Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holiday Hiatus

The Word Place will be on hiatus until January 1, 2013.  I wish for all of you a blessed season of peace and joy.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Book Videos

Visit my YouTube Channel to see videos of
  • Where Is Papa's Shining Star?
  • Finding Papa's Shining Star
  • The Showboat Affair
  • Dancing with Velvet
  • The Face on Miss Fanny's Wall
Leave a comment telling me which is your favorite and be eligible to win a PDF copy of that book.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Character Interview: Sgt. Dale McCord of "The Face on Miss Fanny's Wall"

TWP:  Welcome to The Word Place, Officer Dale McCord.

DM:  That’s Sgt. McCord.

TWP:  Excuse me, Sgt. McCord. I understand you’re working on an investigation at Miss Fanny’s, the bordello-turned-museum in Cedar Bluff.

DM:  I can’t talk about an on-going investigation.

TWP:  How about Tessa Steele? Can you talk about her?

DM:  It depends on what you want to know.

TWP:  You’re dating?

DM:  We’re good friends. We see each other when we can.

TWP:  Is the relationship going anywhere beyond friendship?

DM:  Possibly.

TWP:  She indicated to us that you’re opposed to her finding out why her great-grandmother was one of Miss Fanny’s ‘girls’.

DM:  Not at all. I think her genealogical research is just fine, but I’ve advised her to stay away from the museum until we get the current situation cleared up, and she…

TWP:  She isn’t cooperating.

DM:  She’s a grown woman, but she’s acting like an impulsive adolescent.

TWP:  Maybe she just doesn’t like being bossed around.

DM:  I’m giving her my best professional advice because I have a personal concern for her safety. She refuses to understand that--or she’s just ignoring it.

TWP:  So she’s involved in the ‘situation’ you mentioned?

DM:  There may be several situations, and yes, she could be involved in one of them. She just needs to be patient, and when things get straightened out, she can go on with her research.

TWP:  I’m sure you have her best interests at heart.

DM:  Yes,I do, and she needs to understand that. If she can’t respect my wishes--or at least, my professional judgment--then we don’t have much chance at a deeper relationship.

TWP:  Does she understand that?

DM:  I think Tessa understands what she wants to understand. That’s my pager. I’ve got to go.

TWP:  Well, thanks for stopping by. I hope everything works out, both for your investigation and for you and Tessa.

Read the first chapter of The Face on Miss Fanny’s Wall  at my website.

Buy Links

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Questions, Questions...About NaNoWriMo

What is the working title of your book?

In the Books

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was leafing through a wonderful travelogue of Ghost Towns in Texas and found a picture of an old college which has fallen into ruin. I always think, "If walls could talk..."

What genre does your book fall under?

Definitely romantic suspense--and perhaps historical since it's set in the 1880s.

What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Well, that's a tough one since I don't go to movies and watch the "oldies" on dvd/vcr. So, at the risk of people not knowing who I'm talking about, I think I'd choose Ann Blyth to play Ruth, the eager music student on scholarship and Pat Boone to play her love interest, Alec Marshall.

What is a one-sentence synopsis of your story?

Ruth and Alec are eager for an education at the new Belle Plain College--and also interested in getting to know each otehr better, but someone doesn't want them to be more than just classmates.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agent?

Since I'm going to try the waters of 'indie publishing' in 2013, I'll say it will be self-published.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took two weeks to write 20,000+ of the worst drivel I've ever written! I made the decision to scrap everything--which, of course, meant not finishing NaNoWriMo--and start over when I've had time to think about my characters and develop the plot the way it should go.

What other books would you compare your story to within this genre?

That I can't answer.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I always enjoy the NaNo Challenge, and this was my 6th year. The first year I didn't finish due to the terminal illness of a dear cousin-sister. The next year I did finish--somewhere she was threatening me if I didn't! I also finished in 2009, 2010 and 2011, but this year it seemed pointless to continue--what I wrote was BAD, folks. It's redeemable, however.  

But it was the photographs of those crumbling walls of Belle Plain College which really inspired me...and wondering about the stories of the young people who inhabited them during its brief life from 1881-1892.  And someday, I'll go back and let them tell me about themselves...their hopes, their dreams...and yes, their secrets!

 What else about this  book might pique the reader's interest?  

Visit my website and click on the NaNoWriMo tab to read a more complete synopsis and see the cover I designed.

Thanks, Pat, for tagging me! This was fun and inspires me to want to finish this story--someday! 

Character Interview: Tessa Steele of "The Face on Miss Fanny's Wall"

TWP:  Today we welcome Tessa Steele to The Word Place. Tell us a little about yourself, Tessa.

TS:  I’m a librarian at an elementary school in Cedar Bluff, Arkansas. It’s a town with a history.

