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Hello. I hope your holidays are going well. Mine is super crazy. I hope I never release a book during November and December again! I gave up on the idea of decorating this year and just stuck my 2 foot tree-in-a-burlap-sack on a bookcase by the window. I tossed six ornaments, a string of lights and a star on it and called the whole decorating thing done. But I have been super busy with other things to occupy my time instead. Read on….

First, I signed up with BookFunnel. This is a cool site where I get a bunch of free/ discounted downloads for my Kindle. I even have this grand illusion one day I will get to read them.

The first book I want to offer on BookFunnel is my romantic comedy novella, “It Happened at the Park”, now free for the taking but only until January 1, 2018. You might be prompted to sign up for my newsletter, which only comes out about 3 or 4 times a year max. You always have the option to unsubscribe to that after you get the free download of “It Happened at the Park.”

If all goes well, I plan to offer other books for free periodically. Here is the tagline:

Cassidy’s a career girl, not a dog mom. Then she inherits her sister’s two pampered pups. Hopeless, she meets Ethan, the hunky dog park ‘daddy’.

Get your FREE copy of It Happened at the Park at this link:          https://dl.bookfunnel.com/nt4dxa0w0t

It Happened At The Park - Tara200

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Okay, next up, I have two full-length novels releasing very shortly. And I’m also promoting the heck out of them on virtual blog tours.

Set against the exciting backdrop in the chase for the Triple Crown and filled with mystical surprises. Season is not a witch, but she can make a horse run and Ty’s heart race.

Season Moriarty is part fey and part druid. She can see the future and alter it. She welds control over the natural elements of earth, wind, fire and water as well as manipulating life and death. And she is an accomplished racehorse trainer, able to get any horse to run like the wind. Now Season has landed the dream job that will test all of her skills and abilities.

Ty Masters runs his horse racing business with an iron fist. No one dares to question him. He hires Season based on her reputation. Then they meet. Immediately, she questions him, challenges him, infuriates him, intrigues him, captivates him, and even intimidates him a little. Then she spellbinds him. But can she make a Triple Crown winner out of his willful colt?

Mysterious threats to Ty’s racehorses bring him and Season together in another kind of race against the clock. As the stakes for the Triple Crown rise and the identity of who wants to destroy Ty, so does the undeniable interest and the fiery sparks between them.

Wild Whispers cover

First, on Magic of Books Blog Tours, I am promoting “Wild Whispers”, a contemporary romantic suspense with mystical elements. (read: it’s a cool book with lots of good stuff). The tour is going on now, until December 12th and there is a giveaway raffle for a $10 Amazon gift certificate. Yes, you are required to sign up for my newsletter to qualify, but I promise they don’t come out that often.

The link to follow the “Wild Whispers” pre-release tour is: https://magicofbookspromo.blogspot.ca/2017/12/pre-order-tour-for-wild-whispers-by.html

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Then, January 29th- February 2nd, “Wild Whispers” will be on Reading Addiction Blog Tours, also with a neat giveaway of a signed paperback copy of my backlist Romantic suspense novel, “Chasing the Painted Skies”.  Link is: http://readingaddictionvbtreviews.blogspot.com/

“Wild Whispers” officially releases December 12th and will be available on Kindle, Nook, and all your favorite devises and paperback.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2AyCG72

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wild-whispers-ryan-jo-summers/1127561125?ean=2940158952869

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/762819

Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/shop/ryan-jo-summers/wild-whispers/paperback/product-23410521.html

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Up next is a sweet, contemporary Christian romance. “Rainbows in the Moonlight”.

A Southern romance novel about family, forgiveness, starting over, and love.

 Koda Jacobs urgently needs a nanny–right now. Fresh from prison, Dalton Clayton needs a job–and just about anything will do.

 Divine Intervention steps in and tosses Koda and Dalton together. Koda struggles with the conflicts of her impulsive decision to leave her babies with an unknown, convicted felon. That just can’t be wise, can it? But she can’t help but see how quickly the children bonded to him and trust him. Or the reassuring sense that this is just right. Meanwhile, Dalton stumbles through the spills and thrills of two young children, and his growing interest in their mother. A chance meeting brings him back to his estranged family as well.

