Tag Archives: reading

Young Adult Book Clubs Can be a Tough Crowd.

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kariong-library-book-clubI love reading young adult stories even though I’m almost 68 years old. I can’t tell you why I like it, but I do. In fact, the last book I wrote, “Princess Adele’s Dragon,” was a young adult fantasy. The one thing I found out when trying to tell my story about Princess Adele was I had to get and keep my audience attention. How does a geriatric woman get their attention?  I can’t dance because I’m to stiff.  I don’t know where to start when it comes to doing a rap. I can certainly read the story with a little acting taking place, at least using my arms. Then I have the problem of the kids thinking I’m going to throw the book at them with my arm gyrations.

I read where Henry Winkler (The Fonz) and his co-writer Lin Oliver do a kid-friendly presentation of Hank Zipzer. It’s dynamic, with lots of visuals on the screen. The trick is to get the audience involved. Besides haveing visuals you can come up with a hands-on activity.  I think I might bring play dough and let them make me a dragon just to see what their minds come up with.

Young readers are perceptive and the middle school grades are trying to put their world together along with their identity. If they can really get into a book they identify with the characters. Book clubs is a safe place for that type of exploration to go on. Henry and Lin actually go to the Young Adult Book Clubs to give their presentation. Some are at school and others are after school or on Saturdays.

If you have a middle school age child you might think about getting them involved with a book club. That might solve a problem with keeping them occupied.

 

 

 

7 Tools For Pacing A Novel

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PACEPacing is a crucial component of fiction writing. After all, it’s important to keep your readers “hooked” throughout your story. Whether you are just getting started in writing or looking to break into fiction writing, you’ll need to know the basics of how to pace a novel. Read today’s tip of the day from Crafting Novels & Short Stories. In this excerpt written by Jessica Page Morrell, she explains what pacing is and seven ways to keep your story moving at the right pace.

What is Pacing in Fiction?

Pacing is a tool that controls the speed and rhythm at which a story is told, and the readers are pulled through the events. It refers to how fast or slow events in a piece unfold and how much time elapses in a scene or story. Pacing can also be used to show characters aging and the effects of time on story events.

Pacing differs with the specific needs of a story. A far-reaching epic will often be told at a leisurely pace though it will speed up from time to time during the most intense events. A short story or adventure novel might quickly jump into action and deliver drama.

Pacing is part structural choices and part word choices and uses a variety of devices to control how fast the story unfolds. When driving a manual transmission car, you choose the most effective gear needed for driving uphill, maneuvering city streets, or cruising down a freeway. Similarly, when pacing your story, you need to choose the devices that move each scene along at the right speed.

Seven Literary Devices for Pacing Your Story

You need speed in the opening, middle, and climax of your story. Sure, you’ll slowdown from time to time, especially to pause for significance and to express characters’ emotions, but those times will usually appear just before or after a joyride of skin-tightening speed.

There are lots of tools to hasten your story. Some are better suited for micropacing—that is, line by line—and some are better suited for macropacing—pacing the story as a whole. Let’s take a closer look at each device.

ACTION. Action scenes are where you “show” what happens in a story, and, when written in short- and medium-length sentences, they move the story along. Action scenes contain few distractions, little description, and limited transitions. Omit or limit character thoughts, especially in the midst of danger or crisis, since during a crisis people focus solely on survival. To create poignancy, forgo long, descriptive passages and choose a few details that serve as emotionally charged props instead.

CLIFF HANGERS. When the outcome of a scene or chapter is left hanging, the pace naturally picks up because the reader will turn the page to find out what happens next. Readers both love and hate uncertainty, and your job is to deliver plenty of unfinished actions, unfilled needs, and interruptions. Remember, cliffhangers don’t necessarily mean that you’re literally dangling your character from a rooftop as the scene ends. If your characters are in the midst of a conversation, end the scene with a revelation, threat, or challenge.

DIALOGUE. Rapid-fire dialogue with little or no extraneous information is swift and captivating, and will invigorate any scene. The best dialogue for velocity is pared down, an abbreviated copy of a real-life conversation that snaps and crackles with tension. It is more like the volleying of Ping-Pong or tennis than a long-winded discussion. Reactions, descriptions, and attributions are minimal. Don’t create dialogue exchanges where your characters discuss or ponder. Instead, allow them to argue, confront, or engage in a power struggle.

PROLONGED OUTCOMES. Suspense and, by extension, forward movement are created when you prolong outcomes. While it may seem that prolonging an event would slow down a story, this technique actually increases the speed, because the reader wants to know if your character is rescued from the mountainside, if the vaccine will arrive before the outbreak decimates the village, or if the detective will solve the case before the killer strikes again.

SCENE CUTS. Also called a jump cut, a scene cut moves the story to a new location and assumes the reader can follow without an explanation of the location change. The purpose is to accelerate the story, and the characters in the new scene don’t necessarily need to be the characters in the previous scene.

