, and his steadfastness results in the achievement of his dreams.

It is essential in any novel or movie for the readers/audience to understand whether or not the main character ultimately changes to adopt a new point of view or holds on to his beliefs.  Only then can the story provide a message that a particular point of view is (in the author’s opinion) the right or wrong way of thinking to achieve success and personal fulfillment.

But not all stories have happy endings.  Sometimes, the main character changes when he should have stuck with his guns in regard to his beliefs and becomes corrupted or diminished or fails to achieve his goals  A good example of this is in the movie The Mist(based on a Stephen King novel) in which the main character finally decides to give up on trying to find safety from monsters and shoots his son and surrogate family to save them from a horrible death only to have rescuers show up a moment later.

Other times, holding onto a belief system leads to tragic endings as well, as in Moby Dickin which the main character, Captain Ahab (Ishmael is the narrator), holds onto his quest for revenge until it leads to the death of himself and the destruction of his ship and the death of all his crew, save Ismael who lived to tell the tale.

Though writing is an organic endeavor, when you make specific decisions such as whether your main character will change or remain steadfast and what outcome that will bring about, you strengthen your message and provide a clear purpose to your storytelling that results in a strong spine in your novel or screenplay.

Melanie Anne Phillips


 

 

The Lake

lake2The last time I saw Charlie, he laughed as we drove into Crystal Springs Lake. I knew we would have hell to pay for sneaking out, but I never imagined how this fun evening would end.

Charlie and I were friends from the first grade. We were neighbors, and as adventurous boys, we spent every second together we could manage. We were as different as two people could be. I’m quiet and shy, and Charlie was the fellow that drew people to him like June bugs to a light. Maybe it was his good looks with his coal black hair and that cleft in his chin. He was muscular, athletic and all the girls flirted with him every chance they got. He didn’t care. The only thing he wanted besides our friendship was the full football scholarship at Harvard.

We had a good time throughout school. As this was our last year at Grady High School there was a lot of pressure on Charlie to perform. He actually did it to himself, but if I tried to talk to him, he wouldn’t listen. “Charlie, you have to lighten up a bit. You can’t go on at the pace you’re going. It’s been weeks since we’ve done anything together. You study and practice football. Take time to relax. Quit worrying about that entrance exam. You have it aced.”

“Sure, I do, but it doesn’t feel like it. I feel like everything inside of me is about to explode. I have to keep pushing myself to keep the pressure down, but I’m ready for something different. I’ll listen to you just because you’re my best friend and I love you like a brother. What do you want to do?” Charlie asked.

I had to think of something we would enjoy together and take the pressure off of him. “I’ve got an idea. Let’s go to the lake after dark and go skinny dipping. We haven’t done that in a long time.”

“Are you crazy?” Charlie asked. “We haven’t been skinny dipping since we were twelve years old.”

“Yeah, I know, and it’ll be fun. Just like old times.  What do you say?”

We were both laughing, and Charlie said “Let’s do it. I want to be twelve again and forget all about school and football. I’ll be at your house at 7:00 and you can drive.”

“Sounds good to me. I don’t mind driving at all, and I’ll even bring us snacks and cold drinks. See you then.”

I left his room and went back to my house. I got everything ready and packed it in my car. Since my mom and dad weren’t home, I left them a note so they wouldn’t worry about me. Charlie was at my door promptly at 7:00.

It was a great drive out to the lake. We had the windows down and the radio up. We were laughing, singing and shouting at the top of our lungs as we drove to our spot. We were trying our best to be twelve-year-olds again.

It was dark when we arrived, but we didn’t care. We unloaded the car and set up our blanket right at the edge of the lake. It wasn’t the first time we had swum in the dark. I brought two flashlights, but we didn’t turn them on. We were happy. We liked this spot because we could dive into the lake. It was easy in and out of the water. We got rid of our clothes quickly and then laughed at each other as we stood there as naked as the day we were born.

Charlie slapped me on the back. “Are you ready? I am.” He backed up three steps and ran and dove into the lake. I jumped in feet first, as always. The water was cold and sent a shiver over my body. I didn’t hear Charlie laughing, so I looked around.  I didn’t see him. The lake was smooth as glass. I called his name. He never answered, so I climbed out of the lake slipped on my pants and got the lights. My hands shook so hard I had trouble turning on the lights. I shined the beams over the water, and I still couldn’t see him. I knew something was wrong.  I got my cell phone and called 911. I had a terrible time as I tried to get the words out to report Charlie missing.