Over time mutual attraction forms between  Koda and Dalton as the bond between Dalton and the children deepens. A sweet, southern romance full of forgiveness, second chances, and fun kids.

“Rainbows in the Moonlight” releases in e-book format December 20th.

The Magic of Books blog tour begins December 26th, and once again I have a $10 Amazon gift card up for grabs. The Reading Addiction book tour runs February 5-9, 2018 and I am giving away a free, signed paperback of my backlist Christian romance novel.

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In even more exciting news, my Christian romance to release last November, “Beside Still Waters”, will be available in paperback starting January 10th, 2018 on Amazon. You can pre-order it now at this link:  http://amzn.to/2C0aG9V

BesideStillWaters850

Top Journalist and corporate climber McKayla Buchanan is sent to a remote California mountain camp for inner-city, at-risk teens. Accustomed to political and high-society assignments, she is suddenly a fish out of water. At Camp In As Much, she meets eight hostile and distrustful teens, assorted volunteers, rescued horses—and Clay.

Clay Michaels is the man who founded Camp In As Much and made it the success it is now. His hope for the highly recommended journalist is to come and write a feature to send seeds out to form other camps like his nationwide one. He never considered the reporter would turn out to be a lovely woman, or for him to have such an attraction to her.

Between McKayla’s worldly experience and Clay’s strong faith, they form a partnership to help with the endless challenges of the kids.

While McKayla’s assignment is supposed to be temporary, it isn’t long before she and Clay are each wishing it could last longer. A serious situation will force McKayla to decide if she can give up her worldly ways and place her faith in the same higher source that Clay does.

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And lastely, (whew!) I am also promoting a holiday buy for a good cause (because I don’t have near enough stuff to juggle just yet). You might remember my collie, Ty, who I adopted March 2015 from the Collie Rescue of the Carolinas. He arrived with so much emotional baggage, we almost needed a U-Haul to bring it all with us.

It has been a rough and wonderful and never boring journey with Ty, helping him overcome his past. He’s pretty well adjusted now, almost three years in, and I am very happy with everything about him. Over the months, I journaled and blogged the steps, successes, failures, doubts, and included loads of photos. This past summer I created a self-published novel on Kindle KDP and have it available in Kindle and paperback up on Amazon.

A portion of each sale will go back to the Collie Rescue of the Carolinas. Now there is a holiday purchase you can feel doubly good about!

kindle https://www.amazon.com/Tys-Journey-Sharing-Lessons-Adopted-ebook/dp/B073MSG8SM

That’s Ty on the cover. He is such a pretty, happy boy, isn’t he?

Paperback: http://amzn.to/2AJeRHg

https://www.amazon.com/Tys-Journey-Sharing-Lessons-Adopted/dp/1521728518/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1512842610&sr=8-3&keywords=ryan+jo+summers

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Okay, that’s it. I did mention there was a lot going on, right? If you want to keep up with my comings and goings, below are my social media links. Some I am more active on than others, and a lot of it depends on my writing/editing/promoting/ and life schedules.

Oh yeah! I nearly forgot…how could I possibly forget this? Edits will begin soon for the January 2018 release of Limitless Publishing’s “Craving Country” anthology. I am one of the contributing authors to this collection with my short story called “Crazy Woman Creek”.  Follow my media sites for updates as things unfold for “Crazy Woman Creek” and the “Craving Country” anthology collection.

Website: www.ryanjosummers.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RyanJoSummersAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RyanJoSummers

Blog: https://www.summersrye.wordpress.com 

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/phoenix690322/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6604705.Ryan_Jo_Summers

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Now I am off to read a download on my Kindle. Wish me luck.