TWP:  What kind of history?

TS:  Well, it’s on the Missouri border, so it saw a lot of fighting during the Civil War--mostly guerilla warfare. Afterwards it was a pretty rough place, and it had a very famous red-light district, which is what’s getting me into trouble right now.

TWP:  Wait a minute! You’d better explain that.

TS (giggles): The only ‘house’ left is now a museum, and during spring break before my senior year in college, some friends and I visited it. On the wall in one room are pictures of some of the ‘ladies’ who worked there, and I recognized one.

TWP:  Should I ask?

TS:  My great-grandmother, Hallie Reynolds Steele. Nobody in the family knows anything about here before she married my great-grandfather Merritt, who ran a newspaper. She’s sort of a mystery, but I’m dying to know how she ended up working in one of those places.

TWP:  What are you doing to find out?

TS:  I’ve gotten into genealogy. You know, hunting your ancestors for a family tree.

TWP:  Have you found out anything?

TS:  More than someone wants me to, I think, but I’m not giving up. That’s the other part of the problem.

TWP:  Which is?

TS: I’m dating a state police officer, Dale McCord, and he happens to be in charge of an investigation focusing on the museum.

TWP:  What’s going on?

TS:  Dale won’t tell me anything except to stay away from there. It really makes me mad. I’m a grown woman, and he doesn’t have any right to order me around.

TWP:  Maybe he’s worried about you getting into a dangerous situation.

TS:  I can’t imagine what could be dangerous at the museum. Of course, one of the docents is a little creepy, but…

TWP:  It sounds as if you should listen to Dale.

TS:  I’m going to find out about my great-grandmother, that’s for sure, and not even Dale McCord is going to stop me!

TWP:  Good luck then--but be careful.

Read the first chapter of The Face on Miss Fanny’s Wall at my website.

Buy Links

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Character Interview: David Levinson, Finding Papa's Shining Star

TWP:  Welcome, David. You're Annie Ashley's husband, right?

DL:  Yes and no.

TWP:  That's an interesting answer.

DL:  Yes, we're legally married. No, we don't live as husband and wife. It's impossible when I'm in Israel, and she's in New York. It's almost like we're having a long-distance affair!

TWP:  How did that happen?

DL:  During the war, I was in a German concentration camp. Long story, but the time I spent there gave me time to reflect on my Jewish roots which I hadn't taken too seriously before that. After the war, I searched for any remaining family members left in Europe and didn't find many. Eventually, I became interested in the quest for Israeli statehood. Annie's father was Jewish, but she didn't share my enthusiasm.

TWP:  Alan Ashley was Jewish?

DL:  No, her biological father, Albert Rycroft--born Rycovski to Russian immigrant parents. Annie was raised in the Episcopal Church, but I think her biggest objection to embracing her Jewish roots is her resentment toward her father. Apparently he promised to reunite with her, but he never did.

TWP:  Annie suggested you knew more about that than you're willing to tell.

DL:  Willing but unable.

TWP:  What about this child she says you want her to raise?

DL:  Chava. She's five and completely shattered by the death of her mother Rebekah. She doesn't remember her father who died fighting for Israel's survival. And, she lost the only 'grandfather' she ever knew--he made the decision to send her to Annie.

TWP:  And he was...

DL:  Albert Rycroft, but I can't say anymore about that.

TWP:  All right. So why doesn't Annie want Chava?  She says the two of you lost a child...

DL:  During the war while I was overseas, Annie miscarried our son. But it all goes back to her father, and her resentment of him. She refuses to consider that he made the best decision for her when he let the Ashleys adopt her.

TWP:  What will happen to Chava?

DL:  I'll take her back to Israel with me. My brother Daniel and his wife Shelli will give her a home. They'll be good to her, but Annie's her blood...Rebekah was Annie's cousin. Annie needs Chava as much as Chava needs her, but what she needs even more is to find find her Papa's shining star. That's what he called her: my best little girl, my shining star. 

TWP:  Do you think it will happen?

DL:  I don't know. I adore Annie, and we could make a good home for Chava and maybe even give her some brothers and sisters. But I can't predict what Annie will do. I never could.

TWP:  Well, we'll hope for the best for all of you.

Read the first chapter of Finding Papa's Shining Star at my website.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Character Interview: Annie Ashley

Character Interview:
Annie Ashley
Finding Papa’s Shining Star

If you missed the interviews with Alan Ashley and Lenore Seldon of Where Is Papa’s Shining Star? be sure to read them in previous blogs to put this interview in perspective.

TWP:  Welcome to The Word Place, Annie Ashley. You started life under another name, I believe.

AA:  I was born Roberta Annette Rycroft.

TWP:  How did you become Annie Ashley?