A SERIES OF INCIDENTS IN RAPID SUCCESSION. Another means of speeding up your story is to create events that happen immediately one after another. Such events are presented with minimal or no transitions, leaping via scene cuts from scene to scene and place to place.

SHORT CHAPTERS AND SCENES. Short segments are easily digested and end quickly. Since they portray a complete action, the reader passes through them quickly, as opposed to being bogged down by complex actions and descriptions.

SUMMARY. Instead of a play-by-play approach, tell readers what has already happened. Because scenes are immediate and sensory, they require many words to depict. Summary is a way of trimming your word count and reserving scenes for the major events. You can also summarize whole eras, descriptions, and backstory. Summaries work well when time passes, but there is little to report, when an action is repeated or when a significant amount of time has passed.

WORD CHOICE AND SENTENCE STRUCTURE. The language itself is the subtlest means of pacing. Think concrete words (like Prodigy and iceberg), active voice (with potent verbs like zigzag and plunder), and sensory information that’s artfully embedded. If you write long, involved paragraphs, try breaking them up.

Fragments, spare sentences, and short paragraphs quicken the pace. Crisp, punchy verbs, especially those with onomatopoeia (crash, lunge, sweep, scatter, ram, scavenge) also add to a quick pace. Invest in suggestive verbs to enliven descriptions, build action scenes and milk suspense.

Harsh consonant sounds such as those in words like claws, crash, kill, quake, and nag can push the reader ahead. Words with unpleasant associations can also ratchet up the speed: hiss, grunt, slither, smarmy, venomous, slaver, and wince. Energetic, active language is especially appropriate for building action scenes and suspense, and for setting up drama and conflict.

A fast pace means trimming every sentence of unnecessary words. Eliminate prepositional phrases where you don’t need them: For example, “the walls of the cathedral” can be written as “the cathedral’s walls.” Finally, search your story for passive linking verbs and trade them in for active ones.

By: Courtney Carpenter

Writer’s Digest

This is Blatant Advertising

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Colorful Tapestry of Words2

How do you feel about authors advertising their books any and everywhere they can? I am one of those people. I’m an author, and I try to take advantage of every opportunity I come across to tell someone about my books.

Even if I am an author, I get tired sometimes of seeing so many ads on Facebook and Twitter, which is certainly two-faced of me. I can’t have it both ways. There’s one side of me that wants to see things I can read about a fascinating subject not another “look at my book, see me.”
Since I’ve said how I feel, let me share the link to my latest book with you and also offer tips on how to possibly market a book. Here’s my link. Have a look and if you would like to do an Amazon review, I will send you one free for an honest review.  http://amzn.to/1Xogylz

Here are some book marketing tips taken from an article on Author Media by Caitlin Muir.
89+ Book Marketing Ideas That Will…
Increase your web presence:
Create a testimonial page on your website
Add the free My Book Progress plugin to your WordPress website to update your visitors about the status of your upcoming book.
Retweak the SEO on your site
Ask fans to post their reviews on your Facebook page
Ask fans to post their reviews on Amazon
Ask fans to post their reviews on Goodreads
Sign up for Twitter
Clean up your social footprint
Create an author FB page and use it instead of your profile
Sign up for Google Authorship
Offer bloggers advanced reading copies
Go on an online book tour
Create a book launch team
Host Q+A sessions on Google+
Create Facebook Friday videos
Register as an author on Amazon
Register as an author on Goodreads
Create a book trailer
Add the free My Book Table plugin to your WordPress website to boost book sales.
Create a hashtag for your next book
Build your fan base:
Start an FB campaign to increase your fans
Start a Google Campaign to increase traffic to your site
Start a controversial web series
Link up with other writers for your controversial web series
Start weekly Twitter chats with readers
Keyword your blog posts
Create a monthly newsletter
Create an affiliate program
Host-guest bloggers
Become a guest blogger
Create business cards with your web address on them and hand them out
Put your photo on your business card for stronger branding
Start commenting on other blogs (early and often)
Host regular author hangouts on Google+
Host regular author interviews on Google+
Record your Google+ hangouts and put them on YouTube
Get social media coaching
Cultivate Community:
Create an online community with a forum
Say thank you to readers with special incentives for being a fan
Ask your reading community to design merchandise for your store
Create a fan page for your main character (works well if they are in a series)
Ask fans to create their own book trailers and post them online
Offer core fans advanced copy of future books
Ask fans to post pictures of “character spottings.”
Offer “extra features” on your website
Use Twitter hashtags
Poll your readers and listen to what they say
Answer all your blog comments
Engage with your fans on FB
Ask your fans to post pictures of them reading your book
Make some extra money:
Repackage old blog posts and sell them as an e-book
Join an affiliate program
Speak on the core topic of your book
Become a content writer
Host paid webinars
Freelance with niche magazines
Sell ads on your website
Sell ads in your newsletter
Write a new ebook tailored to your fans
Mentor another writer
Become an Amazon Affiliate (and use MyBookTable)
Offer customizable ebooks for readers
Sell your book on your site, not just Amazon
Tweetables:
The @AuthorMedia crew just gave me 89 free book marketing ideas. Watch out the world! – click to tweet.
My sales should spike soon. I’m going to try out some of the book marketing suggestions from @AuthorMedia. – click to tweet.
89 Book Marketing Ideas That Will Change Your Life. Try one today! – click to tweet.
Have you tried any of these marketing tips from @AuthorMedia? They look great! – click to tweet.
Dang. I needed book marketing ideas, and I found 89 of them via @AuthorMedia. – click to tweet.
If you write books, you should look at this list ASAP. Unless you are my competitor. – click to tweet.
Need some book marketing ideas? One of these ideas should do the trick! – click to tweet.
Build your brand offline
Write a Press Release
Ask to be interviewed by your local paper
Ask to be interviewed by the paper your book is set in
Ask to be interviewed by the local radio host
Ask to be interviewed on the local morning show (read this article first)
Partner with a band that has the same cause as you
Go on a physical book tour
Start thinking local
Sell themed merchandise (Think “Team Edward” shirts)
Rent a billboard
Host a book release party
Link with an activity that supports your cause and sell your book there
Create a viral video about a scene from your book
Find a Place To Give a Book Reading:
Your local coffee shop
A hospital
A retirement community
A rehabilitation center
A local church
A locally owned bookstore
The library (try the five closest to your house)
The local community college
A school
Wherever the main setting of your book is
Google+
Videos you upload to Facebook
Goodreads
Discover where to donate your book (and make new fans):
Women’s shelters
VA hospitals
Homeless shelters
Children’s hospitals
Retirement homes
The five closest libraries to your house
The library in your hometown
Summer camp
Community libraries at coffee shops
The local community college library
The libraries in the town where the book was set in
BookCrossing.com
Local B&B’s
Local motels
Prisons
Church libraries
Rehab centers
Cruise ship libraries
Doctor’s offices
Community centers
Senior Centers
Become an expert:
Listen to the Novel Marketing Podcast.
Get active on LinkedIn
Write Op-Ed pieces on the core message of your story
Write freelance pieces on the core message of your story and pitch to niche publications
Give lectures on the core message of your story
Host webinars with other experts
Create a series of web-videos interviewing experts on the core message of your story
Make sure your author about me page is interesting and relevant
Create a Meetup group
Have any book marketing tips you’d like to add to the list? Leave them in the comment section.

