Thursday, February 16, 2017

Write, Edit Publish, Grandpa's Stories

Today is another WEP Challenge. Write, Edit, Publish was founded by Densie Covey and is a continuing blog hop. Densie's co-host, Yolanda Renee also helps. This challenge is open to everyone, writer, poet artist and more. Densie and Yolanda have the difficult task of picking a winner. So much talent that I'm sure it's difficult. Good luck ladies.We are to write about 'The Back of the Drawer.' I didn't write just about the back of the desk, but the whole desk.

To view other submissions go here.



This story is in honor of C. S. Lewis whose Narnia series had a big influence on me.

Grandpa’s Stories

I have so many happy memories of grandpa and his stories. Even as an adult, I treasured our Sunday visits to the nursing home with my own children. Grandpa would sit in his favorite rocker and spin a wild tale of strange talking animals and magical beasts, purple skies and golden grass. My children would sit around him listening just as I once did. Their eyes as big as saucers and many the occasional exclamation of, “Oh wow,” and, “Really?!” followed by, “Tell it again Grandpa.”
             One Christmas when I turned nine, grandpa gave me the Narnia series by C. S. Lewis. Inside the cover, it read, “Because you love my stories more than all my other grandchildren.” Oh, and I did.
            Now I dabble at my own fantastical stories, but none are as good as grandpa’s.
            My thoughts return to the moment as the furniture movers bring in grandpa’s old roll top desk. I had it placed in my study, along the wall that ran from the window to the door. I had bookshelves there once. Now those shelves were nestled in my closet and the junk was packed away in several boxes that my husband stashed in the attic. Grandpa’s old rocker had gone to my brother and his living room furniture had long since been auctioned off to help pay for final expenses.
            No matter, I got the best part. I knew the sight of grandpa’s old desk would inspire some wonderful tales. I got out the furniture polish and gave the treasured piece a good shine.
            Three days later, while I sat at my computer desk, in my office chair and a blank word document up on my laptop, inspiration had fled. I couldn’t think of a single thing. I turned the chair and gazed at grandpa’s old roll top.
            As a child, I’d never been allowed to open it. Now, the desk and its contents belonged to me. Did grandpa keep his stories in side? Or maybe in one of the locked drawers in front?
            When grandpa passed, his lawyer gave an envelope. It contained the keys to his roll top which was made of mahogany. Plain without decoration.
            I stood. I don’t know why I didn’t open it immediately when the desk had arrived. I guess it was out of respect for grandpa. He’d catch me trying to lift the roll top desk lid and laugh. “Not now Sugar Plum,” he’d say and pat my head.
            Surely, grandpa wouldn’t care anymore? He did leave them to me.
            I opened my computer desk drawer and retrieved the envelope and opened it.
            The long key was very similar to a skeleton key except more intricate with five cuts past the shoulder and before the squared off tip. A dragon head was carved into the head of the key and made of the same grey metal. I thought it odd that the desk should be so plain and the key so intricate. There was a drawer key as well with a little round tag that said so. Nothing special about it.
            Now that I held the keys in my hand the only thing left was to open the desk. I was nervous. No idea why.
            I opened the drawers first and found nothing. Well, there was a small paper clip in one of them. Putting the drawer key back on my computer desk I grabbed the dragon head key and went back to the top.
            There’s nothing in there, silly.
            But there was. All the cubie holes had little glass jars that were sealed and labeled. Faerie dust, unicorn hair, dragon whiskers…really?! Dragon whiskers? And I started humming the song, ‘Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.’ Don’t ask why, I don’t know.
            After reading each one and peering through the glass at what it contained, I put them all back inside their cubie hole. Grandpa’s imagination was great.
            In the drawer above were you sit I found a map. I pulled it out and walked to my computer desk so I could sit and read it. There were mountains and valleys, several volcanoes, rivers, streams and lakes. All of them named to fit one of grandpa’s stories. In the center was the town I’d heard about for years, Kalidan.
            Grandpa obviously collected items from living animals, rocks and dust, giving them each a fantastical name. He took the time to create a wonderfully detailed map and put it on parchment to add authenticity. But, nowhere could I find a single word written down. I really wanted to write his stories down and even publish them in honor of his memory. Would my memories be enough?
            I put his map back, shut the roll top, but I didn’t lock it. Super time. I had to cook and spend a little time with my husband and children. My son was in his last year of high school and the girls were right behind him. Teenagers. Are parents ever prepared?
*
            I awoke to an elephant’s trumpet and sat up in bed. Glancing at the clock I read 3 A.M. on the lit display.
            Another noise followed the elephant. Then giggles and a roar. They were close. Too close. I got up and put on my bathrobe to gaze out the bedroom window at the street below. Light from the street lamps told me no one, or animal was about. Glancing at my husband I could tell he hadn’t been disturbed.
            Another cry from that elephant told me something was going on. Had the T.V. been left running on Animal Planet?
            I slipped into my slippers and left the bedroom being careful to shut the door quietly. Descending the stares the voices got louder.
            “Where are we?”
            “The wizard moved.”
            Outside my study door I could hear a cacophony of noise coming from within. I opened the door. Immediately, three faeries flew past. A unicorn was eating papers in my trash. A dragon hunched in the corner while ash gray smoke lifted from his nostrils and tickled his whiskers. Whiskers!
            Glancing at the roll top desk I saw the lid open and an elephant pulling free of one of the drawers. I heard in my head Grandpa say, “I always keep my desk locked, especially at night.”

