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The Pot

Flower PotWith the arrival of fall, the 110-degree temperatures have passed in Vegas. It is time for my annual ritual of planting fall flowers to liven up the outdoors. A dozen flowers are a cheap hobby, great therapy, and make the yard pretty. If you thought this was a blog about cannabis, it’s not.

A Thought Steamrolled into a Blog, #amwriting

As I prepared the soil in a large plastic pot, I had a thought—several thoughts actually, but I frequently can’t stay on task. I’m supposed to be working on my website right now, so don’t tell my husband I’m planting and writing a blog instead. Anyway, the pot of dirt didn’t serve any purpose. It was plain, boring, and didn’t do anything.

I chose to plant three different flowers in the pot. I could’ve put only one type of flower, and the pot would’ve been pretty; however, the chrysanthemum, morning glory, and geranium are very different in shape, size, and color, and mixed together, they made the pot more interesting and beautiful.

Flowers Are Cool

The flowers do their own thing in the pot, regardless of what the other flowers do. They have plenty of room to grow to maturity and will provide a great service while they thrive. They will grow just as well in a $5 pot as they would in a $100 pot. Pots may look different on the outside, but it’s what goes on the inside that makes the difference. The flowers are what make the pot beautiful, and not the other way around.

Bees and hummingbirds will stop by the pot for food. Ladybugs, mantis, and other bugs will probably visit for shade and protection, too. The flowers will give off oxygen to benefit everyone. Of course, my friends and family will enjoy the beauty of the flowers when they visit, and I’ll take pictures of the flowers to post on ViewBug.

Fun Tip, Ceramics Idea, #OffTopicAgain

If you don’t know what to do with all those little ceramic pieces your children or friends’ children made and gave you, they add a little something extra to flower pots. They are weatherproof, so they won’t get ruined, and it makes them functional.

When the sizzling 110 temps return, it’ll fry their leaves, and they’ll shrivel up. Sometimes, they leave seeds behind, and the seedlings take over the pot. Until then, the flowers will wave in the breeze, lift their heads to the sun, and dance in the rare Vegas showers. It doesn’t matter to the flowers if some people do not see their beauty or their contribution to nature. The flowers will continue to do their own thing in their own space and make the yard a better place while they’re in it.

If you liked reading about my flower pot, you may like to read one of my books. I’d really like that. If horror and paranormal is your preference, Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell will be on sale for .99 on Amazon from Oct. 5 – Oct. 9. That’s a bargain you shouldn’t pass up!

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The Man Behind the Beard – Writing Tips and a Bearded Men Quiz

     Writing tips and bearded men in one blog—just go with it. To make a fictional story come alive, writers need to create meaningful and memorable characters. The best characters, bearded or otherwise, are the ones that make the readers feel emotion while they read. If a protagonist is well-written, readers will want them to overcome conflict. They will feel heartbreak at a character’s misfortune. Readers will turn pages in hopes their beloved protagonist wins in the end. Unless, or course, the reader doesn’t like the protagonist.

Yin Yang

     Characters need a variety of traits. A character who is courageous and humorous could also be obnoxious and selfish. Antagonists shouldn’t be perfect, just like everyone else. Tony Stark saves the world and is likable, but he is a bit egotistical, too. However, egotistical people may not see a big ego as a flaw. Creating characters with a mixture of different traits allows readers to decide for themselves if they like a character or not.

Hunk, Babe, Troll

     Creating a great character takes a lot more effort than describing what they look like. For example, “the older man with a beard” could describe many guys, including the band ZZ Top and Santa. To add a little fun to this informational blog, here’s a history lesson that involves older men with beards. The answers will be at the end of the blog.

Men with Beards

     See if you can name all the bearded men. Getting all of them correct would be amazing. A score of five, six, or seven is impressive. Two to four correct answers is probably average. One correct answer is bad.

 Men with Beards

     Writing that is done well takes a lot of hard work. Many people underestimate what a good writer can do to make a story come alive, sway opinions, or make a company look good. It is a craft. It takes time, effort, and multiple revisions for writers to get an article, essay, or story from an idea to a finished product. Yet, many writers get paid .01 per word for their effort. This article would be worth $4.29.

Answers:

A. President Rutherford B. Hayes

B. Edmund Gwenn (Santa from the original movie Miracle on 34th Street)

C. Bram Stoker, author of Dracula

D. President Ulysses S. Grant

E. John Harvey Kellogg inventor of Corn Flakes and other breakfast cereals

F. John C. Fremont, American explorer

G. Buffalo Bill Cody, American scout and showman

H. President James A. Garfield

 Credits for photos: Hayes – biography.com; Grant –  quotesgram.com;  the rest – Pinterest

 

Review: Call from Hell (Dagger & Brimstone Book 2), by T.W. Kirchner

Paranoramal Romance News and Reviews

5 out of 5 Stars

Available For Purchase On:

Amazon: http://a.co/1QXpD5s

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31520248-call-from-hell?ac=1&from_search=true

Review:

This was a really good story, I really liked the story line I had not read anything like it. The three main characters were really well written and play off of each other and really make this story. I would love to see what happens next for these characters.