Determining What to Write About

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One of the first and most important decisions for every writer is determining what to write about. Making this decision can feel overwhelming often because of long-held notions we have about what it means to be a writer. Many people believe that authors just have ideas that come to them or, worse yet, that authors are so intelligent that they are able to create something unique that has never been seen or thought of before.

In reality, neither scenario is entirely true. Most of the time, authors decide what to write about from examining their personal lives and interests or by examining the work of other authors and making parts of existing material into something new and different.

Writing about things you know and care about is important for several reasons. For one, it usually makes writing much easier: if you are writing from personal experiences, you can spend more energy on adding creative twists to a story that already exists.

Second, if you are writing about something you care about, you usually have a deeper sense of the subject and will have more information from which to write. Choosing topics or experiences that you care about will develop a sense of “you” which only you can create.

Here are some strategies for coming up with ideas for writing:

Make lists of topics or things that you are interested in—hobbies, issues, things, places

Draw a floor plan of your home and make a list of three memorable events that happened in each room

Make a list of problems that you have seen characters face in movies, TV shows, or books, and use one as the basis for your own story

Make a list of your most memorable experiences and determine which might be the basis for a piece of writing

Maintain a personal journal and collect thoughts and descriptions that might be used as the basis for a piece of writing

Think about “small moments” of life to expand and explore rather than creating large, involved stories Read and re-read the authors that you are fond of.

Look for places where you can pick up where they left off or think of how the story could be retold from a different character’s perspective

Take elements from an existing storyline from a book, movie, or play and work your own real-life or past experiences in to create a new story

Make a list of your favorite movies or books and look for patterns in the storylines or look for storylines that can be combined or changed

Read, read, read—all great authors are readers who constantly look for ideas from other authors For more information:

Developing Ideas for Writing (Prewriting): http://www.esc.edu/ESConline/Across_ESC/WritersComplex.nsf/3CC42A422514347A8525671D00 49F395/CE2B510E7D9975AE852569C3006ACCCC?OpenDocument

Originally published by NCTE (National Council Teachers of English) Date unknown

Get Digi With It

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digital2Literacy used to look like a child sitting with a book in his or her hands.  Recently, however, literacy has acquired a new look.

More young children are learning to read not from a printed book but rather on a table, electronic reader or even a smartphone. This phenomenon presents an opportunity for authors because these flourishing platforms have a growing need for children’s e-books.

These trends have been analyzed in the recent report “What a Difference a Year Makes: Kids and E-Reading Trends  2012-2013. The report focuses on parental attitudes regarding the benefits of e-books. The report was compiled by family centered consumer product company PlayScience (the research arm of Play-Collective) and Digital Book World, a consumer publish resource.  An online survey was conducted in October, 2013, of 603 U.S. adults who have children ages 2-13 who read digital books in their households.

