Friday, March 31, 2017

April 1st Campers Arrive, Unload the Laptop!

Camp NaNoWriMo Participant

NaNoWriMo starts first thing in the morning. Hiram has been giving me little bits and bobs of the book, so I have a starting place and an ending. Now I have 30 days to write the parts in between!

All Camp NaNoWriMo writers, be confident, we can do this!

I will be in my cabin first thing in the morning. See you there with bug spray and tennis shoes.

Romance at the Do-Drop-In

cj Sez:  I think I could make a story out of this:  There once was a love quadrangle (of sorts) going on at my house. A few years ago, my patio became the go-to place for food. I had a habit of putting out dry bread for the birds, and one night a little nubbin of a kitten showed up and ran off with a piece of crust in its mouth. I figured that was one really hungry feline because the cats I knew didn’t generally eat hard, dry bread. The kitten came back the next evening and the next, so I started putting out cat food, knowing it would cost me in the long run because I’d have to trap it out and get it spayed or neutered, whatever the vet determined.

Didn’t take long before a yellow cat appeared, and Son and I learned Nubbin was a female because she started courting Yellow Cat. Yep, SHE did the pursuing. I watched the little flirt follow him around the yard and rub her face against his. So, because I didn’t want to populate the neighborhood with kittens, we made a trap. We aimed for Nubbin but caught Yellow Cat first and had him neutered. A few weeks later, we caught Nubbin and had her spayed. That was the end of their budding romance. Both of them lost their alluring hormone scents, and as a result, she’d panic and run to hide every time she saw Yellow Cat. Confused him all to pieces.

A couple of years later, a big, grey cat with white feet showed up, and there was no question about him being a tomcat. Nubbin fell in love with Boots’s manly scent and began to pursue him. His interest in her was akin to that of a big brother. He’ll tolerate her face rubs with an occasional push away, and he’d chase off Yellow Cat when she got nervous and ran. Boots imprinted on me, but I had become partial to Yellow Cat who purred and let me rub his tummy. I couldn’t touch the other two.

The big surprise was that Boots imprinted on me. He followed me around like a dog when I was out in the yard and sat like a sentry at the back door where he could watch me work in the kitchen. He also bit me hard twice when I wasn’t paying attention to him (two courses of antibiotics for infected hands/wrists). He was very feral and very smart. He avoided all efforts to trap him out to have him neutered.

About the same time that Boots arrived, a little turtle came into the yard to feast on fallen fruit from the fig tree. Mr. Turtle also loved the cat food—as did (and still do) the cardinals, blue jays, thrashers, the occasional curious wren, raccoons, and ’possums. If Mr. Turtle happened to be in the area when I was refilling the cat food bowls, he came running (truly) when he heard my voice. I once had to rescue him because he had straddled one of the water bowls and was hanging there spread-eagled, all four feet off the ground, unable to move.

So there we were: Yellow Cat in love with Nubbin, Nubbin adoring Boots, Boots wanting to own me, and me partial to Yellow Cat—Mr. Turtle just stopped by for the food.

I’ll admit that if I hadn’t put out that first crust of bread, none of that would’ve happened, but I’m blaming that little hussy, Nubbin.

Nubbin and Boots eventually disappeared from the yard, I hope to a higher-class restaurant, but Yellow Cat is still with me . . . an old bachelor and quasi-tame. Mr. Turtle still stops by for the food.

Okay, you-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.


PS: I know it was “Mr” Turtle because I happened upon him and his girlfriend one evening after a romantic fig dinner.


Author “cj petterson” is the pen name of Marilyn A. Johnston. Retired from corporate life in the automotive industry and now living on Alabama’s Gulf coast, Marilyn takes her pen name from her paternal grandmother in Sweden.

As cj, she writes contemporary romantic suspense and mystery novels as well as fiction and non-fiction short stories. Her latest short story, “Bad Day at Round Rock” is in the 2017 Western anthology THE POSSE. Her strong protagonists and supporting characters will take you on a fast journey through stories filled with suspense, action, and sassy dialogue.

Marilyn/cj serves as a judge for the Romance Writers of America’s Daphne du Maurier contests. She is a member of the international Sisters-in-Crime writers organization and their online Guppy group, the Alabama Writers Forum, the Alabama Writers Conclave, and a charter member of the Mobile Writers Guild.

“Bad Day at Round Rock” a short story in  The Posse, a Western anthology of tales of action, romance, myth and truth.   

Learn more about cj petterson at:

Choosing Carter  -- Kindle  /  Nook  /  Kobo   /  iTunes/iBook
Deadly Star --  Kindle  / Nook  / Kobo
blog at:  

cj petterson is the first of the weekly authors that are participating in the Friday's Fun and Family-Friendly Guest posts. Thank you cj, we hope you return with more fun stories.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Announcing Fabulous Friday Fun and Fabulous Guest Posts

the beginning of Friday's fun and family friendly guest posts occurring weekly on the path of the writer with sojourner McConnell and guest authors from all genres.

