Thursday, January 18, 2018

Saturday Author Focus #2 (Delayed due to Weather!)

This week, as the title shows, I'm late. However, it is better late than never. Let me get right to it.

The author focus this week is indie author Brian Scutt. I am following him on Twitter and saw him post that the Kindle edition of his book was free for a limited time. One never knows what you'll get in a free book. This was worth the risk. 

Brian's story, Hemmingway's Shoes is one that was profoundly significant to me. I can't tell you why because that would give it away and it is, after all, short story. Let me just say it's well-written and although graphic in its details, by the time I finished it I was terribly moved. I encourage you to check it out and watch for other stories by this author. You can see my review by clicking on the title.

You can connect with Brian in a number of places!
Personal website: Brian Scutt, author
Twitter: @ScuttBrian
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16693505.Brian_Scutt


Please share this post so others can find Brian's book and visit his sites. Help support an indie author!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Perspective

This is nothing like what I thought it would be.



Shelly ripped the garland from over the archway and flung it into the plastic storage bin at her feet. Tacks flew around her head and clattered on the tile floor. It didn't matter. She still had to sweep anyway. Next, she ripped the lights from the stair banister, rolling it around her arm and dropping it into the same bin.

Never in her life had she been so humiliated. Hours and hours she'd spent on dinner, not to mention hundreds of dollars, and all they'd done was complain. The turkey was dry and the gravy lumpy. The rice was too sticky. And, "Shelly, dear, I believe the green beans are a tad overcooked." Never mind that Todd liked them that way. The only thing they'd not complained about was the banana pudding. But of course, sugar was Natalie's weakness. She didn't weigh 300 pounds from eating lettuce or overcooked green beans.

"Ahhhggguh," Shelly growled at the ceiling. She hated being like this. All she'd wanted was a nice family dinner. It was the first time they'd been able to get Todd's parents to come to their house for the holiday. Every holiday had to be spent at their house. She'd even invited her own parents but they'd declined when they knew Todd's parents were coming. Lucky them.

Exhaling a long sigh, she shook her head and climbed the stairs to the landing to dismantle the decorations there, dragging everything off at once, sending more tacks flying, this time into the carpet.

A glass bauble fell to the carpet and she kicked it, shattering it against the railing. Backing up to avoid the glass, she squealed at a sharp pain in her foot. She bent over and scowled at the protruding red shard. It sparkled in the light. She pulled it out and hobbled to along the hallway the bathroom to patch up the damage, careful to watch for any other sharp objects out to get a stab at her.

The toilet lid banged as she dropped it. No one ever closed the thing. She didn't know why she bothered. Someone left the box of bandages open and she pulled one out and carefully closed the box and put it back into the first aid basket she kept stocked and rooted around for the anti-bacterial ointment. Next, she grabbed cotton pads and peroxide. Then, medical supplies in hand, she sat down on the toilet seat and examined her foot, noting the blood smeared all over the floor where she had walked. She sighed and shook her head.

It wasn't a bad cut. She cleaned it and put ointment on it and then affixed a bandage to it. It promptly fell off. Shelly stared at the brown adhesive strip on the floor. She forgot they wouldn't stick to foot pads or palms. Sighing through clenched teeth, she looked again at the bloody floor. What a mess.

"Shelly?"

A voice drifted up the stairs from the foyer. Todd was back from taking his parents home. It wasn't enough that they roasted her at dinner. The conditions of their attendance were that Todd had to pick them up and take them home. She could imagine the dessert he was served during the return trip. She shook her head.

"In the bathroom." She bent over to examine the cut, which was still oozing blood onto the blue rug at her feet.

"Oh my God, Shelly! What happened?" He stood in the doorway, legs spread to avoid stepping in blood, horror twisting the usually handsome face. As the initial shock passed he moved to kneel at her feet. "Let me see that.

He grabbed her foot and twisted it to get a better look.

"Ouch! Don't rip it off, Todd. I need it."

"I'm sorry," he said, giving her an apologetic smile before bending back over the cut. He took a cotton pad and patted it. "Shelly, I think it needs stitches."

"No."

"But its deep." He frowned. "Oh, and I think there is something shiny in it."

She studied the dark head bent over her foot. How had he turned into such a nice guy with those parents? "Mmm, yeah, red bauble."

"What?"

The confusion on his face made her smile. The pain lessened. "Red ornament. From the stair rail. It . . . I broke it and stepped on it."

Lowering her foot, he sat back on his heels and looked up at her. "I saw... why are you ripping down the decorations. Its Christmas Day for gosh sakes."

Shelly glared at him with red, tear-washed eyes. "Because they just suck the joy right out of any situation. Every holiday, it doesn't matter if we're there or here, they ... no, she just takes any pleasure out of everything."

Todd sighed and stared at her. His shoulders slumped and his eyes grew sad. "I know. I'm sorry."

The thought that Todd might blame himself never entered her head and it upset her now. "Oh! Oh, no, Todd. It isn't your fault." She clutched his shoulder. "You -"

She couldn't go on. Her voice broke and she buried her face against his shoulder. He wrapped his arms around her and held her.