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via Wednesday Writer Welcomes Ryan Jo Summer and Rainbows in the Moonlight

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My day job is in the security sector. Loss Prevention specifically. Many of my department co-workers have come from law enforcement or are using this job as a stepping stone to enter law enforcement.  As such, I’ve been privy to some of their classes and find them quite interesting. One such class a co-worker was taking dealt with criminal justice and report writing.

I liked that course because there were videos to watch–skits to help drive the lessons home. One dealt with a hapless detective who was hopeless at report writing. His superior called him into the office one day to discuss a recent report he had submitted. It was dated April 31st. The superior could not find that day on the calendar. When pressed, neither could the detective. The superior started reading sketchy parts of the report, asking for better details or clarification. One such item was this: “April or May, seen bad stuff.”

I love that line. It is hilarious in its vagueness, but also encapsulates how I write. The detective was asked about his method of note taking. He produced several scraps of crinkled papers from his pockets, all with some obscure or incomplete note scribbled on it. The superior officer was not impressed. I agree. To take a legal document to the D.A. to prosecute someone, the report needs to be letter-perfect and accurate.

When writing a fictional story, we can get away with “seeing bad stuff” in “April or May”. That line has become a long-standing joke with my co-worker regarding my note-taking while writing a story or observations at work. Exhibit A:

and  Exhibit B:

This one was actually scribbled as a ‘go back and add’ afterthought and then stapled to the page where it needed to go.  This is a typical example of how I write.

These piles of scribbled notes in the top picture are from my novella “Crazy Woman Creek” recently completed and submitted to Limitless Publishing for their anthology, ‘Craving: Country’, due out in Jan 2018. They are not much to look at here, sort of like some bad stuff, but they turned into a great little story.

What is even more thought-provoking is the origins of the story itself. I’d been experiencing some events around the house lately that made me want to let my ‘Crazy Woman’ out (the one who lives deep inside me). On my way to work, I needed to let her out for a bit in order to arrive at work in a half-way decent state of mind. So I wrote some paragraphs to rant my anger and frustration at the situation. Finished, I felt better. The Crazy Woman went back inside where she belongs.

A few days later I noticed the call for submissions from Limitless. The requirement was the story had to be country themed. I spent a few days wondering what partial or idea I had that could be considered now, or could become, ‘country’. Actually, taking my angry rant and building on was not that difficult.  Writing to meet the timeline is the reason, however, that I have neglected my social media life for a few weeks.

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I know, what an odd thing to be thinking about. I remember when I was a youngster, and a budding author wannabe, I adored my family’s encyclopedia set. The pages were thumb worn from how often I’d skim over them, looking for something or another. I loved research. The more I wrote, the more I needed to research and learn. I’d peruse the school library to scour every resource I could for my latest topic. Dewey Decimal was my friend.  I was as familiar with card catalogues as some people were of sport scores.

card catalogue at the Library of Congress

 

It was a cornucopia of goodness when I became a librarian’s aide in my junior year (or somewhere in those latter high school years) I had a wealth of knowledge at my fingertips! Or so it seemed.

Then came the advent of computers–everywhere. We had this neat butler called Jeeves and we could ask him just about anything and he’d scurry off to find the answer.  Before that there was something called Infoseek, though I only used it a few times before Jeeves. They each made researching in a library or book for that matter, almost obsolete. Librarians everywhere surely mourned.

I’m not sure what happened to ole Jeeves, maybe he retired, but now we have Google. And I must admit, for a Luddite, I have become fascinated at how endless Google seems. I can ask it anything, and so far it has never failed to instantly show me a list of items fairly close to what I was looking for.

For example, not long ago I was writing a scene in which the hero mowed the heroine’s lawn. She came home and discovered what a sweet guy he was. Trouble is, while I’ve always heard fresh mown grass smells good, I’ve never experienced it. (Google anosmia) So off I dashed to google “How does cut grass smell?”. Darn if I didn’t get at least a few descriptions I could use to describe the scene. Pretty cool.