I tried to sit but couldn’t stay still. I walked back towards the main road thinking I would meet the authorities. That was silly, it wouldn’t make them arrive any faster. I turned back towards the lake moving the beam of one of the flashlights around. What was that? I brought the light back to what looked like a sign. When the beam of light hit it, I got sick to my stomach. The sign read: No swimming until further notice. Alligator sighting today.

I’ve Finished, (sort of)

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One part of me is going hurray and celebrating but then another part is going, gosh, now I go publisher shopping and setting up more advertising. There is always something more to do with a book that is yet to be published.

Right now I am wanting Beta readers to read the book and give me an opinion on whether they would purchase the book or not. One part of my mind is going why wouldn’t anyone like a book that could teach them how to react and/or treat a bully at school.

I hear rave things about the book from my writing group, but then the devil on my shoulder starts talking and tells me it’s not true. They just say that so they can earn credit or because you said something nice about their writing. For me it’s a constant Dr. Jeckell and Mr. Hyde, depending on the time that you speak with me. I will persevere and this book will be published.

If you would like to read this book in word or PDF and give me an honest opinion, I would be happy to send it to you.  Just email me at shirley_mclain@yahoo.com and let me know.

Thomas Gomel FRONT

 

Here is a short story for you called “No Pain, Just Memories”

It’s rough being a girl, going through the teen years. Not a child but not an adult either. One minute you are silly with giggles. The next minute you are miserable with your heart feeling as if it’s broken in half. You’re not old enough to drink but you know that’s what a lot of people do when they have a broken heart.

My day started out so well due to the fact Mike called and wanted to see me. My heart was racing because I knew he was going to ask me to go steady. I could see the high school ring on my finger with tape wrapped around the shank to make it fit.

“Mom, can I go to town for a couple of hours? I want to go to Walmart to pick up some writing paper for school.”

“Have you got your ironing done? You can’t go anywhere until those clothes are taken care of,” Mom says in her I mean what I say voice.

“I’ve got two pieces left and they will be done before I go. Is it OK, can I go?”

“Alright, but you be home before you dad gets in from work.”

“Thanks, Mom,” I tried to keep the absolute joy out of my voice when I answered her. I get to see Mike today.

I hurried to finish the ironing so I could get ready for my anticipated visual idolization of Mike’s handsome face. He was such a dream. That blonde hair which fell into his eyes, oh those wonderful eyes with the longest lashes I’d seen in my life. They were so clear and such a bright color of blue. Even if I hadn’t loved all of him, I would love him for his eyes alone.

I managed to get dressed without changing clothes four times because I was in a hurry. I left the house in my old car that I drove back and forth to school that had a rotten floorboard. Even though the bus stopped at our front door, I was much too old to have to ride that bus with all those screaming, snotty-nosed kids.

I drove straight to the place where Mike was staying while he worked his summer job. I should’ve known something was wrong when he came outside instead of inviting me in as he’d always done before. I didn’t even get the hello kiss that was our custom. I had a fleeting thought something was going on, but I pushed it away.

“Hi, Mike. I got here as soon as I could. Mom made me finish my ironing before I could come to town.”

“Thanks for coming down. We need to talk,” Mike said. He walked me towards my car not saying anything.

When we got back to my car, I asked Mike, “What do we need to talk about?”

He looked down at me from those wonderful blue eyes and said. “I don’t think we should see each other anymore. My summer job is ending soon and I will be returning to school. Besides, there is someone else I want to date. I thought it was only fair that I tell you straight out.”

I kept my cool while he was talking but I could feel the tears begin to burn my eyes. I had the urge to scream, Who is the dirty, rotten, floozy that’s taken, my man? “OK, Mike, if that’s what you want. I understand. Thanks for being honest with me.” I got in my car as gracefully as I could and drove away. I didn’t get far before I was sobbing for my lost love.

As I looked back at that time, I wondered at how silly that young girl was. A girl’s first heartbreak is something she never forgets and an experience most of us have had to go through. I’m an old woman now and it’s as fresh today as it was then. No pain just memories.

I hope you enjoyed the story as much as I did writing it.  Have a blessed week  Shirley

How to Craft A Book Proposal in 6 Steps

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Let’s start with what is a book proposal. A book proposal is a condensed down presentation of the actual content of your book. What the purpose of a book proposal is to convince an agent to represent your work by submitting the proposal, possibly polished up a smidge more, to the editors/publishers of your book’s genre. I am going to show you how to do this in six parts.