Word Count: 1,050
So, I’m a little over, sorry.
Did you enjoy my story?

Nancy

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

IWSG February 2017

The first Wednesday of February 2017 is also the first day of the month. Time for the monthly bloghop of Insecure Writer's. This group was the brain child of Alex J. Cavanaugh and now has quite the following. I am one writer in hundreds. To read other post go here.


Here's the question of the month:

How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

The answer is, a lot. When I read a book now I’m automatically aware of character perspective, back story, is there too much? Also, pacing, suspense, does the author invest in too many subplots, do the subplots work or detract. Grammar, spelling and much more. And if all that is on track do I fall in love with the characters? Is the story believable?

Trust me when I say, I hold myself to the same standard.

Other News:

I didn’t make it into the IWSG Anthology. I was bummed. It seems I can never break through that publishing standard. But I will simply take my story and self-publish it. I’m not sure I will try to get published by anyone else again.

I really don’t know what I’m doing wrong. My entire critique group and many friends love my writing. I mean, I have no sparkling characters, nor do I write in clichés. so it’s a mystery. I will press on.

How about you? Do you read books differently now? Are you published? Or do you self-publish as I do? 

Nancy

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Insecure Writers Support Group 2017

It's 2017! I hope this is the year that brings your dreams to fruition.

It's also the 1st Wednesday of the New Year. January 2017 and time for us to share are insecurities or to give out encouragement. IWSG was started by Alex J. Cavanaugh and has grown into a wonderful writer community. To read other post go here.




January 4th Question: What writing rule do you wish you'd never heard?

I can honestly say not one. Every rule is in place to challenge us to become a better writer. They have certainly made me a better writer. They are all second nature to me now. Alarm bells go off in my head when I break one. But it is possible that I don't know all the rules. I'll be curious to read what others have written.

Today is also the announcement for the winners of the IWSG Fantasy Anthology. When I learn the out come I'll post an update in here since I entered.

If you haven't picked up a copy of my epic fantasy yet, here's your chance at the friendship price of just 99 cents. I'll be redoing the cover and adding a print copy soon and the price will increase to $2.99




Thank you for coming by, Nancy


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Write, Edit, Publish. Utopian Dream Challenge

This challenge for Write, Edit, Publish is titled: Utopian Dreams. Pretty picture.
To read what others have written go here.

Write, Edit Publish is a blog hop that challenges writers, poets and artistic members to post a story, poem or something other than that. Started by Denise Covey the two big wigs that run the show are Denise and Yolanda Renee. Both are talented authors. Denise writes Romance and Yolanda writes Mysteries. So it's time to let you all read my story.

Flash fiction is a form of writing to help authors tighten their prose without losing content, traditionally 1,000 words or less. Enjoy.