Reviewed by Brave One

Our Blog was given this book in exchange for an honest review.

Description:

Racer, Arloe, and Locke are back in this thrilling follow-up to Town from Hell. The trio may have left Winthrop far behind, but the demons aren’t about to set them free.

With demon blood still ruling Racer’s emotions, only time will tell if he can adapt after learning Arloe’s secret. As the couple try to return to their normal lives, they vow not to keep secrets from each other again…

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Piratemania

tommy-blue-pirates

If you’re a pirate fan like I am, you’re probably looking forward to the next installment of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, which is set to be released in May 2017. Captain Jack Sparrow and the gang will undoubtedly bring more fun and adventure to the silver screen as they search for Poseidon’s trident.

In the meantime, landlubbers can get into the pirate mood by scouring free online pirate name generators and getting a moniker worthy of an old salt such a Peggy “Treasure Chest” Pigg or Scabby Syd Smythe. You can even name your imaginary pirate ship. All Things Boat has a list of real pirate ships from the Golden Age of Piracy, including Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge, and a list of funny ship names to choose from. Maybe Peggy “Treasure Chest” Pigg captains the Hell and High-Water or the Howling Lusty Wench. Shiver me timbers!

If you are in the market for a website with a compilation of all things pirate, X marks the spot on author and historian Cindy Vallar’s Pirates and Privateers. The site is a treasure-trove of information with pirate articles and links. It also has an extensive Book Review section that covers picture books as well as fiction and non-fiction for children and adults.

Avast ye, settle down with a good read, such as Pirates Off the Deep End, and learn some pirate speak, matey. Rum is optional, but it may make ye pirate speak a bit more authentic.

 

 

Give Wolves a Voice

Wolves Don't Play Dress Up Cover

I love wolves. They are my favorite animal and are pretty amazing when you take the time to learn about them. Unfortunately, they have received a bad rap for centuries. Fairy tales, other literature, and movies portray them as bloodthirsty killers. The creation of werewolves didn’t help their cause either.

Years ago, I wrote a story that would make wolves the good guys for once and educate people on some wolf facts. The story is too long to be a picture book and too short to be a book, so it has stayed in my laptop. Target stores is hosting a short story contest through Wattpad, looking for modern-day stories that involve a fairy tale or myth. It is perfect for my story, so I submitted it.

Since my following on Wattpad is small and only votes will push the story to the next level, it doesn’t stand a chance right now. If you would like to help me give wolves the voice they deserve, check out Wolves Don’t Play Dress Up. If you think it’s deserving, give it a vote. Thanks so much!

 

Writing Children’s Books – My Thoughts

Little Alien

When I first starting my writing endeavor over nine years ago, it was exciting, and I had a blast creating and learning. I bought and read the book, The Business of Writing for Children by Aaron Shepard, and it sent me on my way. The author suggested joining a writing group, such as the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), which I did, and finding critique groups to bounce around ideas and share material with other writers. I did that as well, and it was a great piece of advice. It was the best step I took to improve my writing, meet great people, and have lasting friendships with people who support what I do.

Ways to Improve Writing Skills

I’ve been to many conferences and lectures to hear authors, agents, and writers’ advice on how to improve my writing. I’ve also paid to have agents critique my manuscripts at these events. All of these steps have improved my writing tremendously—or so I believe. I’ve always learned something from any writing event I’ve attended. If you do the research, you can find free and low-cost events as well as big conferences.

So Where Are the Big Bucks?

Good question. I went into writing knowing children’s authors overall don’t make much. I’ve actually spent more money than I’ve ever earned from book sales. I’ve bought more of my own books and given away for promotion than I can count. I don’t write just for the money because I have yet to see any. If anyone has tips on this, I’d like to hear them.

The Joys of Getting Published

I had my first book, Pirates Off the Deep End, published in 2013 by Short on Time Books, a small publisher. I was beyond thrilled to see my work escape the jammed-packed folders of my computer and sit on a shelf with a beautiful, glossy cover. I still am thrilled. Although I don’t have a huge following or really even a small following, many people have enjoyed my books, and it makes me happy. Good reviews make me even happier.

That’s the bottom line for me—writing makes me happy, and I want my writing to make others happy as well. If you’ve read this far, you’re now going to get the best advice I have to offer.

The Old Man, Boy, and Donkey

If you don’t know the Aesop’s fable with the old man, boy, and donkey about trying to please everyone, it’s worth reading. It ends with the old man and boy carrying the donkey over a bridge because someone shamed them into it. The donkey fell off the bridge. Use its moral in your writing, too. Getting a critique is great, but you can often wind up with contrasting opinions: too much detail vs. not enough; too much dialogue vs. not enough; etc.– you get the picture. You can change your manuscript back and forth forever, and not everyone that reads it will be satisfied. At some point, stop changing it when YOU’RE happy with it.

The “It Takes Over 100 Query Letters” Rule

I’ve read time and time again if authors haven’t sent out at least 100 query letters to agents for a single manuscript, they haven’t given it a chance. I would agree with that statement. Persistence is the key to getting published, but it can be frustrating.

