I thought authors might be interested in checking out or even joining a reading/reviewing group that I started last month on Facebook. There are currently 14 members of the Verified Purchase Review Group at the moment, and the first month’s reading and reviewing is going very well. There are already 6 reviews completed for July/August: https://www.facebook.com/groups/verifiedreviews/
Here are the rules for authors:
1. At the given time, reduce the price of your book to $0.99 /£0.99 on Amazon UK and US sites for 5 days and post a link to it on the new buying thread on Facebook within a 5-day deadline. You can also advertise it as a reduced-price book as you normally would, so you may even get more sales!
2. Buy the (reduced price) book of the author in the post before yours in the buying thread before the same 5-day deadline is up (so I know when to end the thread) and then the first person will know to review the last book. Reply to the post of the author whose book you have bought with the order number.
3. Read and post your review within a 6-week deadline on your Amazon home site and on Goodreads. Leave a link to your review on that month’s review thread.
When there are enough members then I can separate out the genres, so that everybody gets to read and review a book in their favourite genre. At the moment there is one buying thread on Facebook, but hopefully before long there will be several.
Interested? The next September/October buying thread will be posted at the end of August, where you will be able to add your reduced-price book. Any queries please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
One of our members was as pleased as anything to receive a second review for his book, as the first one was 7 years’ ago!
Start with a hook. Great advice. But, where in the story is the hook? Sometimes, I start a story at the beginning, another cliché. Then realize that’s boring, cut it off and start in the middle of the first chapter.
How about starting when the rope trips?
When I was growing up on a farm in my early years, we mowed hay with the tractor, raked it into shocks (mounds) with the horses, hand pitched it into a hayrack and hauled it home with the horses (and later a tractor). There a process that required tripping a rope moved it to the top story of the barn where the haymow was.
Before my brother and Dad pitched the hay from the shocks into the hayrack, they lay a sling of 3 ropes, connected at one end by a ring, and spread out like a fan on the hayrack floor. Halfway through the load, they lay another sling rope on top the hay already loaded.
When we reached the barn, the hayrack was pulled parallel to the front under the overhanging peak where a large hook hung from a track seaming the inside peak of the roof. The hook was let down and hooked to the ends of the sling. Another rope coming from the bottom was hitched to the horses (or tractor) and pulled away from the barn, lifting the load of hay up and into the haymow.
“Trip the rope,” someone would yell when the hay had moved along the track to the appointed place in the mow. And a large pile of loose hay fell on whatever was below. The fallout was fragrant and messy. Beware a chicken, mouse or cat who might be sitting below.
I believe this is where our current culture/readers would like the story to start. Where it may be fragrant and messy or smothering and restrictive to whoever is in the way of the situation you wish to write about.
A situation falls into a life; it causes conflict, panic, and varied kinds of fallout. And we as authors get to “trip the rope” at just the right spot in that life, to cause the most conflict needed to grow that character into someone the reader can identify with and care about.
Incidentally, that big red barn burned down in 1988 when my brother turned a light on in the haymow and it somehow started the fire. My dad built that barn in the late 1920’s. I still can feel the thrill of driving the big black Percheron horses (Tom and Beauty) and growing strong enough to “trip the rope.”
The first vehicle I remember from my childhood was a white Mercedes Benz with four doors and a trunk. The interior seats were of a gray and white decorative pattern. Before my younger brother was born, my parents and I took many trips from our home in Tucson, Arizona.
We called the car Buddy. After my younger brother was born, when he was old enough, Dad started calling him Buddy, and I was confused. My brother’s given name was Andy, so why was Dad calling him Buddy? I was too young to understand that “buddy” was also a term of endearment.
Three years after my younger brother was born, after a second car was purchased, Buddy took Dad and me all the way from Tucson to Sheridan, Wyoming. The year was 1971, and I was ten years old. Dad would have gone on his own, but on the night he planned to leave, while we were eating supper, he asked if I wanted to come, and I said yes, since I was always up for an adventure.
We left that night. Because it was close to my bedtime, I camped out in Buddy’s back seat while Dad drove for a few hours. When we stopped, he unrolled a sleeping bag on the ground near the car. We were still in Arizona.