And more recently I was working on a scene in which another hero kisses the heroine. He sports this full beard and mustache. Now, admittedly, it’s been more than a decade since I’ve kissed a man with facial hair, and I’ve kind of forgotten the details of how it feels. Not having a suitable model about to try kissing, I headed over to Google and typed in my query. Well, sure enough, instant answers. Not the greatest but sufficient to give me some words for the heroine to use to describe what she is experiencing.

It seems weekly I am dashing over to Google to inquire about some random thought for a book. I research locations, occupations, house plans, and so much more. And it’s so quick and easy, no need to rifle through card catalogues, prowl aisles and racks of books, and lug stacks of books and notes home to compile all in the name of research.

Now I google, and then save or copy and paste. I can print it for the hard folder or drop it to a virtual folder, depending on what it is.

I sure miss my old encyclopedia set though, and wonder if anyone ever saw this day coming. Maybe Jeeves did.

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Last year, about this time, I posted on the evolution of my blog. It had turned five years old and had taken a few radical turns over those years. My ponderings were on those twists.

This year–as my blog turns an incomprehensible six years old–I find those original thoughts to still hold true, with a year’s worth of experience to add to. However, first, a review of last year’s post:

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Jan 1, 2016: In a few months my blog will turn five. I can hardly believe it. Just like I can hardly believe it’s already 2016. As I was taking the calendars down last night, I considered the fact it didn’t seem that long ago I put them up. And now I’ve turned their pages twelve times. I’m sure a few of you can relate.

And that got me to thinking about this blog. It hardly seems possible I started it, albeit very reluctantly, back in May of 2011. I had very little knowledge of what a blog really was, let alone the purpose of creating one. Yet I had been told if I wanted to be a serious writer, I needed one. So voila, Summersrye was created. Had I known then what I know now, I’d have skipped the nickname thing and just used my proper name. But I like Rye, and not knowing any better, it seemed acceptable. Honestly, I don’t recall how I ended up at WordPress. It might have just been the first blog site that popped up when I plugged in a Google search.

keyboard and notebook

I went through recently to see what kind of posts I’ve written and the transformation this blog has undergone. The results sort of surprised me. My first post was May 11, 2011, called “Starting out”. That was pretty much it for 2011. In 2012 there were a whole 17 posts. The content changed directions twice. First I was going to take a non-fiction manuscript and blog it piece by piece. Feedback was nil. I even sent out a post asking “Am I doing this right?” of which I got one response back. Okay, at least someone out there in cyber world was aware I was blogging.

directions sign

Then I got the contract for my first book, “Whispers in her Heart”, the book that would forever change my life. I was going to be a published author. Time to get really serious about this blogging thing. Right? My posts changed from the random and non-fiction snippets to lots of “Whispers” stuff.Whispers cover from amazon

2013 I posted about 48 times, (give or take one) I was learning book promotion and it showed. I started putting in progress on edits and cover creation as well as teasers for “Whispers”, and a few pictures of my first book signings. I included poetry and shared life happenings. I opened up just a little, trying to remember if anyone was reading this, they were a real person on the other end of the computer screen. I shared photos of my pets, who are part of my life. I shared personal reflections and works in progress.

chasing ideas

2014 I continued sharing anecdotes and photos of my pets. I was now reading other people’s books and trying my hand at posting my reviews. I was following other blogs and re posting things I found interesting. Now I had a few books out and was regularly sharing status and updates on “Whispers”, “Shimmers of Stardust”, and “When Clouds Gather”. I posted more times than ever before.

Recipe for writing success

2015 was much the same. Book reviews. Pet anecdotes. Personal situations. Personal reflections. I was getting pretty personal this year. My family of books was growing. Now we added “Chasing the Painted Skies” and “Sizzle in the Snow” Anthology plus more works in progress and two more slated for 2016. I had people contact me asking if I would please read and review their books. I added the new feature somewhere along the way of hosting authors, interviewing them and talking about their books. In exchange, I was usually hosted on their blogs. Giveaways were another new feature in 2015.