Beyond the Gate

Disappointment tailgated me like a road rage driver out for revenge. I’d had so much ambition when I was young. I would be a success. My plans included a thriving and well paid career. A loving husband. Brilliant and devoted children. I wanted to be, no, I needed to be more successful than my siblings. I needed to prove that I was somebody.
I have a career. I make good money, though not as much as my brother. But then, he is a man and I am woman. I have a husband who is faithful. He’s a yes man and doesn’t argue with me. I like that. He makes good money though he isn’t advancement material. Still…what is lacking? Romance. A girl shouldn’t complain, right?
My children. Well…one should accept what has been given I suppose. Still, I could want more. They both struggle. First in school and then in their choice of jobs. Neither attended college. I pushed them to, but they refused. Neither makes a third of what I earn. They value what I never did, the simple joys of life. My brother’s children both have degrees. They both have ambition. Where did I miss the mark? 
I must face the fact. I’m a failure. With that thought I made a margarita, my third, and sat down to watch a thin and beautiful woman push a line of jewelry on the TV. I liked this jewelry. I often bought something, but tonight my mind wandered and I remembered the dream. In it there was an arched wrought iron gate and I could see a garden beyond. I’d had this dream every night for a week. It felt like a memory, yet I couldn’t put my finger on it. And why would I be attracted to that anyway?
I finished my drink and went to bed.
*
Thursday dawned as thousands of Thursdays had in my life. There was nothing unique. Nothing out of the ordinary. I drank a breakfast shake and headed out the door. Getting in my BMW I headed downtown. An hour later I was diverted from my usual parking spot by construction.
            “Damn!”
            I found a spot five blocks away from my office building in a neighborhood, parked and locked my car. I didn’t wear walking shoes to the office. Dressed professionally, I wore high heels. I considered taking the shoes off, but I didn’t have a spare pair of panty hose, so the trudge in heels was necessary.
            I wasn’t alone. Perhaps a dozen others were preparing to walk the side street as well. I eyed them, but they seemed as aggravated as I was. I slung my purse over one shoulder and prepared myself for the trip.
            I allowed a number of people to get ahead of me. I didn’t need their company. I only knew one of them and I didn’t like him. His name was John, and he whined about every task I handed him. I went a different way even though it would take longer.
            Two blocks later I came to the gate. The same gate in my dream. I was sure I’d never driven or walked along this street before.
The wrought iron was perfection. A filigree at the top of the arch, the gate was between two brick pillars and left open, beckoning. Beyond I could see a pathway that wound between trees and flowerbeds. It seemed separate from the house, a land to itself.  
            The scent of magnolias filled the air and one bush hugged the brick pillar and peeked between the iron bars. I felt pulled. I wanted to enter. I wanted to abandon my life, my disappointments. I took a step closer, than another one. I reached the gate and touched the cool iron. I could almost hear a chorus of voices calling, “Come…come…be welcome. Utopia awaits. Let your cares slip away. Dance with me under the moon.”
            I must resist. I have responsibilities. I am a successful business woman, wife and mother. Yet the pull.
            I had reached the top of my profession. There wouldn’t be another advancement, no more raises and I had to deal with men over me who could care less about my needs. Of course, I didn’t care about those below me.
            My husband. Yes, I loved him. He loved me more as it should be. He also lived in his own world and never helped me with the housework, or cooking, or grocery shopping. He didn’t even attend any of our children’s after school functions. Of course, neither did I. My career was number one. Number One! And for what? To appease a group of people who didn’t give a rat’s ass about me. Well, I didn’t care about them either.
            My children. Both are grown. They have their own life and they don’t have much time for me. I give them ample advice especially after downing several margaritas, but they roll their eyes and ignore me. Both have married sub-par humans. I’ve given up on them.
            My thoughts wonder to my sister. I haven’t given her much thought and no time for years. She has very little in material goods and she has suffered. An abusive marriage. She once asked me for help and I denied her. The nerve. She never amounted to anything. Of course, I knew she never would. But, now, after years of hardship she was happy. She valued her children and she even stayed married and her husband has turned into a good man. Her family is close. Not like mine.
            So…what is there for me?
I stepped beyond the gate.