The next day, we drove through the Navaho Reservation and into Colorado, stopping at Four Corners, where Dad said we lost an hour. That night, we ended up in Durango, and I remember thinking it strange that it was still light at eight o’clock in the evening. That night, we visited several bars. Years later, this experience inspired a poem from my collection, How to Build A Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver.
The next day, we stopped at Mesa Verde, then spent the night with friends in Beulah, and the following evening, Dad left me in Denver with my maternal grandmother while he drove the rest of the way to Sheridan.
I stayed with Grammy and Granddad Hinkley in Denver for several weeks. During that time, Dad and his mother, Grandma Johnson, went to Las Vegas and back to Denver, where they picked me up. We drove to Sheridan in Grandma’s Cadillac because Buddy quit working after Dad reached Sheridan the first time.
We’d come here because Grandpa Johnson died in the fall of the previous year, and Grandma needed help with the family’s coin-operated machine business. During the weeks I spent in Sheridan, Buddy sat neglected in front of Grandma’s house. Dad was too busy running the business and keeping me entertained to worry about fixing the car. When we drove anywhere, we either used Grandma’s car or one of the company vehicles. When it was time for me to start school, Dad drove me to Denver, again in Grandma’s Cadillac, and I boarded a plane for Tucson. I wondered if I would ever see Buddy again.
In October of that year, Buddy somehow managed to get Dad home safe and sound. Two years later, we moved to Sheridan, Wyoming, so Dad could run the business full time. We had two cars: Buddy and the other Mercedes Benz we called 220S Baby. We rented a U-Haul truck to carry our earthly possessions. Dad drove the U-Haul, towing Buddy, while Mother drove 220S Baby.
After we settled in Sheridan, Buddy eventually retired and was relegated to a space in our driveway behind the garage. When Andy became a teen-ager, Mother wanted him to fix up and use the old car, but Andy wasn’t interested, and Dad didn’t like the idea for some reason. She eventually gave Andy her old Fiat when she bought a new Subaru. There were other cars, a gray Buick station wagon, a number of pick-up trucks and a van that were used mostly for the coin-operated machine business, a Plymouth Reliant station wagon, a Mitsubishi, and a red Subaru station wagon that Andy inherited after Dad passed away and gave to his son as a graduation present. For a couple of years when my husband was alive and partially paralyzed by two strokes, I owned a red wheelchair-accessible van. However, our Buddy, a reliable car for years, will always be foremost in my memory.
I’m the author of a memoir, two poetry collections, and a romance novel. I’m currently working on another novel. My work has appeared in The Weekly Avocet and Magnets and Ladders. I have a visual impairment and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my late husband, who was totally blind and partially paralyzed by two strokes. Before that, I worked as a registered music therapist in a nursing home and other facilities that served senior citizens. For more information, please visit my website and blog.
Education is learning what you didn’t even know
you didn’t know. ~ Daniel J. Boorstin
There are many people who have never heard of Daniel J. Boorstin. You may not know of him or his lifetime of work. Boorstin is one of a group of modern historians who rose to prominence in the 1950’s and beyond. At the beginning of his career, there was no internet and the general public was eager for information primarily found in books.
Boorstin was born in 1914 and died in 2004, at the age of 89. He was a man of many talents, but in terms of authorship and approach he was truly unique. To study all his work would take a lifetime.
Boorstin’s gift was his laser-like insight and unrivaled ability of connectedness. He was adept at evaluating trends and society, as well as history, and combining both into highly readable chronologies. His writing details historical events, social change, progress, and scholarly viewpoints throughout the history of America and the world. To say that Boorstin was the consummate researcher is an understatement.
Not only was Boorstin adept at interconnecting facts, people, places, inventions, and abstract concepts into a smooth and interconnected whole, no one that I am aware of has written with the same clarity or ability as a historian – Boorstin has no equal. He was also such a prolific writer; a published annotated bibliography was produced comprised solely of his work in 2000.