Tomorrow begins Fabulous Friday Fun and Fabulous Guest Posts. It might be the last day of the March, but it is the start of our newest feature.  

This feature is a little different, we have writers and authors from all genres being featured with their uplifting and fun stories and articles.  This will be a great way to find those mystery and thriller writers entertaining you in a new way. Children's authors and animal specialists will be sharing posts as well. If you want to join in the fun, send a message to get on the schedule. We are not genre specific.

I am anxious to share these writers with you.  They will be linking to their own blogs and it would be wonderful if you would take a few minutes to see their work and follow them. 

The first article will post at midnight 3/31/2017 and will feature cj petterson. Congratulations cj on being the inaugural post! 

Mark your calendars to join us each and every Friday to see what these wonderful authors and writers have in store for us.  Please comment and let them know you enjoyed their posts so that they will continue to return and share more with us.  No need to set an alarm, I will have it here waiting for you when you wake up. 

See you in the morning!   
Friday's fun and Family Friendly Guest Posts occur each Friday on The Path of the Writer with Sojourner McConnell and guest authors and writers.

Editor, Proofreader, and NanoWriMo updates. Keeping you in the know!

#WritingWednesday was one exciting day. Here is a recap. 

Progress on the Who's That in the Cat Pajamas.  Today was a red letter day. Requested proofreaders and had 3 offer. Between the three they found several little annoying errors. They also made some suggestions that I took to heart and corrected and altered those and sent it along to its brand new editor. 

That's right! Breaking news!!

I contacted an editor that I trust with my book and she agreed to do the final edits. I trust her judgment and I have seen how diligently she works to make the finished product as polished and grammatically correct as possible. This editor has had years of editing in both magazine and newspaper as well as her own published works.  I am beyond stoked. I am ecstatic. 

I acknowledge having a less than stellar history of grammar. I like to blame it on being southern, but I acknowledge it might be more of a lack of paying attention in all those English classes I took in school.  

This journey is building momentum as Dulcey moves closer to being published. 

On the new project front: 

It is only 2 days until work begins in earnest on the project for Camp NaNoWriMo. Today and tomorrow I am finishing with my rough outline. That means I am ready to conquer the manuscript that Hiram and I have been working on.   

Hiram is going to come out swinging I can tell you that much. He is going to have his hands full and he doesn't suspect a thing. No one said it was easy being new in town.  

So here's to Wednesday and onward to the weekend!  Happy reading and writing my friends!  

Comment below if you have any exciting #writingwednesday news of your own! I love to celebrate with you. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Help, Police!

Help, Police! by Sojourner McConnell

Julia was stunned! Her car had been stolen! She had only parked here for a moment while she ran into the bank. Storming around the parking lot she knew she needed to call the police. She also knew that she had left her phone in the console. What a bloody mess.
“I know I locked the car, I always lock my car.” She fumed as she stalked into the bank. Taking a look around she found a window that did not have a huge line and stepped behind the elderly woman in the lime green pantsuit. The teller could call the police for her.  They always were so friendly and helpful, they would call for her.
It was only a moment later that her eyes began to water and her throat felt like it was closing on itself. She politely coughed once, twice, then a third time before realizing that she must be allergic to the perfume of the woman standing in front.
Gasping she stepped out of line and while wiping her eyes, Julia got in line behind a tall thin man that did not seem to be wearing any loud offensive cologne. She looked over to the woman in the lime suit and saw that she was already at the teller.
“Darn it” Julia muttered. “This line is not moving at all. I wasn’t even in here this long last time.” Julia became aware of the fact that she was mumbling out loud and people were watching her. She just wanted to crawl away and bundle up in a ball and cry.
She basked in the self-pity for a moment then straightened her spine. Julia, in a loud voice, proclaimed, “ I need someone to call the police. Now, please. My car has been stolen. Does anyone have a cell they will use to call them, please?”
Julia added on the please, even though it wasn’t in the polite tone she would normally use. It came out as a bit sarcastic and for that she was sorry, but no one was responding to her pleas. As she lifted her hands in aggravation, the tall slim man in front of her pressed a phone in her hand.
“Just dial 911. It is unlocked.”
Oh! Thank you! Thank you! Julia barely had time for the second thank you before the emergency operator answered.
“911, What is your emergency?” The puny voice cried out in her ear and she almost laughed at the man’s voice. He sounded so weak and frail. But she remained straight faced as she reported that her car and her phone had been stolen.
“We will send a unit as soon as one becomes available. What is the address?” She asked in her loud clear voice for the address of this branch and was met with silence.
The teller that was now available at the head of the other line said, “I only know the P.O. Box, sorry.”
“All I know is that it is the branch on the corner of Main St. and Castille Ave. Surely that is close enough to an address, isn’t it? Julia was starting to feel her face heat up, she knew she was about at her breaking point.
She stepped outside the bank and wandered over to the parking spaces on the side of the building. Sitting on the curb she waited for the police to arrive.
“What kind of car is it?” Julia looked up and there stood the tall slim man from the bank. She wondered for a moment how he looked so cool standing outside in the heat in his suit coat. 
He reached into his inside pocket and pulled out a narrow wallet, flipped it open and showed her his detective badge.
“I’m Detective James Ralston, sorry I wasn’t able to help more in there. I am on a case and can’t really be much help. But I can put in a word with the officers when they respond. If I have your information.”
“Um ok, sure. That sounds great. It is a Honda civic. Silver with black interior. Do you think that is enough to help?” Julia swung her hands between her knees in a nervous manner waiting for the police to arrive. The detective wandered around while he waited with her.
Detective Ralston said, “Miss, what’s the tag number?”
Julia looked confused for a moment then nodded and told him, “125”
“SMK” Detective Ralston finished for her. Once again Julia looked stunned.
“Yes, exactly! How did you know?”
He pointed over to the adjacent parking lot, where a silver Civic with the license plate 125SMK sat facing away from them. Julia jumped to her feet, raced across the square lot and across the walkway.
“Oh my god, oh my god,” she kept repeating as she ran. Racing into the other oblong lot straight up to her car. The Detective was right beside her, with a smile on his face.
“I take it, this is yours?” Julia nodded at his words, still overcome and almost unable to make coherent sentences.
“How did I miss my car. I mean I walked all over that lot.” Julia ran her hands lovingly over the roof of the car before sticking the key into the lock and opening the door.
“I will cancel the call for you. You have a great day, Ma’am.”
Julia looked up at him and stammered, “Th…th thank you! I can see now why you are a detective! You are a miracle worker!”
Detective James Ralston laughed once then shook his head. “Nah, just observant. Glad you got your car back.” He walked back toward the other lot as she climbed into the driver's seat.
Julia cranked the car then grabbed her phone after he walked away.
“Mom, you are not going to believe what just happened to me.”