All in all, not bad for a kid who few thought would ever make a writer. I recall hiding in my closet, pounding away on an old manual typewriter I bought at a garage sale. I baby sat so I had money for paper, notepads, and pens. Finally my mother gave me an electric typewriter for either my birthday or Christmas when I was around twelve. To have access to the electric outlet, I had to move out of the closet and into first my bedroom and then a corner of the long harvest table situated in the living room. I guess she wanted to see her daughter once in a while.

old typewriter

So while looking back, I also want to look forward. What do I want this blog to accomplish in our brand new 2016? Well, I want it to be a communication point. First, I want to be able to share news with readers about new books, giveaways and anything else share-worthy. I want to continue having others from other houses on my blog, sharing news about their exciting new releases. Bonus if they offer giveaways too. I want to grow the book reviews. In fact, I just finished a sassy little story last night and will be posting a review this weekend. And I have that author scheduled to be hosted on the blog in a few weeks.

Writing is a gift

Of course I want to share stories and pictures of my zany pets. They are the world to me, as many pet owners will testify. I’d be tickled if readers shared their wonderful pet pictures. I will also continue to share personal reflections and observations. Sometimes life gets rough or crazy and it’s nice to talk about it on a blog. It may not fix it, but it makes handling it a little easier. I follow a few blogs of people who do that very well. I’ll probably go back to posting some of the poetry from time to time and maybe some short flash fiction or sample chapters. That has been in the back of my mind for a while too.

Happily ever after

The end result, I want 2016 to be a year of growth and connection both for this blog and my writing career.

 

 

 

 

 

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Well, now it’s time to turn the calendars to 2017. I have added a pet sitting service to my life this year, which does had the unfortunate side effect of eating into my writing life. The bonus is I have met some interesting people and wonderful dogs and cats this year. I have settled comfortably into the house I bought in late 2014, but still have two rooms to paint (still!) and a few odd chores here and there I tackle when I need a break from writing.

What I would like to do with this blog in the coming months is much what I’ve done the last two years–share book reviews, host authors and their works, and continue the ‘Been Thinking About’ posts. Naturally I want to keep sharing misadventures of my pets, though my rescue collie, Ty, has his own blog I struggle to keep up with here on WordPress. Since I have two more books coming out in 2017, I want to share the steps from edits to covers to final release. I have a special giveaway planned for the first one, a Food & Love anthology coming up around May (ish).

Since I have two works in progress, and one more I hope to start soon, I want to share sample chapters. The opening chapters to one is already on my website at http://www.ryanjosummers.com. And I would like to encourage everyone to leave a comment with what they would like to see included in this blog, or more or less of any feature.

Lastly, I wish everyone a happy and healthy and wonderful new 2017.

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Where do you get your inspiration? What do you do with it once it arrives, a gift from your muse? What inspires you to do the things that you do?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about inspiration and where mine comes from.inspiration

The short answer: everywhere. Seriously, inspiration is found–at least for me–everywhere and anywhere. While I would like to say I can simply sit somewhere like this picturesque table, gaze out across the lacy curtains and see flowers bobbing in the summer breeze, and easily dream up endless plots and characters–the reality is it usually doesn’t happen like that. At least not to me.

My ideas tend to be born from some sort of action. It might be as easy as reading a magazine article or listening to a song on the radio. Something might resonate and spark an idea. It happens. Pictures are awesome at germinating ideas. My whole novel, “Chasing the Painted Skies” was birthed from this one photo:

CPS Inspiration

From a 1988 calendar to a completed novel:

CHASING THE PAINTED SKIES_1800x2700Part mystery, part shifter, part treasure hunt, a dash of ghost story and all romance.

The heroine’s last name and the treasure idea came from when I saw a plumber’s van at a traffic light. “Coyne’s Plumbing'” became Raven Koynes and a quest for sunken treasure, which required more characters and enhanced the plot.

A photograph that served as an advertisement in a fashion catalogue became a driving force behind the Christian romance released this past November

besidestillwaters400

 

 

 

 

A character was introduced into the story based on me passing an inflatable Santa Claus on my way to work one day and a headline immediately leapt to mind. I knew that was the best way to introduce my troubled teen to the story of “Beside Still Waters”.