Daniel J. Boorstin is what I have personally dubbed “a place keeper.” He is the type of historical and social writer who sees the pivotal in the mundane, marks it, explains it and knows what effect the event had at a certain point in time, and the impact it could have in the future. Boorstin was one of the first to literally name certain social conditions. He was the first to coin “image”, the “non-event” and the “celebrity”, all concepts either invented, or first dissected, by him.” (Hodgson, 2004).
But who was this man? Why is his writing so important to us today?
Boorstin was born in 1914 in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Russian Jewish Immigrants. His father was an attorney who represented Leo Frank, and despite being found innocent of the rape and murder of a young girl, Frank was later lynched by The Klu Klux Klan. Anti-Semitism forced the Boorstin family to relocate to Oklahoma.
After completing his early schooling, Boorstin went first to Harvard Law, graduated, then studied at Balliol College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. During 1938, he joined the Communist Party for one year. He dropped his affiliation when Russia and Germany invaded Poland. He never returned to the Communist Party, and fully denounced it when questioned in later years.
He received his doctorate at Yale and was hired as a professor at Swarthmore College in 1942. Later, Boorstin became a professor at the University of Chicago, holding that position for twenty-five years. He later attained the position of “Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions,” at the University of Cambridge. In 1974, he became the Librarian of Congress upon the nomination of then President Gerald Ford, and retained that position for a full twelve years.
He married Ruth Frankel, in 1941. Their marriage was a solid one lasting the rest of their lives. Ruth was also Boorstin’s editor. “Without her,” he was quoted as saying, “I think my works would have been twice as long and half as readable.”
These works are maps from where man began, his creations along the way, the curves and changes that mark man’s historical progress, and their effects on society. They are important because Boorstin is a place finder and a place keeper who shows our progress as a country, society, and habitants of this large world that we all are a part – and guides us to something better in ourselves. These works are lasting works, we can all learn something from Boorstin’s achievements.
A former paralegal, Renee Kimball has a master’s degree in criminal justice. Among her interests are reading and writing. She is an active Animal Advocate, fosters and rescues both dogs and cats from shelters, and works with various organizations to find them forever homes.
Many new writers don’t know where to start on their writing journey. They have a story to tell, and perhaps they have some of it written, but more often than not, the question I hear most is, “Where do I start?” The answer depends on where you are in your writing and what you want to accomplish.
Do you have something already written? How complete is it? Who is your audience? What is your purpose? Do you have an outline? Do you need an outline? Should you self-publish? Where should you market your writing?
These are all good questions to answer, but they don’t necessarily have to be answered right away. But where do you start? Well, you start by writing. Create a schedule, and just write. From there, you work out the kinks.
For some writers, this answer is too frustrating. They want all of the answers up front. And that is possible to do, too. If you have a story idea and know exactly where you want to publish it and who you want to reach, then it might work for you to do some research into these questions before you start writing. It might also help you to have an outline. Many authors work well this way.
However, many writers do not work well that way. Many writers just want to write and worry about the audience, purpose, and marketing later. That works, too. I am that kind of writer. Worrying about the structure, the audience, and the publication information often hinders my writing. I have an idea, and I just want to write it. Once the writing is complete, then I can tell who my audience is and where & how I want to publish and market my story.
If you’re not sure what kind of writer you are, then try things both ways…see which one helps motivate your writing. If you find yourself stuck, then I recommend hiring a
coach. It’s much like a musician would hire a music teacher…they help keep you on track and help improve your technique.
I recently hired a marketing coach. I knew what I needed to do to market my business and my book, but I struggled to find focus and knowing where to start. All of that angst about where/when/how to market interrupted my writing and my work. I found myself just spinning my wheels and wasting time. With a coach, I found focus, and I learned what action to take and how to take that action.
I think that hiring a writing coach could also help. A writing coach gives you focus and some accountability. A writing coach will give you tasks to complete. They’ll guide you out of your comfort zone and push you where you need to be pushed. A coach will also help you find your strengths and help you use them to meet your goals.
That’s what my marketing coach does. He gives me homework with clear directions. If I don’t do my homework, then the next session doesn’t go as smoothly. So, I do my homework. I also learned to be more organized because I needed a method of keeping notes and writing tasks so that I would stay focused and complete my homework. It amazes me how finding a coach has put so many things into perspective and how it has affected several areas of my life—not just marketing or writing.