When the sobs abated, he gently put her away from him. "Shelly, you can't let her do that to you. It isn't worth it. And it won't change anything."

"I can't understand how your father deals with it." She paused and then added, "Or how you do. Neither of you ever say a word. You just let her go on and on."

"Dad stopped years ago. I stopped when I left home. I never went back to live there." He stared at the wall opposite, frowning slightly. "It was like being released from prison. I couldn't remember living where you weren't criticized for everything you did."

"You mean she's always been like this?"

He nodded. "I don't remember when I was very small. I think, yes. My realization of it started when I was about 8 or 9." He stopped and his brows drew down as he tried to remember. "I . . . it was a Saturday and Dad and I were cleaning out the garage. I dropped a pot, a terracotta flower pot. You'd have thought it was a Faberge egg. She made me feel about three inches tall. Dad tried to stem the tide but . . . well, you've seen her in action. Butter wouldn't melt in her mouth but she can flay you alive with that tongue."

She rubbed his back. "Oh, Todd, how awful."

"You know, I learned to deal with it. I think. But my Dad, he had it far worse than I did. Everything in her life that was wrong was his fault. Me, I could stay out of her way. Dad had nowhere to go."

"Why does he stay?"

Todd looked at her and smiled a sad, lopsided smile. "The same reason all men stay when it is bad. He really does love her."

It wasn't what she expected. How could anyone love a woman like that? She shook her head. "What happened to her, Todd? Surely she wasn't like this at some point."

For several minutes, Todd sat and stared at his feet. He looked up and said, "I don't know. I can't remember a lot of my childhood before that day." He laughed. "Don't know why. Must have been pretty uneventful."

Or pretty traumatic. She didn't want to suggest it. Everyone remembered things from their childhood. She could remember falling down stairs when she was four and eating ice cream on a hot summer day with her parents in the park when she was five.

With the hem of her shirt, Shelly wiped her face and sat up straight. "I'm OK. I just needed to vent. I'm sorry you had to see it."

He gave her another hug. "Not a problem. That's why I have these broad shoulders and," he reached behind him and pulled a box of tissues around. "I always travel with these."

They both laughed and got up.

"There's a great movie on tonight. Wanna watch with me?"

"I need to clean up my mess."

Todd caught her arm. "Nah, it won't go anywhere. Tomorrow is plenty of time. Besides, I kind of like the look. Makes it look like we had a big bash that got out of hand." He led her downstairs.

She stared at him. No complaint. No criticism. No reprimand. His mother would have eaten her up, spit her out, and turned on Todd for allowing it. How did he manage to survive it unscathed? As quickly as she thought it a second thought occurred to her. Maybe he didn't survive it. Maybe he resurrected from it. He became someone totally different. In a way, she should probably thank his mother.

The thought boggled Shelly's mind. Still, it was probably true. She'd created this wonderfully kind man who was sensitive to all her hurts and never made her feel stupid or inept.

She smiled as she curled up on the sofa next to him.

"What?" He was looking at her, smiling and suspicious.

"Nothing."

He looked skeptical and wary but turned his attention to the television remote.

Tomorrow, bright and early she would get up and call her. She'd tell her how thrilled she was that they came. She'd tell her how much she appreciated how she'd raised her son. And when she asked her why  . . . she'd tell her because if she had not done it, he might have become just like her.

Shelly laughed and kissed Todd on the cheek.






Sunday, January 7, 2018

Looking Backward

Sometimes characters just don't make sense. I've been working, off and on, for several years on this story and suddenly, Simon is giving me backstory. I've been writing it down but I have no idea what it is for or how I'll use it. I already know this stuff, more or less. The real problem is that it feels like something. So, I have to write it down. Why? Because Simon says. (He said that. I'd never say that.)

Figured I'd just put some of it here and see what kind of responses, if any, it gets. Please, feel free to weigh in. And I apologize in advance for any errors. It is a first draft. You can view the story at this link.

Dream Stealer


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Saturday Author Focus #1

I've decided to try something new. Well, you know it gets pretty boring around here and I have to try and create excitement, particularly in light of the fact that I'm sick with a cold this morning. Of course, ideas that come when you're ill can turn into nightmares. So, we'll see.

Here's what I'm doing. On Saturdays, I'm going to start featuring an indie author's Facebook page. Sometimes, it will be an author I've read but sometimes it may not. Sometimes it may be a mix of both. It will also include links to any review I've written about the book.

Why?

Because I've learned that getting exposure as an indie author is difficult. Because there are a lot of good ones out there and people who read should at least get familiar with them. I just told someone you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince. You will read a lot of books that suck by inexperienced and even uneducated writers. However, it is that one good writer that enraptures you and keeps you coming back for more.

So, I have decided to post links to the pages of authors I'm running across in my ramblings and I hope anyone who is reading this will pop by those pages and see what they offer. My blog may not have tons of followers but I also post it on my FB pages which is growing a bit. If they find a book they enjoy, I hope they will share as well. I hope, by doing that, someone might sell a few books and some of those books will make the readers fall in love and want more.

Focused Authors

Today, I'm focusing on two authors I've actually read. I found them on a couple of Facebook groups. One book I purchased and the other was offered free on Amazon.