AA:  It’s complicated. Basically, my parents divorced, and my mother remarried. Her husband sent me to his sister, Lenore Seldon, when…well, when things weren’t going well. When she married Alan Ashley, they adopted me, and I took the name Annette Lenore Ashley. Roberta was my biological mother’s name, and I didn’t want anything to do with her.

TWP:  What was life like with the Ashleys?

AA:  Idyllic. I had the best of everything. We loved each other.

TWP:  You married during the war, right?

AA:  It was one of those hasty wartime things.

TWP:  So it didn’t work out?

AA:  It did, and it didn’t.

TWP:  Children?

AA:  I lost a child.

TWP:  I’m sorry. What do you do now?

AA:  After my parents’ deaths, I became the head of Ashley Enterprises. Now David--that’s my husband--has turned up again and wants me to raise the five-year-old daughter of my cousin.

TWP:  You don’t seem enthusiastic about that.

AA: I’m just not sure I can do it.

TWP:  You had good parental role models in the Ashleys, didn’t you?

AA:  Yes, but…Chava needs two parents, and David and I…he has a business in Israel, and I have responsibilities here.

TWP:  What happened to your biological parents? Did you ever see them again?

AA:  Roberta Rycroft either committed suicide or was murdered shortly after I was sent North. I don’t really care. Papa--Albert Rycroft--disappeared. He said he’d come for me…for Bobbie, his shining star…but he never did. He never did, but he promised...

TWP:  Is he still living?

AA:  I’m not sure. I think so. David knows, but he won’t tell me anything. He knew Papa--Albert Rycroft in Israel.

TWP:  So what’s next for you?

AA:  I have a business to run. A lot of people depend on me for their livings. David says I need to get in touch with who I was…find Papa’s shining star…but she doesn’t exist anymore.

TWP:  You’re sure about that?

AA:  I’m not sure of anything except that my schedule says I have a business meeting in fifteen minutes, so I have to go.

TWP:  Well, thanks for stopping by The Word Place today. Good luck.

Tomorrow:  David Levinson, Annie’s husband

Read the first chapter of Finding Papa’s Shining Star at my website.

Buy Links

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Spring Cleaning in December

Back in the summer, I left Facebook and haven't regretted it. It was a good marketing venue, but it also had some disadvantages which made me decide I could do without it. Twitter seemed a better, less time-consuming road to travel, but the problem was, I didn't really know how to use it. So I've been learning.
The result is that I unfollowed a lot of people, mainly because I don't read what they write, and they don't read what I write, so we really weren't interacting for anyone's benefit.

After some research, I discovered writers in my own genre(s) and groups/organizations which both instruct and help promote books, so I did some following there. The response has been great with a lot of those people/groups returning the follow.

 It's sort of like not going into a hardware store to buy lingerie. The sales folks might really want to help you out, but what can they do? And you can't help them out by paying them for what they don't have. Maybe that's a poor analogy, but it works for me. I want to be able to learn from/buy from/support those I follow.
As social media, Twitter should be mutually beneficial for everyone.

Since deciding to concentrate on Twitter, I've noticed that the number of visits here at The Word Place have increased. I don't get many (if any!) comments, but people have been here and, hopefully, have taken away some useful information. I've also seen more visits to my website and a better 7-day traffic average than before. 

My next task is to work on LinkedIn. Like other venues, I joined because it was (supposedly) a must-do, and I did it in too much of a hurry to really learn the entire scope of its inner workings. So it's back to the drawing board.

It's a crazy time of year for spring cleaning...but it's gotta be done!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

You Can't Judge a Book... its cover. Not true. It's usually the cover of a book which attracts one first, then the blurb. If both are a go, we buy the book. So a book cover IS important.

I've been blown away by the covers designed for my novels by several terrific graphic artists:  Rae Monet (The Shiningstar Books), Tina Lynn Stout (The Showboat Affair and Dancing with Velvet), and Trisha FitzGerald (The Face on Miss Fanny's Wall). See the sidebar of the blog for a look at the covers. But these were all traditionally-contracted books.(I was unable to find websites for Tina Lynn and Trisha.)

When it comes to "indie publishing", an author has to go it alone or find an affordable graphic artist to design the cover of her dreams--never forgetting that the cover can hook a reader faster than the blurb, because it's what the reader sees first in most cases. 

As I dabble my toes in the waters of indie publishing (come 2013), suitable covers for The Penelope Pembroke Cozy Mystery Series are high on my lists of first-things-first. I may have a good product, but no one will unwrap unattractive packaging to find it. 

I am, by necessity, limited by my budget. So what will I do? Go it alone, or find the tried-and-true? Here are three links I'm looking at to help make a decision. 