I certainly feel much calmer and I know that someone is there when I have questions or even just a freak-out moment.
So, think about where you are as a writer and if you need help or not. You could sign up for a writing class, join a writing group, and/or hire a writing coach. Whatever you decide, just keep writing.
Keri De Deo, author of Nothing but a Song, lives in northern Arizona where she plays viola in local symphonies. She loves technology and finding innovative tools for a happy, healthy life. Keri spends her free time with her husband kayaking, hiking, and walking her two beautiful dogs, Maiya and Lilla. To learn more about Keri, visit her website keridedeo.com or follow her on Facebook (@authorkeridedeo) and Twitter (@thewittyowl).
I am stealing this title from a previous post I wrote in 2015. Sharing is something I was taught to do as a young child and still do today. As a child on a daily basis I shared with my big sister, even when she didn’t want to share with me. In more recent years my sister and I have shared our memories and put them into a manuscript that we hope to publish.
As an author I share my thoughts and experiences. As a wildlife photographer I share my images and my love of the natural world. For this blog I thought I would share some of both. I think it is more important than ever for all of us to be mindful of our wild places and the critters that live there.
I think living with nature can be challenging, but so well worth it. Even when the birds get to our strawberries and raspberries before we do.
I think we can all do our part to help out the natural world. I do what I can be sharing my images, recycling, reusing, and reducing when I can. I flip horseshoe crabs, tag monarch butterflies, and plant trees.
Each week I share a wildlife image with my social media community.
Is there something your parents taught you as a child that you still do today? Have you shard that lesson with your children?
Thanks for stopping by and letting me share my thoughts.
My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the Birds I See, Clancy’s Cat Nap. Bennie the Butterfly and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com.
On Facebook Anne recently bragged that she bowled her highest three-game series ever – 200, 177 and 169. That’s darn good. I’d be happy with those scores.
I use to bowl. It’s been decades, though, since I sent a bowl rolling down a lane toward the 10 pins. Maybe I should give it a try.
The Sunset Station casino and hotel near me has a huge bowling alley. I learned of its existence when I stayed there back in 2011 when visiting Sharon. I was impressed with how scoring has changed since the last time I bowled – no longer paper sheets for scoring, but now done electronically. Maybe I should try to convince Sharon to join to try some bowling with me. At the minimum maybe she could keep score. I think she knows how to keep score since she went on a bowling date with a boyfriend 15 years ago. She can’t deny it since I’ve seen video of her on that long-ago date.
In elementary school in Rialto, California, I bowled in youth leagues at the Orange Bowl just two blocks from my house. I had my own bag, ball and shoes. Those memories are sweet, something I treasure now. Dad and mom bowled in adult leagues. I spent many hours in bowling alleys, getting a bite to eat in their restaurants, getting a dime to buy candy cigarettes from vending machines.
In college, my roommate and I would go up to the Baker Center bowling alley on weekends and bowl some games. We bowled some 200-plus games and decided to try out for the Ohio University Bowling Team. We didn’t make the team, but enjoyed the tryouts. I even bowled a couple of 220 games, but my scores dropped later in the tryouts.
Those were good times, both at the Orange Bowl and later at Ohio University’s Baker Center. But times change – the Orange Bowl was torn down in 2008 after sitting abandoned for years; Baker Center, replaced with a new student center.
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I’m an author with four published novels that include a sword-and-sorcery fantasy trilogy – The Emperor’s Mistress, Thief’s Coin and Assassins’ Lair. The fourth novel is a historical romance set during the Civil War. It’s called Blessed Shadows Dark and Deep. I’ve begun writing my second Civil War novel – Deepening Homefront Shadows. All my novels can be purchased via the website of my publisher, Wings ePress, as well as the websites of Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
So you start writing your post about the incomparable Josephine Tey’s mystery novels two weeks before it’s due but don’t finish, and then you forget, and a colleague
reminds you, but the piece refuses to come together, and the day it’s due it’s still an embarrassment, and the next day it’s not much better, and you decide, Oh heck, at this point what’s one more day? and you go to bed,
and in the middle of the night you wake to find twenty pounds of cat using you as a mattress, and you know you might as well surrender, because getting him off is like moving Jello with your bare hands,
so you lie there staring at what would be the ceiling if you could see it, and you think, Macbeth doth murder sleep…. Macbeth shall sleep no more,
and then you think about Louisa May Alcott writing, She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain,
and you realize your own brain has not only turned, but has possibly come completely unhinged.