The most important finding: Children’s e-reading continues to grow sharply, with two-thirds of children 13 and under now reading digital books; 92 percent of those kids do so at least once a week. That translates into a potential consumer base of 36 million U.S. children.  In addition, nearly half of those children read digitally every day.  Does this mean children are reading more because of e-books, or are they simply switching from print to electronic forms? digital

J. Alison Bryant, president and founder of PlayCollective, thinks the answer is the former.  ” There is certainly some move to electronic forms, but overall it seems to be addictive,” she says.  Cindy Loh, publishing director for Bloomsbury Children’s USA, explains the versatility of ebooks: “There are more of them available since the rise of e-books.  In digital, books can really be tailored to the readership without print production and inventory costs, so the reader who loves dystopian can keep reading dystopian stories long after the bulk of the print industry has moved on to another genre.  Publications schedules are much more flexible for digital, too.  Production timelines for digital are shorter, and publishers now have the possibility to release all  books in a series within a year.  E-books have also opened up the market for novellas and prequel stories that would have been more challenging to publish in print.”

The report also reveals that children want both print and e-book versions of the same title.  The study offers two reasons for this: It could be that children view each as separate and unique reading experiences, or it may be that they enjoy a book so much that they want to be able to access it at all times and in multiple formats.

The other major finding of the report is that parents who grew up with print books are learning to embrace digital books for their children. The study shows that a majority of parents surveyed feel that e-books can motivate their children to read more or to become better readers, improve their children’s reading abilities and reduce the amount of time their children spend with other media.

Digital children’s books, now in increasing demand, provide a new pathway to publication for aspiring writers.  But any enhancements must be constructed upon the never-antiquated foundation of a strong narrative.

Original by Dale McGarrigle

Sally’s Warning Chapter 3

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Background
Sally is a senior in high school, dealing with an alcoholic father and a young man who once was married to her best friend. The story takes place in the late 1960’s.

 

It was 7:00 p.m. and Sally’s father still wasn’t home. She knows what it means and so does Mona. “Sally, put the dishes on the table. Your father can eat when he gets home.”

“Mama, when I get done eating, I’m going to take my shower and go to bed. I’m reading a really good book. It’s called, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.”

“I’ve heard of that book. Aren’t they making a movie from it, or something?”

“Yeah, I think so. Oh, speaking of movies, that reminds me. Linda and me want to go to the show Saturday afternoon. Is that all right? There’s a good movie on with Bette Davis.”

“Yes, you can go, but you have to get your ironing done first.”

“Okay, I’ll iron Saturday morning while it’s cool. I might even do some on Friday night.”

Sally and her mom talk while they eat their supper. Then Sally gets her shower and crawls up on the top bunk to read. Her room is in the middle of the house without any windows. She keeps a box fan blowing on her all the time. That’s the only way she can stand the oppressive heat.

Her dad comes in about 8:00. She can tell by his speech he’s been drinking. Mona finishes the dishes and sits down. She looks at her husband and asks if he wants something to eat.

“No I don’t want anything to eat. I’m not hungry. Besides, you know I don’t eat when I’m drinking. Me and a couple of the guys went to the Hilltop when I got off work.”

“I figured as much.”

“Where’s Sally? It’s too early to go to bed.”

“She’s in bed, reading.”

It isn’t but a couple of minutes after her dad arrives in the house she hears him yell her name.

“Sally, come out here. Sally, come out and see your ol’ dad.”

She jumps down from the bunk and walks into the living room. “Hi, Dad, you wanted to see me.”

“I sure did, do you want to drive my truck tomorrow?”

“Sure, I’d like to.” What’s going on? He never lets me drive his truck. He even has a hard time with mama driving it sometimes.

“If I drive your truck to school tomorrow, what will you drive to work”?

“I didn’t say a damn thing about you driving my truck to school. You won’t set foot in my truck tomorrow.”

“Oh, ok. I thought that’s what you meant, that I can drive it to school.”

“No, I didn’t mean that. You have your own damn car to drive. Get out of here, I don’t want to look at you anymore.” Her dad says in a sarcastic tone. Sally tucks her head and leaves the room. I wonder what that was all about. I can’t win with that man.

Sally climbs up to her bunk and tries to get back into her book wanting to forget about her father. She can hear his voice getting louder and louder as he talks. She turns out her bedroom light so her father will think she is asleep. Maybe he won’t wake her. It’s not going to be easy to go to sleep with his yelling, and it’s so hot in here.

Sally is suddenly woke by her father’s turning the room light on. “What did you just say to me? I told you, you are not driving my truck.”

“Daddy, I’ve not said anything. I was asleep until you woke me.”

“Yeah right. I heard you, so don’t bother lying.”

“Please, Daddy. I won’t drive the truck tomorrow. I want to go back to sleep.”