Monday, December 10, 2012

Character Interview: Lenore Seldon

 Character Interview: Lenore Seldon
Where Is Papa’s Shining Star?

TWP: Today we welcome Lenore Seldon, administrative assistant to Alan Ashley who was with us a few days ago. Tell us about yourself, Miss Seldon.

LS:  There’s not much to tell. I graduated from business school and worked ten years for retired Judge Arthur Sutherland until his death.

TWP:  Then you went to work for Alan Ashley, right?

LS: Not right away.

TWP:  Can you explain that?

LS:  I’d rather not. Those intervening years aren’t pleasant to remember.

TWP:  But now you have a good job.

LS:  Yes.

TWP:  What is it like to work for one of the most prominent entrepreneurs in America--and one of the wealthiest and most eligible bachelors?

LS:  I’m grateful for employment. So many don’t have work. The Depression, you know.

TWP:  Right, but back to Alan Ashley…he’s quite handsome.

LS:  He’s my employer.

TWP:  Can’t he still be good-looking? Have there been other men in your life?

LS:  Not really. I was engaged briefly to the boy next door, but he died in France during the war.

TWP:  And Alan Ashley lost his eyesight in the same war.

LS:  Yes, but he manages very well.

TWP:  He says you’re a great help to him.

LS:  I do my best.

TWP:  Since you live in, you must spend a lot of time with him outside of the workplace.

LS:  I don’t know how it happened, but we have breakfast together and then dinner every night. Sometimes after dinner I read aloud to him, or we listen to music. But I’m well-chaperoned. His housekeeper Mrs. Swane lives in. And I’m going to get my own place when I get a bit ahead.

TWP:  He won’t like that.

LS:  It’s for the best.

TWP:  Is he easy to get along with?

LS:  For the most part. He still bears some bitterness about the loss of his sight…but mostly because it was the reason his fiancée broke their engagement.

TWP:  Have you met her?

LS:  Briefly. It was unpleasant to say the least. However, she’s very beautiful…very elegant.

TWP:  Do you see your working relationship with Alan Ashley transitioning into something more personal?

LS:  Oh, no, it can’t! I have…responsibilities.

TWP:  Can you share what those responsibilities are?

LS:  No. No, I can’t, and if thinks this interview will get him the personal information I have a right to withhold…

TWP:  Nothing like that, but be honest. Aren’t you the least bit interested in him, woman to man?

LS:  I can’t be. You don’t understand. He’d never understand either. I’m sorry, but you’ll have to excuse me. I must transcribe some notes into Braille before his meeting tomorrow morning.

TWP:  All right. We understand. Thanks for stopping by.

To learn more about Where Is Papa’s Shining Star?, visit my website where you can see a video trailer and read the first chapter. Where Is Papa’s Shining Star? is available in print and as an eBook from The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Character Interview: Alan Ashley

Character Interview:  Alan Ashley
 Where Is Papa’s Shining Star?

TWP:  Thank you for making time in your schedule for The Word Place, Mr. Ashley.

AA:  What is it you’d like to talk about?

TWP:  You lost your vision serving in the trenches in France during World War I. Has it been difficult, given your disability, to run a major company like Ashley Enterprises?

AA:  Yes, but then I have many good people around me who serve as my eyes.

TWP:  Your administrative assistant, Lenore Seldon, is one of them.

AA:  That’s right. She’s exceptionally intuitive. She knows what I need before I do.

TWP:  An interesting statement. Tell us something about her, if you don’t mind.

AA:  She knows her job and does it well and faithfully. What else can I say?

TWP:  What is she like outside of work?

AA:  She lives in--well chaperoned by my housekeeper, Mrs. Swane, who raised me from the time I was two. Because of that, I’ve been able to teach her to use the Braille writer, something my former assistant was never able to master. It’s made all the difference in my ability to be less dependent on the eyes of others.

TWP:  I meant, what is she like as a person?

AA:   She’s well-educated…cultured…kind…but there’s something about her…something mysterious…

TWP:  Mysterious?

AA:  I shouldn’t have said that. It doesn’t concern me.

TWP:  No?

AA:  Well, perhaps it does. To be honest, I find myself attracted to her.

TWP:  And how does she feel about you?

AA:  It’s difficult to tell. She keeps her distance. She disappears every Saturday morning and returns late on Sunday evening. She says she has ‘responsibilities’, but she doesn’t elaborate.

TWP:  Family?

AA:  Perhaps.

TWP:  Or, if I might be so bold, a lover?

AA: No! Absolutely not! Her moral character can’t be questioned.

TWP:  I wasn’t questioning her character, only the mystery that surrounds her.

AA:  It’s puzzling, I’ll admit. I’ve tried to draw her out, but she keeps her own counsel.

TWP:  It seems you might consider her more than just an employee.