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Confessions About My WIP's Backstory

This is a little story about a little story.  I had just begun writing short stories and I concocted one about a character that I adored.  

His name is Hiram. I found him to be witty, charming, and snarky. What was there not to love?  I got brave and shared my little story with a few people that are interested in the unusual genre that I had chosen to create withing. 

He is also not quite what he seems. He has a bit of a backstory of his own.  I was content with the little unusual story until I shared it with a really great friend of mine. Once he read it, he said, "Where's the rest of it? This is your new book? I can see where you can go with this." 

As one who is always ready for a new idea to pop up, said, "I might expand it into maybe a longer story. Maybe a middle-grade level read and maybe about 30k words. Sure, that sounds feasible." 

"Full book, YA, make it a different type of YA. Make it yours but add in a few more characters." My friend continued by saying add a little more this and that. 

Suddenly Hiram began to spout off his ideas. He was superseding the friend's ideas. He was taking the brainstorming session and running with it.  He introduced me to several extra characters that I certainly wasn't expecting. He took me where I had no thoughts of going.  He showed me where I can make it rich, developed and original.  Anyone that has read the Path of the Child, knows I write in an original style. I like to call it Southern with iffy grammar. (that's where editors earn their keep.)

Hiram has been speaking to me for over two weeks about this project. Waking me up with new variations on what I was thinking, putting me to bed with full on scenes. So perhaps it sounds odd that I can tell when Hiram is speaking to me and directing me, but I can. 

Most writers will agree that the characters are bossy, energetically involved in the writing process.  Since I embrace my own uniqueness, I own the voices that pontificate about plot twists, character development, and unforeseen turns. 

Each story that I write of fiction develops with one or more characters taking over my life for a month or two and throwing out scenes, conversations, and conclusions.  

In fact, to be honest, I have only written six chapters of this WIP so far, but yesterday Hiram gave me the last scene and assured me he had chosen the perfect last words of the book.  

"Grab a pen Sojo, write this down. You will love it," he said!  

He was right, I did!

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Intrepid Reader by Sojourner McConnell

The Intrepid Reader

Vivian Williams sat at her computer surrounded by her cats. Yes, she admitted that she was a closet cat lady with her two starter cats, Mime and Jester. They were her black and white tuxedo cats. The two were brothers and were similar in looks. 
They both had little mustaches painted on their faces since birth. Jesters face was black with a white mustache and Mime’s face was white with a black mustache.  Vivian almost named him Adolf but decided she did not want to think of Hitler every time she called out to him.