And you can’t get back to sleep, so you lie there thinking, Books, books, books. Strings and strings of words, words, words. Why do we write them, why do we read them?What are they all for?
And you remember when you were two years old, and you parroted,
The owl and the pussycat went to sea in a beautiful pea green boat,
because happiness was rhythm and rime.
And later when your playmate didn’t want to hear you read “Angus and the Cat,” which you couldn’t read yet but had memorized, and you made her sit still and listen anyway.
And when you were fourteen and so happy all you could think was, O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!, and you didn’t know who wrote it but you remembered the line from a Kathy Martin Student Nurse book you got for Christmas when you were ten.
And when you were tramping along down by the river and a narrow fellow in the grass slithered by too close, and you felt a tighter breathing, and zero at the bone.
And when you woke early to a rosy-fingered dawn and thought,
I’ll tell you how the sun rose, A ribbon at a time, The steeples swam in Amethyst The news, like Squirrels, ran – The Hills untied their Bonnets –
And when you saw cruelty and injustice, and you remembered, Perfect love casts out fear, and knew fear rather than hate as the source of inhumanity, and love, the cure.
And when your father died unexpectedly, and you foresaw new responsibilities, and you remembered,
We never know how high we are Till we are called to rise.
And when your mother died, and you thought,
Oh, if instead she’d left to me The thing she took into the grave!- That courage like a rock, which she Has no more need of, and I have.
And at church the day after your father’s funeral, when your cousins, who were officially middle-aged and should have known how to behave at church, sat on the front row and dropped a hymnbook, and something stuck you in the side and you realized that when you mended a seam in your dress that morning you left the needle just hanging there and you were in danger of being punctured at every move, and somehow everything the minister said struck you as funny, and the whole family chose to displace stress by laughing throughout the service, and you were grateful for Mark Twain’s observations that
Laughter which cannot be suppressed is catching. Sooner or later it washes away our defences, and undermines our dignity, and we join in it … we have to join in, there is no help for it,
Against the assault of Laughter nothing can stand.
And when you fell in love and married and said with the poet, My beloved is mine and I am his.
And when, before you walked down the aisle, you handed a bridesmaid a slip of paper on which you’d written, Fourscooooorrrrrrre…, so that while you said, “I do,” she would be thinking of Mayor Shinn’s repeated attempts to recite the Gettysburg Address at River City’s July 4th celebration, and would be trying so hard not to laugh that she would forget to cry.
And when your friend died before you were ready and left an unimaginable void, and life was unfair, and you remembered that nine-year-old Leslie fell and died trying to reach the imaginary kingdom of Terabithia, and left Jess to grieve but to also to pass on the love she’d shown him.
And when the doctor said you have cancer and the outlook is bleak, one to three years, and you thought of Dr. Bernie Siegal’s writing, Do not accept that you must die in three weeks or six months because someone’s statistics say you will… Individuals are not statistics, but you also remembered what Hamlet says to Horatio just before his duel with Laertes,
There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come—the readiness is all.
And by the time you’ve thought all that, you’ve come back to what you knew all along, that books exist for pleasure, for joy, for consolation and comfort, for courage, for showing us that others have been here before, have seen what we see, felt what we feel, shared needs and wants and dreams we think belong only to us, that
everything the earth is full of… everything on it that’s ours for a wink and it’s gone, and what we are on it, the—light we bring to it and leave behind in—words, why, you can see five thousand years back in a light of words, everything we feel, think, know—and share, in words, so not a soul is in darkness, or done with, even in the grave.