AA:  I…I suppose I do. When I returned from the war, my fiancée broke our engagement because I was blind. She said she couldn’t marry ‘half a man’. Lenore…Miss Seldon…doesn’t seem to look on me that way.

TWP:  Is the beautiful? Oh, I beg your pardon, I…

AA:  My housekeeper says she’s quite attractive, though when she came she was too thin…and rather shabby.

TWP:  She’d come from less than optimal circumstances.

AA:  It’s happened to many during this crushing Depression. Mrs. Swane says her appearance has improved with regular meals and the security of employment.

TWP:  Where do you see your relationship going?

AA:  I didn’t say there was a relationship, although…

TWP:  Perhaps we should move on.

AA:  An excellent suggestion. In fact, my schedule, which Miss Seldon prepares daily in Braille, tells me I have another appointment in five minutes.  However, my secretary has agreed to give you a tour of Ashley Enterprises. I believe Miss Seldon is in accounting this morning, so you might meet her if you go there.

TWP:  Thank you for your time and candor, Mr. Ashley. I’ll make it a point to meet Lenore Seldon. A woman of mystery always intrigues a writer.

To learn more about Where Is Papa’s Shining Star?, visit my website where you can see a video trailer and read the first chapter. Where Is Papa’s Shining Star? is available in print and as an eBook from The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

MONDAY:  Lenore Seldon speaks with us--reluctantly. 

Leave a comment today and Monday and be entered in a drawing for a free PDF copy of the book!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ten Commandments for Writers

Disclaimer:  Satire, not sacrilege, intended.

1.  Thou shalt carry a notebook in thy pocket or purse. Thee never knoweth when a good idea for a story will presenteth itself.

2.  Thou shalt doest careful research when writing about a subject thou knowest naught about or a time period in which thou hast not actually lived. (Thou canst not fool the savvy reader!)

3.  Thou shalt write by the seat of thy pants if it workest well for thee--or planneth much or little--thou knowest how thou writest best.

4.  Thou shalt not utter vain and foolish words like, "My muse hath deserted me" or "Yay, I am not inspired" or "Writers Block hath crept in to torment me." (Gettest over it.)

5.  Thou shalt not write that with which thee is not comfortable but rather be true to thyself.

6.  Thou shalt not fear hitting the delete key on that which is not working.

7.  Thou shalt understand that a first draft stinketh.

8.  Thou shalt not search vainly for 'voice'. Dost thou not speak in thine own voice? Dost it not follow that thee shalt write in the same?

9.  Thou shalt takest all writing advice with a grain of salt--preferably two grains.

10. Thou shalt understand that rules are madest to be broken, not to stunt a writer's progress.

Keepth these commandments and findest joy in all thy writing undertakings!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Writing is NOT a competition...

In the November-December issue of The Writer, Valerie O. Patterson has enumerated "10 Myths About the Writing Life". I want to focus on #8:  It's a competition. NOT.

Sometime in the late summer-early fall, I backed off promoting my books. First of all, I wasn't sure the return on the time and effort spent at the computer was really worthwhile. Second, I realized that I simply wasn't part of the "in crowd"--that is, my books are cool to lukewarm and certainly not hot! My audience is smaller and more difficult to find, BUT it is no less important.

I'm venturing back into the world of promotion, this time slowly and selectively. Yesterday there were 56 views here at The Word Place--and 2 "hits" at my website. Lots of lookers, two takers. That's okay. When I track the number of blog views and the corresponding visits to my website, I know I'm doing something right. Not big, mind you, but right.

Here's another "10" for you: "10 Ways to Build Long-Lasting Traffic to Your Author Website or Blog".

And four more:  "4 Online Haunts Where Your Readers Live"

Bottom line: I have something to say, and there are people who want to hear it, and I will find them. It's not a competition to be the most visible and/or sell the most books. It's about writing, because that's what I want to do.  

(I'm still looking for 100 followers here at The Word Place--44 to go!)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Character Interview: Nick Cameron

Character Interview:  Nick Cameron
The Showboat Affair

TWP:  Yesterday we spoke with Jean Kingston. Now her new love interest Nick Cameron has agreed to weigh in.

NC:  Love interest? I know I’m older, but somehow that seems flippant to me. I love Jean. I’m in love with her.

TWP:  It’s apparent she feels the same toward you. Tell us about yourself, Mr. Cameron.

NC:  I’m an attorney. My son Charlie is my partner. He’s married to Dixie, the third member of the firm.

TWP:  A family affair.

NC:  You could say that, although Charlie…well, Charlie is opposed to my relationship with Jean, and I’m not sure why.

TWP:  You lost your first wife, I believe.

NC:  Twenty years ago. Charlie was eight. Sarah had seen me through law school, and we were finally able to buy a house and start a family. Two years later, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

TWP:  A terrible thing.