Both cats were lounging on the chairs that filled the computer room/den. Was it unusual to have a den when you lived alone? She wasn’t sure so she called it a computer room, just in case.
Vivian had been living alone since her divorce 16 years earlier. It was still a shock when she realized that so much time had passed. Oh well, she thought, it’s not like I am looking for someone.  The last time she had left the house was several weeks back and that was to pick up some groceries, cat food and litter. The necessities of life as a closet cat lady.
Maybe she would go out today, but perhaps not. She wasn’t willing to commit to that when she still had a pantry full of food and plenty of litter.
Vivian loved being part of the blogosphere. Her best friends lived all over the world and she never had to leave the house or call them to find out what they were doing on any given day. Sometimes she even knew exactly what they were eating and drinking. 
Vivian wrote her own blog, The Intrepid Reader, where she wrote book reviews and short stories for fun. Reading and writing were the two things she had always wanted to do. Now she did it with fervor.  Day in and day out, she sat at the computer, keyboard clacking away.
This morning she typed in her favorite blogger’s page. Instead of a landing page with the familiar icons and images, she found the glaring words,  404 page not found.
“What…? That can’t be right.” The cats looked up when she spoke so she continued her tirade in her head. I was just there yesterday. Looking at her pictures of the new vegan cookie recipe she was trying out for the first time.”
Julianne’s blog, Look at Me Now was where she religiously documented her weight loss and new life as a vegan.  It had some interesting recipes even though Vivian was a complete carnivore.
But where was her blog? Vivian typed it a second time and got the same results.  Not Found! What did that even mean? Julianne would not just take down her blog. She had been building it for the last two years and it was her passion.  Well… that and living the vegan lifestyle.
Something was wrong, Vivian could just feel it. There was a mystery afoot!
Vivian went to one of her favorite forums that both she and Julianne frequented. She put up a post, asking if anyone had heard from the She did not want to put Julianne’s personal information out on the internet. That wasn’t her place and she did not want to jeopardize her friend’s safety. She just wanted some answers.
As she waited for a notification to pop up on her screen or in her email, she concentrated very hard on Julianne. She visualized her profile picture and kept her eyes closed.
A vision as clear as a bell came to her. Julianne was standing on a boat, a large boat. Perhaps it was even a ship.  She could see her looking out over the Seattle shoreline. She recognized the Space Needle in the vision.
A gentle ping sounded and it was just enough to draw Vivian back to her own surroundings.  She looked down at her computer and saw a message icon.
Clicking the icon she saw that she had a comment notification from her blog. She pulled up the site with bated breath hoping that the message was from Julianne.  She blew out her breath in a low whistle that made Jester and Mime’s ears twitch.
“Sorry guys” she called out before looking back at the message. It had taken its time loading and she was excited to see who had left a response.
Once the screen fully loaded she could see that it was indeed a post from Julianne. She scrolled down the screen and read the carefully worded message.  
Did you get my email? J.
“Email? I didn't see an email."  She had checked her email inbox first as she always did. There were the usual 50 blogger notifications just as there was each morning. She once again went to the browser and pulled up her email account.Viv saw nothing from Julianne so she clicked the spam box, just to make sure. There, 4 spam emails down, just below the Nigerian King's offer to send her 5 million dollars, was her friend’s name.
She immediately clicked it open and read:
Hi Viv,Going on a cruise with my mother today, Alaska! She planned this for my birthday. Gotta love surprises! Be back in 7 days.  I will have new pictures for my blog.  By the way, the Blog server I use is going to be down for a day or two. They are upgrading their equipment. Will miss you!Love you, J
"Damn spam filter!"
Vivian hurried to log into the forum and delete her panicked MIA post. She realized that she had spent the last 4 hours searching for someone who was not exactly missing.
“How did I know she was on that ship in Seattle? I really must be psychic! A psychic detective!”
The rest of the day and well into the night Vivian searched all over the blogosphere for pages on telepathy. She read every post she found on the subject. Until it was time to shower and go to bed.
Vivian told Jester and Mime as they snuggled in around her head, all three sharing the same pillow, “I just love being part of the Blogosphere!”

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Exciting Changes in the Works!

Who's that in the Cat Pajamas? is complete! The first draft and first edit are over on this children's chapter book. A rewrite occurred and one chapter was completely reworked.

What changed? You might ask. It seems that when I had a good idea, so good that I wrote it twice. When I realized that, I needed another chapter. So fleshing out began and lovely, exciting, and remarkable content filled in the blank.

We have an illustrator for Who's that in the Cat Pajamas?!

Anne Carmichael has offered to be the illustrator of this children's book and her concept drawings were brilliant. They hit on the points that I loved most about the story.  So far, I have seen 3 rough drafts and I am so impressed.  It was as if we had been sitting together brainstorming.

Making plans for the mega cover reveal which will occur soon. Watch out for notices. Of course, you will all be invited!

I am also furiously working on the YA book, Blip. It is taking on a life of its own. This is the project I will be focusing on during NaNoWriMo and I feel it is going to be a real gem.

