What Editors Want

Keri De DeoPosted by Keri De Deo

In his book, On Writing, Stephen King talks about two different kinds of writing: writing with the door closed and writing with the door open. First, you write with the door closed. That means you write for yourself. After you’ve done that, you open the door and revise your writing with the audience in mind. This is the step you must make before turning your writing over to an editor (or anyone else).

When you turn your work over to an editor, you want to put your best foot forward. As a freelance editor, I work daily with writers, and I’ve compiled a list of what I look for in good writing. Of course, every editor harps on his or her own pet peeves, but for the most part, we look for the following components:

  • Exciting Content

Before you start worrying about word usage, syntax, grammar, etc., your writing must contain a good story. Give us drama, plot, and a rise and fall in action. Make sure to complete your research. Has the story already been written? If not, go for it! If it has, can you do it better or in a more interesting way? Writer’s Digest provides an excellent list of cliché stories to avoid.

  • Accurate Content

A good editor checks your content for accuracy. If they find inaccuracies, they’ll send it back to you for changes. You might think this only applies to non-fiction or historical fiction. But it applies for all writing. Even if you write fantasy novels, physics and scientific facts matter for readers to believe your story. Before writing my book, Nothing but a Song, I played with several phone apps to make sure the apps I described actually existed. I also did research about the Deaf culture and using sign language. It helped make the story more believable. (At least I hope so.)

  • Active Voice

We all have heard that saying “Show. Don’t tell.” This is where it comes to play. Rather than saying “she was smart.” Show me by using active voice. “She rattled off equations in a few seconds.” You also accomplish this by avoiding helping verbs (i.e. “to be” verbs). Don’t know what those are? See this list. You can’t avoid them every time because sometimes you need to mark a change in tense somehow, and helping verbs do this. However, if you can replace them, replace them. If they’re irreplaceable, leave them. For help in writing more active sentences, visit this link. (Yes, count how many helping verbs I used in this post. I tried to avoid them!)

  • Polished Writing

Nothing makes me put down a book faster than silly mistakes. Typos happen, but they can be avoided by having several people read your draft. Don’t pick a person who won’t be honest. Pick someone you know will give you constructive feedback. Embrace criticism! Avoiding it encourages bad writing. You need feedback if you want to improve. Also, if you read your writing out loud, many errors will show up. Then have someone else read it out loud to you. If they stumble, make that sentence smoother. If no one else has seen your manuscript, don’t send it to an editor. You might just get it back quicker than you think.

Editors care about your writing, but they also care about their reputation. They won’t put their name on something that fails to meet their standards. Some editors might return your manuscript if the writing falls flat. So, make sure to send your best work to an editor and prepare for changes. As my writing teacher always said, “It’s never done; it’s just due.”

Keri De Deo - nbs book coverKeri De Deo, owner of Witty Owl Consulting, lives in northern Arizona and works as a writer, editor, researcher, and instructional designer. She is author of the young adult novel NOTHING BUT A SONG, released December 5, 2017. 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! You can follow her on Twitter @thewittyowl and on Facebook @authorkeridedeo.


One Page

IMGP6507By S. J. Brown

Recently I was reviewing some guidelines from a publisher. They wanted the usual information like my name, contact information, the name of the book I was proposing and the word count. Then I saw it the next requirement was an impossible task, a one page synopsis. I needed to share all the important parts of a 44,000 word book all on one page, all text.

SJBrown1 Goose

To give the publisher a true feel for the book I needed to relay the personalities of the two main characters and a sense of their lives. But there was so much to tell. There are roller skates, a sewing machine, costumes, telephone poles, oh and Betty stepped on a needle that was scary. I couldn’t add photos of the main characters when they were young and innocent, well kind of innocent.

SJBrown2 SistersLittle girls like ice cream, maybe if I took an ice cream break this would flow a little better. I had to remember to mention within the pages there is a race riot, a car crash, a séance, boyfriends, and the police, . Dribbled throughout the book were paper bags filled with mystery. This book is about life, there are airplanes, a hitchhiker, tumbling beer cans, and a circus.