The Overview:  In one to five pages you explain the concept of the book. Start out with a hook. You have just a few sentences to pitch your book in an exciting and necessary manner. You want to convince the agent right from the beginning of your proposal that your book matters

1.              The opening paragraphs grab their attention and the rest fills in the                                    picture    which supports the claims made in the beginning. You flesh out                             the keynote with a longer hook.  You might address why you are the right                             person to write the project. You might tell them you wrote a successful                                   cooking blog or you’re an expert who wants to share your groundbreaking                           findings.

If there is a lot of competition in your genre show how your book is important to                show them how your book is different. Don’t leave out critical selling points, such             as the 500000 subscribers of your online newsletter.  If important, briefly mention             the organization or specific content such as format, number of craft projects or                   original artwork, or that the book is a sequel to a previous publication.

2.     The about the author section.  A factual one-page introduction written in the third                person, an author profile needs to convince an agent and publisher to take an                     interest in your work.  Think of it as your biography that highlights your relevant               expertise, achievements, and qualifications to write the work.  Select details of                     your education, hobby, career, publications, prizes and awards, media exposure,                 research or personal experience that spotlight your strengths in authoring your                 book.

3.     The about-the-market section.  Agents and publishers take on projects that they                   believe have a ready market of buyers.  They want to feel confident knowing                       where the book belongs on the bookstore shelf and that it will make money.  This              is one of the most important parts of the proposal; your writing might be brilliant             and your idea solid, but without a clear market, your project could be a                                 nonstarter.

In three to five pages, demonstrate that you’ve done your homework, you know                  your audience, why they will want your book, and how your book stands out in the            marketplace.  Research your target markets, and if available, use relevant statistics            and facts to boost your case.  List key stats of your primary market to prove there is          a target audience, and follow up with an evaluation of your secondary market.  That          is, identify and evaluate competitive works that are currently available in your                 category, with a critical but fair eye.  Point out how your work fits into, and how it is         distinguished from the comparisons.

4.   The author platform section.  Here you prove you are qualified to write the book and demonstrate that you can reach your audience and that readers will buy the book.  In one to two pages present your media experience and contacts, email lists, Twitter followers, Facebook relationships (only as relevant to your topic) details of previous successes and related opportunities for promotion.

Be sure to offer details of each of your platform’s six planks which include:

  •    Media experience, such as TV and radio appearances and print interviews or features.
  • Social media marketing which shows online exposure via your blog, website, e-newsletter, podcasts and dedicated YouTube site.  The larger the online audience, the better it looks for book sales.
  • Previous publications, or books and/or articles you’ve published in the subject area that relate to your new book concept.
  • Speaking engagements, including- large national or prestigious groups you addressed in your topic area.  List how often you speak to groups and the size of your audiences, because  “back of the room” book signings after presentations make good sales opportunities.  If you work with a speakers bureau, mention that.
  • Product tie-ins, which include your own products or endorsed products. These relationships could offer another marketing stream for your book.
  • Continuous exposure, or your ability to generate constant, ongoing and multifaceted media interest.  Agents and publishers don’t want a one hit wonder with one feature article in a regional magazine, for example.

5. The expanded table of contents.  This section, two to six pages, outlines the core structure and organization of the book, enabling an agent/publisher to envision in summary, the entire concept. Start with a skeletal structure and then fill it out.  Use appealing chapter and section titles, and within each craft a few choice sentences of a paragraph or two that describes the content you’ll cover.  Identify any important elements such as photographs.  Illustrations, sidebars, recipes, and so on.  This feature helps codify the entire book demonstrating the book worthiness of the concept and your ability to envision the entire work, including all its pieces.  In this section, be sure to identify which chapter or excerpt you are including as your writing sample.

6. The writing sample.  Every proposal must include a writing sample of up to three chapters of the work you propose to write.  This is the last section of your proposal and can make or break your opportunity.  It must demonstrate your writing ability, style and voice as well as generate interest in your topic and the desire to read more.  Make your selection carefully to offer strong content, intriguing elements of the book, and your obvious knowledge and passion for the subject.

Now you know why in mine and others opinion why writing is the easiest part of publishing a book if you go by the traditional route.