You might remember Hiram from his little blurb last week. He is coming to life with the force of a tornado. I love when a character sits me down and tells me his story.  We are meeting a new character this week and I am already quite intrigued.  Keep talking Hiram, show me what you have in store. I am already shocked at your ingenuity. Keep us writing!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Camp NaNoWriMo, are you joining in?

April 1st means another year at Camp NaNoWroMo. An exciting event where you commit to writing in a 30 day period as many words on a project as you desire.

I am going to go for the 50,000 words that NaNoWriMo is known for and I will be working on a project called The Path to the Past. It is a follow-up to the first book featuring Melanie Easton and her family. This will be continuing from where we left off and taking Melanie into a new world of living with people that she doesn't actually know very well.  It will also allow her to search for the elusive secrets that have been withheld all her life.

There is a lot on my plate with this book. So my plan is to start off fresh with her story strong in my mind and take her through an entirely new adventure. Those that know and love Melanie will see her facing more challenges and seeking more answers.  Rob will be making an appearance as will others from the Path of the Child.  Melanie is not a child any longer, and she has goals and plans.

Keep watching here for more updates on her journey down the Path to the Past.  If you have not read Melanie's story and want to be ready for the next journey, then you can pick it up at Amazon or on Smashwords.

Join me in writing during Camp NaNoWriMo and have fun, earn a few badges, and make some friends. It is a great place to spend April and July each year.

Remember at Camp Nano, if you have a WIP you can bring it in for editing and that counts just like writing a new transcript.  There is also the screenwriting option. The camp has something for everyone.

The End! Celebration!

I just typed The End to the Dolcey story.

I am super excited and also thrilled that after the post earlier, an illustrator contacted me to illustrate the book.  I just am beyond happy at this moment.

My 3-month dream of writing this book has happened.

On to editing:
On to illustrations:
On to publishing.

Hip Hip Hurray!

Illustration experience is needed!

Today is a turning point, I am looking for an illustrator for Who's That in the Cat Pajamas?  I am checking out Fiverr and seeing what I can get. I have an image in mind for both Dolcey and Emily. I have ideas for the other pages too.  Should I go in with an expectation or leave it to the illustrator's discretion?  This is my fairy muse.

Has anyone used an illustrator before? I could sure use some helpful tips before I rush in and make myself look inexperienced or worse yet, foolish.
Here is my muse for the child.

As this is a chapter book I am wanting sketches more than artistic painting. I asked my daughter to check the multitude of chapter books in her daughter's bookcases and that has helped me some.

Any advice from other children's book writers?  I am trying to pull it all together.
Thanks for visiting, follow me, I am looking for friends and blog mates to share ideas.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Little reward at the end of a hard day

Nothing feels better than when you get a message on Facebook that someone unexpected read your book.

This someone is my 12-year-old granddaughter that happened to find her Dad's copy on his dresser, was curious and read it. She has been messaging me all night about it.

Nothing makes a writer happier than to be appreciated by her own family.  No review, no stars, just her opinion.  I'll take it!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Melanie's Discovery!

I wanted to share a little about my writing journey. I  am drawn to history and historical places, my mind is pretty packed with descriptive places and little tidbits of history and trivia.  When I write, these little facts come spilling out and add flavor to the stories I am telling.  So when you read a little short story or a whole book, you will find little bits encapsulated within.

One of these moments occurs on one of the first few pages of The Path of the Child. Melanie in her solitary way is reading about Helen Keller in the main office of the school. This relates back to the first autobiography I remember reading in about the 4th grade. Helen Keller's own story. It was just as poignant to me that day as it was to Melanie when she read it. That first book sharing the revelations of a life scarred by the unfair illness as a toddler. A woman's life that reached beyond what was expected of her and became the role model, speaker, amazing woman that we know about and honor even today.

Helen Keller age 12
In my school, Fairview School in Ensley, Alabama, the autobiographies and biographies were hardback books with red covers. They called out to me. They made me want to know about Helen Keller, Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain. The list of red covered books goes on and on, but the selling point on Helen Keller was that she was still alive at that time. She was still being spoken about in my home and on the news. She was from, Tuscumbia,  a small town in my home state and I wanted to know about her. The little baby that had lost her vision, hearing, and ability to speak as a toddler and now was making speeches all over the country. It was the perfect first autobiography. I, as a young child, learned so much about perseverance from her.

I could see and I could hear, but I had my own set of burdens. I read how she was loved by her parents but they did not know how to treat her. They treated her with pity and sorrow and it was detrimental to her maturity. It was only when her parents brought in Anne Sullivan,  a young woman from the North, to teach her that her world opened up and bloomed. Helen learned braille and sign language and once again, for the first time since she was a toddler, she was able to connect to the world.

Helen and Anne
This is what I wanted, what I  hoped Melanie would do when I offered to let her read this same book in her story. It provided her with an inner strength that blossomed. Melanie now had a secret weapon to face the unfairness in her life.  Melanie Easton had a coping mechanism.