SJBrown3 ElephantAt this point I was half way down the page and there was so much more to tell. This was a bit too long already. How was I ever going to get it all on one page? Maybe if I had a brownie I could figure out how to make this work. Nope, no treats until I am done.
I should have started with the title ”Suburban Sisters.” Did I mention this is a heartwarming tale about two sisters? The girls are good Catholics that attend church. There is a bit of a glitch in their perfect world when stolen money in the collection plate. However I need to let the publisher know that along with the jobs, men in diapers and guns there are touching family moments like Christmas morning, family outings and cute little babies.

SJBrown4 TreesOh crap, I am at the bottom of the page and I’m not done yet, DDELETE, DELETE, DELETE. Maybe a peanut butter cup would help.

The publisher’s guidelines state they respond to submissions in 4-6 months, it may take me that long to get this down to one page. I still need to add details like an ice storm complete with dancing power lines, a truck spewing a chemical fog throughout the neighborhood, fire, oh and a dog that shows up for Thanksgiving dinner. Now this blog is getting to long.

SJBrown5 TurkeyI haven’t even mentioned the girl’s parents yet. So much happens in the 12 years the book covers. Now I needed to DELETE, DELETE, DELETE and DELETE some more. I shortened a sentence here and omitted an event there but I need to add in details about when the girl’s world shatters. So I deleted some more. Two days later it was finished and I celebrated with some chocolate chip cookies.
In closing I will ask how do you tackle a seemingly impossible task. How do you reward yourself when you accomplished your goal?
Thanks for stopping by.

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Team Work

IMGP6507By S. J. Brown

 Like many writers I am a bit of a loner.  I can easily spend large blocks of time alone and be quite content.  I also find that being part of a team can be very rewarding.

SJBrown 1 Geese

I was recently part of a team of a few dozen people that gathered together on a gloomy Saturday morning.   Together we planted 200 trees.  I’m not talking little sprouts, but three or four foot tall trees.  I have had the privilege of working with this team for over a year now. It is a real thrill when I drive past one of the locations we have planted and see the trees thriving.

SJBrown 2 Trees

When I am out in the field photographing wildlife I am also part of a team.  My husband Jay is the other team member.  He is an excellent spotter.  He can tell what kind of bird is flying over head by the shape of its wings, or the size of its tail.   He does all the driving and watches my back, so I don’t get surprised by an angry bear or any critter.

SJBrown 3 Jay

I am also part of a team of volunteers that does littler clean up in the area.  It always amazes me how rude people can be.  They toss all kinds of things out their car windows without ever giving it a second thought.

SJBrown 4 Sparrow

Recently I became part of yet another team, Team Sisters.  “Team Sisters” is the name we gave the launch team for my next book, “Sisters”.  This team is made up of writers, interested readers, friends, and a few family members.  Since this book is a memoir written by two sisters most of the team is female.  There are a few brave men that have volunteered to be part of the team.  Since my last blog the team  members have assembled and we are ready to get down to work.

SJBRown 5 Sisters

As part of a team I can accomplish so much more than I can on my own.  Alone I would not be able to plant hundreds of trees, pick up bags full of trash or photograph nearly as many critters.  Team Sisters will be helping to add a little insight into the finishing touches for the book my sister and I collaborated on.

SJBrown 6 Butterflies

I have been part of teams that didn’t work out very well.  Sometime we need to try out a few teams before we find a good fit.  Have you joined a team and how did that work out for you?

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S. J. Browns coloring books feature sketches based on her photographs.

CBCover Acover

Cover 3-26-23Back Cover 4-24-2013Close up and Close Encounters is available on Amazon  at


Or get your autographed copy at S. J. Brown website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com

S. J. Brown’s children’s pictures books are only available through S. J. Brown.

You can order your copies from her website S.J. Brown

Cover All the Birds I See Cover


Keeping All the Balls in the Air

This post is by Joe Stephens

I didn’t have time to write this. I’m just too busy. I’m behind on grading papers, I need to make up a test, there’s a book for notebook, paper, pencil, sharpener, business, creative, office, deskme to review sitting next to me shouting for attention, I haven’t written a book review for the online magazine that was expecting it in AUGUST, I should be doing more to publicize my soon-to-be-launched new book, and I haven’t written a word on the next book in over a week.

Wow. I nearly hyperventilated just reading that last paragraph. At times like this, I wonder how I’ll ever get it all done. And yet, as I look back at the many times I’ve found myself in this position, I realize that I did, indeed, get caught up each time. Yes, sometimes deadlines got pushed back or projects got scaled down or even jettisoned, but everything worked out. I just have to breathe and keep reminding myself of that.