Word count: 940

Note: I know people like this character, but this isn’t about any one person. Rather it is a story about our choices and how we value others. N. R. Williams


If you want to leave a critique you may. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. May your New Year fill you with Happiness. Nancy

I found this post and highly recommend it. The Hard Truth About Publishing: What Writers and Readers Need to Know.



Wednesday, December 7, 2016

IWSG Reviews and Questions

It is the first Wednesday of December and the last Wednesday of 2016. Happy Holidays!
Time to share your thoughts, insecurities, frustrations, etc., etc. In other words it is time for the Insecure Writers Support Group blog hop. Started by Alex J. Cavanaugh. This baby has grown into an impressive community of writers and authors. If you would like to read what others have said go here.

UpDate: The review that I discuss below has been changed to read: I have to say I was underwhelmed by these stories. 

I do not like research. Of course as with any good writer, I do research. So what is the IWSG question of the week? I have trouble finding it every time even though my lovely friends have told me where to go. Ugh! I will add it to the bottom of this post. When I find it.

Reviews.

The bane of all authors. Or so it would seem. A review can be thrilling and send you into orbit. It can be constructive and give you a glimpse into what works with your book and what doesn't. A review can be so discouraging that you want to give up altogether. Is it really worth the aggravation?

All published authors know the importance of reviews. We try to encourage our readers to leave one. A book I read recently advised to request a short blurb from readers. Review or blurb, both are necessary.

So how do you view your reviews?

I get excited when I see there is a new review. I've been fortunate in that most of my reviews are positive, even better than I had hoped. Let's face it. That book is our baby. It contains a big part of our life and shelters our hearts.

I have not received a review with any information as to how to improve except for one that wanted me to add little pictures before each chapter. This person downloaded my book for free. I really wanted to tell her, I don't have enough money for little pictures. But I didn't.

Do you comment on your reviews.
OK. Admit it. You wanted to slaughter that nasty reviewer with your exceptional writerly skills. Me too. But the advice is not to.

So let's talk about nasty reviews. Trolls! Beware. They hide in wait to attack you.

I have received two nasty reviews to date. My very first review was one of these and it sent me into a dark place. The reviewer, a man, criticized my use of a unicorn to bring the gift of language to my heroine in my epic fantasy, The Treasures of Carmelidrium. He said picking up on a language was easy. Not for me it isn't, nor for my heroine. He didn't like how I handled the confrontation between the villain and heroine. And there were several other choice things. I was devastated. It took me about a week and then I looked him up. He is self published and every review he had received to date was critical in the worse possible way. He simply gave me the same treatment. Therefore, I ignored him. Nothing he said was helpful.

The second nasty review I received was for my new release. Halloween Collection 2. This is a collection of flash fiction stories. Anyone who has written flash fiction knows these stories are short, short, short. She basically said that the stories were boring, that my writing ruined the greatness of the story, and advised that I take writing lessons and join a critique group. There was more but that is enough to send an inexperienced author into a pit of gloom. She gave me three stars. I made the mistake of going to her blog, reading her post and commenting. I thanked her for buying my book and told her I'd been writing for 30 years and was a member of a critique group with other published authors. The next day she had changed the 3 stars to 2 stars.

So...neither negative review was helpful. They both left me with the impression that the reviewer was a frustrated writer who was disappointed by their lack of success and channeled their disappointment by attacking other writers.

I have read and heard writers give this simple advice. Be kind to others. When you are kind and thoughtful, it will come back to you. Karma. I practice this. When I leave a review, I always talk about what I enjoyed in the writing. We authors struggle to bring the reader something they will enjoy. I'm not after the Pulitzer Prize, I just love writing.

Have you gotten a nasty review? Or one that thrilled you?

The question for December's post is: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

I plan to finally break through the promotion barrier and be a best seller. I will achieve this by continuing to upload books and by following the advice from other authors and from books I've read.

Now! Just in case: Your thinking I might be a lousy writer and deserved that review. So here is another review for my epic fantasy.

The Treasures of Carmelidrium.
"This is the best book of the decade." Amazon reader.



To order from Amazon.com click here.