“You’re damn right you won’t drive the truck. Ungrateful kid.”

He walks away from her door, and Sally has to crawl to the foot of her bunk to turn out the light. She has a difficult time getting back to sleep, but she finally drifts off.

Friday finally arrives. Sally has it all planned to get the ironing done this evening so she can sleep in in the morning. Mona is in the kitchen preparing to start their supper. Some of the family is coming over, so it will be a good dinner. Sally calls out to her mom, “Mama, I’m going out front and sit for a little while and let it cool down more before I start my ironing”.

“Okay,” Mona says as she stands at the sink peeling potatoes.

Sally wasn’t outside ten minutes when Bill pulls up. She groans inwardly and waits for him to walk up to the bench. “Hi, Bill, what are you up to?”

“I stopped by to see if you want to go to the drive-in with me tonight.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Mama won’t let me. I have to do my ironing.”

“Where is your mom?”

“She’s in the house starting supper. Why?”

Bill didn’t answer her because he was already through the screen door. He’s inside about five minutes. Sally can’t stand the suspense of wondering what he is up to, so she went inside. Bill is standing in the kitchen talking to Mona.

Bill gets a big smile on his face, “Your mom says you can do your ironing in the morning and go to the show with me. Isn’t that great?”

Sally’s eye’s cut to her mama’s and Mona’s head is bobbing up and down. Oh, god, I’m done for. Now what am I going to do? “Oh, that’s wonderful.”

“I’ll pick you up at 7:00. You should’ve eaten by then. The movie called Adam and Eve is on at the drive in. Your mom told me you’d wanted to see it.”

“Yeah, I wanted to see it, but I was going to wait until it was inside at the Okla.”

“Well, now you don’t have to wait. I’ll see you later.” He walks from the kitchen and out of the house.

“Mama, why did you do that?”

“I got tired of him asking me to take you out. So now, he can take you out and leave me alone. Now little girl you either shit or get off the pot”.

“Mama, what a thing to say.”

“You know exactly what I’m saying. You haven’t ever told him no. You keep making excuses. Now you can’t make any more excuses.”

Oh, my life is ruined.

***

Sally’s date shows at straight up 7:00. Her mom answers the door when he knocks. He comes into the living room and waits for Sally to finish getting ready. He and Mona have a nice conversation. Finally, Sally comes out. Bill’s eyes brighten when he sees her. “Wow, you look nice.”

“Thank you,” Sally says as Bill stands and they walk to the door together. He opens the door for her and she steps through. She walks down the walkway towards his car. He hurries and gets to the car door just as she reaches for it. “Here, I got that.” He opens the door and she slides in. Since this is a date, I guess I shouldn’t hug the door like I did last time. She consciously tries to relax.

Bill walks to his side of the car and gets in. He’s all smiles as he takes them to the drive-in in McAlester. He’s talking the entire time he’s driving. Sally smiles and nods her head a lot. She’ll answer his question if he asks one, but never starts talking.

Once he gets to the Drive-In and parks, he looks at Sally and asks. “Would you like to go to the concession stand and get a Coke and some popcorn?”

“Sure, can we sit on the swings until time for the movie to start.”

“You like to swing, do you?”

“Yes, I do. I like to go up high and let the wind blow my hair. It’s fun.”

“Okay, I haven’t been on a swing in a very long time.”

The two of them sit on the swings and drink their Coke. They decide not to get popcorn until the movie starts. Bill pushes Sally on the swing and she laughs.

“That’s a nice sound to hear. I haven’t heard you laugh since me, you and Jackie were running around together. I’ve missed your laugh.”

“Bill, isn’t it time for the show to start? We’d best get our popcorn and another drink and head for the car.”
Braking herself with her feet, Sally gets off the swing. They walk to the concession stand and then back to his car. He opens the door on his side of the car and Sally slides over. Bill gets in beside her and puts the speaker in the window.
***

Sally wasn’t enjoying the movie at all. “I thought this would be a good movie, but it isn’t. It’s really overrated.”

“Yeah, it’s pretty bad. Do you want to go get something else to drink?”

“No thanks, let’s just go home. I’ve got to get up early in the morning to get my ironing done while it’s cool.”

“Oh, all right, home it is.” Bill removes the speaker and leaves the drive-in.

Pulling up in front of Sally’s home, Bill kills the engine on his car. He turns to Sally and takes hold of her right hand. Looking directly in her eyes, he says, ”Sally, I love you.”

Sally felt as if her lungs lost their air. She sputters “what!”

“I said I love you.”

“No you don’t!” Sally starts scooting to the passenger door and grabs the handle, opens the door and begins to get out of the car.

“Sally, don’t tell me how I feel. I love you and I have for a long time. Just think about it for a few days. You don’t have to say anything now.”

“Goodnight, Bill.”

“Night, Sally. Think about what I said.”

He starts the car and pulls away. Sally is speechless and doesn’t know what to think. This event is a total shock. Now what am I going to do?