If you are interested in sharing Melanie's journey, you can find her story in The Path of the Child by Sojourner McConnell. She is waiting to meet you and show you her life laid bare.

Her story will continue with The Path to the Past. I am writing that book now and there will be other defining points in that journey as well. I hope you will join me in learning more about Melanie.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Scrivener Saturday!

Today I woke up ready to write. I chose the story that I wanted to focus on and I have focused well. I have written about 1000 words so far which doesn't take into account all the words I have deleted and changed.

I find myself editing as I go, recreating sentences several times before being satisfied. How many similar items are too many when you are making a point?  I add and subtract and then add them back in. Does anyone else second guess themselves in this manner? 

Research this morning went well and brought in a new dimension to the story. I like what I found and think it will resonate with the readers.  As this is a middle grade / YA story, I am hoping that they will enjoy the research done to make it authentic.

Research is such a fun part of writing. It allows more depth to the characters and their story.  Now to get the images created to go along with the story.  I would love to be an artist. It is a shame that the images I have in my mind are not going to be the final product. Hopefully, the final products will go above and beyond my own vision of Hiram, and his world.

I only want images to project the feel of the chapter so it isn't like producing an illustrated story.  

What are your thoughts on the number of images needed to tell a story?  Just the cover image or more?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Mentoring about a Book Signing Needed!

Has anyone set up their own book signing, let's say at a coffee house, a library, or another place that doesn't immediately come to my mind? I would love as an indie author to promote my book in person at least once to see if I can get over my timidness.

I talked tonight with another indie author and he suggested that I set up a book signing complete with 4 or 5 author friends. I just happen to have 3 other local writers that I might coax into joining me.

Are you able to help me come up with more ideas for such an event? Any ideas would be so appreciated. Believe me, I have already been to Pinterest and my mind is buzzing with ideas, but share your own with me!

In fact, if you are local to the Lexington Kentucky area, there would be a spot for you to join us.
Please let me know. I look forward to meeting more indie authors and learning how you promote in person and off of the Internet.

For a nice change of pace let's log out of Facebook and Twitter and hit the streets of Lexington Kentucky.

I have a set of questions that perhaps someone could assist me with:

  1. How many books should you bring with you?
  2. Should you also bring bookmarks, business cards, pens, and other swag?
  3. Does swag help in brand retention?
  4. How far ahead should you plan an event?
  5. If you have a book almost ready to publish should you promote it while selling your last book?
  6. Would you suggest a mailing list sign up sheet?
Thank you in advance, don't be shy. This is what leads me to this blog post. I want to be able to face new readers with confidence. Won't you help?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Exciting News on the Writing Front

Exciting news on the writing front.

Seven years ago I wrote an article on a mining explosion in the small town where I lived near Birmingham, Alabama. Each year a new group of people find the article and pass it around on Facebook. This year it landed in the hands of the Editor of the Jefferson County Historical Society Journal.

Tom contacted me and asked if they could publish it in their quarterly journal.  I agreed and set about making sure all the i's were dotted and the t's crossed.  No typos to embarrass me on this.  When I checked my email this morning I was asked if I would like to be a contributor to the journal. Again, I had no qualms about saying yes. I look at it like "loves writing loves to research"kind of vibe.  I am a thrilled writer.

I am in the middle of writing two brand new books.

The first one is featuring a little cat who assists children in finding their happiness.  This is looking to be a series of books. I will share more about this book later.  For now, I will say, I love this cat!
Here is a little snippet from the book:

Emily brought a small shallow bowl of milk and set it in front of Dolcey. She placed it right against the little rug and Dolcey stopped padding her feet and took dainty laps of the milk. Her little cat lips turned up in a smile as she realized she would be sleeping here tonight with the little sad girl named Emily. Tomorrow she would start helping Emily find her smile again. For tonight, though, we sleep in the big toasty bed.

The second book is about a personable alien.  He is quite chatty to me when I am writing, although he speaks a different language than I, we are on the same page. So beware the alien, Hiram.

Here is a  little snippet from the book:

“My name is Hiram. Well, I go by Hiram here. My real name is unpronounceable by mere humans. It involves clicks, gurgles and a sound that only a body with two larynxes can form.“
“Seeing as you were born on this blue ball you call Earth; I will assume you have only one larynx. So you may call me Hiram. 