More recently, as wildfires ravished within miles of my house, eating up thousands of acres of forest, and destroying homes and businesses across the mountain in Eastern Tennessee, I had another great thought. I was out cleaning dry leaves away from the foundation, reducing the potential fuel for the flames, when something sprang to mind. Quickly I went inside to write it down, left I forget it. I’ve no idea what I will do with it, though I have some thoughts for when time allows.

It was as if God Himself withdrew a hand and swore no more water would fall due to the sins of the people.  {Character} swore as well, softly, pinching two fingers over the bridge of {his/her} nose. They needed the rain, desperately. Any rain. If {character} thought it would help, {he/she} would personally go to the nearest church, synagogue, whatever, and beg forgiveness for the entire town’s population,  a for the heaping amount of {his/her’s} as well.

     Because someone in {town} must have really screwed up to deserve this.

     {Character’s} teams couldn’t keep up. {Include number of heavy equipment} and they could not make a dent in the raging flames. They needed real, hard, rain, pouring from the sky in steady sheets. Endless rain. Otherwise, this out-of-control and control-defying wildfire was going to eat up every square mile of {town}.

And because we really did have a season-long drought and dry winds fueling the fire, I added another character’s POV within the hour, deciding this would be a twin or triplet story, with each sibling having a part in the tragedy as it unfolds. That was the Incident Management Firefighter’s POV. This would belong to another sibling, a law enforcement official:

      Everyone pretty much blamed Jody Ray McAllister for starting the fires. Old Jody Ray was a local wood tick, who doubled as the town handyman. He hired out to do anything for anyone needed an odd job done for a few dollars. He would mow, trim, cut, roof, dig, saw, hammer or tune up a car among other chores. He’d change oil, rotate tires, run a chain saw or move your furniture.  The school hired him to keep the grass cut and so did the library and sheriff’s office.

The only problem was Jody Ray loved to drink. And he drank a lot, unless he was actively working or lighting up the doobies. Sometimes he did both at the time. And that would explain how he could have started this damn fire.

So when the fire started,  and grew thanks to the month’s-long drought, and started eating up people’s homes and businesses, fingers were itching to point. Knowing that people would next be getting lawyers, the good sheriff promptly arrested old Jody Ray for reckless endangerment of a fire and burning without a permit.  Just to cover up his butt, he tested Jody Ray for alcohol and drugs. Except, and it had to be a miracle, Jody Ray came back clean. So he was tested a second time, and came back clean again. And there was no proof his little trash fire burned out of control when {character} checked it out. There was no away anyone could prove Jody Ray created the monster that was presently eating {town}.

It would have made everyone’s life, including his and the good sheriff, if Jody Ray had come back positive for increased blood alcohol or any drug. Even aspirin. As it was, all the sheriff had on him was burning trash without a permit. But that wasn’t keeping him from letting Jody Ray out of jail just yet.

Somebody was going to have to spill some sacrificial blood over this fire and it was {character’s} job to make sure it was the guilty person.

Okay, two POV’s, two related, estranged characters invested in one story. Not a bad start, though it needs lots of work. The truth that born this saga turned out to be some young kids playing around and setting the fires that burned Appalachia this past autumn. By following the real story, so close to home, gave me lots of reference material to draw from and a have a file bulging with notes and reference sites.

Earlier this year, again I was driving to work and spotted police tape stretched across a random driveway I pass each day. Initially I thought it to be a Halloween prank or decoration of some macabre sort. It remained flapping in the wind for about four days. The following is something just as somber that was born from passing that scene each day. Again, not a clue what, if anything, will become of it, but it sure has a promising beginning…

The yellow police tape fluttered in the cold wind as it waved from the leafless tree trunk to the car’s door handle to the porch railing like a bright serpent, and finally ending as a ribbon barrier, sealing off the driveway. A scrawny black cat slinking around the discarded bike and under the caution tape was the only other movement. The windows in the old house were dark, lifeless, and the layer of dust collected on the medium brown car, a testament to the recent lack of rain.