Writing A New Book

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I have begun a new YA book called Sally’s Warning (Temporary). I’ve decided to post the chapters here as I finish them. I would like to have your feedback. If you find something that you think needs changed please let me know. I can always use help with editing. I hope you have a great weekend and I will post chapter 2 on Monday.

 

 Chapter 1

 

 

It’s a beautiful summer evening as Sally walks down the dirt road behind her home. The katydids are singing in the trees. She can hear the deep croaking of the bullfrogs talking to one another in the pond. The aroma of fresh cut hay fills the air. This would be a perfect life if it weren’t for my father. I’ll be glad when school starts. I can’t believe I’m a senior. I didn’t think I’d make it to my senior year, but here I am. I have another week to wait.

When the road turns towards home, Sally spots Bill Grundy’s car sitting in front of her house. Bill’s sitting under the portico talking to Mona, Sally’s mother. Oh, God, he’s here is again. I can’t get rid of him.

Bill shows up two weeks ago, and she’s been unable to get rid of him. Three years ago, he marries her best friend Jackie, and the three of them spent a lot of time together before he goes into the Army. Jackie leaves with someone else, and they divorce. Why he’s shown up on her doorstep, she doesn’t know.

When she gets close enough, Bills face lights up, with a big smile. “Hello, how are you this fine day?”

“Hi” Sally says, as she sits down on the bench. “I’m doing okay, just been too hot. We need rain terribly bad to cool things down.

“Guess what? Your mom says you can go to the show with me tonight.”

“She did, that’s great. Did you think about asking me first? I already have plans with Linda. We’re going to the Attic.”

“What’s the Attic?” Bill asks, with a sad look in his eyes.

“It’s a dance place for teenagers. I’m picking her up at seven and heading to McAlester.” Since he is six years older than Sally, she knows he won’t be able to get into the place.

“Mom, I’m going to take my shower and get ready.”

“Ok, honey.” Sally barely hears her. Sally gets up from the bench and goes into the house, leaving Bill sitting and talking with her mother.

Sally knows she has to hurry, so she can leave before her dad comes home. I know he’ll be drinking, and I won’t argue with him today. I don’t know why he has to pick fights with me.

Bill remains in front of the house and Sally can’t understand why. She’s has done everything to get rid of him. It’s as if he’s oblivious to all of it. She kisses her mom bye and doesn’t speak to Bill as she walks past to go to her car. She climbs in the black, 1954 Ford and heads to her girlfriend’s house.

 ***

  After the dance is over, Sally and Linda walk outside. Linda sucks in her breath and says, “Sally, isn’t that Bill’s car sitting there beside that red Chevy?”

Sally turns her head and looks, catching Bill’s eye when she does. She walks to the car and asks, “Bill, what are you doing here?”

“I thought I would take you two girls to the A&W.” Bill said

Sally turns around and yells for Linda to join them. When Linda gets to the car, Sally asks, “Bill wants to take us to A&W to get a drink. Do you want to go?”

“It’s still hot out here so a cold drink would be good.” Linda said. Sally has her back to Bill when she asks, and the whole time is mouthing “no”. Linda ignores her. She is stuck. Sally climbs in the front seat, and Linda gets in the back. Sally sits so close to the door, if it opens she’ll be on the ground.

Bill drive Main Street a couple of times. That’s the thing to do before going to the A&W. Bill and Linda talk the entire time. Sally only spoke with a direct question. I’m going to kill Linda when I get her back to my car.

They get their drinks. Linda and Bill are yammering away. Bill turns to Sally and asks. “Sally, are you mad at me?”

“No I’m not mad. I just don’t have much to talk about. I’m tired after dancing so much. Would you mind taking us back to my car?”

“No I don’t mind. Thanks for letting me take you to get a cold drink.”

Linda speaks up, “Oh, you’re welcome. It’s always hot in there with so many bodies.”

“I’ll be glad to get home and get these shoes off. My feet are killing me. I’ve gone through the summer without wearing shoes most of the time. When I have to put them on, they kill my feet. I wish I could go barefooted to school,” Sally says.

They arrive back at Sally’s car. Sally jumps out first. Turning to Bill she says, “Thank you again. See you later.” By that time, Linda is out of the car. Sally digs her keys out of her pocket and gets in the car. Bill sits and watches them until Sally pulls out of the parking lot.

She wasn’t on the road a minute and a half before she confronts Linda. “Okay, do you want to tell me why you made me go with Bill? You of all people know how I feel.”

“Look, we’re both thirsty, and you know it. Besides that, it didn’t cost us anything. Since neither of us has a dime, I thought it was a good opportunity.” Sally accepts her answer and drops the subject of Bill. They’ve been friends since Sally began school at Stuart. Both of them are the outcasts of the class and don’t fit in with the elite. They stick together like glue. They  can always  find something to talk about.

The drive home is uneventful until Sally receives an extremely loud call from Mother Nature. “Crap, I have to stop and go to the bathroom. My bladder is about to bust. We’re almost to Arpelar (pronounced Are pay lar). I’ll pull off and go.”