One thing that helps me maintain my sanity in these situations is reminding myself that balance doesn’t mean all things equal all the time. Sometimes certain things just need to take priority and other things, while still important, can wait. The reality is that I have a little time before my next work in progress needs to be finished. I have a book coming out October 1 and a novella coming the next month, so I don’t see publishing Shalan 4 until at least February. So taking a week off to do things that are more pressing is not the worst sin. But I have to make sure that the urgent doesn’t replace the important. And I also need to remember that just because something seems urgent doesn’t mean it’s actually important. If it doesn’t involve a commitment I’ve already made to someone else and it’s not part of the small group of projects I consider priorities in my life, maybe I can just say no.

Another thing I need to remind myself is that I am surrounded by people who are kind and forgiving. Yesterday I came clean to my students and just told them that I’m struggling to keep up with grading their papers but that I was working at it and would be finished just as soon as humanly possible. They were more than kind. I could see by the looks on their faces that, not only did they understand but they related. My seniors, many of whom have jobs, play sports, and are in multiple other AP courses, no doubt feel what I’m feeling right now. That just-on-the-edge-of-panic feeling of wondering which will come first between getting finished and just simply breaking down and curling up in a ball under a blanket somewhere. silhouette, family, island, canada, lake, sunset, people, men, woman, dusk, travel, horizon, evening, reflection, vacation, group, friends, water

Hey, look at that–I finished this post. And with enough spare time to finish a cold cup of coffee before I jump in the shower and rush to school. Maybe I will make it.

Joe Stephens is a teacher at Parkersburg High School. He is also the author of Harsh Prey and Kisses and Lies, both of which are available in paperback and Kindle formats. The paperback may be purchased from
Amazon, from J & M Used Book Store in Parkersburg, and from the author’s trunk.

kindle cover

Take a look at Harsh Prey on Amazon 

Kisses and Lies Cover Michele croppedTake a look at Kisses and Lies on Amazon

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L is for Laughter


This post by Craig Snider.

When I think back on all the best books, movies, and stories I’ve ever been exposed to, there is one thing that stands out no matter what the genre may have been. Since you’ve already read the title, you know what that thing is.

Why is it that laughter has such an impact on us? Simple. Our brains are hardwired to reward certain behaviors, like food, sex, laughter, and anything that releases endorphins. Because, when we get right down to it, our brains are like a spoiled little three year old on sugar-crack that throws a tantrum until it gets what it wants. And, when it gets what it wants, it gives you a treat to

“Oh, banana. You so funny.”

keep those things coming. Okay, so it is more like a drug dealer that will hurt you unless you try their stuff, then you get addicted and have to come back for more.  Activating the reward center of the brain is a great way to quickly engage someone. That is why most women say they appreciate a man’s sense of humor and will overlook my, I mean “his,” lesser qualities, like–you know, his face, or spindly arms, or his somewhat feminine overall physique… Be right back. I need to get a tub of Haggen-Dasz.

Okay. What was I saying? Oh yes, laughter. Humor is absolutely essential in modern culture. While humor may not necessarily be universal, it is present in nearly every society on the planet, and presmuably elsewhere. Though, I’m sure the fact that the insect-like Zeebldorx of RX-243 love to peel the soft flesh from other animals might not seem so funny to us, they think it is downright side-splitting.

Some of my favorite horror movies are either outright hilarious (Evil Dead, Dead Alive, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil), or have very dark humor (Re-Animator, Slither, Cabin in the Woods). Even “The Shining” had some very humorous scenes. And really, who didn’t want to beat Wendy’s head in with a bat? tumblr_nm7hcmDVI51r745vdo7_500

Adding humor to your work, no matter the genre, takes it to another level for the reader. Some authors take themselves and their work way, WAY too seriously. Don’t be that guy, or girl, or Zeebldorxian. No one likes them. They are pretentious, annoying, and their work reeks of it.

When you make your reader laugh, you will activate those pleasure centers in their brain, creating a strong memory link that will keep you and your story in their minds for a long time. I’ve read a lot of good books. But, the ones I remember are really well written, and often humorous.