NC:  She fought for six years. I borrowed money to pay for the best treatment available until the oncologist said it was no use. She died a few weeks later.

TWP:  And you’ve been alone since then?

NC:  I was never interested in another woman until I met Jean. She’s changed my life.

TWP:  I understand her daughter is opposed to the relationship also.

NC:  I think Juliana would be opposed to anything her mother did.

TWP:  Do you know Jean’s soon-to-be ex-husband?

NC:  I’m acquainted with him. He has a well-known investment firm in Houston. He’s…well, he doesn’t know what he’s lost, but as far as I’m concerned, Jean is well out of that marriage. She put up with his philandering for over thirty years.

TWP:  So do the two of you have plans to marry anytime soon?

NC:  Her divorce won’t be final for several months. And besides that, she’s finding herself for the first time--at least, professionally. I want her to have every chance to make a go of her business.

TWP:  But you really don’t want to wait on that.

NC:  From a selfish standpoint, no, I don’t, but she has the right to her independence. She’s earned it.

TWP:  She said the two of you are getting away…taking a trip to Branson, Missouri. I suggested the showboat dinner cruise.

NC:  Actually, I’d already made plans for that. It’s a surprise for her. I’m going to…well, it’s a surprise.

TWP:  We wish you both the best. Enjoy the trip, and be careful. She said you’d each had an incident of physical danger recently.

NC:  The police think they’re related, but I’m not sure. But I am sure we’ll be very careful. I don’t want to lose Jean…lose this chance at a new life.

TWP:  I’ll raise a glass to a new, happy life for both of you!

To learn more about The Showboat Affair, visit my website where you can view a video trailer and read the first chapter. The Showboat Affair is available in print and as an eBook at The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Character Interview from The Showboat Affair

Character Interview:  Jean Kingston
The Showboat Affair

TWP:  Welcome to The Word Place, Jean Kingston! Tell me a little about yourself--before all this happened.

JK: There’s not much to tell. My mother died when I was three, and my father remarried ten years later. Nona was a lovely person and just what I needed in my life at the time. I went to Stephens College in Missouri on a scholarship and studied both fashion and interior design. I was doing an internship when I met Rand Kingston. It’s a cliché to say he swept me off my feet, but that’s what he did. Good looks, money, prominent family…it was all too much to resist. The old saying, “Marry in haste, repent at leisure,” is apt here.

TWP: It wasn’t a good marriage then.

JK: Rand always had a wandering eye. I knew almost from the beginning he was unfaithful to me, but I stuck it out because I didn’t know how I’d make it on my own with our daughter.

TWP: Are the two of you close?

JK:  No, Juliana was always her father’s daughter. She still is, even married with a child of her own. She knew before I did that he planned to ask for a divorce.

TWP:  That must’ve been a shock.

JK:  Not really, but it did make me angry.

TWP:  How long were you married?

JK:  Thirty-three years.

TWP:  That’s a long time. It appears you’ve moved on with your life though.

JK:  Thanks to my former housekeeper Selina. She wouldn’t let me sit around and feel sorry for myself. Then when she started her own catering business and a brunch bistro, she gave me a chance to use my design skills. It was a risk for her, but because of her faith in me, I’m starting my own interior design business.

TWP:  What about the new man in your life?

JK:  Nick. Nick Cameron. What can I say? He’s wonderful.

TWP:  Everything that Rand Kingston isn’t?

JK:  Like night and day. Of course, we’ve got opposition:  my daughter, his son. It’s caused some problems between the two of us, but we’re trying to work them out. And in a way, I’m part of the problem, too. For the first time in thirty years, I’m on my own, and I like it. Besides, my divorce isn’t final yet, so we’ve got some time.

TWP:  There’s nothing wrong with enjoying your independence.

JK:  Nick’s been very understanding. His wife died twenty years ago, so he’s had his fill of being on his own, but he’s willing to wait on me.

TWP:  Was his first marriage a good one?

JK:   He and Sarah were devoted to each other. She died too young--cancer. He understands what loving and being in love is all about--and I’m learning.

TWP:  I understand you’ve had a problem or two unrelated to your grown children…

JK:  Nick got mugged, and then someone broke into my apartment and tried to assault me. The police think the two incidents are related, but I’m not sure.

TWP:  So what’s next for you and Nick?

JK:  He thinks we need to get away from Houston for a while, so we’re going to Branson, Missouri.

TWP:  I’ve been there. You’ll love it, especially the dinner cruise on the showboat, the Branson Belle.

JK:  What a coincidence. Showboat is the first movie we watched together. I’ll mention it to Nick.

TWP:  Do that, and have a wonderful time, Jean. Good luck--and thanks for dropping by The Word Place.