I hope you are intrigued about these two books and keep following the blog.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Short Story: Dime a Dance by Sojourner McConnell

11:59 November 1, 1985
The trains had all pulled out of the station.  No more people lounging on the benches or pacing about checking their watches or the clock on the wall.
No, the only person left behind was the elderly man that worked behind the counter.  His dark gray hair covered by a green old fashioned visor.  He walked from around the ticket booth counter and gave a glance around the wide open space.  Litter was always a problem, sure it annoyed him. But what can one man do?  You can’t watch everyone, every moment.
Lifting his glasses off his nose with shaky hands he wiped the lenses on his shirt tail then replaced them. With the clean glasses, he was able to see more of the messes that were scattered around the vast room.
Bottles of water propped against the wooden benches were a common find after the last train left each night.  Eleven fifty-eight.  The last train always left at eleven fifty-eight.  The little-stooped man looked up at the big clock over the west end of the terminal.  Twelve ten, yep he was still right on schedule.
Marvin Wilson knew his job better than anyone else.  He had been an employee for the terminal for the last forty-two years.  He had started as a young man and never felt the need to move on.  He felt like he was an owner of this massive brick building.
Marvin spent five, many times, six evenings a week in this brick building.  He was always willing to come in when one of the other employees chose not to show.  He never had reason to call into work stating he couldn’t make it.  He had more pride than the younger generation, he thought, more of a work ethic.
Marvin had no time for the younger men and women. He did not approve of their ungentlemanly manner. Their language was coarse and crude. They did not dress neatly. He always wore a dress shirt, dress pants, and a vest. He always made sure he looked professional. Marvin managed to cross the terminal while deep in thought.  He reached for the broom that stayed propped beside the lockers on the east wall.  Marvin pushed the broom gathering up bits of paper, pebbles and empty cans and bottles.
Marvin never understood people that tossed their trash on the floor, no respect anymore.  He did not understand why no one cared anymore.  Surely things had not changed so much. Didn’t parents make their children behave, toss out their trash in official receptacles?
He shook his head as he walked along in a straight path gathering up an impressive pile of rubbish.  Marvin whistled a little it was weak and breathy and the tune was unclear and unrecognizable.  It seemed to sooth him while he did his final tasks.
Marvin had covered almost all of the area that was clear of benches and vending machines. The wide open area where people walk about freely was now swept clean. Without fear of stepping on anyone’s toes.  All he needed to do now was run his broom under the benches.
Bending low and groaning with the motion, Marvin brushed the broom under the first bench pulling out a torn magazine and a gum wrapper.  He stood again holding the trash in his gloved hand. Marvin dropped the trash into the bin that he pulled along behind.  Glad that there were wheels on the base.  Some new ideas were an improvement he decided.
Moving along in a small caravan to the second bench he thought he saw something.  He peeked over the edge of the bench and there was a shoe box.  Lifting the lid he peered inside and there was a pair of dancing shoes.
Marvin picked up and examined the right shoe.  He saw it was a brand new shoe, with pristine soles and no signs of ever being worn.  Size seven with a scrolling signature lay inside the foot.  The color was rich and shone brighter than a new penny.
This was not the usual find. The usual find was a teddy bear, a pack of cigarettes or an occasional backpack. Marvin picked up the box of shoes and slowly crept back over to the counter when he placed them.
He would place them in the lost and found when he finished with the cleaning.  The shoes tickled his memory.  They felt so familiar.  The color was unusual; it rang some bells in his memory.  He felt he had seen these shoes before.  Tapping his forehead he mumbled, “Think Marvin, think.”
Marvin pushed the broom down each row of benches.  Finding little-hidden caches of trash but not acknowledging each find as he had before.  His mind was back in the past.
Marvin heard far off music, not sure if it was inside or outside of his own mind, he just listened. Suddenly he remembered a dancing hall that he had frequented as a young man.  He remembered the ladies that would dance for a dime.  With their beautiful dresses and their sparkling shoes, the ladies had class.  They made men feel strong and important.
Marvin did not even go into a spiel about the kids today. He was lost back in the good old days. The days where he fit in before he lost his heart to the dancer in the silver shoes and the flowing dress.
He stopped dragging the broom and turned before he moved quicker over to the counter. He once again looked at the shoes.  He knew these shoes.

He sat down on the bench that was closest to the counter. The box of shoes in his hand, his thumb rubbing over the name of the shoe store he just sat there.  The store was one he recognized, White’s Shoes. It used to be on the corner of State and eightieth.  It had been gone for years. It burned in the sixties. When there was a demonstration by those anti-war people.  He remembered seeing White’s Shoes burn that night.  It was vivid in his mind.  The protesters being arrested and the people were mentally torn as to whose side they were actually on. It was a terrible time.  Life had been filled with terrible times.  Perhaps that is why he felt so bitter.  No, he disregarded that theory. He remembered why he became bitter. He remembered it all now.
Lana, the red haired, green eyed,  dime a dance dancer that brought him to life. Marvin always felt happy hearing her tinkling laugh and sweet voice.  Lana, with the beautiful shape and magical dancing shoes.  Lana, who he met on every night she worked just so they could dance. He saved his dimes; it was like he only worked for those dimes.  He lost his heart on the dance floor in that smoky dance club.
He asked Lana to meet him outside after her shift and she winked and smiled coyly. “I will be there, wait for me.”
"Yes, my love. I will wait."
  Marvin had waited until almost morning. He finally gave up hope when the street lights turned off and the morning light started peeking over the building tops.  He left, broken, his heart remaining outside that brick dance hall.  He never went back. He was never the same.
Marvin finished his cleaning, punched his time card and left.  When he fell asleep that night in his little brownstone apartment he dreamed of Lana. Lana appeared in his room holding out her hand to him. When he took her hand he left his body lying in that room.
Marvin felt a moment of love and happiness before fading out of view still holding Lana’s lovely hand and a smile on his young face.
The shoes remain in the lost and found of the main terminal.  No one has claimed them yet.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Short Story: Second-Hand Hero by Sojourner McConnell