The problem then, is how do you inject humor into your writing? Well, the first thing is not to force it. There is nothing worse than someone TRYING to be funny. Believe me, I know. Have you read my posts before? It takes lots of practice. The first step is don’t take yourself too seriously. Writing is hard work, and if you don’t approach it with some levity you’ll end up as that guy who corners people at a party, forcing them to listen to his terrible novel’s synopsis, all the while oblivious to the fact they have already slit their wrists and written a suicide note to their children in their own blood. Poor Jimmy. He’ll never get a chance to disappoint his parents…

As you are writing, you will often find places where a joke or scene comes to mind that makes you laugh. Don’t resist it. Put it in, especially if it is a rough draft. You can always edit, tweak, or remove it later. Let it breathe for a bit first. Of course, this greatly depends on the style of your writing. If you are a “serious” writer, shoot yourself. Sorry, I mean–no, shoot yoursef. If your writing style is “heavy,” that’s fine. Be subtle with your humor, and make it come from the characters and the scenes, not, I REPEAT, not from the narrator. That is a terrible mistake unless you are a writer whose work is intended to be satirical.

It is a fine balance to maintain for serious genres, but it can be done, and the benefits will be immense. The best part is, that when done correctly the reader may not even realize that is why they remember you story so well. Instead, they’ll say something like, “that was really well written,” or “I just loved the characters,” or “please don’t Facebook stalk me anymore. It is just weird when you like a picture from seven years ago…”

Try it. Start small, say for example, in a series of blog posts, or an article, or just in your Facebook statuses. Force yourself to be funny. As a writer, you already see the world differently. Now all you have to do is teach yourself to see the funny in the world around you. Believe me, it is there. If you’re having trouble seeing something funny, do what I do every morning. Look in the mirror.

A Picture and its Words

Head Shot

This post by Craig Snider

*Warning, this post contains a picture which may be disturbing to some readers.

As writers, we often suffer from writer’s block, or just a lack of ideas for stories. Writing prompts are usually an easy cure, but I find the stories they leave me with to be flat and bland. Yes, they will sometimes lead to an idea for a story that is completely unrelated to the prompt, but not always. So, it sometimes is necessary to find new ways of coming up with an idea. This is not a new idea, I realize, but one worth repeating.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Just think, with one picture, you already have a thousand words to begin your story!

Here is the picture that got me thinking about this.

On May 1, 1947, Evelyn McHale leapt to her death from the observation deck of the Empire State Building.

Immediately, upon looking at this, I had several ideas come into my mind, demanding to be written. Sure, I could have easily come up with my own mental image of a suicide, but there is something inherently powerful about a photograph that can capture the imagination. Just look at this woman. See her gloved hands, and the way her legs are crossed, almost as if she is relaxing. Look at her face for a moment. It bears an indescribable expression, one that is both surprise and repose. She could be sleeping, nestled within the cold arms of the limousine on which she landed. Notice that it appears one sock, and possibly both shoes, have come off in her descent. She leaped from the 86th floor of the Empire State building.

It is probably easy enough to guess why she may have done this, and in fact she did leave a note. But, don’t go to the immediate answers. Get them out of the way, and then start digging in deeper into an imagined life for her, and possible reasons why she felt compelled to take her own life. Ironically, this photograph is often labeled, “The most beautiful suicide.” That title also brings to mind ideas for a possible story about this woman. In fact, this picture brings to mind another “beautiful suicide.”


Something about the appearance of serenity and calm on the faces of these two beautiful women draw us into their possible tales. Some people may find these images disturbing, but that is often the realm of the writer, and their job is to explore these darker regions of the human condition, and possibly find redeeming qualities to this hard and bitter thing we call life.

Are You Scrambling?

propic11_1_1This Post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

There are two kinds of writers, Pantsers and Outliners.  We all have different writing styles and none is wrong.  It’s just the way we think.  Some people think and write in chronological order and make up the story as they go along and others make elaborate outlines and fill in the blanks as they write.

As a Pantser I have tried the outline form and have had little success with it.  I need inspiration and order.  The words come to me as I continue on from the last page I wrote.  For some reason, an outline makes my writing dry and uninteresting.  I do, however, have a plot and characters in mind before I start.  I leave the title until last, using a working title to save as I write.