I have finished my first draft of Thomas Gomal Learns about Bullying. I’ve had help from my writing friends on FanBox. I appreciate their guidance so much. Until next time have a blessed week and happy writing.     Shirley

 

New Book and A Short Story

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Thomas Gomel FRONT

I’ve got a new book coming out soon on Bullying. It’s called Thomas Gomel Learns about Bullying’.
It’s for ages 10 and above. I made up my own genre called educational fiction. Follow a young man through bullying at school and how it is dealt with. If you would like to be a pre-published reader, let me know. I want several people to read and edit the story to make sure it makes sense. Let me know. Shirley

Here is a 500-word story I wrote the other day called Happy Anniversary,

Happy Anniversary

My husband brought me to Tony’s place for a nightcap. Our night was perfect. I couldn’t https___i.cdn.tbs.com_assets_images_2017_04_two-broke-girls-s05ep16-pity-party-bus-1600x900-1600x900_091420160442wait to get home to ravish his hunky body. When we walked through the door, we looked around just to give our eyes time to adjust to the light. Mack excused himself leaving me to go to the bar alone.
I sat down two seats away from a woman I envied, and I didn’t even know her. Gorgeous from the top of her head to her manicured toes. We made eye contact which made me feel as if I needed to speak.

” Hi, how are you tonight? I’m Amanda.”

“Hello Amanda, I’m Jazelle. It’s nice to meet you.  Are you alone also?”

“No, my husband is with me.”

Unhappily Jazelle said, “My husband is away on a business trip. It’s our anniversary.”

“What a coincidence, it’s mine also. We can celebrate together. Cheer up. I’m sure you’ll have your man back in no time. Speaking of having your man back I wonder where mine is. He should be out of the John by now.”

We ordered two more drinks for ourselves, and I got another one for Mack when he got out of the bathroom.

“Jazelle, do you have a picture of your husband? I’ve one of Mack so I’ll hand you mine and you hand me yours. We’ll do a husband swap.” Both of us laughed as if we were doing a man swap. I pulled out my wallet, and she pulled out hers.  We both got our pictures out.

“Are you ready,” I asked, and we swapped pictures. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I looked at Jazelle, and her face was white. We asked together. “How did you get a picture of Mack/Elliott?”

“What is this Amanda? You have a picture of my husband, Elliott?” Jazelle asked.

I couldn’t answer her, so I did the next best thing. I asked the bartender to please go into the men’s restroom to check on my husband. He gave me a “who do you think I am” look and left the bar.

“Jazelle, that is a picture of my husband and so is the one in my hand. I don’t know what is going on, but when Mack gets out of the restroom, I promise I’ll find out.”  We placed the matching pictures on the bar and picked up our drinks. They were put down empty.

“Excuse me, there ain’t no one in the men’s bathroom,” the barman said.

“What, that can’t be,” I shouted.

“Lady, I checked every stall. He ain’t there.”

“It looks like you’ve been abandoned just as I have,” Jazelle said. “Don’t you think it’s strange we’re at the same bar, with the same anniversary, with pictures of the same man? Something stinks here.”

“I think we should go to the police,” I told her.  “What do you think?”

We were out of Tony’s in a flash!

 


Recognized

Five Rules to Write By

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writing instructionHello everyone, I do hope all have had a great writing experience since my last blog. Today I am going to give you advice by Monte Schultz who taught at the Santa Barbara Writing Conference a few years ago. So here goes:

1. Use the English Language?  Earnest Hemmingway’s relative minimalism is not the last word on style. Some writers may preach that less is more, but that’s simply personal preference.  Elmore Leonard is not a better writer or stylist than James Lee Burke, nor is Hemingway better than Faulkner.  There just different.

2.  If you’re writing literary fiction, make something happen.  Interior conflict only goes so far in carrying a story forward.  On the other hand, genre writers ought to avoid characters that behave like robots.  Plot-driven fiction does not preclude interior reflection or character development.

3. Avoid characters who converse in a white space with nothing but their voices on the page.  Setting matters.  Don’t go overboard, but let your reader see where your characters are interacting.

4. Find first readers who care about your work and understand what you’re trying to accomplish.  Fewer readers are better than many.  If possible, have people read for different reasons.  For instance, I’ve always tried to find readers specifically interested in story, style, grammar or pacing.  Workshops can be helpful if you trust the readers, but beware of “art by committee.” The blizzard of comments and suggestions can be confusing and counterproductive, so trust in your own opinion best of all.