     She stood, shoulders hunched against the wind, hands balled in the pockets of her jacket. This was going to be one big mess.

Now, whether she is a good character or the antagonist, I’ve yet to determine. Also, there is nothing else beyond this dark and mysterious beginning. Interestingly, the house was actually a very pretty two story, in  a nice neighborhood, with an RV covered with a tarpaulin at the side of the garage. I’ve never seen any pets wandering freely. But it sure sounds good. . .

Another time I was sitting at a traffic light, waiting, and spotted a vintage Ford Mustang across the intersection. I don’t recall the exact reddish color now but I did think it would look really neat in seafoam green. Now, what character did I have that would drive a vintage seafoam green Ford Mustang?

Ah ha! A guy from my then work-in-progress women’s lit entitled “Raine’s Promise”. I was just developing him and my mind took wings! Ford de Galetti  restores classic cars as a hobby, so naturally he kept the Mustang as a reminder of his late brother who used to restore them with him. Throw Dad in there too and you have a family, background on the love-interest character and a good start at fleshing him out.

     She swirled her wine glass thoughtfully. “Ford.” She tested the name, gauging his reaction to it. “Your name and you drive one.”

      He smiled. “Ah, yes, the Mustang. A classic dear thing.”

      She pondered that. “It’s a car. Did you buy it just so you could drive something with your name on it?”

      “Hardly. I did not buy the Mustang. You might say it was a gift.”

      Okay, that caught her attention. Who would give a classic car as a gift? “I sense a story in there.”

      “Indeed.” He emptied his glass, looked into the bottom for a long moment and slowly pulled his face back to Raine. The sorrow in the depths of his dark eyes surprised her.

     “My brother was named Lance, for the Lancia automobile manufacturer. I was named for the Ford Corporation. My dad really had a thing for classic cars. Lance and Dad loved to restore them. Lance always somehow sniffed them out, even better than Dad could. For them it was a form of male bonding. So Lance found this derelict Mustang in some barn one day. The three of us rode up in Dad’s old pickup to collect it. It was dreadfully rusty, but in decent shape. Better than some of the rust buckets Lance and Dad have found over the years. A few of them I would have asked to see the title to prove what exactly it was, but they just seemed to instinctively know.

      It was not unusual to bring assorted pieces of cars back on the trailer or pick up bed as well, somehow fitting them together into a classic vehicle.

      So we brought the Mustang back, rattling behind on Dad’s trailer. It was coated with inches of dust but Lance saw great potential in it. He decided on that unique sea-foam green color as well. We were nearly finished when we lost Lance. Dad and I completed the restoration and I drive it in Lance’s memory.”

      Finished, he coughed once. Raine pulled back, not aware she had leaned into his story, reaching closer to him. She licked her lips, thinking it through. “Thank you for sharing that. How did you lose Lance?”

     Ford’s eyes fell to the table and he brushed a crumb away. “He was a weekend warrior in the Reserves. His unit had been called into active duty as we were almost finished with the Mustang. He was six months into his tour when he and another unit member took a direct hit.”  

      “Ford, I’m sorry.”

       He shook his head. “Don’t be. We have shared many great years. Cars have been the glue that kept us close. I remember one in particular, a 1933 chopped Ford Coupe. It looked just like the ‘Eliminator’ when we finished, I half expected to see ZZ Top climb out. The ’57 Mustang is just one of many fine memories Dad and I have of Lance. It was fate to be his final restoration and classics were their passion.” He shrugged, mustering a tiny smile. “No regrets.”

       “And what about you?” The question tumbled from her lips. Perhaps she had been thinking of her own brother overseas now, always hoping he came back safe. Or just feeling Ford’s strong emotions tugging at her.

       “I have a passion for my family. For anyone I love.”