And about the time you have settled the question to your satisfaction, the twenty pounds of Jello slides off, and you turn over, and he stretches out and pushes so firmly against your back that you end up wedged between him and your husband, who is now clinging to the edge of the bed, as sound asleep as the Jello is, and as you’re considering your options, you think,
The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea In a beautiful pea-green boat, They took some honey, and plenty of money, Wrapped up in a five-pound note. The Owl looked up to the stars above, And sang to a small guitar…
and by the time the Pussycat and the Elegant Fowl have been married by the Turkey who lives on the hill, and have eaten their wedding breakfast with a runcible spoon, and are dancing by the light of the moon, the moon, you’ve decided that a turned brain has its advantages, and that re-hinging will never be an option.
Who Are You Writing For? If it’s for yourself, and you have no intention of selling your book, go for it! There’s a story in your head you have to get on paper, and you don’t care if anyone buys it. You can write anything you want, (and stop reading the rest of this blog). Just go do your thing and enjoy!
However, if you have aspirations to get this book on the market, a writer must take off the fictional hat and get down to business. Literally.
What’s your market? When you pitch your book, design your cover, etc., what will stand out on the shelves? For that matter, where will your book appear on the shelf in bookstores? Are you writing a mystery? Science Fiction? Gardening? Genre matters.
Who’s your audience? A romance writer has a very good idea what his or her audience is expecting. I’m confident that if your female/male protagonists is killed off at the end of the book, some people will throw your book at the wall when (and if) they finish it. Word of mouth probably won’t do you any favors.
How does your audience receive information? If they are under thirty, consider Instagram to promote your book. Maybe the book isn’t finished or even half-way written but you can still build the outreach platform. Knowing your market/audience should provide good idea on how to connect with your readers so that you can keep your name and brand in front of them.
If your intended audience is an agent or an editor, who should you pitch to? I’m talking specifics here. Go to the acknowledgement page at the back of your favorite authors’ books (or at least ones to whom you liken your manuscript) and check out the names of the agents and editors that they thank. This is a great source of knowing the NAMES of the folks who like to handle the kind of book you are writing. Once you get these names, go to their websites. Does the extended info you now have on this agent/editor look like a match for your needs? What are their submission requirements? Do they want just a query letter, or a synopsis, or the first five pages of your manuscript? Do they want it sent snail mail or email? Don’t waste your time or their’s by not complying with information that is readily available to you.
These are only four examples of items you need to know about from the business end of writing. A lot to keep track of? You don’t even know what questions to ask? Who can you turn to for help?
The answer is simple. Your writing community. Fellow authors, teachers, folks that you meet at conferences. Chances are you have a state or regional organization that can give you guidance—here in Texas, we are blessed to have the incredibly active and nurturing Writers League of Texas. Within your own genre there will be folks to help you as well. I’m a member of Sisters in Crime, the Heart of Texas Chapter. A lot of my fellow members have gone through what I’m going through. Writing is enough of a solitary experience. I need to surround myself with others who have the same questions, problems, etc. as me.
If you want to make money selling your books, hopes and misguided self-confidence will do you no favors. Research the business, baby.
K.P. Gresham, author of the Pastor Matt Hayden Mystery series and Three Days at Wrigley Field, moved to Texas as quick as she could. Born Chicagoan, K.P. and her husband moved to Texas, fell in love with not shoveling snow and are 30+ year Lone Star State residents. She finds that her dual country citizenship, the Midwest and Texas, provide deep fodder for her award-winning novels. Her varied careers as a media librarian and technical director, middle school literature teacher and theatre playwright and director add humor and truth to her stories. A graduate of Houston’s Rice University Novels Writing Colloquium, K.P. now resides in Austin, Texas, where life with her tolerant but supportive husband and narcissistic Chihuahua is acceptably weird.
Before becoming a cartoonist, David Davis produced, directed, and wrote sci-fi videos. Notable among them is Invisible Men Invade Earth, which received the Judge’s Choice award at the 2017 What the Fest Film Festival (Dallas); the Out of This World award at the 2016 Lionshead Film Festival (Dallas); and the Most Original Concept award at the 2016 Houston Comedy Film Festival. His films also appeared at the 2017 Fort Worth Indie Film Showcase; 2017 Dallas Medianale; 2012 Boomtown Film and Music Festival in Beaumont, Texas, and the 2012 CosmiCon and Sci-Fi Film Festival in Roswell, New Mexico.