For instance, I write children’s books specifically geared for boys but the majority of agents seem to be women. Thus, my dilemma is I have to “sell” manuscripts to women that have humor meant for little boys. Little boys and women don’t have the same taste in “funny.” Let’s do the math:

Subject                           +           Boys’ Reaction         –    Agent’s Reaction  = Accept/Reject

Alien blue fart bubble             Laughs hysterically      Grimaces                    No thank you.

Alien ninja skills                      Laughs hysterically      Moans                         Doesn’t reply

I think I could send 10,000 query letters, and Aliens at Camp will reside in my computer. I’ve read it several times and laughed out loud. It makes ME happy. All I can do is keep trying to find that one agent who shares the same sense of humor and wants a wacky boy’s book. In the meantime, I keep writing because I enjoy it.

Bottom line, I can’t lose sight of the fact that writing is fun for me, and when bad critiques, agent rejections, and non-existent sales get me down, I need to take a step back and rewind. My favorite quote came from a very wise man, Captain Jack Sparrow, and it applies here. “The problem is not the problem; the problem is your attitude about the problem.”

 

The Town from Hell: Part 3

This is the final installment of my fake picture book about the town from hell, Winthrop.

DAB Page 9 DAB Page 10

DAB Page 11.jpg

If you want to find out the huge secret the townspeople are hiding, check out the real book, Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell. It was given a 5-star review from InD’Tale magazine and is up for a RONE award.

The Town from Hell

What would a town from hell be like? It wouldn’t be a good vacation spot for sure. In my YA supernatural/horror book, Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell, Winthrop is the town from hell. It’s a fictional town in the middle of the desert where the book’s protagonist couple go on vacation, and their experience is far from pleasant. For fun, I used a 6- by 6-inch watercolor pad and created a picture book of Winthrop. I’ll post the fake picture book in three consecutive blogs.

DAB Page 1.jpg DAB Page 2.jpg

DAB Page 3.jpg DAB Page 4.jpg

What’s living in Winthrop? More than visitors realize…

Leave Whos to the Owls

Owl Orange Eyes.jpg

The sound of an owl hooting is amazing—it’s almost like they’re saying “who.” When it comes to writing, however, who’s can leave you as wide-eyed as an owl.

Who Are You Again?

Critique group tip: If several chapters of a manuscript, whether very rough or highly polished, have been read, the reader should be able to answer “Who is the protagonist” by naming them—without hesitation. If they can’t remember the name or it takes them a while to answer, it’s time to adjust your manuscript. Once the reader has a connection with a book’s character, the name will be etched in their memory.

Writing in First Person

If the protagonist is also the narrator, the task of getting his or her name in the text is a bit more challenging than with third person. Writers using first person are often concerned with the “I…I…I…” syndrome, or removing a bunch of I’s from a paragraph but also end up with a “who” problem. Getting a protagonist’s name in front of the reader is a trickier when the manuscript doesn’t have many secondary characters.

Too Many Characters

Readers, especially readers with the superpower to get you a contract, invest in a book’s characters. If the manuscript has protagonist overload, the “who” factor could exist, especially if characters aren’t distinct or not enough dialogue tags exist.

Because you have spent a lot of time creating your book’s characters, you know them inside and out. Yet, readers won’t have any knowledge of your character beyond the back cover if the book is a standalone or the first in a series. Your job as an author is to give readers substance about your characters so they can grow to like or dislike them. Removing the “who” factor is a good place to start.

Valentine’s Day Fun

Cupids Tag

Cupid’s Book-Lover Tag

Posted on February 10, 2016 by Abbie Lu

Copy and Paste the following in your blog to participate in this tag.

Cupid’s Book-Lover Tag

The Rules:
1. Tag the creator (AbbieLu @ Cafe Book Bean) 2. Have fun answering the questions. 3. Tag 5-10 people to join in the fun. 4. Thank & link those who tag you. 5. Don’t worry about the rules!
You don’t need to be tagged to participate.
Love is in the air!

1) Favorite Love-Story book?

I couldn’t come up with one. That’s pretty sad.

2) Share your best Valentine’s Day memory?

My husband proposed to me on Valentine’s Day.

3) Favorite fictional hero/heroine?

For movies: Superhero would be Thor, otherwise Indiana Jones

4). What story has the best most memorable romantic moment; kiss, proposal, etc.?

Not sure on this one.

5) What is your all time favorite Romantic movie?

The Princess Bride followed by Pretty Woman

6) You can go anywhere for a romantic getaway (fiction or non-fiction,) where do you go?

Any of these places

7) Who do you want to be your valentine?

My hubby

8) Chocolate or flowers?

Dark chocolate or living or cut flowers…not picky about that

9) Novels: Romance or Adventure?

Adventure

10) What fictional villain, do you secretly love?

I wouldn’t say love, but Jack Sparrow is interesting…is he really a villain?

Let the tagging begin:

http://cafebookbean.com/

https://nyreader.wordpress.com/

https://golnaranart.wordpress.com/

https://daerickson.wordpress.com/

https://pippaminx.wordpress.com/

http://shannonathompson.com/