5.  make writing your life, not just a passing fancy.  Don’t imagine that publishing a novel will make you rich and famous.  Maybe it will, but probably it won’t. Don’t see writing as a career change.  Don’t give yourself six months, a year or two years to make it as a writer.  Think instead that once you put words on a page, you are a writer, and this is something that will fascinate, frustrate and fulfill you for the rest of your life.

Obtaining Writing Agent Attention

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agentGood morning, I thought today I would give just a few pointers on how to get a Writing Agents attention.  I know not everyone uses an agent but just in case you want on here on a few tips:

  1. Be authentic, show your true self, be energetic and sincere
  2. Build your platform now. Don’t wait until your book is published to start working to sell your book.
  3. Be knowledgeable and honest enough about yourself to showcase your best skills.
  4. Be Prepared with chapters to show, outline, your ideas for shaping your book.
  5. Be original, open minds, and “capture a fundamental sentiment that we hadn’t been able to articulate on our own” stated agent Rita Rosenkranz.

 

The following is an article posted by Rachelle Gardner in The Writer Magazine on why writers need agents. I hope you enjoy.

Many times I’ve answered the question of why you, a writer (singular), might need an agent (also singular). I addressed it in posts such as 10 Things to Expect from an Agent and Earning Our Keep. Agent Nathan Bransford gave a terrific rundown on what agents do, here and my client Jody Hedlund gave the perspective of a contracted, newly agented author here.

But today I want to answer a slightly different question. Why do authors, collectively, need agents (plural)? How does the existence of agents in this business help all authors?

You, as an individual author, may or may not require the services of an individual agent. But whether or not you realize it, whenever you deal with a publisher, you’re benefitting from the collective work of agents over the years.

For the last few decades, agents have been on the front lines when it comes to advocating for authors in their relationships with publishers. It’s interesting to speculate on the state of publishing contracts if agents had never been involved and authors had to fend for themselves or just take whatever the publisher was offering.

The economics of publishing are tough, and like in any business, publishers are always trying to figure ways to save money – or a least keep their money longer. Naturally, they come up with brilliant money-saving ideas that involve paying authors less. They try to lower royalty rates; they try to bump up the royalty breaks (i.e. raise the number of copies you must sell before bumping to a higher royalty rate); they may want to extend the length of time over which they pay out the author’s advance (a huge bone of contention right now between agents and a couple of the largest publishers); and of course, they sometimes try to pay lower advances.

Those are the simple things. The last couple of years have seen publishers and agents battling it out over e-book royalty rates and numerous other areas related to new digital technologies. And besides the money, there are other contract points that agents constantly work to keep fair for their clients—everything from option clauses to author copies to author buy-back rates and more. It’s complicated and tricky trying to negotiate all these points in such a rapidly changing publishing environment.

But over all the years and all the changes in publishing, agents collectively have had the knowledge and the clout to duke it out with publishers on a contract-by-contract basis, holding as much ground for authors as possible. For example, if you sign a contract on your own with a small independent publisher, and they offer you a 25% royalty on e-book sales, you have agents to thank for that, because at first, many publishers were trying to fold e-book sales into their regular royalty schedule, meaning you’d only be making 10% to 15% royalty. But agents have, for the most part, changed that.

An interesting nod to the importance of agents in the publishing process happened last month when Random House CEO Markus Dohle sent a detailed letter explaining the company’s new policy involving e-rights (which quickly became known as RH’s “retroactive rights grab”). To whom did Mr. Dohle send the letter? Literary agents.

As we continue into the confusing new world of digital publishing, authors are going to need advocates more than ever. You are going to have your hands full, trying to work your full-time job plus write your books plus market them. You won’t have time to become an expert on publishing contracts, too.

Just remember, if you choose to sign with a royalty publisher and stay agent-less, you may be missing out on the latest knowledge and expertise that will protect the value of your intellectual property; but you’ll probably also benefit from the work agents have already done in the last few decades.

Your agent doesn’t just work for you. Each agent is, in their own small way, protecting the rights of all authors. So love ’em or hate ’em, it doesn’t matter because if you’re an author, agents are your friends.

P.S. I imagine some of you will argue that it’s really the other way around—that agents need authors. Well, of course, that’s true. We need authors if we want this job. But if authors didn’t need agents, none of us would have this agenting job in the first place, so it’s kind of a moot point. When authors stop needing agents, agents will cease to play a part in the publishing industry.

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