To learn more about The Showboat Affair, visit my website where you can view a video trailer and read the first chapter. The Showboat Affair is available in print and as an eBook at The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Flash Fiction Five

From the November-December issue of The Writer, a great article on "Five Critical Traits for Flash Fiction". I'll admit I haven't written much in the short-short line. Frankly, I've felt overwhelmed at the prospect of trying to limit my innate wordiness and still tell a story. But Faith M. Boughan, a freelance writer, blogger, and assistant flash editor for Abyss & Apex Magazine cleared a few things up for me--and hopefully, for anyone else out there who doesn't venture into this area of writing.

She suggests five things to do--which should be obvious, but they weren't to me until she set them down. First of all, knowing one's audience is important. Many flash-fiction readers don't have time to read anything else and appreciate something they can enjoy quickly.

It follows that the plot must be smaller even than a short story, that the character list should be sparse, and that the focus should be on one happening. She also suggests paring down descriptions and letting the reader use his own imagination. Finally, she advises writers of flash fiction to make the setting less expansive: exciting things can happen in limited space.

She also lists, in a sidebar, a number of resources for writers thinking about trying flash-fiction. You'll find that and much more in the article on page 11 in the regular Writing Essentials feature.

What's been your experience with flash fiction?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Starting and Starting Over Again

The copies I ordered of A Very Kate Christmas arrived today. It's a neat, compact little volume (5 stories) with a few minor technical glitches which I can fix with the next printing and which do not detract from the stories themselves. I plan to use the copies I ordered as Christmas "cards" for a few folks who I know will enjoy the book.

There is much to learn about indie publishing. I just finished reading (on Kindle)The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe by Jeff Bennington. When I spotted it, it was free but has now reverted to 99 cents. Take my word for it--if you're looking at indie publishing, it's a must-read. One of the tips he gives is to have a few print copies available, so that's what I was trying out with A Very Kate Christmas. It's a learning process.

Bennington's book is divided into four parts:
He made me realize I am either going into business or just playing around at a hobby. It's my choice. So the first few months of 2013 will be focused on the former--and there's lots involved. I'll be blogging about each faltering step as I take it.

His book on indie publishing isn't the first I've read, but it probably should have been. The old saying about not putting the cart before the horse is apt. However, the following is a list of other books (all available on Kindle, some free, all reasonably priced) I've plowed through in the past six months or have downloaded but haven't yet read:

  1. Get Up to Speed with Online Marketing (Jon Reed)
  2. The Visual Guide to Kindle Formatting (Presented by 'everything indie'--website
  3. The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing (Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier)
  4. Get Connected: 101 Places to Promote Your Book Online (Compiled by G.E. Johnson)
  5. The Beginners Guide to eBooks (Gary McLaren)
  6. Building Your Book for Kindle (Amazon Kindle)
  7. Newbie's Guide to Publishing (J.A. Konrath)
  8. How to Get Your Book Reviewed (The Savvy Book Marketer/Dana Lynn Smith)
  9. How to Sell More Books on Amazon (The Savvy Book Marketer/Dana Lynn Smith)
  10. Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (Mark Coker)
  11. Promote Your Book (Patricia Fry)
  12. Virtual Book Tour Magic (The Savvy Book Marketer/Dana Lynn Smith)
  13. How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months (John Locke)
  14. Format Your eBook for Kindle in One Hour (Derek J. Canyon)
  15. Publish on Amazon Kindle with Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon Kindle)
  16. How to Format Your eBook for Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, and Everything Else (Paul Salvette)
  17. Secrets to eBook Publishing Success (Mark Coker)
Lots to read and think about, huh? But even if you take only one idea away from  every book, that's 17 ideas you didn't have before!

Feel free to add to the list.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

8 Ghost Stories and...

Ghost #1 - The Girl in the Mist:  In the 1920s, when the Crescent Hotel was a girls' school, one of the students fell/jumped/was pushed from the fourth floor balcony. A postmortem revealed she was pregnant,  a scandal for an unmarried young lady in those days. She's been "seen" at various times, the most recent being in a photograph of someone eating in Dr. Baker's Bistro. She appears in the window behind him and appears to be cradling the head of a baby. (I saw the photo.)

Ghost #2 - The Lady in White: Someone staying in a suite in the remodeled area once known as "The Pain Asylum" (see previous post) saw an upside-down figure reflected in the television screen (turned off) wearing a 1930s era slip or nightgown. Other guests have reported hearing the wheels of a gurney coming down the hall from that direction. (I saw this photo, too.)

Ghost #3 - Child: One of the nurses apparently brought her little girl, a child about 2, with her to work one day. The toddler fell over the railing into the stairwell and all the way to the first floor. Much 'activity' in this area has been reported. (I didn't see/hear any.)