As a songwriter I learned long ago as I was editing not to be afraid to change dogguitarwords, titles, or even paragraphs; in other words, scrambling the order of the piece.  After I learned that trick, even though it took some time to master it, I found my writing more readable and interesting.  So, although I write chronologically, I often edit by scrambling parts of the story around, moving paragraphs, sentences, eliminating parts that are too wordy or things that don’t add to the story.

scrambled eggsIt’s a bit like scrambling eggs, I think.  Imagine an egg.  You could put it in a pan and fry it, poach it, make quiche, scramble it or even boil it, then add salt and pepper for flavor.  There are other ways, I’m sure.

In your writing you can use this same technique.  You can write chronologically, write with an outline, write in front of television, and have music playing in the background, or total quiet.  Then when you have finished the piece you can enhance it by spending a lot of time pre-editing before you send it off to a “real” editor to be sure you haven’t missed something.  This is the time to check for spelling errors, continuity, character development, solid plot and readability.

I have to write.  I believe all writers feel the same way.  There are often a lot of crumpled papers in the wastebasket until I get the story just right.  Research, something I love to do, adds realism to the piece.  Name selection is just as important to your writing as the plot.  For instance, you wouldn’t put a trendy name from today in a historical story.  Readers would definitely notice.


I am reminded of a song I love by Harry Chapin; Flowers Are Red.  You can listen to the song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shTb6aq2mDY It depicts the sad teaching of a little boy who must conform to his teacher’s and the world’s rules.  In actuality, he becomes a puppet.  We must not let this happen to us when we write.  Write from your heart, from what you know or want to know, and something you would read yourself if you saw the book in the library.

Have you tried scrambling?  I’d love to know what you think!

Books by L.Leander:

Are You A Book Promotions Expert?

propic11_1_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

Book promotion is a full-time job.  Just ask any Indie author and you’ll get an earful.  Not only are we responsible for the story, cover, editing, formatting and whatever else needs to be done, we are also responsible to get the word out about the book once it’s finished.  All of these tasks involve enough work to bring a normal person to his or her knees.  Not so the Indie Author.  He/she gallantly rises to the occasion, getting a little less sleep every night and fitting short blocks of time into an already crammed full daily schedule to tell the world about his/her creation.  After about a year of this most of us step back and sigh.  It never seems to let up.

Writing is no longer the same it was fifty years ago.  We authors may choose to go the traditional route and seek out an agent and publisher, but are aghast when we are told that we will also need to promote our work.  “Isn’t that what the publisher does?” one of my friends asked recently.  The answer is no.  You and you alone are the best person to promote your writing.  After all, if it’s left to someone else the facts may be a little bit skewed, right?  Who else will know the ins and outs of your writing as well as you do?  No one else knows the author as well, either.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The solution?  Start slow.  Build up contacts in more than one way.  Facebook and Twitter are great places to connect with readers and other authors.  Be present by posting daily and including quotes or things to be shared.  Let the readers know you’re a real person, not a pre-scheduled post.

Join groups and get to know the other members.  For instance, our Writing Wranglers and Warriors group is comprised of authors who seek to help each other by using their social media to promote each other.  Think it’s a unique concept?  There are many other groups on Facebook based on the same thing.  It just so happens that our group is focused on sharing and interacting.

Do you have an e-mail list?  A blog?  These are both great ways to reach readers and keep them current.

I recently read a post on WG2E about other promotional ideas.  One of them was to purchase magnetic signs for your car doors.  The author who wrote the post said she hopes to reach more people as they stop her and ask questions.  Bears some thought, doesn’t it?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Guest blogging is another way to reach people.  Don’t forget that writers are readers too.  Many times I have purchased a Kindle book at the end of a post I really enjoyed.  I figure if I enjoy the writer’s post there’s a good chance I’ll enjoy his or her book.  Rarely have I been disappointed.

Do you ever get the occasion to speak locally?  A local women’s breakfast,speaker conference, library, school or anywhere your subject will fit in would be the perfect place for you, the author to speak about your craft.  You will then have time to “plug” your own writing.

How about radio and television?  Have you ever asked?  I have had occasion to do radio spots often for my songwriting, as well as being a feature on the local news several times.  I have never sought out these opportunities; rather they have come to me.  The reason?  I am involved in the community and the venue I am playing lends itself well to advertising to the local population.  I have not as yet tried this for my books, but it is on my to do list for the summer.  I have a plan in place to contact local libraries (perhaps to be part of their summer reading program).  This would give me the opportunity to tell people about my books and make a few free or discounted copies available.