The first is Joseph Wozniak and his book, Blind Faith, is an excellent Christian novel. I don't generally read books with young protagonists or sports-centered but I took a chance and it was well worth it. My review is on Goodreads and Amazon. I encourage you to check this one out. No, I encourage you to buy it. It would be a great gift for a teenager.

You can connect with Joseph on Facebook here: Joseph Wozniak

The next author I discovered is Marcus Miller. Marcus' book is The Forgotten Man. I like suspense, mysteries, and thrillers. This covered all the bases and I truly enjoyed it. It does include strong language. You can see my review on Goodreads or Amazon. Oh, and if you read Marcus' profile on Amazon, you'll feel as if you got a mini-adventure story.

You can connect with Marcus on Facebook here: Marcus Miller.


There you have my first two highlighted authors. We'll see how this goes. Read their reviews and see if you would be interested in either of these two books. Leave a comment on their pages to encourage them.


Tomorrow

I am a writer. Yes. That's me. I write stuff. All kinds of stuff. Stories - long and short; blog posts - good and bad; book reviews - blatant honesty; emails - long and rambling. I write. 

In the last month, I've spent an inordinate amount of time "networking", trying to link up with other writers to learn more about the whole process and, truthfully, to find some good reading material. I did this by following author pages on social media. I've "met" some funny, nice, and intelligent people. I've read some good books. Tim Miller and Joseph Wozniak are names you should look up. 

In that process, some writers kept saying that it was a waste of time to seek a bunch of authors as followers, that what you need is readers. Well, yeah. But I don't just write stuff. I read stuff. This last year I read 46 books for fun. Someone else wrote those. Most were really good. Some I bought. Some I got free. Some I borrowed. I tried to leave a review on every one of them and if not a review, at least a star rating.

Anyway, back to my original thought. I've spent several weeks, maybe a couple of months, thinking about . . . well, throwing in the towel. There is so much to learn and do. Manage social media, network, marketing, publicity, blogging about all of it. All I can say is "Ain't nobody got time for that."  Not and write a book, too.

I'm old, people. No, really. Time is contracting. I never thought I'd get here. Heck, I never thought I'd think that. Now, after all of it, I'm considering not doing it anymore. At all. I've really thought hard this week. A part of me feels relieved at the thought. Another part of me is frightened by it. Really frightened.

You see, I'm so tired of the fibro fog and the RA limp. I'm frustrated with the burning hand and the never-ending fatigue. Some days it is nearly impossible to think, let alone construct a three-act story that will keep people on the edge of their seat. Forget developing complex characters and twisted plots. I have trouble figuring out how to use my pen in a way that won't send shock waves up my arm. In 2017, holding my hairbrush was a challenge equal to the Olympics. My life is a stinking merry-go-round of pills and pains and potential problems. Lots of excuses. Valid ones, yes, but excuses still.

Who the blankity blank do I think I am? And what was I thinking to think I could write novels? Well, I did write six 50,000-word novels for NaNoWriMo. And seven that were less than 50K. That could have been why. Could have been all those stories I wrote and hid in a file box. Could have been the nights I'd sit up and write until the wee hours of the morning. That was before the kids, of course. 

Oh, who am I kidding? I am a writer. That's me. I write stuff. All kinds of stuff. Because I must. And if I must learn this new stuff, well, I'll do the best I can. I'll keep writing. I now know a bunch of authors that might answer questions, if I ask nicely. 

Soon. 

Yeah, soon. 

Maybe tomorrow. 




Monday, January 1, 2018

Look Forward & Setting Goals

I had a prompt for January 1 to write about what I am most looking forward to and one for the 2nd about three goals for the month. I'm going to combine those here because I don't usually blog every day.

For six months now I've been pretty much incapacitated by a ruptured disc and then surgery to correct it. Only at the end of November did I begin to feel human again. So, I can tell you I'm looking forward to feeling better.

I'm also looking forward to writing more and finishing one of the novels I have near completion. That has been a longstanding desire and health issues constantly derail me. I'm not giving up.

With that said, I think I can set three goals. I don't do resolutions because they're a waste of time for virtually everyone who sets them. Let's just get real about that. They're like constant symbols of your failure. However, a goal is much more forgiving of human frailties and foibles. You project a goal and give it your best shot. If you make it, great. If you fail, you just keep pounding at it like a giant stone and eventually you might crack it.

My Goals for 2018

1. Really read my Bible more. I've improved on that this year with the YouVerse app. I want to continue it and see if I can do even better. And coupled with it, I want to try to pray more. I need it and so does our world.

2. Be more diligent in my writing. Write more and push through the challenges.

3. Schedule my time better by scheduling appointments for my writing and studies and not let outside forces interrupt those appointments.

I think that actually a pretty thorough list of goals for me. If I can do those three things, I might have a book ready for publication by year-end. I will certainly be better organized.

One can only hope.

Photo Attribution

I've tried to attribute all photos to their sources. Should you find an error, please notify me.

If known, unless otherwise noted, all photos are either my own or from Pixabay.com. You may not copy, download, or otherwise use my personal photos. Visit Pixabay.com for information on their photos.