She quickly pulls onto a dark road, jumps out of the car, runs around to the front, and squats. Sally feels the car bump her down and is amazed it rolls over the top of her. The 1954 Ford that Sally drives is a standard shift. If you don’t put it in gear, it rolls.

Sally is face down in the dirt as the car slowly stops, leaving her underneath. She crawls out from under the car, with Linda asking if she is okay. Just as soon as she determines Sally isn’t hurt she begins to laugh, hysterically. “Wait until I tell the kids you got run over by your own car.”

“Dang you, Linda, why didn’t you put on the brake?”

“When I realized it was rolling, I couldn’t get to it in time. You’re certainly looking good now”, as she continues to laugh.

Between the dirt and mud, Sally’s clothes are a mess. She climbs back into the car and tells Linda, “You’d better not mention this to a soul or I’ll never speak to you again.”

“All right, I won’t.”

“Do you promise?”

“Yes, I promise.”

Sally takes Linda home  before her midnight curfew. Since it is a Friday night, her mom and dad will be up. When she pulls into the drive, she can see the kitchen light on. She knows her dad will be drinking. Seeing her dad drunk has gone on for as long as she can remember. She’s conditioned to all of the stages he goes through. I hope he doesn’t try to pick a fight.

Sally walks through the front door and calls out, “I’m home.” She is hoping she can go to her room without talking, but that’s not the case.

“Come here, Sally and tell me about the dance”, her dad calls out. She gets the sick feeling in her stomach, as always, when he wants to talk to her. She walks into the kitchen, and her dad is sitting at the table with a bottle of Crown Royal sitting in front of him and empty Coke cans.

“Hi, Daddy, has mom gone to bed? I’m really tired. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Oh no, you’re not going to bed yet. Tell me about the dance.”

“We had a good time. A lot of the kids from school were there.”

“How much have you had to drink?”

“Daddy, I only drank Coke.”

“Sure you have. Look at your clothes. I know what you been up to. Don’t bother telling me any lies.”

Her dad’s voice is getting louder and louder with every word. “You lie to me, and I’ll make you wish you hadn’t.”

“Daddy, I swear, I haven’t been drinking. Call Linda and ask her. I want to go to bed.”

“I ain’t calling Linda for something I can see with my own eyes.” About that time, Mona walks into the kitchen.

“What’s going on here? John you woke me up with your yelling.”

“This damn girl came home drinking, and I’m not going to put up with it.”

Sally had tears in her eyes. “Mama, I haven’t had anything but Coke to drink, I swear.”

“What happened to your clothes?” Mona asked.

“I fell down. I’ll tell you about it tomorrow. I just want to take my shower and go to bed.”

“All right, go to bed. We’ll talk tomorrow.”

“Night, mama.”

Sally takes off for her room without another word. Relief is the only emotion she’s feeling. She can hear her mother trying to go back to bed, but as usual, her dad wants to talk.

Why does he do this? As many times, as I have come home drinking he’s never said a word and suddenly tonight, he decides to make an issue of it. I haven’t had a drop. He’s crazy. I can’t wait to finish school and get out of here.

 

 

 

200 Word Flash Fiction ( The Rent)

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Today, I decided to share with you a flash fiction piece which won a contest. I was given a specific list of words to use. They are in bold print and told to write a story in under 200 words.  Let me know ways you think you’d improve on this story. I hope you enjoy it.    Shirley

The RentImage,

The forecast for the day is cold with a winter storm warning. I don’t want to get out of my nice warm bed, but I know I have to. There are many errands to run, and I have to do them before the storm hits.
 
Why Mrs. Flannigan has me pay my rent in person, I’ll never understand. It would be easier if I put it in the mail with my monthly bills. There isn’t any use crying and whining about it. That’s the way it is.
 
I back my car from the drive for the ten-mile trip to Mrs. Flannigan’s. Myphone is in my purse for an emergency. The sleet and freezing rain are  already falling. The radio announcer tells everyone to stay off the roads. I’m not the smartest person, because I’m driving. I can’t drive fast because of poor visibility.  My hands are gripping the  wheel and my knuckles are white. Relax, Sally, you can do this.
 
The bridge over the lake is icy. What is that idiot doing? He’s going too fast. I’m in the middle of the bridge. I can’t scoot over. No, oh God help me.
 
Paper reads: Trucker and young woman join fatality toll.

Fever 1793 and Mosquitoes

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English: Colour print of the yellow fever or d...

Image via Wikipedia

Today’s blog is abook review  but mostly a commentary. I finished reading the book Fever 1793 by Laurie Halsey Anderson, and Lori Earley. It was a totally enjoyable read for me. I give it 5 stars. It is a story of a young girl in Philadelphia in 1793 when Yellow Fever attacked the City.  It is based on a true event where over 30,000 people died of the sickness.  Any time there is Yellow Fever you have water nearby, since the disease is carried by mosquitoes.