Sometimes brainstorming opens up new avenues.  We live in the Midwest, in an area that has parades throughout the summer.  My husband and I attend them all.  He turned to me at one point and said “We need to get pens or something with your book on them and ride in the parade and throw them out to the crowd.”  Hmmm, worth thinking about, right?parade

How about contacting local bookstores?  Have you ever done it?  I have seen books in hair salons, restaurants, gift shops and many other places you wouldn’t expect them to be.  You don’t know if you don’t ask.

Just for the record, promotion is the thing I dislike the most about being an author.  I hate asking people to read my books.  When they ask me though, I can talk nonstop about the subject and generally they wind up buying a book or two.  I hand out lots of cards (my husband is actually the pro at this) and make lots of new friends.  While I’m not an introvert, I hate putting people on the spot.  But yesterday we were car shopping and my husband told the saleswoman I was an author.  Her eyes got big and she said “no way!”  Before I knew it she had salebrought.over the sales manager and administrative assistant to introduce me (because I’m a “real” author).  It was funny, but also gave me a chance to talk about my work and hand out more cards.  Since I have a promotion coming up this month I directed them to the days the book will be discounted

What do you do for promotion?  Is it your favorite part of being an author or you least favorite?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Books by L.Leander:

Managing Manners

September 19, 2012 (768x1024)

This post is by Erin Thorne. I’ve had quite a few reading, speaking, and signing events so far this year at a wide range of venues, including cafés, libraries, small shops, and bookstores.  I was even the guest speaker at a local Rotary Club’s dinner last month. Some stand out in my mind more than others do, for the simple reason that the host/hostess went out of his/her way to make me feel welcome.

The events that were the most fun were those during which the host/hostess greeted me warmly on arrival, and took the time to talk with me throughout the event. The last signing, at a shop called Windowbox in Stafford Springs, Connecticut, was an excellent example. The hostess followed rules of etiquette similar to those that would be used when hosting a party; she offered me a drink at once (in a beautiful glass), showed me the best place to set up, and assisted me in doing so. When people she knew entered the shop, she introduced me to them immediately, and made me feel like an honored guest. During downtime, she sat nearby and engaged me in conversation. This was my second time at the shop, and both occasions were highly enjoyable. I’ve been given this sort of reception at other businesses and libraries; it always results in a happy drive home, as I think about the good time I’ve just had.

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Another scenario that was very much like a party was my attendance at the Rotary Club dinner. The President herself sat next to me, saw to it that I was comfortable and my needs were met, and introduced me to the other members at the table. She’d also read one of my books beforehand, which led to a nice chat about the parts she enjoyed the most. She drew me into the table’s discussions on various topics; this was one of the things that really impressed me, since if she hadn’t done so, I would have felt like a stranger to this group of friends. It was a lot of fun, and when I finally did deliver my speech, I was more comfortable about addressing the room.

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Of course, to merit such gracious treatment, one must be a good guest, at least according to Emily Post. I try to do this by following a few basic rules of etiquette myself when I go to a signing. For instance, I make every effort to be punctual; traffic has held me up once or twice, but I’ve never arrived more than fifteen minutes past the agreed-upon setup time. I also don’t overindulge in the food and/or beverages offered, especially if there is a finite amount that must be shared with others. This would be rude to the other guests, and give the impression that I’m only there to suck down free drinks and snacks. In addition, I’ve picked up the habit of sending thank-you cards to venues as soon as possible after the event.

These standards of conduct can lead not only to good business partnerships, but to good friendships as well. By getting to know someone on a professional level through mutual courtesy, you can grow closer to him/her and discover that you have a great deal in common. Before you know it, you’ve made a new friend, which is of far greater value than any book you’re there to sell!

A Trip to El Quelite

propic11_1This Post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

Everything was bathed in sunshine and the temperature rising when friends picked my husband and me up for a trip to El Quelite a week ago.  El Quelite is a sleepy village a few miles outside Mazatlan and one tourists like to visit.  We were no exception.  Although I’ve been there before, my husband hadn’t had the pleasure and without a car we have to rely on others for transportation to outlying areas.