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Second-Hand Hero by Sojourner McConnell

I woke up this morning in the mood for something new. I had known right away what it had to be. So I grabbed my checkbook and began to subtract the debits from my checking account. To assure I had the funds for my mid-week escape. When I wake up in this type of mood, there is no other place that cures what ails me like, Susan's Second-Hand Rose. That store amused me like no other. There were vintage clothing and shoes. I have always loved a good nineteen forties Dress.
It made me happy to dress like an actress in some of my favorite movies. The Egg and I, My Favorite Wife, I remember Mama. Oh, I do love a good nineteen forties movie. I loved wearing a dress that made me feel like Irene Dunne. Sure, I looked nothing like her. I for sure don't speak as she did. I am a country girl from Alabama with straight blond hair. I couldn't pass for the beautiful Irene Dunne if I tried. But I sure feel like her when I am in one of those dresses.
But today, I wasn't interested in those dresses, or Irene Dunne. Today I wanted to find a well-loved book. One that had been read by a sensible woman from the middle of last century. I wanted to fall in love with a man that had caused another woman's heart to flutter in her chest right after the Second World War.
But not just any man. He had to be one of those handsome young men that felt the call to arms. A man that had enlisted with vim and vigor. A man that had written to his family regularly telling them of his love of God and country. A man that had stood up bravely on the shores of Normandy. A man that had loved deeply and was now afraid he would never love like that again.
I knew that he had come from a farming community somewhere in middle America. A man that would come home a little different than when he left. A little wiser, a little jaded and perhaps a little broken. I needed to find this man and mainly I needed to read his story.
Today, I needed to be the woman who saw him as he returned home, a hero. The woman who saw him as the only man she could love. The woman who could acclimate him back to civilian life. The woman who made him able to love again. The woman who made him feel unafraid of loud crashes of thunder and vivid lightning. The woman who made him whole again.
Today, I needed to be that woman. I wanted to read myself into her words and see myself in her clothes, wearing her sturdy shoes. I wanted to read myself in her actions. I needed to be the woman who had sacrificed her own sleep to make sure he was able to sleep through the night again. Today I needed to be the woman who loved that soldier.
I had only been inside the shop for a moment when I was approached by the owner. Susan. She always greeted me with a smile and called me by name, today was no different.
She asked, "Lillian, what are you looking for today? I have several nice dresses that I just acquired."
I shook my head and told her, "Today, I have something else in mind."
I walked to the back wall where the second-hand books were stacked neatly on the floor to ceiling bookcase. I began to cull through the books hoping to find what I needed so desperately.
There were plenty of books on that large oak shelf that were about the war. The hard surfaces faded and the corners curled, but I did not find what I was seeking. I brought over the footstool that Susan kept for short people like me, to reach the higher shelves. I climbed up the first rung. There I was able to see what treasures were housed just above my head.

The faded greens and grays with the occasional pale orange and blood red bindings were a delight for my eyes. My nose was also twitching with excitement at the aroma of those books, some almost one hundred years old. My fingers felt thick with the ages old dust and oil of other people's hands. Yet, I was in heaven. I slid my fingers over every title written on the side panel of each and every book. Then I saw something that made my heart flutter. I took in a deep breath and smiled.
The title was Come Home My Darling by Dorothy Napier, the cover was deep blue and the letters were embossed. My fingers traced over the letters and I pulled it off of the shelf. I did not even step off the stool, I simply opened the book and read.
The train pulled into the station and the soldiers began to cover the cement platform like ants marching in green wool. Men in all manner of military garb stood shoulder to shoulder, duffel bags on their backs and nervous grimaces on their faces. Every eye was shifting back and forth as they looked desperately for familiar faces. One by one the grimaces became smiles when they found there was someone who loved them waiting at the station.
I watched hoping to find the one face that would respond to my smile. I wanted to be there when he came home, his welcoming wife. If he is not on this train, I will be here, for the next, and the next. I will be here to welcome him home. No matter how many smiles I have to muster.
I sighed. Yes, in my hand was the book that had called me here. Here was the woman I needed to read about. I would wait with her on that crowded platform, waiting for him, our hero, to come home. I had found exactly what I needed. I took that blue hardback book to Susan. I paid in a hurry, ready to escape to my own home, to my own bed. To read the second-hand book that had so urgently called to me today, to meet my second-hand hero.