       His earnest answer, coupled with the intense look in his brown eyes, sent chills quivering along Raine’s spine

Not too bad for just seeing a classic car across an intersection at the red light.

cartoon-inspiration

 

 

 

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Lately I have had rejections on my mind. There is no particular reason for it, no painful angst or sting of a recent rejection fueling it. Just a random thought that popped into, and lodged, in my quirky mind. Perhaps it’s because my mind has been especially creative of late, and this is simply one more creative seed to sprout.

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I happened to unearth some rather famous writers who also suffered the rejection dejection syndrome before they became famous to the rest of us. Actually, it was in the latest Writer’s Digest magazine and I found it an interesting read.

Stephen King, the King of Horror writing, tossed his early draft for Carrie into the trash. From 1971 to 1973, he wrote he was “vulnerable, the the vivid dreams and ambitions of childhood seem to pale in the harsh sunlight of what we call the real world.”. His wife pulled Carrie from the trash and the novel went on to be rejected by 30 publishers. Eventually he was offered an advance of $2,500 by Doubleday. The paperback rights went to Signet Books for $400,000.

stephen-king

Steve Berry. He’s a number 1 international best selling author of 16 thrillers. He said “From the day I wrote my first word to the day I sold my first word was a span of 12 years.” In that time he completed eight manuscripts. He submitted five of them, and was rejected 85 times. It was the 86th attempt that “things happened for me.”

Judy Blume–who hasn’t read her children’s stories either as a child or to our children? She writes: “For two years, I received nothing but rejections. One magazine, Highlights for Children, sent a form letter with a list of possible rejections. ‘Does not win in competition with others’ was always checked off on mine. I still can’t look at a copy of Highlights without wincing. I would go to sleep at night feeling that I’d never be published. But I’d wake up in the morning convinced I would be.”

virginia-woolf

Saul Bellow (admittedly I’d never heard of him. Turns out he won the Pulitzer Prize. the Nobel Prize, and the National Medal of Arts. I’m impressed.) He writes, “I discovered that rejections are not altogether a bad thing. They teach a writer to rely on his own judgement and to say in his heart of hearts, “To hell with you.'”

Brad Meltzer, bestselling writer and children’s book author. On his website, he had a Q & A. The question was: How do you handle rejections from publishers? His answer was: “I gave their email addresses to my mother. You don’t  know pain until you’ve met Teri Meltzer. Fear it.”

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Kathryn Stockett, she’s the lady who wrote that incredible bestseller, The Help. She states: “After rejection No. 40, I started lying to my friends about what I did on the weekends. They were amazed by how many times a person could repaint her apartment. The truth was, I was embarrassed for my friends and family to know I was still working on the same story, the one nobody apparently wanted to read.”

Wow, there are some heavy weight writers, talking plainly about their pain, embarrassment, and trials before the big one was discovered. Before their careers took off. And before they were known. So what can I say of my own trail of rejection?

Like most every other writer out there, I can wallpaper a house with my collected rejection slips. In the early days, they were well deserved. I was submitting before I was ready, a lesson I had to learn. Once they became less form letter, and started having encouraging little notes added to the margins, I knew I was on the right track. That still took years upon years. I lost count of exactly how many– twenty something. I finally started placing articles with magazines and devotionals. It gave me credibility with publishers, by-lines to add weight to my bio, and validity to my soul. Ah, sweet validity!

Finally I landed a contract for my first novel, a contemporary romance with paranormal and mystery elements. I learned so much with that book and that publisher. I followed it up with five more novels, two anthology inclusions, a novella, and numerous articles over a whirlwind four years. And two more publishing houses.

whispers-cover-from-amazon

And I still get rejections. Despite all that, I still feel the sting of being turned down. I have a couple finished manuscripts, that don’t fit the genre of either publisher, so I am looking around for an agent that does handle them. I am going to have to add on a room to my house so I have somewhere to hang all the new rejection slips I am accumulating. Yet like the famed authors who shared their heartache, I will dream of when these literary babies find a home and become shared with the rest of the world. To me, that is what we write for…to share our stories with the world.

murder

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