You know those flying bloodsucking, always present, insects. I know God put everything on this earth for a reason, but I have yet to figure out why he gave us the mosquito. It might have been to provide activity from scratching those blasted red bumps to slapping arms, legs, face,  and neck.  Actually it’s anyplace that bare skin is showing.  I also know it doesn’t even have to be bare skin. I’ve had them bite me through my clothes. I attract them like a magnet.

There are two types of mosquito that carry the virus that causes yellow fever the Aedes aegypi,  and the tiger mosquite (Aedes alsopictus. I can’t say I know mosquito’s well enough to ID either one of them. The symptoms are nasty. The incubation period is 3 to six days after being bitten. You experience fever, headache, chills, back-pain, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. It severe cases it causes liver damage and you become jaundice(yellow).  You may bleed from the mouth, eyes, and the GI tract. Luckily the mortality rate is only 20%, but that is a lot of people in a large population. If one survives it they have immunity.

*Yellow fever epidemics struck the United States repeatedly in the 18th and 19th centuries. The disease was not indigenous; epidemics were imported by ship from the Caribbean. Prior to 1822, yellow fever attacked cities as far north as Boston, but after 1822 it was restricted to the south. Port cities were the primary targets, but the disease occasionally spread up the Mississippi River system in the 1800s. New Orleans, Mobile, Savannah, and Charleston were major targets; Memphis suffered terribly in 1878. Yellow fever epidemics caused terror, economic disruption, and some 100,000-150,000 deaths. Recent white immigrants to southern port cities were the most vulnerable; local whites and blacks enjoyed considerable resistance(*NIH.gov).

Yellow fever does not exist in the United States today, but continues to kill thousands of people a year in Africa and parts of South America. One of the last epidemics in the USA was 1896. The epidemic moved across the southern states and my great-grand parents and a child died on the same day.  My book to be published this fall called Dobyns Chronicles is based on this event. Very few families were not affected.

This is abcidarian poem (uses every letter of the alphabet) about the Mosquito.  Enjoy

The Mosquito

Always the sounds are identifiable

Bustling and hustling through the night

Calling out with a loud buzz

Diving, flying, hiding as needed

Endeavoring to survive another day

Finality of life awaits if found

Giving all they have to their life

Hoards huddled together

Indecisive about where to go

Jobbing proboscis anywhere it can

Keen on obtaining their food

Larva they once were but no more

Menacing in their behavior

No one is happy when their around

Open, moist, areas they thrive

Penetrating proboscis through cloth or skin

Quitting only if dead

Reaping the rewards if persistent

Swaying in the air with the wind

Tiny and swift is their fame

Under shelters they will go

Vying for the food supply they need

Willing to go the extra mile

Xeric environments they do not like

Yearning to mate and then pass from life

Zenith of the life

 

How Do You know?

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The best short stories of Mark TwainOK, I admit it, I really don’t know a great deal about writing.  That expression “flying by the seat of my pants” is exactly what I’m doing. I have to say I learn something new  every day and I find that exciting. Knowledge is what makes the world go round. Everything we have in life is due to someone’s knowledge and ingenuity.

Right now I am struggling with a simple thing(not to me), that is knowing, but not knowing enough.  I want to get the perfect title for a book of short stories.  I came up with a list of titles, but nothing seems right.  The stories are of different genres from horror to mystery with  even a love story or two. A title might fit one but not all.  So how do you come up with a title?

I’ve tried the internet and I can’t say I got much help from there. There was lots of information about how to write a short story. There were a couple of articles that mentioned naming but they were talking about one story not a dozen or so.  Usually my titles just come to me but not this time.

We all want the perfect title that will grab the attention of the reader so they will pick up the book. We want the title to lead them to open the book, and never put it down until it’s read. Here are six keys to writing a title by Terri Marie of White Wing Entertainment:
1. Write down all possible titles. Anything and everything you can think of. You never know which phrase may catch and stick.
2. Pay attention to how YOU feel when you tell others your title. Do you feel proud, tentative, scared, stupid? The feeling you want is like a proud mother or father of your new little baby. Give it the best name you can. It will be called that name the rest of its life.
3. I also researched other titles on amazon. You don’t want a title that everyone has. It will get lost. You also don’t want a title so obscure or under-descriptive that nothing will come up on a search.
4. It needs to have intrigue and yet be clear.
“Things Your Priest Doesn’t Want You To Know,” would be intriguing. So would “Things Your (fill in the blank) Doesn’t Want You To Know.” We humans like to know what others are doing, thinking feeling etc.
5. Does your title help the reader to become a better person? We want to strive higher, yet it has to be an achievable goal without huge effort. If your title is “How to increase your IQ by 10 points, studying an extra 5 hours a day,” I’m not interested.
6. Sum up your book in one sentence. Write as many as you can of these one liners. If you get just one chance to give a message from your book to others, what would you say? That’s often all you get. Use it wisely. When it all comes down to it, go with your gut.

Does knowing the above information make it any easier? It doesn’t for me. When it comes to titles, how do you know?