The first thing we noticed were the beautiful blooming trees.  There were jacaranda and bougainvillea stretched over the arid countryside and they stood proud between the cactus and sagebrush that the area is covered in.  Mango trees showed off their fruit, which is nearly ripe and is an avocado color with a rosy blush on the skin.

A few farms were scattered along the winding road that leads to the village.  We noticed a few herds of cattle grazing on scrub grass and some turkeys in a field.cact

A few chickens pecked in a yard next to a house that had a corrugated tin flat roof and a couple of outbuildings.  The house sat in the middle of nowhere and looked like a bird on a nest with the wispy sage that surrounded it.  It was colorful, though, and made you happy just to look at it.   Bright blue had been lavishly painted on the sides of the misshapen house and it was cheerfully trimmed in flamingo pink.  I love Mexican colors – they make you feel good.

We reached the outskirts of the town and saw more signs of life.  A weathered sign said “Bienvenidos a El Quelite” to welcome visitors.  A few people waved as we drove by and continued working.  Gringos are nothing new to the townspeople.

The first thing we noticed was the church steeple.  It towers over the sleepy streets and commands attention.  It is in the center of town, as are most Mexican churches.  We drove past houses painted salmon and yellow, blue and green, pink and red.  Each house has a little garden out front and the flowers are lovely and well tended.

There are two restaurants in the village that the Gringos frequent and the food isrest Sinaloa at its best.  Our friends decided to eat at the more popular one.  A doctor owns it and when he’s in the area he regales his guests with wild stories of the past.  El Quelite is the cowboy capital of the state of Sinaloa.  They have rodeos almost every weekend and many of the participants have gone on to win accolades internationally.

The restaurant has a couple of quirky things that are fun.  One is a huge parrot that is free to roam at will.  The other is a museum-like setting for guests to enjoy.  We were seated outdoors under a palapa made of coconut fronds to keep the sun off.  We were parimmediately given dishes of local cheeses, salsas, dips and tortilla chips with our drinks.  Next we were served chorreadas – one of my favorite things here.  It’s a thick tortilla browned on the grill with meat, tomatoes and whatever you choose to garnish it with.  Over the top is melted queso.

I ordered pork carnitas and the meat fell apart.  Half of the plate was filled with meat, along with grilled peppers and onions and of course, frijoles.  My husband ordered Liver Ranchero and it was delicious.  Our friend (who is Mexican) ordered pigs feet – a local delicacy.  Once we finished all of that we were brought bowls of desserts to try.  We had everything from rice pudding and custard to sweet potatoes.  As full as I was I had to take little bites of each and they were delicious

We walked through the establishment and took pictures of the many artistic designssink used for decorating.  The restaurant is definitely unique and fun.  I especially loved the mujeres bathroom, which used two trumpets for water faucets and old-fashioned keys for handles to turn on the water.  Another fun thing was a shelf that held ceramic chickens.  My friend, Gaby and I were taking pictures when all of a sudden one of the chickens chickrose up off her nest and clucked angrily at us to go away.  She sat so still we thought she was a ceramic chicken!

My husband couldn’t wait to see a burro and he wasn’t disappointed.  There were many on the streets of El Quelite that day and I even took his picture with one.  The inhabitants of the village use them for farming and transportation.

stepsAs I walked across the street to the church I was reverent.  The church is small but commanding.  It’s Catholic, of course, and it seems to say “Come in and I will give you rest.”  There are many statues and a garden with fountains in the small courtyard.  The interior of the church is simple but absolutely beautiful.  Antique wooden beams hold up the ceiling and the same type of wood forms rustic pews.  Along the ceiling are pictures of the saints and a statue of Mary and Jesus beseech you to come to the front, where the altar is decorated with beautiful fresh flowers.  As I stood there I realized it doesn’t matter what your faith is, you can worship God anywhere.  I said a prayer and left quietly.chu

We drove the winding roads back to Mazatlan, full of food and at peace.  The people of the town are very accommodating and we took lots of pictures.  We went with good friends and enjoyed the time.  As we drove home underneath a brilliant sunset across the ocean I realized how thankful I am for good friends and for this culture and barrcountry I have come to know well in the eight years I have lived here.  Life couldn’t get much better than this!

What are your favorite places to visit?  Do you have a favorite restaurant you’ve been to?  Do you like to try different cuisines?  I’d love to know!

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