Ghost #4 - Breckie: Breckie was the child of a professor at the girls' college. The family 'lived in', but Breckie, a delicate child because of a congenital intestinal malformation, wasn't allowed to go outside or play with other children. He has been 'heard' bouncing a ball on the third floor and saying, 'It's not fair!' A participant in a previous ghost tour, a teacher from Iowa, reported seeing a group of children running past her up the stairs and was asked by another child, "Which way did they go?" She said he ran up three or four steps and faded from view.

Ghost #5 - Dr. C. F. Ellis: The first physician employed by the girls' college has been seen in the elevator area across from his office.

Ghost #6 - Theodora: The petite office manager/administrator of the Cancer Curable Baker Hospital, has been seen by housekeeping staff outside the now closed-up door of the room where she lived. Room #428 is one of the three most haunted/most requested rooms in the hotel today. Theodora was a 'neatnik' and has been known to pick up towels dropped on the bathroom floor or even pack a guest's suitcase and set it in the corridor outside the door! When paranormal investigators (invited in by management) took a dinner break, they came back and found the door blocked by equipment they'd left behind.

Ghost #8 - Irish workman: Trying to attract the attention of a pretty girl below, this young man fell to his death during the construction of the hotel. Now guests in Room #218 report strange happenings in this area where he died.

The last stop on the Ghost Tour is the morgue where autopsies were performed on those unfortunates killed by the man in whom they'd placed their last hope. It's now a storeroom/workroom, but the accoutrements of its grisly history remain, including the 'cold storage' area for bodies. I won't relate what happened the night I took the tour, but you may well ask, did it make a believer out of me? Nope. But don't let that stop you from taking the tour--you'll enjoy every minute of it. I did.

According to my stats, my blog received around 130 views yesterday and today--but no comments! The contest is still 'on' until this time tomorrow, so leave a quick comment at both posts to be entered in the drawing for a copy of A Very Kate Christmas.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Story ideas from the yourself!

Just returned from my annual fall get-away, roughly defined as "me-time" when I can do what I like when I like without constraints of large beasts and small persons, (not that I don't care about both!), meetings, appointments, and other necessary (often enjoyable) events that seem to crowd the calendar more and more.

This year I went to Eureka Springs AR. Click the link for information about this fascinating place, because this blog post is not a travelogue. Rather, I want to tell you about the 'haunted' Crescent Hotel and throw out some early Christmas candy in the form of story ideas. Please feel free to help yourself!

On Tuesday I hung out on the back porch, ensconced in a larger rocker, Kindle in hand, until it grew chilly. Then I walked up to the fourth floor (elevator down for repairs/replacement) and hung out at Dr. Baker's Bistro until time for the 8 o'clock Ghost Tour, where one may meet guests who checked in but never checked out!

The hotel gets its name from its location on a crescent-shaped ridge overlooking the town. The Cherokee culture includes the premise that flowing water is conducive to spirituality, and there are 68 named springs in Eureka Springs, plus Blue Spring 10 miles away.

The hotel was a grand place when it opened in 1886 and through the 'gay nineties', with stables for 100 horses, a pool, tennis courts, bowling alley, and an orchestra. The rich and famous stayed here to 'take the waters' until the development of of modern medical science pooh-poohed the belief in the healing waters of the springs. 1908 until the Depression era, it was a girls' college which doubled as a hotel during the summers. Then in 1937 came "Dr." Norman Baker, who bought the building and established the Cancer Curable Baker Hospital. His 'miracle treatment' consisted of injections of herbs and carbolic acid! Not a popular figure with those who recognized him for the charlatan he was, he had a well-protected office (bullet-proof glass) and kept weapons handy.

He had the doors of the patients' rooms removed so the staff could check on them during the night without disturbing them. Also to further minimize 'disturbance', he sealed off the wing of the building once used as accommodations for wealthy guests' servants and placed the terminal patients there. The steel doors masked the sounds of their suffering in the area which became known as "The Pain Asylum".

Well, fortunately, Baker was arrested in 1940, though he served a relatively short term in prison.  But--immediately the records disappeared, so no one has any idea how many patients passed through the doors (and out again, often feet first) in four years.

I hope you'll follow the links to get some background on the history of this fascinating, still imposing old structure (again a hotel) and will come back again tomorrow when I spin you the tales of not one but 5 'residents' who never left--and also tell you about the three most 'haunted'--and most requested rooms in the hotel.

Disclaimer: I am not into 'the paranormal', but I love a good 'ghost story'. 

Leave a comment on this blog and the one tomorrow--specifically about a story idea that has 'rattled your cage'--and be entered in a drawing for a copy of A Very Kate Christmas.